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

The Puketutu Bugle

The Puketutu Bugle

October 3rd, 2019

Brass bugle, made in Paris, dated 1839 found near the site of the British Army Camp that was involved in the Battle of Puketutu on 8 May 1845.
The bugle was found on a farm just outside of Okaihau, Northland. As an aside, the man who found the Bugle was Arthur MacKereth (1892-1986) who served as a Company Sergeant Major with the Maori Pioneer Battalion in World War I.
The British Forces involved in the Battle of Puketutu consisted of 200 men from the British 58th, 96th and 99th Regiments as well as several marines and were led by Lieutenant Colonel William Hulme and his second in command Major Cyprian Bridge.
The Battle of Puketutu was the first time British troops had fought inland from the Bay of Islands. Due to local skirmishes in the area, Puketutu Pa was not fully completed at the time of the battle, whilst most of the pa was fortified with double or triple layer palisades around it, the rear was incomplete and vulnerable. As a way of countering this weakness, Te Ruki Kawiti and 140 of his men decided to wait in ambush in the bushes outside the pa so that when Colonel Hulme and his men attacked, they could take them by surprise. This proved effective and combined with the subsequent attack of Hone Heke and his men from the pa, resulted in Hulme calling off the attack. As he had no artillery, Hulme may have thought a frontal assault on the Pa was unwise following this fierce fighting. As the pa had no long term strategic value for Heke, he abandoned it following the battle and allowed Hulme and his men to occupy it.
This battle would prove important in the history of the New Zealand Wars as this was the first time Māori had engaged the British on the open ground and after witnessing their skill at this approach, Kawiti would change the approach as to how they would attack the British in future conflicts (most notably at Okaihau the following month).

Scottish Women’s Hospitals Lapel Badge

November 23rd, 2018

The Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service were founded in 1914 with the Headquarters located in Edinburgh. It had been suggested by Dr Lucy Inglis, with the backing of the Scottish Federation of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, that female medical units be put together to serve on the front line. As the idea was rejected by the War Office, financial support for the 14 units that were formed came from private donations, the fund-raising efforts of local societies, the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and the American Red Cross. Scottish Women’s Hospital units served in Corsica, France, Malta, Romania, Russia, Salonika and Serbia.

This particular badge belonged to Christchurch born Dr Jessie Scott. Scott completed her medical training at Edinburgh University. When WWI broke out she was initially asked by Ettie Rout to come and work in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force hospitals in Egypt but instead she volunteered with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service. Her unit, which included Dr Lucy Inglis, was captured by the Austrians and taken to Vienna in February 1916. After negotiations, they were released in Switzerland. Scott and her unit went on to serve at the Russian front in Romania, attached to the First Serbian Division but due to the advancing German army, they were forced to retreat to Russia along with Romanian refugees. She continued to serve with the Serbian Army until 1918. In 1919 she was attached, as a surgeon, to the 61st General Hospital, Salonika, with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Scott was awarded the Serbian Order of St Sava for her work with the Serbian Army. After the war she returned to New Zealand and worked in Christchurch until her retirement.


By Elizabeth Mildon

Curator of Heraldry 

Glamorous New Army Kit

November 22nd, 2018

Glamorous New Army Kit” said the newspaper headlines in October 1967, about the mess gowns worn by “these girls” who “enjoy looking truly feminine occasionally after days in uniform”.  The thoughts of wearers NZWRACs 2Lt Margaret Parker and Officer-Cadet Jennifer Greacen were not recorded.  The occasion was the 25th anniversary dinner of the NZWRAC (New Zealand Women’s Royal Army Corps) and also the glittering launch of the new mess dress for serving officers, held in Wellington. 

Officer-Cadet Jenny Greacen sparkled in one of the new gowns… we would like to think that the one in our collection (see image) was Jenny’s, but sadly it has no provenance. 


This “glamorous new Army kit” was a champagne-coloured mess gown brought to life by Lurex thread in a brocade pattern overall, with further movement being created through the asymmetrical emerald green silk sash falling from shoulder to back hem…add gold coloured-fringing and this becomes a very special dress under evening lights, itself as vivacious as the conversation that night.   Securing the sash is a gold-edged matching green silk epaulette with Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps button, while on the sash is an enamelled RNZAOC insignia, and an anodised aluminium Warrant Officer’s badge of oak leaves and crown.     

Dress regulations would have set out the permitted accessories and on this occasion, the dresses were worn with elbow-length light coloured gloves and the pointy shoes with low stiletto heels of the time, then topped off with carefully coiffed hair.  No doubt a certain amount of unmentionable armour was also worn beneath – unmentionable yes, but the Army did actually stipulate that “pantyhose” must be worn.  Who would check?

