Sophie’s Mother’s Story

Written by AHQ

10 September 2015

We have a guest author tonight. Sophie was the first to send me a family story – this one about her Mother’s service and before you ask me, Sophie assures me that the spelling of Lieutentant is correct.  You are going to love this story!



My mother, Adeline Maffey was born in 1920 in Kansas, USA, and did her nurses training there. Then in 1943, she, like thousands of others, decided to join the US Army Nurse Corps. Her family was not too pleased about this!

She was enlisted from 9 March 1943 to 1945. Her qualifications as a registered nurse, pre-enlistment, entitled her to the rank of Second Lieutentant.

She told us one story about her basic training, in the US, where all the nurses were taught to throw live hand grenades. And, never being a sportswoman, her ability to throw anything where it was supposed to go, was seriously lacking. Needless to say, there was a certain laundry block on the base that got a bit of a rearranging.      

And Second Lieutentant Maffey was never allowed near a grenade again!!

She traveled by ship to Oran, Algeria where she spent the first part of her tour of duty. She nursed allied troops as well as POW’s. Whilst in Oran, she and a buddy decided they wanted to go across to Rome to see the Pope, as they were Roman Catholic girls. And go to the opera… why not?! So with the help of the base Padre, they went to Rome! AWOL, technically, and by a convoluted route, they got there. Saw Pope Pius and went to the opera. Bliss!

Now the trip back was a little less a straight forward… One leg of the trip consisted of the two girls in a very small aircraft with a non-English speaking Russian pilot. Then change into a DC3 for the rest of the trip back to Oran.  But they discovered when they got to the DC3, the aircraft was also going to be carrying generals and other high ranking officers!! Not good for two AWOL Army nurses…. But they managed to get on board unseen by them and hide themselves amongst the cargo. When they arrived back at Oran, the Padre was at the airfield to pick the girls up. He was horrified to see all the higher ranks leave the aircraft and thought for sure the girls had been found out. But no…..they hadn’t been. When everyone else had disembarked, the girls snuck out of the aircraft into the Jeep with the Padre and made it back to base safe and sound.

She went from Oran to Italy for the rest of the war. I can’t remember where exactly.

She was awarded the US World War II Victory Medal and the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign set.
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I proudly wore the medals this year for her, on the LEFT side. You see, US medals are worn on that side. (Figuring that out was a saga in itself!!!)

My mother died this year, on the 27th April. She would have been 95 this year.
She sadly, had dementia so could​ not  fill in any of the blanks for us. She did not talk much about the day-to-day part of her job but liked to tell us stories like the one above.

She had a scrap book of her time in the Army.  I remember it containing POW insignias, poems and letters written by all of her patients, maps, newspaper cuttings. I do not know what happened to the scrapbook, only that she no longer has it.
What a loss to us all! 

What an awesome story. Thanks for sharing Sophie!

Please don’t be shy. If you enjoyed reading this story by Sophie please think about sharing your story too.

Till next time……………keep spreading the word and happy stitching!
Jan-Maree xx

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1 Comment

  1. Sue Niven

    Beautifully told. Thank you for giving us her story.


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