By Anna Rogers

[W]ork . . . will be needed to care for the poor broken survivors . . . there will not be the excitement of preparing for a convoy of wounded, or of passing through a casualty clearing station the large numbers of recently wounded. There will not be the interest of foreign service or the tension of the submarine danger on transport or hospital ships, but . . . there will be the daily care, week in and week out, of the helpless, injured, incurable ones, the phthisical cases so hard to manage, and to bear with, the nerve cases so fractious and despondent.
— Kai Tiaki, 1 January 1918

About 3 p.m. on 20 January 1919, a mild, sunny day with passing clouds and a south-west breeze, the former New Zealand Shipping Company vessel Ruahine berthed at Queen’s Wharf in Auckland. She was carrying 585 invalided officers, nurses, VADs, NCOs and men. Among the patients were 94 labelled CPDI (chronic pulmonary disease intermediate) and 56 amputees. Most of the rest were surgical cases requiring dressings or massage. In the third-class saloon was an isolation hospital for ‘skin affections etc’ that included a VD section. The 18 cots in the smoking room turned hospital had been occupied throughout the voyage, but there were now only six bed-ridden cases.1

The Ruahine was just one of several vessels that brought sick and wounded New Zealand soldiers home from the war, along with the medical staff who had cared for them.2 Some of the wounds were obvious — mutilated faces, missing limbs, bandaged heads — but many more, in patients and carers alike, were hidden: the cumulative effects of years of inconceivable stress, fear and horror, added to apprehension about what lay ahead.

And there had been another, more recent crisis. Although one man had died of pneumonia on the Ruahine, the Herald reporter was keen to make it clear that ‘the health of the troops on arrival at Auckland was excellent’.3 This emphasis was telling. Only weeks before, in November 1918, the country had been swept by an influenza pandemic that killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people worldwide. Some 9000 New Zealanders had lost their lives, more than half the number who had been killed during the war.4

On 22 August 1918 the troopship Tahiti, carrying the Fortieth Reinforcements from New Zealand to Britain, called at Freetown in Sierra Leone. The second wave of the virulent influenza was raging in the port,5 and although no troops or crew were permitted to go ashore, locals came on board to coal the vessel. The damage was done. By the time the ship reached Plymouth, hundreds of men had reported sick and almost 80 had died. Another nine, including 31-year-old nurse Esther Tubman, who had enlisted in June after working at Featherston camp, where she ‘had endeared herself greatly to the staff’,6 lost their lives soon afterwards. They were the first New Zealand deaths in the pandemic.

On 27 August, the day after the Tahiti left Freetown, Rifleman Marcus Hansen noted in his diary, ‘An epidemic of influenza seems to have broken out on board.’ By the following day, ‘The sickness is going around the ship very rapidly and every available bit of floor space is being converted into a hospital . . . [T]o see big strong men just bowled over and hardly able to walk . . . is quite pitiful.’ On the 29th there were 200 or 300 more on sick parade, ‘and the nurses and doctors have their hands full’.7 The former, led by Bessie Maxfield, immediately ‘set to and did all we possibly could. Unfortunately for us, our P.M.O. was one of the first to go down. Next morning we sisters had to attend the sick parade and help get through the companies of sick men.’ A second MO soon collapsed, though both later recovered. Nurses, too, became ill. About seven days after the outbreak, ‘our cases began to suddenly grow worse and die’.

They responded to no treatment whatever — stimulate and nourish them as we would — they went downhill rapidly, and this was the worst time of all. To see the poor boys die on our hands, one after the other . . . It was hard for us to see them go, but harder, I think, for their mates. Such a number of them were quite lads, [aged] about twenty. Having no lights on the decks made it twenty times harder for us, and one night almost every way we turned we found men, who a few moments before had seemed fairly well lying in a collapsed condition, dying about an hour later.

After being quarantined on arrival in Plymouth, the nurses were sent to the Brighton rest home, then to various hospitals, where they were soon caring for more influenza patients. As Hester Maclean proudly reported, the women were ‘mentioned in despatches in terms of the highest commendation for their splendid work and devotion to duty under the most trying circumstances’.8

The first, milder wave of the pandemic, originating in the United States in late 1917 and early 1918 and taken to Europe by American troops, had largely abated by June. But then came what historian Geoffrey Rice has described as ‘a highly infectious flu, with sudden onset and an alarming propensity for pneumonic complications’.9 By mid-August, this was roaring through France. In September New Zealand nurse Bertha Taylor, at the NZSH in Wisques, noted the recent arrival of French soldiers suffering from a ‘malignant’ influenza. Some had died ‘and nothing seemed able to save them’. Eva Brooke, too, reported many deaths among German and other patients later in the year from an influenza that was ‘rampant and a very dreadful type with a very high mortality, owing, chiefly, to lung complications’.10 In mid-December, Ira Robinson, convalescing at Hornchurch, told his sister Lizzie of the ‘thousands & thousands of people ill in England and Europe . . . They do not seem to be able to stamp it out here at all.’11 In Taylor’s words, ‘After four years of hard work it is the saddest part of all, boys who had faced death hundreds of time in battle went “west” with “Flu”. Some things are past understanding.’12 The Middle East was not immune. On top of the malaria that devastated the New Zealanders in the Jordan Valley, ‘there has been an epidemic of Spanish influenza, resulting in chest complications in many cases’.13

By the time Matron Mary Early was writing from the Aotea Convalescent Home at the beginning of March 1919, she and many others still serving overseas had heard what was happening at home. ‘[J]udging from the sad news in . . . papers coming to hand New Zealand has been a sadly unhealthy country lately. What a dreadful scourge influenza has been in our fair land! We are only now getting full details of the terrible time you must have gone through.’14 As ‘N.Z.M.C.’ would write in the New Zealand Herald in February 1920, ‘our boys were appalled when the casualty lists from New Zealand reached them in letters from home, and they could hardly believe that the infection was identical in the two countries’.15 Too often, the loved ones they had been forced to leave behind, and had dreamt of seeing again, had died.

