New Zealand in German Samoa

On 29 August 1914, New Zealand troops arrived in Samoa and seized it from German control. This turned out to be a reasonably simple expedition but at the time it was regarded as potentially risky, with unknown consequences.

Samoa had been under German rule since 1900, but the presence of Germany in Samoa predates this. In 1855 Germany expanded its trading into the Pacific, initiating large-scale production of coconut, cacao and hevea rubber in Samoa (then known as the Navigator Islands). America and the United Kingdom also had business interests in the Pacific and opposed the German activity, which lead to the Second Samoan Civil War in 1899. Following this war, the Samoan islands were divided between the three opposing powers, with Germany being awarded what is today known as Western Samoa. It became regarded as the ‘jewel’ of German colonialism.

At the outbreak of war in 1914, Samoa was of moderate strategic importance to Germany. Using the radio transmitter located in the hills above Apia, German troops were able to send Morse code signals to Berlin, as well as communicate with the 90 warships in Germany’s naval fleet. Britain wanted this threat neutralised and New Zealand agreed to seize Samoa from Germany.

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Officers attached to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Samoa. Tattersall, Alfred James, 1866-1951 :Photographs of Samoa. Ref: PAColl-3062-3-18. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23195986

New Zealand troops departed from Wellington on the morning of Saturday 15 August in two ships, Monowai and Moeraki. These two ships had been requisitioned from the Union Steam Ship Company as transports, and were therefore slow and unarmed. These two unlikely war ships left the New Zealand convoy extremely vulnerable as they travelled to Samoa, especially as the location of the German East Asia Squadron was unknown to the Allies throughout their two week journey.

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S S Moeraki leaving Wellington. Dickie, John, 1869-1942 :Collection of postcards, prints and negatives. Ref: 1/1-002258-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22460165

When the New Zealand convoy reached French New Caledonia, they were joined by the Royal Australian Navy’s battlecruiser HMAS Australia, the light cruiser HMAS Melbourne and the French armoured cruiser Montcalm. While the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 is acknowledged as the birth of the Anzac legend, the first Australian–New Zealand military operation of the First World War was actually the capture of German Samoa in August 1914.

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Tattersall, Alfred James, 1866-1951. New Zealand troops landing in Samoa during World War I. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-0366-1/4-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22716395

Upon reaching Samoa, it became known to the New Zealand convoy that the German defences there were in fact quite weak; they had only 20 troops and special constables armed with 50 aging rifles. The Samoa Advance Party of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force landed at Apia on 29 August with no opposition. It was later discovered that the German administration had received orders from Berlin not to oppose an Allied invasion.

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Part of camp, Malifa, Western Samoa. Hackworth, Philip Vernon, d 1960 :Photograph album. Ref: PA1-q-107-36-2. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22806414

A fortnight later, on 14 September, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau arrived off Apia and the New Zealand garrison braced itself for large-calibre gunfire. Luckily, the cruisers left once their skippers realised that Samoa was no longer in German hands. Samoa was then declared to be under a New Zealand-run British military occupation. The British flag was raised outside the government building in Apia and Samoa became the second German territory, after Togoland in Africa, to fall to the Allies in the First World War.

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Star Boating Club :Photograph of members of the club who went to Samoa with Expeditionary Force, 1914.. Ref: PAColl-5216. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22348195

If you would like to learn more about New Zealand in German Samoa, we have some materials available:

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 – how our sailors and airmen fought the war’.” (Syndetics summary)

THE SAMOA (N.Z.) EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
We have this book in our New Zealand Rare books collection. Published in 1924, it is in a fragile condition but may be viewed by request at the 2nd floor enquiries desk.

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Information sourced from NZ History and Wikipedia
Images sourced from Timeframes

WWI series: Conscientious Objectors in the Library

“The heroes of war are publicly honoured, and their brave deeds are taught to children… (while) the heroes of peace most often go unrecognised.” So wrote Elsie Locke, in her introduction to Bread and Water, a memoir of New Zealand’s conscientious objectors.

For now more than a year, New Zealand has remembered the sacrifices and experiences of soldiers, nurses and civilians who fought in the First World War. Conscientious objectors, however, are less often spoken of, and uneasily sit on the boundary between these two groups. These were men who, through pacifist, religious, and/or moral conviction, refused to participate in the war. Although often overlooked in our cultural memory of New Zealand’s war experience, conscientious objectors, both around the world and in New Zealand, have certainly left traces in our history. Here at the library, we’re equipped with resources to help you discover the lives and thinking of these men – and of their families and those who their decisions affected.

baxterPerhaps the most well-known of New Zealand’s conscientious objectors is also known internationally. Archibald Baxter was outspokenly against war in the days leading up to conscription in New Zealand, was arrested unawares before being asked if he would sign up, and shipped from jail to jail before being sent to the trenches, to be punished with ‘Field Punishment Number One’, incarcerated in a mental hospital, and eventually sent home to New Zealand. He left a strong legacy of anti-militarism; in his son, Terence John, who was imprisoned as a conscientious objector in WWII, and in his matter-of-fact account of his experiences whilst imprisoned in his book We Will Not Cease. Written in 1939 in England, almost all copies of the book printed were destroyed in the Blitz, and it did not become well-known in New Zealand until the 1960s. Luckily, despite this the book is now available to borrow from the library. Since this time, it “has become a classic of New Zealand literature.”

