top of page
  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Florence Schertz Schrock, WWII nurse

Florence Schertz was the daughter of David and Catherine Schertz of Normal, Illinois. She attended ISNU and was trained in nursing at Brokaw Hospital and at Loyola University in Chicago. Like her sister, Carolyn, who she may have remembered serving in Europe during World War I, Florence became a Red Cross nurse and was working in California from about 1939 until she was activated as an Army nurse in 1941 (pre Pearl Harbor).

Florence was sent to Australia, where the 105th General Hospital was located at the Gatton Agricultural College in Queensland. The 105th stayed at this location for about two years and then moved to New Guinea, closer to the battles. In the Pacific it was not possible for the nurses to follow the line of battle (the area behind the line of battle being so extremely slim!) and nurses were only moved into locations after each island or area was secured. Below is an undated postcard of Gatton Agricultural College.

Although this was a beautiful location, the work there was not. Injured soldiers were brought to the general hospitals for extensive treatment after being injured in the battlefield or for treatment for tropical diseases. In the hospitals of the South Pacific the doctors made many advances in the treatment of tropical diseases.

Florence spent over three years in the Pacific Theater, two of them at Gatton. At Gatton they had nurse's dorms built by army engineers, clubs for entertaining each other, a hospital newspaper, and a stable supply of medical necessities. The 105th was disbanded December 23, 1943 and the members were sent to serve in other hospitals throughout the Pacific. Florence's service during the last year would have been serving in areas closer to the action, but the names of the places where she served have not been recorded anywhere. During the war she was awarded the Bronze Star for her service under significant danger, so we know that she was close to the action at some point.

The Gatton hospital was somewhat distant from any cities worthy of the name, so R and R was usually a matter of home grown entertainment. A hospital newspaper was published and at the end of their stay a book memorializing their time at Gatton was published by the newspaper staff. It seems that Florence or her daughter donated that book to the library at the Museum of History in McLean County.

Florence married January 27, 1947 at the age of 40. Her husband was William R. Schrock, who had also served during the war and who was working in the aircraft industry in Los Angeles. Sadly, William died just one year after their marriage. Florence returned to Bloomington with her daughter, Peggy, and made her home in Bloomington the rest of her life. She furthered her education at the Peabody College in Tennessee where she received a degree in Public Health Nursing. She served a further 25 years in public health nursing in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois.

Public health nursing was a line of nursing that many of the wartime nurses followed. After the relative freedom of nursing on the warfront, these nurses were unwilling to tie themselves down to a job in a hospital for significantly less pay than they made in the army or navy and were unwilling to accept the behavior of less than respectful doctors who did not recognize their accomplishments and ability to think independently. As a public health nurse they traveled in the community and acted as authorities dispensing health education. With her education, Florence was able to raise her daughter in her own home.

Florence died November 20 1991 at the age of 86. She was a member of the Carl S. Martin American Legion post in Normal, Illinois.

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page