Sometimes fate gives us a chance to do things that we might otherwise miss.
A couple of weeks ago I was updating the cause of death for all the Nursing Sisters in the Canadian Great war Project. When I got to Henrietta Mellett, I noticed that the Cause of Death in Ed Wigneys Roll of Honour was listed as “Drowning”.
Henrietta Mellett was born in Galway, Ireland in 1883, and enlisted in London, Ontario in January, 1918. She appears on the 1911 Census, so she immigrated to Canada sometime prior to 1911.
As with any attempt to reconstruct events from over 90 years ago, there is some degree of speculation, but it is likely that her family had moved from Galway to Dublin and was living there in 1918. It is likely that Henrietta Mellett was returning to England on 10 October 1918 after visiting them. She was aboard the mailboat R.M.S. Leinster, with a crew of 77 and 694 passengers, bound for Holyhead, Wales when it was attacked and sunk by the German submarine UB-123 just before 10:00 AM. The Leinster went down about 6 km outside of Dublin Bay. The official loss of life was 501 personnel, and it was possibly higher.
Fate came in to play when I saw that her body had been recovered and she was buried in Dublin. My wife and I were planning an Irish vacation, so last Tuesday, 3 weeks after looking up her cause of death, on a drizzly morning, I found myself in Mt. Jerome Cemetery in Dublin. I located her grave, as well as the grave of Private Fryday, the only other Canadian buried there. Nursing Sister Mellette is buried with her brother and sister, with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission marker atop the grave.
It is very satisfying to be able to be fortunate enough to have found that she was buried there, and to be able to make the trip to the Cemetery to honour her memory.