The art of war: the First World War in paintings, photographs, posters and cartoons

By 1916 Britain, Australia and Canada had each established official war art programmes to document their country’s activities in the First World War and to use for propaganda purposes. Muirhead Bone was appointed Britain’s first official war artist in May of that year in an unprecedented act of government sponsorship for the arts. New Zealand lagged behind its allies on this issue because its wartime government considered war art unnecessary and expensive, but in April 1918 Nugent Welch was taken on as New Zealand’s divisional war artist.

Art:
Syndetics book coverArt from the First World War.
“Throughout World War I, the British government employed a diverse group of artists to produce a rich visual record of wartime events. But the art from this important collection often far exceeds this objective, giving voice to both the artist and the soldiers who are depicted. Art from the First World War contains more than fifty images chosen from among the Imperial War Museum’s impressive collection of works by war artists. Art from the First World War features some of the most well-known British artists of the twentieth century, from the brothers John and Paul Nash to William Orpen, Stanley Spencer, and John Singer Sargent, whose Gassed shows a line of wounded soldiers blinded by a mustard gas attack. On the occasion of the centenary, the Imperial War Museum is bringing this book out in a new edition.” (Syndetics summary)

Portraits:
Historically portraits of military leaders were more common then the portraits of the ordinary serviceman. The depictions of other aspects of war such as the suffering of casualties and civilians has taken much longer to develop.

Syndetics book coverThe Great War in portraits / Paul Moorhouse ; with an essay by Sebastian Faulks.
“In viewing the Great War through the portraits of those involved, Paul Moorhouse looks at the bitter-sweet nature of a conflict in which valour and selfless endeavour were qualified by disaster and suffering, and examines the notion of identity – how various individuals associated with the war were represented and perceived.” (Syndetics)

Women artists:
There were no officially commissioned women war artists in the First World War. Women artists were excluded from the front line – the fields of domesticity and social and industrial subjects were considered to be their metier. However women served as nurses, nurse aides and ambulance drivers. Many of them were accomplished informal artists and were able to record their experiences in several mediums.

 

photo 2photo 1
Left: ‘A Grenadier Guardsman’ by William Orpen, 1917. Right: ‘A bus conductress’ by Victoria Monkhouse, 1919.

Syndetics book coverBeyond the battlefield : women artists of the two World Wars
“World Wars I and II changed the globe on a scale never seen before or since, and from these terrible conflicts came an abundance of photographs, drawings, and other artworks attempting to make sense of the turbulent era. In this generously illustrated book, Catherine Speck provides a fascinating account of women artists during wartime in America, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and their visual responses to war, both at the front lines and on the home front. In addition to following high-profile artists such as American photographer Lee Miller, Speck recounts the experiences of nurses, voluntary aides, and ambulance drivers who found the time to create astonishing artworks in the midst of the conflict.” (Syndetics)

Posters:
Posters were recognised as a powerful recruiting tool with simple slogans and strong graphic imagery designed to appeal to the working class who fuelled so much of the machinery of war. They were also used to stir up patriotic feeling, influence women to send their menfolk to the front and to take up positions in service, farms and factories. They were also used to justify the war, raise money, procure resources and to promote good standards of behaviour.

Syndetics book coverBritish posters of the First World War
“During the First World War the authorities emulated the simple slogans and strong graphic imagery of advertising posters to create a form of mass communication that was easily and instantly understood by the British public. They were aimed at the mostly illiterate working class who did more than their share to feed the machinery of war. This book looks at the art of these posters and explores the themes that emerged throughout the course of the conflict.” (Syndetics)

Photography:
Photography in the First World War was made possible by earlier developments in chemistry and in the manufacture of glass lenses, established as a practical process from the 1850s onwards.The ability of photographers to document events was limited to what they could literally see at a certain time, while the quality of their work was hampered by the limited manoeuverability of their equipment. War artists had much greater flexibility as documenters of war, particularly in the difficult conditions of the trenches.

Syndetics book coverWorld War I in colour : the definitive illustrated history with over 200 remarkable full colour photographs
“Up to now, World War I has only been seen in black and white. At the time, it was the only way pictures from the front and scenes recreated for the camera could be filmed. Now, for the first time, rare archive footage in black and white from worldwide sources, including Russia, Germany, France, Italy, the USA and the Imperial War Museum, London, has been recast into colour with the greatest care and attention to detail. The results are breathtaking, bringing a remarkable immediacy and poignancy to the war which consumed the lives of 10 million soldiers and civilians.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverImages of war : World War One : a photographic record of New Zealanders at war 1914-1918
“In this photographic collection from the archives of the Waiouru Army Museum, renowned military historian Glyn Harper has selected and annotated the story of Kiwis at the front during the First World War.” (Syndetics)

Cartoons:
For many confronted with the effects or aftermath of the war’s violence, photos were too graphic for daily consumption. Caricatures and cartoons served as a release valve—allowing citizens to make fun of politicians, or the enemy, to offset the dire realities of the day. The period was a high point for illustrated magazines, and cartoons were contemporary commentaries.

Syndetics book coverWorld War I in cartoons
“Using images from a wide variety of international wartime magazines, newspapers, books, postcards, posters and prints, Mark Bryant tells the history of World War I from both sides of the conflict in an immediate and refreshing manner that brings history alive. The book contains more than 300 cartoons and caricatures, in colour and black and white, many of which are published here in book form for the first time. Artists featured include such famous names as Bruce Bairnsfather, H.M.Bateman, F.H.Townshend, Alfred Leete, E.J. Sullivan, Lucien Metivet and Louis Raemaekers, with drawings from the Bystander, London Opinion, Daily Graphic, Punch, Le Rire, Simplicissimus and Kladderadatsch amongst many others.” (Syndetics)

Art and medicine:
Drawings, portraits and photographs were used to help the four pioneering plastic surgeons of the two world wars to reconstruct the faces of disfigured servicemen and civilians.