It is said that the gowns were designed by the House of Worth, the founder of which was Englishman Charles Frederick Worth, who was also known as the father of haute couture through his business in Paris for clients such as the Empress Eugenie and Lady Mary Curzon, Vicereine of India.  Worth is credited with inventing the “princess line” – no precise waistline definition (although a belt could be added); torso contoured below the bust line, the drape flaring gently over the hips down to the hem.

While one couldn’t say that the lavish decoration of the vastly expensive late 19thC gowns (well over 2000 francs for one particular example) has been applied to the NZWRAC mess gowns of the 1960s, the latter still cost each wearer $64 – and this in the days when “the 64,000 dollar question” was the yardstick of a very heady sum. 

From contemporary reports, it looks very much as though the WRACS had a “bang-on” evening.  We hope so, for in ten years’ time it was integrated into other Army Corps, disappearing, leaving its spangled gown behind. 


By Philippa Harrison

Curator of Textiles




– Evening Post 7th October 1967 (press cutting in personal scrapbook/album).

– New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches 1911-1991, Part One.  Thomas, M. and Lord, C.  Pub: Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord, Wellington (1995).

– The WAAC Story: The story of the New Zealand Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.  Latham, I.      Pub: Wright & Carman Limited, Trentham (1986).

copyright clearance not required, 50 year protection extinct

Artefact of the Month: Piecing Patriotism Together

September 28th, 2018

2003.251; Jig-Saw Puzzle, Put Europe Back Together Again, WWII. National Army Museum, Te Mata Toa.

2003.251; Jig-Saw Puzzle, Put Europe Back Together Again, WWII. National Army Museum, Te Mata Toa.


This puzzle was made in New Zealand during World War Two by the Mere Company. What makes this object distinctive is how the puzzle pieces are shaped. The pieces are a mixture of standard puzzle shapes and swastika-shaped pieces. The swastika pieces relate to places on the map where Germany had invaded by 1943. The standard puzzle pieces depict the United Kingdom, where Germany had not invaded.

2003.251; Jig-Saw Puzzle, Put Europe Back Together Again, WWII. National Army Museum, Te Mata Toa.

2003.251; Jig-Saw Puzzle, Put Europe Back Together Again, WWII. National Army Museum, Te Mata Toa.

The puzzle is described on the box as;

The Greatest Jig-Saw Problem of the Age, the PUZZLE of EUROPE. The Nazis have battered their crooked sign into the face of Europe, shattering nearly all of it – except Britain. The task that lies before us is that, whatever the cost, we must – PUT EUROPE TOGETHER AGAIN!

2003.251; Jig-Saw Puzzle, Put Europe Back Together Again, WWII. National Army Museum, Te Mata Toa.

2003.251; Jig-Saw Puzzle, Put Europe Back Together Again, WWII. National Army Museum, Te Mata Toa.

An advert placed by The Times Stationery Shop in the Bay of Plenty Times January 1943 described the mass produced puzzle as “the largest, best inter-locking and most ingenious puzzle on the market” (1943, p. 2).

This puzzle reflected the belief of many New Zealanders who felt war was a destructive act that physically separated people, countries and economies. The puzzle also shows how war had invaded not just countries, but all aspects of life for New Zealanders – including the promotion of patriotism in recreational play.

Accession Number: 2003.251; Jig-Saw Puzzle, Put Europe Back Together Again, WWII


By Loran McNamara

Assistant Curator of Social History, Accoutrements and Medical



The Times Stationery Shop. (1943, January 26). Advertisements Column 1. Bay of Plenty Times, LXXI(13056), p. 2. Retrieved August 12, 2018, from

Artefact of the Month: 4th Field Ambulance Rugby Ball

September 3rd, 2018

Passing and Punting the Time Away: 4th Field Ambulance Rugby Ball


2002.545: Rugby Ball, World War II. National Army Musuem, Te Mata Toa

2002.545: Rugby Ball, World War II. National Army Musuem, Te Mata Toa

This rugby ball was used by personnel of the 4th Field Ambulance during the Desert Campaign in World War Two and later in a German prisoner of war (POW) camp as a way to pass the time.

The original rugby ball was not the spherical shape that we see in today’s games. Initially, the rugby ball had a plum-like form. Historically, the ball was made from leather and had an inner pig’s bladder that was inflated by blowing into it.

