National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Recent Acquisitions

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Women and the War Effort

During World War Two, over 75,000 women volunteered for work to assist the war effort and this effort was co-ordinated by the Women’s War Auxiliary Service (WWSA). Formed in 1940, the WWSA kept a registry of all women and organised voluntary workers as required.

In 1941 a Hospital Division of the WWSA was formed with the idea of bringing women from New Zealand to serve with the 2 New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in Egypt.

The women of the WWSA Hospital Division took on a variety of roles in and around hospitals from working in the wards to laundry and clerical duties. It was decided that nursing orderlies be used together with clerks. The requirement for those working in the nursing section was that they must have 60 hours hospital training, whilst those in the clerical section was that they must be highly qualified and be able to show a high standard of efficiency. Matron-in-Chief, Miss Nutsey insisted that they be referred to as ‘nurses’ however many referred to the women as Voluntary Aides (VAs).

One of the Northam girls was Second Lieutenant Martha Denman Grigg. Martha attested in 1941 aged 30 and worked in admin for the WWSA in Egypt and Italy. She was Mentioned in Despatches for distinguished service. The National Army Museum was lucky enough to recently receive a number of her personal items including her medal group which is currently in preparation for mounting to go into the museum’s Medal Repository.

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El Alamein Artillery Shell

World War II Gunner Tim Stowe brought home the first 25 pounder artillery shell to be fired in Operation Torch as part of the successful North African campaign.

Tim had the honour of pulling the firing lever to fire the first shell on 25 pounder number C3 to mark the beginning of a massive artillery bombardment of the Germans.

This shell along with notes Tim made about his experiences on cigarette packets have recently been donated to the National Army Museum collection.

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Japanese Invasion Money

This collection of paper money, officially called Southern Development Bank Notes are examples of a special currency issued by the Japanese Military Authority after the conquest of various Asian countries during World War II.

In an attempt to proclaim independence from the Western world, Japan produced this replacement currency to be used in the various areas they occupied which by the end of the war included: the Philippines, Malaya, Burma, North Borneo, Sarawak (now Malaysia), Singapore, Brunei, the Dutch East indies (now Indonesia) and some areas of Oceania (New Guinea and the Solomon and Gilbert Islands).

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WWII Nurses Cape

This red winter weight nurses cape belonged to Sister Sarah Jane Greenall Gibb known as Sally. Sally trained in Christchurch and qualified as a nurse in 1939 at the age of 27. She worked in 3 New Zealand General Hospital and 1 New Zealand General Hospital in the Middle East during World War II as a charge sister.


Sioux Helicopter

The National Army Museum Collection was recently expanded with the addition of a Bell 47G-3B2 Sioux Helicopter.

The Sioux helicopter is a two bladed, single engine, light helicopter which was used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) mainly to support the New Zealand Army in the aero scout role and to train graduates to become helicopter pilots.

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Reverend Ryan’s Truck

This interesting item recently came into the collection via donation from a gentleman who had previously bought it at auction. It is a trunk containing the worldly possessions of the Reverend Maurice J Ryan who served as an Army chaplain in Malaya. Little is known about Reverend Ryan, except that he was Catholic CMT chaplain at Papakura camp before being despatched to Malaya in November 1958.

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Japanese Pattern 1877 Cavalry Troopers Sword

Contributed by Terrence Seymour, Assistant Curator Weapons

Amongst the recent donations to the National Army Museum is a Japanese Pattern 1877 Cavalry Troopers Sword and with it an intriguing story.

The sword was found along with a large number of other weapons buried in many caches scattered around an area at Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, Japan during the New Zealand occupation of Japan at the end of World War II.

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The “Colonel”

Every good team needs a good ‘boss’ and Colonel Allan Andrews (later Brigadier) was that man. He managed the 1945-46 Kiwis rugby team often referred to as the “Khaki All Blacks” and his Kiwis Tour Blazer currently forms part of our “Khaki & Black: NZ’s Rugby Supremacy in Times of War” exhibition open until August 2012.

It was therefore with much delight the National Army Museum recently accepted the donation of Brigadier Allan Andrews medal group from his three surviving daughters.

Click on No. 13 of the National Army Museum’s 1st XV and Read the story of Brigadier Allan Andrews.

Brigadier Andrews medals pictured above from left to right: CBE, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star with 8th Army bar, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War medal, NZ War service medal, Coronation Medal 1953.

Unopened Memory of War

The National Army Museum holds many simple, unassuming objects that hold great power and illuminate aspects of war normally left untold in the history books.

One such object was recently donated to the museum; a simple unopened parcel, wrapped in brown paper and tied with string. The parcel dated 27 November 1945 and the red wax on the string is testimony to the fact that it has remained undistrubed since then.

As inconspicuous as the parcel might appear, however, it carries a heartbreaking story of the war time experiences of David Robertson and the people he left behind in New Zealand.

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Mah Jong Set

This beautifully made Mah Jong set was recently generously donated to the National Army Museum and is a striking example of Prisoner of War Art. It was made by a Japanese Prisoner of War (POW) at Featherston Camp and given to a guard. The set is one of a number in the museum’s collection and is a terrific example of the skill and artistry of the POWs held at Featherston Camp.

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World War One Crutches

Herbert Mills served in World War I and was severely wounded and shell shocked. As part of his rehabilitation he was given these crutches. When he returned to New Zealand doctors only gave him six months to live but he instead lived until he was 83 years old.

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600 Grace Street, Chicago

1992.2635 American marines at Majestic Cabaret Wellington.

60 years on, Carol Peters still vividly remembers the day she and her family spent with a US Marine during World War II.

Between 1942 and 1944, over 100,000 American soldiers were stationed in New Zealand for varying periods of time, both for ‘rest and relaxation’ from fighting in the Pacific and to reassure New Zealanders they would be protected should the Japanese land on their shores.

These men made a huge impact on New Zealand society. They provided both relief and curiosity for New Zealanders. Their customs and behaviour, their strange accents, excellent manners, and free-spending habits all made them stand out from their more reserved New Zealand counterparts.

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Wartime Musical Companion

Contributed by Assistant Curator Chris Rapley

The faithful musical companion of a remarkable New Zealand soldier recently found a new home at the National Army Museum. The Italian-made piano accordion was the treasured possession of Frank Burns and accompanied him to its place of origin when Burns fought in World War II.

He brought the accordion as a young man and quickly became a highly skilled player and won the New Zealand Accordion Championship. Burns also formed a band with some friends and played on 1ZB radio station.

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Victorious Escape

On a recent school visit to the National Army Museum, Taupo boy Joshua Brown donated an original postcard dating back to World War II, belonging to his grandfather’s uncle, Lt Col Cliff George and with it a great story.

Lt Col George wrote home to his family whilst held in an Italian Prisoner of War (POW) camp. George served in Greece, Syria and North Africa. He commanded the 25th Battalion in Syria and at El Mreir, where he was taken prisoner when German tanks overran the battalion on the morning of 22 July 1942.

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Supply of Ammunition

A seal machine is not something you would expect to see in an army museum’s collection, but recently the National Army Museum received one with a fascinating history.

The machine has a sprung handle that pushes down a circular stamp to impress ‘The Colonial Ammunition Company Limited, Common Seal’ – a company that had its origins in the late stages of the 1800s.

In 1885 New Zealand was gripped by a war scare thanks to the rising tensions between Britain and Russia over Afghanistan. Defences were built at some New Zealand ports and – more importantly for our story – authorities became concerned about a shortage of small arms ammunition from Britain.

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Not bad for 146 years old

Calisher and Terry 30 Bore Carbine

Calisher and Terry 30 Bore (.539in) Pattern 1860 No 2 Carbine – NZ 803.

Early this year a rare firearm dating from the New Zealand Wars was donated to the National Army Museum.

The Calisher and Terry 30 Bore Carbine was donated by Dean Stockwell of Wellington and apart from needing a little bit of a clean was in remarkably original condition.

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Good luck charm

Good luck charm

This colourful cross pendant was given to 31544 Lance Corporal Edgar Squire of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion by his mother as a good luck charm before he went overseas for World War One.

The swastika is a symbol used in Buddhism and in Hinduism, and became popular in the West 1880’s to 1920’s as a good luck charm/symbol until it was subverted by the Nazi’s.

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Peace beads WWI

Peace beads WWI

Written by Mrs Joyce Neill 1973

“Peace Will Come Again” – Those are the words symbolised by an old bead necklace. The red, white and blue beads were threaded, in that order onto white tape. Many of these bead gifts were made by an elderly lady (neighbour of Mrs Neill nee Nichols) over fifty five years ago in 1918. She presented tham to all the young girls she knew.

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