Also known as Lilly Base Hospital, Base Hospital No. 32 was founded in February 1917, in expectation of U.S. involvement in the war. Following donations from Josiah K. Lilly Sr. and Eli Lilly And Company, Lilly Base Hospital was created by the Indianapolis Chapter of the American Red Cross, which provided linen, bandages, and dressings to the hospital. It was named for Josiah’s father, Col. Eli Lilly.

Five rows of women stand on the front porch of a building.
Base Hospital No. 32 nurses leaving for Brest, France, 1917 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

The hospital was a volunteer unit, staffed by physicians including Indianapolis natives Drs. Edmund D. Clark, Orange G. Pfaff, and Carleton B. McCulloch, and was officially designated United States Army Base Hospital No. 32 when it was mustered into the U.S. Army service in September 1917.

After basic training at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, in the fall, the unit embarked for Brest, France, in December 1917. Upon arriving the unit was entrained for Contrexéville, a rail center east of Paris. The staff converted the hotels in town into the hospital. In 1918 Base Hospital No. 32 served as an evacuation unit, receiving patients from the field hospitals and preparing them for convalescent hospitals in the rear. It closed in January 1919.

Revised February 2021

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