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

Artefact of the Month: Lance Corporal Nimrod’s Dog Blanket

Artefact of the Month

Artefact of the Month: Lance Corporal Nimrod’s Dog Blanket

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Lance Corporal Nimrod’s dog blanket. 1985.1933. National Army Museum Te Mata Toa.

July’s Artefact of the Month is Lance Corporal Nimrod’s dog blanket. Nimrod was the mascot for the 2nd Battalion, New Zealand Regiment. The blanket has the 2nd Battalion crest, and Lance Corporal’s stripes on both sides.

Many animals have served alongside men and women throughout various conflicts New Zealand has been involved in. They’ve carried out various roles such as mascots, messengers and first-aid assistants, as well as transportation. In the case of war horses, they’ve even played a vital part in the battles themselves.

Animal mascots such as Nimrod are often seen as symbols of hope and good luck within a unit and they give servicemen and women a sense of normality and friendship amidst the harsh conditions of war.

Artefact of the Month: Khaki Cloth Housewife, WWI

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

National Army Museum. Khaki Cloth Housewife, WWI. 1981.2640.

A Khaki Cloth Housewife attributed to 13/2823 Albert Henry Johnston MM is June’s Artefact of the Month. This object contains an assortment of needles, nails, buttons and safety pins, and a small silver tin containing adhesive plasters. A sticker on the bottom of the tin advises: ‘a piece of plaster this size placed on the heel before marching prevents blisters’.

Albert Henry Johnston embarked aboard the Maunganui on 8 January 1916 with the 9th Reinforcements, Auckland Mounted Rifles. He later served with the NZ Field Artillery and was involved in actions on the Western Front. Albert was awarded a Military Medal for acts of gallantry at the Battle of Messines when, as Acting-Bombardier in a party laying cable, his area came under heavy shellfire.

An extract from the London Gazette date 16 Aug 1917 states as follows: ‘On 7th June was in a party laying cable from cable head to Brigade Forward Station near Messines. The party had to lay through a heavy Barrage, then return, repairing breaks and relaying portions through the barraged area, as soon as the barrage lightened. This occupied from Zero + 3 hours. Subsequently Bombardier Johnston was posted to a cable head for maintenance of the line. There was heavy shelling over this area till nightfall on June 7th, lines were continually cut and repaired.  Bombardier Johnston was out on the lines at the earliest opportunity and worked fearlessly through the barrage. It is largely due to his efforts that the lines were repaired in time to get some work through before being cut again. In addition the example he set was of great value.’

Artefact of the Month: Combination Protector, WWI

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Combination Protector, WWI. 2001.993

A World War One Combination Protector, given to 43523 Bombardier Charles Robert Reader, from his mother, Mary Eliza Reader is May’s Artefact of the Month.

The Combination Protector was made and patented by a Whanganui Company, Young and Collins Ltd. It consists of a leather pouch and has two steel plates stored inside, designed to prevent injury to the chest and lungs from bullets, shrapnel and bayonet charges. The Combination Protector would have a strap that hung over the neck and could either be worn on the left side of the chest or in combination with another pouch to be worn on the right side of the chest. It could also be used to store a soldier’s personal items such as a pay book, money, or diary.

Bombardier Reader left New Zealand aboard the New Zealand troopship Corinthic on 2 April 1917 as part of the 23rd Reinforcements, New Zealand Field Artillery. He served on the Western Front. Although the Combination Protector that his Mother gave him may have prevented him from being wounded in the chest, it did not protect him from other possible injuries. A few months after arriving in Europe, his military record reports that on the 20 October 1917 Bombardier Reader was wounded in action, receiving a gun shot wound to the shoulder. He returned to London for recovery but was eventually sent home on the SS Maunganui and discharged as being no longer physically fit for active service due to his injury.

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Artefact of the Month: Entrenching Tool and Carrier, WWI

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Entrenching Tool and Carrier, WWI. 2006.1329.

General Sir Ian Hamilton’s famous line is “You have got through the difficult business, now you must dig, dig, dig, until you are safe”. This was in response to the message sent from the commanding officers describing the dire situation at Gallipoli and that the ANZACs should withdraw on the evening of 25 April 1915.

In light of Anzac Day commemorations April’s Artefact of the Month is an entrenching tool, also known as an e tool, and carrier. Entrenching tools were extremely important for quickly establishing trenches under direct fire from Turkish defences along the steep terrain at Gallipoli. Although not used at Gallipoli these items belonged to 12/1030 Sergeant William Joseph Virtue, who served in WWI with the Auckland Infantry Battalion. The e tool is composed of a head that features a shovel and pick, with a central eye. The e tool head slots onto the wooden helve that has a steel cap. The head can be stored inside the canvas web carrier, while the helve is attached to the outer of the carrier, secured by a snap lock dome. 

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Artefact of the Month: Damascene Clogs, WWII

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Damascene Clogs - Front

Damascene Clogs, WWII. 1978.3063.

These clogs from Damascus, souvenired by 72056 Catherine Ada Wells in 1942 are March’s Artefact of the Month.  Catherine Wells enlisted in 1941 as a nurse with the Volunteer Aid Detachment in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps during WWII. The clogs are painted blue with motifs of birds and flowers in yellow, orange, gold, red, pink, green, black and a darker blue paint. The strap over the toes is made from blue and white polka dot velvet, backed with leather and trimmed with gold ribbon.

