No. 1 Canadian General Hospital
June 2, 1918
My Dear Capt. Ballantyne,
Your letter has reached me and its contents have filled my heart with the sincerest sympathy. I cannot express to you what I feel as I think of the blank that has so suddenly come into your life. But if my deepest sympathy can give you any comfort, you have it in the fullest measure. The manner of Sister MacDonald’s death and that of the two others, who have since died as a result of wounds, has filled all of us who remain with the tenderest thoughts. To most of us the amazing thing is that so few of our staff suffered wounds and death at the hands of enemy airmen and those of us who are alive live very much in our thoughts with those who have gone.
But it is of your fiancée you wish me to write, so far as I can recall, the situation on Whit Sunday evening was this. By half past nine Divine Service and Communion for the evening had come to an end and most of us were in our quarters. Miss MacDonald and Miss Lowel (who has since died of wounds) had been to the church service and had dropped into the room of another Sister. Together the small company talked of the sermon and the service… Then they separated. They had scarcely done so when bombs began to drop on our men’s quarters. There was time to think of bomb-proof shelters even if there had been any to think of. Miss McKinnon and Miss MacDonald were together with one or two others when the fatal shell fell directly on the building where they were. None was killed outright in that terrible moment but Miss McKinnon told me that your fiancée soon after the shock spoke of being faint, and when another Sister in the room said “we must move,” Miss MacDonald replied, “I am fainting.” When the others tried to remove her Sister Borland tells me she wilted. Just then Colonel Gunn arrived and saw her. She was in a state of collapse and he tells me she died a few minutes after, before she could be taken from the quarters. The Colonel said death was due to the severance of the femoral artery and concussion.
These are the facts of the death of one who was dear to you. We laid her body to rest in the Military Cemetery here amid the sympathy and love, not only of our own Sisters and those of #7 Canadian, but also of those of the other Hospital units. At the burial service I read 1Cor. 15-42-44, 50-58, and Rev. 7, 9-17. I hope you may get the comfort from these which they were meant to give. May you be able to think of your beloved as alive for evermore sharing in the promised life of her Lord when he said “Because I live ye shall live also.” Let not your heart be troubled, therefore neither let it be afraid, May God Himself give you comfort and peace and help you to bear the burden and the blank of these days of sorrow.
If there is any other way in which I can serve you please let me know.
Yours very sincerely,
S.J.M. Comton, Major,
Can. Chaplain Service
George Metcalf Archival Collection
© Canadian War Museum