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Remembering World War II
Cora Arbeau
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Name: Cora Arbeau Rank: Leading Wren Service No.: W/3283 Service: HMCS Peregrine, Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service Date of Birth: March 31, 1912 Place of Birth: Upper Blackville, New Brunswick Date of Enlistment: June 25, 1943 Place of Enlistment: Halifax, NS Address at Enlistment: Halifax, NS Age at Enlistment: 31 Height: 5 feet, 4 inches Complexion: Medium Eyes: Grey Hair: Dark brown Marital Status: Single Occupation: Domestic Religion: Baptist Next of Kin: Mrs. Charles Tracy (Friend) Parrsboro, Cumberland Co., NS Date of Death: May 14, 1945 Age: 33 Cemetery: Fort Massey Cemetery, Halifax, NS Grave: Section F, Grave 12 Commemorated on Page 491 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance Displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa on October 20 Cora Arbeau was the daughter of Private Arthur Arbeau (1895-1916) of Upper Blackville, New Brunswick. Cora never knew her mother. Cora’s father (Service No. 444838) was killed in action in the First World War while serving with the 26th Battalion (New Brunswick Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Forces, on September 17, 1916. He has no known grave and is listed on the Vimy Memorial. With her father’s death when she was only four, Cora’s paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Arbeau were her guardians. By August 17, 1920, Cora was under the guardianship of Mrs. M. B. Coughlan. Mrs. Coughlan received $12.00 pension bonus for Cora from the government for Arthur Arbeau's service in WWI. By WWII she has “no known relatives” and listed her friend, Mrs. Tryphena Tracy, as next of kin at enlistment. She was doing domestic work for Mrs. John Duncan of Halifax, NS, at the time. “Miss Arbeau has been doing domestic work in private homes since she was 14. Has been working in a large boarding house where she cooks for an average of fourteen [people]. She looks capable and isn't at all the flighty type. I believe that she would be a very hard worker and a very sincere person. She has asked for one month's notice as she does not want to leave her employer in a difficult situation. […] I believe that she will a valuable worker." (Sub-Lieutenant A. M. Irving). By August 11, 1943, Cora was assigned to HMCS Conestoga. In November 1943, she was posted to HMCS Protector. On July 1, 1944, she was promoted to Leading Wren and remained at HMCS Protector until October. Cora was then assigned to HMCS Stadacona from October 27, 1944, to April 4, 1945, and HMCS Peregrine from April 5, 1945, until her discharge. In March 1944, she was assessed: "A good cook and an excellent worker. Most reliable in every way.” From May 3 to 14, 1944, she was admitted to hospital with the diagnosis of nervous dyspepsia (nervous stomach or digestive issues). On August 20,1944, she was admitted to hospital a second time with a burning sensation in her stomach that usually occurred some time after meals; the probable diagnosis of her dyspepsia / indigestion was an ulcer. She remained at the hospital until October 2, 1944. On October 26, 1944, she was admitted to the hospital a third time and tests were done. She had surgery (partial gastrectomy) in early November, requiring blood transfusions. Doctors discovered cancer. By November 11, she was greatly improved, according to the doctors. Cora Arbeau was dreading the prospect of returning to the heavy work of her civilian occupation, fearing she would be discharged from the Navy, having no relatives or close friends. This brought upon feelings of depression. On November 15, 1944, she was allowed to go out of the hospital to a movie with another Wren. She returned to work on January 10, 1945, as she was anxious to return to duty. "It is submitted that during the past week, Wren Arbeau has carried on satisfactorily in the galley and has felt well apart from a mild upper respiratory infection. She has not been carrying on full duties as yet, but with the cooperation of the rest of the galley staff, her duties and hours have been arranged to be satisfactory." (Helen M. Holden, Surgeon Lt. RCNVR) Leading Wren Cora Arbeau was medically discharged on April 17 and died May 14, 1945, of stomach cancer. Although she died after she was discharged from the WRCNS, her death was deemed service related. She was interred at the Fort Massey Cemetery, in Halifax, NS.