King and Country Call, by Paul Baker, is a second book about the experience not only of conscientious objectors in WWI, but also about conscription, how it was introduced to New Zealand, and its consequences. It is available to borrow, again from the Central Library.

Conscientious objectors’ lives and convictions are canvassed by the books above, and other titles in our library catalogue, but the details of their lives and beliefs, their principles in their own words, are often to be found in the details of life in archival sources. Army records and newspaper clippings give us another glimpse into conscientious objectors’ lives. PapersPast  is an invaluable online, searchable database of New Zealand newspapers from 1839 until 1948. A search for ‘conscientious objectors’ or the name of a particular figure brings up a huge number of resources.

The National Archives, likewise, provide access to defence personnel files from WWI, which can be viewed online and include details of deployments, conduct and medical files – invaluable resources.

Both these websites, along with many other resources useful for researching our history such as NZHistory.net  and Te Ara, can be accessed from the free internet computers at any Wellington City Library.

Ernest Kilby

In Wellington, last year’s WW100 project honoured not only eight servicemen, and one nurse, but a conscientious objector born and bred in the region, Ernest Kilby of Island Bay. Ernest resisted conscription due to his Open Brethren Christian beliefs, and was imprisoned from 1917-1919. Ernest Kilby’s likeness and story were pasted up in Island Bay as part of the city’s war commemorations. His story, and background information, can be read on the council website.  Accounts of Ernest’s conviction and various trials can also be read on the Papers Past online archive.

Sometimes forgotten, but worth remembering, the conscientious objectors of the First World War still leave their legacy. WWI was the first instance of conscription in New Zealand, and one with mixed results. The resistance of the men who refused it, and their articulate reasons for doing so, provide a counterpoint to our dominant cultural narrative of the war.

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.

 

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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)

Large scale ANZAC display at the Central Library

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For the past year, in the lead up to the Centenary of the Gallipoli landings, Wellington City librarians have been producing a series of contributions highlighting various aspects of our collection where you can find resources related to this major historical event. Our latest addition, inspired by a recent blog post http://bit.ly/1DNZ48J about Charlotte Le Gallais, one of the nurses who went to Gallipoli on the Maheno hospital ship, is a large scale exhibition about her story, highlighting the various online resources available for history and ancestry research. Come to the Central Library and discover her fascinating story.

You can also contribute your family stories in our “Scrapbook of Memories” kept by the display. For more resources on WW1, browse our series at www.wcl.govt.nz/ww100

 

Gathering at Gallipoli

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Since our troops landed there on 25 April 1915, Gallipoli has been a destination of great significance for New Zealanders of all ages. The trek to Gallipoli is even more meaningful this year, as we mark the centenary of those landings.

Some 2000 New Zealanders and 8000 Australians will gather at the Dawn Service on Gallipoli Peninsula to remember the soldiers of our two countries who fought together there as ‘ANZACs’. We will reflect on the passing of 100 years since the 25 April landing at Anzac Cove and the birth of ‘the Anzac spirit’. And for all Kiwis it will be a time to reflect on what the bitter Gallipoli campaign meant for our developing identity as a nation.

For many of those gathering at the commemorative site, it will also be a deeply personal experience. As we camp out under the stars on the eve of the Dawn Service, we will be thinking of relatives who fought at the Dardanelles – like my great-uncle Jack, of the 16th (Waikato) Company, 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment, who took part in the landing on 25 April 1915.

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Graves or memorials to most of the approximately 2700 New Zealanders who died at Gallipoli are in 24 cemeteries dotted around the peninsula. Besides attending the Dawn Service, some visitors will have time to explore the significant cemeteries, battlefields and other sites.

Many of the travel guides (like those published by Lonely Planet) have basic information about places of historical importance on the peninsula, but the library also has several more detailed guidebooks. These are essential reading for those visiting Gallipoli and are full of details to help anyone interested in the campaign to gain some understanding of the place where so many young New Zealanders fought and died.

Syndetics book coverGallipoli : a guide to New Zealand battlefields and memorials / Ian McGibbon.
This 2014 revised update of the original edition published 10 years ago “is the indispensable handbook to the history and geographic features of the campaign for a modern, general readership. Easy to follow and highly illustrated, it introduces the battlefields, cemeteries and memorials, detailing the stories behind each and offering historical overviews of New Zealand’s involvement”. (from cover)

Syndetics book coverGallipoli : the battlefield guide / Mat McLachlan.
“More than 30,000 Australians visit Gallipoli every year, and the numbers are increasing each year as the centenary of the landing approaches. This practical guide book enables them to plan their trip, work out what to see and in what order, and gives the historical background to the major battles. It gives all the necessary information – both practical and historical – to appreciate what happened, and where. Detailed tours (both walking and with transport) are described, and accompanied by specially drawn maps.” (from library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverTurn right at Istanbul : a walk on the Gallipoli Peninsula / Tony Wright.
Tony Wright’s book is not a travel guide as such but an absorbing and entertaining personal story. “His account of the modern phenomenon of increasing numbers of young Australians and New Zealanders heading for Gallipoli is an Anzac ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’.” “Anyone who has ever dreamed of travelling to Turkey and taking part in the Gallipoli experience will find this book a moving, inspiring and occasionally hilarious roadmap to the heart of Australia and New Zealand in an ancient land.” (adapted from cover)

