North Otago Museum curator Chloe Searle has been uncovering information about local woman Maria Murray, a nurse who served in World War 1.
Born in 1891, Miss Murray grew up in Kurow and later attended Waitaki Girls’ High School.
Shipping records show she left New Zealand in 1913 aboard SS Tainui, bound for Ireland.
After war broke out in 1914, she volunteered for the British Red Cross, before becoming a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse.
For a brief time in 1915, while working as an orderly at a hospital in Serbia, she was taken prisoner of war.
She wrote about her experiences in a letter to her mother.
“It was a ripping journey from beginning to end, everybody, even the Austrians, being so awfully good to us.”
At some point during the war, Miss Murray earned a Serbian Cross of Mercy medal for her voluntary work.
After the war, Miss Murray lived in England from the 1920s to the 1950s.
She returned to Oamaru in the 1950s to live with her sister and care for her mother.
Miss Murray died in 1976, and the North Otago Museum has held many of her belongings, including the medal, since then.
“Around the time she died, a lot of material was given to us and we’ve been caring for it ever since,” Ms Searle said.
The medal is on display at present in the “Women’s War Patriotism, Service and Dissent” exhibition at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin.