During WWI Canadian nurses were vital in providing medical support to soldiers, navy and airmen on both land and at sea. Their role as medical personnel was both dangerous and rewarding. The risks were enormous and such was the case when twelve nurses drowned at sea off the coast of Ireland on Llandovery Castle, a hospital ship returning from Canada en route to Europe. What happened to Llandovery Castle? Who were those women?
In this activity, students will learn about the tragedy of Llandovery Castle. Students will explore by article analysis the confusion at sea and in particular the war crimes of the Germans who attacked and killed hundreds which later set a precedence in war crime tribunals.
The teacher shows the students the section of the virtual exhibition They Cared: Origins of Military Nursing that deals with the Llandovery Castle tragedy; teacher can also invite the students to explore it independently, on their own computer. Students will answer five questions on the purpose of the vessel, its crew and the events of June 27, 1918 (refer to the student guide).
Then, the teacher distribute the New York Times article “Sea Tragedy at Night”, published in the daily newspaper on July 2, 1918 (PDF document available below). Students will answer three questions relating to the analysis of this primary document and first person accounts. This article succinctly presents different versions of what happend on the night of the attack, June 27, 1918.
A reflective question, to take the analysis further, is also proposed.
Want to explore this subject further?
Our partners at Valour Canada offer an in-depth activity wherein students interrogate the tragedy of the Llandovery Castle through the lens of justice and the legal conventions of the era. Click here to check out the activity on their website!
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Nothing compares to a visit to our partner museums for students to directly interact with history. Guided museum tours and complementary activities make history come alive and will spark your students’ interest!
The exhibition, comprised of 6 panels, traces the birth of military nursing. It presents the journey of several military nurses during the First World War and the continued contributions of the nursing profession to society at large.