Somewhere in France

Somewhere in France

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Forgotten VAD: Dorothy Pearson Twist

In an excellent article entitled "Filling the Gaps, Canadian Voluntary Nurses, the 1917 Halifax Explosion, and the Influenza Epidemic of 1918," scholar Linda Quiney says that there were approximately 2000 Canadian VADs who served in during the Great War, of which 500 served overseas. (There were 23,000 British VADs.) "VAD" stands for Voluntary Aid Detachment--these were groups of voluntary nurses (usually with very limited training) who worked for the Red Cross during the Great War. These nurses came to be known individually as "VADs."

In her article, Quiney describes several Canadian VADs who died during and just after the Great War. One of the Canadian VADs who gave her life was Dorothy Pearson Twist. Dorothy died September 26, 1918 in Aldershot, England. According to the British 1911 census, she was born in Prescott, Lancashire. Her father Pearson Gill Twist was a “woolen manufacturer’s agent”. At sixteen in 1911, Dorothy was working as a “pupil school teacher.” Her father was 52, her mother 42. She had an older brother Geoffrey (23), older sister named Phyllis (21), younger brother Hugh (11) and a younger sister Cicely (9). They were living in Prescott, Lancashire at 15 Station Road. Dorothy was born in that same place. The family immigrated to Canada in 1913 to Shawnigan Lake, BC, where Dorothy's father worked as a realty clerk. Sometime during the Great War, Dorothy signed up as a Canadian VAD and was sent overseas. Little is known about the circumstances of her death, except that she died at Aldershot, the location of a Canadian military base during the war. I have written to the British Red Cross to learn more about Dorothy; when I receive more information, I will post it on this site.

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