February 15, 1915 - September 22, 1945
Margaret Frances McWilliam was born on February 15, 1915 in Bigford, Saskatchewan to Frank A. and Mary E. McWilliam of Vancouver, BC. She lived in Saskatchewan for 25 years, moving to British Columbia for 2 1/2 years prior to her enlistment in January 1943 in Vancouver. She had two older brothers, Cpl James McWilliam, Ottawa and CSM Lloyd McWilliam, Niagara, plus one older sister, Mrs. Harry Whiteside, Sceptre, Saskatchewan.
Frances, as she was known, attended school at Bigford Public School and then attended Swift Current Collegiate, with junior matriculation in 1933. She attended night school at Sprott Shaw in Vancouver from 1941 to 1942 learning wireless telegraphy.
Frances had been employed by W. W. Cooper Co., Swift Current as a saleslady from 1933 to 1940, then in Vancouver, she worked at David Spencer's Ltd., as a saleslady from 1940 to 1943 when she enlisted.
She enjoyed skating, skiing and golf. She stood 65 1/2" tall, weighed 115 pounds, had green eyes and dark brown hair. She was 27 years old when she enlisted. She wanted to be a wireless operator (ground) and indicated she wanted to continue to study radio after the war.
On January 13, 1943, Frances was evaluated: "Refined, pleasant, sensible. Very good general appearance."
Training and postings:
On August 21, 1943, she received an evaluation as a Wireless Operator (WD). She was in Course 8. She received an overall 76.4%, an above average mark. She was 6th out of 25 in the class. In Morse code, she earned 100%. Out of 500 possible points, she earned 382.
On July 26, 1945, she was admitted to hospital, as she possbily had had an epileptic attack. "Severe headache since this morning. Patient was apparently well until about 0900 hours today. At that time, she suddenly complained of severe headache, felt very dizzy, the fell to the floor. Almost at once, her face became contorted and her hands were clenched until they became purplish. Her fellow workers tried to massage her limbs and revive her and after about five minutes, the patient regained consciousness and said that she was all right. However, when she endeavoured to stand, she again collapsed and was taken by stretcher to the MIR at WAC. Here she was found to have voided involuntarily. She was then sent to No. 3 RD for admission. PAST HISTORY: Up to the age of 12, patient fainted very occasionally, but never since then. Only illnesses she recalls are influenza, coryza and measles. Has always been well and has done nothing unusual recently. FAMILY HISTORY: Mother has hypertension. PHYSICAL EXAMINATION: On admission, patient has curled up in bed on her side with her eyes closed, breathing quietly. She speaks slowly when questioned but her answers are slow, sometimes vague and brief. She complains only of a splitting headache which she does not localize."
July 28, 1945: "Resting quietly. Is not confused, but evidences some reluctance to open eyes...still listless. Answers questions only with difficulty. Pin point pupils....very little change at 2100 hours." July 29: "Seems a little brighter this morning -- is roused more easily than yesterday. Complains of some aching in eyes but nothing but mild headache."
On September 22, 1945, Cpl Margaret Frances McWilliam died of natural causes at Station Hospital 3 Repair Depot, Vancouver of subarachnoid haemorrhage -- a stroke caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain, plus aneurism of Circle of Willis. A full autopsy was performed. "FINAL DIAGNOSIS: Pulmonary edema. Congestion of liver and kidneys. Massive haemorrhage into right frontal lobe. Rupture of aneurysm of anterior communicating branch of the anterior cerebral arteries or the anterior right cerebral artery."
In her list of personal effects, Frances had clothing, toiletries, make-up, four streetcar tickets, a liquor permit, 7 cents cash, one bag of needlework, three books, a box of stationery, plus an envelope of correspondence, a purse and a wallet.
Cpl Margaret Frances McWilliam was buried with full military honours. She was interred in the Field of Honor Plot, Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver, BC.