B8kU-rUCIAAfZn_Ngā Tapuwae
New Zealand has developed a set of trails at Gallipoli as part of the Ngā Tapuwae project. (Trails are also being developed on the Western Front.) The online resource includes a downloadable app with audio tours, interactive maps, personal stories, travel guides, articles and a wealth of other material that helps the user follow in the footsteps of the NZ soldiers who fought at Gallipoli. Link here

WW 1 Display in the Central Library
Drawing from my family archive, the library’s local and NZ history specialist and I have prepared a display of original letters and postcards sent from the trenches. Other interesting pieces of WW1 memorabilia include battalion insignia and a New Testament issued to the troops. Be sure to take a look at these items in the display case on the Second Floor of the Central Library.

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Here is a close-up of a postcard in the display, sent from France in December 1916.

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Reading correspondence from those terrible years is often heartwrenching and the stories and letters in this display certainly convey the pain and sadness of the war.

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Click here to listen to a Radio New Zealand interview of Michael Williams, Waikato-based composer who has been working on writing Letters From The Front, his first symphony. He matches letters from the First World War with musical movements and it will debut performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in April to coincide with Anzac Day commemorations.

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)

“Offspring of the battlefield” – WWI Kiwi soldiers in their own words at WCL

009100 years on from the First World War, there is no shortage of beautifully researched and written books on the subject by historians, sociologists, poets and others. Over the last few months, Wellington City Libraries has highlighted some of these books in our collection. However, our collection doesn’t stop with books written about New Zealanders in the First World War – we also hold those beloved items, original sources – items written and published by New Zealand troops, while still engaged in the war. New Zealand at the Front is one of these – words (and pictures and cartoons) from soldiers’ own pens.

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The two editions of New Zealand At the Front (1917 and 1918) were written as an ‘annual’, a yearly magazine stuffed full of poetry, short funny stories, cartoons and drawings. “Written and illustrated”, as the cover boasts, “in France by Men of the New Zealand Division”. The editor’s note introduces the contributions and the men who wrote them:

   The contributions for this book have come from Trench, Dug-out, and Billet. They are the offspring of the Battlefield. … If they have neither the quality of culture nor of genius, at least they … reflect something of the ideas, the temperament, and the life of men who, from a sense of duty, find themselves engaged in a mighty conflict in a strange environment, far from their own land.

These might be modified raptures, but the contents of the annual lived up to their introduction as a reflection of the men who wrote and drew for its pages, many of whom are identified only by initials, or various nom de plumes.

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The articles are stuffed with in-jokes and references obviously well-understood among the troops who penned them at the time, but bewildering today. Luckily, the editors seem to have anticipated some difficulties in translation, and provided a handy and tongue-in-cheek glossary for confused readers (a modern reader may wish to have a dictionary handy nevertheless!)

Other sections, and formats, are instantly recognisable. The annual contains many cartoons, often poking fun at officers or other soldiers’ quirks – the familiarity of life in close quarters visible in modern comic strips. Those familiar with the “How my boss sees me/ how my mother sees me/ how my friends see me” internet comic form can even see a distant cousin in one cartoon published in the annual, which compares, wryly, how “the padre sees us”, “higher command ‘seize’ us”, “mademoiselle sees us”, and “Mater sees us” – each sketch wildly different from the others (and proving the point that acute punning transcends time!).

013010The pre-occupations and domestic details of life behind the line loom large in the contents of the annual. From a full-colour watercolour of “Private Purripeef” displaying a haul of cans, to a story of nicknaming friends after “bulla-biff”, to a mournful piece titled “A Tragedy of the Line” – in which the tragic victim of a bombing is revealed to be a can of ‘Fray Bentos’ bully beef – tinned beef recurs as a subject at the top of many minds. Long marches are also a popular subject – a soldier identified only as ‘Rewi’ writes a tragi-comic poem about the significance of good footwear, which including the lines

Boots! Boots! Boots!

Till your latest breath

They will climb the hill to fame,

Trudge the road to Death,

Or march back the road you came.

Although many articles in the annuals are light-hearted or tongue-in-cheek, others are sombre, describing the desolation of their authors’ surroundings. A soldier named only as “Q” submits an article describing the “Red Lodge … as lovely a spot, maybe, as there is in the whole of Flanders”, which he and his companion Bob discovered in a Flemish field. Q writes “Bob said I remember, that it reminded him of a scarlet poppy on the mossy bank” – echoing the now-familiar theme of poppies marking war graves. “It is all changed now,” Q continues, describing the later destruction of the lodge. “Bob was killed on that accursed corner…” It’s possible that Q had read the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields”, published in Punch, before he wrote his 1917 piece. The image of red poppies marking a war grave or memorial is one we now all recognise.020

The editor, who hoped these annuals would provide an honest reflection of their authors, may have been more right than he knew. The two volumes of New Zealand at the Front display incredible diversity of subjects, tone, and breadth of ability, many contributions beautifully and humorously done. The diversity of the men who wrote and sent in their contributions from “Trench, Dug-out and Billet” is just as apparent as their humour, and leaves us, 100 years later, a fascinatingly direct snapshot of New Zealanders at war.

