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Daphne Commons

Daphne Commons in Cairo.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS-2003-107.

Daphne, the eldest of seven children born to William McKenzie Commons and Catherine Sarah nee Rigby, was born in 1882. Her brother Kenneth Wrigley Commons enlisted as number 12/63 and went away with the Auckland Infantry Battalion. He was killed in action at Gallipoli in 1915.

Daphne was one of 50 nurses who went away in April 1915 as part of the New Zealand Army. They left on the ship Rotorua bound for England. According to Kai Tiaka, (the magazine of the NZ Nurses Organisation started in 1905) she won a Medal in 1914 for the nurse with the highest marks graduating that year from Auckland Hospital.

Before the nurses left Auckland, an "At Home" was held at the home of Mrs Gill in Gillies Avenue. She was the President of the Auckland branch of the Trained Nurses Association. She presented each nurse with a hot water bag and a pen.

Daphne was mentioned in dispatches in 1916 for hospital work in Egypt. Her name, along with many others, was published in most of the larger daily papers in New Zealand.

Nurses New Zealand General Hospital Cairo. Identification of nurses in photograph from scrapbook re. Cora B. Roberton (nee Anderson) [Box 9]. Sister Daphne Commons is seventh from the left.

© No known copyright restrictions.Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS-2003-107. Brent Mackrell, Papers.

After serving in Cairo, she went to England in 1916 and worked at Brockenhurst Hospital. She returned to NZ in 1919 on the Corinthic and went to work in Rotorua. She recorded her war experiences in diaries which are available through National Library of NZ.

She died in Auckland in December 1968 aged 87. After a funeral in Purewa conducted by W H Tongue, her ashes were returned.

Above biography was transcribed, researched and written by Margaret Nash of Panmure Branch of NZSG.

Further reading

University of Auckland Collegians at War: Daphne Commons

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