September 7, 1924 - December 19, 1945
Rosemary Edith Pugh was the daughter of William and Edith Pugh, of Clyde, Alberta, an hour north of Edmonton. She was born in Blaina, South Wales on September 7, 1924. She had one brother, Normand Ralph, and three sisters, Isobella Doreen, Violet, and Shirley May. Doreen was the oldest and was in the RCAF (WD) working at the Colonel Belcher Hospital in Calgary and later transferred to Edmonton. Their father was in the 42nd Veterans Guard, Canadian Army, located west of Calgary during the war, possibly at a POW camp, his service number: 93889. The family moved to Canada in 1928. They were Anglican.
Rosemary finished Grade 8 at the age of 14. She stayed home for two years, then had two positions as a domestic, each for four months.
She was unemployed when she enlisted in Edmonton on September 30, 1942. She stood 5' tall and weighed 115 pounds. She was assessed as having a healthy mouth. Rosemary felt qualified to be a canteen worker with the CWAC. After the war, she wanted to train as a radio technician.
At Vermilion at the CWAC Training Centre in October 1942, "Pugh is a very young unpoised country girl who is finding that adjusting to communal living is a little difficult. She has a good personality however, and should later enjoy army life more. She has mixed very little with people her own age." Recommended: Waitress or canteen helper. Her 'M' scores suggested a slightly below average general ability. "She should be able to carry out routine duties which entail very little responsibility. After considerable experience, she should become more self-possessed." 2nd Lt. Betty Lough
Training and Postings
Pte Pugh was earning $0.95/day after three months training.
In Camrose at No. 45 Coy CWAC, September 13, 1943: "This girl has been employed in No. 131 as Waitress for 9 months. She seems very suitably placed and at the present work, she is probably being used to the limit of her capacity. May be a rather whiny type but cannot justify the reasons for her discontent. Her attitude should be watched and she should be guided by a sympathetic Officer. Recommendation: Continue as a Waitress." Capt. Betty L. Lough, CWAC Army Examiner
In December 1943, Capt. Lough followed up with another interview with Pte Pugh. "Interviewed at the request of the Officer Commanding No. 45 Coy, because of a reduction in the Establishment of No. 131 Centre at Camrose. Has been employed at No. 131 as a waitress for over a year. Comments that she would like a change and given her preference as Calgary. Feels that she is not qualified for duties other than waitress and therefore, a transfer to Calgary as waitress is advised, if possible."
Capt. Lough interviewed Pte Pugh again February 4, 1944, this time in Calgary at No. 113 Depot. "Pugh has been working as a waitress for over a year at Camrose and is not being considered for re-allocation to a different Coy. Rather than take work as a waitress, she would like RCOC duty as storewoman's helper. Because of her good experience as waitress, similar work is advised if it is possible. This girl is inclined to be disgruntled type who needs guidance and encouragement. The minimum of responsibility should be given to her. Routine duties in Ordnance would seem suitable. Recommendations: 1. Waitress 2. Routine Duties in Ordnance." Pte Pugh was recommended to be allocated to No. 34 Coy, Suffield, Alberta, as a waitress.
Lt. Lolita Wilson, CWAC Examining Officer on March 28, 1944: "Interviewed at the request of OC No. 34 Admin Unit of CWAC. Pugh has been employed in S11 Officers' Mess, Suffield, but was discontented in work. At time of interview had been employed in dry canteen at S11 for one day and expressed an opinion that the hours of work as waitress were much better than those of a canteen helper. Will no doubt request return to waitress duties. Recommendation: continue in present employment."
Lt. Doreen Wilcox, CWAC Army Examiner on June 27, 1944 at No. 113 Depot Coy: "Pugh would like to do Canteen work if possible. She has had long experience as a waitress and possibly a change would be good. Suggest she be place as Canteen helper. Not suitable for Overseas Service."