New Zealand at The Front is held in the New Zealand Reference Stack Collection, and can be requested for viewing at the Second Floor Reference Desk, Central Library.

Socks & Plum Pudding for Christmas

In 1912, Lord Liverpool became governor of New Zealand. Alongside him, stood his wife, Annette Louise Foljambe, Countess of Liverpool. As soon as the War started in 1914, Lady Liverpool became an active supporter and fundraiser for the New Zealand troops sent to fight overseas.

Her Excellency's Knitting Book coverHer Excellency’s knitting book , compiled under the personal supervision of Her Excellency the Countess of Liverpool was published in 1915.  It was intended to encourage the women of New Zealand, as well as children (boys and girls!), to take up knitting as a valuable skill and turn it into a mass war effort by crafting useful items that would be sent to soldiers fighting for the Empire. Socks in particular were in high demand, a pair only lasting a couple of weeks. Often, the knitter would add a little hand-sewn personal note inside the garment for its recipient. The initiative became hugely popular and contributed to making soldiers feel that they weren’t forgotten back home.
One of these little books has been a treasure in our Rare Books room at the Central Library. It contains a hand-written introduction by Lady Liverpool herself, encouraging “the women of New Zealand” to take their part in the war effort by using the patterns in the book to produce some much needed comfort for the troops.

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The book despite its very modest dimensions as it was designed to be carried in a knitting bag, contains a myriad patterns and knitting instructions to guide the novice (“To wind wool so that you work from the inside of the ball, p.41) as much as the accomplished knitters . It is also dotted with quaint advertising from businesses all over New Zealand such as this Harringtons ad:

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The patterns not only cover garments of use to soldiers such as cholera belts, but items for women, children and babies. In case you always wanted to knit a cholera belt, here are instructions:

Cholera belt

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Christmas in the trenches Dominion articleThis clipping from The Dominion’s 16 July 1917 issue is a testimony of the extent of the contributions from the civilians back home. You can access the full article in the Paperspast database. Published in July, it was calling for “funds of gifts of various kinds” to ensure that soldiers on the front would receive comforting parcels from home, in time for Christmas. Plum puddings were highly prized for their capacity to travel well and their festive significance: “This year, owing to the shortage of certain classes of foodstuffs in the Motherland, these gifts, particularly plum puddings and fancy articles of food, should be more welcome than ever to the men in the fighting lines.”

 

Syndetics book coverOne of the most likely sources of the time for recipes of plum pudding would have been Mrs Beeton’s Every-day Cookery and Housekeeping Book as suggested in A Distant Feast : the origins of New Zealand’s cuisine by Tony Simpson (recipe p. 66).

Here are images of our own original copy of Mrs Beeton’s 1893 edition, available from our stacks on the second floor of the central library. It includes several versions of the Plum Pudding recipe (p. 379-381, pictured).

Mrs BeetonMrs Beeton Plum Pudding

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Syndetics book coverMrs Beeton was an incredibly popular influence in the  kitchens of the time and has remained a seminal influence in the art of cookery, as our collection bears testimony.
However, “her reputation as an innovator is unjustified“, according to Tony Simpson, author of A Distant Feast, who believes that Eliza Action should have claimed the title.
And indeed, Simon Hopkinson’s (British former chef and critic, considered to be one of the best cookery writers) quote on the cover of Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for private Families stands as more than a stamp of approval: “The Author’s Christmas Pudding is as perfect as any festive pudding can be. I would not cook, nor eat I wish to eat, any other than Acton’s.” You will find her recipe p. 416 of this edition.

To read more about Eliza Acton refer to Syndetics book coverThe real Mrs Beeton : the story of Eliza Acton  by Sheila M. Hardy with foreword by Delia Smith.
For her own recipes, read Modern Cookery for private families : reduced to a system of easy practice in a series of carefully tested receipts in which the principles of Baron Liebig and other eminent writers have been as much as possible applied and explained  with an introduction by Jill Norman.

And finally, another source of recipes that has withstood the test of time is Auguste Escoffier’s A Guide to Modern Cookery. Published in English in 1907, it became a Bible for many generations of chefs and amateurs cooks. Hailed as one of the greatest chefs and food writers of all times, Escoffier redefined French cuisine and propelled it into the 20th Century, influencing cookery internationally.  Here is a photo of the 1951 reprint we hold in the stacks with Escoffier’s version of the very British Plum Pudding.

Mrs Beeton Auguste EscoffierEscoffier3

For more contemporary publications regarding “The King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings”, Escoffier’s nickname, check our catalogue here.

Notes:
A very interesting documentary about Lady Liverpool and her war efforts, screened on TV3 News last August can be watched on this New Zealand History page with an accompanying article.

And for the francophiles out there, a recent episode of the highly entertaining food programme “On va déguster” produced by the French national radio station France Inter has a very informative piece on Auguste Escoffier. You can read and listen here! Bon Appétit et Joyeux Noël!