Syndetics book coverReconstructing faces : the art and wartime surgery of Gillies, Pickerill, McIndoe & Mowlem
“The two world wars played an important role in the evolution of plastic and maxillofacial surgery in the first half of the 20th century. This book is about four of the key figures involved. Sir Harold Gillies and Sir Archibald McIndoe were born in Dunedin; McIndoe and Rainsford Mowlem studied medicine at the University of Otago Medical School, and Henry Pickerill was foundation Dean of the University of Otago Dental School.” (Syndetics)

How the First World War shaped the future of Western art:
The First World War utterly changed the way artists looked at the world. Throughout Western art, the grim realities of industrial warfare led to a backlash against the propaganda and grandiose nationalism that had sparked the conflagration. Cynicism toward the ruling classes and disgust with war planners and profiteers led to demands for art forms that were honest and direct, less embroidered with rhetoric and euphemism.

Syndetics book coverEsprit de corps : the art of the Parisian avant-garde and the First World War, 1914-1925
“In analyzing the changes in modern art between the outbreak of World War I and the Paris Exposition des Arts Dcoratifs of 1925, Kenneth Silver shows that the Parisian avant-garde was deeply involved in French society and its dominant values and relationships. He radically reinterprets masterpieces of modern art, from Matisse and Picasso to Léger and Le Corbusier, demonstrating how their creators all refer, consciously or not, to the Great War and its aftermath.” (Syndetics)

World War 1 in our DVD collection

World War 1 has been the subject of many documentaries focusing on various military, geographic or sociological aspects, covering the war in its entirety such as the very ambitious and excellent 1960 and 2014 BBC series, or exploring one particular campaign such as Gallipoli. The number of feature films and television drama set during this turning point of human history is even greater, from John Huston’s The African Queen, Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion to the recent The Wipers Time or the screen adaptation of  Sebastian Faulks’ epic love story Birdsong. Here is a selection from our DVD shelves:

Cover imageGallipoli from above: the untold story.
“This one-hour documentary overturns many of the myths about the Gallipoli landing; that the Australians landed at dawn, on the wrong beach, with little knowledge of the Turkish defences and they were led by incompetent British officers. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. The Australians ran their own show, using aerial intelligence, emerging technology and innovative tactics to land 20,000 troops on a heavily defended and precipitous shoreline…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe great war. Volume 1, This may last a long time.
“The complete 1960s BBC documentary series on the Great War, with all 26 episodes. Narrated by Sir Michael Redgrave, this series features the best archive footage from one million feet of film and 20,000 photographs collected from 37 individual sources worldwide. There are interviews with war veterans and extracts from diaries, letters and reports from the war…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageWorld War I : the centenary collection. Volume 1.
“Featuring Michael Palin in The Last Day of World War One. The First World War helped define us as people and as a nation. With five superb documentaries this collection presents a unique perspective on the Great War as we commemorate its centenary. Presented in a two-disc release, the collection reflects upon, and investigates different aspects of the conflict through breath-taking dramatic reconstructions, historical interpretation and state-of-the-art graphics”…(From syndetics summary)

Cover imageWorld War 1 in colour.
“Up until now, World War 1 had always been seen as a war that happened in black & white, but that was not the reality. It was the first war to see the development of the fighter plane, the introduction of poison gas, the inventions of the tank and the wide use of machine guns and heavy artillery, which caused such mass destruction. Using rare archive footage from sources around the World, including Britain’s own Imperial War Museum, this 6 part series has been painstakingly colourised using the latest computer-aided technology to bring the first world war to colour, as experienced by those who fought and endured it. Narrated by Kenneth Branagh, this landmark series brings a unique perspective to the events of 1914-1918…” (From syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe Crimson field.
“In a British base hospital near the front, a team of doctors, nurses and VADs are working together to heal the bodies and souls of the men in their care. This hospital on the coast of France is a frontier between two worlds: between the trenches and the home front, between the old rules, regulations, hierarchies, class distinctions and a new way of thinking. Written by Sarah Phelps (Great Expectations, Oliver Twist) and starring Oona Chaplin (The Hour), Hermione Norris (Spooks), Suranne Jones (Scott and Bailey), Kevin Doyle (Downton Abbey), Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave) and Marianne Oldham (WPC 56) this is the story of World War One’s front line medics – their love affairs, professional triumphs, personal tragedies, fears and hopes as they fight for the future…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe red baron.
“Baron Manfred Von Richthofen is the most feared and celebrated pilot of the German Air Force in World War I. To him and his companions, air combats are events of a sporty nature, technical callenge and honourable acting, ignoring the terrible extent of war. But after falling in love with the nurse Kate, Manfred realizes he is only used for propaganda means. Caught between his disgust for the war and the responsibility for his fighter wing, Von Richthofen sets out to fly again…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageAll quiet on the Western Front.
“If a classic movie can be measured by the number of indelible images it burns into the collective imagination, then All Quiet on the Western Front’s status is undisputed. Since its release in 1930 (and Oscar win for best picture), this film’s saga of German boys avidly signing up for World War I battle–and then learning the truth of war–has been acclaimed for its intensity, artistry, and grown-up approach. Erich Maria Remarque’s novel is faithfully followed, but Milestone’s superbly composed frames make it physical. The cast is strong, with little-known Lew Ayres finding stardom in the lead…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageThe Blue Max.
“The Blue Max is highly unusual among Hollywood films, not just for being a large-scale drama set during the generally cinematically overlooked Great War, but in concentrating upon air combat as seen entirely from the German point of view. The story focuses on a lower-class officer, Bruno Stachel (George Peppard), and his obsessive quest to win a Blue Max, a medal awarded for shooting down 20 enemy aircraft. Around this are built subplots concerning a propaganda campaign by James Mason’s pragmatic general, rivalry with a fellow officer (Jeremy Kemp), and a love affair with a decadent countess (Ursula Andress). Clearly influenced by Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1958), The Blue Max is a cold, cynical drama offering a visually breathtaking portrait of a stultified society tearing itself apart during the final months of the Great War…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageFlyboys.
“World War I aviation action gets an impressive digital upgrade in Flyboys. While earlier films had the advantage of real and genuinely dangerous flight scenes (resulting, in some cases, in fatal accidents during production), Flyboys takes full (and safe) advantage of the digital revolution, with intensely photo-realistic recreations of WWI aircraft, authentic period structures, and CGI environments… many of them virtually indistinguishable from reality… Director Tony Bill manages to keep it all interesting, from the romance between a young American maverick (James Franco) and a pretty French girl (newcomer Jennifer Decker) to the exciting action in the air and an intimidating villain known only as “The Black Falcon,” whose Fokker Dr-1 triplane (one of many in the film) recalls the exploits of German “ace of aces” Manfred von Richtofen, the dreaded “Red Baron” of legend…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageGallipoli.
“Mel Gibson and Mark Lee play two young sprinters who join in the army in search of adventure iconic representatives of the generation of young men that the newly federated Australia pitched into the slaughter of World War I. While Gallipoli does not shirk from the reality they discover, nor does it quite allow the characters’ enthusiasm for the enterprise ever to diminish, all of which helps make the climactic scenes, based on the suicidal assault enacted of the Australian Light Horse at The Nek on August 7th, 1915, among the most moving in modern cinema…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Continue reading “World War 1 in our DVD collection”

