No. 21986 Frances Yachet Slanger
The intersection of Blue Hill Avenue and Angel Street was designated a Hero Square for Frances Yachet Slanger.
Frances Y. Slanger Army Nurse Corps 8 August 1914 – 21 October 1944 Francis Y. Slanger was born to Mr. and Mrs. Slanger in 1914 in Lødz, Poland, three months after her father left for America, seven-year-old Frances, her mother Eva and sister Sally boarded a steamship to America to escape the persecution of Jews in Poland. They arrived at a United States Immigration Station in Boston. Francis graduated from Boston City Hospital School of Nursing in 1937. In 1943, she enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps. Four days after the D-Day invasion, Frances walked onshore at Normandy,France. Slanger was then killed in a German Artillery attack, she was the first nurse to die in WWII. She was awarded the Purple Heart. In June 1945 the Frances Y. Slanger was commissioned as a hospital ship in her honor. Francis was buried in Belgium. In 1947 her remains were returned home for a memorial service with 1,500 friends, relatives and the Mayor of Boston was in attendance.
Frances Slanger moved to the U.S. from Poland in 1920. Lt Frances Slanger attended the Abraham Lincoln Intermediate School and the High School of Practical Arts. She enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in 1943 and was deployed in 1944. She was assigned to the 45th Field Hospital. Lt Slanger waded ashore on a Normandy beachhead on D-Day plus four. Two hours later, she and her mates were on duty in a field hospital set up at S. Mere Eglise, where the fighting was heavy. There were with the platoon five weeks and helped handled 3000 casualties. Frances Slanger died October 12, 1944, from shrapnel from a German bomb bursting in her area.
\This was the first memorial square to bear the name of a woman killed in military action.
The Boston Globe, May 8, 1948 The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center has a collection of her manuscripts, correspondence and other material.
On the day she died, she mailed the following letter to Stars and Stripes magazine:
It is 0200, and I have been lying awake for an hour listening to the steady breathing of the other three nurses in the tent, thinking about some of the things we had discussed during the day.
The fire was burning low, and just a few live coals are on the bottom. With the slow feeding of wood and finally coal, a roaring fire is started. I couldn’t help thinking how similar to a human being a fire is. If it is not allowed to run down too low, and if there is a spark of life left in it, it can be nursed back. So can a human being. It is slow. It is gradual. It is done all the time in these field hospitals and other hospitals at the ETO.
We had several articles in different magazines and papers sent in by grateful GIs praising the work of the nurses around the combat zones. Praising us – for what?
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.
The wind is howling, the tent waving precariously, the rain beating down, the guns firing, and me with ta flashlight writing. It all adds up to a feeling of unrealness. Sure we rough it, but in comparison to the way you men are taking it, we can’t complain nor do we feel that bouquets are due us. But you – the men behind the guns, the men driving our tanks, flying our planes, sailing our ships, building bridges – it is to you we doff our helmets. To every GI wearing the American uniform, for you we have the greatest admiration and respect.
Yes, this time we are handing out the bouquets – but after taking care of some of your buddies, comforting them when they are brought in, bloody, dirty with the earth, mud and grime, and most of them so tired. Somebody’s brothers, somebody’s fathers, somebody’s sons, seeing them gradually brought back to life, to consciousness, and their lips separate into a grin when they first welcome you. Usually they say, “hiya babe, Holy Mackerel, an American woman” – or more indiscreetly “How about a kiss?”
These soldiers stay with us but a short time, from ten days to possibly two weeks. We have learned a great deal about our American boy and the stuff he is made of. The wounded do not cry. Their buddies come first. The patience and determination they show, the courage and fortitude they have is sometimes awesome to behold. It is we who are proud of you, a great distinction to see you open your eyes and with that swell American grin, say “Hiya, Babe.”