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Daphne Rowena Commons

Notable Events in Nursing History - The First Fifty Nurses sent with the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces [April 1915]. Archives New Zealand R13235489. Image has no known copyright restrictions.

Notable Events in Nursing History - The First Fifty Nurses sent with the New Zealand Expeditionary F …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Daphne Rowena AWMM
  • Surname
    Commons AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    Rowna AWMM
  • Service number
    WWI 22/20 AWMM
  • Gender
    Female AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    • 1882 AWMM AWMM
    • 1882 AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    Pre 6 April 1914 AWMM Auckland Hospital, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    William McKenzie Commons, Karewa, Mountain Road, Epsom, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Pre 8 April 1915 AWMM Single AWMM


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
  • Armed force / branch
    Army AWMM
  • Service number
    WWI 22/20 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
    WW1 6 April 1914 AWMM AWMM
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment


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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Duaghter of Catherine Sarah Commons and William McKenzie Commons

    Returned to New Zealand on the Corinthic

    Served 3 years 303 days

    Serial Number originally 22/11 and published on the on Nominal Roll, later changed to 22/20 and published on Archives New Zealand. Name misspelt on the Service record and Nominal Roll as Rowna

    Attended Auckland University College (now the University of Auckland).

    Daphne Commons - 1882-1968

    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 NZ. 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
    _____________________________ AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
    • 1968 AWMM
      Age 87 AWMM
    • 1968 AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name
    St David's Church, 68 Khyber Pass Road, Grafton, Auckland 1023 AWMM

Roll of Honour

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Leave a note

Leave a tribute or memory of Daphne Rowena Commons

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  • In Respectful Memory of Daphne Commons and her long nursing service
    From Canadian descendants of P Crump (New Zealand and England)
    who married Mary Commons, Daphne's aunt.

    We had the pleasure and honour of reading through her archived nursing diaries
    that she kept during WWI and the letters she sent home. A true ANZAC hero.
    Public - Lynn - Other relative - 25 April 2021



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  • External links
  • References
    • McDonald, W. (2013). Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War, 1914-1918. (3rd ed.). Hamilton, N.Z.: Richard Stowers. AWMM
    • New Zealand Military Nursing - A History of the R.N.Z.N.C. Boer War to Present Day AWMM
    • New Zealand Army Expeditionary Force. (1914-1919). Nominal Rolls of New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Volume I. Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      Vol1: 142 AWMM
    • Service Women Project: Sponsorship to research this record was kindly provided by the Auckland Returned Services Association, Returned Servicewomen's Branch; Marjorie Traill, Dorothy Grant, Daphne Shaw and Margaret Woollett. AWMM
    • A.U.C. roll of honour, 1914 - 1920. MSS & Archives E-2, Special Collections, University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services. AWMM
    • Mackrell, B. (n.d.). Papers. Auckland War Memorial Museum. MS 2003/107. AWMM
    • McNabb, S. (2015). 100 years New Zealand military nursing : New Zealand Army nursing service : Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps, 1915-2015. Hawke's Bay, N.Z.: Sherayl McNabb. AWMM
    • Colin M. Gordon Album (1915-1918). Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira PH-ALB-376. AWMM
    • Unknown, photographer (1915-1916). [Agnes (Peggy) Williams photograph album]. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira PH-2017-2-3. AWMM


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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
25 April 2021LynnCanadaOther relative
08 May 2015HelenAucklandResearcher

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