Remembering them

Taking a ride on the tram is becoming a bit of a school holiday habit for the Young Lad and me.  On our trip round the loop the other day, we passed the Field of Remembrance at Cranmer Square.

Field of Remembrance. Flickr, 2015-03-27-IMG_6779

Field of Remembrance. Flickr, 2015-03-27-IMG_6779

I have to admit that Anzac Day has never really meant much to me, except as a day off school when I was a kid.  This year, though, it seems so much more significant. You see, I’ve spent the last couple of months researching a soldier for the New Brighton Boys project, and suddenly the war became real to me.  Seeing all those white crosses — I got a little choked up trying to explain to the Young Lad what it was all about.  Each of those crosses was suddenly a person to me, not just a statistic, or a page in a history book, but a real person with a life, a family; a person with dreams for a future that ought to have been but never would.

J. F. HaynesI can’t think of John Frederick Haynes as anything but my soldier.  My blue eyed, brown haired boy, who shares my Dad’s birthday, and lived round the corner from where I grew up — and died when he was just 23. I’d never heard of him before last November, and started out with just a name and a service number, but the more I found out about him, the more I wanted to know. The bald facts that I found in military records, electoral rolls, church registers, and Births, Deaths, and Marriages records coalesced, blossomed, and became tangible to me.

I could almost have been there in the room when his little brother Lawrence, who was just 19, came home and told his family that the attesting officer had let him enlist this time. I felt his mother’s sadness that she’d lost her middle boy to the war and now her baby had enlisted too. Was it she who convinced Francis, the eldest, that he needed to enlist to keep an eye on Lawrence? Did Francis’ wife, Reubena, try to persuade him not to go? Either way, Francis enlisted the very next day.

Lawrence and Francis came home. John did not.

This Anzac Day I will remember them.

Anzac Day in Christchurch and Canterbury 2015

Saturday 25 April 2015 is Anzac Day.

Commemorative services often begin before dawn with a march by returned and service personnel to the local war memorial, where they are joined by other members of the community for the Dawn Service.

25 April 2015 also marks a hundred years since Gallipoli. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops first landed on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula, in Turkey on 25 April 1915.
New Christchurch RSA Building, Armagh Street

Library hours

Check our library hours over Anzac weekend. All libraries are closed on Saturday 25 April, but open as normal on Sunday 26 April. On Monday 27 April, Linwood, Papanui and South Libraries and our telephone service 941 7923 will be open from 10am to 4pm. All other libraries will remain closed.

Christchurch services and events

The following information is from the Christchurch City Council community events page.

Dawn service

The dawn service will be held in Cranmer Square.

  • 6am–6.15am: the people gather
  • 6.15am: the parade begins
  • 6.30am: the service begins centred around the memorial cenotaph
  • 7.15am: the service concludes with wreath-laying

Organised by the Canterbury Branch of the Malayan Veterans Association in conjunction with the Christchurch Branch of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RSA) and Christchurch City Council.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel will lay a wreath on behalf of the citizens of Christchurch.

Citizens’ Service: 10am – ChristChurch Transitional Cathedral, Latimer Square

Organised by Christchurch City Council in conjunction with ChristChurch Cathedral and the RSA. It will be attended by representatives of the Defence Force, Consular Corps and various Christchurch youth groups.

Find more Anzac Day services

Other Anzac events

Fields of Remembrance

The Canterbury Province Field in Cranmer Square will contain 632 crosses commemorating the men and women of Christchurch who died in 1915. The Fields of Remembrance Trust has researched the names of men and women from each region who died on active service in 1915 and subsequent years. Download the list of names for Canterbury 1915 [103KB PDF]


MainPower Season of ANZAC Rangiora Town Hall

Gallipoli 100 – ANZAC Remembered 2015 Woolston Brass’ special ANZAC concert marks the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign. Featuring The Christchurch City Choir, the concert will be held at the Charles Luney Auditorium (St. Margaret’s College) Saturday 25 April 2pm.

See our photos of the new Christchurch RSA building on Armagh Street, officially opened on 27 March 2015.

