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Hospital Logistics

Heroes Remember

So we landed at that wonderful prefabricated harbour called Mulberry and that was another experience that we had because we landed actually at that spot. And then we piled into lorries and off we went up through the country side and all the fellows cheered us like crazy when they saw we were gals, you know, and we were quite pleased about it I guess. So then we landed in a field and this is where all our equipment had been placed. The whole equipment for a 600 bed hospital including all the canvas. These tents that had to be all erected. And that was one of the most marvellous things I thought of afterwards. The concept of how everything was moved. There we were, our whole unit, the doctors and the men had gone ahead and then the nurses came afterwards and all our equipment was in these meadows and it was masses of it. How in the name of patience with all the billions of tons of equipment that was moved before we ever went. Ready... you know, after D-Day started. The ammunition, the oil, the food, the hospital, everything had to be worked out to the last minute and where it was gonna be when it landed. It was incredible. The logistics had to be seen to be believed. It was, it was fantastic. I’m sure logistics today are much improved, but I thought it was really quite, quite, wonderful. So the men busy setting up the tents and...we each, two nursing sisters had a tent between them. They were small, they were called 160 pound tent. They had a short little wall and a peak and they were quite comfortable. We put a string between the tent poles and hung our stuff on that and we each had a tin trunk that had been shipped and landed in our orchard. It was in an orchard where we lived. There was our personal things were all there, and we used those, a little dressing table, you put a towel over it and eventually somebody found me a nice chair. A guy that had gone to a dump, he found me a nice chair. And a very resourceful, this was one of my first patients, a reaming officer, a British officer went to the dump and built me a little gas stove that just fitted a square tin and I could always have warm bath water. It was like a miracle having it. You just pumped it up like a little camp stove and it was marvellous, and I took that everywhere with me you can be sure because to have warm water was really a blessing, you know. And that’s where we started our receiving of patients, of all types, in sizes, and the sick along with the wounded and you, nursing in a tent was very different. We didn’t have any floors in the tents. There was no electricity. We had those lamps like you have in the barns. Kerosene lanterns at nigth and I was always worried because there was German patients usually, that my hand would be shaking and I’d make a shadow on the wall of the tent, because we still received some shrapnel coming over us from the firing. It wasn’t very bad but the, actually our commanding officer said he wanted the nurses to not sleep on their cots or, now what, oh he issued us all mattresses and we were suppose to sleep underneath the cots, that was it . We didn’t have mats on our little camp beds that were, we had a little camp bed each that folded, but these were the beds that were in the wards and they were still folding, but metal bed and we had mattresses put on them to protect us from the shrapnel. Well it was not a very good choice because there were lots of little lizards and mice and things running around in the tent and it was a choice. Did you sleep up top or did you get under with the livestock. So you know what the choice was. Everybody slept on top and put their tin hats over their faces, sort of, and their wash basins over their tummies and that was it. But there was only, I think I can remember only about seven or eight people having shrapnel come through their tents, but it could be you know, it could be very dangerous, but it wasn’t. We were lucky.

Ms. Sloan describes the logistics and organization of setting up a 600 bed hospital and camp with the billions of tons of equipment required.

Hallie Sloan

Hallie Sloan was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1920. At age ten, she and her family moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Ms. Sloan always had the desire to become a nurse and moved to Vancouver where she obtained a nursing degree at the Vancouver General Hospital. When war was declared she became very anxious to serve her country in the medical field. She decided to join the army. She held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and Matron-in-Chief in the Medical Service, serving in Germany and many parts of Canada. After the war, Hallie continued her nursing career and devoted much of her time towards advocating the vital part that nursing sisters played during wartime service and post-war. Ms. Sloan was the National President of the Nursing Association of Canada (1994-1996) and was active in volunteer work. She has become a strong role model for the Nursing Sisters Association.

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Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Hallie Sloan
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War

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