Veteran Stories:
Gertrude Dickey

Army

  • Gertrude Dickey attempting to remove the sea salt from the hair of an airmen who had just been admitted to the Canadian Military Hospital after making in to English soil, August 24, 1942.

  • Troop carrier arrivals in Halifax Harbour on June 20, 1945 in which many servicemen and women came home after spending many years abroad overseas. Gertrude Dickey's liner is featured on the right.

  • Gertrude Dickey visiting the Dieppe Cemetary on a commemorative visit in 1987. Gertrude nursed many of the wounded soldiers who returned to England.

  • Gertude Dickey's Medals: (L-R) : 1939-1945 Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and clasp, War Medal

  • Nursing sisters survivors after the sinking of S.S. Santa Elena, November 1943. The women were picked up from a lifeboat and taken to Algeria.

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"Well, as we entered the Mediterranean … we were torpedoed, and our ship sunk and we got in life boats."

Transcript

Gertrude Dickey. And I became a member of the Number 14 General Hospital which was in service during World War II. In June 1941, I went overseas and I was overseas for four years, serving two and a half years and some months in England, looking after the soldiers. Our first soldiers who had met the enemy were at the Dieppe Raid. We looked after some of those people. And then in 1943 we set sail. Of course, in those days they never told you where you were going to go - just got on the ship. But we had received inoculations, and we realized it was a warm country we were going to. Well, as we entered the Mediterranean, the night after, we were torpedoed, and our ship sunk and we got in life boats. And I was picked up by an American destroyer, and since they're not supposed to pick up survivors - they always do - but they have to put them off at the first port. Well, I landed up in North Africa. We went out to the Number 15 General Hospital to await transport - we were headed for Italy. Well, finally, we waited about ten days and we made the trip to Naples. And there we travelled inland about twenty kilometres to Caserta and we had a general hospital there. It was a twelve hundred bed hospital, and we admitted a thousand patients in three days. This is the first attempt to get Rome. It was British soldiers. They just failed at trying to take Assisi, which is a dreadful thing to take. We stayed in that hospital for about a year, and then we were moving north to be nearer our soldiers. They were winning Italy by this stage of the game. Well, the movement took place... we were housed in tents in an orange grove, and the English needed help, so I went to help the English for about three weeks in a tented hospital near there. And then we were ready and I was only there about a month and I had requested to go to field dressing stations. So these were small active hospitals right behind the fighting and we moved along as the troops moved along; about every ten days we would move. Purpose was to look after people that needed immediate surgery and we kept them until they were able to travel, usually about five days, to a general hospital. I guess I was in that travelling up the coast until we got to Ravenna, and then it came time - we were not going any further in Italy - but I should mention here that what a privilege it was to work with these soldiers. As a rule, they were young, healthy males, and they did very well, and they were so appreciative of what we were able to do for them.
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