Chester Martin Remembers His Mom's Aunt Ella Hunt - A Nurse Of World War I

Saturday, June 3, 2017 - by Chester Martin

Long after the First World War ended, my mom continued to remember her Aunt Ella Hunt. I was not yet born at that time, of course, and only knew Aunt Ella briefly when I was about 10 years old, (mid 1940's). I only recently have discovered just why my mom thought so much of her Aunt Ella - preserved in a little booklet describing several worthy local women of "Great War" prominence, which I will print here. Aunt Ella was not blood-kin, although she and my mom thought of themselves as being so.

2017 is an appropriate time to print Aunt Ella's letter and accompanying (brief) biographical sketch. The U.S. entered the "Great War" exactly 100 years ago this year, helping to bring an end to that conflict which had ground down and stagnated most of Europe. War worries were constantly affecting our American way of life as well. Much worse things could have happened if we hadn't entered the war and speeded its end in 1918. Here is her letter and story, inspired by a then universal American hatred for the Kaiser and all Germany. The following quotes come directly from Aunt Ella Hunt and the little booklet:

* * *

"The stories of horror and of German brutality and frightfulness which we have heard are certainly true, from reports of everyone we see here, and this war cannot stop until they are wiped off the earth."

(Miss Ella O. Hunt, well-known Chattanooga nurse, who is with the Cincinnati Base Hospital Unit No. 25 in Ellery, near Verdun, is the author of the above statement.)

" 'We are very happy in our work,' she writes, 'but when it is all over and victory is ours, give me our dear old U.S.A. and Old Glory proudly floating over it.

" 'If our boys are lauded in the states, they are more than doubly so by the officers and men of the allies here for their wonderful fighting and bravery. One officer said the only trouble they have with them in battle is, they cannot stop them when once they have the order to 'go over'.

"It is wonderful how cheerful our boys are when they come back from the front and how anxious they are to go back for another attack.

"Miss Hunt was born in Cleveland. When about one year of age her parents removed to Chattanooga. She resided here until 1904, when she became a resident of Cleveland, Ohio. She is a graduate of Erlanger Hospital [School of Nursing*], and for a number of years worked with some of the leading physicians of this city.

* Author's note: That school, adjacent to the hospital, has long been closed.

"She is the only living daughter of C.O. Hunt, florist, at Pirola Gardens, St. Elmo."

* * *

The story goes on for a few lines to laud her brother, J.A. Hunt, as being a musician in his Company B Unit of the U.S. Army Band, and all quotations from the booklet end.

* * *

Aunt Ella's service as a battlefield nurse follows the long and honored tradition started by the legendary "Molly Pitcher", who carried pitchers of water to wounded soldiers on the battlefields at Monmouth, New Jersey, during the American Revolutionary War. This tradition continued into all the wars the United States has fought ever since.

Only recently in an interview heard on the John Batchelor (radio) Show, did I learn of groups of American women who called themselves, "Hello Girls", who also served in World War 1, but only as entertainers. By my own World War 2 time the United Service Organization (USO) had fully organized to provide our American troops overseas with first-rate Hollywood entertainment. Witness the many trips by Bob Hope into dangerous war zones to bring laughter, comic relief, AND WOMEN (!) to our men fighting the wars... Mr. Hope's retinue always included some of the biggest names among Hollywood women, and always the very famous Andrews Sisters act, which you should watch on You Tube if you do not know them already. The Andrews Sisters remained highly popular among the WW2 boys long after that war had ended. They made many appearances on early TV.

But it was the brave women nurses, like my mom's Erlanger Hospital School of Nursing-trained, Aunt Ella Hunt, who put their lives in harm's way by actually going dangerously near those desolate battlefields.

* * *

In closing, I want to offer up the fact that I have been in Germany many times in my life and have never been able to understand how such kind and gracious people were ever duped into committing such heinous crimes against Humanity. That country has now long been one of our best and most trusted allies!

Chester Martin

Chester Martin
Chester Martin

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