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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

HEROIC MEASURES, digital, $1.99 only for Centennial of Declarations of War August 3-4

BUY LINK: http://amzn.to/1dWojVz

In commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Declarations of War by various countries, the publisher has reduced the price of digital version of HEROIC MEASURES for the next few days. (The price of the print version remains the same.) Buy Link: http://amzn.to/1dWojVz

August 3-4, 1914 are dates considered the official start date of the hostilities given that many declared by writ or by action that they existed in state of war.

The assassinations of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo June 28, 1914 certainly began the tragic series of events that culminated in millions of men, women and children dying world wide in the 4 year conflict that followed.

HEROIC MEASURES tells the story of the 22,000+ American women who volunteered to serve in the Army Nurse Corps and sail to France to serve.

What facts about them should you know and honor them for:


  • They volunteered, but were considered Army recruits.
  • They earned half—yes, HALF—the pay of an Army private.
  • They worked shifts that lasted 12 hour, but as the battles intensified and many wounded came to their operating tents and base hospitals—they worked 24 and 36 hours. Many of them dropped from fatigue. Hundreds died of tuberculosis, diseases and influenza. None died in combat, but hundreds served right in back of the front lines.
  • This is the first time that American woman go abroad to serve in the thousands.
  • Because this is the period in American history when the civil rights rule was to have "separate but equal" facilities for African-Americans, the Army established a separate African American Army Nurse Corps to serve the African-American recruits. 
  • A nurse signed a pledge to serve until the end of the war. She could not decide to go home at will, but had to remain in the Corps until the end. Just like a soldier.
  • I hope you will read my book for more insight into these marvelous women who served in a time of abject need.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ready for a Great American History lesson? WWI Centennial, April 1917

American Field medical kit, 1917
Musee de la Grande Guerre, Meaux France
(Jo-Ann Power, photo)
Probably the least appreciated subject in school tends to be history. Just watch any of those "man on the street" interviews where a tv announcer asks someone who George Washington was and you can cringe.
But the best way to teach history is to live it.
And here, for your continuing education and delight, is a BRIEF list of a few groups and organizations creating really wonderful projects. Take note. Take yourself to these sites virtual and real. Better yet, take your children!
Learn from the past with these terrific programs:

1. Go to http://worldwar-1centennial.org to see the complete list, to date. Return often and look for more in your city or town!

2. For August 3-4, when the official commemorations begin in Europe, do see the wonderful lists of events our friends have developed here:
Britain: http://www.greatwar.co.uk/events/2014-2018-events-uk.htm
France: http://www.france.fr/en/institutions-and-values/first-world-war-centenary-1914-1918.html
Belgium:http://www.visitflanders.us/what-to-do/events/great-war-centenary/events_2014-2018.jsp
Germany: 100 Jahre Erster Weltkrieg http://www.volksbund.de
 German War Graves Commission web site

August 3 in the Alsace, the French and German heads of state meet to reaffirm their dedication to peace. They meet in the Alsace, one of the most hotly contested regions between the two countries. The meet beneath this sculpture of their ancestors carved into a mountain above the battlefield.

How could this possibly be of interest to Americans?
Well, I can tell you for myself that because my ancestors fled the Alsace in 1859 because of the constant warfare there, I find this interest in peace-keeping personally significant and gratifying to know.
From CentenaryNews.com: "They will meet at Hartmannswillerkopf, where almost 30,000 soldiers from both sides died in a series of battles for control of a strategic promontory overlooking the Alsatian Plain and the Rhine Valley. Known to French soldiers of the Great War as the Vieil Armand battlefield, the area was declared a historic monument in 1921, and now serves as a symbol of Franco-German reconciliation."

3. For those with a passion for more WWI info, do go to World War One Historcal Association site: ww1ha.org.  You may join for a nominal sum.
    They have a monthly magazine which you can read on line or in print, written by experts in the subject.

