Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

Monday Monuments and Memorials – No 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital, Doullens, France

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In May 1918, No 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital was operating in an old citadel near Doullens, France. On the night of 29-30 May, the hospital was bombed by a German plane, hitting the main building over the operating theatre and one of the wards.

Two surgeons, three nursing sisters, 16 other ranks (including orderlies) and 11 patients were killed. Several others were injured. The operating staff and patients were buried in the ruins of the building. Other staff worked to save the other patients.

Nursing Sisters Dorothy Baldwin, Agnes MacPherson and Eden Pringle were amongst the dead. They are buried at Bagneux Military Cemetery. Nursing Sisters Meta Hodge and Eleanor Thompson were awarded the Military Medal, for bravery and devotion to duty.

Daily entry from the unit’s war diary:

30 May 1918. On the night of 29-30 of May hostile aeroplanes were heard in the area. The night was clear and the moon shining. About 12.25 a hostile aeroplane passed over the hospital, dropped a flare, and immediately a bomb was dropped which struck the main building over the sergeants’ quarters, Ward S.6 (officers ward) operating theatre and X-Ray room, which collapsed immediately. Almost instantly a fire broke out and the whole group of buildings in the upper area were threatened. The alarm was given at once and every effort made to save the patients and combat the fire. The Nursing Sisters and orderlies worked splendidly and with the assistance of other members of the unit rapidly removed all patients to places of safety. There were no other casualties other than those killed by the bombs. During the work of rescue and while other members of the unit were combating the fire, the aeroplane returned and dropped more bombs, fortunately without doing any damage. At this time the flames were mounting sky high and the whole upper area was clearly illuminated and the buildings sharply delineated. The red crosses on the buildings being very visible so that there was no excuse for his not knowing that it was a hospital. The sergeants were in their quarters and the entire number were casualties. Ward S.6 (the officers’ ward) was fortunately only partially filled with patients but unfortunately all those in their ward were killed by the bomb, including the Nursing Sister who was on duty. Immediately below this were the X-Ray room and the operating theatre. Three surgical teams were on duty that night but two had completed their operation and had gone for their midnight meal. The other team (Capt. E.E. Meek, CAMC and Lieut. A.P.H. Sage, MORC USA) were finishing their operation and they, their patient, Sisters A McPherson and E.L. Pringle, the orderlies and stretcher bearers, were all victims of the bomb. During the work of rescue and in the endeavor to save the buildings from fire, we received splendid assistance from three companies of French soldiers and from the English soldiers quartered in Doullens. With their timely aid we were able to save the west wing of the main buildings. The night was clear and bright. There should have been no difficulty in the airmen recognising it as a hospital. The plane is stated to have been at a height of about 6000 feet. The hospital is well marked with red crosses which airmen say are quite visible from the air. There is no doubt that the occupants of the aeroplane knew it was a hospital for when they came back and dropped bombs a second time, the flames clearly illuminated the red crosses on the buildings. This hospital, being in the Citadel, is surrounded on three sides by fields and on the fourth by a French hospital. There were no camps of troops or dumps of any description in the vicinity of the hospital.


The hospital bombing and Nursing Sisters Pringle and Thompson are featured in a Heritage Minute by Historica Canada.

Through the Lines shares several good photos and other research on the hospital and the bombing. 

Gerald Moira’s painting, No 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens, captures the spirit of the hospital before the bombing.

Author: greatwar100reads

Canadian crusader for equality and justice. Connoisseur and creator of the written word. Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books and monuments. Read more at greatwar100reads.wordpress.com.

3 thoughts on “Monday Monuments and Memorials – No 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital, Doullens, France

  1. Pingback: Monday Monuments and Memorials – Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Abbeville, France | Great War 100 Reads

  2. My grandfather’s brother Ernest Gregory, a stretcher bearer in the Royal Marines was gassed, treated & sent back to the front. Within days he & along with another ran out to retrieve a wounded man. He was hit with shrapnel; the other stretcher bearer was killed. He died of his wounds 8th of April 1918. He was cared for by these doctors & nurses who lost their lives in the bombing of the hospital on 29 – 30 of May 1918. I’m thankful for the care he received and I mourn the loss of those caring people who worked, endangering and losing their lives for men like my great uncle. God Bless Their Souls, . Bev Gregory

  3. Thank you for visiting, Bev, and for sharing the story of your great-uncle. The individual losses touch us even a century later.

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