ARATOI WAIRARAPA MUSEUM OF ART & HISTORY, MASTERTON 23 JANUARY - 31 JULY 2016
By Alice L. Hutchison with Tony Rasmussen, Glyn Harper, Neil Frances and Bronwyn Reid
August 2016 ÂŠ Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art & History, Masterton ISBN 978-0-473-36240-9 2
Administration buildings, Featherston Camp. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-139
FEATHERSTON MILITARY CAMP FEATHERSTON MILITARY TRAINING CAMP in South Wairarapa was the site of New Zealand’s largest continuously occupied military camp during World War One (1914-18). Together with the nearby camps of Tauherenikau and Papawai, Featherston Camp performed the vital role of preparing more than half of New Zealand’s total fighting force – around 60,000 men – for war. Featherston Camp: The Record of a Remarkable Achievement pays tribute to the legacy of one of New Zealand’s most important military sites.
Main Street, Featherston Camp. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 00-038-121
2 Aratoi Installation images JOHN CASEY, SILVER IMAGE PHOTOGRAPHY
Major David McCurdyâ€™s tunic Medals belonging to Phillip Davis Wilkie
Phillip Davis Wilkie's matchbox holder
Workers gather to be photographed on the camp’s central avenue. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 91-055-54I Fitzherbert Street, Featherston, about 1916. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 02-299-34
CHOOSING THE FEATHERSTON SITE Planning a military camp in the Wairarapa began in July 1915. BY THIS TIME, New Zealand had been at war for nearly a year and Trentham Camp in Upper Hutt had suffered an outbreak of measles, influenza and cerebro-spinal meningitis due to overcrowding. This resulted in 27 deaths (19 of which occurred in July alone) and troops were rapidly transferred to overflow camps at Tauherenikau Racecourse, Waikanae and Rangiotu near Palmerston North. The building of a new camp was authorised by Minister of Defence James Allen and a survey of possible sites carried out by Majors Charles Macdonald and Noel Adams. The area just north of Featherston offered several advantages. It was
close to the major embarkation port of Wellington, had ample free draining land with space for large scale training activities, bracing weather conditions, and ready access to fresh water from the Tauherenikau River. With negotiations underway to purchase and lease several blocks of land, building plans were drawn up. Overseeing construction by the Public Works Department was Colonel Ernest Hiley, Director of Camps and Barracks Construction and General Manager of Railways, while the man on site at Featherston was Public Works Engineer Arthur Tyndall.
Panoramic postcard of New Zealand Military camps, with Featherston proudly displayed above the others. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-75
BUILDING BEGINS By September 1915, 150 civilian tradesmen had been recruited to work on the site, and this number increased to nearer 1000 at the height of construction. Accommodating this large labour force became a priority, so as barracks (hutments in New Zealand) were built, the workers were able to move out of the tents they had been living in. The camp was as modern and as comfortable as resources would permit. It was lit by 3,000 lights which ran off two 75kw generators in an on-site powerhouse. Other innovations included drainage for carrying off surface water, metalled roads criss-crossing the camp, and a line of privately run shops, something that was working successfully at Trentham Camp. A delegation of representatives from the churches lobbied the authorities for permission to build religious institutes to cater for the needs of soldiers with strong denominational allegiances. The proposed size of the camp expanded as the need to increase the rate of reinforcement to the NZEF grew. Originally modelled on Trentham’s capacity of around 2,500 men, Featherston’s hutment capacity was soon increased to 4,500. The size of the administration and storage buildings were enlarged accordingly, adding to Featherston Camp’s growing dominance on the landscape.
Above: Plan for camp hutments and dining hall. ARCHIVES NEW ZEALAND ABZK, W5433 BOX 30, PWD 38360, 38369
Bottom Left: Arthur Tyndall, Public Works engineer. ALEXANDER TURNBULL LIBRARY 1-1-018718F
Bottom Right: Camp construction workers cleaning eating utensils after meal, late 1915. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 91-055-54C
Tent lines at Canvas Camp, adjacent to Featherston Camp. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-45
“The Leisure Hour” – Canvas Camp tent group. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-174-003-003
THE CAMP LAYOUT Around 300 workmen were still constructing the camp when it opened without ceremony on 24 January 1916 The main road running through the camp (today’s State Highway 2) was placed under military control to discourage civilian loitering. To the north were the hutments and cookhouses, while across the road to the south were the shops, religious institutes and, beyond, the hospital wards. The horse stables were located east of the hutments while the stores, administrative buildings and post office were located centrally alongside the main road through camp and the railway siding. Two infantry training grounds were located at what was known as Burt’s and Elgar’s Paddocks. Alongside the main camp and located at the southern end was a tent camp known as Canvas Camp where troops went for a short period of ‘toughening up’ prior to leaving for overseas service. This camp accommodated about 2,500 troops.
A large staff was needed to manage the camp. Overall operations were run from the administrative area which included headquarters for day to day operations, the pay office, orderly rooms for each unit, and quartermasters and supply stores. Nearby, the camp Post Office, certainly the busiest building in camp, had 17 staff and a motor van for transporting mail between passing trains. The task of tracing each soldier’s career through camp, such as promotions or infringements, was maintained by the records office.
“Sounds of singing, mellowed by distance, come from the ghostly-looking tent camp. The long camp streets, with their remarkable perspectives, are twinkling with lights that are fed from the humming engine-house beside the tall shower-bath building, wherein some soldiers are enjoying a hot bath.”
A NEW ZEALAND MILITARY CAMP LIKE NO OTHER Provisioning Featherston Camp involved the organisation of military resources on a grand scale. The site occupied roughly 164 acres (66 ha), while the training grounds surrounding the camp covered more than twice this area – 474 acres (191.8 ha). AT ANY ONE TIME there could be up to 8,500 soldiers living on site. Accommodation consisted of 90 large hutments, each 120 feet (36.5 metres) by 20 feet (6 metres) wide. Camp cooks prepared food in six cookhouses, each catering for 1500 men. Meals were taken in eight dining rooms, each of which could seat 600 while the officers’ dining hall seated 200. A herd of 500 horses were housed in 20 stables each accommodating 25 animals.
Service in the Soldiers’ Canteen. White-uniformed workers are ready to dispense cakes, pies, tea and coffee to off-duty soldiers. Run by contractors for 18 months, the canteen was taken over by the Defence Department in 1917, reducing prices and employing soldiers unfit for overseas service. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 14-97-2A
Feeding hungry men was a well-planned and coordinated exercise, with supplies being freighted into camp on a rail line which branched off the main Wellington – Napier railway. 21 tons (21,337 kg) of food was prepared daily, around 6lb (2.8 kg) per man while 400 gallons (1,818 litres) of milk was consumed. Camp ovens could bake up to 300 1 lb (454 g) loaves of bread at a time. The camp consumed up to 60 tons (60,963 kg) of coal and 32 cords (116 m3) of wood per week. 160,000 gallons (727,360 litres) of filtered water were supplied to the camp daily with water drawn from two concrete lined wells into a 13,000 gallon (59100 litre) tank.
Below: Camp Menu from 1917 book Featherston Military Training Camp: A Remarkable Achievement
From the booklet Featherston Military Training Camp, the Record of a Remarkable Achievement, 1917 Left: Staff of the Post & Telegraph Office. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-174-003-012
MĀORI TROOPS AND FEATHERSTON CAMP
COLONEL NOEL P. ADAMS COLLECTION, COURTESY OF WILLIAM ADAMS
WHO TRAINED AT FEATHERSTON? The camp was established to provide training for several different types of soldiers. THIS INCLUDED COMBAT TRAINING, such as firing weapons and bayonet practice as well as training in the use of specialist equipment. The infantry (foot soldiers) made up the bulk of New Zealand’s armed forces. These troops usually underwent initial training at Trentham Camp before entering Featherston, when more intensive training was given by drill and combat instructors. Training would occur on one of the camps’ nearby grounds while musketry (shooting) training took place at Papawai with rifles and, for selected troops, machine guns. Below: Postcard image of machine gun training, Papawai. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-17
Bottom: Mounted Riflemen with kitbags. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 13-156-3-70
Māori fought with distinction throughout the war, and were present as part of the ANZAC at Gallipoli in 1915. The largest number of Māori troops to train together did so at Narrow Neck Camp in Auckland. However many Māori enlisted with regular army units throughout New Zealand and trained at Featherston, while many NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) from Featherston transferred to the Māori Reinforcement contingents throughout the war. The Featherston Camp Weekly newspaper of July 1918 recorded that there were 134 Māori and 90 Rarotongan (Cook Islands) troops in training at Featherston at that time.
Field artillery units, which trained with large guns towed by teams of horses, practiced firing on ranges beyond the camp at Morison’s Bush. Like the artillery, mounted riflemen had the important duty of caring for the horses. A herd of 500 horses were housed in 20 stables each accommodating 25 animals. Daily routines of feeding and watering, tending to riding equipment, cleaning stables and training exercises in the surrounding countryside had to be carried out. Some men were selected to train as farriers so that they could shoe horses and medical care was provided by a veterinary hospital staffed by the New Zealand Veterinary Corps. The specialised units that trained at Featherston included machine gunners and engineers signallers, whose specialty was the operation of communication equipment such as field telephones and semaphore (signalling) flags.
Above: “This is the life”. Soldiers at Tauherenikau Camp, 1915. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-087
TAUHERENIKAU AND PAPAWAI CAMPS Featherston was the largest of a group of military camps in South Wairarapa which included Tauherenikau and Papawai Camps. TAUHERENIKAU RACECOURSE Racecourse was briefly occupied by mounted riflemen evacuated from Trentham in July 1915. This group moved north three weeks later to the nearby Williams farm to establish Tauherenikau Camp, where soldiers always lived under canvas. Apart from occasional use as an overflow camp, in June 1917 Tauherenikau was reinstated as a ‘segregation’ camp with the function of isolating new recruits from cross-infection. From late 1917 it was designated a ‘C1’ camp, its purpose being to strengthen physically less fit men for military service.