Richard Lindon was a leather shoe maker in the English town of Rugby, which is where the game is said to have originated. Lindon also made leather sports balls for the Rugby school. His wife was responsible for inflating the pig bladders, but later died from an illness she contracted while blowing into a bladder. In response to his wife’s death, Lindon sourced a different bladder and invented a hand held pump to prevent people inflating them with their breath.

With these new developments and receiving feedback from players, the ball gradually changed over time to an egg-like shape, making it easier to kick and pass. Panels of leather were also used in the construction of the ball, in order to make the leather more durable.

In the 1980s, rugby balls began to be manufactured from synthetic materials which would not be easily damaged from wet conditions.

2002.545. ‘Hell Fire Waddle’ an unknown inscription of the 4th Field Ambulance’s Rugby ball. National Army Musuem, Te Mata Toa

2002.545. ‘Sgt Burke’ inscription on the same side. National Army Musuem. Te Mata Toa.

This brown leather rugby ball has four leather panels and the word “SCRUM” written in faint black lettering on one side. On the other side of the ball is HELL FIRE WADDIE” and “Sgt Burke” written in black.


Written by Loran McNamara,

Assistant Curator of Social History, Accoutrements and Medical

Artefact of the Month: Lieutenant Alan Clifford Rout and his Helmet.

July 17th, 2018

2017.386.3 – War Office Pattern Steel Helmet of 6/1704 Lieutenant Alan Clifford Rout. National Army Museum, Te Mata Toa

At first appearance, this helmet looks like any other one of the millions of khaki green steel helmets which are now synonymous with the World War I soldier and trench warfare in general. However, on closer inspection the large hole near the top of the helmet, which has torn through the steel and the inner lining, becomes glaringly obvious and suggests something more morbid.

What a lot of people may not realise is that the steel helmet was still an experimental item at the beginning of World War I and that for the first year of the war, including at Gallipoli, the men went into battle with no real head protection. The first British helmets didn’t arrive on the front lines until September 1915. Originally they were only issued to a battalion, each battalion was assigned 50 helmets which were to be kept in the trench stores until needed. These would remain in this fixed location and made available to be used by each battalion as they moved in and out of that area of the battlefield. Helmets remained part of trench store supplies until the summer of 1916 when production had reached 1 million units and there were enough available to start issuing them to each individual soldier. This was just as well for Alan Rout, for had he not been wearing a helmet on the morning of the 26th September 1916, it is very likely he would not have survived the shrapnel shell which tore through his helmet and lessened what would otherwise have been a fatal blow.

Alan Clifford Rout was born in Nelson on the 21st February 1891, the youngest of three sons of William and Eliza Rout. Prior to the war, Alan had attended Nelson College and had studied to be an architect. Alan was also a noted musician having studied at the Nelson School of Music during his youth. He played both the piano and the organ at various fundraising events such as the Empire Defence Fund and the Belgium Relief Fund in Nelson shortly before he left for the war and would continue to play at various community events in the years following his return.

6/1704 Lieutenant Allan Clifford Rout, 1st Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment. 

Alan enlisted for service with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on the 30th November 1914 and embarked overseas for Egypt as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Reinforcements on the 14th February 1915. Lieutenant Rout went on to serve with the Canterbury Infantry Regiment at Gallipoli where he was wounded in action on the 25th June 1915 receiving multiple shrapnel wounds to his right buttock. He was evacuated to England where he was admitted to Hornchurch Hospital (Grey Towers) where he spent most of the following year recuperating. Alan was discharged from Hornchurch on the 6th June 1916 and embarked for France to rejoin his unit (now posted to the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Infantry Regiment) in the field the following day.

The injury that caused this impressive hole in his helmet, occurred on the 26th September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. Lieutenant Rout had been charged with taking a water party up to the front lines in the area known as Fleurs and was talking to his Brigade Major when the Germans unleashed an artillery barrage overtop of their trench.

Alan Rout’s diary entry from that day reads as follows:

“An H. E. [high explosive] shrapnel burst right overhead and I got a terrific crack on my steel helmet. I was a bit dazed at first and thought the shrapnel hadn’t gone through my helmet; but when the blood began to stream down my face I knew I had a crack somewhere.”

Alan was reported as wounded in action two days later and was recorded as being dangerously ill at the Duchess of Westminster (No 1 British Red Cross Society) Hospital at Touquet, France. Alan was found to have a compound fracture to the skull and was operated on during the night of the 28th September to remove a small piece of bone and to mend a broken vein. As luck would have it, upon being evacuated to a dressing station two days earlier, Alan had passed by the tent of his brother Charles at Mametz Wood (Charles Rout had trained as a doctor and was serving with the British Army as a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps). Charles was able to assess the injury and recommend that his brother was operated on as soon as possible. The surgeons were said to remark on Alan’s incredible recovery following the operation and that he had been very lucky to live, this was no doubt due to his helmet, which took much of the impact and the fortunate intervention of his brother.

