Sunday, 28 June 2015

Actress Alice Brady

“Alice Brady” postcard from the “Pictures” Portrait Gallery series, no.162, published by Pictures Ltd, 88 Long Acre, London. 

Alice Brady, of New York, was a popular leading actress during the war years. She appeared in films which were screened to audiences around the world. In November 1917 the film “The Maid of Belgium” was released and hit New Zealand cinemas in early 1918. The Free Lance advertised the film on 14 March 1918 at the Empress Theatre in Wellington:

“What war can do to an unfortunate girl refugee is startlingly depicted in ‘The Maid of Belgium,’ a World film drama, which stars Alice Brady, and is to be screened at the Empress Theatre, commencing this coming Saturday. An American couple touring Belgium at the outbreak of the war come upon a half-distracted Belgian girl wandering aimlessly about her pretty village. They adopt her, as they are childless. The conclusion of the drama is most powerful and contains a general element of surprise. Very beautiful scenic views of Long Island Sound are in this picture as well as remarkable views of the Germans at their dreadful work in Belgium.”

Monday, 22 June 2015

The Penny brothers of Blenheim

 A real photographic postcard portrait of Private Walter Blaymires Penny taken at Oakley’s Studio in Blenheim before his departure for war service. He never returned to Blenheim; he was killed in action on 4 October 1917.

The Marlborough Express reported on the loss of one of its sons:
“Another son of Mr E.H. Penny has made the supreme sacrifice. This is Private Walter Blaymires Penny, his second son, news of whose death in action on October 4 was received by his parents last evening. The deceased soldier, who was only 21 years of age, was born in Blenheim, and educated at the Borough School and the Marlborough High School. He then joined the local branch of the National Bank, and was a member of the staff up to the time of his enlistment in the 11th Reinforcements. He was recently in hospital in England, and his parents were not aware that he had gone back to France. It is just over two years since Mr Penny’s eldest son, Private ‘Sam’ Penny, who was one of the first Blenheim boys to enlist on the outbreak of war, laid down his life on Gallipoli. General sympathy will be extended to Mr and Mrs Penny in their second bereavement.”

Walter's brother Private Samuel Murray Penny, killed at action at Chunuk Bair, 7 August 1915.
Source: Auckland Weekly News, 10 June 1915.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Private Norman Shore

A real photographic postcard portrait of Private Norman Shore taken at Deighton Studio in Napier before his departure for military service overseas. Prior to enlistment, he was employed as a shepherd. His mother Sarah Jane lived at 4 Brewster Street in Napier, located between Marine Parade and Napier Girls High School.

Shore was posted to 3rd Battalion Canterbury Infantry when he was killed in action near Passchendaele on 12 October 1917. He was only 21 years of age. His name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial at Zonnebeke, West Flanders in Belgium.

"Private Norman Shore, son of Mrs H. Shore, of Napier, who was reported missing on October 12th 1917, is now set down by the Court of Inquiry as "killed in action." "
Source: Hastings Standard, 24 April 1918.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Rifleman James Stephen Hawkins

A real photographic portrait postcard of Rifleman James Stephen Hawkins taken at Crown Studios in Christchurch.

Rifleman James Stephen Hawkins, with a swagger stick tucked under his arm, portrays the style of so many soldier portrait postcards taken of the era. Solemn faced, sharply dressed and standing proudly in uniform, he prepares himself for whatever may lie ahead. The son of Stephen and Lily Hawkins of Christchurch, he was educated at Woolston School and before the war was employed as a grocer's assistant for C.M. Suckling at Tai Tapu.

James Hawkins left with the 26th Reinforcements New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 12 June 1917 from Wellington on the troopship Maunganui (HMNZT 86) destined for Devonport in England. By late October he was on the battlefields of France and was killed in action less than four months later on 15 February 1918. The Press announced his death on 19 March 1918:

“Rifleman J.S. Hawkins (killed) was the son of Mr and Mrs S. Hawkins, 152 Ensor’s road, Woolston. Prior to going into camp he was employed by Mr Suckling, of Tai Tapu. For many years he was a member of the Linwood Football Club, and also took a keen interest in all sports. He was educated at the Woolston School, and left with the 26th Reinforcements.”

The Secretary of the NZEF War Graves Committee wrote to James’ father on 11 November 1920 to inform him that James’ body had been exhumed from an isolated grave and laid to rest in Oxford Road Cemetery about 1.5 miles north east of Ypres in West Flanders, Belgium.

Thursday, 18 June 2015


“General Sir W.R. Birdwood.” 
A British postcard from the “Generals of the British Army” Series and portrait artwork by Francis Dodd. 

Affectionately called "the Soul of Anzac" and "Birdy", General William Birdwood was the famed commander of the Anzac Corps at Gallipoli in 1915. He led the Anzac landings at the Dardanelles and the eventual planned evacuation from its bloodied beaches about a year later.