The war not only contributed to the pandemic via infected returning troops, but also reduced New Zealand’s ability to fight the flu because so many medical personnel were still away. A nurse at the New Zealand Discharge Depot in Torquay wrote on 4 March 1919: ‘What a dreadful time you have had . . . It made us all feel very sad and long to help, especially as at that time we were not at all busy over here.’16 Those nurses who had come back lent a willing and expert hand, and the NZMC offered personnel from the military camps, along with useful organisational advice. It was their recommendation, for instance, that Auckland be divided into 22 districts, each with a depot or bureau where locals could report severe flu cases or request assistance.17 Alfred Hollows, who had enlisted in October 1918, was one of 20 NZMC men sent to Wellington, ‘which was having a very torrid time’. He worked in an emergency hospital set up in a hall ‘hastily fitted with beds . . . By about 18 or 19 November, our death rate was quite appalling, something like a dozen a day.’ Hollows paid tribute to the work of Dr Henry Hardwick-Smith, who had been on the third charter of the Marama and returned to New Zealand in May 1918. He was ‘truly a wonderful man. The only sleep he got was catnaps in the back of the motor car as he was driven from case to case.’18

Other doctors who had served overseas also contributed. With the help of a nurse, Elizabeth Gunn organised a medical centre in the Soldiers’ Club on Wellington’s Sydney Street in Thorndon; in Dunedin, Louis Barnett operated on some surgical cases at a private hospital, because four of the five public hospital house surgeons were ill; at Christchurch Hospital, where half the nursing staff had influenza, along with the medical superintendent and the matron, Colonel David Wylie, who had just arrived to establish the new Chalmers orthopaedic unit, brought much-needed help: ‘His experience in busy army hospitals overseas was soon put to good use.’ In Temuka, desperately short of doctors, the arrival of Captain Frank Ulrich, NZMC, on 18 November, on his way from Timaru to Christchurch, seemed an ‘answer to a prayer’. The town clerk immediately asked the authorities if he could stay on.19

Ulrich, who had come home on the Ionic in August, later became sick himself but recovered, as did William Will, who was working at Christchurch Hospital.20 Other medical men were not so fortunate. On 15 November 1918, 28-year-old Major Aubrey Short, who had served overseas and been mentioned in despatches and awarded the Military Cross, died of influenza in Christchurch Hospital. For Winifred Muff, halfway through her nurse’s training, Short was ‘a favourite house surgeon’.21 Colonel Mathew Holmes, who had led the medical contingent to Samoa in August 1914, served in Egypt and France and become ADMS in Wellington, had battled ill-health before returning home in February 1918. He lost his life to influenza in the capital on 15 November.

As Rice has observed, their concentrations of large numbers of men in the susceptible 25– 45-year age range made New Zealand’s military camps ‘among the most dangerous places to be during November 1918’. More than 280 died there. Carbery had only admiration for the NZMC personnel, ‘depleted by sickness and death in their own ranks, [who] wrought unceasingly with splendid devotion’, and for the ‘quiet heroism’ of the combatant volunteers ‘in their unwonted terrible and dangerous work’.22 Captain Allan Christie, who had been with the RAMC, then joined the NZMC as a surgeon, had suffered numerous health problems during the war, including pleurisy and tuberculosis. This history cannot have helped him when he went to Featherston in July 1918; he died in Greytown Hospital on 9 November.

After training at Awapuni, Major John Sale was to have sailed with the Forty-third Reinforcements, but when their departure was delayed by the pandemic he was posted to Trentham. He would die there of influenza at 5 a.m. on Armistice Day.23 A retired NZMC man, 67-year-old Lieutenant-Colonel William Bey, did not let his age deter him from ‘daily attending the sick men in Papawai Camp at the time of the epidemic’; he died on 14 November. Among some 14 ORs of the NZMC to lose their lives was 32-year-old Bertram Boock, who died at the Racecourse Hospital, Featherston, on 10 November, from ‘bronchopneumonia following influenza’. His gravestone in Wellington’s Karori Cemetery has inscriptions in both Hebrew and English.24 Ten days later, 24-year-old Frederick Atyeo from Christchurch died of influenza and pneumonia at Trentham Military Hospital. A member of the Mounted Field Ambulance, he had been invalided home in November 1915 and discharged the following year because of ‘dysentery resulting in debility’, but re-enlisted and was posted to Trentham in June 1918.25

Not all the fatalities were male. On 10 November, 34-year-old Sister Mabel Whishaw died of influenza at Featherston. She had been on the military hospital staff for three years as night sister, and ‘was a most capable and devoted nurse’. Her mother, Catherine, had lost two sons in the war: Harry was killed at the Somme in 1916 and Bernard died of pneumonia only a month before his sister.26 On 25 November, 26-year-old VAD Corale Lumley died, also at Featherston.

New Zealand doctors died overseas, too. Colonel Charles Begg, promoted on 30 November 1918 to succeed William Parkes as DMS, had but a brief period in his new London-based role. After contracting influenza, then acute pneumonia, he died at Twickenham on 2 February 1919 and was buried at Walton-on-Thames three days later. He was 39 years old. Only three years his senior was Captain William Paterson from Dunedin, who had left New Zealand on the Marama on 1 June 1918 and been posted to Walton, then Hornchurch. After his death at Hornchurch on 14 November, a letter from the New Zealand Record Office revealed the grim practicalities of burials. ‘[O]wing to the recent epidemic of influenza, the Government Contractor is unable to carry out the arrangements for the funeral [at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey] . . . Please arrange for the coffin to be supplied locally.’ Enclosed was a railway warrant ‘for the conveyance of the body by Ambulance from your hospital to the Necropolis Station’. (Brookwood is also known as the London Necropolis.)27

The Armistice on 11 November 1918 did not rule a neat line between conflict and peace. As Fanny Speedy put it, ‘The whole thing seems too big to realise and too sad to understand.’ Nurse Louisa Higginson ‘did not know whether to laugh, shout or cry . . . there seems a short distance between laughter & tears’.28 Hundreds of men were still wounded, sick and dying, the New Zealand hospitals in Britain had not closed, and ahead lay the enormous logistical task of getting everyone safely home. Then there was the challenge of providing the right kind of care, in convalescent homes and hospitals, for all those affected physically and psychologically. Like the soldiers, the medical personnel also faced the prospect of negotiating a much altered post-war world.29

Until the Defence Department took sole responsibility for the treatment of returned men in March 1918, joint Health/Defence control had been, in Carbery’s words, ‘cumbersome, [and] uneconomical, led to considerable delay in execution and was not productive of military efficiency’.30 To fill the gaps left by overcrowded public hospitals and the inadequate provision of military hospitals, patriotic associations had, with government encouragement, established a number of small soldiers’ hospitals and convalescent homes, many in buildings offered by wealthy citizens, but their ‘scattered distribution’ had defeated efficient administration and control.31 After Defence took over, most of them eventually closed, but they had fulfilled an important role, providing vitally needed rest and peace. On warm days, during his few weeks convalescing at Taumaru, attorney-general Francis Dillon Bell’s sheltered and lovely home at Lowry Bay, Wellington, a badly wounded and traumatised Clifford Collingwood ‘used to lie on the little wharf and boat-house, and read my volume of Shakespeare, or take photos’.32