Anove: Stonework at C1 camp. Painting and fashioning designs from locally collected stones became a serious pastime for many of the soldiers in the tent camps of south Wairarapa. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-19
Papawai Camp was a 13 kilometre march from Featherston camp. Papawai Camp grew up alongside Papawai Rifle Range, which had been in use since the 1880s. A canvas camp for up to 500 men was planned and several buildings eventually constructed, including a dining hall, cookhouse and even a YMCA institute. Artillery, Mounted Rifles and machine gun units received training at Papawai Camp while infantry marched from Featherston to use the rifle ranges. After the war, the Repatriation Board turned Tauherenikau into a training farm for returned servicemen. While there men could learn skills such as poultry and pig breeding, horticulture and market gardening.
Infantry on the march.
Left: Papawai Camp, 1916.
WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-99
WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-19
One of the Featherston Camp bands leading a contingent of soldiers back into camp after a day’s training. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-142
A REGIMENTED LIFE On arrival in camp, recruits paraded and roll call was taken. Medical inspection was followed by uniforms being issued from the Quartermasters Stores together with messing (eating) utensils, toothbrush and a sewing kit for uniform repairs. From there the men would be allocated to their hutments where they soon got to know one another. Daily routines included parades, drill and hours of training outside camp. The soldiers rose early to dress and wash, do physical exercises and then breakfast. For unwell men, a daily sick parade determined which treatment was needed for each man and possible admission to hospital. Any unruly behaviour was handled by the Military Police and a small lock up with several cells awaited those who breached the rules, such as drunkenness or unauthorised absences. The large number of wooden buildings posed a fire risk and a camp fire brigade ensured a rapid response to any such emergency. Two camp bands – a military brass band and a trumpet band – performed daily bugle calls and played at formal military occasions and during public visiting hours. The Pay Office issued pay at the rate of five shillings per day to a private soldier (the lowest rank) each week. Outside of regular meal times, the troops could visit the large camp canteen or camp shops, at which they were able to purchase extra goods.
“The most interesting sight in or around the Camp is the arrival of recruits, who are sent in from the various group areas in batches of from ten and twelve upwards. They come in garbed in their civilian clothes, and carrying all sorts of luggage…” From the booklet Featherston Military Training Camp, the Record of a Remarkable Achievement, 1917 Top: Morning ablutions in 1916 – cold water in a tin basin! WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-174-3-4
Above: Kit inspection outside a hutment. A large trophy at the end of one of the beds indicates that these men have won an inspection contest. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 00-38-6 Troops eagerly awaited permission to take leave on weekends, from which they could travel to nearby towns or to Wellington. Visitors to the camp were permitted on Saturdays from 2pm to 6pm and on Sundays from 11am to 6pm.
Below left: Foot inspection after a route march, possibly at Tauherenikau Racecourse. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 00-38-39. Middle: One soldier gets his hair cut outside a hutment. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-174-3-6. Right: “Did you ever try our stew?” Queueing at one of the camp’s mess (dining) halls. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-50
Left: Architectural plans for the hospital rotundas. ARCHIVE NEW ZEALAND ABZK, W5433 BOX 30, PWD 38960. Above: Nurse Margaret Watt, who worked in the Featherston Camp Hospital. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 12-61-3
Health and hygiene was a high priority for camp authorities whose task it was to deliver fit fighting men. FOOD HYGIENE came in for particular attention and a strict daily cleaning regime applied to the dining halls, including scrubbing of the cookhouse floors and tables and the collection and disposal of rubbish. Around the hutments ventilation inlets were kept open except during rain, and for those living under canvas, daily airing of tents. Latrine drums were emptied twice daily. The camp’s two hospital wings, Military Hospitals 1 and 2, were octagonal in shape and represented the latest in hospital design. Each wing was connected by a series of smaller wards and an operating theatre. Cases of venereal disease were treated in a 25-bed ward, set up when the Medical Corps requested that men with VD be treated closer to centres of military training. To control throat infections, the troops had to undergo a daily ‘gargle parade’ of potassium permanganate while inoculations against diseases like typhoid was something many soldiers dreaded. Such was the importance of dental care to the Army that a substantial dental hospital was built that eventually accommodated over 40 staff of the Dental Corps.
Above: Featherston Camp under snow with one of the hospital rotundas in the foreground. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-23
Above: Interior of one of the hospital rotundas, from an Allan Mackenzie postcard. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-54
Right: The soldier’s view of inoculation, from a Mence & O’Halloran cartoon postcard. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-1
Far right: The camp dental hospital.
WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-149
Above: The United Institute buildings at Featherston Camp. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-174-3-21. Above right: The Soldiers Club building. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-52.
Below: Members of the camp tennis club with civilians. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 97-119-1
FUN AND GAMES Distractions from the routines of military life were an important part of catering to the troops needs for entertainment. FOR THE MORE PHYSICALLY INCLINED, events and competitions provided an outlet for a bit more rough and tumble such as boxing and rugby tournaments. The centrally located YMCA Soldiers Club and various religious institutes were staffed by chaplains and offered a place for quiet games such as chess or cards, reading and contemplation. Letter writing to family and friends was encouraged as often as each man could manage it, although finding a spare desk at which to write could sometimes be a challenge especially if there was an influx of new recruits into camp. Men with a literary inclination found an outlet for writing in several camp publications which by 1918 included a Featherston Camp weekly newspaper, with contributors writing under pseudonyms such as “Philistine” and “Haka”.
A musical concert attended by soldiers and civilians in Masterton Park. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 97-151-152.R6BISI
Below: The Interior of the Salvation Army Institute. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-47
'FANNING THE PATRIOTIC FLAME' CAMP AND COMMUNITY Interaction between troops and Wairarapa people was inevitable with such a large concentration of military personnel in one area. SOLDIERS GRANTED LEAVE soon found their way by troop train or motor car into nearby towns where they visited relatives, dined or perhaps attended dances while others took the train into Wellington.
Camp facilities eventually extended to a 400 seat picture theatre and concert hall which screened silent films set to live music performed by camp bands. A 1918 camp publication, Khaki Christmas, described the concert hall as being set up for roller skating and indoor hockey. A Soldiers Entertainment Committee oversaw entertainment for the troops which sometimes included visiting concert parties, with one concert in July 1916 playing to an audience of 1500 soldiers. Soldiers of the C1 camp even formed their own “C1 Comedy Company”.
Many formal events took place between soldiers and community groups and often were run for the purpose of fundraising. In 1917, 500 men enjoyed a Christmas Eve dinner provided by Wairarapa ladies from town branches of the Lady Liverpool Committee. The Wairarapa Racing Club allocated 1000 pounds to improvements in camp such as extending the Soldiers’ Club writing room, purchasing band equipment, landscaping and furnishing the Officers Club.
Salvation Army Institute at Tauherenikau Camp.
The most visible patriotic expression was the building of the Anzac Club in Featherston with funds raised by early settler families of the south Wairarapa. Opened in October 1916, the club offered a safe, alcohol-free venue for leisure, concerts and dances for off-duty soldiers. Sporting and cultural events became very popular as soldiers and civilians alike came to appreciate the opportunity to share mutual talents to compete on the sportsground or to perform at concerts. Bands from camp gave performances alongside local musicians and singers, sometime at camp. Sporting fixtures included, in November 1916, a Wairarapa-wide bowls tournament in which members of the camp Bowling Club participated, and in 1917 several rugby matches took place between Camp and Wairarapa teams. Soldiers also attended races at local courses. Large-scale military carnivals and demonstrations took place at venues like the Tauherenikau Racecourse and Solway Showgrounds in Masterton, giving troops the opportunity to ‘fan the patriotic flame’, as one newspaper described it. Featherston Camp’s combined military force of infantry, mounted troops and artillery put on a spectacular show of military strength.
Below left: Demonstrations at The Masterton Carnival. FEATHERSTON CAMP BOOK/WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 92-107-20.MD5. Below right: The Military Carnival, Masterton, where troops demonstrated their training to the wider public.
WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-109
Soldiers outside camp shops.
FEATHERSTON CAMP BOOK/WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 92-107-20.MD5
WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 00-38-121
The Salvation Army Soldiers and Relatives Hostel in Featherston. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-109-1
A FEATHERSTON CAMP SONG Discharged from the Army in July 1919, JB served as Managing Director of Thomsons Ltd for the rest of his working life. He was President of the Invercargill Trotting Club for 40 years and an executive member of the New Zealand Trotting Association for over 20 years. A confirmed bachelor, JB died in Invercargill in 1956 aged 83.
Below: “Did you ever try our stew?” Queueing at one of the camp’s mess (dining) halls. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-50
COURTESY OF DAVID DELL AND MUSICAL HERITAGE NEW ZEALAND
SOLDIERS AT A LOOSE END were liable to flirt with more humorous pursuits. John Bruce (or “JB”) Thomson of Invercargill had left his job at Thomson’s cordial manufacturers to enlist in February 1917. He arrived at Featherston Camp where he wrote a song called Camp Stew, setting it to a popular tune called There’s A Long Long Trail. Camp Stew sums up the feelings of the many soldiers who disliked intensely the infamous ‘Bill Massey’s Stew’, named for William Massey, Prime Minister of New Zealand at the time.
