New Zealand Military Nursing
New Zealand Army Nursing Service - Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps

1915 - 1922

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1915 - Cabinet Approves Proposed NZANS
On 11 January Cabinet approved the formation of the NZANS after a proposal was submitted by Mr Allen, the Minister of Defence, recommending that authority be given to provisionally enrol 60 nurses and that the Defence Act be amended to make provision for the Nursing Service.   The proposal was approved and signed ‘Passed in Cabinet 11.1.15 ‘.

1915 - Cable from England
On 25 January a cable was received from the British Government accepting an offer of the services of NZ nurses.  The offer was made by the NZ Minister of Defence in December 1914.  The cable also requested a guarantee as to the training and efficiency of 11 NZ nurses domiciled in England and who were offering their services.  As a part of making this request the British Government recognised that State Registration of nurses in New Zealand was a definite advantage, as it allowed ready access to nurse’s qualifications through a single authority.  Unfortunately, of the 11 nurses that a guarantee of their training and efficiency was being sought, only a few could be guaranteed as the majority were not recorded as being State Registered nurses.

1915 - Uniforms for Nurses
In a Minute headed ‘Nurses to the Front’ dated 15 February and signed by the MOD, Cabinet approved expenditure on uniforms up to £10.

1915 - Cable from Australia
On 25 March a cable arrived from the Australian Government accepting a NZ Government offer made in December 1914 for NZ nurses to serve with the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS).  In accepting the offer, the Australian Government requested that 12 nurses (two Sisters and 10 Nurses) be selected.  Twelve nurses were subsequently selected and sailed from Wellington for Australia on 1 April.  This group of NZ nurses arrived in Egypt as members of the AANS before the first members of the NZANS arrived.

1915 - NZANS Nurses Sail from New Zealand
Finally on 6 April 110 Nurses were officially enlisted in the NZANS and the first 50 sailed from NZ on 8 April aboard the Steamer Rotorua arriving in England on 19 May.  The journey for the NZANS had begun in earnest.
1915 - Officer Status
From the beginning it had been agreed nurses were to be classed with officers and were to rank directly below Medical Officers.

There were many instances of disbelief within the military that nurses were to be treated as officers in every respect.  One instance that occurred on a Transport Ships was so bad that the Matron threatened to leave the ship in Australia.  The matter of nurses being accorded officer status did not get resolved until WW2!

23 Oct 1915 - NZANS Nurses Lost
At about 9.15am on 23 October 10 nurses of the NZANS and 22 men of the NZMC were lost when the Transport Ship Marquette was torpedoed by a German Submarine in the Aegean Sea.  They were part of No 1 Stationary Hospital being sent to Salonika to assist with the casualties coming from the Balkans. 

Marquette & Survivors

TS Marquette & NZANS Survivors will appear as you drag your mouse over the photo.

1917 - Marriage
Upon formation of the NZANS no rules were included in the Regulations regarding marital status of nurses joining or during their service.  However, in 1917 this changed and a draft General Order was published in the Kai Tiaki headed,

NZ Army Nursing Service – Marriage On Active Service”
The order stated: Must not marry without permission - Sisters who are married may, at any time be retired from the NZEF.

This issue was finally resolved in the 1926 Regulations where it was made clear that to join the NZANS a nurse must be single or a widow without children!

1918 - End of WW1
At the end of WW1, nurses who were no longer required went back to their civilian jobs and those who were needed remained on strength until early 1922.

1922 - NZ Military Hospitals Closed – Nurses to Reserve List
The NZ military hospitals closed and retired nurses were placed on either the Active List, Reserve List or Retired List depending upon their circumstances.


World War One New Zealand Military Hospitals

Egypt 1915
Prior to New Zealand establishing their own military hospitals, New Zealand Nurses of the NZANS arriving in Egypt served in the following British Military Hospitals:

No. 15 General Hospital   Citadel Military Hospital,   
No. 17 General Hospital   Heliopolis Palace Hospital,
No. 19 General Hospital   Imperial Infectious Diseases Hospital,
No. 21 General Hospital   No.l Auxiliary,
RAS-EL-TIN Hospital        No.2 Auxiliary,
Lady Godley's Hospital     Nasarieh Schools
Schools Hospital               Egyptian Government Hospital

New Zealand Military Hospitals
In July 1915 the first of the New Zealand Military Hospitals arrived in Egypt and in England in 1916.

During WW1 626 nurses and masseuses served in military hospitals in Samoa, Egypt, United Kingdom, France and New Zealand.  They also served on hospital trains and ships of the United Kingdom and the New Zealand Hospital Ships Maheno and Marama. The New Zealand Hospital Ship Maheno with 13 nurses of the NZANS made six trips to collect patients from Gallipoli. 

Seven New Zealand nurses - trained as anaesthetists - six nurses of the New Zealand Army Nursing Service and one who was serving with the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve.

Hospitals in Egypt
No 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital, New Zealand 's first hospital arrived in Port Said on 1 July 1915.
No 2 New Zealand Stationary Hospital, arrived at Suez on 22 July 1915. Renamed in 1916 No. 1 New Zealand General Hospital.
Aotea Convalescent Home, 1915-1919.

Hospital in France
No. 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital, arrived in France from Moascar on 13 June 1916 and began working at Amiens in July 1916 becoming a Casuality Clearing Station. Remained in Amiens during the Somme campaign and moved to Wisques in February 1918.

