Set­ting sail from Mas­sachusetts

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - COMMUNITY FEATURES - FUNDRAISER

“Har­vard Unit De­parts to Take Up Hos­pi­tal Work in the War Zone” Bos­ton Daily Globe March 8, 1915

Su­per­in­ten­dent Edith I. Cox of the Faulkner Hos­pi­tal, Bos­ton, and for­merly of Morell, P.E.I., sailed with the unit for war work in France.

Born in Morell, P.E.I., in 1883, she was the daugh­ter of farmer, mer­chant, man­u­fac­turer and P.E.I. Lib­eral MLA for 2nd Kings Robert N. Cox and El­iz­a­beth Suther­land. She grad­u­ated from the Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal Train­ing School for Nurses in 1908.

The United States was not at war in 1915, but doc­tors at Har­vard Univer­sity wished to con­trib­ute to the war ef­fort by or­ga­niz­ing a med­i­cal unit which Edith Cox, shown in civil­ian dress, was the nurs­ing ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Faulkner Hos­pi­tal, Bos­ton. For­merly of Morell, P.E.I., she served with the first Har­vard Med­i­cal Unit to go over­seas in 1915. be­came known as the Har­vard Unit; suc­ces­sive units from Har­vard Univer­sity sailed off to war from 1915-1919.

On March 7, 1915, cheer­ing crowds lined Com­mon­wealth Pier, South Bos­ton, as the Canopic slipped its moor­ings; the first Har­vard Unit com­pris­ing 13 doc­tors from Har­vard Univer­sity, Cox and three other nurses from Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal and Bos­ton City Hos­pi­tal was off to nurse the sick and wounded sol­diers of France, Eng­land and Ger­many who were pa­tients at the Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tal in Paris.

Af­ter three months in France, Cox re­turned to her ad­min­is­tra­tive po­si­tion at the Faulkner Hos­pi­tal in Bos­ton. In 1917, she led the 70-mem­ber Bos­ton nurs­ing con­tin­gent to the Hal­i­fax ex­plo­sion. She re­tired in 1948 af­ter 27 years as ad­min­is­tra­tor of the pres­ti­gious Robert Breck Brigham Hos­pi­tal and was hon­oured with a full fel­low­ship in the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Ad­min­is­tra­tors.

Although Cox was in the first Har­vard Unit, 13 other Is­land nurses served in a Har­vard Unit, mainly, No .2 Bri­tish Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal at Camiers, Dé­parte­ment de Pas-de-Calais, France be­tween the years 1915 and 1919. They were Vi­ola Beers, Char­lot­te­town; Han­nah Fyfe, Stan­ley Bridge; Eleanor Gor­don, Bru­denell; Chris­tine Mac­Don­ald, Belle­vue; Ge­orgina Du­rant, Mar­gate; Martha Gates, Char­lot­te­town; Mar­garet Lea, Char­lot­te­town; Christina MacLauch­lan, Stan­hope; May McNevin, Char­lot­te­town; Florence McPhee, Brae, Lot 9; Chris­tine Mathe­son, Belle River; Mil­dred Mil­li­gan, Coleman; Estella Stewart, Lot 48.

By the end of the war, more Is­land nurses had served in var­i­ous Amer­i­can units than in the Cana­dian Army Med­i­cal Corps (CAMC). Two ob­vi­ous rea­sons were that most Is­land nurses had trained in the “Bos­ton States”, had gained em­ploy­ment there and, quite pos­si­bly, had tried, but had not been suc­cess­ful, in get­ting into the highly com­pet­i­tive CAMC.

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Chris­tine Mac­Don­ald of Belle­vue, P.E.I., who was work­ing in Bos­ton in 1915, was a grad­u­ate of the New Eng­land Dea­coness Hos­pi­tal, Brook­line, Mass., and the Bos­ton Float­ing Hos­pi­tal and was the long­est serv­ing Is­lan­der in the Har­vard Unit. Af­ter 15 months of ser­vice in 191516, she joined the Cana­dian Army Med­i­cal Corps (CAMC) and served in France un­til 1919.

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