Nurse saved by clinging to a mule
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.