Biography: Lieutenant-Commander Margaret Martha Brooke, MBE

Margaret Martha Brooke enrolled as a Nursing Sister Dietician on March 9, 1942 at the rank of Sub-Lieutenant (SLt). She was promoted to the rank of Acting Lieutenant on July 1, 1946, then to Lieutenant (Navy) on January 1, 1948 and finally to Lieutenant-Commander on April 1, 1957. She served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1942 to 1962.

Born in 1915 in Ardath, Sask., Lieutenant-Commander (LCdr) Brooke studied as a dietician before the start of the Second World War and chose it as her occupation upon her enrollment.

On October 14, 1942 during a crossing of the Cabot Strait off the coast of Newfoundland, the ferry SS Caribou was torpedoed by the German submarine U-69. The ferry sank in five minutes. Fighting for her own survival, LCdr Brooke (who was a SLt at the time) did everything humanly possible to save the life of her colleague and friend, Nursing Sister SLt Agnes Wilkie, while both women clung to ropes on a capsized lifeboat. In spite of LCdr Brooke’s heroic efforts to hang on to her with one arm, her friend succumbed to the frigid water. For this selfless act, LCdr Brooke was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

Following her return to civilian life, Margaret Brooke completed her university studies in paleontology at the University of Saskatchewan, where she achieved her doctorate. She was the author of numerous research studies on the subject.

Margaret Brooke passed away in Victoria on January 9, 2016 at the age of 100. Her brother Hewitt and his wife, Marian, also both served in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. Hewitt was a surgeon and Marian a nurse.

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