At the request of the Medical Officer, Lt. Dorothy Kerby, CWAC Army Examiner wrote on June 18, 1945: "Pugh has been employed since June 30, 1944 in the Canteen at Headquarters MD 13. Her work performance has been satisfactory. She has enjoyed her present employment and is at present an U/A/Cpl."
Pvt Rosemary Edith Pugh struggled with Army life.
On December 19, 1945, Pte Rosemary Edith Pugh died at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. A Court of Inquiry was struck and an autopsy was done to determine the cause of her death.
AUTOPSY: On the night of December 13, 1945, Rosemary,"after having consumed a considerable amount of liquor returned to her room and drank a certain amount of Lysol, ultimately resulting in her death on December 19, 1945. There were two other girls in the room at the time of the taking of the poison. There is no evidence of suicidal intentions or even of a morose or unhappy feeling other than that commensorate with the fact that she was violently ill from the drinking. At the time of taking the poison, Pte Pugh was AWL from 113 Depot CWAC and had been AWL since October 17, 1945." Dr. Morton E Hall, pathologist, Royal Alexandra Hospital determined that her death was due to Lysol poisoning. "Pte Pugh was not on duty at the time and no one else was to blame for her taking the poison, but there is no evidence or suicidal intentions and the Court presumes that the taking of the poison was either through a mistake in identity or lack of understanding of the effects of Lysol."
The COURT OF INQUIRY provides more insight.
The first witness, Major Woolley, Officer Commanding, No. 113 Depot, CWAC stated: "I produce documents showing Pte. Pugh to be absent without leave from 2359 October 17, 1945 and at the time of her apprehension by Canadian Provost at 1230 on the 14th day of December 1945, she was still absent. While A/Cpl Pugh was under my command, she worked as a canteen assistant at Headquarters MD 13. During that time, her work was reported as satisfactory and the only complaints against her aside from five minor cases of absence without leave in 1945, were made by the Provost Corps and were referring to her dress and deportment."
The second witness, Mrs. Hazel Anna Medcke,10809 - 100th Avenue, Edmonton, just north of the Alberta Provincial Legislature Grounds: "I have lived at this residence for a year in January with Doreen Pugh. I have known Rosemary Pugh for two years or more. She had lived with us from about the middle of November 1945. I did not know she was absent without leave until about a week after she came. She told me she was tired of the Army, but she intended to go back Wednesday, December 12, 1945, but she didn't. She said, 'They didn't come after me.' But I did not know what she meant by 'they.' I saw Rosemary on Thursday, December 13, 1945 between 1630 and 1800 hours. She appeared just as usual. She did not appear unhappy or morose. I saw her again about 0315 hours on the 14th of December 1945. She came in and I knew that she was intoxicated. (She came in intoxicated several night a week.) She was very happy. I said, 'Where have you been?' She said she had been to the Cameo Cabaret and the Memorial Hall with Mary DeBold and Mary's friend. I said, 'Why did Mary come home before you?' She replied,'Well, Mary doesn't drink so he took Mary home and after a while, he brought me home.' I said, 'What have you been drinking?' She answered, 'Sloe Gin.' At that time she was at the sink. She said, 'Oh, I've got an awful smell on my breath.' I told her to wash her face and go to bed. I laid down in bed and said, 'Rose, what are you doing?' I asked her three times before she replied. 'Oh nothing. I'm going to bed.' She went to bed and left the light on, so I got up to turn it off, the switch was by the sink. I noticed a Lysol bottle, empty, with the top off standing on the table by the sink. I called Doreen and said, "Rose must have drank Lysol." My back was turned towards her, so I could not see what Rose had done. Doreen jumped up to see and then asked Rose if she had drunk Lysol to which Rose replied, 'No. Do you think I'm crazy?' I then went to bed and to sleep. Doreen wakened me at about 0530 hours on December 14, 1945 and also went to get Mary DeBold and they went downstairs to the telephone. Rose was groaning. The ambulance came shortly after and took all three away. I did not know if the Provost was checking up on her and Rose never mentioned anything about it.
