LOWE, Mary Christine
(Service number 22/35)
|First Rank||Nurse||Last Rank||Staff Nurse|
|Date||15 August 1884||Place of Birth||Waimate|
|Date||6 April 1915||Age||30 years|
|Address at Enlistment||Dannevirke|
|Occupation||Nurse (Dannevirke Hospital)|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mrs A. E. LOWE (mother), Otahuna, Tai Tapu, Canterbury|
|Medical Information||Height - 5 feet 7 inches. Weight 128 lbs. Dark complexion. Blue eyes. Dark brown hair. Eyes both 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth good. No illnesses. No fits. Free from inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. In good bodily and mental health; No slight defects. 'Fit for Active Service'.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||New Zealand Army Nursing Service Corps|
|Date||8 April 1915|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||London, England|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||New Zealand Army Nursing Service Corps|
|Campaigns||Egypt (1915-1916), Western Europe (1916-1917)|
|Service Medals||1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal|
|Military Awards||Associate of the Royal Red Cross (ARRC)|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
|Date||13 July 1917||Reason||On account of ill-health.|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
8 January 1917 admitted to N. Z. General Hospital, Brockenhurst, with slight bronchitis. 14 February 1917 admitted again, with bronchitis. 28 Feb 1917 transferred to N. Z. Convalescence Home, Sandwich, & same day transferred from Sandwich to N. Z. General Hospital, with bronchitis. 18 Mar 1917 embarked at Liverpool on H. S. Maheno - invalided to N. Z.
Nurse-Sister; midwife; Plunket nurse
|Date||5 April 1963||Age||78 years|
|Place of Death||Christchurch|
|Memorial or Cemetery|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Mary Christina Lowe (possibly known as Christina), the eldest of the three daughters of Alfred Ernest Lowe and his second wife, Elizabeth Maria née Strong, of Tai Tapu, Christchurch, was born on 15 August 1884 at Waimate. Alfred’s first wife had died just a year after their marriage. John Charles Lowe, the second son, died at 9 weeks of age and was buried at Timaru with Alfred’s first wife. Mary was enrolled at Gleniti School in December 1889, she and her twin brother Ernest leaving there in March 1890. Her father served on the Waimataitai School committee, and the family moved in 1896 to Tai Tapu where Mary may have attended the local school. She was involved with the Tai Tapu Band of Hope, giving recitations at meetings in June 1898 and April 1900.
Mr Lowe had been active in the Timaru Floral Society for some years. When he resigned from the committee in 1892, the secretary was to ask him to reconsider. In 1894 Mr Lowe was chosen for a committee to look into the beautification and improvement of the Caroline Bay surrounds. As gardener to the late Mr LeCren, he won the Blythe Memorial Cup at the Christchurch Chrysanthemum Show in 1895, a “handsome piece of silversmith’s work” that was to go on show in a shop window. Later in the same year he judged all the exhibits at the Canterbury Rose Society’s first annual show. At the farewell presentation by the Timaru Floral Society and the Chrysanthemum Club, in May 1896, the wish was “Health, prosperity, and long life to Mr Lowe and family in the future”. Mr Lowe was an “enthusiast in producing the very finest products of horticulture and floriculture”, who had always endeavoured to produce the finest specimens of blooms and flowers. Mr Lowe would be missed also from the Timaru Chess Club. Mary’s father, Alfred, who had managed the Craighead property of Mr H. L. LeCren in Timaru, was a gardener to the notable Canterbury pioneer, Sir Heaton Rhodes, at his beautiful gardens at Otahuna, Tai Tapu, an authority on matters horticultural, and a notable grower of chrysanthemums and daffodils, in particular. The sale of bulbs raised by Alfred Ernest Lowe funded the building of the little stone library at Tai Tapu on land donated by Rhodes.
Mary Christina Lowe undertook her training in nursing. In 1905 she was a nurse at Sunnyside asylum, Christchurch, and in 1911 she was residing at Dunedin Hospital, where she had done her training. She enrolled as a paying student in the Dunedin Technical classes in June 1911, her occupation being nurse and her address City Hospital. She was well up in the rankings of the successful Dunedin candidates in the nurses’ registration examination in June 1911, and gained her registration in July. Little would she have foreseen the path she would tread not four years later. In February 1915, Nurse M. C. Lowe, from Dunedin and Dannevirke, and of Tai Tapu, was selected for the first contingent of fifty New Zealand nurses to be sent, under the direction of the British War Office, for service at the front in the Army Service Corps. At Christchurch she was waited on by a little committee and presented with an inscribed medal as a mark of the esteem in which she was held. The women also expressed their best wishes for her safe return.
Nurse Mary Christina Lowe, 22/35, was a nurse at Dannevirke Hospital, single and Anglican, when she enlisted with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (6 April 1915). Her next-of-kin was her mother, Mrs A. E. Lowe, Otahuna, Tai Tapu, Canterbury. She was 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 128 pounds. Of dark complexion, she had blue eyes and dark brown hair. Her sight, hearing and colour vision were all normal, as were her heart and lungs. Her teeth were good, and she was free of inveterate or contagious skin disease and all defects. Vaccinated and in good bodily and mental health, she was classified ‘Fit for Active Service’. She embarked with the New Zealand Army Nursing Service Corps on 8 April 1915 at Wellington per the “Rotorua”, destined for London, England. In mid May 1915, Nurse M. C. Lowe of Christchurch, and others of the nursing service were among the callers at the High commissioner’s offices in London. By June Nurse Lowe was stationed at Hospital Abassia, Cairo.
In August 1915 M. C. Lowe returned to New Zealand per the H. S. “Tahiti”, on the staff of the New Zealand Hospital. She went back to the front almost immediately, returning to Duty on 15 November 1915. The frequent movements of the nursing staff and the length of time required for communication between Egypt and the Dominion made it difficult for newspapers to keep folk in New Zealand informed of their whereabouts and ranks. By July 1916 Staff Nurse Mary Christina Lowe had moved from the New Zealand General Hospital at Cairo to Brockenhurst, Hampshire, England. She had embarked at Alexandria on H. S. “Marama” on 9 June. Soon after, Mary was to be an Army Nursing Sister, one of a large group so promoted (dated 27 July 1916).
On 2 August she joined the No 1 NZ Stationary Hospital in France. As of September 1916, Staff Nurse M. C. Lowe was based at the New Zealand Stationary Hospital No. 1, stationed at Amiens in France, having joined from the New Zealand General Hospital. By this time more than 300 New Zealand trained nurses were on military service, either in England or within the jurisdiction of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. They all came within the province of the D.D.M.S. at Headquarters in London. One of the Sisters who was with this same unit as Sister Lowe, wrote home in September 1916 – “The work here is very interesting. We get the very bad cases off the barges, who are too ill to go on, or else the cases who will be fit to return to duty in a fortnight. Some bad gas gangrene cases smell most fearfully; but so far we have managed to save all the limbs. This is a very nice unit to work for, and we have numerous visitors to see over the hospital as we are the only British hospital m this town, and already we have had five generals in the fortnight I have been here. We are only 15 miles from the trenches of July 1st, and at night one can hear the bombing very plainly. It is very interesting to see the hospital barges come down the river.”
The name of Sister M. C. Lowe, 22/35, appeared in a hospital list issued in February 1917 – “not severe” case. Over from France, she was a patient at Brockenhurst, suffering from bronchitis. Mary had been admitted to the New Zealand General Hospital with slight bronchitis, on 8 January 1917. She was next admitted to the NZ Convalescent Home at Sandwich, with pleurisy. Discharged to Duty on 5 February, she was transferred from Sandwich to Brockenhurst on13 February. On 18 March 1917, Staff Nurse M. C. Lowe embarked at Liverpool on H. S. “Maheno”, invalided to New Zealand. It was expected that she would arrive in Christchurch in early May. The Red Cross and the Y.M.C.A. were planning a reception for soldiers returning to Christchurch. Two weeks later, Mary Lowe was welcomed home by a large number of residents and friends at the Tai Tapu hall. After a varied programme of entertainment and speeches in appreciation of women’s work in connection with the war, Colonel the Hon. R. Heaton Rhodes, M.P., on behalf of the residents, presented the guest with a pair of silver vases as a small token of their esteem. Mr A. E. Lowe responded briefly on behalf of his daughter, whose only two brothers had answered the call. Sister Lowe, 22/35, who was expected to go to The Sanatorium at Cashmere, was ordered to report as an outpatient to the Christchurch Hospital, May 1917. As of 1920, Mary was at home at Otahuna, Tai Tapu, Christchurch.
Sister Lowe was released from the Army Nursing Service on account of her ill health. Discharged on 13 June 1917, she was struck off the strength of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and posted to the Retired List. Some two years later, she was posted to the N.Z. Army Nursing Service Temporary Reserve List, with effect from 15 July 1917 (NZ Gazette, 3 July 1919). She had served overseas in Egypt and France and on hospital ships for two years, for which she was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Online Cenotaph notes that Mary Christina Lowe was awarded the honour of Associate of the Royal Red Cross (ARRC), but no supporting record has been found.
Mary’s twin brother, Ernest George Strong Lowe who served in the Canadian Forces, was killed in action in 1916 at Ypres, Belgium. Her youngest brother, George Grigg Lowe, who served for more than four years with the New Zealand Forces, returned home on duty in 1918. Mr A. E. Lowe exercised his horticultural knowledge as a judge at the Soldiers’ Queen Flower Show in Christchurch in March 1916, and was surely instrumental in the generous donation of choice daffodil bulbs from the Hon. R. H. Rhodes’s garden at Otahunu. He was one of the monthly contributors to the Tai Tapu Patriotic Society’s funds. He also made gifts to the Red Cross. All this occurred just a month or two before the death of his son Ernest. After his son’s death, Mr Lowe maintained his involvement in war matters. He spoke to a motion pertaining to the Military Service Bill at a public meeting held at Tai Tapu in July 1916. A couple of months later he made a donation towards funds to build a Y.M.C.A. hutment in France. And in December he accompanied Colonel Rhodes and the Acting Prime Minister on a visit to Hanmer with regard to laying out and preparing land for orchards for returned soldiers. At a committee meeting of the Canterbury Sweet Pea and Carnation Society, held in April 1918, Mr A. E. Lowe presented a letter from the secretary of the War Horticultural Relief Fund regarding a fund for reinstating the gardens and providing seeds and trees in the countries that have been devastated through the war. The Society resolved to do its best to assist in any way possible.
Post war, Mary C. Lowe pursued further studies and filled a variety of nursing positions in various locations. She was back at Dannevirke in 1919, where she displayed her family association with flowers. At the Anglican congregation’s first flower show, Miss M. C. Lowe won third prize for her bowl of narcissi. In October 1921 her resignation was accepted with regret by the Palmerston North Hospital Board. Training at St Helen’s Hospital, Wanganui, in 1922 she was successful in the State midwifery examination. The qualification involved oral and practical examinations alongside a written paper. At the same time Sister Mary Lowe made a monetary contribution to the Nurses’ Memorial Military Chapel. Late in 1922 Mary proceeded to the Karitane-Harris Hospital, where she qualified as a Plunket Nurse, and was appointed to Whangarei. Although she resigned from the Plunket Nurses in 1927, in 1929 she was appointed to the vacancy at Hamilton. Mary was spend some years at Hamilton. Miss M. C. Lowe was present at the photographic competition conducted by the Hamilton branch of the Plunket Society in September 1935. The following year she was there at the Hamilton Orphans’ Club very enjoyable and successful ladies’ night. After eleven years as nurse of the Hamilton branch of the Plunket Society, Miss M. C. Lowe retired. Appreciation of her work was expressed at an afternoon party in October 1939, and a cheque was presented to her.
Alfred Lowe died in 1924 and his wife Elizabeth in 1926. They are buried in the Sydenham Cemetery, Christchurch, where their headstone bears a memorial to their son Ernest. Two cousins of George - Gordon Gilmore Lyall and William Carnegie Lyall - were killed in action, Gordon in 1917 and William in 1918, while Angus and Hugh Christopher Lyall returned home. Mary Christina Lowe died on 5 April 1963 at Christchurch, where she had lived since the 1940s. She was 78 years of age. The informant of her death was her younger sister, Mrs Elizabeth (Eliza) Thomson. Two named group photographs have been added to Online Cenotaph (https://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph)
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [06 September 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5544 0069582) [06 September 2013]; Department of Defence - Territorial Force Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5568 0135960) [06 September 2013, 18 November 2014]; Timaru Herald, 6 March 1889, 18 January 1892, 30 June 1892, 27 June 1893, 30 January 1894, 30 October 1895, 4 May 1896, Star, 14 December 1895, 26 June 1899, 24 April 1900, 3 March 1916, 21 November 1916, 22 May 1917, Evening Star, 27 June 1911, Otago Daily Times, 17 February 1915, 9 April 1915, Sun, 17 February 1915, 30 March 1915, 21 July 1916, 21 May 1917, Kai Tiaki: the journal of the nurses of New Zealand, 1 April 1915, 1 July 1915, 1 January 1916, 1 July 1916, 1 October 1916 [x 3], 1 July 1917, 1 July 1922 [x 2], 1 January 1923, 1 January 1924, 1 July 1925, 1 October 1927, 1 July 1929, New Zealand Times, 7 April 1915, 24 November 1915, 21 September 1916, 8 May 1917, 3 July 1919, Southland Times, 7 July 1915, Press, 22 April 1916, 6 October 1916, 8 & 22 May 1917, 20 April 1918, 14 June 1922, 27 December 1924, 21 December 1931, 13 August 1932, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 27 May 1916, Dominion, 17 August 1916, 21 February 1917, 13 October 1917, Evening Post, 19 September 1916, 7 March 1917, Ellesmere Guardian, 13 December 1916, Lyttelton Times, 22 May 1917, Manawatu Standard, 20 September 1919, 13 October 1921, New Zealand Herald, 27 December 1924, 16 September 1935, 13 October 1936, 17 October 1939 (Papers Past) [23 March 2015; 01 & 02 April 2016; 15, 16 & 17 April 2017; 27 December 2017; 12, 17 & 19 October 2019]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [April 2016]; School Admission records (South Canterbury & Dunedin branches NZSG) [April 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [01 April 2016]
No documents available.
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
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