4. If you saw on TV the 3-part History Channel documentary about the Two World Wars, then you saw brief bios of George Patton, the famous general who fought in the Argonne in World War One, and Douglas MacArthur who commanded the Rainbow Division, the unit that fought in Oise-Aisne and into Meuse-Argonne campaigns.
     For those of you who live in the Tidewater area, visit MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA. http://www.macarthurmemorial.org
    For a short and useful video of the causes of the war, do watch this 13 minute film:
http://youtu.be/p9rXwt6n1cU

5. Bringing the remembrance of those who fought to the cities and towns in the USA, a few organizations have wonderfully informative programs. One of these is the World War I Memorial Inventory Project, wwi-inventory.org
   This project is very exciting, recording in one place for the first time all of the memorials, large and small, the many American commemorations of the war we entered late...but helped to win.

6. Similar to the Inventory Project, but focused on teaching American children the history of the men and women who helped fight the war is Saving Hallowed Ground.  Led by Eugene P. Hough, this group will help communities organize and find the records of local military and volunteers who served in the war. Many of these men and women went abroad, fought and returned to little or no acclaim. With each school child choosing one name of a veteran and then learning about them and telling his or her classmates about that person, they will allow these men and women to live again in the hearts and minds of their countrymen. See www.SavingHallowedGround.com

    If any of these groups or their projects appeal to you, do contact the organizers or leaders. They will be happy to assist you with any efforts you may wish to contribute to remembering those who served in World War One.
   Please return here for more of my list of great American WWI Commemoration groups and events!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

WWI Centennial is upon us as we remember how millions went to war in summer 1914: USA's WWI Centennial Commission

     I had the honor of being selected to attend the WWI Congressional Centennial Commission's first meeting in Washington D.C. June 14.
     Yes, here I am with my book at the event that bright Saturday afternoon, offering my services to speak at museums and tell others about the 22,000+ women who served in the Army Nurse Corps during The Great War. Ten thousand of them sailed to France to serve there.
     You are going to be surprised and very pleased by the number of those involved in the American commemoration projects.
     And yes, I will list them here, then post their website links to the right in the sidebar for you. What's more, I am delighted to tell you more about each one. They are so varied—from those who are re-enactors to those who are discovering and preserving our long-lost WWI memorials to those who are developing projects for K-12.
     The first website you should visit is that of the World War One Centennial Commission. This is a group authorized by the U.S. Congress to coordinate all commemorative activities by groups and individuals for the war. http://worldwar-1centennial.org
     This Commission will be the information center for American activities. If you know of an event or a private individual who has a special project or expertise, do send them to the website and encourage them to write to the Commission. Note too that this group was authorized without funding so all activities are voluntary.
     While those in Europe are already deep into the commemorative process, we here are just getting started. Understandable of course, since we Americans did not declare war against Germany and her allies until April 6, 1917.
   Then too, once we declared war, we really did not GO to war until approximately a year later. General Pershing demanded that he have at least 1 million men to go to the battlefront—and that conscription allotment was not fulfilled until approximately one year later. By the time we were in France in force of one million, it was the Spring 1918. No, Pershing did not go to war with the Army he had. He knew would be disastrous. Furthermore, he advocated educating his staff first, sending his artillery and cavalry (let that read mechanized forces, such as they were) into situations with French and British troops along their lines. He wanted his troops to benefit from what the British and French had learned.
  One of the first groups to go was the first hospital to be organized to go abroad. From Baltimore Maryland (my home town), Johns Hopkins University medical staff volunteered and organized as Base Hospital #1. I post here a photograph given me by First Division Museum curators in Cantigny Illinois of the interior of that hospital. Do note the wooden construction, the metal beds, the uniformity of linens and blankets and do notice especially the nurse in the aisle working with orderlies.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How heroic are you? Excerpt from HEROIC MEASURES about American nurses in WWI France! Out now!

