Madeleine Jaffray was born in August 1889 in Chicago, Illinois, and moved with her family to Galt, Ontario, as a child. She trained as a nurse, and soon after the outbreak of the First World War, she enlisted with the French Red Cross after they had asked for assistance from Canadian nurses. She went overseas in December 1915.
Ms. Jaffray spent 10 months working in a military hospital near Bordeaux, France, before being transferred to a mobile ambulance unit in Adinkerke, Belgium. This area was only a few kilometres from the front lines and was frequently bombed. She was coming out of a covered passageway of one of the wards when a bomb fell in front of her, severely wounding her foot. This led to an amputation, making her Canada’s only female war amputee.
A week after the incident, Ms. Jaffray was awarded the Croix de Guerre with an additional star for her services, though she felt that all the nurses in her unit were equally deserving of it. She was the first Canadian woman to be awarded this medal.
After the war, she worked at the Dominion Orthopedic Hospital on Christie Street in Toronto. She also became The War Amps only female member and took a very active interest in the Association’s work and successes. Ms. Jaffray got married at The War Amps convention of 1927 in Hamilton, Ontario, and later moved to Edmonton with her husband. She continued her nursing career, working for the Victorian Order of Nurses and was a member of the Overseas Nurses Association.
Ms. Jaffray passed away on July 23, 1972.
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