Sunday, 25 August 2013

Beauty and Verse

A huge number of postcards were readily available for purchase during the First World War. One well known large postcard publishing house was The Rotary Photographic Company Ltd located in London. Their name derived from the use of rotary presses used to produce its postcards. This postcard publisher earned its reputation for good quality cards particularly in its production of 'real  photographic' postcards. Beauty and Verse were certainly two popular themes used in the design on some of the postcard series sold and distributed during the war. Series 7627 was one such group of postcards, and all in this series included the New Zealand flag and a real photographic image complimented by the addition of some verse, floral arrangements and either the New Zealand Coat of Arms or a fern bearing the initials 'N.Z.'

This attractive series struck the right chord with the New Zealand public. They were appealing because the cards were laden with sentimental and patriotic feeling. The postcard below, is a perfect example of this. The New Zealand flag and poetic verse by Talbot Everton form one part of the design, while a beautiful portrait of the famous British model and actress Gladys Cooper set among ferns and flowers completes the postcard.

"To My Dear Soldier". 
Rotary Photographic Series postcard no. 7627 - G.

Rotary used other famous models and actresses on their postcards including Phyllis and Zena Dare, Gertie Millar, Hetty King and Marie Studholme.

Similar style and theming continued on to other postcard series produced by Rotary during the war. The postcard below bears the Canadian Coat of Arms and flag, with an image of Gladys Cooper and of course, includes the maple leaf. 

"Christmas Thoughts Of My Dear One Away On Duty."
Rotary Photographic Series postcard no. XP102 - A.

In 1921 seven companies merged to form the Amalgamated Photographic Manufacturers Ltd in London. One of these companies was Rotary Photographic Company Ltd and thus ended any further production of their picture postcards.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Home Beyond Their Reach

"...Whatever way I turn I find
The path is old unto me still.
The hills of home are in my mind,
And there I wander as I will."
From the poem 'In France' by Francis Edward Ledwidge, 1916

How quickly 'The Great Adventure' turned and instead became a longing to return home. Young men wrote to loved ones back home of how they wished and longed for their family, friends and homeland. Sadly, many never made it back to their own shores.The harsh winter and raging battles of October 1917 claimed many New Zealanders lives.

A short time in to active service in the trenches in Belgium, Private Norman Arthur Forde of the 1st Battalion Wellington Infantry was posted to a working party in July 1917 when he slipped and fell off duckboards in St Yves Avenue. He fell in to a shell hole but was safely pulled out by his mates only to find he had sprained his ankle. Norman was hospitalized for a short time but was soon back in the firing line. On the day before the launch on attack at the Battle of Broodseinde, Norman was killed in action. It was 3 October 1917 and he was just 21 years of age. Before his death, he had written to his sister Eileen on the postcard below;

"Dear Eileen,
                      Will be home in due course. Always think of your ducky darling brother.
                                                                                                                                         with love

Norman's older brother, Gunner Hugh Douglas Forde of the New Zealand Field Artillery was also on active service in Belgium. He survived the First Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October 1917 but a fortnight later Hugh died from gunshot wounds to his thigh and hand on 26 October. The Forde family had lost two sons in the same month.
About ten months before his death, Hugh sent this postcard message to his sister Irene;

Dear Irene,
                    Just a line to let you know that I am still safe and sound and haven't been killed by the Germans yet. I hope to be home in about 6 months time when peace is declared. 
Your loving brother, Hugh.
P.S. Many happy returns of your birthday which I think is tomorrow. I will send you a present as soon as I can get in to a shop. Hugh."

The obituary notice for Hugh and Norman Forde appeared in the New Zealand Herald newspaper on 10 November 1917;
"Lance Corporal Hugh Douglas Forde, who died of wounds on October 26, was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs F.H. Forde, of St Heliers Bay. He was 22 years old, and was educated at St John's College. After leaving college he joined the staff of the New Zealand Insurance Company, to which he was attached up to the time of his enlistment. He left with the thirteenth reinforcements, and after reaching England was for some months engaged in staff work at Sling Camp. He left for France early in January with a howitzer battery, in which he was serving when he received the wounds which proved fatal. A younger brother, Private Norman Arthur Forde, went with the twenty-second reinforcements, and was killed in action on October 4. He was educated at St John's College, and prior to enlisting was engaged as a motor mechanic in Auckland."

Hugh and Norman's cousin Roderick Crighton McFarland, also from St Heliers in Auckland, served in the New Zealand Field Artillery during the war. He died from wounds in Belgium just five days after his cousin Hugh Forde. Roderick's obituary appeared in the Hawera and Normanby Star newspaper on 11 December 1917;
"Gunner R.C. ("Roddy") McFarland, who was reported to have died of wounds in France on October 31st, was the eldest son of Mrs R.S. McFarland, Manukau road, Epsom and the late R.S. McFarland, who was formerly manager of the Bank of New South Wales in this town. Gunner McFarland was born in Hawera. Previous to his enlistment he was studying for his accountancy examination. He left with the 13th Reinforcements, and was trained as a specialist at Sling Camp, Salisbury. At the time of his death he was in the 15th Howitzer Battery. Three of his cousins were killed in the same battle and in the same month, viz., Corporal T. Nigel McFarland, Lance Corporal Hugh Douglas Forde, and Private Norman Forde, and two of his cousins in the Old Country, Flight Lieut. Curran, to whom the V.C. and Legion of Honor was awarded for bravery. Gunner McFarland had leave for ten days just a month before he was killed. He stayed with his cousin, Staff-Captain R. Corbett, at his place in Bournemouth, who was an old Auckland boy. Gunner McFarland was a nephew of Captain and Mrs J. Scott, of the Manor House, Epsom, and former residents of this town."

