Today’s post was written by fellow author, Linda Shenton Matchett. She provides readers with historical background for her novella in a Christmas collection. Welcome, Linda! I am looking forward to reading this story.
Throughout U.S. history, with the exception of the Army Nurse Corps, women had never been used in any uniformed capacity in the armed forces. As WWII dragged on, men continued to enlist or be drafted into combat, leaving vacancies in every corner of the country and overseas. By mid-1943, personnel shortages were at a crisis level. On April 16th, President Roosevelt signed the Sparkman-Johnson bill allowing women to enter the Army and Navy Medical Corps.
Before the ink was dry on the ruling, Dr. Margaret D. Craighill, Dean of the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, requested a leave of absence and became the first female commissioned officer in the Army Medical Corps. A graduate of Johns Hopkins Medical School, Dr. Craighill previously held positions at Johns Hopkins, Bellevue, and Greenwich, and Philadelphia Hospitals.
Her assignment was a perfect fit for her education and experience. Named Women’s Consultant to the Surgeon General of the Army, she commanded the Women’s Health and Welfare Unit and was liaison officer to the Woman’s Army Corps (WAC). She inspected field conditions for all women in the U.S. Army and established the standards for screening WAC applicants and for WACs medical care, including the institution of regular physical exams.
Traveling over 55,000 miles around the globe, Dr. Craighill reported on the condition of 160,000 Army nurses and WAC personnel, squelching the notion that women were unsuited to a military role. She stated that “they were performing remarkably well in extreme climates and challenging work conditions.” As a result of her exemplary service, she was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and awarded the Legion of Merit.
Not bad for a girl from the tiny village of Southport, NC.
-Linda Shenton Matchett
A Doctor in the House (Part of The Hope of Christmas collection): Dr. Emma O’Sullivan is assigned to a British convalescent hospital, and she leaves behind everything that is familiar. When the handsome widower of the requisitioned property claims she’s incompetent and tries to get her transferred, she must prove to her superiors she’s more than capable. But she’s soon drawn to the good-looking, grieving owner. Will she have to choose between her job and her heart?
Buy Link: Amazon
Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, journalist, blogger, and history geek. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry, Linda has lived in historical places most of her life. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.