Much of the therapeutic value of the homeward passage lies in the abrupt change from front-line hardship to the comparative luxury of the Army hospital ship. Clean beds, good food, the quiet comfort of an ocean voyage where every need is met, all this must be heaven to the returning soldier after long months in combat.
Once the patient is on board his spirits are never allowed to flag. A public address system carries the latest song hits through loudspeakers into every ward. All ships have musical instruments on hand, and on practically every voyage the ambulant patients stage their own amateur hour. The MARIGOLD boasts her own volunteer band with a crooner and with its own arrangements of everything from "boogie-woogie" to the ranking favorite overseas, the story of "Lili Marlene."
A ship's newspaper helps keep the patients both informed and entertained. The ACADIA, for example, publishes the "Fore and Aft," the LARKSPUR, the "News Buoy," and the WISTERIA, the "Salt Shaker." Issued in mimeographed form, such publications contain the latest news briefs, poems and stories contributed by patients, Army cartoons, and informational material on the hospital facilities at Charleston.
A Red Cross worker circulating through the wards lends a kindly hand, gives instruction in handicraft, and supplies reading matter from the ship's library. The Red Cross representative also provides recreational material, hometown newspapers and musical instruments, together with such necessities as combs, toothbrushes, shaving cream, and razor blades. Games, quiz programs, and similar entertainment serve to while away the hours at sea. The religious element is not forgotten. Protestant and Catholic Chaplains minister to the members of their respective faiths and aot as special service officers.
Larson, Harold. "Army Hospital Ships in World War II." Office of the Chief of Transportation, Army Service Forces, December 1944.