File No. 811.142/851

Miss Mabel T. Boardman , Chairman of the National Relief Board of the American Red Cross, to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Secretary: In September 1914, the American Red Cross sent 11 hospital units to Europe to assist in caring for the sick and wounded of the belligerent nations. Since then other units have been added, until at the present time we have 16 groups distributed in the war zone as follows: [Page 1043]

At Paignton, England A. R. C. Units D and F
At Yvetot, France A. R. C. Yvetot Unit
At Pau, France A. R. C. Units A and B
At Cosel, Germany A. R. C. Unit G
At Gleiwitz, Germany A. R. C. Unit I
At Kief, Russia A. R. C. Units C and H
At Vienna, Austria A. R. C. Unit K
At Budapest, Hungary A. R. C. Unit E
At Belgrade, Servia A. R. C. Servian Units 1, 2, and 3
(At La Panne, Belgium A. R. C. Belgian Units 1 and 2)

Such great demands have been made during the past 11 months on the people of the United States in an endeavor to relieve distressed conditions in Europe that for some time there has been a marked decrease in the amount of funds and other donations sent to the American Red Cross, with which to meet the salaries, travel, and other incidental expenses of our hospital units in Europe. In addition to hospital units that have already been sent and maintained by the American Red Cross, medical, surgical, and hospital supplies have been sent to the Red Cross societies of the various belligerent countries in Europe on 84 different vessels since September 12, 1914.

Owing to the difficulties of travel under war conditions and the fact that in some instances our units have been delayed for weeks in transit, and that it has not in all cases seemed desirable to place them in positions where they could be kept fully occupied and thus justify the expense of their maintenance, it is felt that we can perform a greater service by withdrawing the units, making it possible to utilize the funds thus released for the purchase of medical and surgical supplies to be forwarded to Europe. For these reasons we have decided to withdraw all the surgeons and nurses composing our hospital personnel in Europe from the several belligerent countries (excepting those at La Panne, Belgium, who were sent only last spring1) not later than October 1 of the present year, and from the date of this communication we will not fill any vacancies occurring in our personnel.

As these units were originally offered by the American Red Cross through the Department of State and our ambassadors at the various capitals of the belligerent countries in Europe, and were accepted by them, it seems proper to communicate our intentions regarding the withdrawal of these hospital units through similar channels at this time, so that the authorities in those countries may be given sufficient advance notice of the prospective withdrawal of our personnel to enable them to make the necessary provision for taking of the work in the hospitals now operated by the American Red Cross, or to close them as seems best to them in their judgment.

May I therefore ask, Mr. Secretary, if you will kindly cable the following information to the American diplomatic representatives accredited to the countries in which the American Red Cross units are stationed, with the exception of Belgium:…

Yours sincerely,

Mabel T. Boardman
  1. The sanitary commission in Servia was also not included in the withdrawal.