Nursing Sister Marjorie Beatrice Moberly served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps during WW1. She served only in Canada and was born in 1895 Totnes District, Devon, United Kingdom.
She graduated from the Nursing School of the Royal Jubilee Hospital, Vernon, British-Columbia
Her parents were Major and Mrs. Guy Moberly of 1630 Haro street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Her father enlisted in the 7th battalion Canadian Expeditionary Forces in September 1914.
October 26th, 1918 : She died at the Coquitlam Military Hospital of influenza. Her funeral was held on October 30th and she was buried at the Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, British Columbia
Excerpt from the Vancouver Daily Province October 28, 1918 : The death occurred at the Coquitlam Military Hospital on Saturday of Nursing Sister Marjorie Beatrice Moberly, aged 23. She had applied for overseas’ service eighteen months ago, but was not called on until the influenza outbreak, when she immediately went to Coquitlam. After a few days she contracted the disease. She was the first military nurse to die from the epidemic. She was the daughter of Major Moberly of the Board of Pension Commissioners.
According to her death certificate she had been at the place of death (Coquitlam) only for 14 days and was previously living at 1630 Haro Street, Vancouver.
This is where her story gets bizarre. Nursing Sister Marjorie Beatrice Moberly is not commemorated as a casualty of war on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission nor the Canadian Book of Remembrance . She was a member of the Canadian Forces at the time of her death so, technically, she should be recognized to that effect, but she is not. I also tried to locate her in the Library and Archives Canada database of WW1 Canadian Soldiers and Nursing Sisters, again, I am unable to find her there. If her military file exist, it is somewhere else.
If you look at her grave site
Picture of Nursing Sister Marjorie Beatrice Moberly grave
She is buried amongst other soldiers who do have the official veteran gravestone but she does not. It’s like her official veteran gravestone was removed and replaced by a civilian stone flat on the ground.
Even if a nurses or soldiers did not served overseas and died of cause related to their military service in Canada, they were to be recognized as a casualty of war and receive the proper honours. They would get an official military grave stone, one next-of-kin would received the Memorial Plaque with the Memorial Scroll and the mother of the deceased received the Memorial Cross. Some Canadian nurses died on active duty during WW1, served only in Canada and are recognized as official casualties of war.
The big question is “Was she officially in the Canadian Army” There are some traces of her in official Canadian Army documents. Her name can be found in some 23rd Infantry Brigade Canadian Army official documents.
One of the three official document where her name is mentionned
It is really bizarre why she is not recognized as an official casualty of war.
Five things could have happened ;
- 1 – Since she died very shortly after enlisting, her enlistment papers may not have not been processed in the system before she died and she was not considered officially enlisted in the Canadian Army.
- 2 – Her obituary mentioned that she got sick a few days after arriving, maybe she did report for duty already sick and was sent directly to the hospital as a patient and never did nursing work, meaning she did not serve one day in the Canadian Army.
- 3 – Maybe there was a qualifying period before you could be eligible to official honours if you died and did not served oversea. I am almost sure there wasn’t a such a period but I am not 100 % sure.
- 4 – Maybe she was enrolled not as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces (C.E.F.) but as part of the Canadian Reserve Forces, this is really a minor administrative difference but this means that technically she was not serving for the war effort as part of the C.E.F. and only members of the C.E.F. were entitled to the official honours.
- 5 – Maybe her file got lost and was never found again
I think that options 4 or 5 are more likely to be the explanation of that mystery.
Although an administrative detail prevented her from being commemorated officially by the Canadian Government, it is clear that she died of causes related to her military service.
UPDATED NOVEMBER 22nd 2012
The information was sent to me by a relative of Nursing Sister Moberly
“Her father was a professional soldier in the Indian Army (he spoke Persian and Pushtu) and seems to have emigrated via England to Canada sometime after resigning his Indian Army commission in 1897. That is why he joined the Canadian forces (7th Canadian Infantry Battalion) in WW1. His father and grandfather were also in the Indian Army.
Not surprisingly, several of Marjorie’s female Moberly cousins were also nurses in WW1. Marjorie has a particularly close link with one of them, although she will not have known of it – my grandfather’s sister was a Nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD), working in a convalescent hospital at Merton College, Oxford, but she too died in the flu epidemic in 1918 just 2 days before the end of WW1. She is buried in Christ Church College, Oxford, where her father had been a professor”
Her official Death Card list her as a Nursing Sister but civilian, this add another twist to this mystery. Canadian Nursing Sisters were not civilian but according to the card she is. I wonder if she was not like a contractual nurse and not part of the military but rather working with the military.
Nursing Sister Beatrice Moberly Death Card
If you know more information on this lady, please leave me message so I can add it to her small biography
Pictures and obituary sources – Great War Forum