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Women in World War I

More than 3,000 women volunteered for the Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC) in the First World War. All had trained as nurses before the war; average age was 24. Nicknamed “blue birds,” because of their blue uniforms and white veils, they assisted with surgery and cared for convalescing soldiers. Though not in the trenches, they often worked close to the front lines. Of the 2,054 Canadian nurses who served overseas, 53 died from enemy fire, disease, or drowning.

On 27 June 1918, a German U-boat torpedoed and sank the Canadian hospital ship, Llandovery Castle, bound from Halifax, Nova Scotia, for Liverpool, 114 miles southwest of Fastnet Rock, off the coast of Ireland. Carola Douglas, a graduate of Harbord Collegiate, was among the 14 nursing sisters who died. As the ship was showing regulation Red Cross lights and many survivors were machine-gunned, Llandovery Castle became a rallying cry for Canadian troops during the Last 100 Days offensive of the war.

Carola Josephine Douglas was born 7 April 1887, in Toronto. She enlisted 2 March 1915, at the age of 29.

A memorial photograph of Miss Douglas hangs in Harbord Collegiate. Further photos and her attestation paper can be seen on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial website.

Alberta writer Debbie Marshall shares info about Canadian WWI nurses on her blog “Finding the forty-seven: Canadian Nurses of the First World War”.

More about Llandovery Castle — the 24 survivors, the 258 dead, and the post-war trial about the sinking are at The Great War Project.

Carola Josephine Douglas, 1887 – 1915

Carola Josephine Douglas, 1887 – 1915

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5 comments to Women in World War I

  • Glen McKenzie

    Carola Douglas came from Swan River, Manitoba and her name on the Board of Remembrance in the Anglican Church in Swan River.

  • Anne Douglas

    Hi Glen, Carola was the great aunt of my husband Mel Douglas.
    Are you related to the Douglas family of Swan River?

    I have more information on Carola if you are interested.

    Best regards
    Anne Douglas

  • LeAnne Meyer

    Carola is my great-great aunt (MAYBE ANOTHER GREAT?). I have been the caretaker of her coral and sea pearl necklace since I was about 7 years old, about 50 years (past down to the eldest Douglas daughter.. etc). I know Carola’s story well and am proud to a part of her history. Anyway, I have decided that this piece of history needs to come back home to Canada. I am planning on sending her necklace to my Auntie Fran (daughter Brenda this March). Just wanted to let you know that as a descendant, I am very happy to have rescued, repaired, and treasured this piece of her history.

  • Robyn May

    I am writing a book about WW1 nursing sisters and have included Carola in it. I would love to make contact with the relatives so that I can add more information about her.

  • Anne Douglas

    My husband, Melvyn Howard Douglas, is a great nephew of Carola. I have not been on this site for some time, and would be very interested in talking to Glen, LeAnne and Robyn.
    I researched Carola’s life for my husband some years ago.

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