Out now in digital and print at all sites! Here is Buy Link at Amazon:
http://amzn.to/1dWojVz
How heroic are you?
            Would you volunteer to travel thousands of miles from home with others you don’t know to live in tents, wash your hair in your helmet and work 12-24 hours each day?
            In the Great War, thousands of women did.
            HEROIC MEASURES is the novel that shows you how American nurses went to war, how they lived and served­—and how they loved.
            For nurse Gwen Spencer, fighting battles is nothing new. An orphan sent to live with a vengeful aunt, Gwen picked coal and scrubbed floors to earn a living. But when she decides to become a nurse, she steps outside the boundaries of her aunt’s demands…and into a world of her own making.
            Leaving her hometown for France, she helps doctors mend thousands of brutally injured Doughboys under primitive conditions. Amid the chaos, she volunteers to go ever forward to the front lines. Braving bombings and the madness of men crazed by the hell of war, she is stunned to discover one man she can love. A man she can share her life with.
            But in the insanity and bloodshed she learns the measures of her own desires. Dare she attempt to become a woman of accomplishment? Or has looking into the face of war and death given her the courage to live her life to the fullest?

Excerpt: Copyright, Jo-Ann Power, 2013. All rights reserved.
When she did return to the tent, she had Colonel Scott in tow. She’d told him nothing except their German was now awake, aware and spoke English. She thought it best to let the officer discern the veracity of the man.
“Nurse Spencer tells me you speak our language. Might I ask you where you learned it?”
“At my mother’s knee, Colonel. I am Captain Adam Fairleigh, His Majesty’s Forces. Forgive me, sir, I would greet you appropriately but our erstwhile nurse has strapped me to the bed.”
“Then you must need restraining,” Scott replied. “What the hell is this that you say you’re with the Brits?”
“I am, sir. I am attached to General Pershing’s staff, Chaumont.”
“As what? How do you speak Hun so well and why in God’s name are you in one of their uniforms?”
Fairleigh arched both brows, looking at the short American down his very elegant straight nose. “Liaison to the American Commander, sir. Since December. I speak excellent German because my maternal grandmother came from Saxe-Coburg, the same principality as our late Prince Albert. I speak German, sir, as well as I do English. Before the war, that was no crime, but an asset.”
“I see. And how do you come by this uniform?”
Their patient was no longer so quick or cocky. “I took it off a dead man.”
Gwen swallowed hard at the savage image of this man removing clothing from a corpse.
“I had managed to crawl across a zone where they were not shelling. I thought if I could reach one of their forward trench lines, then I—”
“Preposterous. How did you get that far in your own uniform?”
“I went in peasants’ rags. Our lines abut an old village where only a few huts still stand.”
“Why discard your rags for a German captain’s uniform?”
“Well, sir, he was not only dead but conveniently my size.”
That shut the man up.
Gwen could only marvel at this creature in the bed.
“When I came upon their trench, I could hear their conversation below. Luck was with me. That bunker was a communications center. If I could get in there, I might learn quite enough to make my mission worthwhile. Of course, I couldn’t do that, couldn’t speak German to them and have them believe I was one of them if I wore French farmer’s culottes, could I? So I crept around…among their dead whose bodies they had not retrieved.” He stared at the American with blank eyes. “I happened upon the captain who seemed my height. Then I waited until night fell and—”
He halted, regarding Gwen once more. “I buried my rags and crawled into their trench. They accepted my story. I was privy to their orders that were to move their gun emplacements. Then, as you can expect, I was stuck with them, considered one of them. I had to run with them. I had no opportunity to escape until two nights later when the French opened a barrage in our sector.”
He lifted a hand, let it drop to the sheets. “I managed to hang back when they retreated with their line. I set out to No Man’s Land and prayed to Christ I’d find my way across to French lines. This took me…I’m not clear. A night. Two?” He shrugged. “Here I am.”
“Who is your American liaison in Pershing’s staff?”
“Colonel Samuel Rustings.”
Scott nodded, a hint of a smile curling his lips. “I see.”
“I gather you know him.”
“Same class at West Point.”
“Well, then. If you telegraph him, he will verify who I am and my mission. He knew I went out, you see.”
“A man from headquarters is already on his way here.”
“Splendid.”
“We thought we had ourselves a Heinie.”
The man’s mouth quirked in bitterness. “Sorry to disappoint you.”
“Oh, you’ll do, sir. What did you say your name was?”
Gwen noticed that Scott had not addressed him by his rank.
“Fairleigh.”
“We’ll see what our man from Chaumont has to say about you. In the meantime, my private is outside the tent.”
Fairleigh inclined his head in acknowledgement of his warder.
“Nurse. Finish up here. Untie him. ”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“Good day, then.”
When Scott had departed, Fairleigh regarded her with appraising eyes. “What is your name?”
“Spencer.”
“Nice name. Spencer.”
“Thank you.” She pulled her cart closer to his bed. No matter who he was, he was to be made whole as efficiently as she could.
“I am sorry, Spencer, for being an ass.”
She saw on his face honest contrition. Unaccustomed to apologies from those who insulted her, she had no reason to trust the value of his. Yet she gave him credit for the courtesy of it. He had done such a brave act. What kind of man would do as he had done? A fool. An opportunist. A man who saw this was work which he and he alone was best suited for? Was that hubris? Cunning? Or duty? If indeed, he had done it. If he hadn’t lied.
“Spencer, I am grateful for your help. Please do patch me up. I’d hate to lose my hands because I lacked good manners.”
He was making conversation to heal their rift. She picked through her gauze looking for the needle she had misplaced when she had left him. Brusqueness served her where experience did not. “Lie back then and be good.”
“Chilly. Do you they teach you to be frosty like that in America?”
“Yes.”
He feigned a shiver.
She fought a smile. “Put that spoon between your teeth. This needle will hurt.”
“I wager it will hurt less than your German. You should have warned me that it was so bad.”
“Careful.” Fingering her needle, she began to thread the eye. “You need me to be gentle as I sew. Besides,”—she could taunt him now that he was rational and at her mercy—“I doubt I’ll ever sing with you again.”
“I will endeavor to ensure you do.”
His attempt to charm her flattered her. She would do well to ignore it. “This is war, sir. Neither of us has the time.”
“Then sing to me instead.”
“When I put my needle in your skin, I will hear you sing and off key, too.” She threatened him, hiding all the humor his compliment inspired. “The spoon, sir. Now!”

