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Nursing Sister Evelyn Verrall McKay, No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill)
First World War Army Canadian Women at war
By Edward Walshe (1)


Nursing Sister Evelyn Verrall McKay
View record on CWGC

Nursing Sister Evelyn Verrall McKay served with Lt-Col John McCrae in No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill), and like the author of 'In Flanders Fields', died under similar circumstances later in 1918. 

Evelyn was born on the 24th of November 1892 in Galt, Ontario. The fifth of six daughters born to Mark Smith McKay and Sarah Marie Verrall.

Enlistment of NS Evelyn Verrall McKay

A graduate of Grace Hospital, Evelyn Verrall McKay enlisted on the 6th of November 1916.

Grace Hospital, circa 1900, Salmon, James Victor (copyright)

Evelyn was big and strong, just like her brother Mark who had enlisted immediately when the war broke out. Elder brother Mark Harold McKay was born on the 30th of March 1887, the second of three sons born to Mark and Sarah McKay. He was a banker, and had enlisted with the First Contingent in August of 1914.

Nursing Sister Evelyn Verrall McKay © IWM WWC H22-32-1

Already overseas, Bombardier Mark Harold McKay, 1st DAC, Canadian Field Artillery, had been wounded a year before Evelyn enlisted in November of 1915. NS McKay served at Base Hospital and the Exhibition Camp (Milty, Toronto), before proceeding overseas on the 9th of  December 1916.

Her brother, now Lieutenant Mark Harold McKay, had received his Commission in the CFA the previous month.


Evelyn remained in England for six months working at the Moore Barracks Hospital in Shorncliffe.

Top: Hospital Huts at Moore Barracks, Bottom: Nurses’ Residence Somerset Barracks (copyright unknown)

NS McKay left for France on the 25th of August 1917, stationed at No. 3 Canadian General Hospital, Boulogne.

A convoy of stretcher cases with a nurse tending the wounded (copyright unknown)

On the 25th of January 1918, Lieut-Col McCrae, seriously ill, transferred to No 14 British General Hospital for Officers. He died early on the 28th of January 1918 from double pneumonia and meningitis.

An operation in progress in the basement. Patient being anaesthetized (copyright IWM)

NS McKay was on leave from the 22nd of May 1918 to the 5th of June 1918. Evelyn's brother, Lt Mark Harold McKay was now serving with 9th Brigade, CFA, on leave in the UK from the 24th of  September 1918. Lt Mark McKay returns to his unit on the 7th of October 1918.

13th Bn. Scottie dressing himself before going on Christmas leave. December, 1917. MIKAN No. 3396787 (copyright unknown)
Military Cross

A week after returning to his unit, Mark was awarded his Military Cross on the 15th of October 1918.

"Awarded the Military Cross. He was acting as Liaison Officer with one of the attacking battalions during an engagement and remained with them many hours after the final objective had been taking sending back information of the greatest tactical value. By his timely calls for artillery ire from our guns he silenced hostile trench mortars and machine guns which were causing our Infantry many casualties. He was constantly under heavy shell and M G Fire and his Gallant Determination and Devotion to Duty made a great impression on all around him."

 London Gazette No 50950

NS Evelyn Verrall McKay ill with Influenza

Nursing Sister E V McKay was evacuated to No. 14 General Hospital (Wimereux) with influenza on the 25th, and on the 29th of October 1918, news arrived that she was seriously ill.

Influenza was sweeping a deadly path.

Seriously ill indicated a truly grave condition. As November opened at No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) it became clear that all hope for the recovery of Nursing Sister E V McKay must be abandoned.

Reports from the Chateau Mauricien at No. 14 General Hospital indicated that pneumonia had developed and that the end was near. Nursing Sisters Walters and Stewart and the medical officers in charge did what was possible, but nothing could check the disease, and at 11.30hrs on the morning of November the 4th the patient died. - No.3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) 1914-1919

Terlincthun British Cemetery

With deep regret Col. Drum and Matron Katherine Osborne MacLatchy announced the news to the staff of No. 3.

Two days later, at 10 o’clock in the morning, 35 nursing sisters, with a detachment of officers and other ranks, attended the funeral at Terlincthun Cemetery.

Despite the nature of the times, no honour omitted. And, glorious wreaths from the Matron and nursing sisters of No. 3, from the staff of No. 7 Convalescent Depot.

From the Matron and nursing sisters of No. 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital, from the Matron of the Chateau Mauricien, and from the officers of No. 3. All testified to the sorrow shared by all to whom Nursing Sister McKay had been known. - No.3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) 1914-1919


Nursing Sister Evelyn Verrall McKay 15 April 2016 (copyright unknown)

Plot VII, Row C, Grave 26, Terlincthun British Cemetery.

Though survived by her parents, and siblings, it's unknown why no inscription was supplied to the IWGC for Evelyn.

Lt Mark Harold McKay MC returned to England on the 18th of February 1919, and sailed for Canada on the 19th of March 1919. Though not present at the funeral, Evelyn's brother likely received permission via leave to visit her grave in early 1919.

Evelyn is buried between Pte J Duckers of 6th Mechanical Transport Coy. G.H.Q., RASC and Captain Thomas William Rollo of the Labour Corps. Duckers and Rollo also died on the 4th of November 1918.


Evelyn's British War Medal, Victory Medal, and Memorial Cross were sent to her mother, Sarah. The Memorial Plaque and Scroll were sent to her father Mark.

Lt Mark Harold McKay MC married Margaret Marie Sharpe in 1922. He died in 1958 at the age of 71, and is buried in Mount View Cemetery (Galt Cemetery), Cambridge, Waterloo, Ontario.