The National Museum of
American Jewish Military History

1811 R Street NW, Washington, D.C 20009. | 202-265-6280 | www.NMAJMH.org | nmajmh@nmajmh.org

A Story from Dr. Joseph Shoham

A Story from Dr. Joseph Shoham

My name is Joseph Shoham. I am a retired dentist. During World War II, I was a dental officer. While at Fort Bragg, several troops came together for their training and they formed the 45nd field hospital. Frances Slanger was in the same platoon. There were three platoons there. She was the only Jewish nurse in the whole bunch. She was probably the best nurse there, the most sympathetic to the casualties. She was very good at physical therapy. I used to have aches in my back and she would give me all the exercises and kneed my back and would say "Now you are ok, Joe!" One night it was nice and quiet then we heard shells; we were being shelled and we put the lights out in our tents. The third or fourth shell fell right in the middle of our camp (we were in a U- shape and the hospital was in the back of us). All the fellows were in their fox holes except me. I was doing some cooking on a little stove and I got up to get the can off the stove and all I felt was something hot and I said "Oh my goodness!", and I fell down and I said that if my right arm was still there the only thing that was going to be of value to me was the health of my loved ones and myself... Besides, who ever heard of a one-armed dentist? When I felt that my arm was there, it felt very good. In the meantime, I was able to get up and everybody was now heading toward the operating tent. They brought in Frances Slanger. One of the fragments had pierced her spine and she was completely out. They started to operate on her. They said, "You know we can't put her to sleep, what else can we do?" And I said, "I will go to my little set up and bring you some Novocain", which I did and they didn't have to give it to her because she didn't feel a thing and she died shortly thereafter. The Major in charge of my platoon, Major Lord, was badly injured and he died several days later as did a nurse and officer. One of the other officers in the platoon was very friendly to Frances because he also came from Boston, or should I say 'BAWSTON'. His name was Isidore Schwartz, we called him 'Tiny' for he was about 6 foot 4 and about 250 lbs. He was a tremendous surgeon. He tried to help Frances but it didn't do any good ... she passed away...

You may learn more about Frances Slanger and Dr. Shoham by reading An American Nightingale: The Story of Frances Slanger, A Forgotten Heroine of Normandy by Bob Welsh.