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Heightened vigilance in the Mediterranean Sea aboard the SS Santa Helena

Heroes Remember

Heightened vigilance in the Mediterranean Sea aboard the SS Santa Helena

We were much more alert about war on that ship. We had to dress in battle dress like the men wore. We even had to sleep in it, when we got there I don't know, I imagine we were near the Mediterranean, near Gibraltar down that way. And we had to sleep in our clothes. We could take our boots off but they had to hang right beside our phases so we could get them on quick. And they were very strict there, our boat drills were very strict cuz that's all we had to do. We only had, on that boat, we only had two meals a day but they were good meals. And, but there were so many to feed, I don't know how many troops they had, probably two or three thousand anyway, and so they fed them twice a day, if you had early breakfast, you had early supper. I think there were one hundred nurses apart from all the cooks and the store keepers and everything else.

Ms. Whittaker describes the safety measures taken aboard SS Santa Helena, because of the risk of torpedoing, once she reached the Mediterranean Sea. These included sleeping in full uniform and frequent lifeboat drills.

Geraldine Whittaker

Geraldine Whittaker was born on March 12, 1915 in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. Her father was the local doctor, and she would accompany him on his rounds. Ms. Whittaker decided to become a nurse after graduating from school, entering the nursing program at Montreal General Hospital. In 1937, after three years of training, she decided to enlist in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. After war was declared, Ms. Whittaker went to England where she served in hospitals at Farnborough and Horley. She was deployed to North Africa, but her ship was torpedoed in the Mediterranean Sea. Rescued personnel were landed in Naples, Italy. Ms. Whittaker served in a hospital in nearby Caserta for eight months. She volunteered for service in France, was transferred there, and later served in Belgium and Holland. After her return to Newfoundland, Ms. Whittaker continued her nursing career.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Geraldine Whittaker
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps

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