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Friday April 29, 2016
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The Washtenaw Polar Bears

 

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Those Ann Arbor men assigned to the 337th Field Hospital Company faced different challenges. In a letter published by the DTN, Captain Kinyon of Ann Arbor describes "operating every minute of daylight"--which lasted only a few hours--"on soldiers and civilians of many kinds." Robert Granville, who later headed the Ann Arbor High English department, entertained Nora, his fifteen-year-old niece, with descriptions of the reindeer teams pulling sleighs across the river. Russian ladies, he says, laundered his clothes in the Dvina River through holes in the ice using fish oil soap: "I went around smelling like a Bolshevik until I could get some clean underwear."

While Granville may have managed to stay in Archangel all through the war, Nordman and other members of the hospital company took barges up the Dvina River, following the fighting. Nordman appears as "Pork Nardman [sic], one of our 'undertakers'" in soldier Godfrey Anderson's memoir, which is included in a collection called Quartered in Hell: the Story of the American North Russia Expeditionary Force, 1918-1919.

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