Find out more:

Anzac weekend eBooks

We’ve got a lovely selection of New Zealand eBooks for Anzac weekend reading:

9780730443315 9780730445630 9781741159684 9781775590064
9780473215224 9780473219901 9780473221751 9780987666574
9781869406455 9781877437113 9781877568534  9781927147344

Anzac Day 2014

Friday 25 April 2014 is Anzac Day. Christchurch is currently celebrating Anzac Day with a Dawn Service in Cranmer Square (where a temporary cenotaph is erected) and a Citizens Service at the ChristChurch Transitional Cathedral in Latimer Square. The details for each service are available on the Christchurch City Council website. For the locations and times of other commemorations around Christchurch details can be found on the RSA website.

Each year many wreaths and bouquets from the Dawn Service end up at the statue of Sgt Henry James Nicholas V.C. M.M., northwest of the Bridge of Remembrance on Cambridge Terrace.

Wreaths by statue of Sergeant Henry Nicholas

Sergeant Henry NicholasHenry Nicholas was the first soldier from the Canterbury Regiment to be awarded the Victoria Cross. He died in action on 23 October 1918 aged 26. He was awarded the Military Medal posthumously for his bravery during the fight for the bridgeheads at the River Ecaillon near the village of Beaudignies on 23 October 1918, 12 days before the New Zealanders’ capture of the town of Le Quesnoy.

All of our libraries are closed on Anzac Day.

“We are in the trenches again …

… this time for a longer term, but it is a very easy life. In my present shelter there is actually a four-poster spring bed, and picture prints of distractingly pretty girls round the walls. What do you think of that, within two hundred yards of the Huns? … Of course we are only in the front line part of the time, but it really is the best place …

Letter to Hazel from Cecil Malthus, 11 June 1916
Letter to Hazel from Cecil Malthus, 11 June 1916

Timaru-born Cecil Malthus wrote two books about his war-time experiences. Born in 1890, he spent three years in service in the 1st Canterbury Battalion from 1914. The Canterbury College modern languages professor first published ANZAC: A retrospect in 1965. In the foreword of the book he wrote:

I offer nothing but the truth for those who want to know what the war was like for the average man. Readers can believe that whatever I relate of my own experience is very nearly the same as what happened to their own uncle or grandfather.

A collection of Malthus’ letters has been digitised and made available online by Christchurch City Libraries. The letters are penned to his future wife, Hazel Watters. Malthus died on 25 July 1976.

This collection of letters and documents dates from April 1914 to his discharge in April 1917. The collection is not complete, and portions of some letters are missing. The letters follow Malthus’ progress from training in New Zealand to his experiences throughout the war, including time in Egypt preparing for Gallipoli, and his time in France. Malthus was injured in September 1916 and returned to New Zealand in March 1917.

A hero for Anzac Day

Thursday 25 April 2013 is Anzac Day. You may have noticed last year that many wreaths and bouquets from the Dawn Service ended up at the statue of Sgt Henry James Nicholas V.C. M.M., northwest of the Bridge of Remembrance on Cambridge Terrace.

Wreaths by statue of Sergeant Henry Nicholas

Sergeant Henry NicholasHenry Nicholas was the first soldier from the Canterbury Regiment to be awarded the Victoria Cross. He died in action on 23October 1918 aged 26. He was awarded the Military Medal posthumously for his bravery during the fight for the bridgeheads at the River Ecaillon near the village of Beaudignies on 23 October 1918, 12 days before the New Zealanders’ capture of the town of Le Quesnoy.

All of our libraries are closed on ANZAC Day.

Anzac Commemoration in Linwood Cemetery 2013

photo of Linwood CemeteryFriends of Linwood Cemetery are holding a special Anzac Day commemoration of service personnel on Sunday 21 April from 11am to 12.30pm. This is the third year they have staged the ceremony.

