I was there...
• A Narrow Escape for Ethel Mitchell.
(Adapted from an interview with Janet Kitz)
Ethel Morash

Ethel Morash, formerly Ethel Mitchell, was a sociable young lady with a love of music, friends, and social life.

On December 5, 1917, I was invited by a dear friend
to attend a dinner party. I chose to wear a rose-colored dress with matching rose-colored slippers. I loved that dress, I looked so pretty in it. My lady friend had five young English officers boarding in her home at the time...

We were at a dinner party, my friend's boarders were young English Officers of the H.M.S. Highflyer. These were all handsome young Englishmen. The officers, were staying with her because she was a cousin of the Captain, and that's how we got onboard a British Warship in wartime. The H.M.S. Highflyer was just in for a few days. Battleships were always coming and going in the harbour. Halifax was the North American port. It was the Canadian port for British shipping and battleships.

    While at dinner, it was Lieutenant Commander Ingram, who asked if we would like to board the Highflyer. And of course, we young girls were simply delighted, what a thrill during the war. But of course back then we mustn’t tell anybody, we couldn't, and we didn't. And so we had a dance in the Captain's quarters, and the officers brought in wine and little cookies, and we danced. When it came late, Lieutenant Commander Ingram got a launch and escorted me to the North End Ferry Wharf. Lieutenant Ingram took me home. The launch waited for him and he went back to the ship.

    I lived on Hester Street. The street was named after my grandfather's mother. I was studying for graduation in music. I always commenced practice at eight o'clock. I would do an hour's practice before I had my breakfast, then I’d have a rest and come back and finish practicing. My bed was corner-wise, and there were two windows to the right and two windows to the left. That morning, my big white cat was on the bed. His name was Buttons.

   Mother came up, she said, "If I were you, I would rest a little. You were so late getting in last night." I had arrived at home after midnight, I was so tired that I hadn't put my evening dress away. She said "I’d rest in for a little while this morning. Don’t get up and start practicing until ten o’clock." And so we chatted. I was telling her all about our experience.

   When mother went down she was on the stairs when the explosion occurred. The cellar stairs were below the stairs going up to our rooms. The stairs, carpet and all went to the basement with mother on top of them. She was horribly cut. All I know is that this deafening roar occurred and the windows, both the windows went out towards the door on each side of me, and my cat was at the foot of the bed, killed. And yet I was not touched.

I was totally unhurt. I was in that only corner of the house that was intact. Now here is the amazing thing. The stairs were taken completely away. How did I get down from that room to the next floor. I had glass in the soles of my feet, from running across the room. If I had jumped I would have gone right to the basement. And nobody knows yet how I got down. But I was found later sitting on a biscuit box way over on a comer, at the grocery store. Yes, and I had a man's overcoat on, it didn’t belong to us, I don't know where I got it, and a man's boots on, and nobody knows where I got them . Somebody recognized me, and took me back home.

   I never saw Percy Ingram again. But he did come try to locate me. I had been taken out to Woodlawn. He went to the Dartmouth police, and told them who he was, and asked them to try to locate me, and to let him know.

   I talked to the police afterwards and during the war they wouldn’t give out the area where the battleships were sent. But I knew that she [the Highflyer] went down south because I had a card from him. He went back to England and he was going to be hospitalized. He didn't say what for. He said I'd be hearing later on, but I’ve never heard again, so he may have died. I don’t know. He was a charming person. I have a photograph of him.

  "It was a ghastly experience at the time but when I look back on it, I think that when we meet trouble, there must be an inner strength that bears up, to bring us through a thing like that."

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