HEROIC MEASURES BUY links:
Amazon:  http://amzn.to/1dWojVz  digital
                    http://amzn.to/1f30XAx   print







Read Jo-Ann’s HEROIC MEASURES blog about American nurses: http://theyalsofought.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Nurse.com praises HEROIC MEASURES, a "worthy portrait of nursing life"...in battlefields...and early 20th century"

http://scrubs.nurse.com/blog/?p=4400
The review continues:

“The story has a strong, riveting current that pulls the reader under. Gwen is a plucky, determined sharp-shooter that questions surgeons and army officials alike. She and the nurses by her side set a beautiful example for readers of the true essence of nursing. This is who nurses are, this is what nurses do.

Heroic Measures” is a worthy portrait of nursing life, both in the French battlefields of World War I and in the United States at the turn of the century. And Gwen Spencer and her fellow nurses are a testament to the young women who risked literal life and limb, in the name of duty, to save those wounded in battle.
* * * * *

Read the review at the original site: http://scrubs.nurse.com/blog/?p=4400

Monday, April 28, 2014

Americans in France: HEROIC MEASURES WWI Tour October 2014, 9 days, for Students, Men and Women

Americans in France:
Heroic Measures WWI Journey
9 Days in A.E.F's Footsteps
WWI American Battlefields in France:
A comprehensive tour for men, women and students of Americans' experience in France during The Great War, 1917-1919

   With more than 30 years' researching the American experience in France during The Great War, I lead this tour of the American battlefields of The Great War. Designed for everyone who has an interest in this first massive American military experience abroad, this tour gives you a comprehensive look at the war before the United States declared war in April 1917 until most troops and support services departed in the summer of 1919.

   Managed by prestigious travel corporation KER and DOWNEY, the tour features museums, American battlefields, memorials, and cemeteries with talks by various experts.
   Staff include me as the historical guide, a local French expert and the van driver.

