Archive for December, 2011
Sunday, December 18th, 2011
This week's museum artefact is the WWI British War Medal. Instituted to record the successful conclusion of the First World War, the British War Medal can still often be seen worn by families at ANZAC Day parades. However once the medal is mounted many of us are denied the opportunity to see the wonderful designs on the reverse.
The reverse shows St George on horseback, trampling underfoot a shield with the eagle motif – a representation of the Central Powers – and a skull and cross bones; the symbol of death. Above the figure, the sun has risen in victory. The male figure represents the male population who had borne the brunt of the fighting. By showing him on horseback the artist is symbolically showing man controlling a force (in this case represented by the horse) greater than his own thus alluding to the scientific and mechanical appliances which helped win the war.
Find out about other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.
Thursday, December 8th, 2011
This week's museum artefact is dried flowers. These flowers serve as a sad reminder of the thousands of New Zealanders who left to fight in World War II and never saw th
eir families again. They come from the gravesite of Lieutenant-Colonel Ray Lynch who served in New Zealand's 18th Battalion before dying of wounds whilst a Prisoner of War. The flowers were taken by Ray's sister when she visited Italy and his gravesite. One can only imagine how difficult it would have been for Ray's family having him so far from home where they could not regularly visit him. Having a little memento from his final resting place hopefully brought a measure of comfort to his grieving family.
Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.
Thursday, December 1st, 2011
This week's museum artefact is a neck badge of a Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (KCB).
The Order of Bath was first instituted in 1399, and revived by King George I in 1725. At first it only had one class, that of Knight however in 1815 and again in 1847 the order was reorganised into 2 divisions, Military and Civilian each with 3 classes – Knight Grand Cross (GCB), Knight Commander (KCB) and Companion (CB).
The Badge shown is that of Lieutenant General Sir Leonard Thornton KCB CBE one of New Zealand's most prominent soldiers of the last half century. Thornton served during WWII with the RNZA. Subsequently as a staff officer he was h
eavily involved in establishing the compulsory military training scheme in 1950. After serving successively as Quartermaster-General (1955), Adjutant-General (1956-58), and head of the SEATO Planning Office in Bangkok (1958-59), he became Chief of General Staff (CGS) in 1960. In 1965 he began a six year term as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). From 1972 – 1974 he was New Zealand's Ambassador to South Vietnam and Cambodia.