Fascinating items hidden deep within our vaults.
Today, in 1944, over 800 Polish refugees (over 700 of them children) arrived at the Pahiatua Polish Children’s camp after a long and perilous journey to our shores seeking safety from war-torn Europe. This Hidden Treasure is a carved elephant statue made at the camp which operated on the outskirts of the small Wairarapa town […]
These bronze memorial plaques, nicknamed ‘The Dead Man’s Penny’, were issued to the next of kin of WWI deceased.
Trench art objects are holders of soldiers’ memories and reminders of the conflict they faced. Read on to find out who made trench art and why, where they made it, and from what materials.
Flechettes (French for: ‘dart’ or ‘little arrow’) were mass produced steel darts designed to be dropped from aircraft during the First World War with devastating effect, physically and psychologically.
The kampfpistole is a rifled adaptation of the smoothbore leuchtpistole, a single-shot break-action flare gun used by the German military during the Second World War.
This wonderful piece of history is a children’s doll dressed in the uniform of a WWI nurse.
This swagger stick is uniquely ‘New Zealand’ with its Māori carved figure, and proudly on display in our 28th Māori Battalion exhibit.
This baton and armband were used by Brigadier Leonard Whitmore Thornton during the Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Although we often get visitors with personal connections to items on display, it is not often we get as close a personal connection as SSGT Fraser Stewart has with this Roll of Honour.
Want a Peek at the Peculiar? Here is one of the more unusual items in our collection, a petrified/dehydrated lemon that is over 100 years old!
Colonel Ben’s well-worn dog collar decorated to show that he was a veteran member of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF).
This feather-decorated helmet has a long history of Italian elite fighters, cyclist battalions, and sharpshooters.
Proof that tough times can help secure a stronger future. This bottle of champagne, given to a soldier in celebration of VE Day, has a tale of the struggles of the wine producers and merchants of France in its past.
On this day in history, Lieutenant-General Freyberg was given command of 2NZEF. Learn more about him and his custom command vehicle, a retrofitted Stuart Tank, that is a part of our vehicle collection here at the Museum. Stored in one of our vehicle bays behind-the-wire of Waiouru Military Camp, this is a look at one of our treasures not on public display.
Engraved 25 pounder shell case fired at El Alamein highlighting the important role of the artillery in a battle widely recognised as the turning
point of the North African campaign.
This artefact is a poignant reminder that, the great loss of life and terrible conditions that soldiers endured on the muddy fields of Passchendaele in October 1917, was not restricted to the allied forces and that the opposing German forces, although better positioned, suffered the senseless waste of life of many of its bright young […]
This artefact is a model made in the 1970s which depicting a punji spike board with a boot impaled on it. This is believed to have been made as a training aid to help soldiers identify and understand the hazards that they faced by punji spikes in the field. Punji spikes became an increasing popular […]
In the textiles collection are two objects worth their weight in gold for the story they tell. Of glossy pink satin with ruffles and embroidered hearts, they were sent 80 years ago to the donor’s mother-in-law by her admirer, Corporal Bartlett Mahinui Watene of the Tainui waka, Thames, and the 28th Maori Battalion. He was […]
Today’s article is intended to be the first in a series of three which will hopefully provide a little bit of an idea of the kind of work that goes on behind the scenes at the museum in caring for and recording the history and stories behind the thousands of artefacts in the museum’s collection. […]
Kai helps us to unite, it produces gratitude, helps us to share in each other’s cultures, and yields fond memories. The smell of a certain kai can even invoke emotion. During conflicts overseas, many soldiers enjoyed eating kai sent from home. It boosted soldier’s morale and brought people together.
The story of a particularly special object which the museum is currently caring for. This wooden walking stick (tokotoko) was presented to Major General Sir Howard Karl Kippenberger by the 28th Maori Battalion as a mark of their respect and admiration for their former leader in a ceremony in February 1945. Howard Kippenberger (known to […]
A wooden carving depicting Jesus Christ on the cross. This carving was made by a Japanese Prisoner of War (POW) at Featherston POW Camp during World War II. The carving was made with the small knife which is pictured next to it. The knife was made from a 4 inch nail which has had the […]
The possible whereabouts of the remains of Adolf Hitler have been frequently debated and analysed ever since the Fuhrer’s death in a Berlin bunker 75 years ago. Were they destroyed amongst the ruins of Berlin? Are they locked away in a secret Soviet era Russian vault? Or are they stored in an inconspicuous railway building […]
This story is about a set of items belonging to a man who, despite not serving in the military during World War II, received a firsthand experience of the reality of war after becoming a civilian internee in Singapore’s infamous Changi Prison. Lloyd Samuel Jones was born and raised in Dunedin and studied at […]
Samuel Austin was one of 23 holders of the New Zealand Cross, one of the world’s rarest gallantry decorations.
