- Nursing Sister Dorothea Mary Lynette Crewdson
- Died Age 32 on 12/03/1919
- Etaples Military Cemetery
Dorothea Crewdson was in Bristol in 1886.
Brought up in Nottingham, in 1911 she enrolled as a Voluntary
Aid Detachment Nurse. She trained in the local hospitals and passed
her exams the following year.
Dorothea remained in Nottingham until 1915 when she and her best
friend Christie received instructions to leave for the hospital in
Le Tréport. Dorothea spent the next four years at the hospitals at
Le Tréport, Wimereux and finally, Etaples.
Etaples was thought far enough back from the front-line to
be safe from attack but, in the summer of 1918, the site was
attacked by German aircraft.
Nurse Crewdson was injured but refused treatment so that she
could continue her care for the patients. An action which earned
her the Military Medal.
Dorothea died in 1919, after contacting peritonitis.
She kept a diary of her wartime experiences which was published
in 2013, under the title Dorothea's War.
The following extract details the first time Dorothea saw
"We are travelling now with a whole party of Canadian nurses
who came over with us yesterday. We don't take to them greatly but
converse with the ones in our compartment during the journey. They
are on their way to Rouen, but we get out before. As a group they
are active, waving to all soldiers we pass on the way. We saw large
hut hospitals in Etaples and thought this must be where the VADs
were sent to yesterday. It looked very nice and fresh white tents
planted in neat rows. The whole life over here is intensely
interesting, but a serious atmosphere prevails - much more the real
business of war."
- Bertha Gavin 'Betty' Stevenson
- Died Age 21 on 30/05/1918
- Etaples Military Cemetery
Bertha 'Betty' Stevenson was born in York on 3 September
She lived in Harrogate where she was educated at home, before
attending St George's Wood Boarding School, Haslemere, Surrey.
Betty's parents were activists of the YMCA and she
became heavily involved, at a very young age.
At the age of 16, she travelled with her parents to London as
part of a group from the local Belgium Refugee Fund, to bring back
to Harrogate refugee families who had been camping out at Alexander
Betty worked on the project with a man named Henry Brice, who
she was to stay in touch with throughout her work for the YMCA.
Brice later said of her:
'If I had ever an impossible task to do, I would have put
Betty to do it. And what's more, by her personality she would have
got people to help her, and if she failed a hundred times, you
would have found her head erect and smiling . . . her judgement was
always sound, and her happy confidence in herself
In January 1916, one of Betty's aunts went to France to manage a
YMCA Canteen in St Denis Hut, on the outskirts of Paris.
Betty was keen to join her.
At 19, she was considered too young but a month later she went
anyway, paying her own expenses. She enjoyed the work, writing:
'We know how grateful the men are, and they know us now so
well, I somehow feel it would be mean to leave them for a new
Once her term at St Denis was completed, Betty returned to the
UK but she was soon anxious to get back to France. In April 1917,
she was posted to Etaples as a YMCA driver, responsible for
transporting lecturers, concert parties and relatives from England
visiting the wounded in hospital.
Betty described Etaples is a letter to her father:
'I'm awfully fond of the river here. There is a bridge over
it from which you can get the most wonderful view of everything. On
one side the river mouth and the sea and the little fishing boats;
the quay and the big sailor's crucifix, where the women pray when
there is a storm at sea. The boats anchor quite near; and they look
like something hazy and unreal, sitting on a shiny wet river; with
every sail and mast and man reflected in the water. Behind them are
houses - filthy and ramshackle, but with the sun warming their
pink, white and grey roofs. Behind the houses again is the camp -
the tents crawling up the hill like white snails, and more hills
and pines behind them. The whole thing is so illogical, boats and
fisherman on the one hand, and on the other, war.'
Betty was killed by an air raid the following year having,
despite the danger, stayed in the area to assist some French
She was given a military funeral and was posthumously awarded
the Croix de Guerre avec Palme by General Petain, for courage and
devotion to duty.
The personal inscription on her headstone reads simply, 'The
- Katherine Macdonald
- Died Age 31 on 19/05/1918
- Etaples Military Cemetery
Katherine Maud Macdonald was born in Brantford, Ontario on 18
January 1883. Macdonald took her nursing training at Victoria
Hospital, London, Ontario, graduating on 15 May 1915. She enlisted
in the Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1917, and was sent to England
and then to France.
She was killed in an enemy air raid on the 1 Canadian General
Hospital at Etaples in May 1918.
Brantford Courier May 25, 1918
Macdonald, Katherine Maud (Nursing Sister)
Killed in Action - Nurse Gives Her Life
As recorded in the Courier Thursday, Nursing Sister
Katharine Maud Macdonald was killed on May 19, Sunday last. Word to
this effect has been received by her mother, Mrs. M.M. Macdonald,
165 Market Street. Miss Macdonald is the first Brantford nurse to
make the supreme sacrifice. Born and educated here, Miss
Macdonald was a graduate nurse of Victoria Hospital, London, and
early in the war became attached to the military barracks hospital
staff there. She went overseas at Easter of 1917 and crossed to the
front in January of this year, becoming attached to No. 1 Canadian
General Hospital. It is believed that she met her death in a German
air attack on the hospital. Miss Macdonald was a member of Grace
Church, and leaves her mother and one sister, Miss Florence E.
Macdonald in addition to a host of friends who will long cherish
the memory of one who
gave her life in a lobour of love and mercy .
In 2008 the National Film Board of Canada made a short film
about her story called
Front Lines / Nurses at the Front.