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The history of Thecla Richter – life of a West Bend nurse during WWI By Lee Krueger

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Feb. 2, 2017 – West Bend, WI – Resident historian Lee Krueger is looking to highlight his great aunt Thecla Richter, who served as a nurse during WWI. Read the first installment of the Thecla Richter story by clicking HERE.

Thecla Richter’s WWI Time Line – (based on letters and family information)

December 20, 1889-Thecla born.

June, 1908-Graduates from West Bend High School

June, 1915-Graduates from Evanston Hospital School of Nursing

May 1917-Joins a Red Cross group of medical personnel that will work for the British in France. Group consists of 250 people-50 physicians, 50 nurses and 150 helpers. Group will become Base Hospital Unit 12.


May 14, 1917-Writes letter to father from Evanston.  No definite news. Looks like 11 nurses are going with new medical unit.


May 16, 1917-Group leaves Chicago at 11:30 p.m. Travels through Canada.


May 18, 1917-Departs New York harbor for England on S. S. Mongolia.


May 21, 1917-Explosion on deck. Two nurses killed. The ship travels back in New York harbor after being out at sea for only 20 hours.  Boat is thoroughly inspected for safety.

May 28, 1917-Again, traveling to England on the S. S. Mongolia. Photo: Lifeboat drill on S.S. Mongolia

June 6, 1917-Arrives in Falmouth, England.

June 10, 1917-Sir Thomas Lipton’s thank you party for American Red Cross nurses.


June 12, 1917-American team, Base Hospital #12, arrives in France.

June 18, 1917-Thecla chosen to work as nurse supervisor assistant.

July 3, 1917-First wave of AEF lands in France


September 20, 1917-Thecla works at Casualty Clearing Station.

November 26, 1917-Thecla works as a substitute nurse supervisor.

December 6, 1917-Thecla offered job as chief nurse. Turns it down.


March through May 1918-Thecla works with a surgical team at several casualty clearing stations.


Summer of 1918-Intense work caring for casualties at clearing stations continues. Photo -Nurses helping soldiers with basket weaving as part of rehab or
recovering from “shell shock.” (Thecla on right)


September 1918-One week leave to southeastern France

November 1918-Becomes ill. Spends a week in nurse’s hospital.

November 1918-Hostilities cease. Many cases of influenza and pneumonia


December 1918-Ambulance overturns. Thecla’s back is injured.

January through March 1919-Thecla and Evanston nurses move to Vannes, France in preparation for unit’s return to U.S.  For nearly three months these nurses have little to do.  They wait to be returned to U.S.


April 15, 1919-Nurses board S.S. Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm in the port of Brest. They travel to New York.


Late May, 1919-Spends nine days in New York in “Welcome Home” celebrations.


June 15, 1919-Thecla arrives in West Bend

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