The hospitality associated with the serving of tea plays an integral part of Afghan culture.
The iconic kiwi ‘lemon squeezer’ hat was introduced by one of New Zealand’s outstanding soldiers of the Gallipoli Campaign, William George Malone. Originally for his Taranaki Rifles Regiment the hat was designed to mirror the outline of Mount Taranaki and also to allow ‘run off’ in the rain. The hat went on to be adopted […]
Written by Brenden Shirley, Curator of Accoutrements, Social History and Medical If the photo has not scared you away, then no doubt you are interested in the story behind this strange and slightly creepy ventriloquist dummy. This is Jerry, fully dressed in the uniform of a World War II era New Zealand soldier, complete […]
Written by Brenden Shirley, Curator of Accoutrements, Social History and Medical This article is about a pair of clarinets which have recently been donated to the museum and the story of the two brothers from Dunedin that owned them, 8/680 Private Frederick Charles Nicholls and 8/1146 Private Leonard William George Nicholls. Both brothers served with […]
A story of a little bit of kiwi ingenuity, this violin was handmade by 46776 Driver William Marwood (Bill) Duck whilst stationed in New Caledonia, as a gift.
This wooden cribbage board was made by 1526 Major George Herbert Thomson whilst he was in solitary confinement at Graudenz Prisoner of War (POW) camp in Poland in December 1942.
Te Rau Aroha, an old canteen truck with its own colourful history of war service is held, with care, in the collection of the National Army Museum at Waiouru.
Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) Wayne Meyers, won this soft toy of Basil Brush in a raffle. It was immediately decided to adopt Basil as the New Zealand Army Lawn Bowls Team mascot.
Brass bugle found near the site of the British Army Camp that was involved in the Battle of Puketutu during the New Zealand Wars.
Lieutenant Beamish survived a gunshot wound to the chest at Gallipoli. The bullet lodged in his chest millimetres from his heart where it remained for the rest of his life.
Lapel badge belonging to Christchurch born Dr Jessie Scott who volunteered with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service during WWI.
Mess gown worn by the New Zealand Women’s Royal Army Corps worn at their 25 anniversary dinner.
A puzzle made in New Zealand during World War Two by the Mere Company. The pieces are a mixture of standard puzzle shapes and swastika-shaped pieces.
Rugby ball used by 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.
Lieutenant Rout is injured but survives a German artillery barrage during the Battle of the Somme whilst taking a water party up to the front lines in Fleurs.
World War II Italian Fascist Mothers 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.
Trench whistle belonging to Major John William Fletcher (MBE).
A melodeon is a type of accordion, and is also known as a one-row diatonic accordion
A child’s soldier doll from World War I, with it’s own hand-made and personalised uniform.
A walking stick made with debris from the well-known Cloth Hall in Ypres during WWI by Sergeant Charles Cameron Begg.
A selection of cartoons by well-known New Zealand journalist Murray Moorhead.
Trench art objects are holders of soldiers’ memories and reminders of the conflict they faced. Made out of recycled war refuse such as shell casings, spent bullets or whatever came to hand.
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.
A Khaki Cloth Housewife attributed to 13/2823 Albert Henry Johnston MM. This object contains an assortment of needles, nails, buttons and safety pins, and a small silver tin containing adhesive plasters.
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.
Entrenching tools were extremely important for quickly establishing trenches under direct fire from Turkish defences along the steep terrain at Gallipoli.
The diary and wallet style soldier’s mirror of Pte. George Peachey which suffered damage from shrapnel just may have saved his life.
These clogs are from Damascus, souvenired by 72056 Catherine Ada Wells in 1942.
Sweetheart Brooches were a keepsake gifted to loved ones during World War I and II. Given by soldiers to mothers, sisters, daughters, wives or girlfriends, these brooches came in a varied range of designs.
