Nurse Clara Lewandoske Hoke Witnesses a Fire at the Field Hospital

Nurse Clara Lewandoske Hoke Witnesses a Fire at the Field Hospital


Clara Lewandoske had been a nurse for four years when the United States entered World War I. She enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps (ANC) and was sent to France with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), where she was assigned to field hospitals and to a huge facility in Paris that was visited by both General John J. Pershing and President Woodrow Wilson. At the time of Wilson's visit, Lewandoske was working in the Jaw Ward, where facially disfigured patients were treated. In her memoir, she recalls that "When [Wilson] went out of that ward, he was just white as a sheet and he couldn't continue." When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, there were 403 nurses on active duty in the ANC. In May 1917, six base (general) hospitals, with more than 400 nurses sailed for France for service with the British Expeditionary Force. By the end of June 1917, there were 1,176 nurses on duty. One year later, 12,186 nurses (2,000 in the regular army and 10,186 in the reserve) were on active duty, serving at 198 stations worldwide. In 1922, Lewandoske married Arnold Stephen Hoke, a World War I veteran originally from Iowa. In 1971, Clara and Arnold Hoke sat down to record their memories of the Great War. Presented here is an excerpt from the recordings that Clara Lewandoske Hoke made in 1971. The recordings present a vivid account of her work with the ANC, from basic training to her return to the United States and to civilian life after the war. The recordings are preserved in the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans.

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1 audio file (1 minute, 13 seconds)


  1. “Chronology,” U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History, Army Nurse Corps History.

Last updated: January 2, 2018