Just as many Anzacs had enjoyed what little simple pleasures they could get in the Gallipoli warzone, General Birdwood also enjoys a swim off Anzac beach. Source: Auckland Weekly News, 18 November 1915.
General Birdwood watching the evacuation of troops from the Gallipoli Peninsular in December 1915.
Source: Auckland Weekly News, 6 April 1916.
In the war years that followed, he was often not far from a kiwi connection. He presented gallantry awards to brave New Zealand soldiers, attended Anzac Day ceremonies, took salute from New Zealanders on parade and attended military funerals alongside high ranking New Zealand officers such as that of the burial of New Zealand Brigadier General Francis Earl Johnston at Bailleul in France in August 1917.
Anzac Day, London, 1916. General Sir William Birdwood awarding a NZ soldier the DCM.
Source: Auckland Weekly News, 8 June 1916.
He visited New Zealand after the war in mid-1920. General Birdwood, Lady Birdwood and their daughter departed Sydney for Wellington on the ship Manuka. During their stay in the capital, a civic reception was held for General Birdwood at the Wellington Town Hall. Many returned soldiers, sailors and nurses attended the reception to pay tribute to this admired military leader. His visit included a trip to Nelson, and studio portraits taken by renowned photographer Herman Schmidt in Auckland.

Birdwood died in 1951 and is buried at Twickenham Cemetery in England. His name is honoured throughout New Zealand: the Birdwood Range in the Canterbury foothills, the location of the Anzac Club on Birdwood Street in Featherston, Birdwood Avenue in Christchurch, Birdwood Crescent in Parnell, Auckland and Birdwood Street in Karori.

Friday, 12 June 2015

The German Machine Gun

A real photographic postcard of German soldiers posing with their standard heavy machine gun called the MG-08. With its ability to fire between 400 to 500 rounds per minute, the deadly efficiency of this weapon claimed many New Zealand soldiers’ lives during the war.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Save Time

Save Time Post Card.” Produced by “Novelties”, 96 Hardy Street, Nelson, dated 4 December 1915.

In a similar way to the field service postcard, this design also allows the soldier to quickly select and mark a number of different messages. The postcard's author starts his message with "Arrived here safely. Weather very hot. Feeling first rate." and so on. 

On the back a brief handwritten message reads:

“Miss Irene Woollett, Just a line to let you know I am all right. This is not much of a P.C. but I thought you would like to see it. Your loving brother Fred.”

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Military awards presented at Hornchurch

A real photographic postcard taken of a New Zealand military award ceremony at Hornchurch in England. 

A handwritten message on the back of the card reads:

“Hornchurch, 19 April. Just a snap shot taken of some of the New Zealanders. Jim Cusack in front. Line at foot. W.D. These boys in front have been decorated for deeds of bravery. General Richardson is pinning the ribbon on.” 

In April 1916 a special presentation of military awards was made on the parade ground at Hornchurch camp attended by General Birdwood, Brigadier General Richardson and the New Zealand High Commissioner from London, Sir Thomas Mackenzie. The oldest British award for gallantry, the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), was presented to 15 New Zealand soldiers at the ceremony.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Ward 9, Mount Felix

A real photographic postcard of the New Zealand hospital at Mount Felix, Walton-on-Thames. 

New Zealand soldier Bert Squire was a patient here at Ward 9 in January 1917. Bert’s message to his sister reads:

“Am fairly well settled down in my new home. It is too cold here. We are right on the banks of the Thames River. So you can draw conclusions. Am still happy but would sooner be in Reading. They won’t let me work here. Bad luck isn’t it. Ankle doing fairly well. 
Best wishes & Good luck. 
Yours sincerely, Bert Squire.”

Monday, 1 June 2015


"Pals" postcard by artist George Soper. 

On the back of the postcard the printed message reads:

“The soldiers and sailors blinded in the war have learnt to be blind at St Dunstan’s in Regent Park and many are still learning. After their training they go to their own homes or are set up in new ones to carry on the trades they have mastered. Large sums of money are necessary for the after-care of these brave men who gave their sight for us in the war, and a permanent After-Care Branch which will look after them all their lives has been established by the National Institute for the Blind which asks for your practical sympathy on their behalf. Contributions will be gladly accepted by the Treasurer, National Institute for the Blind, Great Portland Street, W.1.”

A number of New Zealand soldiers who were blinded in the war were sent to St Dunstan’s hospital in Regent's Park, London for treatment. One of these soldiers was the New Zealand High Commissioner’s son, Trooper Clutha Mackenzie. Clutha, serving with the Wellington Mounted Rifles was deprived of his sight while in combat at Sari Bair in 1915. The force of a nearby shell explosion forced out both his eyes.

Clutha Mackenzie, Free Lance, 26 November 1915.

Clutha Mackenzie, Auckland Weekly News, 6 November 1919.