Thompson Document 19: Introduction to Ruby Thaw Johnson


Thompson Document 19: Introduction to Ruby Thaw Johnson


Ruby Johnson



Ruby Johnson studied nursing at Gordon Seagrave’s hospital in Namhkan. When she was twenty years old, she and several other volunteers were chosen to work for Seagrave's mobile surgical unit. The nurses and surgeons worked closely with the Friends Ambulance Unit who brought the wounded soldiers, mostly Chinese, to the medical staff for treatment. During her interview with Henrietta Thompson, Johnson remembered:

“we were working night and day, with very little rest. There was lots of bombing and we were constantly having to move everything back from the front as the Japanese advanced. I was often very afraid, and the more scared I was the more I prayed…You cannot imagine how ugly and terrible it was.”

This and Johnson’s memories of the trek to India across the Uyu river and over the Naga Hills were quite illuminating for Henrietta Thompson as she was compiling her history of the Walkout.

After the war, Johnson studied at the Margaret Hague Hospital in Jersey City on a Fulbright scholarship. When Thompson interviewed Johnson in 1971, Johnson was living with her husband and daughter in a suburb of Philadelphia. In her thesis, Thompson recalled: “I could not have chosen a more delightful person than Ruby for my first interview.” Thanks to Ruby Johnson's connections (and the help of fellow Walkout participant Tun Shein in Burma), Thompson was put in contact with a number of nurses who had participated in the Walkout, many of whom Thompson interviewed in Burma the following summer.

Publication Date



Burma, Myanmar, Ruby Johnson, Henrietta Thompson, General Stilwell, Gordon Seagrave, Retreat With Stilwell, Burmese nurses


Asian History | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Military History | Oral History | United States History | Women's History

Thompson Document 19: Introduction to Ruby Thaw Johnson



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