Donald Norman Watson Murray had a long and honourable career serving his country. He served in South Africa with the Royal Army Medical Corps in the ranks. From 1908 he was in the Volunteer Service.
When war broke out he enlisted with the New Zealand Medical Corps as a Major and Officer Commanding (OC) of the Mounted Field Ambulance which arrived with the Main Body at Suez on 3 December 1914. In early February 1915, Murray noted in his diary the "explosive" effect of the modern bullet when fired at close quarters (Carbery, "The New Zealand Medical Services in the Great War" p 25).This was said in observation of the wounds that Turkish soldiers suffered after fire on 2 February; the Turkish soldiers were so wounded that the NZMC looked after them, rather than sending them to Cairo.
Auckland War Memorial Museum holds Murray's uniform (trousers, coat, peaked cap) and the flag flown at MDS Anzac Cove. After serving at Egypt, Murray went to Gallipoli for a short time before going to the Western Front. It was his work in Europe that earned him particular honour.
On March 1 1916, Murray was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and Commanding Officer (CO) of the No. 2 NZ Field Ambulance. Later that year on 14 September, it was decided that Murray would take charge of all evacuations from the Advanced Dressing Station at Flat Iron Copse, France. He was given 3 field ambulances and 21 motor ambulance cars. From the 15 September, Murray ensured that all wounded were evacuated with the utmost care and safety by exploring the front line himself. When there was a delay in evacuating the wounded, he devised a better route of evacuation. These actions earned him a D.S.O: "He has shown great resource and initiative during the operations on the Somme since 15th September 1916. He has carried out the work of evacuating wounded under circumstances the most arduous and dangerous. His work has been a model of successful organisation." (Excerpt. See above for full citation.)
Similar work in October 1917 earned him mention in despatches: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. during the offensive of 4th October 1917 and the two days before and after this offensive this Officer was in charge of the Advanced Dressing Station at Wieltje (N.E. of Ypres) and of the evacuation of wounded from the advanced posts. He frequently, at great personal risk, went to the aid Posts to assure himself that they were being cleared. He personally directed the loading of Ambulance cars, at the Advanced Dressing Station although the road upon which he stood was at times heavily shelled. His presence here and his total disregard of his personal safety was an inspiration to all who saw him. This Officer performed excellent work in a similar capacity during the Messines offensive." (Excerpt. See above for full citation.)
From January 1917 Murray was also the Commandant of the Anzac Medical Officers School in Flanders.
in 1918, Murray was charged with evacuating the wounded from Sailiy-au-Bois, France. From April 6, Murray supervised the construction of a Dressing Station. It took 19 days to complete. On the first day 1000 sandbags were filled to block all the windows. The next day, beams were taken from buildings that were already wrecked by shell fire. These beams were placed over the roof and covered by sandbags filled with broken bricks so as to provide a bursting course. Outside walls were strengthened by sandbags filled with chalk blocks to give protection from small shells. However, heavy fire was also likely so Murray assembled a squad of infantry, some engineers and bearer to dig out a space 47 feet long, 12 feet wide and 15 feet deep which was filled with sandbags 3 feet thick and double roofed to make a monumental and very well fortified dressing station (Carbery pp396-397).
It was the construction of this dressing station in particular that earned Murray a Companion of the Order of St Michael, as is made clear in part of the citation: "This Officer constantly visited the forward posts and tracks, and by his careful selection of these and the construction of an excellent shell-proof Dressing Station at Sailiy-au-Bois undoubtedly saved the lives of many of his personnel and of the wounded in his charge, as both this Station and the tracks were frequently shelled." (Excerpt. See above for full citation.)
On December 1918, Murray became Colonel and Assistant Medical Director of Medical Services - NZ Division. He was discharged at the end of the war on 29 July 1919.
Following the war, in September 1919, he took command of the military unit at the Civic hospital in Auckland, and later became a police surgeon. He also married Lillian Gertrude Murray.
In WWII he was the Officer Commanding of Troops on HS Maunganui from April 1941 to February 1942. His long career of service was recognised with a New Zealand Long and Efficient Service Medal.
Attended Auckland Grammar School.
Listed at Archives New Zealand as Donald Norm Watson Murray
Attended Auckland University College (now the University of Auckland). AWMM