Somewhere in France

Somewhere in France

Monday, October 11, 2010

Remembering Carola Douglas and Anna Stamers

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! The research materials I ordered have now arrived and I am able to catch up on my entries for Canadian nurses who died during the First World War. As I wasn't able to provide a nurse biography last month, this month I am providing two. Both nurses died on the Llandovery Castle (see earlier blogs). The two nurses had many things in common beyond the manner of their deaths. As I've discovered with many of the nurses who died on the Castle, they had both provided exemplary service to the Canadian Army Medical Corps. In fact, it was this high level of service and the fact that both were exhausted from the work that they had done, that likely led to them being given the posting to the Llandovery Castle. Authorities would have recognized that their duties on board the hospital ship would have been much more limited than the work they had done previously and the trip to Canada would allow them a much-needed break and opportunity to visit family and friends.

Anna Irene Stamers
The military file on Anna Irene Stamers is a thick one. It describes a slender brown haired woman with blue eyes, standing 5' 6 1/2 inches tall. Anna was from St. John, New Brunswick. At the time of enlistment on June 3, 1915, she was living at 171 Waterloo Street with her widowed mother, Sarah Stamers. Her service record describes Anna as having been assigned to No. 1 General Hospital in Etaples, France. It wasn't an easy assignment. Located near railway lines and with a training camp attached to it, Etaples was often the target for German boming raids. Nurses also faced the risk of catching illnesses from the patients they served. Just four months after being taken on strength, she was a patient at another hospital at Etaples (No. 24 General), suffering from some sort of infection. (Her illness was described as "inflam. ext. aud.meatus. slt." I'd be happy to hear from any readers as to what this illness might have been.)She was later transferred to a convalescent home in Paris Plage. In July she returned to duty and there seems to have been no lasting effects from her illness.

In January 1917, Anna was given two weeks leave. In May 1917--perhaps ready for a less adventurous posting--she was tranferred back to England and ultimately posted to the Ontario Military Hospital in Orpington, Kent. In March 1918, she was transferred to the llandovery Castle. After an uneventful journey to Canada, caring for wounded men returning home, she enjoyed a short leave. In July, she boarded the ship for the return journey. Sadly, she didn't make it back to England. The ship was torpedoed by the German submarine U-86, on June 27. None of the nurses on board survived. Her records are stamped "Missing Believed Drowned." The War Service Gratuity form in her file lists her mother as her dependant and says "not eligible no S.A. paid." I would be interested if any readers know if this meant that her mother did not receive a gratuity and if not, why not?

Carola Josephine Douglas
Carola Josephine Douglas was born in Toronto, Ontario on April 7, 1887. At the time of her enlistment on March 2, 1915, she does not provide a home address, but does say that the address of her next of kin was Straw River, Manitoba. She was listed as having a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair and was five feet four inches tall. Like Anna Stamers, she was assigned to Etaples, where she worked at No. 2 Canadian General Hospital. In October 1915 she was assigned to the No. 2 British Stationary Hospital at Abbeville for short term temporary duty there. She was returned to Etaple and given three days leave. In November 1916, she was transferred to duty with No. 5 Canadian General Hospital in Salonika. In March 1917, she suffered from badly infected fingers--a potentially life-threatening injury at this time. She recovered and returned to duty. However, by October 1917, she was exhausted from overwork and stress. She was sent back to England, where she was admitted to the Canadian Red Cross Special Hospital in Basingstoke to rest and recuperate. After her health was restored, Carola (like Anna Stamers) was attached to No. 16 Canadian General Hospital in Orpington, Kent. In March 1918, she too was transferred to the Llandovery Castle, sharing the same fate as the other nursing sisters on that ship.

I am following up on some further research on Carola Douglas and hope to have more information about her for my next post. Please let me know if you have any information you would like to share about any of the nurses on this blog.


  1. Finding your blog fascinating.

    I have a special interest in Carola Douglas as I have a letter she wrote to my Gr Grandfather's parents after he had been operated on in August 1915 a few days before he died.

    I will check the details and send you a copy if you would like?

    kind regards


  2. Hi David. I would be thrilled to receive a copy of the letter. What a great piece of family history. If possible, could I publish it on my blog? I know others would find it very interesting. Thank you so much for contacting me,
    Debbie Marshall

  3. Hi Debbie,
    It was wonderful to find your blog. Carola Douglas was my Great-Aunt (my paternal grandmother's sister; her name was Juanita). I had read about Carola on the Canadian Gov't Nursing veteran's page but did not know the details around her work in the European theatre before being posted to the Llandovery Castle.

    Carola had a sister named Corona, who was still alive just a few years ago, living in Langley B.C. I have been remiss about checking to see if she is still alive, but will try to find out.
    Pam Dawson

  4. Thanks so much Pam. I would love to know more about Carola's sister. Amazing if she is still alive! Please let me know if you discover more. With best regards, Debbie