Above left: Patriotic Association hut at the summit, the high point of the Rimutaka march. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 99-291-161.R7B9S2 Above right: Soldiers on the hill enjoy a break while a photographer sets up his equipment. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-038-013
“Packed on like sheep 2000 on board” Troop ship Pākehā. SPENCER COTTER COLLECTION, COURTESY OF RSA MASTERTON
ON OUR WAY THE RIMUTAKA MARCH
DEPARTURE FOR THE FRONT, WELLINGTON HARBOUR
The Rimutaka March was a rite of passage for many infantry who trained at Featherston Camp, even though a small number of troops were deprived of the feat by having to make the journey by train. FOR EACH OF THE REINFORCEMENT BODIES, the crossing followed a pattern. Starting in the early hours of the morning, the route of the march took the troops out past camp and through the main street of Featherston where local people would often gather to wave them on. Marching toward the foothills of the Rimutakas, they would ascend the steep road toward the summit, where a delegation from the Wairarapa Patriotic Association would welcome them with food and tea. One soldier summed it up when he said:
“…As we breasted the summit the spectacle was one which will ever live on in one’s memory. The thin ribbon of road winding down with the grey and yellow cliffs on the left, the bush-clad hills on the right and the deep shadowy gorge below. Above, the blue sky and brilliant sunshine, yellow gorse on the lower hills…But dominating the scene, the men. Hundreds and hundreds of sun-browned men, felt hatted, bare arms swinging to the rhythm of the march as the long column snaked down the hill towards Kaitoke”. 18
William McKeown, 24th Reinforcements
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN BY THOMAS MICHAEL LYNCH 58895 OTAGO REGT.
Descending to Kaitoke, the troops bivouacked for the night before marching to Trentham and beyond, the ships waiting to carry them from New Zealand to the war for which they had long been preparing.
Sept. 11th 1917
“I am now somewhere in the Atlantic about three days sail from the Panama Canal. We sighted land for the first time after leaving New-Zealand at daybreak on Sept, 6th. I tell you I was jolly glad to see it. Life on board ship becomes pretty monotonous after the first week or two. The land we sighted was a few islands off the coast of South America. We stopped a few miles out until about 10 am. Then we began our sail up the Panama Canal. Well it is a lovely place. The trees and grass, all that grows is beautiful.”
“Still at sea. Things are not so bad. Still getting three meals a day and a place to put my head at night. But the meals are not like the meals I used to get from you. I don’t think I’ll ever refuse food again after the breaking in I have had on this ship.
After leaving the canal we called at the coaling station called Cristobal which is the coaling station for the Colon. [sic] We got there about 7 pm. Sept. 6th. Stopped there until 6am. 8th Sept. But received no leave to go ashore though some of the officers got ashore. The Suez Canal. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION American people and soldiers treated us very well while we were in Cristobal. Some ladies came down to the wharf and threw fruit and cards etc. The soldiers supplied us with a good number of cigarettes. Taking what we saw of the people they were very nice.
Above: The 21st Reinforcements near the Kaitoke bivouac after completing the Rimutaka march. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 11-151-096
In Cristobal we picked up another N.Z troop ship, four Australians and an American warship which escorted us to an island six days sail further on, she left us and a British one joined us. We are going up to Halifax now and are expecting to get leave there.”
Left: The Bulford kiwi, carved into the chalk of Beacon Hill near Sling Camp. New Zealand troops waiting repatriation made this emblem in February–March 1919. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
SLING MILITARY TRAINING CAMP
“Kiwi Emblem cut out of Chalk by the N.Z. Forces to commemorate their occupation of Sling Camp, Bulford, during the Great War. The Body covers an area of 1 ½ acres, Height 420 ft., length of beak 150 ft. Height of letters N.Z. 65 ft. Total area enclosed 4 ½ acres. The Emblem has been registered as a Military Encroachment by the Imperial Authorities and on behalf of the N.Z. Forces, its maintenance has been undertaken by the KIWI POLISH CO. Pty Ltd, London.”
After arriving in England most New Zealand troops went to Sling Military Training Camp on the windswept Salisbury Plain. The men called it a ‘godforsaken place if ever there was one.’ It was freezing in winter and infested with rats. DISCIPLINE WAS HARSH: the men had to take orders from bullying non-commissioned officers (NCOs) who’d already been in battle on the Western Front. It was so bad they joked the Kaiser should be exiled to Sling once the Allies had won the war.
MAKING SOLDIERS At Sling and later at other camps, men who only months earlier had been solicitors, timber workers, engineers, and teachers had a 30-day course in modern warfare. Training involved hours of marching, bayonet practice, bomb fusing and throwing, gas-mask drill, Lewis gun instruction, and lessons on the latest methods of trench warfare.
Extracts from letters written by Thomas Michael Lynch 58895 Otago Regt.
Oct. 7th 1917 As you can see I have arrived in England at last, worse luck. I had my first experience in what is called the bull ring, by jove they shake a fellow up in there. The food in camp is not so bad but it is bad enough. Of course we struck a good season for food but it is a bad one for weather, it is jolly cold here. We have not had any snow yet but they say it won’t be long before we get it. I am now in Sling Camp and it is a terrible place it is different altogether from the camps in NZ. We landed in Glasgow and had a trip right through Scotland and England by rail. They are both very pretty places. The trip up the Clyde river to Glasgow was beautiful. Dear Mother
I suppose you must be worrying a good bit about the boys by the time this reaches you. Well if you are mum you want to knock it off right away. Look on the best side of it. Every cloud has a silver lining and the war might be over before I get there although one is pretty close when he is in England. But I have not lost hope yet. It is quite a new experience for a fellow here to see the size of the camp etc.
THE BULL RING, FRANCE From England Kiwi troops went to the New Zealand base at Etaples, in northern France. Here all arrivals – whether new recruits or old hands returning from hospital – had yet more training before being sent to the Front. They worked hard in the ‘Bull Ring,’ – a parade ground built on a levelled-off sand dune where marching with packs and rifles was heavy going. ‘One instructor drilled you till he became tired and said “Fall out.” As you dropped down almost exhausted another took his place and said “Fall in.” – Jack Davis.
There are aeroplanes flying about pretty well all day. I am keeping good health even though the drill is severe at times. Well mum don’t suppose there is much chance of me being home in Roselyn this Xmas. Just hope the pleasure for Easter. We are better off here than on the boat as regards a priest. Today is the first time I have been to mass in about seven weeks, pretty hot eh. Wishing you all at home a Merry Xmas. I will conclude. From your affectionate son, Tom
Dec. 26th 1917 As you will notice these are a few views of Salisbury I am sending you. This place is about 12 miles from where we are camped. I have not yet been there, but intend to some day. We had a very good Xmas tea. Cold ham, fowl, biscuits, celery, bread and tea. No hope of leave at New-Year, but the O/C is going to arrange for me to go when the New Year boys return, or he’s going to do his best. The bank haven’t sent any money yet, but it may come today, of course they’re having holidays for a day or so this time of the year, that’s why its taken longer. P.S. All the boys of the 29th excepting Joe Newman and I are crossing the pond tonight, I suppose our turn will come later on. I have had three days drilling now and feel like an old soldier. I hear there is a big NZ parcel mail in so I’ll be getting these almond biscuits from you.
Above: Featherston Cemetery obelisk to soldiers who died at Featherston Camp in World War One. Most of the headstones are for victims of the 1918 influenza epidemic. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 10-204-112
THE DEVASTATING EPIDEMIC Despite taking precautions, and with such a large number of men moving through camp, deaths from disease and sickness were inevitable. THE GREATEST LOSS OF LIFE from a single event was that of the influenza epidemic, which struck New Zealand, including the country’s densely populated military camps, in late October 1918. More than 160 soldiers and staff died in Featherston Camp, including Dr William Bey of the New Zealand Medical Corps and who was superintendent of Greytown Hospital. The peak of the epidemic saw more than 2,400 hospitalised on 11 November.
Below: Unveiling of Featherston Cemetery obelisk, 11 December 1917. Sir James Allen, Minister of Defence, stands by the column. Lt. Col. Noel Adams stands on his left. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 15-176-2-3-104.
Today a memorial in the Featherston Cemetery contains an obelisk commemorating all deaths that occurred in Featherston Camp, with the majority of the headstones bearing the names of those who perished during this influenza epidemic.
Above: Brick rifle range butt for short range shooting, one of the few remnants of Featherston Military Training Camp. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 10-204-21
THE END OF FEATHERSTON CAMP AND THE SITE TODAY When war ended with the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Featherston Camp was still organised to receive and train thousands of troops.
Above: House in Sackville Street, Martinborough, once part of a camp hutment. COURTESY OF NEIL FRANCES
HOWEVER THE CAMP’S FINAL MONTHS were marred by the tragedy of the influenza epidemic as well as the disruption caused by the uncertainty of demobilization as men prepared to leave camp to return to civilian life. Tauherenikau and Papawai camps were empty by December 1918 and their buildings were being sold off. Featherston Camp remained to accommodate 321 German and Austro-Hungarian internees previously held on Somes Island near Wellington. The last internees remained until early 1920. The hospital continued in use both for tuberculosis patients and, most controversially, for venereal disease patients until August 1919. The Post Office, which had provided such a critical service to the camp, remained open until midway through 1919. The role that Featherston Military Training Camp played in New Zealand’s wartime past has recently been acknowledged by Manatū Taonga/Ministry for Culture and Heritage. On 18 March 2015, the Ministry formally registered the site of Featherston
Above: Kahutara Hall, opened in 1921, originally part of Featherston Camp’s Soldier’s Club. COURTESY OF NEIL FRANCES
Departure for the Front from Wellington harbour, NZ Eighteenth Reinforcement Draft, October 1916. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION.
Military Training Camp as a Category 1 Historic Place. This official recognition of the Featherston Camp site a place of national historic significance is a permanent reminder of its role in the nation’s wartime past.
