WW1 Canadian Nursing Sister uniform – part 3 – How to wear the uniform

This is part of a serie of 4 posts on the uniform of the WW1 Canadian Nursing Sister. Post 1 can is on the subject of the Service Dress and can be read by clicking here. Post 2 is on the subject of the Ceremonial Dress and can be read by clicking here. Post 4 shows other uniforms for WW1 Female Medical personnel from other Commenwealth Forces and can be read by clicking here.

I do not pretend that this text is the definitive source of information but rather some observations made after looking at many WW1 Canadian Nursing Sisters pictures. I was never able to find the official Dress Regulations for the WW1 Canadian Nursing Sisters so these posts are the starting point to something that could evolve as I get new information on the subject.

Nursing Sisters just before an operation – no Service Dress here but still wearing their veil

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Trench coat – It seems like there was no official trench coat with the uniform. These two pictures show very diffent types of trench coat worn by Nursing Sisters. Both pictures were taken after a medals ceremony at Buckingham Palace

click on the image to enlarge

Another model of trench coat worn by a Nursing Sister. On the picture Nursing Sister Guillbride and McLeod

click on the image to enlarge

Although the cape was the same color of the Ceremonial Dress, it was often worn with the Service Dress (see picture above) Nursing Sister McLeod wearing her cape at her Royal Red Cross investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Canadian Nursing Sisters at Nursing Sister Margaret Lowe grave (see picture below).

click on the image to enlarge

One of the dress regulations that Nursing Sisters had to follow was that they had to wear their complete uniform including the veil on the base at all time, even if they were off duty.

Sometime they would organise sporting competition (picture below) Nursing Sisters running a sprint race for fun with the full Service Dress including the veil

click on the image to enlarge

Picture of Nursing Sisters playing tennis, although on this picture the Nursing Sister at the back took off her veil, she was not supposed to. If the Matron had seen her, she would have most certainly been reprimanded.

click on the image to enlarge

Another picture showing Nursing Sister at rest after a tennis match

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Pictures sources Library and Archives Canada and Canadian War Museum.

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  • World War One Historical Assn  On 2012/03/16 at 14:27

    Reblogged this on ww1ha and commented:
    Here they are, dressed for success. The nurses’ uniforms were hot in the summer and none too cozy in the winter. Their feet hurt, their backs hurt — but be sure to scroll down and look at the photo of nurses running a race. For fun.

    Thanks for these wonderful pictures and details!

  • World War One Historical Assn  On 2012/03/16 at 14:35

    Thanks for describing these photos — I’ve wondered why I’d seen them in different coats. A matter of fashion? (Probably not.) How awesome to see them playing tennis.

    What did Margaret Lowe die of?

  • Medic  On 2012/03/16 at 18:44

    Margaret Lowe died in Étaples, France in May 1918. The hospital where she was working was bombed by German Aviation …….. I will add her story here one day

  • Medic  On 2012/03/16 at 18:45

    Indeed the running Nursing Sisters is something quite special to see

  • World War One Historical Assn  On 2012/03/16 at 20:48

    I look forward to reading that! It’s so sad to think of the nurses who lost their lives. They didn’t have to go to war. I’m sure their families wanted to talk them out of it. But they went because they knew they were needed.

    Thanks for your blog. I really enjoy it.

  • Medic  On 2012/03/17 at 00:43

    In 1914, in Canada women did not have the right to vote, after the war in 1919 they got that right to vote and one of the argument that was used for that was “If woman fought and died beside men during the war, they must have the right to vote also” although I do not think that one loss of life can morally justify the right to vote, clearly those women helped opening the path ………. and to be honest when they left Canada to go and fight in Europe, they though they were going for the adventure of their life

  • World War One Historical Assn  On 2012/03/17 at 09:06

    The Americans probably felt the same way. They did have an adventure — they just didn’t expect it to be so horrible.

    Can you recommend a book about the Canadian nurses? I know quite a bit about the Princess Pats, who needed nurses…

  • Medic  On 2012/03/17 at 10:30

    I am going to give you a politician anwser on my choice of books, it is difficult to pick just one but here my list
    – For the history of the Canadian Nursing sister definitly the book “Canada’s Nursing Sisters” by G W L Nicholson published in 1975
    – A book of a personnal account of the war by a Canadian Nursing Sister “The war diary of Clare Gass 1915-1918” published in 2000 probably the most honest personnal war diary of a Canadian nurse during WW1
    – Also worth of a mention the book “Nobody ever wins a war – The WW1 diaries of Ellen Mae Bongard R.N.” published by her son Eric Scott in 1997, it’s the story of a Canadian nurse serving in the US Army in France during WW1

  • Kevin Campbell  On 2013/03/09 at 01:42

    I have a metal from this time in history for a Sister L.M.Gill who served with this unit if there is any family members still out there I would like to return this metal to its rightfull place plz contact me @ kevin.campbell@cranesupply.com serious inquires only plz

  • Medic  On 2013/03/10 at 16:23

    Do you have picture of that medal and the naming?

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