This beautifully made Mah Jong set is 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.
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 British Red Cross, in conjunction with the Order of Saint John sent out special Christmas parcels to supplement the often poor camp diets and bring a bit of Christmas cheer.
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’.
During the World War I campaigns in Sinai and Palestine, prisoners from the Ottoman forces (Turkish) were captured and held in camps or hospitals until the end of the desert battles.
A souvenir Egyptian Wallet, used by Corporal Bernard Hansen during World War II.
A collection of pencil carvings created by 10/303 Private Christopher William ‘Bill’ Connell.
An unofficial French Commemorative Medal issued by Ceux de la Somme Association and available to members who were veterans of the Somme. This particular medal was awarded to Donald McConnell of the NZ Machine Gun Corps and is dated 1st July 1956. It is inscribed “BATAILLES DE LA SOMME JVILLET-NOVEMBRE MCMXVI” (Battles of the Somme […]
This German trench knife, carried by specialist Strosstruppe (Shock Troops) who were members of the Sturmkompanien (Assault Companies), was taken during the Battle of the Somme. The original wooden grip has been carved and features an intricate Māori design. The knife comes with a matching leather scabbard.
Many New Zealand soldiers set off overseas on what they believed to be a great adventure. They collected souvenirs to show those back home where they had been. Many of the commemorative objects available to soldiers were produced by the local people who lived in the villages and towns our NZ troops passed through. This […]
First field dressings are a type of bandage issued by military personnel and kept on their person. They are meant for immediate use as a result of commonly received injuries during combat such as bullet wounds. The words ‘Somme 1916’ are written in hand on the package of this WWI first field dressing, attributed to 23/1445 Lieutenant Neil McKinnon. […]
This German Luger P08, 9mm calibre, was captured by 16/304 Captain Pirimi Pererika Tahiwi of the NZ (Māori) Pioneer Battalion. It is believed to have been acquired during the Battle of Flers-Courcelette which began on the 15th September 1916. The engraved markings found on the grip signify its belonging to the 6th Company of the […]
This is a black, leather cigar case taken from a German during WWI at the Somme. The postcard attached to this item features a handwritten note explaining how it was obtained: ‘captured from Germans in Somme Battle by McLeod and handed to me 25/10/16‘.
This matchbox holder is attributed to 12/3680 Private George Hingston who served during WWI embarking for Suez, Egypt on 16 January 1916 with the 9th Reinforcements, Auckland Infantry Battalion. The item is engraved with the words ‘Souvenir de la Somme‘ with the initials ‘G.H‘ on the alternate side. Private Hingston’s personal details can also be found […]
The remains of a heavily rusted 1907 pattern bayonet, uplifted from the Somme battlefield in November 2004 by then Chief of Defence Air Marshall Bruce Ferguson. This item was acquired during the return of the Unknown Warrior from France who’s grave lay in the Caterpillar Valley Memorial Cemetery near Longueval, the former site of the Battle of the […]
Medallions presented to soldiers who competed in the Head of the River rowing race of May 1918.
A closer look at the cartoon collection of Major Horace Leonard Heatley, editor of the NZEF Times and official war correspondent during World War Two.
Learn more about Māori weapons used by our pre european native warriors.
This week’s artefact is an embroidered silk cloth ‘souvenir of Egypt’ sent home during World War I. This type of cloth was a very popular souvenir during the war.
A German made bridging pontoon used during World War I to cross the Suez Canal.
The competition for this cup was started in Britain by Colonel Sir James Loyd-Lindsay around 1873. It involved a team of four horsemen jumping over a series of hurdles and firing their rifles in unison
A medal group of Captain Alexander Cumming of the New Zealand Medical Corps.
The pounamu mere made of greenstone was the most revered of all Maori weapons and was also the most time consuming to make.
Newspaper the Pull Thro’ produced by the Kiwi soldiers in Samoa during World War I.
This artefact is a Fullerphone. The Fullerphone is a portable telegraph signalling device that was used in both world wars.
