May 19, 1918. Three nurses were busy in the operating room at Number 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital in Doullens, France. Their hospital was an ancient citadel, with heavy brick walls that dated back to the 17th century. However, even these could not protect the nurses, doctors, medical personnel and patients from a German attack. According to Matron In Chief E.M. McCarthy of the British Expeditionary Force, who was touring the hospitals in France: "Left early in the morning having received a telephone message from Doullens saying that No.3 Canadian Stationary Hospital had been heavily bombed, and 3 nursing sisters killed and one badly wounded. Left as soon as possible with Miss Ridley, Principal Matron, Canadians. On arrival found that one huge triangle in the Citadel had been absolutely destroyed – part of it did not exist and the remainder of the roof had gone leaving only walls. The whole of the theatre and Xray appliances had been absolutely wiped out and the people working in the theatre were not recognisable. No N.C.O.’s were on duty – those who were not killed were badly wounded. I saw the O.C. and the Matron who spoke in the highest terms of the work of everybody. While there the D.M.S. of the 3rd Army arrived with the A.D.M.S. It was arranged that all sisters who could be spared should be moved at once and the wounded sister transferred to Treport."
Many of the Canadian nurses acted heroically during the attack, helping with the removal of patients, and aiding the wounded despite the fact that they were surrounded by wreckage and that parts of the building were on fire. Accordign to GWL Nicholson, a chronicler of the history of Canadian women in the first world war, "Eleven patients, two medical officers, three nursing sisters, and 16 other ranks (including orderlies) were killed; 16 were wounded.” One of those killed was NS Dorothy Mary Yarwood Baldwin. Dorothy enlisted in the CAMC in May 1917. She was 26 years old, a trim, 5'3" tall woman with curly dark hair. At the time of her enlistment, she was living at 173 Lowther Ave., a comfortable Toronto street lined with solid brick homes. She listed her religion as Anglican. Although she was born in Toronto, her parents Mary and Robert were living in Paris, Ontario. Dorothy was a graduate of the nursing program of Victoria Hospital, London, Ontario. Both she and her sister Mary were nurses, although Mary did not join the CAMC (probably because she was married). Dorothy also had a brother serving overseas. In June 1917, Dorothy was taken on the staff at the Ontario Military Hospital in Orpington, Kent and was posted to Doullens, France a month later. She was terribly wounded in the attack of May 19 and survived until May 30, at which time she passed away. In Dorothy's will, she left her estate to her sister Mary Powell and her mother. If you know more about Dorothy and wish to share it, please send me an email or comment on this entry and I will be glad to share the information with others.
Nursing Sister Florence Hesseltine Dolson
Elaine Eigl is a relative of Florence Hesseltine Dolson later Brown (after she married Le Roy Gorringe Brown on June 1, 1920)who served as a Nursing Sister in WWI. Dolson served in both the British and Canadian forces in the following hospitals: 13 General Hospital (BEF) from April 1 to November 2, 1917, 14 General Hospital (BEF) from November 5 – 14, 1917, 48 Casualty Clearing Station from November 16, 1917 to March 20, 1918, and 15 General Hospital (Canadian), Taplow, England.Although Elaine is able to get the Canadian records, among her British records, only Florence's Medal Card seems to exist. If you know of where Elaine might be able to find information or a photo of Florence, she would so much appreciate this. Please email me a note or comment on this blog entry and I will pass your information along. Thank you as always!
A Great Resource Remembering Great War Nurses--Free to Watch Online
In 2008, the National Film Board of Canada produced a series of five documentary vignettes about the first world war entitled Front Lines, directed by Claude Guilmain. One of the vignettes is called "Front Lines: Nurses at the Front" and superbly describes the work of NS Katherine Macdonald, whose life and death is described in one of my previous blogs. To view the documentary, go to http://www.nfb.ca/film/front_lines/.