COLONEL NOEL PERCY ADAMS CMG, NZFA
COLONEL NOEL PERCY ADAMS’ role at Featherston Camp – responsibility for managing over 1000 instructional and administration staff, overseeing its detailed training schedules and the well-being of tens of thousands of men – cannot be overestimated. This exhibition provides the first opportunity to acknowledge Colonel Adams’ significant role in New Zealand’s huge contribution to the First World War, and the expert training of the 60,000 NZ soldiers who passed through the camp and went on to fight for the liberation of France and Belgium. Noel Percy Adams was born in Nelson in 1882, only child of Nelson solicitor Percy Adams. He was educated at Nelson College (1893-1901) and began his military career with the Nelson College Cadets before attending Cambridge University from 1902, training for the law (Trinity Hall; B.A.1905, M.A.1908). In England he became a part-time soldier in the Cambridge University Mounted Rifles, later commanding the unit. He went on to King Edward’s Horse (made up of colonials in England) with the rank of captain. Adams represented Cambridge in tennis, rowing and soccer. During this period he went on peace-time manoeuvres with the German and French armies. Adams was a barrister of the Inner Temple, London and practised in England. In 1910 Noel married Eileen Raw in London and the couple came back to New Zealand where he joined his father’s legal practice in Nelson. He joined the N.Z. Territorial Army in 1911 as a captain in the Field Artillery.
Lieutenant Colonel Noel Percy Adams was commandant of Featherston Military Training Camp from the opening in January 1916 until war’s end.
Captain Adams was 33 when World War One began. He was appointed adjutant (administration officer) at Trentham Camp in January 1915. The camp became the entry point of men joining the NZ Expeditionary Force from October 1914. When the camp was being rebuilt from July 1915, Adams, now a major, was briefly in command of Awapuni Camp before going to the tent camp at Tauherenikau. He was put in charge of the camp being built at Featherston after helping to choose the site. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel before the camp opened. Noel and Eileen lived at the historic homestead ‘Longwood,’ near Featherston, during the war. As commandant, he hosted many visitors to camp, including the Governor-General, senior army staff and politicians. He also had contact with civilians over soldier welfare and relations between the military and local communities. In 1917 Lt Col Adams was appointed a CMG – Companion to the Order of St Michael and St George – in recognition of his work in training camps and specifically Featherston Camp.
Left: Col. Adams. Above: Items from his collection. COLONEL NOEL P. ADAMS COLLECTION, COURTESY OF WILLIAM ADAMS
Below: Sitting centre is 2nd Earl of Liverpool (Lord Liverpool) – Governor of NZ 1912-1917 and Governor-General 1917-1920. 3rd from left, front row is General Alexander Godley, commander of NZ Forces (head of the Army in NZ and Territorial Army, commander of NZEF 1914-1919). Liverpool sits next to his wife, Annette, Lady Liverpool. Noel Adams is 2nd right, back row. c 1913-1914. WILLIAM ADAMS COLLECTION
The biggest trial at Featherston Camp was in 1918 when the influenza epidemic killed over 160 and infected thousands. Adams took sick leave in November and was replaced by several temporary commandants. Soon after the Armistice and announcement of the end of the war on 11 November 1918, he retired from the army. The Adams’s then spent several years overseas, in USA and Britain, before returning to farm at Clevedon, east of Auckland. He was one of the pioneers of Federated Farmers (1940s). He died at his home ‘Matingarahi,’ Clevedon, Auckland, in March 1954, aged 71. Above left: Leading by example. Col. Adams (left) and Col. Macdonald
(centre) lead a reinforcement just commencing the Rimutaka march. “Many Diggers of World War I well remember PHOTOGRAPHER LUTHER MENCE PROVIDED Colonel Adams as the commandant of Featherston THE PHOTO FOR THE 1917 FEATHERSTON CAMP BOOK. Camp. Whenever a draft had orders to embark for overseas, he marched it, with full kit up, over the Rimutakas to Wellington. And leading his white horse, he always strode at the head. The picture will come to many minds of this big and robust man, sweating profusely, his tie loosened, and his peaked cap thrust to the back of his head. But not until he turned back to camp did he ever climb into the saddle.” (obituary, nd.)
Above: Camp personalities, circa 1916: Col. Harry Potter (Commandant of Trentham Camp) Col. Robert Henderson (Director-Gen of Medical Services) Col. Charles Gibbon (Chief of General Staff) Sir James Allen (Minister of Defence) Lt. Col Noel Adams (Commandant of Featherston Camp) Brig-Gen Alfred Robin (Commandant N.Z. Military Forces) Lt. Col Charles Macdonald (Chief Infantry Instructor). FEATHERSTON ANZAC HALL COLLECTION Above Right: Officers and NCOs of the Cambridge University Royal Volunteer Mounted Infantry 1905. Noel Adams centre front. WILLIAM ADAMS COLLECTION 25
33rd Reinforcements March over Rimutakas on 27 Nov 1917. Photographed by James Daroux whose premises at Trentham Camp were opposite Hut 17.
A to-scale visualisation of Featherston Camp by Gerad Taylor TAYLORGRAPHICS.
GEORGE WILLIAM KEEBLE NORMAN SHEPHERD
SERVICE NUMBER 9/1488 HEADQUARTERS, FEATHERSTON CAMP
SERVICE NUMBER 4/122 REGIMENTAL SERGEANT MAJOR MERITORIOUS SERVICE MEDAL (MSM), 1914–15 STAR, BRITISH WAR MEDAL, VICTORY MEDAL
Norman Shepherd’s military career with the NZEF was destined to be brief – a disappointment to a young man who had been keen enough to apply for a Territorial commission in 1913.
George Keeble was born 30th June 1885 in Middlesex, England and grew up in a children’s home. He joined the 1st Kings Dragoon Guards Regiment in 1897 at the age of 13 as a cadet. Keeble served in the Dragoons for over 15 years.
NORMAN WAS A COMPOSITOR with Roydhouse Printers in Carterton when he enlisted in August 1915. He was posted to the Otago Mounted Rifles with the Seventh Reinforcement, departing from Wellington in October 1915 and arriving in Egypt late November. Too late for the Gallipoli Campaign, Norman trained in Egypt until going sick with rheumatic fever in Moascar Camp. He was hospitalised in March 1916 and came before a medical board, which sent him back to New Zealand to be discharged from the NZEF in June 1916. The army decided he was fit for home service in the clerical branch. He was posted to Featherston Military Training Camp and, until the end of the war, worked in the camp headquarters.He was part of a large permanent staff of instructors and administrators necessary to run the huge camp. Some were returned soldiers (through wounds or sickness) while others were older men who did not meet NZEF fitness standards.As a former mounted rifleman, Norman was occasionally able to exercise horses. He was also part of the camp hockey team. He entered camp as a corporal and was promoted in 1917 to sergeant. After World War One Norman became a professional secretary in Featherston and served as a borough councillor. He was connected with many groups, notably Wairarapa Racing Club and Wairarapa Automobile Association. He served as an officer in the South Wairarapa’s 5th Independent Mounted Rifles in World War Two – home servicemen raised to coast-watch and provide defence in the event of a Japanese invasion. The unit was disbanded about 1944. Norman Shepherd was an active member of the RSA and died in 1976. Right: Sgt Edgar Durrad, an Auckland accountant, operates a duplicator in the headquarters in 1917.
WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 13-156-11-63
Abover left: At work. Sgt Norman Shepherd (left) and another clerical worker at camp headquarters, 1917-1918. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 13-156-11-17
Above: Carterton soldiers at Zeitoun Camp, Egypt, 1915. Sitting (left) Norman Shepherd and brothers James Harvey (killed 29/11/1917) and, standing, Arthur Harvey (killed 7/11/1917). WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 14-157-1
KEEBLE SAILED WITH HIS REGIMENT to India in 1907. In meeting the rank of Sergeant in 1909, he qualified in Discipline, Duties in Barracks, Guards and Piquets, Camp and On the March, Drills, Manoeuvre, Outposts, Advanced and Rear Guards and for Cavalry, Musketry, Royal Artillery, Gunnery and Equipment.
After four years and 122 days of service, he was discharged in December 1918. He passed away in 1968. IMAGES COURTESY OF THE KEEBLE FAMILY
Keeble came to New Zealand in 1912. At the outbreak of WWI, he was sent to Trentham Military Camp, then sailed for Samoa. He was soon recalled to NZ because of his Army record. He was stationed at Featherston as instructor to the Mounted Rifles, and promoted to Sergeant Major. Keeble commenced duty on 20th January 1915. He stayed at Featherston Camp as Chief Instructor from 1916, and did not go to the Western Front. In his application for appointment in the New Zealand Defence Force, he listed his trade or calling (other than military) as “Musician”, with 11 years employed in regimental bands as a euphonium and trombone player. George played five instruments and was always involved in a band. Above: Camp staff at rest. Eight members of the permanent staff outside a hutment in 1916. Corporal Shepherd sits at front right. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 13-156-2-26
LEONARD JAMES APLIN
JAMES ALEXANDER WELSH
SERVICE NUMBER 63808 A COMPANY, AUCKLAND INFANTRY REGIMENT, 32ND REINFORCEMENTS
SERVICE NUMBER 30679 20 TH REINFORCEMENT 3RD BATTALION, WELLINGTON INFANTRY REGIMENT James Alexander Welsh was born in 1889 in Hampden, Otago, to William and Jane Welsh. He was one of two children. William was a shepherd and the family moved to the North Island in the early 1900s.
BY 1905 WILLIAM WAS SHEPHERDING at William Perry’s ‘Penrose’ property at East Taratahi, south of Masterton. The family was at Kiritaki near Dannevirke in 1914, and in 1916, when he enlisted, James was working for his father at Putara, west of Eketahuna. Welsh was medically examined at Eketahuna and entered camp on 21 August 1916, joining the 20th Reinforcement. After training at Trentham and Featherston, he marched the Rimutaka Hill in November 1916.
