Base Hospitals of the American and British Expeditionary Forces


The Officers of U.S.A. Base Hospital No. 5 (Harvard Medical School Unit), taken at Fort Totten, N.Y., May 10, 1917

Gift of Dr. Harvey Cushing to the Library of Harvard Medical School, 1924

Taken on the day before departure for Europe, the photograph shows Drs. Harvey Cushing and Roger I. Lee flanking R. U. Patterson in the front row.

In April 1917, at the urging of President Woodrow Wilson, the House and Senate of the United States Congress voted to declare war on Germany and bring American troops into the European conflict.  The armed forces of the country were assembled as the American Expeditionary Forces and placed under General John J. Pershing.  In addition to the ongoing work of the Surgical Unit at Camiers, Harvard's medical and surgical personnel had a vital role to play, and many became attached to military base hospitals working behind the front lines.   

In 1915, the American Red Cross organized its activities into departments of civilian and military relief which could then be used for training and preparedness by the armed forces.  Colonel J. R. Kean of the Red Cross' Military Relief division proposed that three Boston hospitals--Massachusetts General, Boston City, and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital--form units to staff military hospitals, all of them representing Harvard Medical School and under the Red Cross.  

Base Hospitals of the American and British Expeditionary Forces