World War II Propaganda – Italian Plate
by Chris Rapley
When people think of propaganda normally visions of posters and leaflets come to mind, but sometimes even tableware can be used to carry a political message.
In 2007 a beautiful decorative plate souvenired by a New Zealand soldier during World War II’s Italian campaign was generously donated to the National Army Museum.
The plate depicts a roman scene of two women donating jewellery to some seated officials, and on the back there is an Italian inscription that translates as; ‘The Roman women go without their ornaments and pleasures in their devotion to religion and love for their country’.
The scene and inscription hark back to Italy’s illustrious past as rulers of a vast empire and no doubt were supposed to inspire the country’s home front to undergo hardships for Italy’s war effort.
The plate might have been successful but Italy’s war effort was ultimately doomed, and when the plate was discovered by a kiwi at the battlefield at Castelfrentano he considered it an ‘awful sin to leave it there to get smashed by the shot and shell which was going everywhere’.
The plate was boxed up and sent to New Zealand, and now is a valued part of the Army Museum’s Social History Collection.
Discover the stories behind other fascinating NZ army memorabilia and military artefacts on display and in the archives at the National Army Museum.