Alexina Dussault (1875-1918) was born, according to her attestation papers, in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, in 1882. It is possible that she claimed to be younger than she was in order to be allowed to enlist. Dussault studied to become a nurse, and it is in this role that she joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force on September 25, 1914, at Quebec City. She was immediately assigned to the Nursing Service of the Canadian Army Medical Corps (C.A.M.C.), later to the No. 1 Canadian General Hospital, and then to the No. 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital. Like the majority of military nurses, Dussault treated sick and wounded soldiers in auxiliary and field hospitals in Europe. In February 1916, she was working “in the field” in Boulogne, France. Nurses were also needed, however, to care for soldiers being sent back to Canada on hospital ships. Dussault volunteered for this duty, and during her service made many trips between England and Canada. On June 27, 1918, she was on the hospital ship Llandovery Castle as it sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Liverpool, England, when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sunk. The submarine then surfaced and machine-gunned the escaping lifeboats. Of the 234 doctors, nurses and crew on board the ship, only twenty-four people survived. They were eventually rescued by the HMS Lysander. All of the 14 nurses on board, including Dussault, lost their lives. The sinking would later become known as one of the great atrocities of the war.
Service Record Details
Date of Birth: March 25, 1875 (Saint-Hyacinthe, Bagot County, Quebec)
Date of Attestation: September 25, 1914
Age at Enlistment: 32
Height: 5 feet, 4 1/2 inches
Description: Medium complexion, blue eyes, dark brown hair. Roman Catholic. She has a scar on her left index finger 1 1/2 inches long.
Next of Kin: Father, Napoléon Dussault, and mother, Octavie (Laliberté) Dussault, living at 673 Cadieux St., Montreal, Quebec.
Theatre of War: France, England
Casualties / Medical History
- No medical history or casualty information is available.
Interesting Details from the Service Record
- February 1916 to May 1917 – Dussault is posted to the No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station on February 4, 1916. In August 1916, she is temporarily attached to the No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station. The following May she is transferred to 16th Canadian General Hospital in Orpington, England. After 35 days’ leave in Canada, she joins the HMHS Letitia, a hospital ship. (Page 7)
- July to December 1917 – She is posted to the King’s Canadian Red Cross Convalescent Hospital in Bushy Park, England, and then to the hospital ship Araguaya. In November she is attached again to King’s Cross Hospital, and in December is struck off strength for “escort duty.” (Page 8)
- March 25, 1918 – A note indicates that she was posted to the HMHS Llandovery Castle on March 22, 1918. (Page 8)
- July 6, 1918 – A note is red ink states that she is “Missing believed drowned” as of June 27, 1918.
- March 7, 1919 – A note states that she was previously reported missing and believed drowned, but is now, for official reasons, presumed dead. (Page 8)
- October 1914 – Her assigned pay is to be sent to Éva Dussault. Her first pay cheque, in the amount of $50, is recorded in October 1914. (Page 28)
Military Medals, Honours and Awards
In 1891, Alexina Dussault is living with her parents Napoléon (42) and Octavie (41), and her two sisters, Regina (18) and Antoinette (6), in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec. (Other siblings presumed to be living then are not listed.) The family is French-Canadian and Roman-Catholic.
In 1901, Alexina Dussault is listed as 26 years old and living in the St. Antoine Ward of Montreal, Quebec, with her birth family. Her father, Napoléon
, is employed as a machinist specializing in tools.