Nurse Margaret Rogers

Margaret Rogers, No. 22/175, New Zealand Army Nursing Service. Drowned at sea, 23 October 1915.

Staff Nurse Margaret Rogers is one of 18,058 New Zealanders who died as a result of First World War service and are listed on the Roll of Honour.

Born in Ōamaru in 1886 to parents Thomas and Janet, Margaret Rogers was a well-known member of the Christchurch community in which she later lived. A short woman with dark hair and dark eyes, Margaret trained as a nurse at Christchurch Hospital, passing her examinations in 1913. A leader of the young women’s bible class at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Christchurch, Margaret was selected to work as a nurse in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu) as part of the church’s mission work. Before she could depart a volcanic eruption destroyed the hospital and Margaret instead became a district nurse in Christchurch.  

The New Zealand Army Nursing Service (NZANS) was established in January 1915 and in April sent its first nurses overseas. Margaret soon followed their example, enlisting in the NZANS on 6 July 1915. Four days later she departed Wellington aboard the hospital ship Maheno. When Margaret and her fellow nurses arrived in Egypt in August, she was assigned to No. 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital in Port Said. In a letter home she wrote:

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. [1]   

In October Margaret and the other staff of No. 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital boarded the Marquette, a British transport ship bound for Salonika, Greece, to where the hospital was to be moved. The first few days of the trip went smoothly but on the morning of 23 October, only a few hours from Salonika, the Marquette was hit by a torpedo fired from a German submarine. The ship sank within 15 minutes.

Margaret was among a group of nurses who boarded a lifeboat. While this was being lowered from the ship it struck an iron door and tipped over, spilling Margaret and four others into the sea. Margaret was picked up by another lifeboat but was already near death. She was one of 10 New Zealand nurses who died that day. Four days later, Margaret’s body was found alongside five others tied to an upside-down lifeboat on a beach near Zagora in Greece. A gold watch engraved with her name was found with her body.

Margaret Rogers is buried at the Mikra British Cemetery at Kalamaria and is listed on the war memorial at Akaroa where her father lived. Margaret and the other nine nurses lost in the Marquette sinking are remembered at the Nurses’ Memorial Chapel at Christchurch Hospital.

Further information

Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph

Commonwealth War Graves Commission 

Marquette Great War Story

No Ordinary Transport: The sinking of the Marquette

Marquette Nurses’ Memorial, Waimate

Christchurch Hospital Nurses’ Memorial Chapel

An Heroic Sisterhood’, Sun, 3 November 1915, p. 6 (Papers Past)

The Nurses on the Marquette’, Kai Tiaki: the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, 1 October 1915, p. 46 (Papers Past)

The Marquette Disaster’, Press, 4 November 1915, p. 6



[1] ‘The Marquette Disaster’, Press, 4 November 1915, p. 6.

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