2017.386.3 – a close up view of the hole in Alan Rout’s steel helmet. National Army museum, Te Mata Toa

Alan was then sent to England where he was admitted to No 1 New Zealand General Hospital at Brockenhurst, where he was declared to be unfit for duty on account of his injury and after a period of convalescence, embarked for New Zealand on the 13th November 1916. Alan Rout was officially discharged on the 15th March 1917.

However, the head injury he received during the war would impact Alan for the rest of his life. He had a permanent indentation on the top of his head which he was no doubt self-conscious of as he was known to always wear a hat when out in public. The injury also caused him to have frequent headaches and difficulty concentrating for long periods of time. As a result, Alan did not continue his career as an architect as he had intended to do before the war. Instead, he worked as a registered valuer and later took over from his father as the Managing Secretary on the Trust Board of the Cawthron Institute (a local organisation based in Nelson specialising in promoting scientific research). Alan also served as the secretary of the Nelson Rotary Club for over 25 years and as the secretary of the Nelson Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.

Despite his change in career path, Alan was still able to put his architectural training to use; he designed both his own house in Nelson as well as the home of one of his brothers. Alan married Hilda Isabell Ryrie in late 1928 and had four children. Alan Rout died of stomach cancer in Nelson on the 25th September 1956 aged 65 and is interred in the RSA section of Wakapuaka Cemetery.

The National Army Museum is very fortunate to have an excellent collection of Lieutenant Rout’s belongings from World War I which include not only this unique helmet, but also his diary, medal group, compass, binoculars and sword. These were very generously donated by his daughter, Mrs Helen McBride in 2017.


Written by, 

Brenden Shirley, Collection Technician


Artefact of the Month: WW2 Italian Fascist Mothers Medal

June 1st, 2018

A World War II Italian Fascist Mothers Medal is June’s Artefact of the Month.

1990.161. WWII Italian Fascist Mothers Medal. National Army Museum, Te Mata Toa.

Established on March 3rd 1939, during the regime of Benito Mussolini and his ‘Economic Battles‘, this medal was used as a form of public recognition for mothers who bore 5 children, with a single bow added to the ribbon for every extra child she had.  

1990.161. WWII Italian Fascist Mothers Medal. National Army Museum, Te Mata Toa.

1990.161. WWII Italian Fascist Mothers Medal. National Army Museum, Te Mata Toa.

Cast from aluminium and attached to a green and blue ribbon, this medal was made specifically for Mussolini’s ‘Battle for Births‘ campaign.

Battle for Births

Established in 1927, ‘Battle for Births‘ was a demographic campaign aimed at increasing the Italian population from 40 million in 1927 to 60 million by 1950. 

In order to make this idea more appealing to the public, pre-marital loans were offered to couples to pay for their weddings in order to encourage them to marry. On top of this, each new child they produced was used as commodity to cancel out part of said marital loan. Married men with 6+ children also became exempt from taxation, and were more likely to receive promotions within work, over their single, childless co-workers. For women, they received the Mothers Medal as public recognition for their contribution to the scheme if they produced more than the state’s target of 5 children per family. 



Artefact of the Month: Major John William Fletcher (MBE) and his Whistle

May 1st, 2018

For many, the sound of the whistle calling out along the trenches during war time is often associated with the phrase ‘going over the top’. The expression refers to soldiers climbing out of the trenches to begin a forward attack. 

2007.786; Major John William Fletcher’s (MBE) Whistle, National Army Museum Te Mata Moa.


This whistle belonged to Major John William Fletcher (MBE), who was born in England and initially served with the Green Howards. He later joined the Gordon Highlanders, with whom he served with in the Boer War. In 1912 he came to New Zealand to work with the Military Staff in Auckland. He served with New Zealand in World War One, but was wounded at Gallipoli on the 8th May 1915 when taking part in the Second Battle of Krithia, also known as the Daisy Patch. Major Fletcher would have likely used this whistle to instruct troops to ‘go over the top’ at Gallipoli.

2007.786; Major John William Fletcher’s (MBE) Whistle, National Army Museum Te Mata Moa.

Major Fletcher was invalided back to New Zealand after being wounded but remained involved in the war effort, even assisting with the re-capturing of Felix von Luckner, a German Prisoner of War in New Zealand and who attempted escape.