Gambling was a very popular pastime during World War One. This board appears to have been cut from a corner of groundsheet, or other waterproofed material, and the symbols hand drawn. Three crown and anchor dice are required to play. Little is known of its origins except a note that was added when it was […]
Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurse, M Langston, brought this shell case back from Europe at the end of the War. She commissioned it from Theobald Eilken who was at the British Field Hospital doing odd jobs as part of a German prisoner of war working party. The poem reads: “When the Golden Sun is sinking / […]
This ring was made by French canonnier, Auguste Ollier. He gave it to Captain Henry Lionel Hughes Steele, a New Zealand doctor, as a thank you after Captain Steele operated on him at the front. The ring is made from aluminium and is in the shape of a serpent. (1993.1928)
This ashtray is made out of a Mills 36M grenade. The cast iron ‘pineapple-style’ body of the grenade provides the bowl to collect the ash. A section has been cut away for the opening and the insides have been removed but the pin has been kept attached. (1980.6349)
This matchbox holder belonged to Corporal Thomas Gisby. He has listed the places he went on both sides of the holder, one side for 1917 and the other 1918. In this way he has used the matchbox holder, a small functional object that he would have carried everywhere with him, as a kind of basic […]
Little is known about this projectile pendant, not even the name of the soldier it belonged to. It is a Turkish projectile that was removed from a soldier’s kneecap at Gallipoli in World War One. Afterwards he kept it as a souvenir and had it converted into a pendant. (1980.6466)
Many soldiers brought home cloths similar to this one. They had them made in Egypt, often with a mixture of iconic images and corps crests. This one is machine embroidered in chain stitch and features a Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles crest and is personalised with the words “To My Dear Mother”. (1982.666)
This trench art letter opener is made from a German 7.92mm rimless casing attached to a flat brass blade. It is believed to have been made by a soldier in the New Zealand Engineers Corps and given to Sergeant Horace Hargood who used it in his work with the Postal Service, New Zealand Post and […]
Serviette rings are a popular type of trench art. They tend to be a simply designed circle of recycled brass with either a coat of arms and location, like this example, or a corps badge. This serviette ring was made in France in World War One and brought back as a gift to the soldier’s […]
This beaded snake was made by a prisoner of war during World War One, and brought home as a souvenir.
This beaded lizard is a souvenir, brought home by a New Zealand nurse, during World War One. It was made by a prisoner of war from the Ottoman Empire. They created many glass bead objects to pass the time and trade for other goods. (1987.1207.3)
This artefact is the unique medal group of Captain Joseph Entwhistle Donald. What makes it so interesting is that Donald’s medals tell us he served in the Anglo-Boer War, World War I and World War II.
This artefact is a piece of trench art made during World War I of an Albatros biplane.
This weapon was brought back to New Zealand on a furlough draft by Private Allan Roy Kelland (22215), 18 Battalion, 4 Infantry Brigade, 2NZEF.
This artefact is a mounted pine cone brought back from Chunk Bair by the granddaughter of Colonel William Malone, Commanding Officer, Wellington Battalion.
This artefact is a M5A1 gun sight which was used on both Stuart and Sherman tanks for their machine guns during World War II.
This artefact is a World War One nurses uniform worn by 656 Sister Maggie Dalrymple.
This pocket watch belonged to the family of Gallipoli soldier Private Albert Dixon Cochrane.
This knife, which is currently on display in the “A is for ANZAC: Two Armies, a Shared History” exhibition, has been made from a single piece of shrapnel.
This artefact is a piece of Trench Art made in a WWII Prisoner of War Camp. Trench Art refers to pieces of art made by soldiers, prisoners of war or civilians during times of conflict and often using war materials such as bullets or artillery shells. Prisoners of War (POWs) often made trench art as […]
This artefact is a WWI Hessian Christmas Medal given to the German Hessian soldiers by the Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig
These floorboards come from the now demolished Royal Victoria Hospital in Netley, Hampshire, UK
This artefact is a Crown and Anchor game set. Crown and Anchor is a dice-based gambling game traditionally played in the Royal Navy.
This artefact is a Thompson Sub Machine Gun (SMG) made locally by the Viet Cong (VC) throughout South Vietnam.
This artefact is a miniature figurine of Captain Charles Upham, VC & Bar.
This artefact is a World War One Trench Club used for close combat during trench raids.
Many soldiers brought rings home as souvenirs or even made them themselves while overseas.
This artefact is a unique piece of trench art made during World War One – a crucifix made from bullets.
This artefact is a trench biscuit from the Boer War.
