A slim newspaper column in the July 5, 1918 issue of the Toronto Evening Telegram proclaimed that “Nursing Sister Mae Sampson…was one of the nurses on the Llandovery Castle who has been lost. Her mother and cousin who live at 7 Baker Avenue received a letter from her from Halifax, stating that she was sailing overseas on this particular ship.” The article was accompanied by a photograph of a pretty young woman with short bobbed fair hair and a shy smile.
Born in 1890 in Simcoe County, Ontario, Sampson was a graduate of the Hamilton City Hospital School of Nursing. She enlisted in the CAMC shortly after the outbreak of war and was one of first draft of Canadian nurses to travel overseas in October 1915. Sampson was initially stationed at #2 Canadian Stationary Hospital in Le Touquet, France. She served in France for two years and was awarded the Mons Star and mentioned in despatches. Later, she served at the Canadian Convalescent Hospital in Uxbridge, England, a Canadian hospital in Salonika (serving there for nearly a year) and #16 Canadian General Hospital in Orpington, Kent. The only thing that slowed down this indefatigable nurse was her hospitalization for diphtheria in October 1917. This illness would indirectly lead to her death. After recovery, as was usual, she met with a military medical board. In February 1918, the board declared her “fit” for active service and gave her an “easy” assignment—“transport duty.” That duty took place on the ill-fated Llandovery Castle. As I've written in other blog posts, the Llandovery Castle was sunk by a German u-boat, and all the nurses (including Mae Belle Sampson) perished.