Remembrance Day: At the End of The Great War, A Nurse Writes Home

The letter below was written by Euphemia “Euphie” Denton, a nurse from the village of Annan, near Owen Sound, Ontario, northwest of Toronto. She enlisted with the British Expeditionary Force in 1916, and served until 1919. In total, 3,141 Canadian nurses served in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, first in hospitals in Britain, later at the front in Casualty Clearing Stations, where the wounded were initially assessed and treated. The concept of triage as we know it in modern emergency departments originated at these stations. Forty-five Canadian nurses died in First World War.

A Canadian nursing sister’s letter about the peace, November 1918:

3 Canadian Stationary Hosp. B.E.F. France

Dear Mrs McArthur

Can you believe that Peace has really come! I find it difficult as far as our work goes, we have not noticed any difference, owing to the terrible epidemic of Influenza we are still quite busy. We have been celebrating in a small way, gave the patients a specially good supper also had a very nice dinner ourselves. The town was noisy but no big celebration as you would have at home. Not sufficient french people left to do very much. Every house of course had a Flag or two — everyone drinking —– Their favorite wine. I went in to the small town in the evening by ambulance to see what was doing. The C.O. matron, three officers, two sisters & myself made up the party. French boys gathered around the car waved flags & sang “Good bye-e” “Good bye-e” being the only word they knew in English however as they had the tune they cared not. Their idea seemed to be to let us know we would be going home to Canada right away. A party of Jocks [i.e. Scottish soldiers. --- ed.] saw them, rushed up almost got in our car in their excitment and desire to shake hands all round. C.O. major’s etc. They were not caring for rank that night. We were held up for quite a while but finally got away. The town was quite dark — lights had been out for 4 years and I suppose the necessary things were not on hand now when they might have light.

Euphemia Denton

The boys in hospital took it all very quietly. They dared not believe it “sister is it really true” is it official” such were the questions. The news came through about 10 a.m. and by evening they really believed it. On one of my wards I think they sang every song known to Tommy, “Take me back to dear Old Blighty” being most popular. The sisters I think thought mainly of home. One [would] say, “I’d like to be in Toronto tonight,” another Montreal, another New York etc. etc. Miss Kilbourn and I were picturing Main St, Owen Sound . . .

Only a month until Christmas. I wish I  was going to spend it at home, however next year might to see us together once more. I wonder when we will be sent home –– no one knows; but everyone hopes soon. It  will be wonderful to have Peace for Christmas. Oh I am so thankful and I know you are I feel as though I could not live through another winter of fighting. The last few months especially I had become so heart sick at the sound of those guns. I used to wake up at night and think, Oh if only they would stop. Every day seemed harder than the last to go on duty only to see more wounded being brought in. Do not think I was tired of doing my bit. No I was only sick of the suffering, groans, aches and pains. Now to think of it really being over brings a big lump to my throat. . .

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  1. #1 by Anonymous on Sunday 22 July 2012 - 0918

    Hello
    I came across a beautiful photograph titled
    “13 Canadian General Hospital , R.C.A.M.C., England September 1944

    It shows the entire group. Beautiful.

    I think it would be best for you to look at it in hopes someone can see their family member.
    How do I send you a photo on email
    Thank you
    Martha

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