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Tillsonburg Bluebirds

During the First World War, 6 young women from Tillsonburg volunteered as Nursing Sisters for the Canadian Army Medical Corp. Serving in all avenues of the medical Corp, from front-line field hospitals in Europe to Recuperating Hospitals in England these young women would become our first female veterans.  Mildred Clark, Josephine Glass, Matilda Oatman, Marguerite Sinclair, Winifred Toogood and Nellie Wilkins would experience not only man’s inhumanity to man, but man’s generosity and strength of spirit, as evidenced in the following letter that appeared in the Tillsonburg Observer on February 14, 1918.  

Readers of the Observer who had the privilege of contributing to the fund that helped to bring happiness, even though it was only transitory, to the shrapnel shattered, bullet pierced, shell shocked and gas choked soldiers in #4 Casualty Clearing Station in Belgium on Christmas day, will read with pleasure the following letter from Nursing Sister Mildred Clark of Tillsonburg, who is on service at this station and to whom the money collected in Tillsonburg was sent:

No.4 British C.C.S., Belgium, Jan. 4th, 1918

To the Editor:

May I, through your paper, thank the Tillsonburg friends who were so kind as to contribute to the Christmas cheer of our boys in this casualty clearing station, and I am sure when I tell you a little of our Christmas day you will agree with me in saying they had a real good time, considering there is a war and we are on very active service. Christmas Day: Early in the morning the Sisters went around to all the wards with Christmas cards and a little gift-only a trifle-for each patient and before leaving we sang some Christmas carols. Thus started the day. We had evacuated all the patients from our ward and had it all decorated for the dinner for all patients who were able to be up. The ward looked so nice with ivy, red and green tissue paper and what few Xmas decorations we could gather together. I was on the committee and I assure you it was a task, getting the few articles we could. We had a tree in the centre of the ward and the tables along each side. At twelve o’clock, one hundred and seventeen patients came in and were placed, being waited on by the officers, while the Sisters served. Oh my, it did me good to see them enjoy their dinner. After the dinner everything was gotten ready for tea—and the same number came to tea. After tea, Santa Claus arrived with his pack, and each patient received a gift from the Christmas tree. We had patients from all over—British, West Indians, Negroes, Australians, South Africans, Chinamen and Canadians, and after tea each sang songs for us, an thus ended a very happy Xmas. Again thanking all who contributed to my cheer, as well as the boys, for I can assure you, I could have wept with joy, seeing them so happy, thank you also for this space in your paper.

Yours sincerely, 

Mildred Clark, Nursing Sister, Canadian Army Medical Corp.





Nellie Penman Wilkins - Nursing Sisiter WW1

Born Tillsonburg Feb 20, 1886
NOK Father William & Helen J. Wilkins
Belongs to CAMC
Enlisted   Feb 25th 1916

Declared fit for overseas in Toronto Dec 9, 1916
She was 30 years old
5’ 7 3/4 “  140lb  chest 33 ½   Hazel  [same weight and height unpin discharge.
During service had one tooth filled an one extracted.
1916 Toronto Military Hospital [part of University?]  May
1917 England Jan 5th #16 Orpington  Feb 1 on the same ward as Marguerite

France  May

1918    France Jan.
            #3 Can….station close to in Oct. [maybe Boulogne]

Jul 11, 1919 Sailed
Jul 18 1919 Arrived
Jul 22  SOS CEF In Canada
Demobilized Aug 18, 1919
Certificate of Service
England& France with CAMC
#16 CGH Orpington
CAMC Depots Westenhanger
#3 CGH
#11 CGH

Casualty and Active Service

Unit: Reinforcements CAMC

Feb 25 enlisted in Toronto
Dec 24 or 27th TOS on arrival at CAMC T.S. in London
Jan 12  #16 Orpington
Apr 17 SOS to CAMC Depot Westernhanger  [CanadianConvalescent Hospital, Monk’s Horton, Westenhanger, Kent near Shorncliffe]

Apr 17 reinforcement to #3CGH  Boulogne
Nov 11  granted 14 days leave
Nov 29 rejoined unit

May 29th Hospital bomb some sisters died no mention of Nellie
Jul 6 Granted leave
Jul 8 rejoined   No mention of Nellie in reports including full list of NS on Jul 31
Sept 26 SOS #3CGH 
Sep 27 TOS reposting #2 CCCS Remy
Oct 10 #2 CCCS was evacuated from Remy to Mouveaux
Oct 26 SOS reposting  #3CGH  
Oct 28 TOS #3CGH On re for king
Dec 12 leave to UK

Jan 23 return from UK
Apr 1 proceeded to England CAMA Cas Coy 
Apr 2 1919 attached from #11 CGH Shorncliffe to CAMC R & T  Depot
Apr 15 SOS #11 CGH at Shorncliffe proceeding to #16 Orpington
Apr 16 attached to #16 Orpington
Apr 30 TOS
Jul 11 sailed to Canada on the Cedric
Pay Records
Sent $40 home to her father

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