Nursing our boys: a Kiwi aboard the first hospital ship

Nurses RegisterCharlotte (Lottie) Le Gallais is a distant relative of mine, who joined the New Zealand Army Nursing Service Corps. Her registration details can be found in the New Zealand Registers of Medical Practitioners and Nurses, 1873, 1882-1933, from the Ancestry database (available in-library only. Check out our Genealogy page for further information). She was one of fourteen nursing sisters who were selected for the first voyage of Hospital Ship No. 1 (the ‘Maheno’), which left Wellington 10 July 1915, and was bound for Gallipoli.

Here is a photograph of the ship in the 14 July 1915 issue of The New Zealand Herald, retrieved for the PapersPast database accessible from our Newspapers and History database pages. The page is full of War-related articles, a year into the 4 year campaign. (Click on the image to enlarge)New Zealand Herald, July 14, 1915 SMALL

Lottie completed her voyage, and was posted to the retired list 21 June 1916. On her return to New Zealand, she married her fiancé, Charles Gardner, with whom she had two children. Lottie died in 1956.

Two of Lottie’s four brothers served in WWI – Leddra (Leddie), who was killed in action at Gallipoli 23 July 1915, and Owen, who fought in France, and survived the war to return home.

A book was written about Lottie, and this is in our collections:

Lottie: Gallipoli Nuse coverLottie : Gallipoli nurse / text by John Lockyer ; illustrations by Alan Barnett.
“An extraordinary account of a nurse’s journey to Gallipoli aboard the New Zealand hospital ship Maheno. Her experiences include caring for the wounded and coping with the death of her brother Leddie, who was killed in action. Based on the letters of Lottie and Leddie Le Gallais and the war diary of John Duder.” (Syndetics summary)

Other titles

Syndetics book coverAnzac girls : the extraordinary story of our World War I nurses / Peter Rees.
“By the end of World War I, 45 Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service, and over 200 had been decorated. These were the women who left for war looking for adventure and romance, but were soon confronted with challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them. Their strength and dignity were remarkable. Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps and the wards and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battlefronts of human history. But he also allows the friendships and loves of these courageous and compassionate women to enrich their experiences, and ours. Profoundly moving, this is a story of extraordinary courage and humanity shown by a group of women whose contribution to the Anzac legend has barely been recognized in our history. Peter Rees has changed that understanding forever.” (Syndetics summary)

White Ships coverThe white ships : New Zealand’s First World War hospital ships / Gavin McLean.
“In 1915 the government chartered the trans-Tasman liners Maheno and Marama for use as our first hospital ships. For the next four years, starting with the Maheno off the beach at Gallipoli, they travelled the globe, staffed by Kiwi seamen, doctors and nurses. Back home, thousands of New Zealanders made items and raised money to support these ‘mercy ships’ and followed their movements closely as they transported the sick and wounded from many countries.” (Syndetics summary)

World War I online resources for children Part 3

Over the next year many schools will have a World War One focus, requiring children to research some aspect of the war, or the war time era. The list of potential topics is long and the sheer amount of information available out there can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to find reliable information that is age-appropriate for your children. Here we have created a guide to reputable online resources that are suitable for children. This is the final of three parts published in this series. They will soon be available as resources on one page, which we will provide a link to once it has gone live.

Primary Sources


Moule, D, fl 1919. Moule, D, fl 1919 :Record of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War. 4th Aug. 1914 [to] 28th June 1919 / D Moule del. Published by the Government Life Insurance Department. [ca 1919].. Ref: Eph-D-WAR-WI-1919-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22790825

— Christchurch City Libraries has a online digital archive of primary resources: http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/DigitalCollection/WarsandConflicts/WorldWarI/

— DigitalNZ is an online resource for images and other media: http://www.digitalnz.org/ Use their search box to find World War One (or Great War) media.

