Monday, 29 April 2013

Dannevirke War Memorial

The Dannevirke War Memorial was unveiled in front of a large crowd on Anzac Day 1924. Mr E.A. Ransom, M.P., performed the unveiling ceremony and was assisted by Dannevirke’s Mayor Mr A.J.C. Runciman, ex-Mayor Mr C.J. Anderson, and the president of the local R.S.A. Mr Ivan Light.
The memorial is located on High street at the Dannevirke Domain. The names of some 232 WW1 and 73 WW2 service personnel are recorded on the memorial’s plaques. A smaller plaque sits above the impressive sculpture of a New Zealand soldier. It reads;

“Roll of Honour
In memory of volunteers from Dannevirke & District who gave their lives for the defence of the Empire in the war of 1914 – 1918”.

(Photograph courtesy of Ethan R. Reddiex, private collection)

This more recent photograph, taken on the eve of Anzac Day 2013, shows the addition of "1939-1945" to the memorial’s base following the Second World War.

This memorial holds dear to me through some family connections; 

Three brothers with the surname Doria are among those remembered on the memorial. Birley age 21 died of sickness at Codford Hospital England on 30 December 1916, Leonard Jack age 19 killed in action at Messines in Belgium on 8 June 1917, and Percy age 23 died from gunshot wounds to his head and spine at St Omer in France on 16 October 1917.

During the Second World War, Private George Gordon Drummond Mangos of the 25th Battalion New Zealand Infantry was captured during the battle of El Alamein. George was among some 3,000 prisoners on board the Italian troopship Nino Bixio which sailed from North Africa across the Mediterranean Sea bound for Europe. A British submarine HMS Turbulent was unaware of the troopship’s prisoner of war passengers and having identified Nino Bixio as an enemy vessel, fired two torpedoes in to her on 17 August 1942. One of these tragically found the ship’s hold where many prisoners were held captive. There was a terrible loss of life, not only from the explosion but also from those who had jumped overboard with little chance of rescue. Some drifted about on rafts and wreckage on the Mediterranean for days without food and water. Many died but some were saved. George Mangos was one of about 110 New Zealanders killed that day. He was just 25 years of age. Just a year earlier, he announced his engagement to be married to my grandmother’s sister Ellen Janet Luscombe. Sadly, Ellen would never see him again.

The engagement is announced of Ellen Janet, third daughter of Mr and Mrs G.F. Luscombe, Makotuku, to George Gordon Drummond Livingstone, youngest son of Mrs G. Mangos, Ormondville.”
Source: Dannevirke Evening News, Tuesday 1 July 1941.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Our First ANZAC Day 25 April 1916

This postcard was produced by Whangarei-based Frederick George Radcliffe ('F.G.R.') and features images of crossed flags, a photograph of His Majesty the King, photographs of New Zealand scenes and two New Zealand soldiers.

The significance of this postcard is that it was produced as a souvenir to mark the first anniversary (25th April 1916) of the ANZAC landing at a cove north of Gaba Tepe on the Aegean coast. Of course it is this cove that we now know as 'ANZAC cove'. Its dominating high cliffs and difficult terrain made it advantageous to the defending Turkish army who claimed many Australian and New Zealand lives on 25 April 1915, the first day of the ANZAC invasion on the Gallipoli peninsular.

His Majesty King George sent the following message to the people of New Zealand on the first anniversary of the Gallipoli landing;

"Tell my people of New Zealand that to-day I am joining with them in their solemn tribute to the memory of their heroes who died in Gallipoli. They gave their lives for a supreme cause in gallant comradeship with the rest of my sailors and soldiers who fought and died with them. Their valour and fortitude have shed fresh lustre on the British arms. May those who mourn their loss find comfort in the conviction that they did not die in vain, but that their sacrifice has drawn our peoples more closely together, and added strength and glory to the Empire."

On the back of this postcard is an assortment of handwritten names and notes recorded by a New Zealand soldier far from home. I especially dedicate this posting to those named;

11130, Rifleman Ormonde Henry Butler Stoney, of Silverdale, N.Z.
11134, Rifleman John George Tremaine, N.Z. Rifle Brigade, of Whangarei, N.Z.
28590, Sergeant Eric John Lord, 3rd Auckland Infantry Battalion, 4th Brigade, of Epsom, Auckland. 
(Sgt Lord was killed in action on 4 October 1917).
2nd Lieutenant E. Reddaway, Wireless Testing Park, R.F.C., Biggin Hill, Kent
Lieutenant Ivan Snell, Headquarters, France


Saturday, 13 April 2013

Feeling Blue in the Hospital Blue

Written on the back of the 'Boy Blue And Blue Belle' postcard;
“You will notice how Tommy has turned the bottoms of his trousers up – Kris informs me this is “the fashion” – but thank goodness neither he nor his friend follows “the fashion”. Kris does look hugh in Hospital Blue but he also looks such a dear little boy. I do hope he is able to return to you soon for I’m sure you must miss him awfully.”

