Woman of the Week, Miss Claire Hiscock, R.N., Evening Telegram, 1946, June 22, p.8
It is not given to many to have the opportunity of extensive travel, but Miss Claire Hiscock is one of the unusually fortunate in this respect.
A former pupil of Miss Hayward’s private school, and later, of Bishop Spencer College, Miss Hiscock spent a year studying Domestic Science at “Ivy House”, a popular school for overseas girls, just outside Wimbledon, England.
Following her graduation from the Montréal General Hospital, she went to South Africa in 1936 on an exchange and study plan. This was the first exchange of nurses ever affected between Canada and South Africa. It is interesting to note that Canada was represented by two Newfoundland girls, of whom Miss Hiscock was one, the other being Miss Jenny Wareham, a schoolmate, who has since married and settled down in South Africa.
Miss Hiscock enlisted in the Medical Division of the South African Army after war broke out. She had planned to leave for home in ‘39 but due to the stream shortage of nurses, the government stopped their emigration from Africa, until 1946, when she was demobilized, holding the rank of Captain.
Before the outbreak of war, she worked at the University Hospital in Cape Town, which is built on the estate of Cecil Rhodes, whose home is now the official residence of the Prime Minister of South Africa.
Miss Hiscock is full of praise of the beauty of the countryside. “The Cape is a delightful part of the country,” she says. “The air is brisk and invigorating and the famous Tablelands are well worth seeing. The mountains are covered so thickly with flowers that one can scarcely see the green. People come from near and far to see it. The climate is lovely, and meals are eaten out in the gardens. The Marine Drive is unusually beautiful, but the road skirting the base of the mountains. Around Natal, which abounds in sugar, cotton and banana plantations, the climate is much hotter and not so invigorating. It was grand, though, to live among the sugar and bananas! she said.
In 1943 Miss Hiscock was transferred to Cairo, to a large British garrison, where New Zealand, England and South Africa each ran separate hospitals to receive the wounded from the front lines.
“We were given a great deal of leave,” Miss Hiscock continued, “as the hospital was usually quiet between battles. We took advantage of leaves to see as much of the country as we possibly could. We were near all the ancient sites, - the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Sphinx, and, of course, the colorful bazaars. It was a great experience. We were only a day’s drive from Jerusalem, and we used to hitch hike from the post through the Holy Lands.”
From Cairo, Miss Hiscock went on to Italy, where she spent a year. She made a continuous motor trip from the North to the South of Italy, visiting Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples.
At Naples we stayed at a hotel which faced Mount Vesuvius, and while there, we took a boat trip to the Isle of Capris. There we climbed up the hillside to Axel Munthe’s home, San Michaeles, the subject of his well-known book. On a promontory near by was the ancient castle of the Roman Emperor, Tiberius, who live there at the time of Christ.
We spent a day wandering around Pompeii, marvelling at the paintings, mosaic floors, wine shops, bakeries and the public baths used by the people thousands of years ago, and standing to-day, so perfectly preserved.
On the way back, the sea cruise through the Mediterranean was really beautiful. We went to Port Said and from there back to South Africa. It was a perfectly wonderful trip. We found peace-time Cairo much more settled than it had been in wartime. It was nice to see the East again, and so exciting to watch the Arabs going about in their long flowing robes (gallabich), just as they did in the days of Christ.
“Arriving in England, I spent ten days with Jenny Edgar, another old Spencerian. England seemed pretty grim after the colorful South. It was a rude awakening to visit London, still in its wartime austerity.”
After an absence of ten years, Miss Hiscock is at present spending the summer with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Hiscock of Brigus. She plans to continue her work in Newfoundland.