Johnson County

Major Helen E. Wharton



Lieut. Helen Wharton (left) of Iowa City, Ia., and Lieut. Ruth Thompson, Wakefield, Ill., at an evacuation hospital near the 5th army lines in Italy takes advantage of a sunny day to shake out their blankets.

Source: The Des Moines Tribune, February 14, 1944 (photo included)

NOW CHIEF NURSE...Lt. Helen E. Wharton, Iowa City, Ia., has been named Chief Nurse for the American fifth army,, now in Italy.

Source: Carroll Daily Times Herald, March 15, 1944 (photo included)

Captain Helen Wharton of Iowa City, chief nurse of the Fifth army, talks with Lt .Gen. Mark Clark (center) commanding general of the Fifth army, and King George VI of Great Britain (right). The photo was made during the king's tour of Allied-controlled Italy. The man at the extreme right is Gen. Sir Harold Alexander, Allied generalissimo in Italy and the Mediterranean.

Capt. Wharton, who is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H.B. Wharton, of Iowa City, joined the army nurse corps in 1942 and went overseas with the Michael Reese hospital unit in April 1943. She was stationed in Italy for a time and was on a hospital ship which was bombed in the bay of Salerno. Capt. Wharton was made chief nurse of the Fifth army last March.

Source: The Daily Times, August 4, 1944 (photo included)

Iowan Head of Nurses in Fifth Army

(Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent)

With the 5th Army in Italy, (IDPA) -- Capt. Helen E. Wharton, director of nurses of the 5th army was born in Livingston and is a resident of Iowa City.

The tall, attractive, 34 year old native of Appanoose county wears the purple heart in recognition of wounds received when the hospital ship, New New Foundland, was bombed and sunk in the Mediterranean Sea, Sept. 13, 1943.

After being graduated from Mystic high school she went to the Michael Reese Nursing school in Chicago and from there to take further nursing education at Columbia University in New York City.

From the time she finished that course until November 1942 she was assistant director of nurses at the New York State Psychiatry Institute of the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. She then joined the army as a second lieutenant in the Micheal Reese Unit in which she came oversees to land in Africa in April of 1943.

In January of 1944 she was given her present assignment, which is among the most important in the American armed forces. She regularly visits all the hospitals in the 5th army because everything which concerns nurses is her business. High ranking officers say she is remarkably energetic and efficient.

"Yes, traveling from place to place I am sometimes under fire," she admitted modestly, "but my thoughts are with all of the boys fighting our enemies and especially those who are wounded and sickened in service."

Captain Wharton has highest praise for the courage of the nurses, who come from every state in the union.

"I have known many of them to do their tasks when they were ill but would keep it to themselves so the doctors wouldn't send them to bed," she said. "I know some, who have put on leg sprints when their ankles gave out so they could continue working, and I know one, who insists upon doing what she can at her evacuation hospital with a broken neck she got in a driving accident."

"Greatest place in the world," Captain Wharton said of Iowa.

Her father is Harry B. Wharton who has charge of dental maintenance at the state university.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, Nov. 25, 1944

Helen Wharton, Iowa City, chief nurse, medical section of the Fifth army, has been promoted from captain to major. She was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds sustained when a hospital ship was torpedoed in the American landing at Salerno in September of 1943.

Source: Quad City Times, February 5, 1945