Christmas in the trenches – some very special greetings

Syndetics book cover In 2008, Sarah Ell collated a selection of New Zealand Christmas images, including Christmas cards, Christmas day dinner menus, photographs, advertisements and poster art, from the Alexander Turnbull Library. The result of this collection is the beautiful book A New Zealand Christmas : three centuries of Kiwi Christmas celebrations from the Alexander Turnbull Library. Featuring beautiful images and informative captions about Christmas in New Zealand throughout the years, it also features photographs, Christmas cards and other printed images from World War One at Christmas time. This beautiful edition is an interesting and indulgent read any time, but particularly at this time of the year! Place your reserve here.

When Great Britain first declared war against Germany in 1914, New Zealand did not have its own army. Training camps were urgently set up in Featherston in Wairarapa, at Narrow Neck in Auckland and Awapuni near Palmerston North. The main camp was established at Trentham in Upper Hutt.

The Maymorn camp was built as an overflow camp 7km away from Trentham. It was the home of the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the New Zealand rifle brigade, then the 11th Infantry Reinforcements, until the camp was closed in 1916.

This image shows the tables set up for Christmas dinner at Maymorn camp on 25 December 1915.

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Tables set for Christmas dinner, Maymorn camp, Wairarapa. Allen, S T :Photographs of the Tauranga Bridge and Maymorn Camp. Ref: 1/2-112210-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22329286

After arriving at Anzac Cove to find scores of Australian dead and wounded scattering the beach, the Anzac soldiers were instructed to create a network of dug-outs to provide some shelter from the Turkish barrage. The men lived in these dug-outs in filthy conditions with inadequate food and water, as well as frequent outbreaks of dysentery and other diseases.

This photo, showing two soldiers in a dug-out in Gallipolli, was taken not long before the Allied withdrawal from the ill-fated peninsula on December 20. This brought an end to the horrific eight months suffered by the New Zealand, Australian and other Allied troops who landed at what later became known as Anzac cove on April 25, 1915.


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Christmas celebrations in dug-out, Gallipoli. Martin, W W :World War One albums of Mr Laurie C Mackie. Ref: PA1-o-308-22-3. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23211213

After withdrawing from Turkey, New Zealand troops were redeployed to France. Germany had invaded France and Belgium, and the British planned to attack the Germans in the Somme region, to relieve pressure on the French. The Battle of the Somme began in June 1916, followed by a second push in mid-September, which involved New Zealand troops. By Christmas 1916, around 1.2 million men on both sides had been killed or wounded.

This Christmas card was sent home to New Zealand from war-torn France.

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Sparr, fl 1916. Sparr, fl 1916 :Compliments of the season from France, 1916-17. Onward. N.Z. Quo fas et gloria ducunt. [Postcard. 1916]. Ref: Eph-A-WAR-WI-1916-08. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23106539

This Christmas menu is from the Sergeants’ Mess at the New Zealand Army Service Corps number 6 camp at Sling, near Bulford on the Salisbury Plain in England. It was dedicated to the memory of Gallipolli and the newly minted ‘Anzac Day’. The menu shows the men ate well through the day, from bacon, liver and chips for breakfast through a full roast dinner of turkey, beef and chicken to leftover roast, mince pies, jam tarts and beer for supper.

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[Sling Camp (England)] :Remember ANZAC, Gallipoli, 25th April, 1915. Christmas 1916, New Year 1917 / [Cover on menu / list of members].. [Sling Camp (England)] :Remember ANZAC, Gallipoli, 25th April, 1915. Christmas 1916, New Year 1917 / [Sergeants’ Mess, New Zealand Army Service Corps and Details, No 6 Camp, Sling, Bulford, Salisbury Plain, England. [Menu / list of members]. Bennett Bros, Military Printers, Salisbury [1916].. Ref: Eph-A-WAR-WI-1916-02-front. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22590424

This Christmas card from 1916 reflects a sense of imperial and national pride, following New Zealand’s rush to support Mother England against the German aggressors. It was printed for Mr and Mrs Hardie of Wanganui and bears a poem on the cover.

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[Greeting card]. A right loyal greeting. “Land of our birth, we pledge to thee, Head heart & hand, in the years to be”. Xmas 1916 … from Mr & Mrs A. St.N. Hardie. Wanganui, N.Z.. Various artists :[Box of assorted Christmas cards. 1860s-1919]. Ref: Eph-A-CARDS-Christmas-1916-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23139304

By Christmas 1917, New Zealand troops were still at war in Europe and New Zealand headquarters was at Chateau Segard in Belgium. This photo shows the New Zealand divisional commander, Major-General Andrew Hamilton Russell, carving a turkey for officers.

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New Zealand Commander carves the turkey on Christmas Day, Chateau Segard, 1917. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013034-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22904056

At the time of this Christmas card’s release in 1917, New Zealand had been at war for three years. This card clearly depicts the sense of distance felt by those in New Zealand that had loved ones fighting overseas, with the imagery of hands clasped across the distance between New Zealand and “somewhere in France”.

