Veteran Stories:
Mary Lee Edward

Army

  • Roll of Service presented to Dr. Mary Lee Edward from the University of Toronto. The letter of appreciation was in recognition of Dr. Edward's service during WWI. January 22, 1919.

    Roll of Service presented to Dr. Mary Lee Edward from the University of Toronto. The letter of appreciation was in recognition of Dr. Edward's service during WWI. January 22, 1919.
  • Verdun Medal with the inscription "On ne passe pas." February 21, 1916.

    Verdun Medal with the inscription "On ne passe pas." February 21, 1916.
  • Croix de guerre Medal.

    Croix de guerre Medal.
  • Dr. Mary Lee Edward and Dr. Verdurin, both members of the French surgeon triage.

    Dr. Mary Lee Edward and Dr. Verdurin, both members of the French surgeon triage.
  • Women's Overseas Hospital, USA medal.

    Women's Overseas Hospital, USA medal.
  • Mary Lee Edward in her civilian clothes.

    Mary Lee Edward in her civilian clothes.
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This is the story of our attractive and most outstanding aunt, Dr. Mary Lee Edward. She was born in Petrolia, Ontario, in 1885, to a beautiful Canadian mother and a much-traveled man from Edinburgh. After high school, Mary Lee enrolled at the University of Toronto, being the only female student amongst a hundred and fifty men. There was much marginalizing by her peers. However, she graduated 1908, and was awarded a research scholarship from the University of Toronto, which was an exceptional honour.

Dr. Edward found herself in a forgotten backwater, and so she went to the New York Infirmary, comprised of an all-female staff, in New York City. Upon her return, she was appointed Chief Resident Surgeon at the infirmary. In 1917, she volunteered for overseas service and joined the Women's Overseas Hospital, which she helped to organize, supported by the National Suffrage Association.

They arrived in France from a troop ship, as part of the 10th French Army. There appointed hospital had been completely destroyed by bombs, however, and it was suggested that they go to the front, and eleven went on to Chateau (?) at (?) on the front, forty miles from Paris. This had been a beautiful private chateau, and now it was converted to a hospital. In the foreground was a circular drive for ambulances to deliver the wounded on stretchers into the triage. There were twelve barracks with sixteen beds each, a chapel, and an X-Ray room. Two French doctors were in charge, who were described as "friendly and affable," and part of the 10th French Army. And so the work began.

"May the 28th, operated 5-8 pm, then 9-3 am. Wounded were arriving from (?). Bombs shook the operating room theatre and the barracks. Cannons roared and planes vibrated the atmosphere.

June the 13th, operated sixteen hours on major cases, so big one could not believe they would survive.

June the 15th, our team was off-duty twenty-four hours, doing only dressings and rounds. Very tired, we walked into a thick, velvet forest north of the chateau, and then to bed. The hospital was quiet. However, near daybreak, chaos disrupted, as our hospital had been bombed. Many of the dead lay in a crater, and body parts were strewn about. Thirteen orderlies and stretcher bearers were killed, eleven were wounded."

Word came late in August from Paris that three American doctors and an American registered nurse were to be honoured by the French government, and in a poignant ceremony, Dr. Mary Lee Edward, Caroline (Findley ?), (Ana Von Sh ?), and a registered nurse, Jane McKee, received France's highest distinguished award – the Croix de Guerre.

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