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Medical Wards

Heroes Remember

The wards were 65 beds each, no 75 beds each. There were two big, big tents. Huge tents with folding cots and there were 30 on each side, 30 yeah, 60. And then off a central tent that connected the two large ward where we had our supplies, where we kept equipment like dressings and all that sort of thing, medications were in the central part that did the connecting two big wards. And then from the small office central ward, there was another smaller tent went up with 15 beds and that’s where we kept the very badly wounded people. They were right next to the little office part of the tent. For instance, I remember in France we had so many terrible burns from tanks and the heat was terrible and the flies were very bad of course, always and it was, we didn’t have awfully good treatment for our burn people. We used different variety of things but it was very, very, they were very difficult to nurse because we didn’t have masses of clean linen and things like. Well, we had enough for them, but that’s about all we had. There was no linen on the cots where the men were. Often they just stayed on the, on the stretcher that they were brought in on. They didn’t even get off onto the beds. They just put the stretchers on top of the bed. But it was, it was so, their pain was bad and the heat was very hard for them and so as quickly as possible, once they were stable, they were evacuated very quickly back to England as fast as they could get them. We lived in an orchard, all our tents were in two rows in an orchard, and then there were 600 beds under canvas spread all over this area and we had an operating room tent, an x-ray tent, we had a resuscitation... where they did the triage deciding on how people would be looked after. And we had a lab and those, we had our own generator for those people and so there was electricity in the OR and the lab and so on, but there was no other lights... electricity anywhere water came in water trucks. At the beginning water was scarce and we got, like we each had a canvas bucket and we got a bucket a day to start with so you sort of washed yourself first, had a little bath and you maybe washed your hair, and then you washed your clothes in the bucket. It worked out quite well you know, because the weather was good most of the time so your things dried out quickly. They didn’t get ironed or anything like that.

Ms. Sloan describes in detail the structure and setup for each medical ward required in the army camp.

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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