Rotorua already had a sanatorium, but the King George V Hospital had been opened in January 1916. For one patient, the ‘beautiful new building situated on Pukeroa Hill, overlooking Lake Rotorua, and just above the Maori village of Ohinemutu . . . could not be more suitably situated’, and the food was ‘very good’ — there was even trout for breakfast, as well as porridge and tea.33 Hospital head Dr A. S. Herbert and his team created a number of ‘clever contrivances’, such as ambulatory splints, which allowed men once ‘obliged to lie helpless’ to walk about, and a glove with attached elastic bands ‘to do the work of sinews’ in a paralysed hand.34 Hanmer Springs in North Canterbury, which had opened as a convalescent home in 1915, was reborn as the Queen Mary Military Hospital, in a building designed to be identical to Rotorua’s, in June 1916.35 Under the new Defence-run system, King George V and Queen Mary hospitals, along with all convalescent homes that had been overseen by the Public Health Department, became military institutions.36

There had been complaints about the struggling public hospitals, where returned men had been forced to wait for crucial dressings and massage, but these also had positive medical outcomes. In April 1917, for example, the Auckland Hospital Board could instance ‘some very successful operations on wounded soldiers’, such as ‘the uniting of certain nerves which had been severed by bullet or shrapnel, and the correction of various deformities’. At the hospital’s Military Annexe in the Domain, ‘310 returned men had been treated with the happiest results, though five passed beyond human aid as the direct result of wounds’.37 Frederick Foote benefited from ‘the gracious care, and generous service’ of the nursing staff there and never lost his ‘feeling of good will towards them’.38 By July 1919, the annexe, rechristened the Auckland Military Hospital, had, among other new facilities, an ‘up-to-date operating theatre’, X-ray and developing rooms, and a ‘suite . . . devoted to the electrical bath treatment’.39

Under the Defence-run system, men went from their ships to Trentham, where their medical needs were assessed before they were dispatched to the appropriate institution for treatment. An orthopaedic case, for example, would be sent to the ‘special massage and electrical department’ in Christchurch’s recently opened Chalmers Military Hospital (which boasted ‘all the latest improvements of baths, plaster departments, and everything used in the re-education of muscles and limbs injured in the war’ and offered ‘really up-to-date teaching in the latest methods’ of massage),40 to an enlarged Trentham Hospital, to Rotorua’s King George V Hospital (which was extended to become, by 1920, a 300-bed orthopaedic hospital),41 or to Dunedin Public Hospital.

Tuberculosis patients were treated in the sometimes too invigorating hilltop air at Christchurch’s Cashmere Sanatorium or the Pukeora Sanatorium near Waipukurau, opened in September 1919. Heart problems meant a stay at Featherston or Auckland’s Narrow Neck hospital. Pickerill continued his reconstructive surgery in Dunedin after returning to New Zealand, and Hanmer flourished as the specialist centre for men with neurological and psychological problems. ‘What more lifting place,’ asked the Sun, ‘for the nerve-shattered . . . warrior to recover his lost vitality?’42 The permanently incapacitated men designated as ‘incurables’ found their way to convalescent homes: Evelyn Firth in Auckland, Rannerdale in Christchurch and Montecillo in Dunedin.

The dedicated voluntary work of aid societies and patriotic groups was important. The Red Cross helped to provide, in hospitals and convalescent homes, much-needed and appreciated recreation rooms, and supplied copious comforts, including cigarettes. Just as it had overseas, the YMCA made sure that, where possible, there were picture theatres, facilities especially welcomed by those condemned to lengthy treatments or multiple surgeries. Always on hand, too, was the Salvation Army. After arriving home on the Marama in August 1917, Clifford Collingwood was taken to the Victoria Military Ward of Wellington Hospital. ‘Salvation Army ladies . . . visited us every week and issued to each of us a copy of the “War Cry”, a bag of lollies, fruit and a handkerchief — they are good & kindly women.’ He was also called on by YMCA and RSA representatives.43

VD remained a focus of opprobrium. In mid-1916 the director of military hospitals had assured the press that ‘the number of cases of venereal disease had been very greatly exaggerated’, that the percentage among the returned soldiers was ‘remarkably low’ and, moreover, that ‘as a result of modern science, no diseases of this character are now regarded as incurable’.44 But infected men did return to New Zealand, and they were condemned to compulsory isolation and treatment, on Otago Harbour’s Quarantine Island (Kamau Taurua) and later in Featherston camp’s hospital. There were other punishments: docked pay, a ban on wearing uniform, refusal of railway passes for leave.45

Post-war medical treatment could be a lengthy and wearying business; many returned men continued to be public hospital outpatients for years.46 Some could not face completing their prescribed treatments. After Len Coley arrived on the Rimutaka and caught the train home to Palmerston North, he reported, as ordered, to the military ward of the public hospital and spent the next nine weeks there. Despite struggling with his breathing after being gassed, and feeling the concussive effects of shelling ‘almost every day’, he jibbed at the prospect of 11 weeks of reporting as an outpatient. He asked for his discharge and made use of his free 28 days of railway travel.47

When Frederick Foote got home, the open wound in his right elbow, ‘as large as a big saucer’, was dressed daily in a big room where five or six nurses worked. Eating was a challenge. ‘My left arm had dropped wrist and most of my hand was dead as far as feeling went, and my right hand was completely out of action being bound up in a sling. By grasping the great wooden handle of fork or spoon in my left hand and persisting I got some sort of meal.’ Some months later, having admired the dexterity of a fellow patient who ‘quickly and very neatly’ put on a shirt, studded collar and tie with one hand, Foote practised every day for six months until he could do the same ‘as quickly as the average man’.48

Clifford Collingwood still had a long, hard and painful medical journey ahead of him after his time in the Victoria Ward and at Lowry Bay. About April 1918 he had the plaster cut off his leg and a Thomas splint fitted, with a hole bored through the heel of his shoe so he could lock the end to make walking safer. He spent most of 1920 in Trentham Military Hospital, having his leg reset. Having refused a further operation, and ‘in a hell of a pain’, early in 1921 he visited a civilian doctor, who prescribed bismuth and opium, which Collingwood took for the next decade. Only about 1930 was he fitted with an appropriate boot that enabled him to walk in more comfort with his splint.49

