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Harvey Cenotaph Index Page

Margaret Agnes Briggs (Service Record & Bigraphical Data

Fate of Convoy KME-25A (Liverpool to Naples, Nov 1943)

In memory of
Lieutenant (Nursing Sister)
Jan 1910 - February 22, 1945

Newspaper obituaries and articles


21945 Newspaper Obituary (probably Daily Gleaner, Fredericton):

A large circle of friends and relatives will learn with sincere regret of the death of Lieut. (Nursing Sister) Margaret A. Briggs.

Lieut. Briggs, born at York Mills, N.B., 35 years ago, was a daughter of Mrs. Cora Briggs and the Late James Matheson Briggs. When war was declared Lieut. Briggs was a member of the staff of Child's Welfare, Montreal, and enlisted as a nursing sister. She spent three years overseas, in hospitals in England and later in Italy. Enroute to Italy with a medical unit the hospital ship St. Helena was torpedoed in the Mediterranean. After six months' service in the Italian war zone, Lieut. Briggs developed a serious illness and was invalided home as a bed patient. She entered the Royal Victoria Hospital and passed away there on Thursday morning. Her deep devotion to her profession and kindness to all in her care will long be remembered.

2. Watson, J. S., Saunders Swan, B., and Swan Hall, J. 1992. The Little Family of Harvey Station, 1792-1982, (self published family genealogy) p. 226


Reprint of newspaper article documenting addition of LT. (N/S) Margaret A. Briggs to the Harvey Cenotaph. Reprinted with permission of author Brenda MacMinn.


The Daily Gleaner, Monday, September 11, 2006


After more than 60 years, the name of   Lt. (NS - Nursing Sister) Margaret Agnes Briggs has taken its rightful place on the cenotaph in Harvey Station.

LT. (N/S) Margaret Agnes Briggs, RCAMC. Source: Paul Briggs, via Brenda MacMinn, 2006.

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Margaret Briggs was born, resided and was educated in York Mills, near Harvey.   She attended Normal School in Fredericton where she obtained her teaching license.   Her life took a different turn when she pursued her nursing degree following her training at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.

Following her work with the Child Welfare Organization as a nurse for the City of Montreal, Briggs joined the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps as a nurse and was posted to #14 Canadian General Hospital, traveling overseas to Scotland on the ship "Stirling Castle."  On her arrival there she treated wounded soldiers and airmen returning to Scotland for medical care.

In October, 1943, she sailed from Liverpool, England, bound for a posting in Italy.   On November 6, 1943, the ship on which she was traveling, the SS Santa Elena, sank following being torpedoed by a German aircraft, leaving Briggs in the waters of the Mediterranean.

Historical facts are not clear as to whether she was picked up by the SS Monterey or USS Tillman but while climbing the scramble nets flung over the side of the rescuing ship, she fell sustaining injuries that led to her death on February 22, 1945, after being returned to England and subsequently to Montreal. She was 35 years old. Briggs is buried in the Harvey Settlement Cemetery.

More than 50 veterans, family and friends gatheredat the cenotaph in Harvey on Saturday afternoon for the unveiling of her name by her nephew, Paul Briggs of Fredericton.

Paul Briggs remembers when his aunt's remains were brought back to her home village for burial.   He said he was about five years old at the time. Her cousin, Lottie Messer, now 98, was a couple of years older than Briggs but remembers her kind nature and spending time at their grandparents in Harvey.

Messer attended the cenotaph service on Saturday.

A Moment: Paul Briggs, left, unveiled the plaque commemorating the loss of life and service to her country of Lieut. Nursing Sister Margaret A. Briggs. Red Hayes is kneeling to the right. Source: Brenda MacMinn, 2006.

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Addition of LT. (N/S) Margaret Agnes Briggs, RCAMC to Harvey Cenotaph in September 2006. Source: Brenda MacMinn, 2006.

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"She often came to the Woolen Mill office where I was working and we would chat about what was going on in our lives" said Messer who was about 17 at the time while Briggs was about 15.

Regina Clark, now residing in Fredericton, was brought up across the road from Briggs home in York Mills.   Their fathers were partners in the Briggs and Little Woolen Mill of the day.   Clark remembers visiting her in her home when she was growing up.

"Their home had the most wonderful smell" remembers Clark, "and she would invite us to go upstairs to herroom where she would show us her dolls."

"She was a little older than I was and we younger ones looked up to her," said Clark.

Through his research in finding the history of all the New Brunswick casualties of Second World War, Red Hayes of Harvey, retired from the Canadian Armed Forces, discovered that Lt. (NS) Margaret A. Briggs name was missing from the lists that he had.

Hayes related that because she had joined the army in Quebec, she was not listed as a New Brunswicker, which was what he was researching. Each year, Hayes and comrade, Royden Messer, also retired from the Canadian Armed Forces, placed Canadian flags on the white crosses placed on all the veteransí graves in the cemeteries in the Harvey area.   "The one thing I didn't realize was that she was not just a veteran of the Second World War but was also a casualty of the war.   At one point it clicked that she was not on the cenotaph in our village," said Hayes.             

Through his efforts, Briggs name has now taken its rightful place on the memorial. "It gives me great pleasure to honor this lady here today who paid the supreme sacrifice of her life for her country and to her fellow service people" said Hayes.

Although Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson could not be present, Margie Gregg   from Thompson's office, was proud that this recognitioncould be   made.

Program for plaque dedication ceremony for Lieut. Margaret Agness Briggs, RCAMC. Source: Brenda MacMinn, 2006.

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The unveiling of this plaque honors the great sacrifice of our veterans and preserves the historical legacy for generations to come, she said.  

"Today after so many years Nursing Sister Briggs is being both honored and taking her rightful place in our province's proud history" said Gregg.   "By adding her name to this cenotaph we are fully recognizing her to Canada and her ultimate sacrifice for the way of life we now enjoy.   It is a debt we owe to her and one we will never forget."

On behalf of Minister Thompson, Gregg thanked those responsible for this very fitting tribute to one of New Brunswick's many brave women and men in uniform and congratulate you for keeping the torch of remembrance burning so strongly and so brightly."

Roger Shaw of the Fredericton and Area Highland Pipes and Drums played a bagpipe lament entitled Flowers of the Forest.

Veterans and Cadets attending the ceremony placed poppies on the wreath laid by Winston Gamblin, mayor of Harvey.

Briggs had been awarded the following medals for her service to her country: Defense Medal, Canadian Volunteer Medal, The War Medal 1939-1945, The 1939-1945 Star and the Italy Star.