On the morning of October 21, 1944, Lieutenant Frances Slanger of the U.S. Army Nurses Corps mailed a letter to STARS AND STRIPES telling the GIs how proud she was of them. That evening her unit was the target of a German artillery barrage when one of their shells burst near her. She and three other nurses were hit by shell fragments. While she lay there dying, she never uttered a word of complaint. She was concerned about the other nurses who were hit and she was worried about the grief her death would bring to her family back in Boston. That evening, she died. Her letter was published on November 7, 1944.
Slanger was raised in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She was commissioned a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurses Corps and was stationed in the U.S. field hospital.
She was short and a brunette and she was one of the first nurses to land in France, wading ashore with the hospital platoon. She had to hold on to the belts of the soldiers to keep from being swept off her feet in the waves. Once she landed, she started to take care of the wounded and sick soldiers who were sent to the back lines for medical treatment.
It was while taking care of the wounded that Slanger began to appreciate the sacrifices that these men were making. She felt that she had to express this feeling and she decided to write her letter to STARS AND STRIPES, the newspaper for the GIs:
I'm writing this by flashlight. The GIs say we rough it, but we in our little tent can't see it. We wade ankle deep in mud. You have to lie in it. We are restricted to our immediate area, a cow pasture or a hay field, but then who is not restricted? We have a stove and coal. We even have a laundry line in the tent. Our GI drawers are at this moment doing the dance of the pants, what with the wind howling, the tent waving precariously, the rain beating down, the guns firing... Sure we rough it. But you, the men behind the guns, driving our tanks, flying our planes, sailing our ships, building our bridges and the men who pave the way and the men who were left behind - it is to you we doff our helmets. To every GI wearing the American uniform, for you we have the greatest admiration and respect.Slanger was buried in a military cemetery in France. Her grave was flanked by the fighting men that she admired and respected. Over her grave was the Star of David telling the world that here lies a Jewish heroine who died fighting for her country. Years later, her remains were moved to a Jewish cemetary in the Boston area. Jewish women veterans of World War II formed an all women chapter of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA and named it the "Lieutenant Frances Slanger Memorial Post."
This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes and Heroines of America, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.
For additional information, contact
Seymour "Sy" Brody
Special Collections and Archives
S.E. Wimberly Library
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Last updated 18 October 2006