Brief schedule:

Land Only Includes:Oct 13 2014 - Transfer - Meet and Assist at Paris airport (CDG)
Oct 13 2014 - Transfer - Charles De Gaulle airport (CDG) to Paris Hotel
Oct 13 2014 - Excursion - Dinner in Paris
Oct 13 2014 - 1 night in Paris at Marriott Ambassador Opera - Standard Room - BB - 12 x Room
                               - Includes breakfastOct 14 2014 - Transfer - Paris to Compiegne
Oct 14 2014 - Excursion - Visit to the Museum de la Grande Guerre
Oct 14 2014 - Excursion - Dinner at Hotel
Oct 14 2014 - 2 nights in Picardy at Hotel Les Beaux Arts - Standard Room - BB - 12 x Room
                               - Includes breakfastOct 15 2014 - Excursion - Half Day Cantigny Battlefield Tour
Oct 15 2014 - Excursion - Lunch on Excursion
Oct 15 2014 - Excursion - Half Day Armistice Museum Tour
Oct 16 2014 - Excursion - Half Day Oise-Aisne American Cemetery Tour
Oct 16 2014 - Transfer - Compiegne to Reims
Oct 16 2014 - Excursion - Lunch on Excursion
Oct 16 2014 - Excursion - Dinner at Hotel
Oct 16 2014 - 2 nights in Champagne at Hotel de la Paix - Standard Room - BB - 12 x Room
                               - Includes breakfast
Oct 17 2014 - Excursion - Half Day Belleau Woods Battlefield Tour
Oct 17 2014 - Excursion - Lunch on Excursion
Oct 17 2014 - Excursion - Visit to Chateau-Thierry Monument
Oct 18 2014 - Transfer - Reims to Verdun
Oct 18 2014 - Excursion - Dinner at Hotel
Oct 18 2014 - 4 nights in Meuse at Chateau des Monthairons - Standard Room - BB - 12 x Room
                               - Includes breakfastOct 19 2014 - Excursion - Half Day St. Mihiel American Cemetery Tour
Oct 19 2014 - Excursion - Lunch on Excursion
Oct 19 2014 - Excursion - Half Day Mont Sec Memorial Tour
Oct 19 2014 - Excursion - Dinner at Hotel
Oct 20 2014 - Excursion - Half Day Meuse-Argonne Cemetery Tour
Oct 20 2014 - Excursion - Lunch on Excursion
Oct 20 2014 - Excursion - Half Day Montfaucon Memorial Tour
Oct 20 2014 - Excursion - Dinner at Hotel
Oct 22 2014 - Transfer - Verdun to Paris

For more details
Please download the PDF at www.jo-annpower.com 
to read the complete itinerary.
For reservations and more information, please contact:
Trista Gage
Custom Travel Consultant
Tel: +1 (800) 423-4236
Fax: +1 (281) 371 2514
Email: tgage@kerdowney.com
Web: www.kerdowney.com

Saturday, March 8, 2014

18+ Days In AEF's footsteps, Verdun to Fort Douaumont, lost villages and Ossuary

 
In center of Verdun stands a statue to its citizens
who endured attacks on their city during
La Grande Guerre. She is dressed in period clothing.
  My husband's and my visit to Verdun included not only The Citadel but a trip up into the hills which surround that very important city. Nestled as it is in the hollow of the Meuse, Verdun offers an easy access down that river into the heart of central France. Holding it from all attackers was a vital strategy for the French in any conflict.

Today, the old city is a vibrant place, peaceful on the quai beside the flowing waters of the Meuse. At the medieval bridge stands the carved monument to the French Soldiers who served and defended the city throughout the four years of war.






