Voices from the Past

A Waiting Game

A trusty pack of playing cards have been used as a tried and tested form of fighting boredom and passing the time for generations. Given their small and compact size and the large varieties of games and tricks that can be done with them, the possibilities are nearly endless – some don’t even involve gambling!











Pictured: 2019.448.1 – Playing Cards in Case belonging to Temporary Sergeant Percy Maysmor, World War I and on right – exterior of Playing Card Case.

This case, made of canvas covered cardboard, contains two packs of playing cards and was given to 24959 Temporary Sergeant Percy Howard Wynne Maysmor for Christmas 1918. At the time Percy was based at the Army Discharge Depot in Torquay, England, awaiting a troopship to take him back to New Zealand.

By December 1918, Percy Maysmoor had been overseas for 2 and a half years, having embarked overseas in July 1916 with the 15th Reinforcements. Only one month before he left, Percy had been married and so by 1918, was no doubt eagerly awaiting a reunion with his new wife Catherine. 

Originally posted to the New Zealand Field Artillery as a Gunner, Percy was later transferred to the Divisional Ammunition Colum in 1917.  By the start of 1918, following a period of prolonged illness, Percy was posted to No 2 General Hospital, Walton on Thames where he worked for the Army Pay Service until June when he was sent to the Discharge Depot in Torquay. During his final six months service overseas, Percy worked for the depot’s Education Institute where he was promoted to the rank of Temporary Sergeant. Percy Maysmoor embarked home for New Zealand on the troopship S. S. Ruapehu on the 9th January 1919 and was discharged two months later. Percy later lived in Auckland and later Wellington where he worked as a clerk for the Vacuum Oil Company. He died in January 1959 age 75.

By Brenden Shirley, Curator of Accoutrements, Social History and Medical