Veteran Stories:
Frances Marion Walwyn

Army

  • Frances Marion Walwyn posed for a photo with some of her patients while she worked as an overseas nurse during World War I. Collection courtesy of Ian Fisher.

    Frances Marion Walwyn posed for a photo with some of her patients while she worked as an overseas nurse during World War I. Collection courtesy of Ian Fisher.
  • Marion and her brother, Arthur, who served with the Royal Air Force.

    Marion and her brother, Arthur, who served with the Royal Air Force.
  • Marion with her brothers (clockwise from top left) Arthur, Pearce and William, before they left for war. Willam and Arthur Walwyn also have profiles in the Memory Project Digital Archive.

    Marion with her brothers (clockwise from top left) Arthur, Pearce and William, before they left for war. Willam and Arthur Walwyn also have profiles in the Memory Project Digital Archive.
  • One of Marion's assignment's was the eye ward of the hospital, caring for soldiers often badly wounded from war.

    One of Marion's assignment's was the eye ward of the hospital, caring for soldiers often badly wounded from war.
  • The Beaver Hut: a club opened by the YMCA for Canadian troops on leave in London. Marion helped organize events and parties for soldiers to enjoy.

    The Beaver Hut: a club opened by the YMCA for Canadian troops on leave in London. Marion helped organize events and parties for soldiers to enjoy.
  • Soldiers enjoying an event at the Beaver Hut.

    Soldiers enjoying an event at the Beaver Hut.
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Transcript

Marion Walwyn was the middle child of three who served during the war. Her brothers both, one joined the Army, one joined the Air Force, and she was desperate to somehow be with them and participate in the war effort.

She went to New York City to take an accelerated nursing program, as one wasn't available in Canada. She lived alone in New York, trying to learn to become a nurse. Found the studies very difficult, and at one point seriously considered stowing away on a ship to get over to England, as she was that desperate to be there. An opportunity presented itself to family friends to become a VAD – Volunteer Assistant Detachment – which was sort of a nurse's aid and was run by the YMCA, and so she took that training and was able to be posted to England.

She worked as a VAD in the Chelsea Hospital, treating the wounded from the war, and did that for quite some time. But then another opportunity came available with the Y[MCA], and she was asked to become a social coordinator of the Beaver Hut, a social club for Canadian soldiers overseas to meet other Canadians when they were on leave and have a break. (?) ran that organization throughout the First World War, and was asked to come back and do it again in the Second World War. So she served her country through providing social respite – safe enclave of Canadians during both World Wars – to meet and greet and get a break from the horrors of war when they were on leave in London. During her time in London she was also able to meet with her two brothers when they came on leave from the war. So the three of them spent the First World War together in England, with the brothers serving on the continent.

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