The third witness was Rosemary's sister, Doreen. "I live with my roommate Mrs. Hazel Medcke. Our apartment consists of one room and a kitchenette. My sister lived with us since the middle of November 1945. I knew she was absent without leave. She said she had applied for a discharge twice but was told she could not have it. She said if she stayed away long enough, she would get a discharge and she wouldn't return until then. She told this to me about two weeks after she was with me. She repeated it again about a week later. On December 13, 1945, she said she was going back. At the hospital, I asked her why had she taken that stuff and she said, 'What stuff?' She had been intoxicated about three times in the month, the last time was more than a week before. Rosemary owned the bottle of Lysol which she had previously kept in a beer box with her uniform. I do not know how or when her Lysol bottle got from the box where she usually kept it to the sink. The bottles were not in their cartons and could not be mistaken. There were no cartons in the room for a Lysol bottle."
The fourth witness was Mary DeBold. "I live in the room next to Doreen Pugh. I'd met Rosemary before on and off prior to her coming to live with her sister about the middle of November. I found out she was absent without leave about three weeks before the accident. She told me two days previous to the accident that she was returning to the unit and we packed her clothes as she was intending to return on the 12 or 13th of December, 1945. I was picked up after work by a gentleman friend about 1815 hours. I told him I was going to pick up Rosemary so we drove to the house to do it. When we go there, she was lying down reading. She got right up and dressed. They had a small whiskey glass of Sloe Gin. I don't drink myself. Then we went to the Esquire Grill and had supper. We had nothing to drink there. While eating, my gentleman friend wanted to know what we wanted to do. Someone suggested a dance and I suggested going out to Skyland. He suggested more to drink so we went to his place, picked up four bottles of Calgary Ale, then up to my place where they drank it. We found there was no dance at Skyland, so we went to the Cameo Caberet. He had a 13 oz bottle about half full of gin, he picked up a bottle of ginger ale for me and we sat down at a table. The other two drank gin and about 1015, he suggested more to drink. I told them that they'd had enough. I ordered a dill pickle and a ham sandwich for Rosemary but she only at the dill pickle. My gentleman friend left and said he was going home and came back with another 13 oz bottle of gin and two bottle of Calgary Ale. The other two drank the ale and the gin. Rosemary drank about half the ale and liquor. Then she wanted to dance all the time but I saw it was getting close to twelve and I wanted to go home. We left about ten after twelve and arrived home at twenty after twelve. On my way over, I suggested that Rosemary come in to bed but she said she wanted to go back and dance. She knew what she was saying, but she wanted to sing and dance and in my opinion, she was intoxicated. George got out of the car and I told him I thought Rosemary should go to bed. He said he would bring her back within half an hour and I thought that would be alright. I went up to Doreen's room and sat there until about ten after one and then returned to my room and read until about two and then went to sleep. Then about 0530 hours, Doreen came to my door and asked me to come and look at Rosemary. She said she was making a funny sound. I went in and saw Rosemary on the bed. I touched her pulse but could not get any response. She was unconscious and foaming at the mouth. I suggested I call Dr. Williamson, which I did. I told him there had been an accident as a girl had taken poison. He told me to call the Royal Alexandra Hospital. The hospital told me to call Smith's Ambulance, which I did. The ambulance took Doreen and I to the hospital with Rosemary. Rosemary had been out on drinking parties before as I had seen her come home from them. She told me that she might just as well have some fun as she was going back to her unit tomorrow. She appeared normal at that time, but seemed to be getting drunk. She was a little drunk at the Cameo Club. I had only seen the Lysol bottle once before and it belonged to the other girls in the dresser drawer. Rosemary never made any statement to me after she took the Lysol."