Early death was not uncommon. Men came home with unhealed wounds that later proved fatal or heightened the risk of death in subsequent operations and from cardiovascular disease. The likelihood of suicide was greatly increased for those suffering from serious mental and physical disability, disfigurement and chronic pain.50 Often overlooked, too, both then and since, was what historian Marina Larsson has called the ‘family fallout’ from physical and psychological disability. With the longed-for reunion at the quayside, where wives, sweethearts, parents and siblings suddenly confronted the reality of their loved one’s impairments — blindness, loss of hearing, inability to speak clearly or to walk, the vacant stare of a sadly changed personality — an unanticipated new era of hardship began.51

Tuberculosis, then incurable, often fatal and greatly feared, also cast a long shadow over the lives of a number of veterans and their families.52 Many men had unwittingly carried the symptoms of tuberculosis with them to war, and the cramped and often unsanitary conditions of trench warfare, overcrowded troopships and packed military hospitals ‘undoubtedly facilitated the transmission of the bacilli, awakened “old tubercules” in soldiers’ lungs, and accelerated the progression of TB to the active stage’.53 Returned men with tuberculosis were separated from their families by being sent to a sanatorium, or, if living at home, had to sleep alone, use separate cutlery and, worst of all, avoid intimacy with their wives and children, for fear of transmitting the disease. Tuberculosis also caused difficulties with getting pensions, because of uncertainty over whether it was contracted during the war, and men’s ability to work.

Rehabilitation had been a large part of the treatment at the New Zealand hospitals in Britain, and classes for sick and wounded men were held during the voyages home. On the Ruahine, English, mathematics, economics, commercial law, bookkeeping, shorthand and motor engineering had been on offer, along with lectures on poultry keeping.54 This mixture of occupational therapy and vocational training remained a significant part of recovery at home, as James Allen explained in September 1918. What he called ‘functional treatment’ — ‘basket work, leather work, wood carving and so on’ — was ‘fairly well developed’ in the hospitals. There was ‘a certain amount of gardening work in some places’, and Rotorua was ‘establishing workshops for wood-turning, metal turning, electrical work, motor engineering, plaster-casting, splint-making, etc.’.55 Less taxing farming jobs such as beekeeping and poultry farming were taught to veterans with TB or chest problems at a state training farm set up on the site of the former Tauherenikau camp between 1919 and 1923.56 There were other such farms, also run by the Repatriation Department.

Many returned men with significant injuries managed to make a living against severe odds. When farmer Frank Fougere, shot in both forearms on Gallipoli, got home in 1916, he was sent to Rotorua for months of massage treatment, then ‘just knocked about the country’, living on a mess allowance paid by the army and going into ‘whatever hospital was handy when an abscess would form upon my [right] arm’. Once he was finally discharged, he took up a bush-covered rehab property that, over 30 years, he cleared and turned into ‘a real good farm’. ‘I managed quite well.’57 The Repatriation Department subsidised wages so that employers were more willing to take on partly trained returned men who were not yet able to work at full strength. Men keen to set up small businesses could take advantage of cheap loans.58

Sick and wounded returned men needed medical treatment, which was free, and then financial support in the form of a pension and assistance with finding suitable employment. This process, however, was frequently neither smooth nor problem-free, despite the fact that war disability was ‘perceived as a more terrible and heroic experience’ than its civilian counterpart, and therefore more deserving of expert medical treatment.59 Reliant on pensions that were sometimes difficult to acquire, and often unable to work, such men struggled even more — and were less regarded as special cases — when economic depression hit the country from the 1920s.

As they had during the war, medical board doctors decided, before the troops left their ships, whether they required further treatment as hospital in- or outpatients, and how bad and lasting their wound or wounds were, in order to recommend a pension rate. Those who did need more medical attention had to appear regularly before the pensions board ‘until their disability either healed or stabilised and a permanent pension was granted’.60 The War Pensions Act 1915 allowed NZEF members or their dependants to receive a pension ‘if the soldier had been disabled or had died as a result of service in the current war’.61 War pensions boards decided on pension claims and the rate to be paid, which was tied to a soldier’s rank and degree of seniority. Further legislation in 1917 increased the maximum disablement and war widows’ pensions and, in an attempt at standardisation, introduced a schedule of disabilities that assigned pensions on a percentage basis.62

At the 100 per cent level were losses — of two limbs, of limb and eye, of both hands, of all fingers and thumbs, of both feet, of hand and foot — blindness, complete paralysis, lunacy, permanent confinement to bed, wounds or injuries to the head or another organ involving total permanent disabling effects, advanced incurable disease and very serious facial disfigurement. The sad catalogue of harm to the human body continued, from 85 per cent for such injuries as amputation of the right arm through the shoulder-joint and loss of speech, down to 20 per cent for the loss of an index finger on either hand.63 There were variations to the prescribed list. Roland Bremner, who had his left arm amputated following a gunshot wound at the Somme, and who also suffered shell wounds to his penis and scrotum, ‘with injury to the urethra’, was judged to have 90 per cent disability.64 An independent War Pensions Medical Appeal Board established in 1920 lasted only two years, suspended after the Returned Soldiers’ Association roundly criticised its ‘narrow and ungenerous approach’. The onus of proof was on the applicant, and there could be disagreements between civilian doctors and military medics.65

As Sydney Stanfield recalled, ‘The medical boards you went before were almost hostile. You had to be proof-positive, so to speak, or you didn’t get anything.’ He suspected doctors were chosen to suit the circumstances. ‘They wouldn’t want to be too sympathetic or it would cost the country too much.’66 The capriciousness of boards was well illustrated in a July 1917 story in Dunedin’s Evening Star. A man the paper called Brown had served on Gallipoli and then in France, where he was seriously wounded. After hospitalisation in England, he reached New Zealand on 12 May and, after three weeks’ leave, was thoroughly examined by a medical board and discharged on 9 June. Eight days later that decision was rescinded and he was reboarded cursorily on the 19th, by the same two doctors he had previously seen, who proclaimed the bullet in his chest to be ‘Just a scratch’. Brown ended up in the Twenty-eighth Reinforcements, awaiting a return to the front. As the Star’s informant said, ‘Brown is quite willing to go to the war a second time if he is physically fit; but he does not feel at all fit, the bullet in his chest giving him trouble, which occasionally becomes acute, and he does not know what would happen to him under stress.’67

Nurses, too, had trouble with boards. Edith Austen was discharged in April 1919, when all she had wanted was two months’ sick leave to ‘rest quietly’ before returning to work. ‘I am only suffering from war strain and am really a very strong person.’ When Marquette survivor Mary Grigor was boarded on 30 May 1919, she was not examined ‘in any way’ but asked whether she wanted to be discharged and then marked fit for duty. Although she felt ‘quite well’, a medical board in England had decreed that she would be unwise to nurse for a minimum of a year. ‘I do not in the least mind working again if it is safe to do so, but I would very much like to first of all be overhauled by . . . someone who knows something of Chest troubles.’68 Hester Maclean fought hard for the women to be ‘treated in the same way as soldiers of similar rank’, finally, in August, convincing the authorities to send her all nurses’ medical board proceedings.