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Frank Duncan and Company. Postcard. Christmas greetings. Hands across the sea. NZ Postcard published by Frank Duncan & Co., High St., Auckland. [1917]. Ref: Eph-A-CARDS-Christmas-WWI-1917-02. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22780721

This card was posted to New Zealand from France in 1918, clearly expressing the sender’s desire to return home with the poem on the front: “God gave all men all earth to love / But since our hearts are small / Ordained for each one spot should be / Beloved over all. / Gorse behind the windy town, pollen o’ the pine / Bell-bird in the leafy deep where the Ratas twine / Ferns above the saddle-bow, flax upon the plain / ‘Tis where Pohutukawas bloom we long to be again”.

The drawing of the damaged windmill on the front of the card is thought to depict a windmill at Courcelles in northern France, which withstood repeated shelling and became a landmark for New Zealand troops fighting in the area.

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To Pater, with all good wishes from Bob. Somewhere in France, 4/11/18. “God gave all men all earth to love … ” [Map of New Zealand, by Johns]. 1918.. Cheerio from France. Christmas 1918. A “Diggers'” landmark / Johns. [Card].. Ref: Eph-A-CARDS-Christmas-WWI-1918-03-inside. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22432725

New Zealand troops were easily identified from other colonial troops by their hat – their distinctive headwear, which became known as a lemon-squeezer, is said to have been developed in 1911 by Lieutenant Colonel William Malone, who felt that the fore-and-aft dented hats worn by his troop collected water too readily. He redesigned the hat so that water ran off more easily. Malone’s Wellington regiment adopted this style of hat and was more widely distributed from mid 1916 to other troops. They became a highly visible way to distinguish New Zealand soldiers from other colonial troops.

These cards both show New Zealand soldiers in lemon-squeezers – the first dates from 1917 shows a Kiwi soldier resting on a milestone which is engraved with ‘France to New Zealand, 13,000 miles’ The second is from 1918 and was designed by solider and artist Lieutenant George Patrick Hanna.

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Bell, William Frederick, 1895-1920. Bell, William Frederick, 1896-1920 :Aotearoa. [Greetings card. 1917].. Ref: Eph-A-CARDS-Christmas-WWI-1917-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22857458

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Perry, Murray (Mrs), fl 1975. ‘With every wish that’s brightest & best’ / G P Hanna. N.Z. Division, France. Xmas 1918.. [Ephemera relating to World War I. 1918. Folder 1]. Ref: Eph-A-WAR-WI-1918-02. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23253028

If you’d like to find out more about cards and postcards sent home to New Zealand during World War One, we also recommend this book:

Syndetics book coverNew Zealand and the First World War : 1914-1919 / Damien Fenton ; with Caroline Lord, Gavin McLean and Tim Shoebridge.
“The full story of New Zealand’s involvement in the First World War” (Publisher information)

All images and accompanying information sourced from Sarah Ell’s A New Zealand Christmas: Three Centuries of Kiwi Christmas celebrations from the Alexander Turnbull Library.

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.

Music of World War One

War songs cropped small

World War 1 inspired a wide range of music which evolved during the 4 years of the conflict.
You will find some good examples in our music collection, ranging from sheet music, song books or actual recordings available in our music databasesHere are some recordings of music of WW1 on Alexander Street Music. And some more in Naxos.

The songs of WW1 were at first rousing calls to arms such as ‘We Don’t Want to Lose You, but We Think You Ought to Go’, but as the number of deaths steadily grew the popular songs became more sarcastic and somewhat bitter such as ‘Oh, It’s a Lovely War!‘  This drop in enthusiasm led to a war time marching song competition held by New York publishers Francis Day and Hunter, who were giving a prize of 100 guineas for a marching song for the troops to help with recruitment and frontline morale. The winner of this competition was ‘Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile‘ written by George Henry Powell. This song became hugely popular during the war and can be interpreted as saying that the war has ended so there is no need to worry any longer.  Here is a recording of this song on Alexander Street Music.

Although most people would have heard a gramophone at a seaside resort or park gala, these would have been unaffordable to buy for the ordinary person in the U.K. Thus, Music Hall and sheet music was the popular and affordable way for the masses to enjoy music during the era of The Great War. If a song was very popular it was not unusual for the sheet music to sell over one million copies!

syndetics-lcMarching bands were used to entertain the troops on the Western Front who were waiting for long periods in between battles, and almost every division had its own entertainment troop.
America was at first reluctant to enter the war. This reluctance was evident with the popularity of the song at the start of the  war, ‘I Didn’t Raise My Boy to be a Soldier’ but after the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 America’s attitude changed, as can be noted with the song ‘When the Lusitania Went Down’.

Although the recording industry was in its infancy, many record labels were quick to jump on the bandwagon and cashed in releasing many popular songs referencing the war. As phonograph production increased the war was brought back home with recorded speeches, novelty songs and patriotic anthems.

An interesting perspective of the ANZAC’s musical contribution can be read in ‘And the Band Played On’. Many soldiers were asked to bring forth their talents to aleviate the strain of war.

