Gretchen and I have known each other for about a dozen years, but it wasn't until a few months ago that I discovered that she served overseas in WWII. In our last email exchange I was telling her about my father, my web site and my book, and that is when she revealed her role in the ETO. She promised to send me the booklet she compiled about her time as a physiotherapist with the 50th General Hospital, and in turned I promised that I would feature her story on my site.
Her experiences whisked her away to such places as England and Scotland, and finally in July of 1944, they found themselves in the thick of things in Carentan, France. There they had their first taste of the war, and became well-acquainted with foxholes, strafing, and life just behind the front lines.
I am thrilled to have our first female memoir and hope that this won't be the last. Thanks Gretch!
Marion's note April 3, 2015 - I had feared the worst, for my cards and letters were returned. So imagine my surprise upon receiving an email from Deborah Smith, a few weeks ago. She stated that her mom and Gretch were friends back in 1940. Deb told me that Gretchen was still alive and gave me her new address. Wonderful! I am sending off a letter today and can't wait to talk with her again. Thank you Deb!
Memories of the 50th General Hospital
A little information about the author, 2nd Lt. Gretchen L. Hovis
I was born and "brought up" with my mother, dad and brother in Gibsonburg, a small village in northwest Ohio. We were a close family that included three grandparents, twelve aunts and uncles, and twenty-one cousins. I have always felt proud of my town, family and friends. We had a happy life, interspersed with sad times too. I felt we had many advantages living in a small town AND we were close to Toledo, Cleveland and Detroit, Michigan, in case we wanted to visit art museums, musical events, shopping and/or sport activities. I attended Gibsonburg public schools and graduated from Gibsonburg High School. My college days were spent at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio (two years), and then graduating from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green Ohio.
I am dedicating my memories of the 50th General Hospital to my 50th General Hospital friends, wherever they may be, and also in memory of all our members who have died.
Marion's note: I scanned the pages of Gretchen's booklet into PDF files. To make it easier to view the files, I have divided her Memories of the 50th General Hospital into five separate files.
Memories of the 50th General Hospital - I combined all the files into one today - update 4-3-2015
Women in Military Service for Americas - Memorial Dedication - Washington D.C.
I scanned the booklet again, and took the time to enhance each of the photos that were included within.
September 30, 1942 - After we received out certificates at the Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
Cantonment Hospital Quarters - Fort Sill, Oklahoma
My first Army issue of clothes
Mary - one of our nurses and her bed roll - Camp Carson, Colorado - 1943
Clara and Gretchen - physical therapists at Camp Carson - 1943
Bivouacking at Camp Carson - "Chow line" - Please note our "fine China"
Tommy and Marty - Good "buddies"
A pause during our hiking at Camp Carson, Colorado - 1943
Exercising en route during bivouac days at Camp Carson, Colorado - 1943
Resting during our bivouac days - Camp Carson - 1943
Clara and Gretchen waiting to crawl the infiltration course - Camp Carson, Colorado
Infiltration course- Camp Carson, Colorado
Ward Tents - Carentan, France - 1944
Our banquet table
Carentan, France - Tent Hospital
On my way to the Lister bag to fill the canteens with water - Carentan, France
Departure day from Carentan to Commercy, France - Lined up alphabetically
Scraping off mud from our boots - Gretchen and Emilie Jane Proctor - Carentan, France - 1944
Marion's note - January 24, 2010
Imagine my surprise when I saw the following Guest Book entry this morning:
Scraping off mud from our boots - Carentan, France - 1944....I was pleased to see my mother in that picture. Her name was Emilie Jane Proctor and was from Spokane, WA, trained at Sacred Heart Hospital. I am collecting stories and pictures for a memorial scrapbook in her honor." Marlis
So I quickly jotted off a note to both Marlis Wilson and Gretchen and introduced them to each other. What a thrill to be able to do this 60-something years later. Can't wait to hear what transpires between them.
Marianne scrubbing her fatigues while I watch
Patients in "whirlpools" - Physical therapy department - Commercy, France
Gretchen working her magic!
Nurses and officers baseball game - Commercy, France - 1945