The wartime ambivalence towards shell-shock cases, and the pressure on doctors dealing with the physically wounded, meant that many men suffering from psychological damage did not even report themselves as ill. With some medical boards reluctant to ascribe the condition of returned servicemen to their war experiences, seeking a pension for a non-physical complaint was ‘doubly difficult and many were probably discouraged from applying’.69 The Pensions Department faced a huge challenge. As historian Tim Shoebridge has noted, ‘The volume of applications exploded . . . By 1920 [the department] had received nearly 55,000 applications, mainly in the previous two years, all of which had to be investigated.’ At that point, over 34,500 pensions were being paid out, more than two-thirds of them temporary payments for men recovering from injury or illness. It was little wonder that there were complaints about delays.70

The final paragraphs of Andrew Carbery’s First World War medical service history leave the reader with two main impressions: first, that the personnel’s return to civilian life was generally untroubled and positive, and, second, that no nurses had been involved. Many NZMC officers, he writes, returned to private practice, or worked in such government organisations as the Pensions and the Public Health departments. A number joined the staffs of the public hospitals, where they ‘continue[d] to supervise the after care of disabled soldiers’ in the 1920s. The ‘special knowledge or skill’ brought back by each ‘trained medical officer of the N.Z.E.F. . . . was of immediate avail to the civil population and so the profitable lessons taught by the war became a powerful uplift to the civilian medical organisations of the Dominion’. Carbery briefly mentions the rank and file, who ‘also played an important part in the after war medical reorganisation, as radiographers, laboratory assistants, male nurses, masseurs, and as employees of the civil hospitals or the state departments engaged in medical work’, but his final flourish entirely ignores the nurses: ‘whatever praise the New Zealand Medical Services may have won in the Great War was, in greater part, earned by the soldierly conduct of the non-commissioned officers and the men of our Corps.’71

At the end of 1919, many nurses were ‘still retained in the service and their posts’ at military hospitals and convalescent homes. At Trentham, for example, Samoa veteran Vida MacLean had a staff of 63 NZANS nurses; Bertha Nurse, the matron at Rotorua’s King George V Hospital, was managing eight. Isabella McRae, in charge at Christchurch’s Chalmers block, oversaw 24 women. Eva Brooke, who had served first in Samoa, then on the Maheno and the Marama and in military hospitals overseas, was matron of the Military Convalescent Hospital at Narrow Neck in Auckland.72 In 1921, the year after she was demobilised, this remarkable woman, the only New Zealand nurse awarded the Royal Red Cross and bar, became matron of Christchurch’s Rannerdale Home for disabled veterans.

Coming home was often no easier for the doctors, nurses, vets, stretcher-bearers, orderlies and ambulance men than it was for their former patients. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Thomas did not return to New Zealand, but he had been worried about the future. ‘How I am going to make a living when I come back I don’t know,’ he wrote to his wife Milly from Gallipoli only three weeks before he was killed.

This life entirely unfits you for general practice. Besides I am getting too old to start and build up a practice again. Mine will have practically speaking left me. I don’t think there is much chance of my getting a military appointment in the medical branch of the service because I was never a Territorial. Besides there are others after the jobs who are senior to me because they were Territorials. None of them have anything like the service that I have got. In any case I don’t suppose the appointment would be worth very much.73

Some NZMC men never recovered physically from their war service and died too young. Private George Knox, who had been wounded in France in May 1917, died on 16 November 1920 of ‘Pneumonia — Accelerated by Gas poisoning’. He was 34, as was former Dunedin Hospital house surgeon Cyril Baigent OBE, wounded on Gallipoli, when he died of kidney disease in 1923. After establishing a large practice in Ashburton, Baigent ‘found that he had not escaped unscathed from the privations of the war, and about six months ago he was able to diagnose a trouble caused in the first instance by a severe chill or exposure’. Despite knowing that the condition was incurable, ‘he nevertheless decided to carry right on, which he did, and he successfully performed a serious operation on the morning of his collapse’.74 Thirty-year-old NZMC Private George Black, who served on the first charter of the Marama, died later in 1916 of intestinal obstruction, toxaemia and peritonitis — ‘Death due to War Service’. He had been sent home with debility following appendicitis. Marquette survivor David Fitzgibbon, who had been affected by gas at Hazebrouck and was invalided home with pleurisy, took charge of an auxiliary hospital in Whangarei during the influenza epidemic, despite his ‘indifferent health’. Before his death, at 41, in October 1919, he suffered frequent heart attacks ‘following the original chest trouble’.75 Two nurses died as a direct result of their war work: Margaret Thompson was the victim of tuberculosis in 1921 while nursing chronically ill soldiers in a Wellington rest home, and Mary Edge, formerly Ellis, died a year after her retirement from war work in October 1918.76

Alcohol caused significant problems for returned men. In late May 1918 the Medical Committee of the New Zealand Returned Soldiers’ Association ‘viewed with grave regret . . . the ravages that alcoholism is making’, describing drink as ‘the sheerest poison’ in shell-shock and neurasthenic cases.77 Medical personnel were vulnerable too. When vet Thomas Lilico died in Christchurch on 5 April 1917, a year after returning to New Zealand, an inquest named alcoholism as the cause of death. William Smith of the New Zealand Veterinary Corps died of alcoholic poisoning, delirium tremens and heart failure in May 1920, aged only 46. On 1 July 1916 he had been court-martialled for being drunk in Heliopolis, severely reprimanded, sent home and discharged. At the hearing he had attributed his position to ‘the hot weather’ and insisted that he had consumed only two whiskies. Veterinarian Charles Neale OBE died of delirium tremens in February 1928.78

Major Charles Maguire, the SMO on the Ulimaroa when she brought sick and wounded men home in April 1916, was forced to inform the DMS that one of his staff, courageous William McAra from Gallipoli, had suffered ‘several attacks of mania’ which he attributed ‘to alcohol with abuse of drugs supperadded. Latterly Capt. [actually Major] McAra has been in the habit of inhaling chloroform. He became so bad that I deemed it advisable to relieve him of his duties.’ He believed that McAra should never again be ‘placed in medical charge of troops, as I consider that, when he is under the influence of drugs, he is dangerous to himself and others’.79 McAra died in 1934 of lymph adenoma, a condition affected by alcohol. Ironically, he had noted in his diary for 8 August 1915 the return to New Zealand of dentist Captain Peter Hume: ‘Sorry for him but D.T.s. No place for him here or for anybody who drinks.’80 Hume, who had left New Zealand with the Second Reinforcements and been appointed dental surgeon to Lady Godley’s Convalescent Home, was diagnosed as an alcoholic by two medical boards when he got home. He also had tuberculosis, from which he died in Nelson in 1916, aged 34.81

