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

Artefact of the Week: The Pope’s Piano Accordion

Artefact of the Week: The Pope’s Piano Accordion

May 3rd, 2012

This week’s museum artefact is a piano accordion. Pope Pius XII gave two piano accordions to each Prisoner of War (POW) Camp in Italy in 1942. They were used to accompany sing-songs which were held to break the monotony of camp life.

This accordion is 1 of the 2 gifted by the late Pope Pius XII to POW Camp 107 near Udine in Italy. It was carried and used throughout his POW days by 9046 Clifford John Ewing, 20 Battalion.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

Artefact of the Week: The Short Snorter

April 16th, 2012

This week’s museum artefact is the Short Snorter of Lieutenant R.H. Stevenson (27.09.1942).

Collecting signatures on a ‘short snorter’ note was a popular preoccupation during World War II. These notes became a record of members’ travels and associations overseas and a social status symbol, boasting the quantity and quality of signatures collected and thus, acquaintances made.

A ‘short snorter’ is a note of currency that has been signed by numerous short snorter club members. Originally, it was understood that a person was only eligible for membership to the ‘club’ if he had flown across the Atlantic Ocean. These requirements later adapted to include those whom had flown 1000 miles over water by day. Many ‘short snorters’ hold an impressive narrative of names including former presidents, politicans and war hereos. Winston Churchill himself was said to be a member. The note belonging to Stevenson is an Australian shilling note packed with upwards of 52 names including, NZEF and United States personnel; we are in the process of deciphering individuals from their scrawled markings. Can you read any?

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

 

Artefact of the Week: Jewellery Box

April 10th, 2012

This week’s museum artefact is an ornate jewellery box which was a souvenir of Mack Stevenson’s time serving as part of JayForce – the force that occupied Japan after the end of World War II. Stevenson also served during the Korean War and had a long history with the New Zealand Army after starting as a signalman in Divisional Signals in World War II. The jewellery box, with its intricate relief of a dragon, is a fine example of the sort of souvenirs soldiers brought home after their time in Japan.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

Artefact of the Week: Kodak Camera in Water Bottle

February 26th, 2012

This water bottle is remarkable in that it was used to conceal Curly Weakley’s Kodak camera whilst in a Prisoner of War (POW) Camp in Italy during World War II.

Gunner Wilfred (Curly) Weakley had this 35mm Kodak Retina camera complete with brown leather case and carrying strap with him when he was taken prisoner at Sidi Rezegh during the relief of Tobruk in November 1941. He managed to hide the camera from the enemy during capture by strapping it to the inside of his leg.

Whilst prisoner at camp No. 57 at Udene near Trieste in Italy he made a fake water bottle to hide his camera. The bottle had a small compartment with cork stopper to hold water at the top, and a secret compartment underneath with removable bottom where the camera was concealed.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

Artefact of the Week: Handmade Chess Set

February 15th, 2012

 

Chess Set

This week’s museum artefact is a handmade chess set housed in a coconut shell and carved by Lancelot Hugh Herd while a Prisoner of War (POW) in Changi Prison, Singapore during World War II.

Lance Herd served as a Sapper (NZ Engineers) in World War I and was serving with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) in Singapore during World War II.

On 13 February 1942 he was ordered to evacuate the base to Batavia. On his way he stopped off at Banku Island not realising it was now occupied by the Japanese. He and his crew were taken prisoner and finally placed in Changi where he remained until after the war.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

Artefact of the Week: Bosnia Sign

February 11th, 2012

Bosnia Sign

This week’s museum artefact is a Bosnia Sign. This carved wooden sign marks New Zealand’s peace keeping efforts in the former Yugoslavia during the mid-1990s. Kiwi Company I was based at Santici Camp near the town of Vitez, approximately 20 kilometres north-west of Sarajevo. The contingent was given responsibility for a section of the Lasva Valley, and its principal task was to monitor compliance with the agreements reached between the Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Government authorities, and to improve the freedom of movement and general quality of life of people in its area of responsibility.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

Artefact of the Week: Civilian Respirator

January 30th, 2012

Civilian Respirator

This week’s museum artefact is a civilian respirator or gasmask. This one was issued to a civilian who was living in England during World War II. The mask is made from a light weight rubber and is attached to a canister that filtered out gas when the respirator was worn. These sorts of respirators were issued to all civilians in Britain during the conflict and this object serves to remind us of the strain placed on that island nation as it stood against the Nazi war machine. Not only was there the threat of invasion and the constant bombing from the Nazi air force, but there was also the terrifying possibility of chemical weapons being used on defenceless civilians.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

Artefact of the Week: Coca Cola Bottle

January 24th, 2012

Coca Cola bottle dating back to World War II

This week's museum artefact is an empty Coca Cola bottle recently donated and dates from World War II. During World War II the beverage company made a pledge to supply United States forces with its soft drink wherever it might be serving. D

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uring the conflict Coca Cola set up 64 bottling plants as the fighting moved through Europe and the Pacific, which resulted in over five billion bottles of Coca Cola being consumed by military personnel. This effort to supply troops around the globe with the drink was also a brilliant business move and helped the company grow massively post war and become the iconic brand it is today.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

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New Zealand War Horses

January 17th, 2012

Soldiers on horseback travel across pontoon bridge (1992-757)

Soldiers on horseback travel across pontoon bridge

With the spotlight on war horses at the moment with the recent release of Spielberg’s latest movie, “War Horse”, the National Army Museum is focusing some attention to New Zealand war horses.

The new film chronicles the story of a horse serving in World War I’s Western Front and sheds some deserving light on the courage and sacrifice of animals during that conflict.

Horses were the unsung hereos of World War I and instrumental in keeping the army operating. Horses served as mounts for the Mounted Rifle Brigade, provided logistical support for the army as a whole, and their companionship increased morale amongst the soldiers.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Remarkable Reunion

January 12th, 2012

New Zealander Barry Deed from Tauranga recently witnessed a truly remarkable incident when visiting the Normandy landing beaches on an overseas trip. Mr Deed retold the story to the staff of the National Army Museum during his Christmas time visit.

Two World War II veterans and comrades were remarkably reunited in October last year, more than 67 years since they had stormed the Normandy landing beaches on D Day and one had left the other for dead.

Bill Betts and Clifford Baker were amongst the first ashore that day having spent the two previous years training together as radio operators whose role it was to send radio messages from the advancing frontline, to Alli

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ed guns so they wouldn't shell their own troops.

On D Day, Bill was hit by enemy fire and the last time Clifford saw him he was lying wounded on the beach telling everyone else to keep going.

Miraculously both men visited the same D Day museum at Arromanches on the same day, with Clifford signing the museum's visitor's book just 20 minutes after Bill and recognised his name.

See a video clip and read the story.

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