Hospitals in England
No 1 New Zealand General Hospital (1NZGH) - arrived in England late 1916 and took over Lady Hardinge's hutted hospital at Brockenhurst. Also two large hotels were taken over as part of 1NZGH, Balmer Lawn Hotel and Forest Part Hotel each capable of holding 200 beds. Brockenhurst became the orthopaedic centre of the New Zealand Medical Service in England. The hospital closed on 11 March 1919. Between 1916-1919 the hospital handled 21,004 paitients.

New Zealand War Contingent Hospital was opened on 31 July 1915 at Mount Felix, Walton-on-Thames. This was taken over by New Zealand in August 1916 and renamed No 2 New Zealand General Hospital (2NZGH). Began as a 500 bed hospital but expanded to 1530. Other hospitals associated with 2NZGH to this hospital was, Oatlands Park (for Limbless); All hospitals associated with No2 were closed in August 1919. The Special Jaw department at 2NZGH transferred to Queen's Hospital, Sidcup and at the end of the war returned as a unit, complete with 59 patients to Dunedin Hospital New Zealand.

No 3 New Zealand General Hospital (3NZGH) was established at Codford on the Salisbury Plains in September 1916. Originally held 330 beds but was expanded to 1000 and was closed in july 1919.

New Zealand Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch was established in 1916 ultimately accommodating 2500 patients. A well equipped physiotherapy department with the capability for treating 400 patients daily was set up. By the end of 1918 about 20,000 patients had been treated ath Hornchurch.

New Zealand Military Hospitals and Convalescent Homes
Hospitals and convalescent homes were located in the following areas and were closed or handed over to the civilian control in 1920. There were: Trentham Camp Military Hospital, Featherston Camp Military Hospital, Narrow Neck Military Hospital, Annexe at Auckland Hospital, Queen Mary's Military Hospital-Hanmer, Lowry Bay Convalescent Home,Dunedin, Timaru, King George V Hospital at Rotorua, Pukeroa Military Sanatorium,Victoria Ward at Wellington Hospital, Chalmers Wards, Christchurch Hospital, Cashmere Military Sanatorium.

Hospital Ships
The first New Zealand Hospital Ship left New Zealand in 1915 and this was due to the Governor-General of the New Zealand, His Excellency the Earl of Liverpool, making an appeal to the people of New Zealand for funds to equip a hospital ship. The first was Maheno and the second a larger ship Marama.

However, many members of the NZANS served on the following British Hospital Ships; Assaye; Braemar Castle; Carisbrook Castle; Devanha; Dongola; Dover Castle; Dunluce Castle; Egypt; Essiquibo; Galeka; Gascon; Grantully Castle; Kalyan; Letitia; Oxfordshire; Salta and the Valdavia. The Delta and Nevassa with some New Zealand nurses aboard made voyages from the Dardanelles or Mudros to Egypt and occasionally direct to England.

New Zealand Hospital Ship Maheno
The first New Zealand Hospital Ship was the Maheno and was referred to as Hospital Ship No.1. The Maheno was a Union Steam Ship Company, ship of 5282 tons, length 400 feet, breadth 50 feet. The staff consisted of: seven Medical officers, 61 other ranks, one matron (Matron Brooke 1st voyage) and 13 NZANS nurses. Patient accommodation was for 340 cot cases. During her first voyage she made six trips to Mudros and Anzac Cove and one back to Southampton in October 1915. Returning to New Zealand in January 1916.

During the Somme offensive the Maheno made several Channel crossings from Boulogne to England transporting a total of 15,762 patients.

The Maheno was commissioned for further service and remained in service until 1919 when she made her final voyage home to New Zealand departing England on 11 March 1919 with the last patients form Brockenhurst Hospital when 1NZGH was closed.

New Zealand Hospital Ship Marama
Another Union Steam Ship Company ship was the Marama which became Hospital Ship No. 2. The Marama was 6437 tons; Length 420 feet; breadth 52 feet. On the first voyage the staff consisted of nine Medical officers; 66 other ranks; one matron (Matron Brown 1st voyage) and 22 NZANS nurses. Patient accommodation was for 592 cot cases

The first commission of Marama took the ship to Alexandria, Southampton,- Alexandria, Marseilles, Salonika to Stavros where she was used a base hospital in the Balkan war. Then on to Malta and Southampton. From this time both Maheno and Marama were part of the White Fleet which carried the wounded from the battle of the Somme to England

During the Somme offensive the Marama made several Channel crossings from Boulogne to England transporting a total of 10346 patients.

The Marama final voyage was made on 28 February 1919 to England transporting patients to various ports en route and after this she went into service for the British.

At the end of the war there was enough money left over from donations, to build a hall for Medical Students Training Corps at the Medical School at Dunedin. An article pubished in the March 2011 issue of The Volunteers, Vol. 36, No.3 outlines the service of the Hospital Ships and lists all who served on them, which includes Medical Corps, Dental Corps and Chaplains.

To access this article click this link Marama Hall by Sherayl McNabb









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Wounded Gallipoli

Wounded about to be loaded onto a hosptial ship.

NZ Hospital Ships


NZHS Maheno & as you roll your mouse over the Maheno the NZHS Marama will appear.


Sherayl McNabb: 100 YEARS - NEW ZEALAND MILITARY NURSING: New Zealand Army Nursing Service - Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps: 1915 - 2015. Published 2015.

Sherayl McNabb - Marama Hall - The Volunteers, Vol.36, No.3. Journal of the New Zealand Military Historical Society Inc. - 2011

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