Returning to civilian life was often hard, too, for the nurses and VADs. ‘I missed the companionship that nursing carries with it, but I had to settle down, as many duties fell to my share after my father’s death, and the frailty of my Mother who became my responsibility.’82 VAD Gladys Luxford’s sad and stoic words echoed the experience of many women forced to exchange the adventure and high emotion of wartime service for the yoke of family expectation or the much duller routine of non-military nursing. Physical exhaustion was common — ‘quite a number were war-worn and not really fit for duty’.83 For example, when Cora Anderson, mentioned in despatches and holder of the Royal Red Cross, was boarded on 10 May 1919, the diagnosis was debility caused by the ‘stress and strain’ of active service, which had resulted in weakness and brachycardia (slow heart rate).84

As had been the case with doctors, the loss of so many nurses to overseas service had caused a severe shortage of experienced senior staff in hospitals. A number who had been on leave returned to their pre-war posts, but former Christchurch Hospital ‘lady superintendent’ Mabel Thurston was not among them. She had been granted leave of absence for the duration of the war, initially to become matron at Walton-on-Thames on little more than half her Christchurch salary, and publicly lauded for her patriotism. Her devoted work in the challenging NZEF matron-in-chief role, which involved supervising the NZANS nurses on active duty in England, France and Egypt and organising the supply of nurses and VADs to New Zealand’s military hospitals in England, earned her both the Royal Red Cross and a CBE. At the end of August 1918, however, the North Canterbury Hospital and Charitable Aid Board wrote to say that her long absence had ‘adversely affected the hospital’ and forced the acting matron to turn down job offers. Thurston’s appointment was terminated.85

The board was not swayed by her eloquent protests and explanations, which were backed up by letters of support from Brigadier-General George Richardson and William Parkes, among others, and by a meeting of angry locals. Thurston had to resign. She became matron at King George V Military Hospital at Rotorua in January 1920 before assuming the same role at Hanmer, and, between 1923 and 1927, at Pukeora. Replying to Godley’s hope, expressed in July 1920, that nurses and matrons would be ‘treated well in the future’, James Allen said, ‘You need have no fear about this, except perhaps in the case of Miss Thurston. The Christchurch Hospital Board does not appear to have treated her quite well.’86

Other nurses opted for private nursing, sometimes joining forces to set themselves up in business. Some, as we have seen, established massage practices; Sister May Chalmer opened a private hospital in Ngaruawahia in 1920 and later one in Feilding; Vida MacLean and Fanny Wilson, both former matrons of New Zealand military hospitals in Britain, took over a small private hospital in Wellington’s Willis Street. Some women, though, might ‘be glad to take up some clerical work, or work on the land, such as gardening or poultry-farming’, and they should be ‘eligible as soldiers to receive assistance in settling on the land’.87

Nurses were officially included in the land settlement scheme aimed at putting returned soldiers on farms of their own, but only after a legislative change.88 Ellen Schaw was one of just a half-dozen or so nurses who seem to have applied. According to a newspaper report, she was ‘the first woman in the Wellington district, and probably in the Dominion’, to obtain land under the Discharged Soldiers Settlement Act.89 After being invalided for some months on coming home, she ‘got the very section she wanted’, 4 acres at Cloverlea near Palmerston North, in a soldiers’ land ballot. She began with ‘one cow, horse and trap, three chickens, three cats, one dog’. A few months later — as soon as the fowlhouse could be built — she was planning to start a ‘little poultry farm with more fowls, and also getting more cows. Fruit trees are also to be planted.’90 In 1925 Marquette survivor Edith McLeod applied for a 105-acre block at the Hikutaia settlement near Opotiki that had been abandoned by its returned soldier owner and turned it into a profitable concern, fulfilling the prophecy of a member of the Land Board in Gisborne, who considered that ‘the lady would make a very capable farmer’.91 A few nurses, including Annie Buckley, who had left on the Rotorua in 1915, learnt beekeeping and horticulture at the Ruakura Government Farm and were given a small living allowance.

There could be a lack of appreciation and understanding when medical personnel came home. On 11 March 1919 the New Zealand Herald published a letter headed ‘AMBULANCE MAN’S COMPLAINT’ and signed ‘Stretcher-Bearer. N.Z. Medical Corps, Rotorua’. Since reporting to the hospital a few days before, ‘after considerable service in the field’, the correspondent had been ‘surprised and not a little disgusted to observe the attitude taken by people in this town towards men of the N.Z.M.C.’.

Is it possible that people can have such a small conception of what work in the Medical Corps really amounts to? . . . Do they consider the heart-breaking toil of stretcher-bearing for two, three or four days and nights in all weathers and in most cases back and forwards through shell-fire, exposed to all that comes from the German guns? Can they imagine what it means to carry out a badly wounded man, on a pitch black night when German gas is thick and one has to wear a mask, stumbling along blindly, your only thought and aim, to get that man ‘out.’

Now, ‘given a job for awhile before he is discharged’, he had been insulted — more than once. ‘There are men in the Medical Corps drawing 5s per day, when they might be drawing three or four times as much outside. Are they to be blamed because they are sent here for duty?’ He regarded this as the ‘most unfair treatment’ he had ever received, and through him it was extended to ‘men who have been out since 1914’.92

The men and women of the medical services were, however, widely praised and recognised with many awards. At the Battle of Messines alone, New Zealand’s doctors and ambulance men received a DSO, four Military Crosses, 15 Military Medals and three Military Service Medals; three were mentioned in despatches.93 The nurses, too, were honoured during the war, with 14 Royal Red Crosses, more than 70 associate or second-class RRCs and almost 50 mentions in despatches. In 1920 Hester Maclean received the rarely bestowed Florence Nightingale Medal. VADs, too, were given several MBEs and MIDs, among other decorations.94

But many medical lives were lost. Of the more than 3600 men who served overseas, 662 — 56 officers and 606 other ranks — were killed or died of wounds, disease or accident. Over 450 men were wounded, several more than once.95 Sixteen nurses died, 13 while serving with the NZANS, and three while working for other organisations: Ella Cooke, who nursed with the French Flag Nursing Corps and the QAIMNS, was killed in an accident in Egypt; Elise Kemp lost her life on the Western Front while serving with the Territorial Forces Nursing Service; Lily Lind, also with the French corps, died of consumption while returning to New Zealand in 1916. The number of VADs who died is uncertain. The known names are those of Wilmet Bennett and Corale Lumley, who died of illness, and Winifred Starling, a VAD at No. 2 New Zealand General Hospital, who was drowned when RMS Leinster was torpedoed in the Irish Sea on 10 October 1918.96

