Polk County

Lt. Susie J. Pitcher


Cattell Library Keeps Honor Roll


Many Nurses

The nurses are Johanna Hansen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Otto Hansen, who formerly lived at 3932 Lay ave, and now reside on a farm near Des Moines; Mrs. Helen Warren Chaudoin, daughter of Mrs. Martha Warren, 709 Morton, ave; Mabel Heth, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Heth, 823 Grandview ave; and Susie Pitcher, navy nurse and sister of Mrs. Mary Farr, 3513 Wright st.

Miss Pitcher had been reported missing by the navy. But Saturday her sister, Mrs. Farr, received word that Miss Pitcher is believed to be safe, a prisoner of the Japanese in the Santa Tomas internment camp near Cavite in the Philippines.

Source: Des Moines Register, September 27, 1942

Liberated Navy Nurse Enjoying Moline Reunion

Lt. Susie Pitcher, Held Three Years by Japs, Meets Old Friends Here

Lt. Susie Pitcher, of Des Moines, navy nurse who was a prisoner of the Japanese in the Philippines for three years before she was liberated by American doughboys on February 23, spent last night and today with friends in Moline en route to Great Lakes where she will go for reassignment.

Lieutenant Pitcher was confined to Los Banos internment camp where Father Alphonese Lesage of Moline also was a prisoner. The navy nurse said she met the Moline priest there on a number of occasions.

In Moline Lieutenant Pitcher met Miss Helen Russell, a retired navy nurse whom she knew when she was taking her navy training, and Mrs Harold Scott, 2607 Seventeenth avenue, with whom she was associated at Children's Memorial hospital in Chicago fifteen years ago. Miss Russell is now residing with her sister, Mrs. Roy J. Entrikin, 735 Twelfth street, and the latter entertained at dinner for the liberated nurse last evening. Lieutenant was a house guest at the Harold Scott residence.

Lieutenant Pitcher said the food, shelter and medical supplies at the Jap interment camp were woefully inadequate but that the prisoners were not physically mistreated. She has been a navy nurse for years and was stationed in the naval hospital in the Philippines when the Japs captured the islands.

Source: The Dispatch, June 26, 1945

Heroines of Prison Camp

For their heroic work before and during internment, these nurses who were freed from Los Banos prison camp, Philippine island, will receive Bronze Star medals Tuesday. They are pictured with Vice-Admiral Thomas C Kinkaid, commander of the 7th fleet and Southwest Pacific force after their return to American safety Feb 23. At far left is Lt. Susie Pitcher, 3513 Wright st., Des Moines, Ia.

Source: The Des Moines Tribune, September 4, 1945 (photo included)

Ex-POW Navy nurses in front of the aircraft that brought them from the southwest Pacific to Naval Air Station, Honolulu, on what was then called Territory of Hawaii, early in March 1945.

From left (the nurses are wearing leis):
Mary Chapman; Basilia Stewart; not identified; Edwina Todd; Susie Pitcher ; Dorothy Still; Mary Rose Harrington; Laura Mae Cobb; Peggy Nash; Eldene Paige; Goldie O’Haver (barely visible); Bertha Evans; and Helen Gorzelanski.
The others in the photograph are not identified.

**Susie Pitcher is the 6th woman from the left side**
Source: from a website—Pure Grit

Death Takes Susie Pitcher

Services for Susie J. Pitcher of Des Moines, a retired navy nurse who was a prisoner of the Japanese three years during World War II will be Thursday in San Diego, Cal.

Lieutenant Pitcher died Sunday at the San Diego naval hospital where she had been ill six months with leukemia. She is the sister of Mrs. William Farr, 3513 Wright st., who left Sunday night for California to attend the funeral.

A graduate of Lake City high school and a former Meredith Publishing Co. employee here, Lieutenant Pitcher was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval training station before being sent to the Philippines in September, 1941.

She was reported missing July, 1942. Interned at Los Banos prison camp in the Philippines, she was rescued there in February, 1945.

After her return to the United States, she visited her sister in Des Moines and told of the efforts of imprisoned nurses to battle starvation and death in the camp without medical supplies.

She was one of a group of 11 Navy nurses awarded the navy's Gold Star and the army's Bronze Star for their desperate fight to save lives in Japanese prison camps.

Source: The Des Moines Tribune, January 3, 1951 (photo graph included)