Regina Flood Keyes was born in Elmira on April 18, 1870. At that time, few people would have guessed that her life would include time as a field surgeon in war-torn Europe and as a humanitarian worker in Fiji and Samoa. And it is highly unlikely that anyone would have predicted that she would die at sea during a prisoner exchange with Japan.
Regina Flood Keyes, 1917|
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Regina Flood Keyes (left) and Dr. Mabel Flood (center) |
treating a patient, 1919. Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Red Cross workers, 1919. Dr. Keyes is seated in the |
front row, third from the left. Courtesy of the Library of Congress
When World War II broke out in the Pacific, Regina and her husband were living in Chefoo, China, where he was serving as U.S. consul, and they were interned by the Japanese. They were among the approximately 3,000 American citizens caught in the war zone. In May 1942, an agreement was made between the warring powers for the exchange of women and children and men over the age of 60 who were considered non-combatants for Japanese women, children, and elderly men. The exchange would take place at the port of Lourenco Marques, Portuguese East Africa.
On June 29, 1942, the Italian liner Conte Verde set sail from Shanghai, China with 924 North and South Americans aboard. Among them was Dr. Regina Flood Keyes Roberts. The trip from China to East Africa was expected to take three weeks but on July 10, Regina died. There was no cause of death in any of the newspaper reports that I found. She was simply reported as “stricken.” According to the inscription on a memorial stone in Woodlawn Cemetery, she was buried at sea at Lat. 5 degrees south, Long. 106 degrees 43 minutes east.