#100DaysofVimy – January 25, 2017

Each Wednesday we will highlight the women of the First World War. Today: Grace MacPherson

At the outbreak of war in 1914, 19-year old Grace MacPherson of Vancouver wrote to both the Canadian government and the British Red Cross, indicating her intentions to help the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). Her appeals for assistance rebuked, Grace paid her own way on a transatlantic voyage, landing in France, where she managed to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment. There she became an ambulance driver, tasked with transporting the wounded to safety. During the attack on Vimy Ridge in 1917, Grace drove the wounded back to field hospitals directly from the trenches.

Ironically, despite the resistance of military authorities in the early days of the war, Grace’s presence as a female ambulance driver so close to the frontlines turned her into a propaganda star. Photographs of Grace tending to her ambulance were later used to promote the roles available to women in the war effort.

 

As an Ambulance Driver, Grace MacPherson became a darling of Canadian propaganda for highlighting the roles available to women in the war effort.                    Photos: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/
As an Ambulance Driver, Grace MacPherson became a darling of Canadian propaganda for highlighting the roles available to women in the war effort. Photos: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/