Civilian Service of
Remembrance and Thanksgiving - 2007

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Michelle Cooper

MichelleGertrude Boorman was just 13 when she was killed by enemy action in 1917. She lived on Cowgate Hill, and, with her sister and two of her brothers, was sleeping in their upstairs bedroom.

Just after midnight on 16th February, a torpedo boat out beyond the breakwater fired 17 shells at Dover. Mrs Sorrell, Gertrude’s mother, ran upstairs to her children, to bring them to safety. They were all still in the bedroom when a shell burst through from the neighbouring house and exploded. Gertrude cried out, “Oh Mum!” They were the last words she ever spoke. Girlie's grave

In the pitch dark, Mrs Sorrell rushed her children downstairs. But Gertrude was missing. Mrs Sorrell returned with a candle, and discovered her daughter unconscious under the rubble. A neighbour brought Gertrude out, and the children were carried to hospital.  

There Mrs Sorrell spoke to all the children, and kissed them. But Gertrude could only groan. Mrs Sorrell’s husband was at sea, and she ran to the police station at East Cliff to telegraph him. Two policemen immediately sent Mrs Sorrell back to the hospital. Little Gertrude, her darling Girlie, had just died. 

Gertrude is buried at St Mary’s. Those going there later on today may go past her grave. It will be marked by a wreath of poppies.

photos. Simon Chambers
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Copyright 2008 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved