Then we turned with wonder & vast admiration to these men lying shattered & in pain.—V.B.

World War I

In March 1915, shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Vashti Bartlett sailed to France with the American Red Cross " Mercy Ship" Expedition. The destination of the units was Pau at the foot of the Pyrenees, where the Red Cross operated a hospital in the Palais d'Hiver casino to care for the mounting casualties from the front. In October 1915, the American Red Cross transferred Bartlett to its unit near the front in La Panne, Belgium, where she served as director of nursing services. When the American Red Cross nursing units left La Panne in May 1916, Bartlett was assigned to the organization's national headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she worked as Clara Noyes' assistant from May 1917 to August 1918. After the United States entered the war, Bartlett returned to France with the Army Nursing Corps to serve as chief nurse of Base Hospital Unit 71 from August 1918 through April 1919.

sketch of nurse at bedside

A sketch by Arthur Vercommen
in one of Bartlett's albums.
Vashti's Red Cross pin
Bartlett's American Red Cross pin.

Palais d'Hiver casino

Palais d'Hiver casino in the French Pyrenees was converted into a hospital, Bartlett is on far left.


Wounded being transported

Wounded being transported.


Bartlett in American Red Cross uniform. We had [a] large number of orderlies that were French soldiers not wanted at the front. —V.B.

... we turned with wonder and admiration to these men lying shattered and in pain. Many of them without news from home—not a few facing the future hopelessly crippled, bodily and financially. If they are not so badly wounded we bring them back and heal them and send them forward again to the firing line that they may go through this agony once more—but such is the stupendous bravery of these ordinary French men. —V.B.

April 1915

Painting of battlefield scene

A battlefield scene painted by
one of Bartlett's patients.



V A S H T I . ..B A R T L E T T .. E X H I B I T