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Sacrifice of Canadian nurses honoured on Lemnos

17 April 2015

On 17 April, the eve of the Centenary of the Gallipoli campaign, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Director General, Mrs Victoria Wallace, will take part in the unveiling of a new memorial at Portianos Military Cemetery on Lemnos, honouring the service and sacrifice made by two Canadian nurses during the Great War.

Matron Jessie Jaggard and Nursing Sister Mary Frances Munro were among 70 Canadian nurses stationed in Lemnos to treat thousands of wounded and sick Allied servicemen from the fighting at Gallipoli. Doctors and nurses were confronted daily with poor sanitation, illness, and the life threatening injuries of soldiers. The heat, poor diet and scarce water, inevitably caused illness throughout the medical personnel. Sadly, Jessie and Mary succumbed to disease and were buried at the CWGC's Portianos Military Cemetery in 1915.

The new memorial, designed by the CWGC, is made from Nabresina stone from a quarry near Trieste in Italy, and was carved by CWGC stonemasons at their facility adjacent to ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli, Turkey.

The memorial initiative, led by the Canadian Embassy in Athens, was made possible with funding provided by the Government of Canada, the dedicated support of the CWGC and the assistance of Mr Jim Claven, historian and Secretary of the Melbourne-based Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee.

Mrs Wallace said: "The hugely significant contribution made by women during the First World War deserves to be better known and I am honoured to support the initiative of the Canadian Embassy in Athens in commissioning this new memorial. More than 650 women, who served in a wide range of capacities, died during the First World War and are commemorated at Commonwealth War Graves Commission sites the world over. This new memorial honours the memory of just two such brave Canadian individuals, but is also a powerful symbol of the contribution on Lemnos of nurses from Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain, without whose dedication many more servicemen would have died."

Mary and Jessie's personal stories are among those revealed at the cemetery by the CWGC's use of the latest smartphone technology.  As part of the commemorations on Lemnos, the Director General  will unveil a number of information panels at the CWGC cemeteries on the island. The panels feature the history of each location and a QR (Quick Response) code, which, when scanned with a smartphone, provides access to the personal stories of some of the casualties buried or commemorated there.

Full press release below: