GUNN, Elizabeth Catherine
(Service number 3/2062)

First Rank Last Rank Captain


Date 23 May 1879 Place of Birth Dunedin

Enlistment Information

Date 6 December 1916 Age 37 years
Address at Enlistment Military Hospital, Upper Hutt
Occupation medical practitioner
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Dr W. A. GUNN (brother), Timaru
Religion Anglican
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship New Zealand Medical Corps, Ship's Permanent Staff
Date 1 April 1915
Transport Tahiti
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With New Zealand Medical Corps

Military Awards

Service Medals
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date 7 February 1917 Reason Physically unfit for further Active Service.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations



Date 26 October 1963 Age 84 years
Place of Death Wellington
Memorial or Cemetery Karori Crematorium, Wellington; Timaru Cemetery - memorial (& ashes?)
Memorial Reference Timaru - General Section, Row 37, Plot 178
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Elizabeth Catherine Gunn, who was born on 23 May 1879 at Dunedin, was the eldest of William and Elizabeth Jane (née Melton) Gunn. She was educated at Arthur Street School, Dunedin, and at Otago Girls’ High School and Timaru Girls’ High School. She began her medical studies at the University of Otago, where she was successful in the botany, junior physics and practical physics examinations in 1898, qualifying for the medical intermediate. By 1900 she was studying at the Medical College for Women in Edinburgh. In 1903 at Edinburgh University the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and in Bachelor of Surgery were conferred on her. In March 1913, Elizabeth Catherine Gunn, MB, Bachelor of Surgery, was gazetted as a medical inspector of schools, the appointment effective from 15 August 1912.

Dr E. C. Gunn was absent from a very important conference on the work of medical inspection in schools, held in January 1917, because she was on military duty. She had enlisted on 6 December 1915 at Trentham, when her address was Military Hospital, Upper Hutt. Her nominated next-of-kin was her brother – Dr W. A. Gunn, Timaru. William, her eldest brother, was a dental surgeon in Timaru.Dr Gunn embarked per the “Tahiti” on 1 April 1916 ar Wellington, with the Ship’s Permanent Staff of the New Zealand Medical Corps, headed for Suez, Egypt. While doubts were expressed about a lady doctor serving on a troop ship, the captain of the “Tahiti’ reported that everything went splendidly: ‘Naturally it depends upon the lady, and Dr Gunn, without a dounb, is possessed of unusual force of character, and is therefore an exceptional case.” She was granted a commission as captain. She was discharged on 7 February 1917, physically unfit for further Active Service on account of a rheumatic attack. Her health had broken down at Trentham Military Camp

Captain E. C. Gunn, 3/2062, of Timaru, returned to New Zealand with Draft No. 148, the “Maunganui”, which was arrived on 15 March 1918. But this time she was not on duty. She had gone to England for treatment and was granted passage home on this draft. Dr Gunn set up New Zealand’s first health camps in 1919. Shewas made a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1951. Elizabeth Catherine Gunn died on 26 October 1963 at Wellington, aged 84 years. She was cremated at Karori. There is a memorial on her parents’s headstone at Timaru. Are her ashes interred there? Mr William Gunn died at Timaru in December 1914. William Gunn, from Helmsdale, Sutherland, Scotland, and Elizabeth Melton had married at Timaru in 1878 and, after a few years in Dunedin, had spent their time in Timaru, where Mr Gunn was a chemist and dental surgeon. He was very active in local activities, especially sporting organsations and charitable causes, and was a big ratepatyer, owning the Theatre Royal and the Olympia, which he had placed at the disposal of the ladies working for the Home and Belgian Relief Fund. Dr Elizabeth Gunn was living in Wellington when her father died. Her mother, who had come from London as a small child, died at her Christchurch residence in October 1937, survived by her three daughters and three sons. Two brothers of Elizabeth also served in the war – Gordon and Jack. Her oldest brother, William Alexander Gunn, a dentist at Timaru, was listed on the Reserve Roll, he being a married man with three children.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [07 January 2021]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [08 January 2021]; School Admission records (Dunedin Branch NZSG) [08 January 2021]; Karori Crematorium record (Wellington City Council) [08 January 2021]; Timaru Cemetery headstone image (Timaru District Council) [07 January 2021]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [08 January 2021]; Timaru Herald, 9 November 1898, 17 & 19 December 1914, Evening Star, 1 September 1900, Otago Daily Times, 9 September 1903, Evening Post, 22 March 1913, 13 March 1918, Press, 21 October 1937, 28 August 1943 (Papers Past) [07, 08 & 09 January 2021]; ref. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography ( [07 January 2021]

External Links

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

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