Words such as heroism and sacrifice are used too frequently and too easily, especially about the First World War. There was no glory here. As medical historian Leo van Bergen has written, ‘War is about everything, but above all it is about killing and being killed.’97 It is, too, about being wounded, often horribly or repeatedly, and about debilitating illness, disfigurement and psychological trauma. But war is also about courage — the courage to continue working, in appalling, perilous conditions and for inhumanly long hours, to save lives — and it is about compassion. Even for trained personnel, this was a terrible new world. Doctors used to treating patients in comfortable rooms, and surgeons accustomed to operating in sterile, well-organised theatres, found themselves in trenches and dug-outs, often under fire. Men who had been clerks or shop assistants or students or farmers found themselves staggering through deep mud carrying stretchers while trying to dodge snipers’ bullets. Nurses who had staffed calm, organised wards found themselves in crowded tent hospitals full of severely hurt and dying men with stinking wounds and shattered limbs. As soldier poet Siegfried Sassoon rightly said, it was hell, and the brave, skilled and caring New Zealand medical personnel who went through it with the troops must, like them, never be forgotten.


1 New Zealand Herald, 21 January 1919, p. 6; Medical — Health — Troops on transports — Returning with invalids, AD1 982 49/467 [a], ANZ.

2 For a full account of the embarkation arrangements and the vessels involved, see A. D. Carbery, The New Zealand Medical Service in the Great War, 1914–1918 (Auckland: Whitcombe & Tombs, 1924), pp. 494ff.

3 New Zealand Herald, 21 January 1919, p. 6.

4 ‘The 1918 flu pandemic’, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 26-Jan-2018.

5 Laura Spinney, Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World (London: Jonathan Cape, 2017), p. 4. Note that Marcus Hansen called it yellow fever on 23 August, and on the 29th, ‘African fever of some sort’, ‘A Soldier’s Diary’, Pvt. Marcus Christian Hansen (Rifleman), Regt. No. 74744, Company: SPEC, 40th Reinforcements 1918/19, Transcribed by John W. Hansen (grandson), http://www., accessed 7 February 2018.

6 Kai Tiaki, October 1918, p. 209. Tubman’s brother Reynold had been killed at Passchendaele.

7 Hansen, ‘A Soldier’s Diary’.

8 Kai Tiaki, January 1919, pp. 15–17.

9 Geoffrey W. Rice, Black November: The 1918 Influenza Pandemic in New Zealand (Christchurch: Canterbury University Press, 2005, rev. edn, 1st pub. 1988), p. 57.

10 Bertha Emily Taylor, Letters and journal, MS-Papers-1291, ATL, p. 29; Kai Tiaki, January 1919, pp. 4, 8.

11 Chrissie Ward (ed.), Dear Lizzie: A New Zealand Soldier Writes From the Battlefields of World War One (Auckland: HarperCollins, 2000), p. 133. As Geoffrey Rice notes, ‘Though there were many more hospital beds than in peacetime, military hospitals were geared to treating wounds rather than infectious diseases. For example, it was difficult to isolate cases in the overcrowded and desperately busy hospitals in France.’ Black November, p. 43.

12 Taylor letters and journal, p. 34.

13 Kai Tiaki, January 1919, p. 7.

14 Kai Tiaki, April 1919, p. 61.

15 New Zealand Herald, 7 February 1920, supplement, p. 1.

16 Kai Tiaki, April 1919, p. 63.

17 Rice, Black November, p. 71.

18 Ibid., p. 96.

19 Ibid., pp. 95, 122, 123, 147.

20 Ibid., pp. 135, 149.

21 Ibid., p. 135.

22 Ibid., p. 211; Carbery, Medical Service, p. 507. Rice puts the death toll at 281, Carbery at 287.

23 Allan Leslie Christie file, 3/2915, ANZ; John Bonwell Sale file, 3/4316, ANZ.

24 Letter from Featherston Camp CO, 23 January 1919, William Bey file, N/N, ANZ; Bertram Boock file, 3/2344, ANZ.

25 Frederick George Atyeo file, 3/130a, ANZ.

26 Kai Tiaki, January 1919, pp. 10, 45.

27 William Fergus Paterson file, 3/4277, ANZ.

28 11 November 1918, Fanny Helena Speedy diaries, MS-Papers-1703, ATL; Louisa Higginson, Diaries transcribed by Mrs R. L. Wilson, MS-Papers-2477, ATL, Book 2, p. 12.

29 Carbery, Medical Service, p. 514. For the NZMC and the NZANS, final demobilisation had largely been achieved by the end of April 1920, but that year the medical personnel retained by the Defence Department were transferred to a newly created New Zealand Army Medical Department (and paid at the same rate). Almost all the 40 medical officers in the NZAMD, and almost half the 459 NCOs and men, had served overseas. There were also 210 nurses still working.

30 Carbery, Medical Service, p. 503; Imelda Bargas and Tim Shoebridge, New Zealand’s First World War Heritage (Auckland and Wollombi: Exisle, 2015), pp. 200–1.

31 Carbery, Medical Service, p. 509.

32 Clifford Collingwood, Diary and Scrapbook: New Zealand, Egypt & Western Front — WW1, 2007.139, NAM.

33 Evening Post, 13 April 1916, p. 7.

34 New Zealand Herald, 6 October 1916, p. 9.

35 Bargas and Shoebridge, First World War Heritage, p. 200; Carbery, Medical Service, pp. 510–11.

36 Carbery, Medical Service, p. 505.

37 New Zealand Herald, 18 April 1917, p. 8.

38 Frederick James Foote, ‘Yesteryears’, Reminiscences, MS 2007/9, NAM, p. 301.

39 New Zealand Herald, 14 July 1919, p. 4.

40 Kai Tiaki, January 1919, p. 43.

41 Carbery, Medical Service, p. 511. The extended hospital took all the patients from the Military Annexe at Auckland.

42 Sun, 3 June 1916, p. 3.

43 Collingwood diary.

44 Evening Post, 26 June 1916, p. 3.

45 Bargas and Shoebridge, First World War Heritage, p. 206.

46 Tim Shoebridge, ‘Repatriation of Returned Servicemen’, public-service-at-war-articles-footnoted.pdf, p. 77, accessed 29 November 2017. Although most of the sick and injured had been discharged from the military hospital system by 1921, and the hospitals were reassigned to the Health Department in 1921 and 1922, soldiers continued to be treated ‘in their capacity as private citizens’.

