Remembering Stittsville’s nurse veteran: Lieutenant-Colonel Harriet (Hallie) Sloan

(A watercolour painting of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Headquarters in Kanata – Dominion Legion House – with an inset photo of Stittsville veteran Lieutenant-Colonel Hallie Sloan. Watercolour by Perpetua Quigley)

The very first recipient of the ‘Thank You Canada and Allied Forces 1945-2005 Medal’ was Hallie Sloan, 88, of Stittsville who served with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps during World War II. During one 30-day period, the hospital she served in admitted 18,000 casualties and performed 1,600 medical procedures. The Medal was presented to Lieutenant-Colonel Sloan in 2005.

Hallie stated in a Royal Canadian Legion publication, “I was in Holland on the first VE-Day. It was the most wonderful time. We had heard rumours the war might be over, but we weren’t quite sure. When daybreak finally arrived I think everyone was quite stunned.” 

Sloan and other veterans know that it is up to younger ones to carry history forward. Collectively, they know how the war was fought in France, Italy, Belgium, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, on the seas and in the air.

Perpetual Quigley has beautifully captures Lt. Col. Sloan’s life in Haiku.

Veteran nurses
Life of service to others
Legion of Honour

Royal Canadian Legion’s Headquarters, called Dominion Legion House, is reached by crossing Valour Bridge located in Kanata. It is Canada’s largest Veteran support and community service organization.  One of its awareness and fundraising campaigns is through the sale of poppies.

Among the Legion’s historical members is Lt. Col. Harriet (Hallie) Sloan who served overseas in France with the 8th CDN General Hospital during World War II after D-Day. Hallie participated in the liberation of Belgium and the Netherlands, and chose to remain in the Army to serve during peacetime.

Nursing and teaching became her passions and she rose to the rank of Matron-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces Medical Services. After retiring from the military she began a second career as a Director of the Canadian Nurses Association.

Her second retirement signaled the beginning of her tireless volunteer life supporting the establishment of the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre, the Nursing Sisters’ Association of Canada, and fundraising to support education for military nurses through the Canadian Nurses Foundation.

She was privileged to participate in several pilgrimages commemorating WWII Campaigns in Asia and Europe. It was her sincere wish to continue to keep alive the memory and respect for the military and civilian contributions made for Canada and freedom.

(Lieutenant-Colonel Hallie Sloan of Stittsville as Matron-in-Chief of Canadian Forces Medical Services from 1964-1968. L-C Sloan is wearing her Royal Canadian Army Medical Corp’s Nursing Sisters’ Veil from the Second World War.)

In 2004 she was awarded the Order of Canada in recognition of her outstanding leadership for 50 years and advancing military nursing and patient care. She was also a Dame of the Order of St John, and in 2015 as a D-Day veteran received the Legion of Honour.

She crossed the Channel with 59 other nurses in a landing raft tank. “It was so wonderful to find all our men from the unit, the doctors, the medical orderlies. All our equipment was there — for a 600-bed hospital — plunked in those fields near Bayou,” says Sloan. “The logistics of moving just one small unit are just unbelievable.”

“It was like being in a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) really because it was all under canvas — the operating room, the wards—the whole thing,” says Sloan. “The nurses’ tents were in an apple orchard!” Arriving during August 1945, the push to Cannes was already on. “We had so many casualties,” she remembers, “They just poured in from the battles around us.”

Moving with the 8 CGH, Sloan survived the relentless bombing of Antwerp and was in southern Holland when the war ended. “Feelings are so hard to describe,” says Sloan, when asked of particular memories. “It’s a very personal thing. I know that I had compassion, a great compassion, for the people I looked after. I cried when they died. It was just part of the terror and the awfulness of war.” Ottawa Citizen, January 30, 2016.

Hallie Sloan passed away peacefully at home in Stittsville on January 21, 2016 on her 99th birthday.


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