Linwood Cemetery  is a public cemetery which is not designated as a Services Cemetery, but there are over 310 services personnel commemorated in it.  These heroic people have been largely forgotten in this once majestic green space and important heritage site which, in addition to years of neglect, suffered greatly in the February 2011 earthquake.  In the past  couple of years, members of the Friends of Linwood Cemetery have been photographing the graves of these personnel and have started to research each of their life stories.  These can be found on the Roll of Honour on the Trust’s website.

The Anzac Commemoration is now included in the Friends programme of regular events.

The commemoration programme runs as follows:

  • 10.45am Placing of temporary memorial near cemetery entrance, Butterfield Avenue by Trustees
  • 11am – Commemoration including the reading out of the Linwood Cemetery Roll of Honour
  • Last Post played by Kevin McMorran of Canterbury Brass
  • Piped Lament played by Josh Smith
  • 12.15pm – Opportunity to place poppies on individual graves (the poppies are provided by the Returned Services Association)

Please bring a chair to sit on, wear appropriate clothing for the weather and bring a blanket if cold. The event is free but donations to the Friends of Linwood Cemetery and New Zealand Returned Services Association would be appreciated.

For further information visit the Friends of the Linwood Cemetery website or contact The Friends of Linwood Cemetery ph 381-4171 or email

Read more about Linwood Cemetery and who is buried there in Christchurch City Libraries cemetery guide which includes links to maps and a cemetery tour guide.

Anzac Day in pictures

We remember.

Graves of officers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps on the Gallipoli Peninsula [1915]

Returned soldiers pass through Cathedral Square, Christchurch [1917]

About 200 wreaths lay outside the front porch of the Christchurch Cathedral [25 April 1923]

Colonel Hugh Stewart, President of the Christchurch Branch of the RSA places a wreath on the foundation stone, Bridge of Remembrance
[25 Apr. 1923]

Anzac Day 1980, Akaroa

Anzac Day 1980

Was your grandfather in the Māori Battalion?

Book cover: Nga TamatoaIn 1939 New Zealand answered the call to arms and many Māori enlisted.  In response to Sir Āpirana Ngata‘s request for a Māori Battalion, the 28th Māori Battalion was formed. It was to be a front line infantry unit made up of volunteers.

For these men, it was a baptism of fire in the Mediterranean. They saw action first in Greece, then Crete, where they were outnumbered by the Germans. The Battalion then spent time regrouping and retraining in Egypt. In November 1941 the New Zealand Division moved west into Libya to take part in Operation Crusader, the British Army’s push to lift the siege of Tobruk. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to fight Rommel’s Afrika Corps in the desert. However, on 13 May 1943  the war in the desert ended, leading to the surrender of 238,000 German and Italian troops.

Sgt. Hone (Jackie) Paerata, Trainer, World War II
Sgt. Hone (Jackie) Paerata

In October 1943 the Māori Battalion arrived in Italy. The mud and snow, mountains and rivers were a sharp contrast to the hot arid desert of North Africa.

The Battalion’s main target was Monte Cassino: a mount some 130 kms south-east of Rome, with a Benedictine monastery at the top.  The allies had several attempts at capturing Cassino and the Māori Battalion suffered heavy losses, with 128 out of 200 men killed, wounded or captured. At the end of the war in Europe, it took more than seven months to bring the  Māori Battalion home.

When I started writing this blog post, my colleague Dianne hunted out some fantastic books in our collection for me. I also found this useful link which may help you answer my question: was your grandfather in the Māori Battalion?

If so, or if on Anzac Day you are commemorating the sacrifices of a relative or friend who was or is a war veteran, please do share your memories with us – we’d love to read them.

P.S. Don’t forget also to check out the fantastic Anzac Day display at Shirley Library.

Anzac Day inspection – Image of the week

Lord Jellicoe inspects the First Canterbury Guard of Honour, Anzac Day, foundation stone ceremony, Bridge of Remembrance. 25 April 1923

Lord Jellicoe inspects the First Canterbury Guard of Honour, ANZAC Day, foundation stone ceremony, Bridge of Remembrance

Do you have photos of Christchurch places or events? We love donations. Contact us

Also contact us if you have any further information on any of the images. Want to see more? You can browse our collection here.