— Papers past is a digital archive of New Zealand Newspapers: http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast Search for World War One, Great War, or individual battles and campaigns. You can limit the results by date, region and title of publication.

General World War One sites


Ian McGibbon. ‘First World War’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 9-Nov-12 URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/first-world-war

— BBC: http://www.bbc.com/ww1
— BBC Schools page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/0/ww1/
— Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/first-world-war
— New Zealand History: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/first-world-war
— WW100: http://ww100.govt.nz/
— Imperial War Museum: http://www.iwm.org.uk/
— FirstWorldWar.com: http://www.firstworldwar.com/
— Archives New Zealand: http://archives.govt.nz/world-war-one
— The British Library: http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one
— National Library New Zealand: http://natlib.govt.nz/ww100

Children are also welcome to chat live with an online librarian, who will help them with their research and finding online resources. AnyQuestions is a government-funded homework help service for New Zealand School Students. It’s open 1pm – 6pm Monday to Friday: http://www.anyquestions.co.nz

WWI Soldiers and Archived Records

Lest we forgetLFor New Zealanders April 25th is the day we remember those from our nation who left our shores to fight in wars. For many of us it’s the day we wear a red poppy and perhaps attend the local memorial service. The number attending the memorial services is growing and all day television coverage with interviews and war documentaries are now part of our Anzac Day experience. Next year the chance to attend the ANZAC memorial service, to be held at Anzac Cove, to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli was much sought after and a ticket ballot was announced for family members of those who fought at Gallipoli. A newspaper article War records minefield by Michelle Duff in the Sunday Star Times highlighted the fact that sometimes the families did not know the details of family member’s war records and that a common misconception was the thinking that if your family member fought in the First World War then they would have been at Gallipoli. This brings us to the question, do you know where your relatives served in World War One?

Genealogy is a popular topic here at Wellington City Libraries and we have a number of resources to help you discover if your relative did indeed serve at Gallipoli. Your first point of call may be our Genealogy Popular Topics Page. Here you can find general information on researching your family history. From this page there are links to Military Resources. This page is a wealth of information for finding out about your family members’ military service.

Some of the most popular and useful links are:

AncestryAncestry Library
Available from internet PCs within our libraries. Contains millions of records accessible in one powerful search. Access is through the My Gateway page on our library website.

It includes:

Nominal Roll – NZ Army WWI Nominal Rolls, 1914-1918,
– New Zealand Army WWI Roll of Honour, 1914-1919,
– New Zealand Army WWI Reserve Rolls, 1916-1917,
– New Zealand Army WWI Casualty Lists, 1914-1919, and
– New Zealand Army WWII Nominal Rolls, 1939-1948.

Archives New Zealand offer a reference guide to the war information they hold in PDF form.

You can search the National Archives Archway Database to discover what military records are held by Archives and it also searches on probate records. Searching your relatives name may give you the names and dates of the files, record numbers and where the files are kept.

CWGCCommonwealth War Graves Commission The “Debt of Honour Register” is the Commission’s database listing the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars and the 23,000 cemeteries, memorials and other locations world-wide where they are commemorated. The register can also be searched for details of the 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action in the Second World War. Information includes age, date of death, parents and parents’ place of residence.

With the celebrations and remembrance of the centenary of the declaration and start of World War One there are also many new books being published on World War One topics. The following two are good sources of material to be able to learn about the soldiers experiences through the eyes of the soldiers who were there.

Syndetics book coverFighting for empire: New Zealand and the Great War of 1914-1918 / Christopher Pugsley.
“One hundred thousand New Zealanders sailed to war between 1914 and 1918, and at the end of four years of conflict the country had suffered 60,000 casualties, including 18,000 dead. Dr Chris Pugsley’s account of the First World War (first published as a section in Scars on the Heart: 200 Years of NZ at War, Bateman, 1996), is a tale of learning about war the hard way, by bitter and costly experience, drawing on photographs, letters and diaries to examine the impact of war through the eyes of those involved. This lively mix of text, photographs and soldiers, own accounts covers all aspects of the war: from NZ’s seizing German Samoa five days after war was declared, ANZAC Cove and Gallipoli, patriotism at home, Mounted Rifles in Sinai and Palestine, the role of our nurses, the Western Front, and `Sea Dogs and Flying Aces’.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn awfully big adventure : New Zealand World War One veterans tell their stories / selected and edited by Jane Tolerton from interviews for the World War One Oral History Archive.
“[On] New Zealand Listener’s ‘100 Best Books of 2013’. What was it like to be a New Zealand soldier in the First World War? What impact did the war have on those who returned? Let them tell you. An Awfully Big Adventure traces the reminiscences and reflections of 80 veterans interviewed for the World War One Oral History Archive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

World War I online resources for children Part 2

Over the next year many schools will have a World War One focus, requiring children to research some aspect of the war, or the war time era. The list of potential topics is long and the sheer amount of information available out there can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to find reliable information that is age-appropriate for your children. Here we have created a guide to reputable online resources that are suitable for children. This is the second of three parts to be published. They will then be available as resources on one page, which we will provide a link to once it has gone live.