The fifth witness was George Jacob Masur of 9910 106th Street, Edmonton. "On the night of December 13, 1945, I went to see Mary DeBold at her home with whom I had a date. When I arrived there, I met a girl whom I letter found to be Cpl Pugh. She was dressed in civilian clothes, but after a short while, from the conversation I gathered that she was absent without leave from the Army. Mary insisted the girl should accompany us for the evening. We went to the Esquire Grill for supper and at about 9:00 pm, we returned to Mary's apartment. We stayed there for between one and two hours and then went to the Cameo Cabaret on Jasper Avenue to dance. We stayed there for quite some time. I'm not sure how long. From there, I took both girls back to Mary's in the car; Mary went in but the other girl insisted on coming to my place for a drink. On arriving there, the girl immediately became sick. I showed her to the bathroom upstairs and she was there a few mintues and then came back. I wanted to take her home but she wouldn't go, and instead, she lay on my couch. She was quite sick and vomiting. I tried to revive her and after an hour and a half, she recovered somewhat and decided to go home. I took her to my car and took her straight to where she was staying with her sister. I never saw her again." When asked how much liquor they consumed at Mary's place and then at the Cameo Cabaret, George replied, "Cpl Pugh and I had a wineglass of gin and a bottle of beer. She appeared quite happy and very eager to drink. We drank about 18 ounces between the three of us. Cpl Pugh had about six ounces. Mary didn't drink and I drank most of it. When we were at Mary's, Cpl Pugh and I each had a bottle of beer. Cpl Pugh started to show signs of being drunk at Cameo Cabaret. She told me that she was fed up with the Army and had tried to get out but she couldn't. I gathered from her comments that she was not going to return to her unit." When asked what Cpl Pugh's emotional state was, George replied, "As soon as Mary left, she appeared morose and frightened and she appeared to want to stay in my suite rather than go home." When asked about how he revived Rosemary after she was lying on his couch, he replied, "Just by talking to her. I gave her nothing and applied nothing. She asked me to come back and I said I could not. On arrival to her house, I asked her if she wanted me to see her to her apartment and she said no, that she would be alright. She appeared even more morose and unhappy." When asked if he saw her sister, George replied, "I had seen her twice. Before we went to the Esquire Grille and after we came back. We did not discuss her sister, though." When asked about the Lysol bottle, he said, "I did not see a Lysol bottle. She did not carry a purse. I saw no signs of a Lysol bottle in her possession. I never noticed a Lysol bottle in the room but there were various bottles in the room and it could easily have been one of those, but I never saw it." George was asked if Rosemary had left him at any time in the course of the evening. He said, "She did not leave at the Esquire Grille. When we went back to Mary's, I developed car trouble and I was out in front for about 20 minutes. Cpl Pugh did not leave the house at any time. While we were at the Cameo Cabaret, she went to the washroom two or three times. I left the Cameo for about 15 minutes, leaving the girls there and I went to my car to get a 13 ounce bottle of liquor as I had two 13 ounces." George was asked if he had had sexual relations with Rosemary. "I did not. She was so drunk that I wanted to get her home." The autopsy confirmed this.
The sixth and eighth witnesses were Pte. Waz and Pte Jaques, both of 113 Depot, CWAC. Pte Waz: "At 1230 hours on December 14, 1945, I was ordered by Captain Forsland to guard A/Cpl Pugh who was then ill in the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Lt. V. Richardson of the 44th Provost Coy ordered me to place A/Cpl Pugh under arrest immediately on my arrival there which I did. She never mentioned a word to me about what happened. On my first tour of duty, though, she told me she wanted to die." Pte Jaques: "She did not say a thing."
The seventh witness, Pte Mathewson, 113 Depot CWAC stated, "I was to guard A/Cpl Pugh at the hospital. This I did. At no time did she say anything about what happened. She refused to even answer questions directed at her by the doctor. She only shook her head."
The ninth witness was Pte Moore, 113 Depot, CWAC. "She did not say anything to me but I heard a man who said he was from the Edmonton City Police question her and I heard her tell him that she guessed she had done a silly thing."
