Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – HMHS Llandovery Castle and Halifax Memorial

The Llandovery Castle served as a hospital ship during WW1, ferrying wounded soldiers from England back to Canada. On 27 June 1918, nearing the end of its voyage from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Liverpool, England, the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine off the Irish coast. The passengers rushed to lifeboats, but the submarine surfaced and destroyed most of the lifeboats. Only 24 survivors lived to tell the tale.

Amongst the 234 dead in Canada’s worst naval disaster of WW1: all 14 of the Canadian nursing sisters on board. Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – War Memorial, Beckwith Township, ON

Beckwith Township, population about 7600, forms the easterly part of Lanark County, just west of Ottawa. The war memorial erected by the township remembers 12 names, nine from WW1. The monument has moved over the years. It now stands in Beckwith Park, on the 9th Line about 2 km east of Hwy 15 and Black’s Corners, surrounded by a vast stretch of baseball diamonds and playing fields. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – The Last Post, Collingwood, ON

The Last Post is the name of the statue that tops the WW1 war memorial in Collingwood, Ontario. It stands in front of the old train station (now the Collingwood Museum), at 45 St Paul St. The driveway behind it is Veterans Cres. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Ontario Military Hospital Nursing Sisters, Queen’s Park, Toronto

Mary A McKenzie, Sarah Ellen Garbutt, Margaret Lowe, Dorothy Mary Baldwin, Matilda Green. These five women are remembered on a brass tablet in the Ontario Legislative Building (Queen’s Park), on the second floor of the west wing, near the landing outside the Legislative Chamber. They were nursing sisters who had served in the Ontario Military Hospital at Orpington, England, and who died during the war. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Celtic Cross, St Matthews Church, Halifax, NS

A Celtic cross in memory of “Her Heroic Dead 1914-1918” graces the north lawn of St Matthew’s United Church, on Barrington St at the corner of Spring Garden Rd in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Decorative Celtic knots form the cross. Major battle names – Ypres, Vimy, Somme, Mons – form the nimbus. The reverse side of the base assures us that “The souls of the faithful who have died in the service of their country rest forever in the lap of God.”

Fourteen parishioners are named on the monument, including three nursing sisters and at least one set of siblings. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Mary Katherine (Minnie) Gallaher, Ottawa

Gallaher family plot, Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa

Gallaher family plot, Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa

Minnie Gallaher, Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa

Minnie Gallaher, Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa

Minnie Gallaher was one of 14 nursing sisters killed on June 27, 1918, when a German submarine torpedoed the hospital ship HMHS Llandovery Castle and its lifeboats. The sinking was the largest Canadian naval disaster in WW1 (counting the number of deaths) and became a rallying cry in the Last 100 Days offensive.

Gallaher’s body was not recovered. This marker at her family plot in Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa, reads: “Nursing sister Minnie K Gallaher drowned in sinking of Hospital Ship Llandovery Castle June 27th, 1918. Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Finding the Forty-Seven, Debbie Marshall’s blog to honour the Canadian nurses who died while serving in WW1, is well worth a look.