Archive for the ‘Poppy’ Category

The Great War Exhibition

May 18, 2015


When we went to Wellington two weeks ago a major objective to see both of the World War 1  exhibitions.

The Great War Exhibition

Rich in personal stories and highly evocative of the times, The Great War Exhibition highlights the activities, challenges and sacrifice that was made by New Zealanders on the First World War battlefields and also at home in wartime New Zealand. The exhibition was developed by Sir Peter Jackson and his team at Wingnut Films assisted by Sir Richard Taylor and Weta.   It  offers a unique opportunity for visitors to see and feel a special part of New Zealand history.

Gallipoli: The scale of our war

Experience the triumphs and tragedies of Gallipoli through the eyes and words of the ordinary New Zealanders who were there. The worlds of movies, model making, and museums combine to take you on an immersive journey through the battlefields.  Developed by Te Papa working closely with Weta Workshop, Gallipoli: The scale of our War promises to be a highly emotional experience and a fitting tribute to those that served and those that lost their lives.

Both proved to be immensely interesting, emotional, and thought provoking.  I have written on both in separate blog entries as they are different in the way they have approached their subject. 

So here is a view of The Great War Exhibition, from our perspective. 

The exposition is a mixture of tableaux with a main character followed through from his enlistment to his discharge. 

Here is the young man enlisting at the beginning of the war.


At each stage there are a combination of illustrative panels, artefacts, visual, audio and written memoir and explanations as well as some olfactory displays.  Some are by the participants themselves, others from commentators, papers and collectors.

Bellow is a typical mixed grouping showing a team of horses towing a gun into position with a plane mounted above and a roadway below with a double decker bus transporting troops to the front.




The displays are in chronological order with each year entered by an  archway with an inscription pertaining to the period. These archways are very reminiscent of entrances to the cemeteries in France and Belgium.


There are a number of interactive scenarios where one can see what the soldier of the day was seeing or doing.


Throughout there are definition boards showing words or expressions used during the war with the definition of the word.





The two pictures  below show the same location before and after the battle that took place in the location.  This goes some way to illustrating the utter destruction wrought on the country over which the major battles were fought.


There are also dioramas illustrating specific terrain.   This one shows a model of the Western Front trench lines including in the second picture, taken on the side of the model, showing the underground warfare being waged.


A typical model (life size) seen throughout the exhibit.


There are a number of colourised black and white photographs at various points throughout the exhibit.  The one immediately below is a photo which iconic and is often used to illustrate the conditions during the winter months on the Front.  These photos take on a much more immediate impact for having been coloured.



The one below is of particular interest as it is taken on the day my father Roy was wounded.  He was with the New Zealand forces attempting to take Abraham Heights, adjacent to Broodeseinde where the photo was taken.  He received shrapnel wounds to his right knee and face on the 4th of October 1917.  He was invalided back to Hornchurch, England and subsequently was invalided out and left for New Zealand in December 1917.



The final time we see the young man, whom we saw enlisting,  is him lying wounded.


But at the end of the exhibit here he is in his garden with his grandson, one of the fortunate who survived what must have been a shocking experience for the young men who went to the farthest point from home to such an horrific experience.


And then there are those with no known resting place, or no identity, who are commemorated, when they are found, by this simple cross, or by their name engraved on the long lists on memorials,  so often seen in France, Belgium, Gallipoli and all the other foreign soil in which they lie. We visited a number of the graves sites whilst we were in France and Belgium,you can read about one of those visits here


All in all a very moving exhibition which we can highly recommend a visit.  The exhibition is evolving with another section due to open in August this year.  This will be The Trench Experience where the challenging environment men lived and fought in for many months will be experienced through sights sounds and scents.   


April 21, 2015

Roy received a wonderful gift for his birthday from Alexandra and Ian.  It was a bit of a family affair organising the gift, with me asking Alex to purchase the gift, Alex purchasing it and then sending it to NZ being addressed to Antony for his safe keeping until required.  The gift was a very meaningful and poignant poppy, but not just any poppy but one of the ceramic hand made unique pieces of art.  It is one of the 888,246 poppies from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red which marked the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.  Each poppy represents a British or Colonial Military fatality during the War. 

You can read more about the moving installation  here

  The box

   The enclosed certificate and booklet

  The poppy


Completed poppy.

Roy’s father, who was also called Roy,  attempted to enlist to join the war effort before he was eligible as many many young men did. However he did enlist when he turned 18 in 1915 and embarked from Wellington 11 October 1916. His brother Luigi had embarked 16 October 1914 and was one of the many young men sent to Gallipolli, where he survived that encounter to then be sent on to France to continue fighting the war effort.  Roy senior was injured at Paschendaale on October 4th 1917, and was fortunate to be invalided out of service, first to England to recuperate then returned to New Zealand.  Both Roy and Luigi survived the war, Luigi died in 1960 aged 66 and Roy died in 1980 aged 83.

Like most of his contemporaries, Roy Snr never spoke of his time during the war, and we have no photographic evidence of his participation.  Although we do have his war medals which we have had suitably framed, these are safely packed away in storage.  However, on a recent clean out of one of the many boxes of “handy stuff”  we have with us, we rediscovered his regimental collar badge. 

 It has written on it underneath the Heron ‘The Canterbury Regt – Ake Ake Kia Kaha’ the latter of which is Maori and translates as Forever and Ever Be Strong. 

We visited the site near where Roy senior was injured and the Museum at both Ypres and Zonnebeke when we visited Belgium  in September 2010

Regular readers will remember that I knitted a number of poppies as my part of the Call to Yarn commemoration Link here  and I have also knitted a poppy each for Roy and I (pictured below) as well as other ones for friends and family.   

 We wear them this week in remembrance.