ANZAC Day


Landing at Anzac, April 25, 1915 by Charles Dixon’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/the-landing-at-anzac-cove, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 30-Jul-2014
— New Zealand History provide information about the history of the day, the ceremony, and modern ANZAC day: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/anzac-day/introduction

— The government’s site for Gallipoli2015 (100 year anniversary) has information on the 2015 commemoration: http://www.gallipoli2015.govt.nz

— The government also runs an official site for ANZAC day with lots of good information: http://anzac.govt.nz

— The returned Services Association (RSA) has some brief information on ANZAC Day, and is good for finding out about what happens at an ANZAC Day service and where they are happening: http://www.rsa.org.nz/anzac-day-%E2%80%93-25-april

— For the Australian perspective, the Australian Army has a page with information: http://www.army.gov.au/Our-history/Traditions/ANZAC-Day and the Australian War Memorial has a site that includes speeches, photographs and historical facts: http://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac-day/

— Information about the red poppy can be found on the New Zealand History site: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/anzac-day/poppies, the RSA site: http://www.rsa.org.nz/poppy and the British RSL site: http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/how-the-nation-remembers/the-story-of-the-poppy

New Zealand’s Involvement


Payne, Henry Joseph, 1858-1927. Payne, Henry Joseph, 1858-1927 :”Kia ora”. Hancock’s “Imperial” ale, stout. Calendar 1917.. Ref: Eph-D-WAR-WI-1917-02. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23095500
— Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand has a comprehensive section on the war from the New Zealand perspective: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/first-world-war

— Similarly, New Zealand History has lots of information about our involvement in the war, including media such has campaign maps: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/nz-goes-to-war

— The National Army Museum website has stories about individual New Zealand Soldiers: http://www.armymuseum.co.nz/kiwis-at-war/voices-from-the-past/

ANZAC Poetry


McDuff, Laura, fl 2004. 1917 Souvenir de France. [Embroidered postcard to Olive McDuff from Lance/Sgt Walter Henry Saunders]. [Ephemera relating to World War I. 1917. Folder 1].. Ref: Eph-A-WAR-WI-1917-05. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23082261
— Australia’s ANZAC day site has a list of poetry with an ANZAC theme: http://www.anzacday.org.au/anzacservices/poetry/poetry01.htm

— The Australian War memorial site has 2 poems about the ANZACs: http://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/customs/poems/

— New Zealand’s ANZAC Day site has an order of ceremony for ANZAC day: http://www.anzac.govt.nz/today/orderofceremony.html

— Wellington City Libraries’ review of poetry, memoirs and letters written during and about World War One: http://www.wcl.govt.nz/blog/index.php/2014/07/16/the-pen-and-the-sword-first-world-war-poetry-letters-and-memoirs/

Children are also welcome to chat live with an online librarian, who will help them with their research and finding online resources. AnyQuestions is a government-funded homework help service for New Zealand School Students. It’s open 1pm – 6pm Monday to Friday: http://www.anyquestions.co.nz

World War I online resources for children Part 1

Over the next year many schools will have a World War One focus, requiring children to research some aspect of the war, or the war time era. The list of potential topics is long and the sheer amount of information available out there can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to find reliable information that is age-appropriate for your children. Here we have created a guide to reputable online resources that are suitable for children. This is the first of three parts to be published over the next week. They will then be available as resources on one page, which we will provide a link to once it has gone live.


Soldiers inside the YMCA library in Beauvois, France, World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013635-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22720580

The causes of World War One

— The BBC has a great site dedicated to WWI including a section on the causes of the conflict: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/0/ww1/25365441

— BBC’s Bitesize section (tailored to the English school curriculum) has a section on the causes and interactive tests: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/ir1/

— Closer to home, the New Zealand History site has a page dedicated to the origins of the war: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/first-world-war-overview/origins

— Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand also has a war origins page: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/first-world-war/page-1

— The Imperial War Museum, one of the best war museums, has a page on their website about the ‘path to war’: http://www.iwm.org.uk/history-terms/first-world-war/path-to-war

— FirstWorldWar.com has a comprehensive page on how the war began: http://www.firstworldwar.com/origins/index.htm (this site hasn’t been updated since 2009 so we suggest checking any information you find against other websites). This site contains advertising.

 

‘Map of the German Empire in 1914’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/german-empire-1914, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 14-Aug-2014

The Treaty of Versailles

— Good for answering ‘what is..?’ questions, Wisegeek has a section on the treaty: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-treaty-of-versailles.htm This site contains advertising.

— BBC history has a page about the treaty that’s pitched at a secondary school level: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/versailles_01.shtml

— FirstWorldWar.com has a primary documents page that focuses on the treaty, and includes a breakdown of the treaty’s articles: http://www.firstworldwar.com/source/versailles.htm (this site contains advertising).

— The Museum of Australian Democracy has images of the treaty with information about its significance: http://www.foundingdocs.gov.au/item-did-23.html

— Omni Atlas contains an interactive map of Europe that illustrates the impact of the treaty on the boarders and alliances: http://maps.omniatlas.com/europe/19190628/ (this site contains advertising).

Casualties, wounded, and graves


A rabbit hutch at Hornchurch Convalescent Camp, World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association: New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013989-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23033188

— FirstWorldWar.com has a list of the dead, wounded and missing from each country involved in the war: http://firstworldwar.com/features/casualties.htm (this site contains advertising)

— New Zealand History provide a month-by-month breakdown of New Zealand casualties for the war: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/first-world-war-casualties-monthhttp://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/first-world-war-casualties-month

— New Zealand History also have a memorials register: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/memorials

— A UK site dedicated the World War One has information about records of the dead and war graves. Also contains links through to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission: http://www.greatwar.co.uk/research/military-records/ww1-war-dead-records.htm#recordsbritishcwealthdead

— Commonwealth War Graves Commission has information about burial grounds and memorials: http://www.cwgc.org/

— Auckland War Memorial Museum have a online cenotaph register: http://muse.aucklandmuseum.com/databases/cenotaph/locations.aspx

Children are also welcome to chat live with an online librarian, who will help them with their research and finding online resources. AnyQuestions is a government-funded homework help service for New Zealand School Students. It’s open 1pm – 6pm Monday to Friday: http://www.anyquestions.co.nz

Māori and the Great World War

Maori Pioneer Battalion aboard ship before their departure
Maori Pioneer Battalion aboard ship before their departure. Ref: 1/2-091150-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22298860

Whilst many Māori were eager to join the war effort overseas, others, especially those from Waikato, Taranaki and Urewera districts were reluctant to be involved.

