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Remembering Daisy Coles

Pupils and Watsonian president standing in front of Daisy Coles grave
  • Senior School

The final event in our GWLC150 celebratory calendar took place last Thursday, 29 September when members of our Office Bearers (Megan, Kate and Lexy), our Watsonian President, Gillian Sandilands and Principal, Melvyn Roffe travelled to St Omer and Longuenesse to visit the grave of Daisy Coles, the only ‘George Square Girl’ to die while serving as a VAD Nurse during the First World War.

The day began at 10am with a memorial ceremony at Daisy’s graveside at Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery, marking 105 years since the 24 year old VAD nurse was killed in an air raid on the hospital where she was working. School Piper, Katie also joined the group to play at the ceremony and afterwards at a Civil Reception, held at the local Mairie. A number of former pupils joined the commemorations, laying flowers on Daisy’s grave and the other four Watsonians’ who lie at rest in the cemetery. Readings and flowers were also given at French and German soldiers’ graves as well as at the graves of members of the Chinese Labour Corps. These were men who had left China through the port of Waihei, where Watsonian, Sir James Stewart Lockhart was Commissioner. Current pupils wrote the messages attached to the flowers in French, German and in Mandarin.

Megan, Kate and Lexy recognised that they played a momentous role in the trip, representing both current and former pupils of GWC through the years, particularly as the direct link to the Ladies' College where Daisy was a pupil. School Captain, Megan said:

“I was extremely grateful to be able to represent the school at such a significant and important occasion. Celebrating Daisy's work as a VAD Nurse was a true honour and I know I speak on behalf of all the Office Bearers present when I say it was a memorable and moving event. Daisy lost her life helping others, and her heroic dedication to the 58th General Hospital will continue to be an inspiration to current and future Watsonians.”

In a report after her death, Daisy was described as ‘a most efficient and cheery nurse, greatly beloved alike by the Staff Nurses and soldier patients’ while another described her as ‘the soul of brightness, fun and cheer’ - a true testament to the calibre of pupils that attended the Ladies’ College but also those that are enrolled at Watson’s today.

Ex Corde Caritas, Daisy Coles.

  • GWLC150