Thursday, 15 September 2016

A Selection of Somme Postcards

"A Charge at the Battle of the Somme 1916" an Oilette postcard by British artist Harry Payne.

"Amiens Cathedral from the Banks of the Somme" a NZ YMCA postcard signed by artist 'SM'.

" 'Somme' Retreat" postcard by artist T Gilson.

A German panoramic postcard of the Somme countryside.

A French postcard showing Albert's Basilica in ruins following heavy artillery fire.

A NZ YMCA postcard entitled "A Well-known Village on the Somme".

A selection of souvenir postcard booklets.

100th Anniversary - Battle of the Somme

The haunting sound of the whistle synonymous with the clamber of troops heading 'over the top' and doing best to rush across No Man's Land, was the sound that many would rather forget.
That shrill blow from the lips was the call to death for so many of our New Zealand lads one hundred years ago today.
It was Friday 15 September 1916 and the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on the Somme in Northern France had begun. Few anticipated the huge cost in casualties the New Zealand Division would sustain over the 23 consecutive days they spent on the bloody, muddy Somme landscape.
Among them was Rifleman Eric M. Austin, age 23 of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. He was killed on the opening day of this conflict. Below is a postcard addressed to him and wishing him a happy birthday in June 1916, just a few months before he met his fate.

It is sadly ironic that Austen, a keen gardener employed by Thomas Horton Nurseries in Pahiatua prior to the war, should leave behind nature's beauty for the ugly barren battlefields of the Western Front and end his days there.

Another New Zealand casualty was Private Peter Henry Neilson of 2nd Battalion Otago Infantry Regiment. Using the colourful and sentimental postcard below, he wrote to his sister in Invercargill from the trenches on 24 July 1916...

"Dear Mary, 
Just a card hoping it finds you all in the best of health as it leaves me at present. We are still in the trenches but I think we will be going out for a spell shortly. I received your letter the other day and was glad to hear from you. I have not seen Joe yet but I met Chris and Harry. They are both in the trenches now. Last time I saw them they were both looking well and were having a good time. I have had very little time to write lately but will write you a letter as soon as we go out for a rest. I will now close. 
With best wishes. Goodbye. Peter xxxx."

Private Neilson was 21 years of age when he was killed at the Somme on the 15th September 1916.


Monday, 30 May 2016

100th Anniversary - Battle of Jutland

To mark the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Jutland and H.M.S. New Zealand's involvement in this naval encounter, I have gathered together some of my postcards on this subject to share with you...
An early postcard of H.M.S. New Zealand. A record of the major actions she faced during the First World War feature in the picture: Heligoland, August 1915; Dogger Bank, January 1915; and Jutland, May 1916. Admiral Jellicoe can be seen on the right of the picture. A short handwritten message on the back reads: "To Mother and Dad, from Will. Wishing you both and all at home a hearty Xmas and a pleasant New Year. Hope you like the card Mother Dear."

 A British made postcard with a brief handwritten message on the back that describes the image seen here; "Piece of armour blown out from X Turret in Jutland Battle."
This 483 kilogram piece of armour plating was blown out of X Turret on H.M.S. New Zealand by a German warship during the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.

The same piece of armour as seen in the black and white postcard above. This was on display at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum in Auckland in 2012.

"P" Turret gun crew on the deck of H.M.S. New Zealand. They hold a sign recording the naval engagements they have been in. This includes the Battle of Jutland. If you look closely there is a sailor holding the ship's mascot 'Pelorus Jack', a brindle bull dog. He is in the row directly above and to the left of the sign. 

H.M.S. New Zealand's flagstaff was damaged by a German shell during the Battle of Jutland. This photographic postcard was produced by 'Muir'. The image appears in my book "Just to let you know I'm still alive - Postcards from New Zealanders during the First World War."

This postcard shows the point of a German 12 inch shell that hit the Queen Elizabeth Class Battleship, H.M.S. Malaya at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. She was struck eight times by enemy shellfire during this battle and over 60 of her crew were killed.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Some Donald McGill light humour...

Some postcard humour from British artist Donald McGill. 
This card was published by Inter-Art Co., Florence House, Barnes, London and is part of the "Comique" Series, no.2184.

