John Voorhees Wounded During Artillery Attack

06/19/1918 |


John Voorhees’s position came under artillery fire, and he was injured when shrapnel from an exploding shell broke his right thigh.

As the attack on his position began, he and C. W. Peel stayed in their YMCA hut, finally evacuating it moments before it was destroyed by a shell.  Voorhees and Peel ran for a trench, but Voorhees was struck before he could reach it.   C. W. Peel and two soldiers carried Voorhees to a Red Cross first aid station.  He underwent surgery that succeeded in saving his leg, but he required a blood transfusion during the operation in order to save his life.

Charles Hesselgrave attempted to visit him, but Voorhees was still under ether when Hesselgrave arrived.  Hesselgrave wasn’t able to see him today.

Neat little tidbit

Voorhees protested that Peel and the two soldiers abandon him for their own safety’s sake, but they persisted in rescuing him.  The two soldiers remain unnamed in every account I’ve so far found of this day.

Trust but verify

Later, the Courant would report that Voorhees hadn’t left his hut until after a shell, exploding about 20 feet away from the hut, had destroyed it.  This would remain consistent in reporting especially after Voorhees returned to the United States.

In the letter that Hesselgrave would write to Juliana Voorhees the next day after he visited Voorhees, he described Voorhees as having first been taken to the Red Cross first aid station and then to “Evacuation No. 1” hospital.  According to Hesselgrave, it was at the hospital, not the first aid station, that Voorhees had his operation and that then Hesselgrave had visited him.  Despite the conflicting information, I’ll side with Hesselgrave on this one, since he would have known where he visited Voorhees.

Put into context

This was the second time that his position had come under artillery fire in the last three days. 

Questions to pose

Who were the two soldiers who helped Peel rescue Voorhees?


Unattributed, “How Dr. Voorhees Got His Wound,” Hartford Courant, July 15, 1918, page 3.

Unattributed, “Rev. Dr. Voorhees Critically Ill in New York Hospital,” Hartford Courant, January 6, 1919, page 1.

Unattributed, “Rev. Dr. Voorhees Dies in New York,” Hartford Courant, January 9, 1919, page 4.

Unattributed, “Rev. Dr. Voorhees is now patient at N. Y. City hospital,” Hartford Courant, December 26, 1918, page 1.

Unattributed, “Rev. Dr. Voorhees Wounded in France,” Hartford Courant, June 23, 1918, page 17

John Voorhees


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