There were several reasons for this reluctance, one being the wholesale confiscation of large areas of Māori land in Waikato following the land wars of the 1860s, and another falling from the belief that, as followers of Te Whiti and Tohu, Māori should not enter into direct conflict, but continue to uphold a position of passive resistance.

Because of a rule of Imperial Government that “no native race should be used in hostilities between European races”[1], Maori were not immediately sent to war.  But on learning that Indian troops were in France, and African troops were to assist France, Maori, with the help of their MPs were permitted to send 250 men, as a Native Contingent, to Egypt.

This first Native Contingent, (Te Hokowhitu a Tu) left Wellington on 14 February, 1915.

Cowan says “That the young Maori  was no degenerate, softened by the peaceful life, was quickly manifest when the First Contingent went into action at Gallipoli in 1915 … They were as grim and thorough as any Highland regiment in attack work with the bayonet, and they proved themselves equal to the tremendous nerve-test of sustained shellfire, the greatest test of all. They were the only native troops who hung out the whole of the bitter trench work in France in 1916-18.  They were fully the equal of their forefathers in fortitude and endurance as in dash and energy. They were most willing workers.”[2]

Pioneer Battalion making a road, France
Pioneer Battalion making a road, France. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013793-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22690164

The Maori Contingent reached Gallipoli, via Malta around 2 July, 1915.  They were involved in the Battle of Sari Bair, and Chunuk Bair, August of 1915.

‘Badges of Maori units in the First World War’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/badges-of-maori-units, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 15-Jul-2013
Read, James Cornelius, 1871-1968. No 1 Outpost, Gallipoli, Turkey. Read, J C :Images of the Gallipoli campaign. Ref: 1/4-058067-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23156899

On 20 February 1916, the remnants of the Native Contingent, plus Māori reinforcements, Otago Mounted Rifles, Niue Islanders and Rarotongan recruits became known as the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion.
In February 1916, Godley reorganised the New Zealand Expeditionary Force into the New Zealand Division and reunited Māori troops in the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion.

The stories of these soldiers are told in
[Medium bookjacket]Te Hokowhitu a Tu : the Maori Pioneer Battalion in the First World War / Christopher Pugsley

Syndetics book coverMaori in the great war / James Cowan.
“Maori form a significant proportion of the modern New Zealand Army, and Maori officers have achieved the very highest commands, Their unique culture is deeply embedded in its tradition and daily routines; celebrated by Maori (indigenous) and pakeha (non-indigenous) soldiers alike. The exploits of the 28th (Maori) Battalion in WWll – peerless in attack – are well-remembered. Not so well known is the major Maori contribution to the Allied cause in the Great War. Maori were quick to respond in 1914. Over five times as many as the specified contingent of 500 men volunteered, and that number of places was allocated on a tribal basis. As the centennial of the start of WWl approaches, it is timely to revise and republish Cowans 1926 work.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe last Maopo : the life and First World War sacrifice of Wiremu Maopo Letters from the First World War by Wiremu Tanai Kaihau Maopo (1886-1929) ; narrative by his great-granddaughter Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson (1965-).

The nzhistory.net.nz website has excellent information:
http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/maori-in-first-world-war/pioneer-battalion

Here is the story of the native contingent leaving in 1915:
http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/maori-in-first-world-war/native-contingent

A brief story of the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion is here:
http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/maori-in-first-world-war/pioneer-battalion

Other information held at Wellington City Libraries:

Syndetics book coverGallipoli : the New Zealand story / Christopher Pugsley.

syndetics-lcOn the fringe of hell/ Christopher Pugsley

Journal articles:

O’Connor, P. S.   The recruitment of Maori soldiers 1914-1918,  in,  Political science ; vol. XIX, no. 2 (1967) pp.48-83

Pugsley, Christopher.   The Maori Battalion in France in the First World War,  in,  The French and the Maori edited by John Dunmore.   Heritage Press, 1992.

The pen and the sword – First World War poetry, letters and memoirs

541px-Poppy-closeupIs the pen mightier than the sword? In a physical sense alas no — otherwise the celebrated war poets would not have been so cruelly cut down in their prime — but the curious phenomenon about this terrible episode in our history is that it produced a magnificent flowering of the written word. Many of those fighting at the front were highly educated men, well versed in the classics and literature. Poetry — considered the highest of the literary forms — was the natural medium in which to express not the pity and the horror of this dreadful war but also a heightened sense of the beauty of life. It is the poignancy of this mix, coupled with the youth of the poets, which has the power to move us so profoundly today.

“The Great silence” followed The Great War — a period when everybody wanted to forget about it and nobody wanted to talk about it. Memoirs were slow to come, and many have only just been produced using letters and diaries as source material.

There are many many books about this war to end all wars — and this being the centenary year of the conflict there are likely to be many more. Those we have chosen below are a guide to what is held in each category. Have a read!

