Those Who Served in World War I

Honouring the Doctors - World War I

The Treasury Archive and Research Centre

Background on the New Zealand Medical Corps WWI

During the colonisation of New Zealand, many militia and volunteer units were established. They generally had Colonial Medical Corps attached to these forces. Later during the South African War, each contingent had at least one medical officer attached. The numbers involved and their importance increased, leading to the formation of The New Zealand Medical Corps (NZMC) in 1908.

During World War One, 'the medical profession in New Zealand responded nobly to the Empire's call. Three hundred and eighty-five out of some seven hundred doctors embarked for service overseas as officers of the medical corps, together with 3,248 other ranks.' (i)

The medical staff in World War One served in Samoa, Egypt, France, England and at sea. They worked at hospitals, depots and aboard hospital ships. The NZMC numbers were bolstered with men from all ranks, the total figure given as 1,687. As at 12th November 1918 NZMC officer casualties were recorded as: 9 Killed in Action, 3 Died of Wounds, 7 Died of Disease, 2 Accidental deaths, and 35 Wounded.

Local Doctors in WWI

There were many men from the Hauraki region who served in the NZMC undertaking rolls at the front line in positions such as stretcher bearers and medical assistants. Their names can be found in the WWI Register of Servicemen held at The Treasury, Thames. Several doctors served in World War One who were either currently working, or had been a doctor in Thames district. These men were officers and generally held the rank of Captain. The names of those identified to-date are:

AUBIN, Emile Dupont, WWI Serial No. 3/961: The son of Ann and John Aubin, born at Alexandra (Pirongia) in 1869. Emil(l)e was educated at Parnell Grammar School, and then attended Auckland University where he gained a Bachelor of Arts in 1890.

'In the following year Dr. Aubin went to England and studied in London, where he took his degrees as M.R.C.S., and L.R.C.P., M.B., and B.S., London University, in 1895. He was for about a year House Physician at the Middlesex Hospital, and returned to Auckland in 1897.' (ii)

Dr Aubin was a Surgeon at Thames Hospital from 1899 to 1907. While in the town he met and married Florence Hall of Thames in 1902.

At the time of enlistment he was working in Auckland as a surgeon. Prior to his enlistment Aubin was on the medical staff of the volunteers and territorial force for fifteen years. NOK was his wife Florence Aubin, their address given as Milford and they had three children. Captain Aubin served three years and 45 days in World War one, from 1915 to 1918. He was hospitalised several times while on active service, on one occasion for rubella.

Dr Aubin died in Auckland on 7 March 1957 and was cremated at the Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland.

Source: The Cyclopedia of New Zealand (Auckland)
Dr A. D. AUBIN (standing near the door) and the Thames Hospital Staff.
Source: Auckland Weekly News

BARCLAY, William John, WWI Serial No. 3/1806. William was born on 5 March 1874 at Auckland, the son Anne and Adam Barclay. New Zealand Registration was gained November 1923, following training and post graduate qualifications at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Dr Barclay was a Medical Practitioner in Thames 1907-1910. When he enlisted for WWI, he was working and living at the Wellington Hospital, Wellington. Dr Barclay had been appointed Hospital Superintendent in 1914, having gained experience around New Zealand.

Captain Barclay was a member of the New Zealand Medical Corps and his Next-of-Kin was his brother Mr Stephen Barclay, 97A Grafton Road, Auckland. He served in World War One 1916 to 1917, a total of one year and 28 days war service.

'In 1916 Dr Barclay undertook war service, by proceeding Home on the New Zealand hospital ship Maheno, and whilst attached to the medical staff of that vessel was engaged in transporting wounded soldiers across the English Channel.'(iii)

When he returned from the front, he resumed his position of Medical superintendent at Wellington Hospital.

Dr Barclay died at Invercargill on 25 April 1967, and is buried at Queenstown Cemetery, Queenstown.

CRAIG, George, WWI Serial No. 12/360 George Craig was born 10 February 1871, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Dr Craig gained his M.B., Mast Surg. In 1890 from Edinburgh University in Scotland. He was registered in New Zealand in 1894. At the time of enlistment he was working as a doctor in Waihi; he had previously served in the South African War. George was married to Hilda Johnstone Gudgeon and they had five children.