Leonard (or Len) Aplin was a Carterton labourer who joined the Army in 1917. He left New Zealand as part of the 32nd Reinforcements, saw active service in France and returned home after having been hospitalised. Len’s letters home provide a fascinating insight into the life of the ordinary soldier.
remained there until the Armistice on 11 November 1918. He was posted back to Sling Camp in February 1919 and embarked on the Hororata for New Zealand on 28 July 1919. In 1925 Welsh married Elizabeth Knapp and they had two daughters. By 1928 he was a shepherd at Solway, Masterton and later lived in Gordon Street, Masterton. He shepherded and farmed for the rest of his working life. James Welsh died in Masterton in 1970.
He sailed from New Zealand on 7 December on the Port Lyttleton. On arrival in England, he went into Sling Camp for further training. He was sent to France in the 3rd Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment as part of the newly-formed Fourth Brigade of the NZ Division, commanded by Brigadier-General Herbert Hart of Carterton. Welsh went through the Messines and Passchendaele campaigns and was promoted to corporal in November 1917. In February 1918 he was posted to the Field Training Wing at Etaples, followed by leave in England in March. From late March he was in the Entrenching Battalion, a unit of surplus soldiers who joined the NZ Division as required. In September 1918 he transferred into the 1st Cyclist Battalion and Passchendaele wounded. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
Below: Len Aplin at centre front. COURTESY OF CAROL HANSEN
4TH AUGUST 1917 / TAUHERENIKAU
We are having a good time, plenty of work and plenty of good tucker……we have just had tent inspection by the boss guy, whoever he is…each camp has a different way of doing things so as soon as we get used to one way of doing things we have to change it but that is all in the game…
5TH AUGUST 1917 / TAUHERENIKAU
Saturday was rough, you know how it can blow here however there was no tents went down but there was a lot of peg driving going on all night and raining ... we also got points for the best tent in the line…
28TH AUGUST 1917 / TAUHERENIKAU
Everyone is writing at the institutes, it is a job to get in to a desk so I am writing on the back of a tin plate in the tent, eight of us to a tent so not much room… I struck a good job – four of us serve out all the tucker for 1900 men, that is, bread butter jam cheese one ton of bread yesterday, twenty tins of jam, two or three hundred lbs of butter and about three cheeses … we have our tucker on the job, chops and eggs…I sleep like a log every night and feed well so I will be fat enough to fill my denims in a year or two… Machine-gunners, Passchendaele. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
31ST AUGUST 1917 / TAUHERENIKAU
Go out at 7.45am, take oil sheet mug and knife and have lunch out, the parade ground is about two miles out. They keep us going all the time, the band was out to bring us home tonight…
2 DECEMBER 1917 / OCEAN WAVE
…there was a good few marched down and put on board with us, the boat is fairly full…there is a big crowd [on] the deck playing cards, smoking, reading etc…on the afternoon we left there was someone waving at nearly every house in Wellington…
“WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL THERE IS NO WAR IN NEW ZEALAND”
10TH FEBRUARY 1918 / SLING CAMP
…I haven’t seen any of the Carterton boys here although there are thousands of diggers here… I hope this time next year I will be back in Pig Island, it will do me…
1ST APRIL 1918 / FRANCE
This is the third camp we have been in since we landed in France. Wallie Hodges, Bob Wilson and I have stuck together so far but we don’t know when they will cut a man off and put him with strangers…we get a good feed for a franc, cheaper than it was in England…we may get orders any minute but I hope they let my washing dry first, there is a fair breeze so it won’t take long.
30TH APRIL 1918
…Bob Wilson Walter Hodges and I still managed to stick together we are in the Lewis gun section…things are lively around here especially yesterday he sent his big stuff over and put one down amongst twelve of us and only two hurt but one lost his leg cut clean off and other got it in the face but not too bad, just gave him a Blighty... a man wonders how he gets off sometimes…the roads are the worst as they fly off a hard road catch a good few horses he got four here yesterday but he is quiet today…we should be thankful there is no war in New Zealand…
25TH OCTOBER 1918 / NO.2 NZ GENERAL HOSPITAL WALTON-ON-THAMES
…I wish I was there to walk around with you however we will have a walk around when I come back, it won’t be this summer now I am afraid…I forgot to tell you we had to go to school every morning I am taking bookkeeping and economics I don’t know what good it is going to do me however it fills in time and we can’t go out till after dinner…I suppose Walter is thinking of camp now it will soon be time for him to hop in however I hope he will never have to leave NZ but I can’t see the end of it yet. There is a lot of talk in the papers but I think Jerry will decide to fight it out…Alec Gray from East Taratahi came in last night, he had been in a London hospital, he told me old Billy Bey was killed. What a lot of Carterton boys have gone out...
DANIEL PATRICK REARDON SERVICE NUMBER 61957 2ND LIEUTENANT, NEW ZEALAND FIELD ARTILLERY, 40TH REINFORCEMENTS
ERNEST FRANZ LUKS
Daniel Reardon of Mt Eden, Auckland, worked as a builder before joining up in March 1917. Before the war, he served with the Territorials as a sergeant with No. 1 Battery, Auckland Brigade, New Zealand Field Artillery. In October 1912 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant.
AS WITH OFFICERS and other ranks of the New Zealand Field Artillery, Daniel would have received additional training at Featherston Camp’s 16-week Artillery Training Programme. This included map reading, preparation of fortifications and reconnaissance duties as well as care of horses, which were vital for towing the large guns. Firing practice took place on a practice range at Morison’s Bush, near Papawai Camp. Following training, Daniel embarked with the 40th Reinforcements on 10 July 1918, destination Plymouth, England. His first service book, opened on 7 July 1918, records that he was issued with a Webley Pistol, prism compass and case, semi-circular protractor and a pairset of prism binoculars with case. A practicing Roman Catholic, Daniel also carried a small medallion of the Consecration of the Children of Mary. Much of Daniel’s military equipment, including uniform, form a substantial collection that was later gifted to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Daniel Reardon received notice of demobilization in July 1919 while at Sling Camp and left England aboard S.S. Remuera on 12 September. After being struck off the NZEF roll on 23rd November 1919, he was posted to the New Zealand Field Artillery ‘A’ Battery (Territorials) with the rank of Lieutenant.
SERVICE NUMBER 31310 B COMPANY, WELLINGTON INFANTRY BATTALION Born in Auckland in 1882, Ernest Luks was an academically gifted young man who excelled in music, becoming both a songwriter and performer.
ERNEST WAS BASED in Wellington when war was declared in 1914, and during the early part of the war put his musical abilities to use by travelling to Trentham and Awapuni Camps where he performed for the troops. Trentham Marching Song, a humorous account of life at Trentham camp which Ernest wrote in 1915, was a direct result of his exposure to army life. Enlisting in 1916, Ernest went into camp at Featherston and on 3 October 1916 married Winifred Lonsdale there. With the rank of corporal in the Wellington Infantry Battalion, he departed with the 19th Reinforcements and served on the Western Front until invalided back to New Zealand in late 1917. Ernest kept up his interest in music and featured in a number of shows throughout Australasia and even gained his pilot’s license. Yet his health continued to deteriorate and he died in Auckland on 29 April 1936. Ernest’s obituary states that he never fully recovered from the effects of war service. The two surviving songs by Ernest Luks – Trentham Marching Song and I’m Going to New Zealand, written about 1919, provide a window into the life of one musically gifted soldier who trained at Featherston Camp. Above: Cover of Ernest’s post-war song “I’m Going to New Zealand”. Top: Ernest and Winifred on their wedding day at Featherston Camp. Top left: The Luks in their garden, 1925. IMAGERY COURTESY OF MUSICAL HERITAGE NEW ZEALAND TRUST
Above: Images courtesy of Tāmaki Paenga Hira, Auckland War Memorial Museum. Ref: AM-1997-15-24 Below: STABLES IMAGE COURTESY OF WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 95-110-1.MD4
“BE A GOOD BOY AND STAY IN NZ”
LANCE SERGEANT JAMES ROSS MOODY SERVICE NUMBER 48054 NEW ZEALAND RIFLE BRIGADE
James Ross Moody, known as Ross, was born in 1897 and grew up on a farm in the small Manawatū community of Tokomaru. At the outbreak of war in 1914, he was clerk in the Public Works Department in Stratford, Taranaki, where he made friends with a number of young men with whom he would later join the army.
ROSS SOON CAME TO UNDERSTAND the true cost of the war for many families. In January 1916, he received a letter from a couple in Onehunga, Auckland, thanking him for organising a message of condolence for a son who had been killed, possibly at Gallipoli. During the course of the war, both his brother Bert and uncle, George Alexander Robbie, would lose their lives. In early 1916, Ross received a postcard from a relative serving overseas extoling New Zealand as “the best little country on Earth”, advising him to “never leave it” and to “be a good boy and stay at home”. Despite these warnings, Ross enlisted and entered Featherston Camp where he was posted to the 26th
Reinforcements, NZ Rifle Brigade. His portrait, shown here, reveals that Ross had his photograph taken by Allan Mackenzie, military photographer at Featherston Camp. Ross spent the last months of the war in France and on leave in Ireland, where he visited relations. After the war, he resumed his job with the Public Works Department and played a prominent role in the construction of the Mangahao hydroelectric power scheme near Shannon. Ross spent the rest of his life in Wellington and was active in the Public Service Association and Wellington Returned Soldiers’ Association.
Above: Portrait of James Ross Moody taken at Featherston Camp. All images COURTESY OF STEPHANIE KIRBY
SPENCER HAROLD COTTER SERVICE NUMBER 42919 GUNNER & DRIVER NZFA 3RD BATTERY, 24TH REINFORCEMENTS
Spencer Cotter was born in Masterton 13 March 1895. He was educated at Masterton Central School, then at Te Wharau, where his family owned a general store, boarding house, billiard room and the stables. After school Spencer worked for his father supplying goods to the surrounding stations.