The message on the back of this postcard was written by a New Zealand soldier named Archie while at Brocton Camp in England. He has dated the message 14 April 1918 and addressed it to his brothers Harry and Will...

"Dear Harry & Will,
Just a line. I am still in Old Blighty and going strong. We are having rumors of war here occasionally. Expected to go over last week but it was a washout. Am on the Lewis gun stunt now as they are found to be very effective implements, fire six hundred shots a minute and can be used single handed if you have the ammunition. I was talking to a young man from Omata on Friday. He's in the 34th, says he remembers you at the dances. The 34ths have just got out of Isolation and a 150 of them are on the mat this morning for being out late, went to Stafford and couldn't get a bus back. I had to walk myself but got an early start, its about 6 miles. Have just seen that Will was turned down, sine die in the Budget, so you will be alright. Should like to have more news from home. Only get Olga's letters and an odd one.
Wishing you good luck, 
Brother Archie."

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Anzac Day 1932 - Wellington's Carillon

A proposal to erect a National War Memorial in Wellington in 1919 was postponed owing to financial strains on the New Zealand economy caused by the war. The favoured proposal was to build a Carillon at Mt Cook. In 1930 the bells intended for Wellington's Carillon were erected in a special structure at Hyde Park in London for the inaugural recital before the bells were shipped to New Zealand. The carilloneur for the occasion was Mr Clifford Ball whose talent hailed from the Cadbury Brothers Carillon at the English town of Bournville. He was assisted at the recital by New Zealander, Miss Gladys Watkins who had studied carillon playing at Malines in Belgium.
In 1931 the steamer Ionic arrived at King's Wharf, Wellington. Her precious cargo included some of the big bells intended for temporary storage until the new Carillon was built.

On the afternoon of Anzac Day 1932 the National War Memorial Carillon was officially opened in front of a large audience of over 50,000 people at Buckle Street, Mount Cook, Wellington. Today its presence on the Wellington city's skyline is complemented by the Hall of Memories (1964) and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior (2004) all of which are located at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park opened in April 2015. What follows are a few early postcards of the Carillon, assorted newspaper information reporting on the grand occasion of its official opening and some personal photographs taken in recent years.
An early photographic postcard of the Carillon in Wellington taken by photographer Heaton Clairemont Peart. Note that the National Art Gallery and Dominion Museum buildings have not yet been built behind the tower. The Gallery and Museum were officially opened in 1936. 

A view of the Carillon from Mt Victoria Tunnel taken by Heaton Clairemont Peart.

(source: Evening Post, 20 April 1932)

(source: Evening Post, 23 April 1932)

(source: Evening Post, 23 April 1932)

(source: Auckland Weekly News, 4 May 1932)

National War Memorial fountain and steps leading up to the Carillon. (2014)

War planes fly past the Carillon. Anzac Street Parade to Pukeahu War Memorial Park (24 April 2015).

Pukeahu War Memorial Park Sound and Light Show (2015)

Left: Wellington Anzac Dawn Service at the National War Memorial Carillon on 25 April 2015.
Right - Grand official opening of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park on 18 April 2015.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Rest and Relaxation at Rotorua

The peaceful and picturesque landscape of Rotorua and its surroundings was enjoyed by many New Zealand soldiers. Gardens, lakes, geothermal and historical sites were all enjoyed by soldiers on day trips away from their accommodation and treatment at the Sanatorium Hospital and the King George V Convalescent Home. Here is a small selection of real photographic postcards taken in and about Rotorua during the war...

A New Zealand soldier supported by a walking stick is seen strolling through the grounds of the Sanatorium Hospital at Rotorua. Real photographic postcard by Frederick George Radcliffe.

A New Zealand soldier poses for this photograph (then published on to a postcard) beside a geothermal pool in Rotorua.

A group of New Zealand soldiers and their guides pose for this portrait at the famous 'Sophia's Whare' at Te Wairoa on 26 June 1916. Sophia or Te Paea Hinerangi was a leading guide for tourists who visited the famous Pink and White Terraces at Lake Rotomahana. The Terraces and the village at Te Wairoa were destroyed by the Mt Tarawera eruption in June 1886. Sophia's sturdy timber Whare was one of very few structures that provided protection from the mud and ash caused by the eruption. About 60 people managed to reach safe shelter at Sophia's Whare while many others were caught out in the open and perished. The historical site was a popular visit made by New Zealand soldiers during and after the war.

