On the Armistice: Harriet May Macdonald, physical therapy nurse.

Scottish-born Cleveland resident Harriet May Macdonald (1876–?) was a physical therapy nurse in Orthopedic Unit 14 who worked in Bordeaux and Paris in 1918. In Letters from the Front (1920), she described the reaction to the armistice:

Harriet Macdonald, from her 1923 passport application

MONDAY, Nov. 11. Germany has signed! It isn’t possible to tell you how the boys have taken the news. All thoughts are turned homewards and many a tear has been shed at the thought of getting home. The wildest excitement reigns everywhere. “Vive l’Amerique!” is heard everywhere; flags have appeared as if by magic. Those sirens and whistles which used to tell of a coming air-raid are now blowing and screaming that all is over and we need have no fear now. It is all so wonderful to think that last convoy of wounded is in. Tears splash down as I remember some of my boys who have gone over in every sense of the word.

. . . . Dec. 20, 1918 . . . . Paris has been celebrating more or less since November eleventh, and that was the most wonderful day of all. None of us will ever forget that morning when the bells rang out the news of the signing of the Armistice and the French people in the hospital, from the scrub-woman in the corridor to the old French priest in the little chapel, wept tears of joy. It meant a lot to us, but very much more to them, and very soon smiles took the place of tears and many began planning to return to what once was home. Hope springs eternal in the human breast, and I do not know what we would have done in these awful days of darkness and pain if we had not had both Hope and Faith. (36, 39)

In 1923, Macdonald became a US citizen. In 1932, a bill was passed in Congress granting her compensation for her World War I service and other veteran’s benefits (as she had not been a US citizen at the time of her service).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s