47 Allan Marriott, Mud Beneath My Boots: A Poignant Memoir of the Effects of War on a Young New Zealander (Auckland: HarperCollins, 2005), pp. 196–8.

48 Foote, ‘Yesteryears’, p. 302.

49 Collingwood diary.

50 Nick Wilson, Jennifer A. Summers, Michael G. Baker, George Thomson and Glyn Harper, ‘Fatal Injury Epidemiology Among New Zealand Military Forces in the First World War’, New Zealand Medical Journal, 1 November 2013, vol. 126, no. 1385, p. 21.

51 Marina Larsson, Shattered Anzacs: Living With the Scars of War (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2009), pp. 22, 24, 72–3.

52 Coralie Clarkson, ‘The Reality of Return: Exploring the Experiences of World War One Soldiers After Their Return to New Zealand’, MA thesis, History, Victoria University of Wellington, 2011, p. 189. Clarkson speaks of the added burden, for sufferers, of phthisiophobia — the fear of tuberculosis.

53 Larsson, Shattered Anzacs, p. 183.

54 New Zealand Herald, 21 January 1919, p. 6.

55 Allen to Parkes, 10 September 1918, Ministerial Files — Correspondence with Colonel Parkes, Allen 1, 3 M1/34, ANZ.

56, accessed 29 November 2017.

57 Jane Tolerton, An Awfully Big Adventure: New Zealand World War One Veterans Tell Their Stories (Auckland: Penguin, 2013), p. 270.

58 Tim Shoebridge, ‘Repatriation of Returned Servicemen’, public-service-at-war-articles-footnoted.pdf, p. 77, accessed 29 November 2017.

59 Elizabeth Anne Walker, ‘“The Living Death”: The Repatriation Experience of New Zealand’s Disabled Great War Servicemen’, MA thesis, History, Victoria University of Wellington, 2013, pp. 8–9, 34–5.

60 Ibid., p. 47.

61 Social Assistance Chronology 1844–2013: A historical summary of social security benefits, war pensions, retirement pensions, taxation measures, family assistance, housing, student support and labour market programmes (as at May 2013),, accessed 15 November 2017.

62 Ibid.

63 War Pensions Amendment Act, Third Schedule. Pensions Payable for Specific Injuries.

64 Roland Scott Bremner file, 23476, ANZ.

65 Social Assistance Chronology; Walker, ‘Living Death’, p. 50.

66 Tolerton, Awfully Big Adventure, p. 273.

67 Evening Star, 3 July 1917, p. 7.

68 Letter Edith J. Austen to Hester Maclean, 20 April 1919, letter Mary Grigor to Hester Maclean, 30 May 1919, Boarding & Treatment of Nurses, AD 1 48/858, ANZ.

69 Russell Clarke, ‘“Not Mad, But Very Ill”: The Treatment of New Zealand’s Shellshocked Soldiers 1914 to 1939’, MA thesis, University of Auckland, 1991, pp. 36–7.

70 Shoebridge, ‘Repatriation of Returned Servicemen’,, p. 80, accessed 29 November 2017.

71 Carbery, Medical Service, p. 517.

72 Kai Tiaki, 1 January 1920, p. 17.

73 Letter 7 August 1915, Charles Ernest Thomas, Letters, 2015/106, South Canterbury Museum.

74 Press, 11 January 1923, p. 7.

75 Northern Advocate, 11 October 1919, p. 4.

76 Jan Rodgers, ‘“A Paradox of Power and Marginality”: New Zealand Nurses’ Professional Campaign During War, 1900–1920’, PhD thesis, History, Massey University, 1994, Chapter 10.

77 New Zealand Herald, 29 May 1918, p. 8.

78 Star, 7 May 1917, p. 6; William George Charles Smith file, 17/248, ANZ; Charles Raymond Neale file, 17/294, ANZ.

79 William McAra file, 3/529, ANZ.

80 8 August 1915, Diary of William McAra, Gallipoli, June–December 1915, MS-2943/002, Hocken.

81 Peter Gulland Hume file, 3/446a, ANZ.

82 Gladys Violet Luxford, ‘How I came to be interested in war and why I went to World War One’, MS 94/6, AWMM, p. 6.

83 After six months of consecutive duty in a hospital or on a transport or hospital ship, they were eligible, like the soldiers, for three weeks’ leave and a railway pass that gave them free travel, Orders (Standing) Nursing Service, AD 1 51/34, ANZ; Hester Maclean, Nursing in New Zealand: History and Reminiscences (Wellington: Tolan Printing Company, 1932), p. 232.

84 Cora Beattie Anderson file, 22/12, ANZ.

85 Jan Rodgers, ‘Thurston, Mabel’, Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, first published in 1996. Te Ara — the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,, accessed 13 December 2017.

86 Allen to Godley, 10 July 1920, Ministerial Files — Correspondence with General Godley, Allen1 2, M1/15, Part 6 28/1/20, ANZ.

87 Kai Tiaki, January 1919, p. 11.

88 Ashley Gould, ‘Soldier Settlement’, in Ian McGibbon (ed.), The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 501.

89 Dominion, 7 November 1919, p. 9.

90 Kai Tiaki, January 1920, p. 49, July 1920, p. 159.

91 Rodgers, ‘Paradox’, Chapter 10; New Zealand Herald, 15 August 1925, p. 13.

92 New Zealand Herald, 11 March 1919, p. 5.

93 Honours and Awards for Messines June 1917, Medical Corps Memoranda — Precis of Events in France, 11 April 1916–10 June 1917, WA10 19, 10/6/10, ANZ. A full awards list appears in Carbery, Medical Service, pp. 526–30.

94 For a full list see Sherayl McNabb, 100 Years New Zealand Military Nursing: New Zealand Army Nursing Service — Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps 1915–2015 (Wairoa: author, 2015), pp. 484–6.

95 Carbery, Medical Service, gives an NZMC honour roll on pp. 521–5.

96 McNabb, 100 Years, p. 188.

97 Leo van Bergen, Before My Helpless Sight: Suffering, Dying and Military Medicine on the Western Front, 1914–1918 (Surrey: Ashgate, 2009), p. 407.

Extract from Rogers, Anna, With Them Through Hell, 2018, Massey University Press, Auckland. 

Anna Rogers is a freelance author and book editor. 

Link to book:

Disclaimer: The ideas expressed in this article reflect the author’s views and not necessarily the views of The Big Q.