Category: Real Angels of Mercy

Noncombatant servicemen and women are not free from danger.  Such was the case of the medical corps during World War I. Medical units were located close enough to the front to see and hear bombardments. Sometimes camps were bombed — either accidentally or on purpose — ambulances hit land mines, and hospital ships sunk. One such…

Violet Jessop was born October 2, 1888, in Argentina.  Born to Irish parents, Jessop had several siblings. Her family moved to Britain after her father’s death. Jessop followed in her mother’s footsteps and began working as an ocean liner stewardess. She was on the Olympic when it collided with another ship in 1911. The following…

Gabrielle Petit was born February 20, 1893, in Tournai, Belgium. Born into a working class family, Petit had a difficult childhood. She worked several jobs and had no permanent residence until she was taken in by a benefactor. World War I When war broke out, Petit volunteered for the Belgian Red Cross. Later that year,…

Mary Borden, the daughter of a Chicago millionaire, was born May 15,1886.  She left home as soon as she was of age and traveled to India where she married a Scottish missionary and had two daughters. In 1913, she moved to London and began associating with writers and poets. A third daughter was born a…

Vera Brittain was born December 29, 1893, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, England. She is best known for her 1933 memoir Testament to Youth which talks about her wartime experiences.  Brittain also was a pacifist who wrote poetry and 28 other books. Brittain was born into a wealthy family that moved twice during her childhood. Her brother Edward…

The Canadian Army Nursing Service (CANS) plays a pivotal role in my novel Angel of Mercy, yet it is little mentioned in the history of World War One. The CANS was founded in 1901. The first women who enrolled served in the South African (Boer) War. Three years later, the CANS consisted of 25 women. In…

My novel, Angel of Mercy, focuses on Hettie, a young woman serving during the First World War with the Canadian Army Nursing Service. While her experiences are fictional, she and her colleagues are based on the brave nurses who served overseas during nearly five years of war. “In his much-admired book published in 1975,” Baroness…

Edith Cavell was a heroine even before her name became internationally known.  She became a nurse in 1900 and devoted her life to saving the lives of others. Born Dec. 4, 1865, in Swardeston, United Kingdom, Cavell was the daughter of an Anglican minister. She moved to Belgium in 1907 where she served as matron of…