Remembering Nursing Sister Eden Lyal Pringle
Number 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital was located 45 miles inland from the coast of France, inside an ancient Citadel outside Doullens. Although clearly marked with red crosses and not located near military installations (such as Etaples), it was still bombed. The incident occured on May 29, 1918, shortly after midnight. A large part of the main building was destroyed, killing many officers. Nursing Sisters Eden Lyal Pringle and Agnes McPherson died instantly while assisting in the operating room. Nursing Sister Dorothy Baldwin was killed on duty in the officer's ward.
Eden Pringle was born on September 4, 1893 in Glasgow, Scotland. At the time of her death, her home residence was listed as 2621-29th Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia. She had enlisted in May 1917 in Montreal. As noted below, she was the youngest nurse to die in the war. The hospital's Commanding Officer Lieut-col Reason recalled the internment of Pringle: "In the quiet little cemetery in France our friends lie. Their graves are marked by simple crosses, the wood kindly given by the Canadian Forestry Corps. Each cross is marked with a Maple Leaf cut out in metal and stamped with the name and particulars of the deceased. The graves are well kept and decorated with many flowers. For these we are deeply indebted to the French civilians, who so kindly stripped their gardens that the graves of their friends from the Hospital might be fittingly adorned." (quoted in Sister Heroines by Marjorie Barron Norris).
A Profile of First World War Nursing Sisters
According to the Canadian Great War Project,the nurses who served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps in the First World War were predominantly Canadian born (82%), typically 5 foot 5 inches in height and the average age was 30, with some of the Matrons as old as 56 and one--Minnie Lisk--only 15! They were mostly Protestant, the majority either Church of England or Presbyterian. Approximately 60 of them died as a result of the war, the youngest being Eden Lyal Pringle (see above) who died at the age of 23.
I want to let you know about an exciting initiative being taken by Diane Dodd, historian with Parks Canada. She is researching an article exploring how the over sixty(including those who served with British and American forces)Canadian First World War nurses have been commemorated across Canada. Pasted below is an explanation of Diane's project and I encourage you to participate if you know of any memorials to Canadian nurses of the Great War. I think it would also make a great school project:
Remembering First World War Nurse Casualties
As an historian for Parks Canada, responsible for women’s history, I’ve long been interested in the ways women are commemorated. Military nurses seem to be among the few women who have received some level of national recognition, although there is still a great deal of silence around this theme. I am presently researching an article that will explore the commemoration of over 60 First World War nurses who died during their war service and how groups, communities and the nation remembered them. I am interested in looking, not only at the well-known national level monuments such as the nurse memorial erected in Parliament in 1926, the Ottawa Cenotaph and the war art program. I would also like to investigate how nurses were remembered at local and provincial levels. I have found some commemorations of these nurses listed in the Veterans Affairs Canada website (Canadian Virtual War Memorial), but I suspect there are many others out there as well. If you know of any historic markers, anywhere in Canada, put in place to remember these First World War nurses who died, could you please get in touch with me? Ideally, I would like a photograph and a description of the memorial. Commemoration can include everything from naming buildings after a particular nurse, to monuments listing nurses’ names, to plaques, gravesite markers, even virtual memorials on websites – anything that pays respect to the memory of nurses who died while serving their country during the First World War. Thanks so much,
Dianne Dodd, Historian
5th Floor, 25 Eddy Street, (25-5-R)
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M5
Nursing Sister Helen Fowlds
An interesting website that I came across explores the life of Canadian nursing sister Helen Fowlds, whose wartime career took her to many hospitals. She enlisted right at the beginning of the war and served right until 1919. To learn more and view the many photographs she took during the Great War, visit http://www.trentu.ca/admin/library/archives/ffowldswelcome.htm.