SPENCER COTTER HAD a variety of farming positions, joined the Territorials and was a Station Manager at Oliver Smith’s property at Lansdowne when he enlisted on 30 November 1916. Spencer commenced duty January 8 1917 at the Featherston Military Camp, and embarked on the Pakeha 26 April 1917 from Wellington for Plymouth, England. He arrived in Etaples, France 19 October 1917 and was posted to the 3rd Battery of the 1st Brigade NZFA on 12 November. The Division spent a busy winter in Polygon Wood in the Becalaere sector at Ypres. Spring 1918 saw the Division rushing in to help against the German offensive on the Somme and heavy fighting continued as the Germans fell back on the Hindenburg Line. It was there Spencer was wounded on 5 October 1918 near La Vacquerie. He rejoined his unit and on the 11th of October the 1st Brigade crossed the River Selle, the Division advancing 11 miles in five days. On 2 November Spencer was posted on leave to Scotland. The Division went on to take the mediaeval fortress of Le Quesnoy on the 4th of November, and the war ended seven days later.
Zealand on the Raranga arriving 20 March 1919. He was discharged from War Service 27 May 1919. He married Ethel Louisa Hawke of Clareville in 1921 and they had four children, none of whom survived their childhood. Spencer married Alice Wright nee Revell in 1973 and died on 1 May 1985. He is buried in Clareville Cemetery.
Top Left: Spencer Cotter (red arrow) marching for shooting from Featherston to Papawai, 1916. Below: The soldiers' equipment sits on the wooden floor while they construct a boundary of whitewashed boulders. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 15-108-1-13
While in Glasgow he caught influenza and was hospitalized in Brockenhurst, Codford and Stubhill. During his convalescence he made many friends who corresponded with him following his return to New
Images courtesy SPENCER COTTER FAMILY
Len Sprosen on far left hand side, at Featherston training camp just prior to departure.
MAJOR DAVID MCCURDY LEONARD SPROSEN
SERVICE NUMBER 9/319 OTAGO MOUNTED RIFLES, NZEF, OBE
Leonard Arthur Sprosen (1897-1987) enlisted in September 1917 but was not called up for training until February 1918, with the 38th Mounted Rifles Reinforcement. He left NZ in June 1918 on the Manuka for Sydney where he transferred to the Port Lyttelton for the voyage to Suez via Ceylon.
Major David McCurdy was born on 25th June 1887 in Dipton, Southland (d. 31 August 1949, Dipton). The son of an Irish immigrant family, Dave McCurdy joined the Otago Mounted Rifles, training at Matarae Camp near Middlemarch, Central Otago.
SERVICE NUMBER 72378 38TH MOUNTED RIFLES
LEONARD SPROSEN ARRIVED in Egypt in August 1918. The war with the Turks in Palestine was winding down by October 1918. A signaller in the Mounted Rifles, he looked after the horses and saw little front line action. Despite being vaccinated, according to his records, he became ill with malaria, anaemia and dysentery. He was sick for most of his time in Egypt and was eventually discharged back to NZ. “We lived with our Grandfather till his death at the age of 90, he spoke little of the war to us but we did always know his love and care for his horse was paramount and amongst every other experience they had to live with from the war, having to shoot his horse at the end of it all was truly heart breaking for him,” his grand-daughter Clare recalls. Len’s son Derek recounted a few equine adventures, including having to put his hand down horses’ throats to pull out leeches. He recently recounted; “The only time I ever saw him cry was when he told me the story of having to shoot his horse, before returning to NZ, rather than give them to the Egyptians. He spoke of watering the horses sometimes taking all night, this job being first priority. Water being scarce in some places and wells had sometimes been poisoned in others. We understood that as a signaller they often worked in pairs away from the main body of troops and he preferred to look after the horses and let his buddy prepare their food etc. He told us that when they entered Jerusalem their “Horses were up to their hocks in filth” and you could smell the place a mile away and we heard many stories about the flies. Dad spoke of an incident at his camp when a NZ trooper was shot and killed by an Arab who was attempting to steal his rifle or kit. The offender was tracked to a nearby Bedouin village. Because the authorities appeared to be taking no action over this, the next night a number of NZ and Australian Mounted
VERSO INSCRIPTION: Dear Grandma, Just a short note that I am doing fine and having a good time. It’s just like a big picnic up here. On the other side is a photograph of our tent and some mates. They are shearers and farmers and a pretty rough lot but good sorts never the less. Of course they growl and IMAGES complain all the time, COURTESY OF THE but if they had workedFAMILY in SPROSEN town all their lives they would appreciate this life for a while. From grandson Len Rifles entered the village, expelling the women and children, burning the houses and executing many of the men. British General Allenby ordered an enquiry about the incident but no offenders were identified.” DS, 2015
MCCURDY SAILED TO EGYPT in 1914 as a lieutenant in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and first served in Gallipoli and Egypt. McCurdy embarked for France in April 1916 with the NZ Division. He was promoted to captain in April 1916 upon his posting to GHQ in Rouen. In his new role, he maintained a close liaison with the OMR Squadron in France and was temporarily placed in charge of his old unit in the winter of 1916–17, during the lead-up to Messines. McCurdy was promoted to major in January 1917 and for his services on the Western Front was made an OBE (Military) and mentioned in despatches three times. McCurdy returned to New Zealand, marrying military nurse Ellen (‘Nell’) Gebbie in 1923. He ﬁnally settled and embraced the sedate life of a grocer, taking over his father’s business.
campaigning. He saw service in Gallipoli and Egypt (1914–16), Western Front (1916–1918), and was in the Staff Office at Rouen. He commenced duty on 1st September 1914 and was finally discharged in August 1919, a total service overseas of 4 years 266 days. with a total service of 4 years and 340 days. Major McCurdy received the 1914 -1915 Star, British War medal and Victory Medal. The Major McCurdy collection is on loan to the Masterton RSA. Originals are displayed in public here for the first time.
Like all returning soldiers, he was issued a certificate detailing his services in ‘The Great War’; it also documented his OBE, and nearly five years of hard Top: Otago Mounted Rifles Southland troop c. 1914. COURTESY OF RSA MASTERTON
Major MCurdy (right) with Sphinx, Egypt. COURTESY DR AARON FOX. 37
Passchendaele New Zealand gun crew, 1917.
Wellington Regiment, Baupame August 1918. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
SERGEANT PHILLIP DAVIS WILKIE MM
IMAGES COURTESY RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
SERVICE NUMBER 23908 1ST BATTALION, WELLINGTON INFANTRY REGIMENT
SERVICE NUMBER 21959 2ND BATTALION, OTAGO REGIMENT
Born in 1895 in Leeds, England, Percy came to Dunedin with his family in 1899. He trained as a fitter, and worked as an engine driver for the railways at Kaitangata before enlisting at Trentham Camp in May 1916, where he underwent five weeks of preliminary training before a further eight weeks at Featherston Camp.
PERCY BLACKBURN THEN RETURNED to Trentham for further preparations and training before embarkation. He was promoted to lance corporal in June 1916, but was later demoted for returning late from leave after his arrival in France. He embarked for England on the Navua, arriving at Devonport in late October 1916. He trained at Sling Camp, where New Zealand troops prepared for battle, and was posted to France on 4th December 1916. He was wounded twice in action, with gunshot wounds to the leg, and also hospitalised with scabies, a mite infection of the skin, more than once - an indication of living conditions in the trenches. Scabies could lead to much more serious infections such as cellulitis and rheumatic fever and lowered men’s resistance to bacterial infection, so was taken seriously.
and under heavy gunfire. The following night, on returning from a run, he heard that an outpost was being raided. Percy immediately volunteered to go and obtain information - a second dangerous mission under a heavy barrage of gun fire. He sailed for New Zealand on the Maunganui on 17th May 1919. He was discharged from the army 21st July 1919 and ‘normal’ life resumed. He died in Dunedin in October 1978.
Percy Blackburn was awarded the Military Medal in 1917 for ‘conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty’ during action at Gravenstafel, during the Passchendaele offensive on 29th September, when as Company Runner he carried an urgent message through unknown territory at night in dense fog
Below: A communication trench on Passchendaele Ridge, 1917.
Carrying wounded, Passchendaele.
Wilkie was born in Upper Hutt 29th March 1894. At the time of enlistment in February 1916 he was working for his father who farmed at Dyerville near Martinborough. He first trained at Trentham then at Featherston Camp, embarking from Wellington June 1916. Arriving at Sling Camp 26 July 1916 for training, he left for France and joined 17 (Ruahine) Company, 1st Wellington Battalion on 30 September in the closing stage of the Battle of the Somme.
WILKIE PARTICIPATED IN the fierce 1917 battles of Messines and Third Ypres, and Second Somme in 1918, was in hospital several times for injury or sickness but always returned to the front line. In August 1918 near Bapaume, he was pinned down by intense machine-gun fire from an enemy nest, toward which he crawled up a gutter with bullets skimming his back. As the enemy was not able to fire low enough, Wilkie was able to lob in a Mills grenade to eliminate the German unit and clear the way for the 1st Wellington Battalion to advance towards Bapaume, captured on 29 August. The extraordinary risks taken and miraculous survival through numerous key battles at the Somme were recorded on Phillip Wilkie’s matchbox holder, inscribed with battles and locations in and around Armentières where the NZ Division was based in May–August 1916 and October 1916–September 1917. Some of these places were completely destroyed by shell fire and a few have now been absorbed by bigger towns:
• Bac-Saint-Maur was a hamlet on the River Lys east of Sailly-sur-la-Lys
• Laventie is a village 6 km s.w. of Armentières • Fleurbaix is a village 4km south of Armentières • Le Bizet is a hamlet about 1km west of Ploegsteert: Ploegsteert Village and Ploegsteert Wood are between Armentières and Messines • St. Yves (St Yvon) is about 1.5km north of Ploegsteert village • Messines (Mesen in Belgium) • La Basseville – hamlet south east of Messines near R. Lys • Neuve Eglise (Nieuwkerke) 11km south west of Messines • Ypres Salient • Polygon Wood – 4km west of Ypres/Ieper (near Zonnebeke) • Houge (Hooge) 2km west of Ypres
• Mailly-Maillet – village 7km north of Albert (France) first contact between NZ Division and German troops in late March 1918 Sergeant Wilkie was awarded the Military Medal for acts of gallantry in the field: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the operations at Loupart Wood, Bapaume and Bancourt from 24th August to 1st September 1918. During an attack he led his platoon with fine dash, and exhibited great courage and initiative in consolidating his position and clearing out several machine gun posts. He, throughout, set a fine example, and kept his men well together in a difficult position.” Phillip Wilkie returned to New Zealand leaving London on 1st February 1919. He died in 1960.
