May 4, 1925 - April 21, 1944
Olive Ivy Frances Le Pape was born on May 4, 1925 in Montreal. She was the daughter of Herman Lionel Le Pape (foreman) and his wife, Gladys (nee Byfford) Le Pape, of Montreal. Olive had one sister, June, and one brother, Lionel. A second brother died in infancy. Mr. Le Pape was French Canadian and Mrs. Le Pape was English. Olive listed Anglican as her religion.
Olive had a Grade VIII education from Montreal High, leaving school at 13. She said she only spoke English, but wrote down French as her nationality. She worked as a cashier at T. Eaton's for two years in Montreal. She stood 5'4 3/4" tall and weighed 127 pounds. She had blond hair and blue eyes, with a fair complexion. She had a small scar on the bridge of her nose.
Mr. and Mrs. Le Pape encouraged Olive to join the WRCNS.
"Favourable. Rather nervous with strangers. Very nice girl." Sub Lt Hazlewood, WRCNS, interviewed Olive: "CAPABILITY: Good. RELIABILITY: Fair. APPEARANCE: Nice looking fair-haired girl. SPEECH: Good (clear). REMARKS: Sister married, brother, 16, working. Father and mother agree that she should enter the Wrens. Have explained re: laundress and will be willing to come in as such. Has always wanted to be a nurse, but no funds to take course."
Olive enlisted on September 29, 1943 in Montreal. She went for training starting October 5, 1943 at HMCS Conestoga, near Galt, Ontario. Three weeks later, she was officially a Wren. On November 16, 1943, she was posted to HMCS Protector in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Wren General Duty. She was Wren Laundry Assistant by January 17, 1944. Her wages started at $1.35/day and then increased to $1.45/day.
On November 18, 1943, at HMCS Protector, she found herself at Sick Bay with naso-pharyngitis, suffering from a sore throat and head cold, with chills and fever. The doctor noted that Wren Le Pape had St. Vitus Dance from 3 - 16 years of age [Sydenham's chorea, also known as chorea minor and historically referred to as St Vitus' dance, is a disorder characterized by rapid, uncoordinated jerking movements primarily affecting the face, hands and feet; manifested as dysarthria, gait disturbances, and frequent adventitious movements of the face, neck, trunk, and extremities - and her mother might have had this as well] and was in hospital for 3 1/2 months in Montreal, possibly having injections in her spine. It was noted she smoked 5 cigarettes a day, and drank the occasional beer or cocktail.
On March 13, 1944, Wren Le Pape went again to Sick Bay, at HMCS Protector. She was diagnosed with strep throat and acute coryza, inflammation of the nose. Olive was given Diazine, an anti-biotic, for a few days. She was discharged on March 24, 1944 back to duty.
On April 21, 1944, while on leave back home in Montreal, Wren Le Pape died as the result of a shock, fractured skull, concussion of the brain, due to a street car accident.
Wren Le Pape was brought into the hospital via ambulance at 8 pm on the 20th of April. "On her arrival, she was unconscious...on examination, the patient was very agitated," wrote Dr. H. I. Tetreault. "cyanose and breathing with difficulty...the general state of the patient was so grave that one scarcely dared to move her...the patient breathed with more and more difficulty and finally ceased completely to breathe at 2:45 pm," on April 21, 1944.
A Board of Inquiry was struck on May 15, 1944, to investigate to determine if her death was attributable to Naval Service as such.
Mrs. Le Pape was called to testify. She indicated that Olive was home on leave. "We could not find very much in her bag. We handed it all in to Lt. Hazlewood, the Unit Officer...I did see some papers showing that she was on Leave. The Leave Ticket must be in her pochette at home." The next witness called was Lt. Bousquet. "The constables Francois Legace and 1204 Berthiaumo Radio 39 reported the following information of the Witness Denis Bertrand at 7:25 pm. Miss Olive Le Pape, 7361 Delaroche, was crossing Christophe Colomb Street [intersection Everett] from east to west, starting from the south corner in the direction north west. In the middle of the street, she hit the left of the Street Car #1460, which was starting from north to south on Christophe Colomb." Mrs. Le Pape was asked if this was correct. She replied, "They didn't say that the street car should have stopped and it didn't. There would have been no accident if the car stopped." Mrs. Le Pape was advised that the doctor was going to be called next and she could leave if she desired. There was no indication if she stayed or left the proceedings. Surgeon Lt. Cooper stated, "I heard, indirectly, the morning of the 21 April, that Wren Olive Le Pape had been seriously injured in a Tramways accident the previous evening. As soon as I was free in the afternoon of April 21st, I proceeded to St. Luc's Hospital to see this Wren. Arriving there approximately 1515, I was advised by the Nurse in charge of the floor, that Wren Olive Le Pape had died, approximately 1/2 hour prior to my arrival....She died due to the accident...and I will see that Mrs. Le Pape gets a Death Certificate." The Board was adjourned at 1000 hours. Conclusions: Recklessness on the part of Wren Olive Le Pape.
Mrs. Le Pape wrote to the Cdr, H. R. Wade, RCNVR on May 26, 1944. "Dear Sir, Enclosed you will find cheque and certificates the property of my daughter, Olive. I will appreciate it very much if you will have them re-registered and the cheque placed to my credit. I wish to use this money sometime in the future for a memorial for my Darling. If you would be so kind, I should like to have her personal effects sent to my sister, Mrs H Mills...we are living quite far out in the country and there is no mail or Delivery service. We pick up our mail in Cartierville and I could get Olive's personal belongings from my sister."
On September 6 1944, Mrs. Le Pape wrote to Colonel L. M. Firth, Director of Estates. "Dear Sir, Please advise me if I was mistaken in believing I would receive some remuneration from the Naval Service toward my late daughter Wren Olive Le Pape's funeral expenses. I sent you my receipts as you asked me to. As you wrote, my expenses were very high."
The inventory of Olive's personal effects included: clothes, shoes, white skates and boots, a blue quilted dressing gown, one sealed envelope of letters, toiletries, notebooks, an empty ring box, and one white bakelite tumbler. Mrs. Le Pape asked for her daughter's personal belongings, plus a gray weekend case which Olive had in Sydney to have them sent to her.
Mrs. Le Pape wrote to the Naval Services, Graves Department. "Dear Sir, I shall be forever grateful if you could advise me of the reason for the delay in installing the gravestone on the grave of my daughter, the late Wren Olive Ivy Frances Le Pape (W-4206). I was glad when late last winter, the Naval Services advised me of their intention to give her a stone. I made the necessary papers. I do not wish to be impatient, but as the Mount Royal Cemetery does not allow a wooden marker to remain on the grave for more than a year, they have recently removed the white cross I had put up temporary. I shall wait to hear from you at your earliest convenience."