Veteran Stories:
Ida Ferguson

Army

  • Ida Ferguson, World War I Nurse and recipient of the Croix de Guerre.

    Ida Ferguson, World War I Nurse and recipient of the Croix de Guerre.
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Ms. Ferguson, a registered nurse, was born to British parents, and lived with them and her two sisters in Manitowaning, Manitoulin Island, Ontario.

To leave the security of one's home and family in order to engage in a formidable war shows incalculable strength of character, and heroic determination. Ida Ferguson did just that, and deserves our utmost recognition. The following is her brief descriptive narrative:

"In June of 1917, I enlisted for war service as an army medical nurse with the New York graduate hospital unit. We embarked on July 29th on the SS Saratoga, and the next day, while waiting in Tompkinsville, our vessel was rammed by the steamer Panama, which was coming from Cuba. The pilot was German, and the ramming was deliberate. We had been anchored, and it was broad daylight.

Our personnel was comprised of over two thousand doctors, nurses and corps men. The hospital equipment and personal baggage was destroyed by the water taken on board. We therefore had to wait until August to get re-equipped, after which we sailed on the SS Finland.

On Sunday, August the 19th, the twelfth day at sea from New York, a message was received from British Destroyers as to the location of a flotilla of German submarines. Our convoy was reassembled, passed into the Bay of Biscay, and proceeded undisturbed until August the 20th. At 8:15 am, while in sight of land, a major submarine battle took place, in which all of the transports and six torpedo boat Destroyers took place. The Finland fired thirty-eight shells, and had two torpedoes discharged at her. After one hour and forty minutes, our convoy was reassembled, and at 7:15, we arrived at the dock at St. Nazaire, France.

The next morning, the nurses went by train, and the officers and men marched eighteen kilometres to base hospital No. 8 in Savenay. On April the 19th, 1918, Miss Cornwall, another nurse, and I left base hospital No. 8 on the surgical team for duty at the front. We followed the Gipsy Division in its history-making days, through Amiens, Cantigny, Soissons, Chateau Thierry, St. Michel, and the Argonne. For seven months, we lived under unbelievable hardships and dangers. Day after day, and night after night, we traveled by motor truck train. Our food consisted of hard tack, bully beef, and 'monkey meat'. Our bed any convenient building, haystack, or often open fields and woods."

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