Luella Euphemia "Euphie" Denton


 Luella Denton & the CAMC

    The Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC) was founded in 1904 with the essential role of keeping Canada’s frontline soldiers alive and healthy. Between 1914 and 1918, more than half of Canada’s physicians were serving overseas with the Medical Corps. During the First World War, over 21,000 servicewomen and men served with the C.A.M.C. 1,325 of them became casualties while 3 members were awarded the Victoria Cross.1


    By 1918, the C.A.M.C. was operating 33 different hospital units in England and another 37 in France. These units included General and Stationary Hospitals, Hospital Ships, and Medical Depots. The hospitals were the workplaces for over 2,400 Nursing Sisters who served overseas during the war. 46 Nursing Sisters lost their lives while overseas, 14 of them when the Hospital Ship Llandovery Castle was sunk in June of 1918.2


    The care of Nursing Sisters made it possible for a higher survival rate of 89% for ailing soldiers who were admitted to Canadian Hospitals. Nurses also served in advance units very close to the frontlines in Casualty Clearing Stations where wounded soldiers were assessed and transported to hospitals. The Canadian Army Medical Corps consisted of Nursing Sisters from all across Canada including 18 who were former students of the Owen Sound Collegiate Institute. One Nursing Sister from Owen Sound who served overseas during the Great War was Luella Denton.3

 Biography

    Luella Euphemia Denton was born on July 15, 1888, in Owen Sound, Ontario. Denton graduated from the University of Michigan Hospital in 1915, before enlisting in the Canadian Army Medical Corps on February, 3, 1916. 'Euphie' Denton served as a Nursing Sister at the Ontario Military Hospital in Kent, England. She also served at the Number 3 Casualty Clearing Station in Flanders, Belgium, caring for sick and wounded soldiers.4 Luella Denton’s story is documented in a series of letters written to Mrs. Isabella McArthur from 1916 to 1919. The letters can be accessed by clicking this link.5


    Denton and the other nursing sisters worked tirelessly and many times through the night, "Can you picture me now, 2.50 a.m., a long low tent – rows of beds down each side, black low cots with brown blankets. In the centre is a small coal stove and a table (where I am writing). A screen separates me from the ward. The orderly at the opposite side of the stove is asleep in his chair."


    By the spring of 1917, Denton was serving closer to the battlefields of France and Belgium. In one of her letters to Isabella, she explained the importance of receiving letters from her friend, "In England we could exist without [letters], but here... everyone lives on letters!" 


    By May of 1918, Nursing Sister Denton was posted to a Military Hospital in Etaples, France. During this posting, the Germans bombed the hospital taking the lives of many patients and nurses. Denton also wrote about the more enjoyable times in the service such as her holiday in Scotland during the month of July in 1918. " We were very fortunate in getting our furlough so soon, but owing to our experiences at Etaples, the matron urged our leave." Miss Denton spoke very proudly of her work overseas, but became more conflicted as the war progressed. In a letter dated February 6, 1918, Nursing Sister Denton lamented, "Lately I have begun to want to go home so badly, but want to be here when peace comes." Luella Denton was awarded the Royal Red Cross for her distinguished war time service.6


    Denton returned to England by late 1918, to Orpington, where she wrote, "...everything here is lovely and luxurious. It feels a little bit like heaven after France." During her post-war career, Euphie served as the Superintendent of the Red Cross Hospital in Nipawa, Saskatchewan. In 1935, Luella Denton was awarded the Order of the British Empire by King George V for her service to humanity. In 1937, Denton travelled overseas for the last time as a delegate to the National Convention of Nurses, held in London, England. On December 4, 1938, Euphie Denton passed away in Vancouver, British Columbia.7


 Sources


1. warmuseum.ca: Medicine - The Canadian Army Medical Corps
2. Canadian Great War Project: Nursing Sisters
3, 4. Veterans Canada: The Nursing Sisters of Canada
5, 6, 7. Grey Roots Museum and Archives: A Canadian Nursing Sister; Thank you to Grey Roots for permission to use the above photograph.

THEY SERVED FOR US

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