SHAKO: “Forgotten” Belgian Hero Nurse at Bastogne Dies at 94

August 27, 2015 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Augusta Chiwy.

If you saw the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” or read the Stephen Ambrose book on which the show was based, you probably remember the episode depicting the horrorific conditions the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division endured in December 1944 in a Belgian town called Bastogne.

"The Forgotten Nurse" book cover

“The Forgotten Nurse” book cover

Mentioned in passing in the book and seen very briefly in the television show is a young African-Belgian nurse aiding the wounded pouring in to an aid station that was out of everything from bandages and medicine to anesthetic and nurses.

That nurse, Augusta Chiwy, died Sunday (August 23) near Brussels. She was 94.

The New York Times obituary recounts her amazing wartime experiences as a volunteer civilian nurse in Bastogne when it was surrounded by German troops during  the worst winter weather in a century.

The Times also notes that her wartime heroism was largely unknown — or forgotten — until a British writer’s biography of her was published in 2010 under the title: “The Forgotten Nurse.”  The daughter of a Belgian veterinarian and a Congolese mother, Ms.Chiwy wasn’t even allowed to care for white soldiers at first until the only remaining Army doctor decided to break the rules and told wounded whites that Ms. Chiwy was a volunteer, adding, “You either let her treat you or you die,” according to the Times.

The book led to Ms. Chiwy receiving the recognition she deserved, including a knighthood by the king of the Belgians. It’s a fascinating story of courage, selflessness and caring. We commend it to your attention.

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SHAKOSHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.

 

 

 

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Entry filed under: Army, News Developments, SHAKO, Traditions. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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