New Zealand soldiers out for a ride on the road that follows the shore of Lake Tikitapu (otherwise known as the 'Blue Lake'). A real photographic postcard dated February 1918 and taken by Rotorua photographer R.G. Marsh.

New Zealand soldiers dressed in their hospital blue uniform parade on a street in Rotorua.

Sister Enberg at the Sanatorium Hospital gardens in Rotorua. She was reported to be ill with enteric fever in October 1914 but recovered at the Sanatorium and resumed nursing. Sister Enberg left the Sanatorium in May 1916 for Sydney. At her farewell she was presented with a piupiu and a greenstone and silver spoon.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

"Limbie" Micah Hayes

"Bridge Street, Nelson, N.Z." photographic postcard by F.N. Jones.

The handwritten message on the back of this postcard dated 21 March 1917 with address 154 Vanguard St Nelson reads:

"Dear Friend, did you receive mine telling you Micah was wounded? I sent you his photo. He is at Roehampton now waiting for his leg. They will only give him 12 hours leave till he can walk with his artificial limb. He has been hopping about London on crutches. They will give him about 1 month furlough. He is going to the Isle of Wight. If you would like him to come and see you, I will send you his address. You can invite him I know he would be pleased to hear from you. Let him know how he could get to you as 4 miles is too much for a 1 legged man to walk. 
Yours in friendship, M. Hayes"

Private Samuel Micah Hayes of N.Z. Field Ambulance was not long in France before he was on the receiving end of enemy shellfire. Micah was struck in the right leg and hand in October 1916. He was hospitalized in England where the decision was made to amputate his severely wounded leg. In early 1917 Micah was admitted to Queen Mary's Hospital at Roehampton to have an artificial limb fitted. 

The coloquial term "limbies" was given to WW1 amputees. The loss of a limb was usually caused by severe wounds from being hit by gunfire, shrapnel or from the effects of gas.

Private Samual Micah Hayes.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Daffodil Day, Nelson, 16 September 1916

"Daffodil Day, Nelson, N.Z. The procession in Bridge St." 
A real photographic postcard by Nelson photographer F.N. Jones, 16 September 1916.

The Lady Liverpool Committee gratefully accepted an offer from the Nelson Horticultural Society to use its acclaimed Bulb Show as a means for setting up Daffodil Day. The proceeds of this event were used for Christmas presents for Nelson soldiers at the front. 

The Nelson Evening Mail reported on this momentous local event;

"Daffodil Day.
Our Soldiers' Christmas Gifts.
Glorious Weather.
Great Crowds in the Streets.
The Daffodil Week proceedings as far as the city and Waimeas are concerned, are being concluded to-day, with Daffodil Day. Last year's Daffodil Day, held for the first time, was a great success. The proceeds were for Christmas gifts for Nelson soldiers, and this year the funds go to the same purpose. Last year's function was on a modest scale compared with the present effort, and the proceeds will amount to a very considerable sum. A Flower Queen election, in which town and country candidates competed, added greatly to the interest. The result of the election was not to be disclosed till late in the afternoon, but it is safe to say that the contest has raised several hundred pounds.
The proceedings today are being held in the most glorious weather. Certainly it was the finest day of the spring - warm sun, tempered with a gentle sea breeze. It is a coincidence that Mr D.C. Bate, the Dominion Meteorologist, was spending today in Nelson, and as he would have come in for some blame had the weather proved unfavourable, it is only fair that he should receive some credit for such a beautiful day eventuating!
From an early hour the streets were busy with stallholders getting their stalls decorated  and furnished and people bringing in flowers, etc. Very effective decorations have been made at some of the stalls, and these, with strings of flags across the roadway, have given Trafalgar street a picturesque appearance. There are stalls for the sale of various cut flowers, ferns, plants and seedlings, buttonholes, sweets and produce. Great quantities of flowers have been sent in from the city, Waimeas, and Motueka side, and these were attractively arranged. Business was "good" during the morning, but the afternoon was being looked to for the busiest time..."