Five French soldiers on the Quai in Verdun: Artilleryman, Miner, Cavalryman, Poilu, Airman

Land near Fort Douaumont marked by foxholes and shell craters.
    Driving up into the hills surrounding the city, we passed numerous placards naming villages destroyed, their inhabitants never to return to their land. (In fact, on the cover of my novel HEROIC MEASURES, is one such landscape.) But as we drive, we also notice another heart-rending quality. The land is pockmarked still with foxholes, trench lines and huge shell holes. We are reminded visually that men fought, suffered and died here. In fact, remains of many of them are still being unearthed today. Only months ago, a person walking the dense forests here came across a shallow grave containing the skeletal remains of quite a few French soldiers. do enlarge the photo here to see the contours I write of.
    Fort Douaumont was one of a series of battlements ringing the city of Verdun. Today, only two remain, Douaumont and Vaux.

Built in late 1880s, Douaumont is underground. Carved into the hillside, it is bone-chillingly cold, damp, foul smelling and in general extremely unpleasant. Yet, thousands of French served in this fort and fought in some of the most bitter and costly engagements of the war. If you visit—and I suggest you do—you will definitely want to take a tour. Especially interesting to me are two areas: the gun turret room and the latrines. But you definitely come away from here stunned that men endured such hardships for long months at a time.
Entrance to Fort Douaumont
     A short drive away lies the Ossuary and Cemetery. Finished in 1932, this mausoleum houses the remains of an estimated 130,000 French and German soldiers who fought over Verdun and at the surrounding areas in the four years of la Grande Guerre. (An estimated 700,000 French and German fought over Douaumont, incurring more than 230,000 casualties.)
    A truly enormous building, the Ossuary overwhelms you with grief to stand and consider the loss of so many whose names are unknown but whose loss certainly grieved those who did know them, yearn for them and suffer at their passing. The tower stands 150 feet high, truly colossal as you stand beneath it.  The cloisters to each side reach over 450 feet long.
Central tower of the Ossuary. This scaffolding you see 
herewas a renovation begun for The Centenniel.

 Surrounding this structure is the largest French cemetery for those who died in World War One. More than 16,160 men repose here. One plot contains those whose names are known. Another, those who are known but to God. When the Ossuary was built, families of those deceased whose names were known contributed to the fund to bury those whose names were not.
Front entrance to Ossuary



Here pictured are a few of the graves. But other separate sections include a plot for Jewish soldiers and another for muslims.  France had one of the largest contingents of colonial troops fighting with French nationals during the war.

To one corner of the cemetery is this fine sculpture of a French soldier at rest at last.

French soldiers buried individually in front of Ossuary.
French soldiers buried at Ossuary, Known Only to God.

French soldier at peace in cemetery at the Ossuary.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Pooches, canaries, pigeons and horses: Animals who served in World War One

Canaries who sang to wounded on hospital trains!

French Blue Cross Hospital for sick and wounded horses.
     We talk so often of the millions who died during la Grande Guerre. Twenty-two million soldiers and pilots. Six million civilians whose homes and farms were shattered, traipsed over, bombed, exploded in mines. Entire towns were obliterated, all  their residents fleeing the carnage. Many of those towns never were reinhabited. In fact, in eastern France, on many hillsides only a placard marks the site of where a prosperous village one stood.
     But animals served the war too. Millions of them. Canaries not only sang to wounded, but also pidgins carried messages. Dogs ran No Man's Land with messages, aiding chaplains whose grim duty was to find the wounded and the dead amid the hideous debris in the killing fields. Horses too served by the hundreds of thousands. These noble animals not only rode in early cavalry charges, but also pulled huge guns and hauled thousands of pounds of shells, bullets, rifles and even food to those in the front lines. One endearing photo here shows the hundreds of ill and wounded horses in the Blue Cross Hospital of the French.
     In the American Army was one extraordinary Sergeant. A terrier named Stubby served first in the Chemin des Dames area in 1917. Yes, he was an American pooch who even captured a German soldier in the Argonne all by his little ferocious self!
     With acute hearing, he warned his comrades about in-coming shells and often ran with men into No Man's Land. For all these feats and more, Stubby earned the Medal of Honor from the American Humane Society. Shown above in his uniform, he wears his medals proudly. After all, a guy must dress correctly when he is to stand in review…or meet the president, as he often did!

