Mys­ter­ies of the med­i­cal ship

Re: He sur­vived war’s worst ship sink­ing in 1918, lived to weep in his wife’s arms, Nov. 7.

Ottawa Citizen - - EDITORIAL -

There are names to be given for the three Ot­tawa women who died in the sink­ing of the med­i­cal ship HMHS Llan­dovery Cas­tle: (1) Min­nie Kather­ine Gal­la­her, Nurs­ing Sis­ter, whose next of kin was listed as Mrs. M.E. Gal­la­her (mother) of Re­gent Street; (2) Jean Tem­ple­man, Nurs­ing Sis­ter, whose next of kin was listed as J. Tem­ple­man (fa­ther), 218 Strath­cona Av­enue; and (3) Jessie Ma­bel McDiarmid, whose next of kin is listed as J. McDiarmid, (Un­cle) of Ash­ton, Ont.

As well, the ship had come from Hal­i­fax, hav­ing de­liv­ered 624 mil­i­tary pa­tients, mak­ing one won­der what was used as bal­last on the way to Liver­pool. Ac­cord­ing to Charles Har­ri­son in the book Gen­er­als Die in Bed, an or­derly told him, in ref­er­ence to the Llan­dovery Cas­tle: “She was car­ryin’ sup­plies and war ma­te­rial.” Har­ri­son also de­scribes how Brig.Gen. Tux­ford vis­ited the 3rd Cana­dian In­fantry Bri­gade be­fore the Au­gust of­fen­sive in 1918 and told men about the ap­palling sink­ing: “The am­pu­ta­tion cases went to the bot­tom in­stantly ... they couldn’t swim, poor chaps ... the salt wa­ter added to their agony.”

The up­shot of this por­trayal of wil­ful wicked­ness on the part of the Ger­man sub­ma­rine per­son­nel is that Cana­dian troops were in no mood to be civil in their treat­ment of Ger­mans. Har­ri­son quotes Cana­dian Lt.-Col. Dick Wor­rall as say­ing to his troops: “I’m not say­ing for you not to take prison­ers. That’s against in­ter­na­tional rules. All that I’m say­ing is that if you take any we’ll have to feed ’em out of our ra­tions.” I

In war, truth is a con­tin­u­ing ca­su­alty, and I don’t pro­fess to know the truth re­gard­ing Har­ri­son’s claims, but the ef­fect of ig­nor­ing them seems to me worse than that of know­ing about them.

Ran­dal Mar­lin, Ot­tawa

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