Amy Robbins Ware, telegraphy instructor/canteen worker/nurse

Published: 20 March 2023

By Elizabeth Foxwell
via the American Women in World War I web site

Amy Robbins Ware

Amy Robbins Ware frame

Amy Robbins Ware, from Echoes of France

Born in September 1877, Amy Robbins was the daughter of Civil War veteran, Minnesota state senator, and mayor Andrew Bonney Robbins (for whom the city of Robbinsdale was named) and his wife, Civil War nurse Adelaide Julia Walker Robbins. She studied violin, eventually giving violin lessons. She earned a BS (1901) and an MA (1907) from the University of Minnesota. Robbins married lawyer John Roland Ware in 1907; as she was living with her mother in 1920, and her husband remarried in 1921, a divorce must have occurred at some point. She became involved in real estate with her sister, Esther Robbins Scott.

Ware studied Morse code and radio telegraphy in 1917, later teaching in the Radio Department of the Women’s Naval Service. In March 1918, she sailed for France, where she served as a Red Cross canteen worker (including as director of the Quay d’Orsay canteen), as a nurse during the St. Mihiel and Argonne campaigns, and as a radio instructor for the 3rd Aviation Instruction Center in Issoudun. Her book Echoes of France (1920) is a collection of verse and diary entries based on her war experiences. One of these is “The Life of a Surgeon” (65):

[Author’s note: No nurse is available to take 24 hour duty with Lieut. Colsh. They say the groans and ether of the ward will kill him.]

Marie Hancox [Marie Wall Hancox Nash] of Issoudun,
My very first buddy dear,
After all the times I have asked for her
At the crucial moment is here.

Tonight she has come to [Evacuation Hospital No.] Eleven,
With “searcher” Turnbul [possibly artist Grace Hill Turnbull] sent.
When the Colonel had asked me to “special”
One of our staff in a tent.

There are diets and letters and dressings
That daily are to do,
For more than eight hundred patients—
We are thankful they have sent two.

Browny [Margaret Brown] and I are working already
Up to twenty two hours in a day;
We didn’t see how she could possibly
Add my wards to hers this way.

But we can’t spare one of our surgeons,
And at this rate he would not survive.
If I only can carry him over,
Until those nurses arrive!

Read the entire article on the American Women in World War I web site here:

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