Friday, January 31, 2014

4.5 ***** for HEROIC MEASURES "a great read…ripe with details…"

Many thanks for Carolyn's Composition Corner for the praise of HEROIC MEASURES. Here is the screen shot of her review. Please visit her site often. The link is below.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What to exclude in a historical novel? The draperies? Scarlett used them! A few illustrations of my choices!

Inside Church at Benzu-le-Guery, France
Field Hospital No. 1, 2nd Division, June 16, 1918
Note wounded on floor, nurses and doctors tending men
My husband, wise soul that he is, often says he wants to read the essence of the action in a novel. Please, he tells me, do not hang the draperies for me. Nor tell me their color. Tell me about them if they are useful to the plot.
Only Margaret Mitchell used draperies to best fictional purpose: She took them down, altered them and made them into a dress for vain Scarlett so that she might seduce Rhett Butler.
Well, that brings me to the novelists' dilemma: What precisely are the drapes and how do I know?

Here are a few rules of selection from one who has written many hundreds of thousands of words, fiction and non. Yes, non-fiction requires a bit of discretion, too, when writing.

1. Does the fact fit best in this spot, that one...or not at all?

Illustration: I had a few facts about devastation of the French countryside circa 1917-1918 from many primary sources. Where and how to use them?
Why?
I did sprinkle them in at various points to show the journey Gwen Spencer was taking from her peaceful life in Pennsylvania, USA, to the war-torn countryside of north eastern France.

I use the scarcity of population to shade in desertion of the land far back of the line.

Many pages later, I use the ruins of a village to show how war destroyed homes and entire towns.

Much later, as Gwen disembarks on a train at Gare d'lest in Paris, I have her see how hundreds crowd into the cars, their arms full carrying their clothes, a dog or a chicken, their eyes glossy with despair as they flee bombs and advancing armies.

2. Does the particular detail add any color or drama that I don't already have? Or is its addition overload?

Illustration: I have a few sources that describe how British destroyers came out at Portsmouth to accompany US warships on route to St. Nazaire and/or Bordeaux.

Man being carried into Dressing Station in French hillside
April 26, 1918
I showed how intimidating it was to someone like Gwen who had never seen a warship so huge and I had already painted in a tragic event on that warship.  My conclusion was that if I added this fact of British destroyers, I would minimize the "lesson" learned at the end of that tragic chapter.

I decided to forgo the British convoy and instead open the next chapter on the docks in St. Nazaire. Here, Gwen sees an unusual sight that is more intriguing and raises more questions for her to answer than to have put her out to sea, literally, with the British escorts.

3. In a women's historical, just how realistic should I be when describing wounds, surgery and death?

This is the BIG Question which I see so many authors (romance, mystery, fantasy—yes, fantasy!) dealing with as they use war as backdrop to their fiction.

Illustration: In my research, I read numerous first hand accounts by nurses who hated the smell of unwashed bodies, urine and feces. One nurse unwraps a man's bandages and his brains fall out. She is horrified and shoves them back in, not knowing what to do, realizing years later, that he must have been dead already. Another recounts the men who crawled in to her tent, clutching their own entrails in their hands. These things happened. They are a part of any war. They were a part of this war.

Trust me, to have included all of that in raw detail would have raised a ruckus among women readers (my main target audience), even among many who read historical fiction and praise accuracy. I have one review already from a woman who has roundly criticized me for

Triage station, 42nd Division, Suippes, France, July 17, 1918

how "gory" my descriptions are. THAT surprises me. But many will pick up a book, expecting one thing and becoming angry at the author who does not provide precisely that. I personally thought I went out of my way to make the book as useful to set the scene as possible. I knew I was not writing an apologia, and I was definitely not writing a blood and guts battle guide for those, especially men who like to read stories of battles.

An author's choices are myriad. The ones that become a part of a novel are the most useful "translations" of fact to the devices of the plot and nuances of character growth.
Dressing station, motorized ambulance, Ambulance Company No. 137,
Alsace, August 31, 1918