January 13, 1899 - July 8, 1947
Florrie Grundy was born on January 13, 1899 in Bolton, England, to David and Emily Grundy. She was the sister of Albert Duncan Grundy and sister in law of Ethel Grundy whose son, F/O David Herbert Grundy, was killed in a flying accident on the Fraser River in British Columbia in January 1945, at the age of 20. She had a second brother, Frederick, but his address was unknown. She indicated she only stayed in touch with Albert, who later moved to Ajax, Ontario. The family attended the Church of England.
Florrie had a Grade 7 education leaving school at age 13 in England. She stood 4'11" tall, weighing 130 pounds. She had grey hair and blue eyes. A scar of her left forefinger was noted as a distinguishing mark. She had had her tonsils out many years earlier.
Florrie applied to the WRCNS on July 21, 1943, and was enlisted with the service a month later, feeling qualified to be a Laundry Instructress Regulating. She was living at 25 Knox Avenue, Kitchener. She wrote a letter to Sub Lt E. Brock, WRCNS Interviewing Officer on July 15, 1943: "Dear Madam, I apply to you for information regarding the Wrens as I would like to join up. I am at present Laundress in charge of Freeport Sanatorium, Kitchener and have been these past 22 years. I have good knowledge of operating laundry machinery and have done all classes of work as the Institution ran their laundry similar to a commercial laundry. I will enclose a reference from the Medical Superintendent whom I have worked under, most of the time. I will also enclose a reference regarding my high school standing for the purpose of work as a Laundress Instructress. I secured this reference with the intentions of joining the RCAF (Women's Division) but at that time, was over the age limit. Now what I would like to know is, would there be change of advancement after the Basic Training such as being Laundress Instructress? I wish to state I would not want to enlist and stay just as an ordinary Wren, with qualifications I am enclosing to you. I was to Preston and Galt this morning for information and they gave my your address and advised me to write to you. Trusting I will hear a favourable reply. PS Would you please send back the references to me." She wrote a second letter. "I understand you needing people with my qualifications and references to release the men who are now in charge to do more vital work." She wrote another letter after being accepted noting that she was MISS not MRS."
"Courses in England 25 years ago in sewing (dressmaking) and confectionery in factory in England (weaving); has been laundress at Freeport San. Kitchener for 22 years in charge of laundry. Knows all the machinery. Looks quite strong and active. Sews in her spare time. Likes working with people. Quite decided in her ideas. Definitely knows her work. Appears quite intelligent. Does not wish to enter unless assured that she will be in charge of a laundry. Good references from Supt. laundry brought in." The letter, dated January 7, 1943 stated: "Miss Florrie Grundy has been laundress in charge at Freeport Sanatorium for 22 years. She has given highly efficient service during this period. We have had for some years a steam laundry installation, the operation of which she understands throroughly. Her efficienty is revealed by the fact that the institution has been free from trouble and worry in the laundry department. The quality of the work done has been first class. The Sanatorium has expanded over the years to its present capacity of 150 beds. The laundry functions for about 200 people." E. N. Coutts, Medical Superintendent.
On July 26, 1943, Florrie received a letter from Sub. Lt. Marion Baxter, Recruiting Officer WRCNS. "If convenient for you, a medical examination could be arranged on your way to Deseronto...I have spoken to the Staff Drafting Officer and she is of the opinion that your qualifications could be well utilized at a laundry which will open shortly after you have your basic training...."
She trained at HMCS Conestoga, located near Galt, Ontario, a 24 kilometre distance from Kitchener, in September 1943. She took a course entitled "New Method" Laundry for three weeks. She was sent to HMCS York from September 21, 1943 until October 6, 1943. She was posted to Cornwallis for two years, where she received promotions from Probationary Wren to A/Ldg Wren to Petty Officer Wren, before she was posted back to the HMCS York until October 1945. In October 1943, she was assessed, "Satisfactory under two weeks training for laundry assistant." At HMCS Cornwallis, "A very good Petty Officer who has worked hard under difficult circumstances. Co-operative and conscientious at all times and has shown an interest in Wren activities generally, sometimes after being tired out from a hard day. Well liked..." She received VG in character assessment and satisfactory and superior in her efficiency. She supervised the work of 60 Wrens in a Naval laundry.
The Freeport Sanatorium wrote a letter in October 21, 1944, asking for Florrie Grundy to be discharged so she could return to them. "The essential work of this institution must not be allowed to suffer. The infectious tuberculosis must continue to be isolated and treated. In this regards, some 20 ex-service men are being cared for at this hospital. The release of L/W Grundy is requested in order that she may return to her former occupation where she is urgently needed. As you are aware the steam laundry is a sterilization medium necesary in prevention of cross infectioin in an isolation hospital and must be operated efficiently in order to fulfill this phase of its usefulness."
In November 1944, a note was made: "L/W Grundy has been and is a very valued member of the laundry staff at HMCS CORNWALLIS. Her recent promotion has put her in a position where she is in charge of all departments of the laundry employing Wrens. If it is at all possible, she should be retained in the service." Another note: "As no request has been received from PO Grundy to our knowledge, and she is badly needed, suggest reply regretting she cannot be spared at present." She was earning $2.25/day.
In May 1945, another letter was written, this time to the Unit Officer at HMCS Cornwallis in Nova Scotia. P. O. Grundy "was employed at the Freeport Sanatorium as a Laundress for a good many years before enlistment. Since she left, we have had a great many changes and there is no one who is capable of running this department. We have patients from all the Services in this Institution as well as Civilians. I understand that Miss Grundy has signified that she wishes to return as soon as hostilities cease. We would appreciate anything you could do in the way of an early discharge."
At Chorley Park Military Hospital in Toronto, on October 25, 1945, Petty Officer Florrie Grundy was diagnosed with scirrhous carcinoma of breast and secondary carcinoma of lymph nodes. In July 1945, she had noted a puckering in her right breast, but did not report to Sick Bay as it did not cause her any issues. "I have been feeling alright and have no complaints. In the summer of this year, I first noted a small puckering of my right breast which however did not trouble me." At her discharge examination, a well advanced cancer of the breast was found. She was transferred to DVA for treatment at Christie Street Hospital for surgery. "Return to work likely to be delayed four months." She was discharged as of September 9, 1945 as "Medically Unfit." "Service record is excellent. This Wren had planned to return to former employment but because of her physical condition will be unable to do so for some time. Plans to make application for Re-establishment Credit to purchase an electric sewing machine."
On October 28, 1945, Florrie Grundy, 46 years old, had a radical mastectomy of the right breast at the Chorley Park Military Hospital in Toronto. She had an incision made from her left shoulder to her navel. Her physiotherapy suggestions included remedial gymnastics and massage (later).
On February 6, 1946, she was at the Toronto General Hospital. At this time, she had moved to Main Street, Deseronto. "Wt. 131 1/2 pounds. Patient looks well and feels well. She has no complaints. Examination discloses no evidence of residual or recurrent disease within the right chest well. The opposite breast is normal. The associated lymphatics are normal. The liver is not enlarged. Patient is now ready for her second series of routine post-operative treatment which are being started accordingly."
Petty Officer Florrie Grundy died on July 8, 1947 at Kingston, Ontario of generalized carcinomatosis, primary carcinoma of breast. She is buried in the Kitchener (Mount Hope) Cemetery, in Ontario.