Mountains and villages from a train as some members of the 51st Field Hospital travel around Europe at leisure. Beatrice and another nurse descend a staircase holding cameras. They pose beside Lake Lucerne and travel on Rigi-Bahn on Mt. Rigi in Switzerland. More views of the Alps and villages and corps members posing.
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 22:02:24
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Also in Lt. Beatrice Wachter Collection
Jack Stein, the grandson of Bertha Beatrice Wachter, donated two reels of original 16mm Kodachrome film documenting her life as a nurse with the 51st Field Hospital between 1943 and 1945. The 51st Field Hospital was recognized for enduring harsh conditions, particularly at the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge. The films show medical personnel treating wounded German POWs, ruins in postwar Germany, and views of Nordhausen, where the unit aided survivors of the forced labor camp and injured American soldiers. Wachter also filmed leisure time activities in various locations, short excursions to cities and towns, and her return journey by ship to the United States.
Crossing the Rhine at Remagen
Dark views of a building along the river. Military personnel aboard a boat, MS of soldier with camera. Pan of buildings along the Rhine riverside at Remagen, Germany. The pontoon bridge crossing the Rhine River at Remagen in March 1945. The first Army nurses to cross the Rhine River were with the 51st Field Hospital on March 14, 1945. Boats and landing crafts dock and corps members move to shore. Another view of the bridge. The first nurses to cross the Rhine on March 13 included: Chief Nurse Lois K. Grant, Ione C. Kinneck, Helen Johnson, Madalyn H. Andreko, Josephine J. Jennis, Beatrice Wachter, Mildred Judkins, Kay Wadry, Florence Bestman, Frances M. Anderson, and Lois (Dorothy) Judd.
Military personnel return home
High views of military personnel packed tightly on the deck of a large ship at sea. A trio of a bassist, a drummer, and a pianist entertain soldiers on a crowded ship deck. Scenes from the boat deck. American flag at mast. Captain Beatrice Wachter departed Europe for the United States on November 21, 1945.
51st Field Hospital at Normandy and other sites
The 51st Field Hospital campsite in a dusty landscape, probably in France. They laugh and tease one another as they walk along the road. A plane flies low to the ground. LS, pan of tent camp grounds with some military men, vehicles, and wooden stakes (gravesites?). 01:09:17 Large ships docking close to the Normandy shore on June 12, 1944. People wait and unload boats. The 51st Field Hospital nurses arrived at the Normandy beaches on D-Day plus 6 (June 12, 1944). 01:09:28 Beatrice waves to the camera by a tent. Pan of a campsite with grass after the Normandy invasion, probably in the summer 1944. Men walk toward camera, joke and pretend to fight one another. One holds up artwork. Another plays with the unit's puppy, Punch, who was born on a Normandy beach; cows graze in the BG.
Destroyed homes and buildings filmed from a moving vehicle, probably in France in summer 1944. Small children stand by the road, while adults rummage through the rubble for their possessions. More pans of the devastation and ruins of buildings.
American nurses sightseeing in Paris
Sights in Paris in late August 1944 following the liberation of the city from German control. The 51st Field Hospital visits the Arc de Triomphe, the Seine, and the Eiffel Tower. 01:13:16 Beatrice and a man pose for the camera outside Notre Dame. French civilians near a Red Cross truck. The July Column with pedestrians and bicyclists.
American nurses attend to wounded German POWs
Campsite with Red Cross vehicles. The 51st Field Hospital attends to a massive number of wounded soldiers in early September 1944, most likely in St. Erme in Northern France, where the 51st Field Hospital had too many German POWs to treat under tents.
51st Field Hospital at camp, visiting ruins, and advancing into Belgium or Germany
Two women sunbathe while other personnel of the 51st Field Hospital relax at camp, either in Belgium or Germany in early fall 1944 [The 51st Field Hospital entered Belgium on September 9 and Roetgen, Germany on September 16]. Beatrice digs a hole, perhaps a latrine (probably not a foxhole since there is no combat). A soldier plays a violin and sings by the hole. 01:15:21 51st Field Hospital personnel pose for the camera. Ruins of buildings in the countryside. Pan across the landscape and the remains of buildings, including one still smoldering and an untouched church. Some civilians in BG as members of the corps pose and walk toward the camera. Pan of an estate and gardens. 01:16:32 At dawn or dusk, caravan of vans bearing the Red Cross insignia and other military vehicles with soldiers waving to camera move along a road (dark shots).
