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Diary of World War I Nurse Ella Osborn, 1918–1919

At the outbreak of World War I, Ella Jane Osborn was a surgical nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. In January 1918, she volunteered to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces as a member of the Red Cross’s nursing service in Europe. Initially, nurses were to work only in hospitals far from the front lines. However, the need to have medical treatment available near the fighting changed these plans, and Osborn was assigned to Evacuation Hospital Number 1 at Sebastopol Barracks in France, just seven miles from the front. Sick and wounded soldiers were sent from the front lines to evacuation hospitals for initial treatment or surgery. They would then be sent to base hospitals located farther behind the lines, or returned to their units if they were healthy. Evacuation Hospital Number 1 had been established in February 1918, with the capacity to care for 1,000 men. By September, that number had increased to 2,800.