Three other witnesses who were guarding Rosemary Pugh testified that she did not speak while they were watching her.
Pte Key, No. 13 District Depot, Canadian Army said, "I am an intern at the hospital...the police told me that Cpl Pugh had swallowed Lysol and the smell of her breath confirmed that. Having diagnosed it as Lysol poisoning, we passed the stomach pump and esperated the stomach contents smelling Lysol. She was unconscious and comatose so we endeavoured to stimulate higher centres. At no time did she speak during my attendance." Doctor W. C. MacKenzie provided a letter about the treatment Rosemary received, adding to what Pte Key said. "An adequate antidote was administered through the tube after her stomach was lavaged carefully. I saw this young lady in the afternoon of the 14th, at the request of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Examination at that time revealed her to be semi-comatose with marked edema of the neck and marked subcutaneous emphysema at the root of the neck and over the anterior chest. Perforation of the esophagus was considered the most likely diagnosis and she was treated with this in mind....in spite of strenuous supportive measures, including penicillin, intravenous therapy, oxygen therapy, etc. she gradually failed and died at 12:32 am December 19, 1945. A post-moretem examination was carried out." Dr. Hall's findings: "In considering the anatomical findings in this case, the direct cause of death is decided as due to acute poisoning by Lysol. It is however noted, that there were numerous hemorrhages into the brain and appear to be of varying duration. A review of literature and by personal experience, have never found cerebral hemorrhage as a sequelium of Lysol poisoning. Taking into account the age of one of the hemorrhages and the rather indeterminate and irregular history of this girl preceeding the taking of the Lysol, consideration must be given to the possibility that certain of these hemorrhages might explain the irregular history presented by this patient."
The fifteen witness was Sgt Earl Delmer Wright, No. 44 Company, Canadian Provost Corps, Canadian Army, Edmonton. "At approximately 1945 hours on December 12, 1945, I dropped in to the Avenue Coffee Shop located on 118th Avenue in the West Delton District, Edmonton, for a sandwich and a cup of coffee. The waitress that served me recognized me as an old acquaintance of her husband who had been stationed at the Prince of Wales Armouries, Edmonton, prior to leaving for overseas service. She was not particularly busy, and struck up a conversation to while away the time. In the discussion that followed,the waitress, I believe her name was Mrs. Hazel Medcke, suddenly informed me that she knew of a CWAC absentee who had been away from the Army for two months and that said absentee might be leaving for Calgary on the midnight train. I questioned her further, but she jokingly refused to divulge further information regarding the whereabouts of the absentee. When I asked her if she was referring to one Rosemary Pugh, she assented. Accompanied by L/Cpl William Enderby, I proceeded to check restaurants and the main streets of Edmonton in an endeavour to locate the missing girl, but without result. Later, we checked the CPR trains leaving for Calgary, but no trace of the missing CWAC was found. I am referring to the 2355 hours and the 0810 hours trains. I assumed that U/A/Cpl Rosemary Pugh had obtained a berth and had entrained for Calgary on the 2355, December 12, 1945 train and took no further action to affect her apprehension."
In Rosemary Pugh's list of personal belongings, she had clothes, toiletries, three bundles of letters, a purse, photographs, a sewing box and her wallet.
Both the City of Edmonton Police and the Canadian Provost Corps conducted their own investigations. The police said that the doctors felt that from the beginning, Rosemary's condition was 'hopeless.' The Provost felt that Rosemary had suicidal tendencies and that was the reason they kept a continuous guard with her. See documents above.
Rosemary Edith Pugh is buried at Beechmount Cemetery, Edmonton, Alberta. Her epitaph reads, There is a link death cannot sever, love and remembrance last forever
George Jacob Masur died in September 1959 at the age of 36. He had been an RCAF Bombardier who had completed his tour by late 1944. He, too, was buried in Beechmount Cemetery in Edmonton.