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WWII nurses face danger and death

The Story


The Nursing Sisters of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps have the most difficult, dangerous and grisly jobs of all Canada's enlisted women. They are the ones who follow men into battle to tend their wounds, fight diseases, care for prisoners of war and help the thousands of injured civilians whose lives are destroyed along the way. In this clip from CBC Television's Women at War, three former nurses describe their harrowing experiences. 

Medium: Television
Program: Women at War
Broadcast Date: Nov. 7, 1982
Guest(s): Loretta Shields, Harriet Sloan, Isabel Whitfield
Interviewer: George Robertson
Narrator: Pat Patterson
Duration: 3:44
Photo: Harold G. Aikman / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / National Archives of Canada / PA-108173

Did You know?


. The Nursing Sisters have a long history in Canada that dates back to 1885 and the North-West Campaign. They have accompanied Canadian troops on every military action from the Boer War to the Korean War. Now called Nursing Officers, they have served in the Gulf War, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda and Somalia.
. During the First World War, more than 3,000 Nursing Sisters served with the Army; 328 were decorated by King George V and 46 died in service.

. During the Second World War, some 4,480 nurses were attached to all three branches of Canada's Armed Forces. More than two-thirds of them served overseas.
. Each nurse wore a military uniform with a Nursing Sister's white veil. They were usually in their mid-20s, and were all commissioned officers addressed as "Sister" or "Ma'am." Canada's nurses were the first in any Allied country to have officer status and power of command.

. The Nursing Sisters served for three years in England before following troops into action in mainland Europe, through Sicily, Algeria, Italy, France and Belgium. They usually worked in field hospitals set up in canvas tents, in abandoned or bombed-out buildings, or on hospital ships.
. After the war ended, most Nursing Sisters returned home; 80 stayed on in Canada's permanent military forces.


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On Every Front: Canadian Women in the Second World War more