Poetry:

Syndetics book cover1914 : poetry remembers / edited by Carol Ann Duffy.
“The First World War holds a unique place in the nation’s history; the poetry it produced, a unique place in the nation’s hearts. To mark the centenary of the First World War in 2014, the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has engaged the most eminent poets of the present to choose the writing from the Great War that touched them most profoundly: their choices are here in this powerful and moving assembly. But this anthology is more than a record of war writing. Carol Ann Duffy has commissioned these same poets of the present to look back across the past and write a poem of their own in response to the war to end all wars.” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverFirst World War poems / edited by Andrew Motion.
“The First World War produced some of the most haunting and memorable poetry of our age. In this compelling anthology, the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion guides us through both the horror and the pity of that conflict, from the trenches of the Western Front to reflections from our own age. With a selection of our best-known war poets, this collection also returns lesser known pieces to the light and extends the selection right through to the present day. The text serves to remind us how poetry of that time has, more than any other art from, come to stand testament to the grief and outrage occasioned by World War I” (Summary from Global Books)

Biographies & memoirs:

Syndetics book coverTestament of youth : an autobiographical study of the years 1900-1925 / by Vera Brittain ; with an introduction by Mark Bostridge ; and a preface by Shirley Williams.
“In 1914 Vera Brittain was eighteen and, as war was declared, she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life – and the life of her whole generation – had changed in a way that was unimaginable in the tranquil pre-war era. TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain’s account of how she survived the period; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world.” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverThe Englishman’s daughter : a true story of love and betrayal in World War I / Ben Macintyre.The Englishman’s Daughter: A True Story of Love and Betrayal in World War One
“In the first terrifying days of World War I, four British soldiers found themselves trapped behind enemy lines on the western front. They were forced to hide in the tiny French village of Villeret, whose inhabitants made the courageous decision to shelter the fugitives until they could pass as Picard peasants. The Englishmans Daughter is the never-before-told story of these extraordinary men, their protectors, and of the haunting love affair between Private Robert Digby and Claire Dessenne, the most beautiful woman in Villeret. Their passion would result in the birth of a child known as The Englishmans Daughter.” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverFor king and country : voices from the First World War / edited by Brian MacArthur.
“Far more than an anthology, this gripping collection of writings tells the story of World War I from the perspective of those who endured its horrors both at home and abroad. From the men who served in Europe comenbsp;accounts of fear, tedium, horror, and occasional joy, while those on the home front describe the pain ofnbsp;waiting for news of their loved ones. Along with selections from letters, diary entries, and memoirs, famous songs sung in the trenches as well as poems from soldiers and noted authors alike are also included.” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverFighting on the Home Front : the legacy of women in World War One / Kate Adie.
“Bestselling author and award-winning former BBC Chief News Correspondent Kate Adie reveals the ways in which women’s lives changed during World War One In 1914 the world changed forever. When World War One broke out and a generation of men went off to fight, women emerged from the shadows of their domestic lives. Now a visible force in public life, they began to take up essential roles – from transport to policing, munitions to sport, entertainment, even politics. Kate Adie charts the seismic move towards equal rights with men that began a century ago and asks what these women achieved for future generations. This is history at its best – a vivid, compelling account of the pioneering women who helped win the war.” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverTickled to death to go : memoirs of a cavalryman in the First World War / edited by Richard van Emden.
“Tickled to Death to Go is no ordinary memoir. Illuminated by Ben Clouting’s lively sense of humour and healthy disrespect for petty restrictions, it is a remarkable story told in his own words” (Summary from Global Books)

Syndetics book coverAnzac girls : the extraordinary story of our World War I nurses
“By the end of World War I, 45 Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service, and over 200 had been decorated. These were the women who left for war looking for adventure and romance, but were soon confronted with challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them. Their strength and dignity were remarkable. Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps and the wards and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battlefronts of human history. But he also allows the friendships and loves of these courageous and compassionate women to enrich their experiences, and ours.” (Summary from Global Books)

And a novel which reads like a memoir (you will not believe it’s fiction!):

Syndetics book coverDiary of an ordinary woman / Margaret Forster.
“Margaret Forster presents the ‘edited’ diary of a woman, born in 1901, whose life spans the twentieth century. On the eve of the Great War, Millicent King begins to keep her journal and vividly records the dramas of everyday life in a family touched by war, tragedy, and money troubles. From bohemian London to Rome in the 1920s her story moves on to social work and the build-up to another war, in which she drives ambulances through the bombed streets of London. Here is twentieth-century woman in close-up coping with the tragedies and upheavals of women’s lives from WWI to Greenham Common and beyond. A triumph of resolution and evocation, this is a beautifully observed story of an ordinary woman’s life – a narrative where every word rings true.”. (Summary from Global Books)

Letters:

Letters were the commonest form of communication in the early 1900s and people of all classes wrote them frequently. In the highly literate letters of the officers and the simple and direct communications of the ordinary soldiers we see the a true history of the war emerge — the terrible battles, the day-to-day experience of the troops, and the realities of life at home.

Syndetics book coverLetters from the trenches : a soldier of the Great War / Bill Lamin.
“I was very pleased to hear from you and that you are going on all right . . . We have had another terrible time this week the men here say it was worst than the Somme advance last July. We lost a lot of men but we got where we were asked to take. It was awful I am alright got buried and knocked about but quite well now and hope to remain so. We were praised by the general and all, everybody said we had done well, quite a success . . . It is a rum job waiting for the time to come to (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverPrivate wars : personal records of the Anzacs in the Great War / Greg Kerr.
“Greg Kerr retraces the journey of Australian and New Zealand troops from Gallipoli in 1915 to the final penetration of the Hindenburg Line in 1918. While covering the general strategic course of the war, the author focuses on the human side of the war. Similar to his acclaimed Lost Anzacs: The Story of Two Brothers, Kerr follows the experiences of roughly sixty figures–officers, privates, nurses–and captures their experiences through judicious and uncensored extracts from their letters and diaries. The book also includes numerous photos, many previously unpublished. The combination of photos, letters, and historical backgroundmake for an unforgettable account of what the war was really like on the ground.” (Syndetics summary).