American nurses in Belgium
Complex of brick buildings with the 51st Field Hospital, probably shot in December 1944 or January 1945 (perhaps in Huy, Belgium or Lierneaux, Belgium). 01:18:44 Beatrice poses with her camera by a guard station decorated with the Belgian flag motif. Medical trucks are parked outside and covered with snow. Men carry the sick and wounded on stretchers. 01:19:09 Beatrice poses with a friend. The men and women of the 51st Field Hospital play in the snow and walk around camp. 01:20:19 Beatrice and another nurse make a snowman and have a snowball fight.
51st Field Hospital at snowy campsite
A snowy campsite near the mountains in winter (Belgium or Germany?). Men chop and dig at the frozen soil, while others play in the snow. Beatrice and a friend laugh.
Nurses treat the wounded at a hospital
Military man walks toward the camera along a road, smoking. The 51st Field Hospital is relocated to a hospital complex, likely in Belgium or Germany. The 51st Field Hospital was stationed in Germany after February 1945. Pan of hospital complex buildings and gardens. 01:22:11 Beatrice, wearing a traditional nurse's uniform, poses with three patients in robes outside the hospital.
Bodies at Nordhausen
At Nordhausen shortly after liberation in April 1945, pan across piles of dead victims, focusing on the body of a small child. Civilian men carry a body on a stretcher. Pan of destroyed buildings, as soldiers and Red Cross personnel oversee the camp. Personal effects and civilians preparing to bury bodies near the moat. Pan across bodies. Brief shot of a soldier taking a photograph with a still camera.
Members of the 51st Field Hospital receive awards
CU, military man with glasses in front of a curtained window inside a building (could this be the cameraman?). 01:27:04 The nurses of the 51st Field Hospital salute, tents in BG. They march in formation with an American flag. Some nurses are decorated with medals.
51st Field Hospital personnel at a training camp
Daily life of the 51st Field Hospital personnel at a training camp, possibly in the US or in England. Captain Beatrice Wachter (the donor's grandmother) enlisted in June 1943 and departed from Europe on February 26, 1944. A group of men in military uniform and women uniformed as nurses laugh and joke around for the camera. The man with a moustache wears the eagle pin on his cap and the caduceus insignia on his collar, indicating that he is a colonel in a medical corps. Several people in a small boat cross a pond. Two women and two young girls walk and pose for the camera by a large stone wall (shot in slow motion). 01:00:49 Beatrice, the short woman with dark hair, poses in uniform and hat. Young girls pick flowers. Local architecture. Beatrice and other medical corps nurses pose for the camera. Older couple (civilians) pose in garden. 01:01:51 Women in medical corps uniforms line up and run drills (some shot in slow motion), then pose for a group photo (the male officer in the back row teases one of the women). Women and other personnel read on the lawn. 01:03:09 Beatrice and two women in civilian clothes pose for the camera. A child peers at the women from inside the house. Others pose for the camera in front of the same brick building.
American nurses sightseeing in England
Beatrice and some military personnel stand in Trafalgar Square in London. The 51st Field Hospital arrived in England in March 1944. Nelson's Column, the bronze lions, and crowds feeding pigeons are visible. A sign says, "Let our savings speak for us. Carry on London. Salute the soldier." on the base of the column. 01:03:47 Buckingham Palace. The group poses outside Westminster Abbey. They continue to sightsee in London: the clock tower at Westminster Palace, red double-decker busses, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and St. Paul's Cathedral, and at 01:05:43 the Wells Cathedral in Somerset. Locals pose among their crops. Men and women (and Beatrice at 01:06:45) with baskets pretend to pick vegetables and flowers. A boy stands near some cows and holds his dog. VAR CUs of locals and home. The 51st billeted in private homes with local families near Cheddar, England, so this could be the family that Beatrice stayed with.
Nurses at field hospital
The 51st Field Hospital at a campsite (in France?). Beatrice takes of her helmet and glasses and poses for the camera near other corps members and a cluster of tents. Pan of tentsite, corps members, and an ambulance. 01:08:13 Man in glasses exits a tent and smiles for the camera. Laundry hanging to dry outside. 01:08:22 Large group of military personnel sit in the grass for a meeting. Beatrice (on the right) and two women sunbathe. 01:08:34 Beatrice sits on a jeep and poses for the camera before helping another nurse sort laundry items in the grass.