To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, we are highlighting amazing female stories. Here is the poignant story of Canadian nurse, Minnie Follette.
From the records found on Lives of the First World War we can see that Minnie was born on 11 November 1884 in Port Greville, Cumberland County, Canada. A trained nurse, Minnie enlisted into the Canadian Army Medical Corps on 25 September 1914 in Quebec.
Minnie worked at the 1st Canadian Casualty Clearing Station in France, where her priority was to treat men sufficiently for their return to duty or to stabilise them in preparation for transfer to a Base Hospital. Like many nurses who worked long hours treating the sick, Minnie herself became ill, suffering from nervous exhaustion and bronchitis. After recovering, Minnie was posted to work on hospital ships, including the SS Llandovery Castle.
- SS Llandovery Castle
On 27 June 1918 the Llandovery Castle was sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Liverpool. Despite displaying the Red Cross of a hospital ship, the Llandovery Castle was torpedoed by German submarine U-86, 114 miles south-west of the Fastnet Rock. Accounts suggest that Minnie and other nurses managed to get onto a lifeboat, but drowned when the lifeboat was dragged underneath the waves by the sinking ship. Minnie was 33 years old.
Minnie is commemorated on the Halifax Memorial in Nova Scotia to those who have no known grave, but her family donated her portrait photograph to IWM Collections in her memory and so that is now part of her Life Story on the permanent digital memorial.
- Minnie has also been reconnected with her fellow nurses in a Lives of the First World War Community called Nursing Sisters who died on the SS Llandovery Castle