Topic: Margaret Rogers

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Margaret Rogers (Service no. 22/175) was a First World War nurse with links to Christchurch

Margaret RogersMargaret Rogers was born in Oamaru on 11th December, 1887. She was one of five daughters, and had a brother. Her parents moved to Banks Peninsula, living at Wainui.

She trained as a nurse at Christchurch Hospital, passing her nursing exams in June, 1913. Then she did a maternity nursing certificate at St. Helens Hospital, passing her midwifery exam in December, 1913.

She belonged to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Christchurch, and had been a leader of the Young Women’s Bible Class there. She was also a student volunteer for missions there, and had offered her services as a trained nurse for mission work at a hospital in Ambrym, in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), assisting a doctor there. However a natural disaster destroyed the hospital she was to go to, bringing that work to a close. While she was awaiting further developments, she took up district nursing under Nurse Maude.

She was small in stature, being 5 ft 3 ½ inches high, with brown hair and brown eyes.

When the call came for nurses for active service, Margaret volunteered. She was 28 years old. She was one of the first fifty New Zealand nurses who left New Zealand. She joined up with the New Zealand Army Nursing Service on 6th July, 1915, and left New Zealand four days later, sailing from Wellington on the hospital ship Maheno. When they reached Egypt, she was transferred to the No.1 Stationary Hospital, based at Port Said. This was almost on the beach, and had about 500 beds.

While over there, she wrote to someone back home:

“There is no romance about war, it spells suffering, hunger and filth, and how thankful I am every day that I came to do what I could to help and relieve our brave boys”.


She was selected to go with the New Zealand No. 1 Stationary Hospital across to Salonika, leaving Alexandra on 19th October, on the Marquette. On the 23rd October, the ship was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine, and sank within ten minutes. Margaret was on the starboard side, and got into a boat, but some inexperienced soldiers lowered it, and one end fell more quickly than the other, so that five nurses fell out into the water, including Margaret. She was picked up by a boat, but was already close to death then.

Margaret died in the Aegean Sea on the 23rd of October, 1915. Her body was identified by her gold watch with her name engraved on it (which had stopped at 11.40am), and was found about four days later in an upside-down lifeboat with the bodies of another nurse and four men. All six wore lifebelts and were tied to a boat thwart.

She was buried at Zagora, Kalamaria, in the Mikra British Cemetery. Of the ten nurses who drowned, the bodies of only two were recovered.
An In Memoriam service was held for her at her home church, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, on 7th November, that year, and another service was held at St. Michael’s and All Angels for all the nurses who drowned, with more than 200 nurses and some wounded soldiers attending.

She was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Her name is on:


Related Resources

  • Online cenotaph record for Margaret Rogers. Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Margaret Rogers military personnel files. Archive New Zealand (Archway)
  • Rogers, Anna “While you were away: New Zealand Nurses at War 1899-1948” Auckland, N.Z. : Auckland University Press, 2003.
  • Rees, Peter “ANZAC girls: The Extraordinary Story of our World War 1 nurses”.Crows Nest, N.S.W. : Allen & Unwin, 2014, c2008. 
  • Smith, John Meredith “Cloud over Marquette”. [Auckland, N.Z.] : J.M. Smith, c1990. 
  • Christchurch Nurses Memorial Chapel website (http://cnmc.org.nz)

References

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Margaret Rogers


First Names:Margaret
Last Name:Rogers
Place of Birth:Oamaru, New Zealand