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Lois BrownWhile Island men of valour served as servicemen and merchant mariners, many local women also served their country during war times as Nursing Sisters. More than 45,000 Canadian women served during World War II alone. Many young female graduates of Prince Edward Island’s School of Nursing (and, in some cases, other Nursing Schools in Canada or New England) joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps or Canadian Military Hospital in Halifax when the two World Wars broke out.

Working near the front lines, living in tents, they ministered to war casualties throughout the years of battle. Their work was hectic, often trying, and certainly wrought with distress as the severely injured young Canadian soldiers were brought to their field hospitals. The nursing sisters often said: “You did all you could—often you wished you could do more.”

However, they did accomplish a great deal. Some of these nurses, such as Hattie E. MacLaine, wereMarion Hickeypromoted to the rank of captain/matron and were “mentioned-in-dispatches” for their work. Lieutenant (Nursing Sister) Mary Winnifred MacNutt of Charlottetown was the first Canadian Nurse in World War II to receive the Royal Red Cross First Class.

Many women, upon their return to Canada, resumed their nursing activities in civilian or military hospitals in Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canada, or elsewhere in the country. Vera G. Darrach, for example, began working with the Red Cross Society when she returned to Canada and was promoted to Director of Nursing Service for the Red Cross. She served in this position from 1952 until 1958. Many became very active members of their communities, continuing to contribute their skills, hard work, and compassion for the betterment of others.

Link to list of nurses who served abroad.

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