Otago Infantry Passchendaele survivors.
NZ Battalion march to rest, Bapaume 1918. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
“Dad refused to go to Anzac Parades – he ‘didn’t need reminding of all the good mates he had lost’.” —Daughter Jo
THOMAS MICHAEL LYNCH SERVICE NUMBER 58895 29TH REINFORCEMENT OTAGO REGIMENT
Thomas Michael Lynch was nearly 22 when he enlisted and was posted to D Company, training at Featherston Camp in 1917. His father was an Irish policeman and his mother wanted him to be a lawyer as he “could talk his way out of a paper bag"; instead hechose to be a plumber in Dunedin.
Thomas Lynch, Roslyn, Dunedin 1917.
AFTER TRAINING AT FEATHERSTON, Lynch sailed to Europe via the Panama Canal, by which he was greatly impressed, describing it in vivid detail in a note home. Tom was lance corporal at Featherston Camp and when he marched into Sling Camp in 1917, but the same day was reverted to the ranks. He described Sling Camp in a letter to his mother: “I am now in Sling Camp and it is a terrible place. It is different altogether from the camps in New Zealand… there is always a silver lining, the war might be over before I get there, although one is pretty close when he is in England, but I’ve not lost hope yet. It is quite a new experience for a fella here to see the size of the camp … there are aeroplanes flying about pretty well all day, I am keeping good health even though the drill is severe sometimes…wishing you all at home a Merry Christmas.” Tom ended up in the trenches at the Battle of the Somme in 1918. His daughter Jo recalls that he: “…spoke of being asleep in the trench when his company had moved out in the night and had left him behind, and when he woke up the Germans were there, and he was captured on the Somme.” He had been shot in the wrist – six big Germans had to sit on him to hold him down while they dug metal from his wrist – there was no anaesthetic. It was many months before his family were notified that he was a prisoner. Except for his mother, they all believed him to be dead. In a 1938 letter he described his experience of being captured on the front line, then taken to a German prisoner of war camp, called the Black Hole of Lille: “In the last war I was a prisoner of war in Germany for 10 months and the result of which is that I suffer from stomach trouble & have done for the last twenty odd years. ….I was in Fort McDonald, known as The Black Hole of Lille, where 300 hundred men were confined in a dungeon 60ft long, 20ft wide & 10ft high – with
RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF THE LYNCH FAMILY
NEW ZEALAND AT THE FRONT PIKO NEI TE MATENGA MIDDLE EAST, FRANCE AND BELGIUM Above: 1918: Thomas Lynch (left). German prisoner of war camp. German guards watch from window. Kriegsgefangenenlager, Hameln, Hanover, Germany. only one small window. I was there for 6 weeks, during which time I slept & practically had to live on a bare concrete floor there being no room to move about, was allowed out into a yard for but one hour a week to exercise when men repeatedly colapsed [sic] on meeting the fresh air. There was no provision made for washing oneself + the sanitation was appalling. I was one of 150 men who was able to walk out, the rest either died, went mad, or were carried out dying because of the abominable food & conditions.” From Lille, he was sent to Germany. After being liberated: “…I was in hospital for two weeks in Holland, six weeks in London about 2 months in a convalescent camp & returned to N.Z. in a hospital ship. Was discharged as no longer fit for Active Service. I cannot do hard work & because of my experience cannot stand continual irritation.” After life as a farmer for many years upon his return to NZ, he died from a heart attack in 1954, after running up and down a paddock waving his arms about chasing cows the day before. Every shop in Paeroa was closed for his very large funeral.
“Nothing that has been written is more than the pale image of the abomination of those battlefields, and no pen or brush has yet achieved the picture of that Armageddon in which so many of our men perished.” “These experiences were literally unrecordable.” Sir Philip Gibbs quoted in Glyn Harper – Dark Journey AFTER GALLIPOLI, the scale of the war intensified. From a population of slightly more than one million people, New Zealand suffered some 18,500 killed and over 40,000 wounded. Most of these New Zealand soldiers had been trained at Featherston Camp but there was little to prepare them for the horrors they were to witness, and if lucky, survive. During its two and a half years on the Western Front, the New Zealand Expeditionary Force suffered nearly 12,500 deaths. What the soldiers from this nation achieved on those distant battlefields, and for what purpose, is what we ask our visitors to consider in presenting this centenary exhibition Featherston Camp 1916–2016: The Record of a Remarkable Achievement. Excerpts from Glyn Harper – Dark Journey: Passchendaele, the Somme and the New Zealand experience on the Western Front. Right: A matchbox holder belonging to Phillip Wilkie inscribed with all battles in which he had fought including Somme 1916, Messines 1917 to Somme 1918.
Above: ABM-C4-Imperial Camel Corps trekking. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
Camel equipped for carrying wounded, Palestine.
EGYPT AND PALESTINE
THE CAMEL CORPS CAMELIERS
When the New Zealand Division went to France in April 1916, the Mounted Rifle Brigade remained in Egypt, forming part of the Anzac Mounted division of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) opposing the Turkish (Ottoman) army in Sinai and Palestine.
Strong and able to go for days without water, camels were perfect for desert warfare. The Imperial Camel Corps was formed in early 1916 and included two New Zealand companies of ‘cameliers’ who had to take crash courses in camel handling.
The Mounted Rifles (sometimes shortened to ‘Mounteds’) became the mobile strike force of the EEF, in a campaign reliant on access to water and stores in an arid and hostile land. A railway and a water pipe were eventually constructed from Egypt into the Sinai Peninsula: a supply line that allowed a series of battles in 1916 -17 to defeat the Turks.
The camels and their masters went on long range reconnaissance missions, carried water, ammunition and stores for the Mounteds, and acted as four-legged ambulances, transporting wounded from the battlefield.
Gaza, just inside Palestine, proved a hard target and it was not until the Third Battle of Gaza in October and November 1917 that the EEF could advance and capture Jerusalem. It would be another year before the Turkish Army was defeated in Palestine.
WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE, SIDNEY GRANT COLLECTION 15-48-6-2
Views of Egypt and Palestine by Sergt. G. W. B. Hardy, 1915-19, COURTESY OF GENEVIEVE AND BILL SHAW COLLECTION
The corps was also a fighting force. Just like the Mounteds, small groups of cameliers would ride into position before dismounting to fight, leaving the camels, which were surprisingly calm in the heat of battle, in the care of a trooper.
Second battle, Passchendaele. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
TIMELINE: THE WESTERN FRONT The Western Front was a line of trenches running through the western edge of Belgium and northern France, with the German armies to the east and the Allies to the west. Within the roughly 60 Divisions in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was the New Zealand Division, which at any one time numbered around 18,000 men. The New Zealanders won a name for themselves in several battles, including the Somme, Messines and Passchendaele.
April 1916 Into France The newly-formed NZ Division sails from Egypt to Marseille, France and journeys to Armentières in the north. The Division learns Western Front trench warfare in this ‘nursery’ sector, occupying the front line and carrying out trench raids against the German units across No Man’s Land.
1 July 1916 Battle of the Somme The opening day casualties of 60,000, with almost 20,000 British soldiers killed in action, is the heaviest loss ever suffered in a single day by the British Army. Similarly, the Somme battle of 1916 is New Zealand’s bloodiest battle in its military history. In mid-September 1916, 15,000 men of the New Zealand Division join the battle in the second big ‘push.’ Nearly 6,000 are wounded and 2,000 killed.
7 June 1917 Battle of Messines Huge mines detonate in tunnels under the German lines. In the confusion, New Zealand troops advance and capture the low ridge on which lie the ruins of Messines village. The New Zealanders pay a heavy price: 3700 killed or wounded in three days.
October 1917 Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) In a series of actions the Allies attempt to break out of the Ypres Salient. On 4 October 1917, the New Zealanders launch a successful assault on Gravenstafel Spur. On 12 October, the New Zealanders face a devastating defeat at Bellevue Spur. 846 men die in just a few hours with another 2700 wounded.
March 1918 Second Battle of the Somme After Russia withdraws from the war, Germany moves more than 30 divisions to the Western Front and launches a huge attack. The New Zealand Division rushes to the Somme region to support
the British line, and plays a vital role in halting the German attack. The cost is 5,000 killed or wounded between March and June.
21 August–2 September 1918 The Battle for Bapaume The Battle of Bapaume is the only time in New Zealand’s military history that three Victoria Crosses have been awarded during the one military action. This offensive decisively defeated the Armies of Imperial Germany. More than 10,000 NZ soldiers fought in this battle.
Picture an expanse of black mud as far as the eye can reach. Shell craters everywhere!... Every house, every shed has been smashed to splinters… not a single tree remains, only a few jagged, splintered stumps remaining. Not a leaf, not a blade of grass but everywhere the debris of war…” Glyn Harper – Dark Journey
The NZ Division would go on to play a key role in the remainder of this offensive, a military action that eventually ended the war. For 11 weeks the New Zealanders constantly moved forward as one of the spearhead divisions of the British Third Army.
