“Wait! I’ve lost my barracks bag!” Sally cried. “It fell off the fender into the ditch. It’s all my belongings, all that’s left anyway. Can’t you turn around? Or slow down so I can run back and get it”
Many cars in the 1940’s had a depression between the front fender and hood. The group could not get everyone’s baggage in the sedan, or in the trunk. Someone had placed Sally’s bag in that space by the fender, but the road was so bumpy, the bag worked its way out and bounced off, rolling into a ditch on the.” side of the road.
“Please, please, stop. That’s my clothes, let me get my clothes!”
Sally realized quickly that chivalry was dead in the Army. The driver didn’t offer to help Sally get her clothes, but he did stop the car. Sally wormed her way out of the car and ran as fast as she could to grab the bag and get back before the driver decided to continue. The driver got out too, and went to a little stream to get some water for the car’s radiator. Sally had plenty of time to get back to the car, this time holding the big duffel in her lap for the rest of the trip. The driver stopped three more times, each time at a small stream so he could pour more water in the radiator. But he never asked Sally if she got her bag, and Sally was angry and discouraged at the way he ignored her completely.
The tired, dirty, nervous, disappointed little group of nurses were not in the mood to cheer when their driver finally pulled up to the pier at Mareveles. It took two different drivers in two different vehicles from 8:00 p.m. the previous night until 7:00 a.m. the next morning to go less than 10 miles. When they got to the pier, there were no boats, no activity, no passengers waiting. A couple of Filipino workers were taking a moment to enjoy the end of the chaos. Sally yelled at one of them.
“Hey, you! Do you know anything about a boat for the nurses to go to Corrigedor?”
“Oh, yes,” said the man. “It came and went a long time ago.”
Sally’s heart sunk. First, they had not been able to board the place to fly to Australia. Then they had to walk to The motor pool, and the first driver ran out of gas. The second driver wouldn’t stop when Sally’s bag fell off the fender, and no one they had dealt with seemed to know what was going on! They could see the island of Corregidor not far away from where they were standing, but what were they supposed to do to get there? Swim?
Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of four books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, a memoir about growing up in an alcoholic home; Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions For The Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, Books One and Two; and Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, a novel depicting Meg’s time playing drums in a Hawaiian Road Show. Her latest project is to tell the story of her Aunt Ethel “Sally” Blaine Millett, who was an American Army nurse in the Philippines when WWII began. “Sally” joined about a hundred other nurses and 50-some doctors in transporting about two thousand patients from Statsenburg Hospital north of Manila (with more arriving every day) to the jungle on the Bataan Peninsula. They hid the patients from the Japanese for about four months until they were all captured and placed in POW camps for over three years before being liberated by American forces. This blog contains excerpts from the book in real time as Meg is writing and posting a blog once weekly. The book’s title is MERCY MORE THAN LIFE: Sally Blaine Millett, WWII Army Nurse. The anticipated date of publication is spring 2023.Meg’s website is www.MegCorrigan.com . She lives in a tiny apartment in Little Canada, Minnesota with her species-confused tropical plants and her rescue Carousel Horse, Mr. Ed.