Richard Wallwork

England / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1882, d.1955

Nona Hildyard

  • 1918
  • Oil on canvas
  • Transferred from Banks Peninsula District Council, 2006
  • 1180 x 870mm
  • 2009/044

Lyttelton-born Nona Hildyard was working as a nurse in Christchurch when, in July 1915, she joined the New Zealand Army Nursing Service to serve abroad. On 23 October 1915, as part of No. 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital, she was travelling from Alexandria in Egypt to Salonika in Greece, on the Marquette. In the Aegean Sea the ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine. Of the 167 lives lost, thirty-two were New Zealanders, including ten nurses, Nona Hildyard among them. The deaths were avoidable. The medical staff should have been on a hospital ship, which would have been immune from attack under the Geneva Convention, not on a transport carrying ammunition.

(Leaving for Work 2 October 2021 - 1 May 2022)

The Dominion (24 December 1915, page 10) carried the following article:

Mrs Hildyard of West Lyttelton, whose daughter Nurse Nona Hildyard, was one of the victims of the sinking of the transport Marquette when that vessel was sunk by a German submarine in the Aegean Sea, some time ago, has received the following letter from one of the survivng nurses:-

"... I thought you would like to have a few lines from one of us. When torpedoed we donned lifebelts, and Nonie and I were in the same boat, but it heeled over shortly after reaching the water and I got separated from her. She regained the boat with several others, and was very bright and cheerful, singing 'Tipperary' etc, and helping to get the others' courage up...But the poor child eventually died from exhaustion before we were picked up. We were in the water about eight hours and it was very cold. We all miss her awfully - she was such a good pal, and we had been together all through."

Exhibition History