This week’s museum artefact is the Florence Nightingale Medal. This medal was awarded to Mrs
Megan Crisp of the Queen Elizabeth’s Colonial Nursing Service, 1951-56. Mrs Crisp served in Malaya. The medal instituted on 16 May 1912 was bestowed on nurses who distinguished themselves by special devotion to, and nursing of, the sick and wounded in war and peace.
This week’s museum artefact is the WWI British War Medal. Instituted to record the successful conclusion of the First World War, the British War Medal can still often be seen worn by families at ANZAC Day parades. However once the medal is mounted many of us are denied the opportunity to see the wonderful designs on the reverse.
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The reverse design of the WWI British War Medal
The reverse shows St George on horseback, trampling underfoot a shield with the eagle motif – a representation of the Central Powers – and a skull and cross bones; the symbol of death. Above the figure, the sun has risen in victory. The male figure represents the male population who had borne the brunt of the fighting. By showing him on horseback the artist is symbolically showing man controlling a force (in this case represented by the horse) greater than his own thus alluding to the scientific and mechanical appliances which helped win the war.
Museum Artefact: Dried Flowers from WWII gravesite of Lt Col Ray Lynch
This week’s museum artefact is dried flowers. These flowers serve as a sad reminder of the thousands of New Zealanders who left to fight in World War II and never saw their families again. They come from the gravesite of Lieutenant-Colonel Ray Lynch who served in New Zealand’s 18th Battalion before dying of wounds whilst a Prisoner of War. The flowers were taken by Ray’s sister when she visited Italy and his gravesite. One can only imagine how difficult it would have been for Ray’s family having him so far from home where they could not regularly visit him. Having a little memento from his final resting place hopefully brought a measure of comfort to his grieving family.
Neck Badge of a Knight Commander of the Most Honoourable Order of the Bath (KCB)
This week’s museum artefact is a neck badge of a Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (KCB).
The Order of Bath was first instituted in 1399, and revived by King George I in 1725. At first it only had one class, that of Knight however in 1815 and again in 1847 the order was reorganised into 2 divisions, Military and Civilian each with 3 classes – Knight Grand Cross (GCB), Knight Commander (KCB) and Companion (CB).
The Badge shown is that of Lieutenant General Sir Leonard Thornton KCB CBE one of New Zealand’s most prominent soldiers of the last half century. Thornton served during WWII with the RNZA. Subsequently as a staff officer he was heavily involved in establishing the compulsory military training scheme in 1950. After serving successively as Quartermaster-General (1955), Adjutant-General (1956-58), and head of the SEATO Planning Office in Bangkok (1958-59), he became Chief of General Staff (CGS) in 1960. In 1965 he began a six year term as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). From 1972 – 1974 he was New Zealand’s Ambassador to South Vietnam and Cambodia.
This week’s museum artefact is a New Zealand Cyclist Corps Badge – 1st Design, Winged Bicycle Front (Handle bars and wheels) with Scroll “NZ Cyclist Corps”.
Museum Artefact - New Zealand Cyclist Corps Badge
It is easy to forget that although the internal combustion engine was first conceived in 1884, in 1914 the vehicles that used it were still unreliable and unsuitable for off road work. A British infantry division would have around 11 cars, 4 lorries, 19 motorcycles and around 5,592 horses. Horses however, were loud and required a huge amount of logistical support; everything from food to veterinary care. The Cyclist Corps was envisioned as a mounted infantry unit that could move quickly and quietly around a battlefield. However the bicycle was soon discovered to be unsuitable and ineffective for combat in the terrain of the Western Front. Instead it was used for recon and communication tasks. The Corps was disbanded in May 1919.
This week’s museum artefact is the bust of the Italian dictator Mussolini and was donated to the National Army Museum along with an amusing history. During World War II’s North Africa campaign Brigadier Jack Conolly was amongst the officers of the 24th Battalion who set up their HQ in the captured Governor’s Palace in Tripoli. As the story goes, there were two busts in the palace, one of which was of Mussolini, and Conolly commented that he preferred it better than the other. When night fell Conolly went up to his room to discover the bust of Mussolini comfortably tucked up in his bed, resting his head on the pillow. Conolly came up with a creative solution as to what to do with the very heavy piece of artwork; he wrapped it up, marked the package ‘War Papers, Top Secret’ and sent it home to his wife in New Zealand. Once in New Zealand Mussolini’s lot did not improve; he was put up on a post where Conolly’s children used to sit on his head and hit him with sticks because he was a ‘bad man’.
This week’s museum artefact of interest is a small circular brass Boer War Fundraising Medalllion. One side features the words ‘Rough Riders’ above the image of a soldier on horseback, over a scroll with the words ‘Kia Toa Ake Ake’. The other side reads ‘To commemorate the Departure of the NZ Rough Riders to the Transvaal 1900’.
Funds raised through the sale of this medallion will have been used to fund the efforts of the contingent.
Henry Dewar was born in Foxton in 1883, but spent most of his early years in Wellington before moving to Taranaki at the age of 27. He worked there as an Ironmoulder until World War I broke out four years later in 1914.
Dewar began his rugby career with Wellington’s Melrose Club and played his first provincial rugby with Wellington in 1907. The following year he was in the Wellington team which beat the touring Anglo Welsh.
Known by the nickname “Norkey”, Dewar was strong and ruggedly built for those years, and was an industrious forward who could play either as a hooker or in the loose. In fact, some said he could play in any position in the scrum. Read the rest of this entry »
Our hearts and thoughts go out to the Akehurst family who lost their little boy Lance last week. Lance visited the National Army Museum last month as part of the Make-A-Wish programme and had a fun day out with his family as part of a wider trip organised by the Foundation. We are honoured to have been part of one of Lance’s many exciting adventures in his short life. Our thoughts are with Lance’s family.
National Army Museum is awarded the Enviro Bronze award from Qualmark
The National Army Museum has been recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading tourism operators by Qualmark – tourism’s official quality assurance.
To earn this mark of quality we undergo a comprehensive on site assessment each year to ensure we have met all the appropriate criteria, focusing on service, facilities, safety and operating systems we have in place and our environmental footprint.
We have been working hard in recent years to ensure we reduce our energy consumption and waste production and have gained an ‘Enviro Bronze’ branding in recognition of this.
Our challenge as responsible tourism operators is to continue to identify ways we can further reduce our footprint. If you have any suggestions please send them through!