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Hard eggs and a soft nurse

Heroes Remember

Hard eggs and a soft nurse

It was a hard country to live in and the food was difficult, you know, there was enough, we ate. We had boiled eggs, that's the most we ate in the protein anyway and they'd bring them up in great big cartons, almost as big as that coffee thing full of these eggs that had been cooked way down I don't know where and they were as hard as rock and one poor fellow, he was... the only good deed I did in Italy, good extra deed. This man was a Seaforth Highlander, we had a lot of them in there from all the battles they were fighting and he said, “You know Sister, if I could have a poached egg and a little piece of toast,” he said, “I'd almost give the rest of my life for it.” He had malaria, he was going back home anyway. So I said, “I'm going to see what I can do so off I went. All I had was a mess tin, you know those little square tins with a handle on them so I got some water and I got one of those awful little stoves that we used to heat dressings on, two little wicks coming up and they smoked and I got the water going. I got a raw egg and I cooked it and I made a piece of toast again over this smoky little stove and I put a bit of margarine on it or butter, whatever we had to eat then and I took this down to him. My dear, you'd think I had given him a million dollars. He thought it was wonderful.

Ms. Whittaker describes hard boiled eggs as being a rather unpalatable dietary staple in Italy. She prepares a special treat, a soft poached egg and toast, for one of the badly wounded. He is very grateful for this act of kindness.

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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