The New Zealand Division survived a long gruelling year in 1917 but not without loss of spirit and a loss of many many men. The Battle of Messines in June 1917 saw the loss of some 6,500 soldiers and the Battle of Passchendaele from 31 July to 10 November 1917 saw more than 7,500 others fall. Among them, were the Forde brothers and their McFarland cousins who sacrificed their lives on the Western Front which brought an end to any thought of ever returning home again.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Pelorus Jack: Puppy at Sea

A little brindle bulldog puppy was born on 16 June 1912 in Hampshire, England. He was named 'Pelorus Jack' after the famous Risso's dolphin who was well respected by seafarers as he helped navigate their ships through dangerous waters near French Pass in New Zealand's Marlborough Sounds. Pelorus Jack the dolphin, was first reported to have helped the schooner 'Brindle' sail safely through French Pass in 1888. He spent many years as a companion to shipping in these waters until his final disappearance, most likely of old age, in April 1912.
Pelorus Jack, the bulldog puppy spent his early months at the White Horse Inn in Ampfield, Hampshire. Mr J. Pomeroy, a New Zealander living in England then gifted Pelorus Jack to the crew of the new battlecruiser HMS New Zealand in February 1913. Pelorus Jack, now a naval rating of 'Puppy' was just six months old and destined for a life at sea.
On the 5th February His Majesty King George V made a royal inspection of HMS New Zealand while in Portsmouth. The postcard below shows a Guard of Honour in the left of the picture, Pelorus Jack on a leash and sitting on the podium, and the King standing in front of the band facing the camera with 'Fear God: Honour the King" on the bulkhead behind him.

This postcard purchased from the Oscar Parkes Collection and his handwriting 'H.M.S. New Zealand 2.1913' can be seen on the face of the card in blue ink. This image also appeared in the Auckland Weekly News on 20 March 1913.

HMS New Zealand's maiden voyage in 1913 included a port of call at Johannesburg, South Africa. It was here that a special ceremony was held to present Pelorus Jack with a new collar. It was beautifully crafted with studs that were placed to spell the motto 'Onward'. The collar was also inscribed with "Pelorus Jack, HMS New Zealand, from New Zealanders in the Transvaal, March 1913." At Wellington, New Zealand, a local Boy Scout troop presented Pelorus Jack with a greenstone tiki which was proudly attached to his collar.

This picture appeared in the Grey River Argus newspaper on 29 September 1914 and read "Big Gun of HMS New Zealand. The Dog Watch - Pelorus Jack, the mascot of HMS New Zealand sitting on one of the big guns. It will be remembered that this ship took part in the recent naval battle off Heligoland."

Pelorus Jack completed the 40,000 mile maiden voyage on H.M.S. New Zealand in 1913 and in the following two years lived aboard this fighting ship which saw action at Heligoland in August 1914 and Dogger Bank in January 1915. Sadly, on the eve of the first Anzac Day commemorations in 1916 Pelorus Jack broke his neck and died from a fall down some funnel casing. He had been a much-loved, loyal and reliable pet mascot for the crew of H.M.S. New Zealand.
Perhaps it was due to keeping the ship's morale at time of war that necessitated a quick replacement, and to continue the good name of Pelorus Jack another bulldog in his name was welcomed onboard. The second Pelorus Jack wandered the decks of the battlecruiser during its combat at the Battle of Jutland in May and June 1916.
A thorough scan of this postcard showing H.M.S. New Zealand's 'P' Turret crew reveals Pelorus Jack held by one of the sailors;

P Turret crew of H.M.S. New Zealand c.1916. A brief handwritten message from Arthur to his mother is recorded on the back of this postcard. Arthur has placed a small 'x' to mark himself at the extreme left of this portrait.

A 'close-up' of Pelorus Jack taken from the postcard image above. These sailors can be seen just above and to the left of the 'P Turret' sign.

After the war ended, and in 1919 Captain O.E. Leggett presented Pelorus Jack to the Deputy Mayor of Auckland as a gift to the citizens of Auckland city. Before he was allowed to make a new home on the mainland, Pelorus Jack was sent to Motuihi Island to spend six months in quarantine. Sadly he never made it from quarantine and died from poor health on the island.
Having the attention of a pet dog mascot onboard ship provided these sailors with a warm relief from the monotony of life out at sea, and helped to build morale during the difficult war years.
Pelorus Jack I and II - Lest we forget.