Remembering WW1 on Anzac Day

On 25 April 1915, New Zealanders along with other Allied troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, with the aim of taking the Dardanelles, and threatening the Ottoman capital, Constantinople (now Istanbul). At the end of the nine month campaign, about a third of the New Zealand soldiers taking part had been killed. Anzac Day commemorates all New Zealand soldiers killed in war, and also honours returned servicemen and women.  Here is some further reading:

Syndetics book coverShattered glory : the New Zealand experience at Gallipoli and the Western Front / Matthew Wright.
“The Gallipoli campaign of 1915 destroyed New Zealand’s fantasies of war as a glorious schoolboy adventure on behalf of a beloved Empire. The Western Front campaign that followed in 1916-18 gave shape to the emotional impact. it was a horror world of death and mud that destroyed the souls of the young men who fought in it. Together, these two campaigns shaped the lives of a generation of New Zealanders and have given a particular meaning to modern memory of war. In Shattered Glory, highly regarded historian Matthew Wright illuminates New Zealand’s human experience during these two First World War campaigns, exploring the darker side of New Zealand’s iconic symbols of national identity and explaining some of the realities behind the twenty-first century mythology.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverDevils on horses : in the words of the Anzacs in the Middle East 1916-19 / Terry Kinloch ; foreword by Dr Christopher Pugsley.
“Reunited with their horses in Egypt after the shattering experience of Gallipoli, the Anzac mounted riflemen and light horsemen were initially charged with the defence of the Suez Canal, then with the clearance of the Sinai peninsula, and finally with the destruction of the Turkish armies in Palestine and Syria.
At last they could pursue the style of warfare for which they had been trained: on horseback.
The First World War battlefields in the Middle East have long been overshadowed by those of Gallipoli and the Western Front. Yet the story of the mounted riflemen in Sinai and Palestine is a truly fascinating one. Using the soldiers’ original letters and diaries wherever possible, Kinloch vividly describes every battle and skirmish in the long campaign against the Turks: the crucial Battle of Romani, the defeats at Bir el Abd, Gaza and Amman, and the successes at Beersheba, Ayun Kara and elsewhere.” (Abridged from publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverMapping the first world war : battlefields of the great conflict from above.
“Some one hundred years on from the Great War, Mapping The First World War provides a unique perspective on the ‘war to end all wars’. Over a hundred maps and charts show the broad sweep of events, from Germany’s 1914 war goals to the final positions of the troops. There are maps depicting movements and battles as well as related documents, such as those on levels of conscription and numbers of weapons.” (Abridged from publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverPasschendaele : the anatomy of a tragedy / Andrew Macdonald.
“This extensively researched book tells the story of one of the darkest hours of Australia and New Zealand’s First World War military. With the forensic use of decades-old documents and soldier accounts, it unveils for the first time what really happened on the war-torn slopes of Passchendaele, why, and who was responsible for the deaths and injuries of thousands of soldiers in the black mud of Flanders. Macdonald explores the October battles of Third Ypres from the perspective of the generals who organised them to the soldiers in the field, drawing on a wide range of evidence held in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Britain and Germany. His book is far more than a simple narrative of battle and includes critical and comparative assessments of command, personality, training discipline, weapons, systems, tactics and the environment. It looks equally at the roles of infantry, artillery and engineering units, whether Australian, New Zealand, Canadian or British, and in so doing presents a meticulous, objective and compelling investigation from start to finish. Along the way it offers numerous unique insights that have, until now, been obscured by a nearly century-old fog of war. This book will reshape the understanding of one of the most infamous battles of the First World War.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThe other Anzacs : nurses at war 1914-1918 / Peter Rees.
“By the end of The Great War, forty-five Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service and over two hundred had been decorated. These were women who left for war on an adventure, but were soon confronted with remarkable challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them.
They were there for the horrors of Gallipoli and they were there for the savagery the Western Front. Within twelve hours of the slaughter at Anzac Cove they had over 500 horrifically injured patients to tend on one crammed hospital ship, and scores of deaths on each of the harrowing days that followed. Every night was a nightmare. Their strength and humanity were remarkable.” (Abridged from publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverArchduke Franz Ferdinand lives! : a world without World War I / Richard Ned Lebow.
“For Lebow (A Cultural Theory of International Relations), a professor of international political theory, the erasure of WWI from our historical timeline would have placed our world on a path quite different from the one we are on today. He expounds on the theory of counterfactuals to revisit and better understand our history. “What-ifs of this kind offer insights into the world in which we actually live,” Lebow claims, letting us “probe why and how it came about, how contingent it was, and how we should evaluate it.” He begins with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and its aftershocks, detailing what could have happened in the fields of science, art, medicine, and politics had the archduke survived. Using historical and personal records, supported by known personality traits of notable period figures, Lebow fashions two possible worlds, one better and one worse, had WWI been avoided. His confidence is evident on every page; this work of alternative history reminds us of our own position in flow of events and tempts us to follow Lebow’s lead in fantasizing about the possibilities inherent in these very distinct worlds. Though we can’t escape the realities of our past, Lebow provides his readers with exciting alternatives to consider.” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverGallipoli : the final battles and evacuation of Anzac / David W. Cameron.
“This book is the first book since Charles Bean’s Official history to provide a detailed narrative of the bloody and tragic battle for Hill 60, along with the other engagements that went on until the very last days at Anzac – viewed from both sides of the trenches. It also examines in detail the planning and execution of the evacuation of the troops from Anzac – the most successful part of the whole Gallipoli fiasco. David Cameron’s detailed research and use of firsthand accounts including letters, diaries, and interviews, enables him to convey the confusion of battle while also telling a good story with a powerful emotional impact” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverMeetings in no man’s land : Christmas 1914 and fraternization in the Great War / Marc Ferro … [et al.] ; translations by Helen McPhail.
“In the winter of 1914, after long months of marching, soldiers on both fronts began to dig trenches and the war became a battle of attrition in which ordinary men faced each other across the bombed mud of No Man’s Land. The enemy lines were often no more than a few yards away, the soldiers of both sides in equal desperation, surrounded by carnage and horror. Out of this hardship came a shared feeling which was demonstrated in the unofficial armistice of Christmas 1914, when German and English soldiers laid down their weapons for a blessed moment of peace, played football and swapped food.
In this book, four international experts look at the story of Christmas 1914 and the evidence that fraternization was far more common than previously accepted. Using new research, the book explores these brief moments of humanity on all fronts and throughout the conflict, and shows them to have been not only prevalent but also vital, long ignored, factor in the war. For the French, defending their home territory, fraternization was the last taboo and until now omitted from the record.
Meetings in No Man’s Land reveals a story of the Great War that has long been forgotten or lost in censored official reports or officer journals, and brings new light to the harrowing experience of the ordinary soldier’s life in the trenches.” (Publisher’s description)

