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

Artefact of the Week: Horse Tail

Artefact of the Week: Horse Tail

February 23rd, 2013

This week’s museum artefact is a horse tail from the Sinai Palestine Campaign in World War I. The mounted kiwi soldiers who fought in that campaign shared the hardships and danger with their horses and became extremely close to them. Sadly when they returned the kiwis were not allowed to bring their horses, and rather than see them mistreated once they left, many chose to shoot them. This tail is almost certainly a reminder of a beloved horse who was tragically left behind when the war was won.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

Artefact of the Week: POW Camp Cooker

February 4th, 2013

Last week we profiled a POW camp air blower which we believed was used to ventilate escape tunnels, and there were some designed specifically for this purpose (Click here). However, thanks to the research of one of our dedicated staff members, we have now discovered that this one pictured was in fact a hand cranked air blower used for heating up food and ‘boiling the billy’ in a POW camp during World War II.

According to the article ‘Cooking Behind Barbed Wire: The Evolution of Prison Camp Cookers’ these gadgets were made from the bits and pieces they found in their camps and there were many different modifications. With a shortage of fuel and a desire to heat up the tin meat in the Red Cross parcels they became an important piece of kit. ‘Blower’ races were also popular in some camps who competed to see who could ignite and boil the billy the quickest.

 

Artefact of the Week: POW Air Blower

February 1st, 2013

This week’s museum artefact is a hand cranked air blower and was recently on display as part of our Peek at the Peculiar  exhibition. It was used in World War II as a way to ventilate Prisoner of War escape tunnels. Many New Zealand soldiers were captured during the war, especially in the early stages, and they ended up imprisoned in camps. Tunnelling under the barbed wire fences was one way of escape and this is where a blower was essential; keeping the air fresh for men working hard burrowing underground.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

Artefact of the Week: Christmas Bowl

December 23rd, 2012

This week’s museum artefact is a brass bowl. This bowl is a link back to New Zealand’s first Christmas following the battle of Gallipoli. The object is inscribed ‘New Zealand General Hospital Cairo Xmas 1915’, which means it was made just after the Kiwi troops had evacuated Gallipoli following the terrible campaign there.

The New Zealand General Hospital near Cairo cared not only for battle casualties but also for the scores of men who were sick from disease and illness. The hospital was only designed to accommodate 250 patients but ended up housing 650. No doubt the efforts of the doctors and nurses at the hospital were a Godsend to the poor soldiers who found themselves there.

Interestingly the National Army Museum has a number of such bowls in the collection, suggesting that they might have been a souvenir for the staff at the facility.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

 

Artefact of the Week: Christmas Wallet

December 19th, 2012

This week’s museum artefact is a wallet. Christmas is a traditional time of joy and laughter, and enjoying the company of family and friends. However, in December 1917 such qualities would have been in short supply as the horror of World War I dragged on.

This wallet was a Christmas gift from the YMCA to New Zealand soldier Donald Cottle who was fighting as an infantryman on the Western Front. It is printed with the image of a Kiwi and the words ‘In the field, France, Xmas 1917’. The New Zealand Division on the Western Front had just endured the disastrous Battle of Passchendeale which claimed the lives of hundreds of men – 1917’s Christmas would have seen many grieving families. Tragically 1917’s Christmas was to be Donald Cottle’s last; he was killed in action at La Cateau, France, in October 1918.

Thoughts turn to our soldiers currently separated from family and friends, and the hope that they will be safe and comforted by the knowledge their sacrifices are appreciated during this very special time of the year.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

 

Artefact of the Week: Boer War Slouch Hat

November 22nd, 2012

This week’s museum artefact is a Boer War slouch hat which belonged to Frederick Wyatt Francis. This type of wide brimmed felt hat was commonly worn by British Empire Forces during the Second Boer War.

Major Frederick Francis commanded two squadrons of the 4th New Zealand Mounted Rifles Contingent to South Africa in March 1900. He led his troops in Rhodesia but suffered from enteric fever and ended up in Mafeking hospital before being invalided to England in October 1900. Whilst in hospital in England Francis was visited by Queen Victoria and Prince Edward and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Read the rest of this entry »

Artefact of the Week: Pattern Wheeled Carrier

November 13th, 2012

This week’s museum artefact is a New Zealand Pattern Wheeled Carrier which were used in World War II by the Home Guard and later in the Korean War. These Indian designed carriers were based on a four wheel drive Ford chassis and were built in the New Zealand Railways Hutt Valley workshops during the latter part of World War II. Although they were produced too late for service in that war, at least two vehicles served with 16th Field Regiment during the Korean War of 1950-53. They were never particularly satisfactory and were withdrawn from service in 1956. Read the rest of this entry »

Artefact of the Week: Iraqi Most Wanted Playing Cards

November 6th, 2012

This week’s museum artefact is a pack of ‘Iraqi Most Wanted’ playing cards. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq playing cards like these were used as a novel way to hunt for people wanted by the US forces. Each card in the pack features a soldier or official from Sadam Hussein’s Iraqi regime, with Hussein himself featuring on the Ace of Spades. The idea behind the pack was that soldiers passing the time playing cards would become familiar with the wanted individuals and easily identify them should they come across them during operations.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquistions.

Artefact of the Week: Plate

October 30th, 2012

This week’s museum artefact is a plate. The patriotic fervour that greeted the outbreak of World War I was such that even crockery was used to spread the message. This small plate dates from 1914 and proudly declares that ‘Might in the right cause shall prevail’. Sometime in its life the plate was broken and then carefully repaired, which shows how treasured it was by its owner. The plate was produced by the English firm Jackson and Gosling, who brought out a variety of patriotic crockery, including one at the end of the war which boasted ‘Might in the right cause has prevailed’. Indeed, the might of the Allies had prevailed, but not before a terrible cost had been borne by all sides.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.

Artefact of the Week: Gas Hood

October 25th, 2012

This week’s museum artefact is a World War I Gas Hood. World War I introduced industrialised killing to the battlefield with perhaps the greatest horror being poison gas. This gas hood or helmet dates from early in the conflict and its fabric is impregnated to provide protection. The wearer breathed through a special valve which had to be held in the mouth. The gas hood was later replaced by the box respirator style mask.

Find out about our other museum artefacts and recent acquisitions.


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