Artefact of the Month: Mah Jong Set

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Mah Jong Set

National Army Museum. Mah Jong Set. 2012.12.4

This beautifully made Mah Jong set is February’s Artefact of the Month and a striking example of Prisoner of War Art. It was made by a Japanese Prisoner of War (POW) at Featherston Camp during World War Two and given to a guard. This 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. Prisoners who did camp duties, such as clearing gorse, were usually given free afternoons to pursue hobbies like carving, which is perhaps the origin of this particular set.

Featherston was the site of a large military training camp during World War One and then in 1942 became the location for an 800-man POW Camp. The featuring of this artefact commemorates the 74th anniversary of the Featherston Camp Incident which took place on 25 February 1943. During the incident a staged protest by POWs refusing to work led to a riot in which 48 prisoners and one guard died. A plaque erected in a small memorial garden near Featherston marks the site where the riot occured.

Artefact of the Month: Fly Whisk, WWII

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017


Major Hardy. 2016.41.21


National Army Museum. Fly Whisk, WWII. 2016.41.7

January’s Artefact of the Month is a fly whisk belonging to Major Stewart Hardy during WWII. The handle is made out of one section of horn in which the end is carved into the head of a bird. Inlays of painted white horn and metal have been added to achieve this. The whisk is made out of animal hair, possibly horse or mule and is two tones, dark brown and white.

During WWII, Major Hardy purchased this item from the markets in Egypt. He is seen in several of his photograph albums, which are held within the Museum’s archives, holding this particular fly whisk. Throughout WWII many of our soldiers spent time in Egypt, training outside in the heat among the flies. Major Hardy obtained this item in an effort to deter the buzzing insects! It is used by flicking the whisk to swat the flies away similar to the way a horse’s tail swishes when it feels a fly land on it.

Major Stewart Hardy was born 25 March 1906 and signed up for service in 1940 with the rank of Captain. He embarked on 23 August 1940 with the 6th Field Regiment New Zealand Artillery. After the war Hardy practiced as a Barrister and Solicitor and died in in Hamilton on 10 June 1967 .

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Artefact of the Month: Christmas Box, Australian, WWI

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

australian-red-cross-package1December’s Artefact of the Month is a beautifully decorated wooden box produced by the Australian Red Cross for Christmas 1917, WWI.

The rectangular box has a lid, which was originally hinged along the back edge, with a paper label printed ‘Christmas Greetings from the Australian Red Cross 1917’. The underside of the lid has a label which lists the societies the gift is from. The front side facing has a paper label with the Australian flag and the Union Jack, while the sides have labels bearing laurel wreaths.  The box is nailed together.

The Australian Red Cross sent around 395,600 food parcels and 36,300 clothing parcels abroad during WWI. The packages could contain anything from cheese, tea, sugar, corned beef, salmon or biscuits, to scarves, socks, pyjamas, blankets and jumpers. This service was facilitated through the time, labour and money contributed by thousands of Australian countrywomen and men.

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Artefact of the Month: Egyptian Wallet, WWII

Monday, November 28th, 2016

November’s Artefact of the Month is a souvenir Egyptian Wallet, used by Corporal Bernard Hansen during World War II. Just as we collect souvenirs on our overseas trips today, when soldiers had down time or leave, they would also collect souvenirs or mementos from their big overseas expedition. This wallet may have been purchased at a bazaar whilst Corporal Bernard Hansen was in Egypt.

The wallet is made of tan leather and has coloured Egyptian scenes impressed on both the external faces. One facing has a landscape scene with the pyramids in the background while the other has an ancient Egyptian style picture featuring a chariot in the centre surrounded by figures and hieroglyphs. The wallet folds in half and is secured with a tab which fits into a loop on the outside edge. The interior has a large cavity which runs along the length of the wallet, and there is a clear plastic fronted pocket on the left side and a flapped pocket on the right side.

81955 Cpl. Bernard Robert Hansen served with the Anti-Tank Brigade, 18th New Zealand Tank Transporter in Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. At the time of his enlistment he was listed as a felt worker.

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Artefact of the Month: Carved Pencil Collection

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

Carved Pencil Collection. 2016.7.1-4

October’s Artefact of the Month features a collection of pencil carvings created by 10/303 Private Christopher William ‘Bill’ Connell.

According to Bill’s family history, these pencils were carved in the trenches during World War One. His military record suggests that the only trenches Bill served in were those on the Gallipoli peninsula, so it is possible that these pencils may have been carved there.

The yellow pencil is carved with an image of a woman wearing a blue gown. She is holding a parasol to one side and a clutch purse on the other. Engraved below the carving are the words “ASCOT GOWN”. The teal pencil is carved with an image of a man in a grey suit and tie. The figure found upon the red pencil depicts another image of a man, possibly a waiter, in a white suit and bow tie. On the remaining section of the red pencil the words “…LASTIC DRAWING PENCIL EAGLE PENCIL Co / LONDON”, can be seen. The black-coloured pencil is carved with the likeness of a Māori Pou and the area towards the tip of the pencil features a series of carved, tāniko style patterns.

Bill Connell enlisted on 14 August 1914 spending time in both Egypt and Gallipoli during his overseas service with the Wellington Infantry Battalion. He was discharged from the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) on 13 May 1916 as he was no longer fit for duty on account of wounds inflicted or sickness contracted while on active service. On 11 October of the same year Bill was mentioned in the supplement to the London Gazette as being awarded a Military Medal for acts of bravery during the course of war.

Bill Connell died on 25 November 1918 in Whanganui due to influenza complications. He was 25 years-old at the time of his death and is buried at the Aramaho Cemetery in Whanganui.

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