In the interests of history being honoured, remembered and preserved, St Mark’s Church Basin Reserve in Wellington presented to the National Army Museum a unique World War I flag and Finial.
The flag and finial is that of The Old Contemptibles Association in Wellington. This was a post war veterans association for those who had been members of the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium between 5th August and 22nd November 1914 – ‘that mighty Force that stood for England…..stood fast while England girt her armour on’ – that withstood the German onslaught at Mons, The Marne, The Aisne and Ypres, that kept the enemy from the Channel Ports.
The Old Contemptibles was the nickname the British Expeditionary Force adopted for themselves 100 years ago after the German Kaiser Welhelm II gave the order to crush Britain’s “contemptible little army”.
Museum Curator Windsor Jones said, “It is fitting that this donation has been made in the middle of such a special time in our history with the centenary of World War I. Our intention is to place it on display in our memorial area at some stage during the centenary period.”
The donation included the Old Contemptibles Flag, Finial and the Certificate of Dispensation which reads “Authority is hereby given for the Inauguration and Continuation of a Branch of the Old Contemptibles Association, to be known as Wellington (NZ) Branch. Dated Seventh Day of September One Thousand Ninety Thirty Nine.
The Old Contemptibles Association was founded by Captain JP (John Patrick) Danny of the Royal Artillery on June 25th 1925. The Association had 178 branches in the UK and 14 overseas branches, produced its own magazine called The Old Contemptibles and each member was referred to as a “chum”.
There were 3 branches of the Old Contemptibles Association in New Zealand – one in Auckland, Hawkes Bay and Wellington.
The Wellington branch met at St Mark’s Church and attended services there taken by Rev. N. F. E. Robertshawe.