The Auckland Cenotaph database has full details of Craig’s military career:

'March 1897 he and brother William worked as surgeons on a ship in the Pacific Islands and then became medical officers in the Cook Islands. George was elected to the Cook Islands parliament in 1898 as member for Atiu and Mitiaro.
Early in 1900 volunteered for the Rough Riders, serving as a trooper with 3 NZ Contingent, and on 14 February transferred to the Medical Corps as a Surgeon Captain. Returned to the Cook Islands in 1901 but came to New Zealand shortly after.
After being wounded at Gallipoli in 1915, Craig returned to New Zealand, where he was transferred to the NZ Medical Corps. He was sent to Europe where he served as Commanding Officer (CO) of 1 NZ Field Ambulance from 23 October 1917 until the end of the war.'(iv)

Major Craig was twice mentioned in despatches during World War One and received the New Zealand Long and Efficient Service Medal. Dr Craig died 17 June 1947 at Auckland.

DERRICK, Thomas, WWI Serial No. 3/4003. Thomas was born 21 September 1882 at Lanark in Scotland; the son of Thomas and Jenie Derrick. He married Catherine Hiddleston Blair in Glasgow on 9 November 1909. Dr Derrick gained New Zealand registration May 1913, having gained his M.B., Bachelor of Surgery 1907 from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. His practice was in Queen Street and he called the house ‘Freeland Villa.’ He had been acting as locum at the Thames Hospital in April 1913, before starting officially practising in the town.

Dr Derrick was a Medical Practitioner in Thames from 1913, and was working in the town on enlistment. NOK was his wife Mrs C.H. Derrick, of Queen Street, Thames. Captain Derrick served in World War One from 1917 to 1918, a total of 303 days war service. Derrick had been hospitalised several times before he went overseas, then during his time overseas he was diagnosed and hospitalised with chronic colitis. He was medically discharged as unfit for service and returned home to Thames.

After returning from the war, Dr Derrick was one of the town’s doctors who worked tirelessly during the time the influenza outbreak in Thames. During the 1920s, Dr Derrick left Thames in 1923, having given ten years of service to the town. For six of those years he was a member of the Thames Borough Council. In 1928 Dr Thomas Derrick was appointed as Sir Truby King’s successor – that of Medical Director of the Plunket Society. (vi)

Dr Derrick died in Auckland on 10 October 1956 and was cremated at the Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland.

Major George Lapraik 3/144 , New Zealand Medical Corps.
Source: The Treasury Collection

FRASER, Thomas Campbell, WWI Serial No. 3/3956. Thomas Fraser was born 14 June 1887 at Taiere, the son of Elizabeth and Thomas Fraser. Dr Fraser gained his M.B. and Bachelor of Surgery from a University in New Zealand in 1912. He was a medical practitioner in Waihi at the time of enlistment. His Next-of-Kin was his wife Mrs D. M. Fraser of Waihi, later of 12 Normandy Street, Musselburgh, Dunedin. Thomas had married Dora Maud Alexander at Hawera in 1916.

Captain Fraser served in World War One from 1917 to 1920, a total of two years and 89 days war service. Dr Fraser died 30 June 1962 at Hamilton and was cremated at Purewa Cemetery, Auckland.

LAPRAIK, George, WWI Serial No. 3/1440. A Medical Practitioner in Thames from 1899. His Next-of-Kin was his wife Mrs. Marion Eliza Lapraik, Blythswood House, Queen Street, Thames. He left New Zealand aboard the Hospital Ship no 2 Marama, on 4 December 1915 from Wellington. Major Lapraik served in Egypt and on the Western Front, from 3 January 1915 to 10 October 1916, a total of 313 days. See The Treasury Journal article DR GEORGE LAPRAIK M.B., MAST. OF SURG. Twenty Years Service to Thames by Althea Barker for further information.

ROGERS, Reginald James, WWI Serial No. 3/3283. Dr Rogers was born in Wiltshire, England on 3 August 1874. He registered in New Zealand in 1903 and 1908 and his qualifications included: Member Royal College of Surgeons, and Royal College of Physicians, England 1897; a Fellow Royal College Surgeons, Edinburgh 1908.

Dr Rogers was a practising in Thames from 1910. While in the town, he was an active member of the community and was named many times in the sports news in the local newspaper - for his successes at golf, rowing and tennis. Dr Rogers was already overseas when the war started and attested in England for the NZMC, his last address given as C/- RAMC, France. His Next-of-Kin was H. F. N. Ireland of London, England. Captain Rogers served from 1917 to 1919, a total of two years and 14 days war service. After the war in 1920, he was appointed Medical Superintendent at Mercury Bay Hospital, Whitianga.