Syndetics book coverThe Great War handbook [electronic resource] : a guide for family historians & students of the conflict / Geoff Bridger ; foreword by Cornelli Barnett.
“Geoff Bridger’s The Great War Handbook answers many of the basic questions newcomers ask when confronted by this enormous and challenging subject not only what happened and why, but what was the Great War like for ordinary soldiers who were caught up in it. He describes the conditions the soldiers endured, the deadly risks they ran, their daily routines and the small roles they played in the complex military machine they were part of. His comprehensive survey of every aspect of the soldier’s life, from recruitment and training, through the experience of battle and its appalling aftermath, is an essential guide for students, family historians, teachers and anyone who is eager to gain an all-round understanding of the nature of the conflict. His authoritative handbook gives a fascinating insight into the world of the Great War – it is a basic book that no student of the subject can afford to be without.” (Syndetics summary)

#WW100: Remembering World War One with Wellington City Libraries

Story of a crime croppedThe New Zealand Government has developed the WW100 programme to mark the First World War centenary. From 2014 to 2018, New Zealanders will be able to attend official state ceremonies and participate in community initiatives and personal projects.
On the eve of this year’s ANZAC day celebrations, Wellington City Libraries’ multi-faceted librarians are launching a series of contributions highlighting various aspects of our collection where you can find resources related to this major historical event.

We hope you enjoy those articles and that you discover some unusual facts with a local flavour, unknown parts of our collection and get to explore our resources further, for your information, education and entertainment.

Did you know for instance that the images used for the newspaper collage above were sourced from one of our many online databases?

Many of you may be already familiar with Papers Past, a database containing more than three million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals from doing family genealogy research. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes 83 publications from all regions of New Zealand, including searchable full text of the Evening Post from 1865-1945.

On the second floor of the Central library, you may also find The Dominion and The Evening Post on reel to reel microfilms.Microfilm readers on 2nd floorMicrofilms cabinet drawer

We hold archives of Wellington super-paper The Dominion Post from its inception in 2002 and its well-loved predecessor’s The Dominion from 1907 to 2002, and The Evening Post from 1865 to 2002.

Whether you are doing family history research or a history assignment, these are resources worth investigating. The microfilm readers are available on the 2nd floor of the Central library, by the enquiries desk. A member of staff can show you how to use them.

Finally, did you know that we have an entire room full to the brim with periodicals that you can consult on the second floor of the library by asking a member of staff?

Magazine stacksYou will be brought a box of magazines or newspapers for your perusal.
It is an amazing collection of historical periodicals, among which you can find for example The Illustrated London News.
It was the publication of choice for the Victorian middle classes and revolutionised the use of illustrations as news reporting tools for the first time. It developed a fast and cheap method of using woodcut prints, making it the multimedia of the time.

London Illustrated NewsThese are fragile copies that we keep tucked away for occasional perusal.
You won’t be able to take copies home but you are more than welcome to have a gentle browse at the desk.

Here is a sample from the 4 July 1914 issue, relating to the assassination on June 28, 1914, of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the event that many consider to have precipitated the First World War.

Front page of The London Illustrated News 4 July 1914 copy

Front page of The London Illustrated News 4 July 1914 copy

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro Hungarian Emperor, with his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg and their three children.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro Hungarian Emperor, with his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg and their three children.

Double-page spread with photographs of Sarajevo

Double-page spread with photographs of Sarajevo.

What better way to research history than delving into some quality publication of the time?

ANZAC Day – Your Ancestors’ Military Past

GenealogyInterested in researching your family history?
From time to time we’ll be posting genealogy facts and advice here on the News Blog.
For other blog entries on genealogy, click on the tag “genealogy” at the bottom of this post.

Australians and New Zealanders know ANZAC day – 25th April – as a national day of remembrance to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I.

Did you have a relative who took part in WW1? Would you like to read their Military Personnel Record?

Military records can provide amazing details for genealogists, especially ages and places of birth, while they can also expand family histories with information about campaigns, conduct and even physical descriptions of ancestors.

Continue reading “ANZAC Day – Your Ancestors’ Military Past”