A Nursing Sister’s Story

Catherine Mary Nichols Gunn was the third of seven children—four boys and three girls—born to William and Mary (McInnis) Gunn of East River St. Mary’s, Pictou County. Catherine left home sometime before 1911, making her way to Seattle, Washington, where she completed a professional nurse’s training program.

After she returned to Canada, as with so many of her generation, the outbreak of war in Europe impacted Catherine’s life. She served as a Nursing Sister at a Temporary Military Hospital in Lethbridge, AB, before being “taken on strength” by the Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC) at Calgary on December 15, 1916.

Two and a half weeks later, Catherine attested for overseas service with CAMC. She departed Canada on February 3, 1917, arriving in England after a ten-day voyage. Four days later, Catherine commenced work at the Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Taplow, Warthanger, the first of several postings during her overseas service.

As Canadian soldiers entered combat on the Western Front in late 1914 and early 1915, the Canadian Army Medical Corps developed a system to provide treatment for wounded and sick soldiers. Each battalion contained a Regimental Aid Post, staffed by its Medical Officers and Orderlies, providing immediate assistance on or near the battlefield. Once evacuated, a wounded soldier might be admitted to an Advanced Dressing Station—depending on the nature of his wounds—before proceeding to a Field Ambulance for assessment and further treatment.

To continue reading about Catherine Gunn, visit the First World War Veterans of Guysborough County website.

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