Passchendaele remains New Zealand’s worst military disaster and as such is a pivotal moment in this country’s history. The ground won by the British Army cost 275,000 casualties over four months.
August–November 1918 Hundred Days Offensive
FOR EVEN MORE than the Somme, Passchendaele symbolises the futility of trench warfare. Many died of exposure or drowned in the shell-holes in which they had sought shelter.
The Allies launch a series of offensives, and the New Zealanders, as one of the crack divisions of the British Army, are in the thick of it. The cost is 9000 New Zealanders killed or wounded.
4 November 1918 Le Quesnoy New Zealand Rifle Brigade loses 117 men scaling the walls and liberating the ancient town after four years of German occupation.
11 November 1918 ARMISTICE At 11am the Armistice is signed in Compiegne, north of Paris. The ‘war to end all wars’ is over.
A New Zealand sergeant saw a donkey loaded with two 18-pounder shell cases fall into a shell hole where it sank like quicksand. Even probing the hole with 6 foot rods failed to find the donkey. It had sunk without trace. Vic Martin, a sniper with the Otago Regiment himself wounded at Passchendaele saw a friend’s face shot away. The men were physical wrecks. The extent of the tragedy was not reported in the New Zealand newspapers. Because of Passchendaele, the New Zealand Division was reduced to C-Class, with lowest morale. New Zealand losses reached a high of 7500 for October 1917. This was the only time in history four Anzac divisions would be attacking side-by-side forming a solid phalanx in the centre of the battle-line – the greatest overseas force which had ever simultaneously attacked the enemy. To persist after August 1917 was an inexcusable piece of pig-headedness on the part of Haig: needless
suffering, thousands of lives lost and nothing gained. Survivors of this battle took this bitterness back to NZ where it took root and grew. George Knight and younger brother Herbert, both from Dannevirke, served at Gallipoli. George survived then served with his battalion in France, taking part in the Somme battles, and rising through the ranks in 2nd Otago battalion. He led the company up Bellevue Spur, where he was cut down by a burst of machine-gun fire only feet from the enemy positions. His body was never recovered.
“You’re loaded down with 220 rounds of ammunition… 48 hour rations, a full water-bottle, a shovel or a pick shoved down your equipment at the back, and a rifle and a bayonet and one thing and another – I think they calculated round 80 pounds or so… this business of charge boys, charge the blighters boys, give them cold steel and all that was a lot of bunkum… you just blundered along.” Sidney Stanfield, 16 years old serving in 1st Wellington Battalion.
SECOND BATTLE OF THE SOMME 1918
Bapaume–Arras Road. IMAGES FROM RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
The 1918 German offensive was the decisive battle of the war – a huge gamble. Close to a million German troops were in position, with massive concentration of guns and ammunition. NEW ZEALAND MACHINE GUNNERS provided much needed fire support and inflicted the bulk of casualties on the Germans. It was a critical moment. The whole army was depending on the New Zealand Division to hold its ground. The German Army paid for any minor gains with thousands of dead and wounded. In most New Zealand units casualties were light. By the end of March 1918 Ludendorff knew his offensive was failing but was determined to take the French city of Amiens. Now occupying a solid defensive position less than 20 miles north-east of this city, the New Zealand Division and the other divisions of IV Corps would be on the receiving end of a renewed German offensive within days.
“Still in the trenches. I am tired, sore and heartbroken of this Hellish life.” —Private Ernest Painter
By a brilliant stroke [the New Zealand Division] drove enemy from the commanding ground at La Signy Farm and gained observation over the enemy’s lines, which greatly assisted in his defeat on the 5th April 1918, when he made his last and final effort to break our front.” —General Harper of IV Corps farewell letter to Russell
At the end of March 1918, the 2nd Auckland Battalion had not had their boots off for over a week and had not slept during their time in the trenches because the fighting was severe and continuous, troops suffering from trench foot, hungry and dog-tired. A trench at the Somme 1918. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
Right: The first New Zealand soldiers through Bapaume.
THE BATTLE FOR BAPAUME “No sleep from Sunday to Sunday. No blankets or overcoats.” —Captain George Tuck
“…training and then more training… You can practise in war only what you have learnt in peace. It is a grand mistake to think that the battlefield is to be the school room. It is too expensive.” —Major-General Andrew Hamilton Russell
“It is no mean achievement to force march 20 to 30 miles, fight and defeat a skilled, determined enemy for eleven days without respite, in just the clothes you are wearing and in the most appalling weather. The New Zealand soldiers who fought on the Somme in 1918 performed a magnificent feat of arms, perhaps their finest of the war. They also made a crucial difference to the outcome of the battle. Their achievement deserves recognition.”—Glyn Harper
BLOODY BAPAUME (21 AUGUST 2 SEPTEMBER 1918)
The Battle of Bapaume is the only time in New Zealand’s military history that three Victoria Crosses have been awarded during the one military action. This offensive decisively defeated the Armies of Imperial Germany. More than 10,000 NZ soldiers fought in this battle. The NZ Division would go on to play a key role in the remainder of this offensive, a military action that eventually ended the war. For 11 weeks the New Zealanders constantly moved forward as one of the spearhead divisions of the British Third Army. Right: Tree observation post, Bapaume.
“As we waited ready to move on a misty morning the thunder of many guns broke out in the East and we knew that the battle in which we were destined to play our part had commenced.”” War Diary, NZ Infantry Battalion
Above: Tangi for Lieutenant Colonel George King outside Ypres. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
MAORI PIONEER BATTALION During April 1917 the Māori Pioneer Battalion spent nearly every day constructing defensive works around the NZ front line. The men dug many miles of trenches and built strong posts and drainage – involving considerable risk. THE DEATH of Lieutenant Colonel George King of 1st Canterbury Battalion was a great loss to the Division. King, an outstanding commanding officer, had only joined 1st Canterbury at the end of August 1917. He had been the first CO of the New Zealand (Māori) Pioneer Battalion (February 1916-August 1917) and through his leadership that disparate organisation had become an effective military unit and the great asset it now was to the New Zealand Division. King’s death is recorded with some shock and deep regret in the war diary of the Pioneer Battalion, which when the battle was over, recovered his body and buried it in front of the ramparts of the ruins of Ypres. A witness to the tangi recorded:
Right: A member of the Pioneer (Māori) Battalion mans an antiaircraft Lewis gun at Bayencourt near the Somme. Below: Māori Pioneers on a break.
“I do not think I will ever forget that service, a cloudless sky and an aeroplane scrap overhead, the shallow grave, the body sewn in a blanket and covered with the New Zealand flag, the surplice Padre, the short impressive burial service and finishing up with the beautiful Māori lament for a fallen chief, ‘Piko nei te Matenga’ [‘When our heads are bowed with woe’] sung by the Māoris present, and with its beautiful harmonies and perfect tune, it seemed to me the most feeling tribute they could offer.” (Quoted in Christopher Pugley, Te Hokowhitu a Tū. The Māori Pioneer Battalion in the First World War, Auckland, 1995, p. 67.) Glyn Harper, Massacre at Passchendaele, Dark Journey, p. 95.
Right: Māori pioneers’ cook house. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
Scaling the medieval walls (4 November 1918) The walled town of Le Quesnoy remained occupied by German troops. The NZ Division advanced either side of the town, hoping the enemy would retreat. CALLS TO SURRENDER fell on deaf ears. The Rifle Brigade was tasked to capture the city. It approached carefully, without the usual artillery barrage. A small group from the 4th battalion NZRB scaled the wall by ladder, with Lieutenant Leslie Averill being the first man on the ramparts. The German garrison quickly surrendered without harm to the French population. Above: F. Matania illustration drawn from description, with original caption. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION Right: Le Quesnoy aerial map. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION
Top right: New Zealanders taking a reading break, Menin Road, Flanders, September 1917. RICHARD STOWERS COLLECTION. Above: Norman Shepherdâ€™s photo taken at the announcement of the end of WW1, Featherston Camp. WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE 13-156/4-13
Aratoi Installation images JOHN CASEY, SILVER IMAGE PHOTOGRAPHY
Â© Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art & History, Masterton August 2016 ISBN 978-0-473-36240-9
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Exhibition coordinator: Alice L. Hutchison
Design: Rory Harnden, Ink
Installation: Chris Rogers, Upright Signs
Publication Printing: Printcraft
Publication Design: Anne Taylor, BoulderBay Design
Print & production: Imagelab
ARATOI WAIRARAPA MUSEUM OF ART AND HISTORY WOULD LIKE TO THANK: Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira
Professor Glyn Harper
The Keeble Family
Cobblestones Early Settlers Museum
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
Thomas Lynch Family
Masterton RSA & Wairarapa Services and Citizens Club
Hugo Manson PhD
Musical Heritage New Zealand
Dr Owen Prior
National Army Museum Te Mata Toa
NZ Mounted Rifles Charitable Trust
Rotary South Wairarapa
Te Manawa Museums Trust
Genevieve and Bill Shaw
Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato
Clare and Derek Sprosen
A. F. Corrigan
Lesley Wardle and Spencer Cotter Family
James Welsh Family
Dr Aaron Fox
Bert & Sheila Wetherill
Phillip Wilkie Family
THIS EXHIBITION HAS BEEN MADE POSSIBLE BY GENEROUS SUPPORT FROM: Trust House
South Wairarapa District Council
Greytown Trust Lands Trust
Lands Trust Masterton
The Friends of Aratoi
Eastern & Central Community Trust
Lottery World War One Commemorations, Environment & Heritage Committee
Featherston Camp 1916-2016: The Record of a Remarkable Achievement August 2016 © Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art & History, Masterton ISBN 978-0-473-36240-9