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"The British didn't like us very well because we paid all these people more than they ever did." (Video Interview, 26:18)

   Geraldine Lillian Edwards Boock
Image of Geraldine Lillian Edwards Boock
Geraldine "Jerry" Boock in uniform
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army Nurse Corps
Unit: Torney General Hospital; 142nd General Hospital; McCormack Army Hospital
Service Location: Fort Lewis, Washington; Palm Springs, California; China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater; Calcutta, India; Fort Dix, New Jersey; Pasadena, California
Rank: First Lieutenant
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Geraldine "Gerry" Boock graduated from nursing school in 1944, and she and several of her classmates decided to join the war effort. One of her friends volunteered the two of them for overseas duty, and after six weeks at sea, she landed in Calcutta, where she worked with patients wounded or taken ill in the China-Burma-India Theater. She wasn't immune to an occasional bout of dysentery; she also encountered a shifty snake charmer, and, on a moonlight visit to the Taj Mahal, an amorous British soldier. After the war ended, she stayed on in India until spring 1946 and in the Army until December of that year. Her last assignment was in a California hospital obstetrics ward, as different an experience as possible from her sojourn in India.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (10 clips)
»Complete Interview  (78 min.)
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»Photo Album (1 photo)
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»China, Burma, India
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (10 items)
Why she chose the Army over the Navy; first one into the service from her nursing class; friend signing her up for overseas duty. (03:11) Young people not thinking they will get hurt when they ship off to war; had three brothers serving overseas during the war; taking six weeks to sail to India; shore leave in Perth, Australia. (03:20) First impressions of India; "everything smells like it's decaying;" unprepared for India as well as drills aboard her troop ship. (03:41)
Marine guards posted around nurses' quarters on ship, but nothing bad ever happened; startling a soldier she once woke up. (01:28) Locals worked for them as maids and bearers; Gurkha guards were "tough little fellows"; British resenting Americans for paying these people more; not eating in restaurants very much for fear of picking up diseases; everyone contracted dysentery. (03:10) Her daily routine; she worked in various departments; treating a pilot who was injured when a vulture went through the windshield of his plane; another patient dying from internal injuries caused by a beating by a local. (05:42)
Going on leave with a her boyfriend to see the Taj Mahal; guests of a maharajah in Jaipur; riding an elephant; seeing the Taj Mahal at night; an unwelcome request from a British soldier. (09:19) Scary incident with a snake charmer; she would go barefoot after a monsoon, unaware that snakes came out of the ground after a heavy rain. (03:34) Encountering tropical diseases; returning to the States and driving cross- country; back to the East Coast, asking for a transfer from Ft. Dix from the Surgeon General and going back to California to working in "OB" (obstetrics). (07:54)
Her reflections on war; seeing the awful effects of combat; story of a paralyzed patient she nursed in Palm Springs; the sadness of working in an Army hospital. (04:19)  
  
 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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