Eula Gentzler Papers
The Eula Gentzler collection of World War II letters was donated to the Kansas State Historical Society by Eula Gentzler in 1978. The inclusive dates for the collection are 1943 to 1945. There are no restrictions on its use. The biographical information was furnished in an interview with Miss Gentzler.
Eula A. Gentzler was born November 10, 1910, in Belleville, Kansas. Her father Ernest T. Gentzler was a fireman for the Union Pacific Railroad. The family moved to Topeka when Eula was, approximately, thirteen years old. She graduated from Topeka High School and, later, the Asbury Hospital School of Nursing in Salina, Kansas, in 1937. She enlisted in the U. S. Army Nurse Corps in October, 1942. She was discharged in Octorber, 1945, but was recalled during the Korean conflict serving from 1951 to 1957.
Miss Gentzler was sent to Europe in the fall of 1943. She was assigned to duty on the hospital ships Shamrock and Arcadia, working in surgery as well as the wards. Both carried approximately 800 patients. The ships carried injured servicemen from North Africa and Europe to the U. S., requiring six weeks to make a trip across, pick up a load of patients, and return. When in the war zone, they would get patients during battles and would then work extended shifts. Miss Gentzler recalled that during the battle at Enzio, they started surgery at 1 p.m. and operated until 5 a.m. the next morning. On another occasion, they picked up a load of British sailors whose mine sweeper had been bombed and the hospital crew worked all night until they ran out of supplies.
Eula Gentzler died 13 April 1992.
The collection primarily consists of letters written to her parents who lived in Topeka. They contain references to hospital ship activities, the places she visited, and family references. She occasionally expresses her thoughts on the war.
Additional material was added to the collection in 1987. This material dates from 1942-1957 and deals primarily with her military service—official correspondence, miscellaneous forms, etc. Also included are 5 issues of a newspaper Fore and Aft published aboard the Arcadia, various certificates and identification cards, etc. Stored separately are photographs and two scrapbooks. The scrapbooks basically document her travel in Europe while on leave.