They fight for you - protect them Help the Red Cross raise $100,000,000 at once / / W.G. Sesser. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, LC-USZC4-9930.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, LC-USZC4-9930.

When W. G. Sesser created this WWI-era poster for the Red Cross, he probably never dreamed that nurse Annie Laurie Williams would take it so literally.

Red Cross nurse Williams filed for a passport in 1918, listing “China, Japan, Siberia” as her destinations. She was in Omsk, Siberia, as part of the relief efforts following World War I when she made headlines—or headline to be specific: Plucky American Girl Lands on Bully’s Jaw:

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“A certain Russian bully learned something about American women that will lurk in his memory for some time, through an encounter, a few days ago, with Miss Annie Laurie Williams in the freight yards at Omsk….

“The Russian was attempting to climb aboard a car in a refugee train in which were several girls. The girls were trying to shut the car door against him, when Miss Williams appeared and grappled with the intruder. She managed to land two blows on his jaw and then they rolled together down the embankment. As they arose she gave him another.”
nurse williams newspaper article
According to her passport application, Williams was 5 foot 3-and-a-half-inches tall and 40 years old at the time. She eventually intervened on the Russian’s behalf after two Czech soldiers took the matter—and the Russian—in hand.

Annie Laurie Williams was one of scores of American nurses who served in Siberia during and after World War I. But she was also one of a kind.


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