The Nurses of the
335th Station Hospital
Excerpt from Ms. Lesesne's Oral History
March and May of 2000 in Pittsburgh, PA
And eventually we moved away from this hospital, and we got our own hospital up in a place called Tagap, Burma. And it was an all Black unit. Dr. Wilbur Strickland, from Philadelphia, was our commanding officer, there. And he refused to have a segregated hospital. He said he wanted all the people within his hospital radius—whether they were black or white—to come to his hospital. Because he did not want to operate a segregated hospital. So they permitted everyone to come to our hospital, although most of the soldiers in our area were black, so therefore we got mainly black soldiers although we got white too.
GHS: What were the soldiers doing up there, Ms Lesesne?
LL: Well, they had big quartermaster service there--that is the people taking and bringing these supplies and things. The Japanese were there and the Chinese were doing most of the fighting up around Burma. Tagap was in Burma. So, we were taking supplies and things up the road to camps up the road. That is the quartermasters. This is what they did mainly. And, they built the Ledo Road. I saw others, though, building the road: Orientals, East Indians. When we were up in Burma we were in the Naga Hills. They had people up there called the Nagas.
GHS: Most of the soldiers were black?
LL: Yes, the quartermasters. Most of the soldiers were quartermasters. Most of the people doing the fighting were Chinese, and they got sent back to the 20th general hospital at least for the ones doing the fighting up in Burma. And if they got injured or sick they got sent back to the 20th general hospital for care. It was like the Lend Lease Hospital. The white soldiers, too, were engineering units. They had engineers and quartermasters. Most of the black soldiers were quartermasters.
The Ledo Road was eventually renamed the Stilwell Road. It was a road that ran up the mountainside of Burma -- on up into--towards China it was the Ledo road. They said they lost a man a mile on that road—building that road. And they said the road was built on footpaths, I understand, that went up the side of the mountain. We could stand at our hospital unit and look down the side of the mountain and see the trucks coming up, winding back and forth across the road. Until they …. maybe they took 4 hours to get up where we were, but we could see them coming up the side of the mountain.