And what happened next…

Syndetics book coverSingled out : how two million women survived without men after the First World War / Virginia Nicholson.
“The First World War deprived Britain of three quarters of a million soldiers, leaving as many more incapacitated. In 1919 a generation of women who unquestioningly believed marriage to be their birthright discovered that here were, quite simply, not enough men to go round. They became known as ‘the Surplus Women’.” “Many of us remember them: they wee our teachers, our maiden aunts, women who seemed to have lost out life’s feast. This book tells their stories.” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverCasualty figures : how five men survived the First World War / Michèle Barrett.
“In this delicate look at history in microcosm, Barrett (literary and cultural theory, Queen Mary, University of London) follows the experience of five soldiers who survived World War I, two in the medical corps and three in the trenches. Their survival was debatable, though each man suffered from shell shock that affected his later life and damaged his relations with family and friends. Using private letters, diaries and military records Barrett paints a harrowing portrait of these men, what they survived and how they coped but never really recovered. This is a beautifully written psychological biography that, sadly, is all too timely.” (Syndetics summary)

Fiction and World War One

World War One had a dramatic effect on fiction at the time, as well as on the future course of literature. Not only did it give rise to the booming and still very popular genre of World War One Fiction, it also dramatically affected a number of famous authors, influencing their writing for years to come.

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Katherine Mansfield, Chaucer Mansions flat, Queen’s Club Gardens, West Kensington, London, England in 1913
Baker, Ida: Photographs of Katherine Mansfield. Ref: 1/4-059876-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22317542

One such writer was New Zealand’s (arguably) most famed author, Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield lived in Europe at the time war broke out, having moved there from her family’s home in Karori, Wellington in 1908. Her beloved brother, Leslie Heron ‘Chummie’ Beauchamp was killed in 1915, as a New Zealand soldier in France. Living in London at the time, the shock of her brother’s death lead her to write stories based on her childhood in New Zealand, published in Bliss and Other Stories. In a poem describing a dream she had shortly after his death, she wrote:

“By the remembered stream my brother stands
Waiting for me with berries in his hands…
These are my body. Sister, take and eat.”
(Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield (2002). Oxford World’s Classics.)

kmlb
Katherine Mansfield and her brother Leslie in Wellington in 1907.
Ref: 1/4-010048-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23038688

World War One also had a significant influence on the writing of Ernest Hemingway. He attempted to join the US army in 1918 but, rejected due to poor eyesight, he instead became a driver with the Red Cross Ambulance Corps. Only two months after joining, Hemingway was seriously injured by a trench mortar and machine gun. While recuperating in a Milan hospital, Hemingway fell in love with a nurse, and they planned to marry within a few months. However, she later wrote that she had become engaged to an Italian officer. Biographer Jeffrey Meyers claims that Hemingway was devastated by Agnes’ rejection, and this relationship inspires the semi-autobiographical novel A Farewell to Arms. Like Hemingway, the protagonist served in the Army as a Red Cross ambulance driver during World War One, got wounded and spent some time in an American Army in Milan, where he met a nurse. But unlike Hemingway, the protagonist starts a love affair with the nurse.

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Hemingway in uniform in Milan, 1918.
This work is licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 License.

Another great author to serve in the war was J.R.R Tolkien. In 1915, Tolkien enlisted in Britain’s New Army, and his battalion was sent to France in June 1916. Although Tolkien himself stated that the war had only a limited influence on his writing, his war experiences are thought to be sublimated in his fiction. They surface in the sense of loss that suffuses the stories, in the ghastly landscapes of places like Mordor, in the sense of gathering darkness, and in the fates of his Hobbit protagonists. Discussing the brutal landscape of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings, he later stated in one of his letters,

 “The Dead marshes and the approaches to the Morannon owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme.”

Tolkien_1916

Tolkien while serving in the British Army during the First World War, 1916.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 License.

These are only some of the authors whose work is thought to have been persuaded by World War One. Others include writers of “traditional” war literature Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, and Robert Graves, and also novels by Modernists D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, poetry by T.S. Eliot, and even later novels by Evelyn Waugh, W. Somerset Maugham, Pat Barker, and Robertson Davies.

The following is a sampling of bestselling fiction during the years of World War One:

1914 Pollyanna / Eleanor H. Porter
1915 Michael O’Halloran / Gene Stratton-Porter
1916 Dear Enemy / Jean Webster
1917: Mr Britling Sees It Through / H.G Wells.
1918 The U.P. Trail / Zane Grey

It is interesting to note the trend in interest in books on orphans, as indicated by Pollyanna, Michael O’Halloran and Dear Enemy. Mr. Britling Sees It Through is regarded as H.G. Wells’s “masterpiece of the wartime experience in England.” The protagonist is popularly believed to be an alter ego of the author. A central theme of the novel is the casualties of war, as the protagonist deals with the death of his son Hugh at the front, as well as that of a German student, who formerly boarded with the family. Mr Britling Sees It Through was one of the most popular novels in the United Kingdom and Australia during World War One, and was described by Maxim Gorky thus:

“the finest, most courageous, truthful, and humane book written in Europe in the course of this accursed war . .  at a time of universal barbarism and cruelty, your book is an important and truly humane work.”

Still today World War One inspires and informs many works of fiction for both adults and children alike. Check out our catalogue for more titles.