The National Army Museum’s new interactive Medal Repository, displaying almost 10,000 medals, was formally opened by the Minister of Defence, Dr Jonathan Coleman on Thursday 16th August.
The repository houses the Army Museum’s full medal collection and allows families of soldiers and the public to see many icons of New Zealand’s military history.
Museum Director Col (Rtd) Ray Seymour said, “For many families medals remain the only tangible link to their departed relatives and viewing these medals can be a highly emotional experience. With the new repository the Museum has broken down the barriers between visitors and the medals and successfully achieved a haven to honour those remembered.”
In the vault-like repository visitors are able to view any set of donated medals via an interactive touch screen. On accessing a particluar screen, information is then provided as to the exact cabinet location of that particular medal or medal group. Visitors are then able to view the medals in their secure resting place. Visitors can make connections with individual soldiers via touch screen which provides basic information such as biography or story on the service man or woman. To enable public to learn more about the medals on display the Museum also provides a reference collection to show the medals available to New Zealanders.
Col (Rtd) Seymour said “It is important that the National Army Museum exhibits these treasures and taonga in the most fitting way and that’s what we have achieved with our new Medal Respository.”
The 16th of August was chosen as the date of the opening because its is a special anniversary of one of New Zealand’s most highly decorated heroes.
In a little over a month in World War I, Reginald Judson won every gallantry medal available to a sergeant at that time. On 24 and 25 July 1918 he led a patrol which captured a German trench who were about to mount a counter attack on New Zealand positions. For this action he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Twenty two days later, on 16th August, he led a charge against a machine-gun nest. For this action he was awarded a Military Medal. Finally at Baupaume, ten days later he led a party under heavy fire to capture an enemy position. This incredible action won him the highest bravery honour, the Victoria Cross, which is on display in the Valour Alcove of the Medal Repository.
Also on display are the medals of Chaplain 4th Class Reginald Frank Judson, son of Reginald Judson VC. Chaplain Judson won his Military Cross serving in Italy in World War II. During an attack he was instrumental in organising a Medical Aid Post under heavy enemy fire. He assisted in dressing wounds and also acted as a stretcher bearer. His citation for the Military Cross indicated that he had been involved in similar actions earlier on in the war.