Dr Rogers died 15 October 1932 in New South Wales, Australia.

WALSHE Denis Byrne. Denis Walshe was born c1880 in Victoria, Australia. Dr Walshe completed his degree at Melbourne University. He was resident surgeon at Thames Hospital from 1907. In May 1918, Dr Walshe requested a years leave so that he could serve abroad; the Thames Hospital Board granted his request.(v) A farewell was held for Dr Walshe and the people of Thames sent the family off in great style. Thames Star 7 Aug 1918.

'They all admired his spirit, and they felt a stronger respect for him on account of his desire to take part in the struggle. When he was in France the people knew there was another New Zealander there who would do his duty.'(vi)

The Thames Star reports that Dr Walshe was in one of the camps during the influenza epidemic November 1918. The flu nurses at their reunion stated in the Thames Star 2 June 1950: "The medical superintendent, Dr Walsh, was ill in Trentham Military Camp during this (flu) period.” He caught the flu but recovered, as did Matron Wilson. It would appear therefore that he never left for overseas, but rather was stationed at one of the camp hospitals (along with Matron Wilson of Thames, who was also mentioned in the newspaper). The Evening Post 5 December 1918, reported that Captain D B Walshe had been appointed to the Special District Medical Board. Further details of service are not known, apart from an entry in the New Zealand Gazette January 1919, where Walshe's address details are given as "Thames (Expeditionary Force)".

Dr Walshe returned to Thames Hospital in 1919, only to leave a year later in March 1920. Thames Star 12 March 1920. The doctor had completed 13 years service at Thames Hospital. Walshe returned to Auckland to work in private practice. Dr Walshe died in Auckland in 1927, and is buried at Hillsborough Cemetery, Auckland. His obituary appeared in the Auckland Star on 26 Sept 1927.

Dr D. Watson
Source: The Treasury Collection

WATSON, Donald Dr, WWI Serial No. B.R. 37/4803. The son of John and Mary Pearce Watson, born on 7 July 1887. His father was well known in the town, he worked for A & G Price Ltd. Donald was educated at several schools in Thames: a private Thames school, Kauaeranga Boys, Tararu and Thames High School. He left Thames in c1909 to go overseas and completed his medical training at the University of Edinburgh in 1911, and then gained his F.R.C.S. at London in 1912.

Dr Watson served overseas with the Royal Army Medical Corps, his rank from 1915 to 1916 was Lieutenant and then promoted to Captain. Dr Watson returned home to New Zealand in 1920 with his wife Jean Craigen Watson (née Hendry), and returned to England where he died at Bradford 23 March 1957. Dr Watson had a distinguished career in England and this was evident in the numerous obituaries that were published in papers around England.

The Telegraph and Argus 24 April 1957 said:

'NOTABLE SURGEON. A fine tribute to the work of Mr. Donald Watson, former consultant surgeon at the Royal Eye and Ear Hospital, who died last month, is given in this week’s issue of the British Medical Journal. In his last 30 years at the hospital his fame spread rapidly, says the writer, and he came to be recognised as one of the outstanding surgeons in the North of England. Donald Watson was a man of very wide interests and whatever he was doing, whether in the hospital, in the committee room or in the countryside, he really did it with all his considerable might, and neither at work nor at play did he ever allow matters to drift…His passing still further reduces the ranks of the great characters in medicine, who nurtured in different conditions, have contributed so much to the upholding of our great traditions in present-day circumstances.'

There will be more doctors who served from around the district. If you can help with any names of our local doctors who served in World War One, please contact The Treasury so that we can include them on these pages.


  1. The New Zealand Medical Service in the Great War 1914-1918, by A. D. Carbery . Whitcombe and Tombs Limited, 1924, Auckland.
  2. Cyclopedia of Auckland 1902, at NZETC
  3. The Dominion, Volume 12, Issue 117, 11 February 1919, Page 4.
  4. The Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database.
  5. Thames Star, Volume LII, Issue 13691, 9 May 1918, Page 1.
  6. Thames Star, Volume LII, Issue 13767, 8 August 1918, Page 2.
  7. War Records online at Archives New Zealand.


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