In 2011 the Ryerson Archives received the Wellesley Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Association Archives. Among the boxes and files was a scrapbook kept by Alumnae President Grace Bolton. In the scrapbook were letters home from the front during World War II. The Association had been sending Christmas boxes and care packages to their Nurses and Doctors serving in Europe and South Africa.
Perhaps the most poignant letter was sent from a Nursing Sister enlisted with the R.C.A.M.C (Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps) from an undisclosed hospital in an undisclosed place in Europe. The letter was written 3 days after D-Day, when Allied forces stormed the Beaches of Normandy.
“This is a bit disjointed, but the mess is crowded and noisy, radio blaring, and so difficult for me to concentrate. The censors will not allow me to tell you what I am doing or where I am, but at a later date I will write you about what has taken place when it’s no longer any secret.”
She continues talking about staying overseas instead of going home (she was injured by shrapnel) and discusses the horrors of war on the land and the people.
“It is a great privilege to be in the thick of things in these days. I often think I was foolish not to come home, when I could have done so quite easily, but I know I should never be quite satisfied to be back, before it is finished at least over here. Life in the country is peaceful and very beautiful this time of year. It is most strange to know that the invasion has begun with all its horrors, heartaches and destruction of humanity and cities and buildings, whilst living here. Soon however we will begin to see the results in some of our grand boys who will be coming back to be patched up by us. They are simply magnificent in the way in which they accept the loss of legs and arms.”
Take a moment to pause and remember. Ryerson has a ceremony every November 11 in the Howard Kerr Hall quad by the flag pole.