Whistles were used in both world wars for communicating commands to troops over the sound and confusion of the battlefield. The 1914 Infantry Training Manual describes the “rally blast”, which uses short whistle sounds to gather troops together. This call was used when troops were in “wood, bush, fog or darkness”, when other signals could not be used. The “alarm blast”, a series of long and short whistle sounds, was used to call troops out of their camp and to take up positions. Artillery also used whistles to signal a gun was about to be fired, to prevent soldiers from getting hit by the gun’s recoil.

Major Fletcher’s whistle is engraved “NZEF” (New Zealand Expeditionary Force) on the side and is stamped with “The City Patent Whistle”.  It has a loop which holds a split ring, where a leather cord could be attached, so the whistle could be buttoned onto a soldier’s uniform. The whistle was silver plated, but the plating has worn away, revealing brass underneath.

2007.786; Major John William Fletcher’s (MBE) Whistle, National Army Museum Te Mata Moa.

2007.786; Major John William Fletcher’s (MBE) Whistle, National Army Museum Te Mata Moa.

2007.786; Major John William Fletcher’s (MBE) Whistle, National Army Museum Te Mata Moa.

Written by Loran McNamara, Assistant Curator of Social History and Accoutrements

Artefact of the Month: Albert’s Melodeon

April 3rd, 2018

2018.91.1; Melodeon, A V S Dick, WWI. National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

This melodeon belonged to Albert Victor Samuel Dick, who served in both World War One and World War Two. We are not sure whether Albert purchased this melodeon for himself or whether it was something he acquired whilst serving with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade during WWI. We do know that he had the melodeon with him whilst in service, as the museum also received a picture of him holding the instrument in his military uniform.

2018.91.2; Albert Victor Samuel Dick holding his melodeon. National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

The bellows on the melodeon have a blue background with white floral patterns. The manufacture’s name is unable to be read as most of the lettering has faded, but it does have “German Manufacture” in English on top of the melodeon. It comes with a wooden storage box that has a twin hook and eye fastening.

2018.91.1; Melodeon, A V S Dick, WWI. 

National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

2018.91.1; Melodeon, A V S Dick, WWI. 

National Army Museum Te Mata Toa


2018.91.1; Melodeon Case, A V S Dick, WWI. National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

The melodeon is a type of accordion, and is also known as a one-row diatonic accordion. This melodeon features a single row of 10 buttons, so it is a one-row melodeon. Other melodeons can have two or three rows of buttons. The reeds on the melodeon can be changed by lifting the stops (the round pegs on the top of the melodeon) to change the tuning.

2018.91.1; Melodeon, A V S Dick, WWI. 

National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

2018.91.1; Melodeon, A V S Dick, WWI. 

National Army Museum Te Mata Toa


2018.91.1; Melodeon, A V S Dick, WWI. 

National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

Artefact of the Month: Ruth’s Soldier Doll

March 5th, 2018

A soldier doll from World War I, with it’s own hand-made and personalised uniform, is March’s Artefact of the Month.

2017.250.1; Doll, R M Miller, WWI. National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

2017.250.1; Doll, R M Miller, WWI. National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

Ruth Madeleine Miller (nèe FitzGerald) was only 6 years old when her two older brothers, John and Roy, left New Zealand to serve in World War One. To help Ruth remember her brothers while they were away, Ruth’s mother made a uniform for her doll.

The doll’s uniform includes a jacket complete with epaulettes, trousers, hat and shoes. The doll’s head, arms and legs are made from bisque, which is a type of unglazed porcelain, and the body is a soft fabric.

2017.250.1; Doll, R M Miller, WWI. National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

2017.250.1; Doll, R M Miller, WWI. National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

2017.250.1; Doll, R M Miller, WWI. National Army Museum Te Mata Toa

Ruth’s brothers both served with the New Zealand Army during World War One. 2/2820 John Garrett FitzGerald was a Driver with the New Zealand Field Artillery and 3/148A Bernard Morris Roy FitzGerald (known as Roy) served with the 6th Mounted Field Ambulance. Both brothers returned home at the end of the war and ran a general store together in Urenui, Taranaki.

The doll remained with Ruth until she handed it down to her oldest daughter, Geraldine, who later moved to Canada and took the doll with her. Geraldine remembers that she and her siblings “were never allowed to play with it … but [we] always looked at it and treated it with reverence as it was supposed to remind us of the sacrifices family made when sons went to war.”

In 2016 Geraldine visited New Zealand. The doll was now over 100 years old and Geraldine thought it was time to donate the precious family heirloom to a museum; Ruth’s soldier doll is now kept in storage for preservation at the National Army Museum Te Mata Toa.

By Loran McNamara, AC Accoutrements.


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