Courting controversy: recalling and retelling the First World War – WORD Christchurch

WORD-Web-Event-HOWWEREMEMBERWriters and historians Anna Rogers, Paul Diamond and the totes delightful Harry Ricketts discussed the First World War, the individual stories of participants and the ways in which New Zealand has remembered, fabricated and re-imagined the events and legacy of the war.

Contributing essayists to How we remember. New Zealanders and the First World War Anna and Paul both related stories of individual Kiwis. Anna told the tale of Fanny Speedy, a Hawkes Bay nurse who saw over 4 years service in Egypt and Western Europe. Paul Diamond revealed the scandal of closet homosexual and “war shirker” Wanganui Mayor Charles E MacKay who in 1920 shot and wounded blackmailing poet Walter D’Arcy Cresswell. Yes, even more scandalous than Michael Laws!

Both writers subscribe to the view these individual vignettes can help illuminate the larger story of the war, the attitudes, fears and actions of the nation and wider world. Paul Diamond also praised Kirstie Ross and Kate Hunter’s book Holding on to home: New Zealand stories and objects of the First World War where “the objects unlock stories” both on the home and war front.

Paul Diamond drew interesting parallels between the First World War and the Canterbury/Christchurch earthquakes both with a vast diversity of experiences, attitudes and stories. Luckily for future historians these Canterbury memories and experiences have been handy-dandily captured in the UC CEISMIC digital archive. If only accessing primary sources for the First War World was so easy.

Harry Ricketts concluded by calling for controversy over the next four years of First World War focus. He and the panellists hoped for fresh eyes, new perspectives, and raw, not traditionally accepted and polished tales of the First World War. New stories and research that can help shape and evolve our understanding of warfare and its role in the history of New Zealand.

For more on the First World War:

  • Canterbury 100 – Telling the story and experiences of Canterbury people during the First World War.
  • WW100 New Zealand – The centenary of New Zealand’s participation in the First World War will be marked from 2014-2019 through commemorative events, projects and activities in all parts of the country
  • Christchurch City Libraries – First World War resources, events, booklists, postcards and links.
  • 100 Stories project at Monash University – The darker untold stories of returned  Australian soldiers and their families.

WORD Christchurch:

 

2 thoughts on “Courting controversy: recalling and retelling the First World War – WORD Christchurch

  1. Janna Young 22 May 2015 / 9:13 am

    Hello Anna. My elderly mother wants to know if you would be interested in more stories from her mother, my grandmother, Dorothy Anne Rose who served in the war in Suez and Cairo.
    Looking forward to hearing from you
    Janna

    • Mo-mo 22 May 2015 / 10:03 am

      Hi Janna,
      This post was written by one of our librarians about a talk that the author Anna Rogers gave at the WORD Christchurch festival last year. Unfortunately we do not have any contact details for Anna, though the book that is mentioned above which she contributed to “How we remember: New Zealanders and the First World War” was published last year by Victoria University Press, so perhaps you could enquire with them if you’d like to get in touch with her. You’ll find contact details for the publishers here http://vup.victoria.ac.nz/about-us/
      Alternately, you or your mother could add your family war stories to our online repository, Kete Christchurch. There are already a number of entries on First World War soldiers there but we’re always keen to hear about the experiences of women during wartime too.

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