In the midst of overwhelming khaki-uniformed allies was the distinctive hospital blue uniform worn by convalescent soldiers. The unflattering and unfashionable look of ill-fitting pyjamas left many soldiers feeling too conspicuous and uncomfortable in the compulsory attire.
The garments were made of blue serge with a white flannelette lining. Design and size were kept simple to accommodate all shapes and sizes of recovering soldiers from non-commissioned ranks. The oversized shirt and trouser lengths resulted in overturned cuffs and sleeves. The uniform included a red tie and often the only khaki worn, was that of their regimental hat.

Real photographic postcard most likely taken in the grounds of the New Zealand Hospital at Oatlands Park in Weybridge, England. 
New Zealand soldiers dressed in the 'Hospital Blue' uniform. Those pictured in the front row have all lost limbs.

Objection to wearing the hospital blue uniform was not only made by convalescent soldiers in England but also at home in New Zealand. On 12 March 1919 the Marlborough Express newspaper reported;

[Press Association.]
Christchurch, March 12.
The majority of sixty soldier patients in Christchurch Hospital declined the invitation to a garden party given by the Governor-General owing to the fact that it would be necessary to attend in hospital blue uniform, to which they objected.
The Returned Soldiers’ Association carried a resolution expressing regret that arrangements had not been made to allow the men to attend in dress uniform.”

On a visit to Dunedin in May 1919, Sir James Allen was quickly made aware of some protest from convalescent soldiers at the Montecillo Home. Unsurprisingly, they too were unhappy with the poor fitting and the unwanted attention that brought on ridicule from some sections of society. Sir James, sympathetic to their views, defended the uniform; “The new uniform, instead of being the subject of ridicule, should demand the highest respect…as it is the distinguishing mark of those who have suffered for us.”
Further defence of the uniform by means of enforcement, was the ability for Military Police to arrest any civilian guilty of ridiculing the men in blue.

In many cases, soldiers in care at hospitals and auxiliary homes found themselves on a long road to recovery. This was hard on mind and body, and the lure of alcoholic liquor was an opportunity to ‘drown the sorrows’. With health and well-being the key objective for medical staff, regulations prohibited civilians from supplying alcohol to the men in blue.

Despite these wounded soldiers feeling blue in the ‘Hospital Blue’, many civilians identified them as heroes and were appreciative of their loyal service to King and Country.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

A Journey To Where We Are Not Allowed To Say

Postcard of New Zealand troopship no.37 Maunganui in Wellington harbour. Photograph taken by John Dickie. 

The ship Maunganui is seen here in Wellington harbour with a line running from her bow and secured to the wharf at the right of the picture. At the stern she is supported by a pilot boat. In the background is a city building with a large sign "W.A.J. Dutch, Brassfounder" which is situated at 262 Wakefield Street.
The purple ink mark on the face of this postcard was made by the military censor, an action commonly performed during the First World War to prevent the enemy from identifying and infiltrating the allied forces and their movements.

"14/1/16. Dear Mother, 
This is the ship that is taking the boys to where we are not allowed to say. We have had a very smooth passage so far, & this is our 7th day out. We saw a shole of sharks. I am waiter in the Dining Room. It will take us 6 weeks to get to our destination. I will drop you a few lines every other few days. Hoping this finds you in the very best of health as it leaves me the same.
Your loving son, 
10/3726 Pvte A.P. Ross, B Coy, 9th Inf Reinforcement, Wellington."

The sender of this postcard is Private Alfred Palmer Ross of New Plymouth, Taranaki. He served in the Wellington Infantry Regiment and was reported wounded in the Auckland Weekly News in June 1917. He returned to New Zealand from the battlefields in Belgium and France in 1919, and died in 1966 aged 80.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Artist Barribal's New Zealand Soldier

Many postcards in circulation during the First World War were either real photographic cards or the popular embroidered silk cards. However another very large portion of the postcard market was from artwork produced by many well known artists. Some of their illustrations and paintings were used by postcard publishing houses and distributed and sold to an eager public ready to write messages to and from the war zone. The art was produced in a wide range of themes including but not limited to comic, romance and patriotic as shown in the example above.

This postcard of a New Zealand soldier is part of a set produced by artist William Henry Barribal (born 1879 - died 1956). The set features servicemen of the Empire and they are identified on the reverse side of the cards with "No.1049". Others in this set include servicemen from Australia, Canada, India and South Africa.  They were published by a very well known London fine art dealer Alfred Vivian Mansell. He established his publishing premises at 2 Chapel street and 22 Silk street in the heart of what was referred to as "The Postcard Mile" in London. Other large neighbouring publishing firms included those of J. Beagles & Co. Ltd, Gale & Polden Ltd, Rotary Photo Co. Ltd and arguably the biggest of them all, Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd.

Artist William Barribal studied art at the Académie Julian in Paris. A famous New Zealand artist, Charles Frederick Goldie was also a student at this private art school. William married an art student who became his inspiration and model for glamour artwork of a woman who became known as the 'Barribal Girl'.