Nurse saved by cling­ing to a mule

The Invercargill Eye - - FRONT PAGE -

A mule saved Mary Looney’s life.

The 29-year-old nurse, born in Win­ton, was on board the Bri­tish troop ship SS Mar­quette when it was tor­pe­doed in the Aegean Sea on Oc­to­ber 23, 1915.

The ship car­ry­ing more than 700 peo­ple sank within 10 min­utes, with nurses, sol­diers and crew still on board.

Twenty-nine crew, 10 nurses and 128 sol­diers per­ished. Some were killed by the ex­plo­sion and oth­ers by lifeboats which were launched on top of each other, or while wait­ing to be res­cued.

Looney sur­vived, cling­ing to a mule un­til she was res­cued.

Af­ter eight hours in the water she and other sur­vivors were saved by the Bri­tish ships HMHS Gran­tully Cas­tle and HMS Lynn, and the French ships Mortier and Ti­railleur.

She suf­fered from scalp in­juries and lost her hair, which grew back white.

Once re­cov­ered, Looney con­tin­ued to nurse un­til the end of the war, work­ing in med­i­cal sta­tions on the western front and in mil­i­tary hos­pi­tals in Eng­land.

Her du­ties con­tin­ued long af­ter she had come home from the war, help­ing con­va­lesc­ing sol­diers as a ma­tron at the Red Cross Hospi­tal in In­ver­cargill.

She was awarded the Royal Red Cross dec­o­ra­tion, class 2 for her brav­ery.

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