This artefact is an Indonesian Presentation Pistol. This is a 9mm calibre P-1 Pindad Automatic Pistol.
This artefact is an interesting figurine of King George V dressed in khaki military uniform with cap.
This artefact is a World War I tropical Pith Helmet. The Pith Helmet is made of cork and covered with a khaki drill twill cloth.
This artefact is a Tureen made by Royal Doulton which features the badge of the Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry (CYC).
Surgical equipment is not normally for the squeamish, and a recent donation to the National Army Museum is no exception.
This artefact is a 1822 Pattern Cavalry sword & scabbard currently on display as part of the “Harnessed: New Zealand’s War Horses” exhibition.
This artefact is a horse tail from the Sinai Palestine Campaign in World War I.
This is a hand cranked air blower used for heating up food and ‘boiling the billy’ in a POW camp during World War II.
This bowl is a link back to New Zealand’s first Christmas following the battle of Gallipoli.
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.
This type of wide brimmed felt hat was commonly worn by British Empire Forces during the Second Boer War.
This 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.
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.
This 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’.
World War I introduced industrialised killing to the battlefield with perhaps the greatest horror being poison gas.
The No. 1 hand grenade was used by British and Commonwealth troops during World War One and was first introduced into service in July 1908.
A Scottish officers’ sword which was presented to Maori Chief, Ropata Wahawaha by Queen Victoria during the New Zealand Wars.
This 9mm calibre German Lugar pistol was taken from a German Fallschirmjager (paratrooper) on Crete by Major-General Sir Howard Kippenberger.
This wrist compass was used by U.S. airborne forces, like those depicted in the classic Band of Brothers television series.
This WWII Pro-kit is an unusual issue item to protect soldiers from venereal disease, and include ointment, cloth, and a cleansing tissue.
A remarkable shipping trunk, used by one of New Zealand’s nurses during World War I, in both Egypt and England.
A leather bound paybook owned by Corporal Alexander Brodie of the Corps of Royal Engineers during the New Zealand Wars.
This bandage was part of an Army medic’s kit on duty at Christchurch’s CTV building following the devastating earthquake on 22 February, 2011.
Marble box belonging to Sister Bessie Wylie. Its lid is inscribed with various place names where New Zealander’s fought during the war.
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.
Short Snorter of Lieutenant R.H. Stevenson. Collecting signatures on a ‘short snorter’ note was a popular preoccupation during World War II.
This 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.
Remarkable water bottle used to conceal Curly Weakley’s Kodak camera whilst in a Prisoner of War (POW) Camp in Italy during World War II.
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.
This carved wooden Bosnia Sign marks New Zealand’s peace keeping efforts in the former Yugoslavia during the mid-1990s.
Civilian respirator or gasmask issued to a civilian who was living in England during World War II. These sorts of respirators were issued to all civilians in Britain during the war.
This is an empty Coca Cola bottle donated to the museum which 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.
This medal was awarded to nurse, Mrs Megan Crisp who served in Malaya.
The British War Medal was instituted to record the successful conclusion of the First World War and can still often be seen worn by families at ANZAC Day parades.
These dried 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.
The neck badge of a Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (KCB) belonging to Lieutenant General Sir Leonard Thornton.
New Zealand Cyclist Corps Badge – 1st Design, Winged Bicycle Front (handle bars and wheels) with Scroll ‘NZ Cyclist Corps’
This bust of the Italian dictator Mussolini was souvenired by an officer of the 24th Battalion during World War II’s North African campaign after fellow officers tucked it up in his bed for the night. He creatively wrapped it, marked the package ‘War Papers, Top Secret’ and sent it home to his wife in NZ. Together with its amusing history it forms part of the Social History Collection.
A Boer War Fundraising medallion has been donated to the National Army Museum. This sweetheart type of medallion was used to raise money for the efforts of the NZ Rough Riders contingent to the Boer War.
A handmade Cosh with an interesting back-story has been donated to the National Army Musuem. This military artefact was made by a mystery US Marine while posted in New Zealand during World War II.
The National Army Museum investigates the origins of the famous ANZAC biscuit.
The World War One bible belonging to NZ soldier Richard Cook is returned to New Zealand and the National Army Museum by the family of British soldier Herbert Hodgson who found the bible in the trenches 93 years ago.