The magic word ‘Anzac’

On 25 April we will stop to remember those who served in the conflicts New Zealand has participated in, from the world wars to Iraq and Afghanistan, via Korea, Vietnam and others, and not forgetting New Zealand’s 19th century wars and the Boer War.

“Indian Troops at Gas Mask Drill.,” by Unknown. The Imperial War Museum via First World War Poetry Digital Archive, accessed April 13, 2017, http://ww1lit.nsms.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/collections/item/3616.
“Indian Troops at Gas Mask Drill.,” by Unknown. The Imperial War Museum via First World War Poetry Digital Archive, accessed April 13, 2017, http://ww1lit.nsms.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/collections/item/3616.

There is much to remember, and this year the focus will be on the 100th anniversaries of the Battle of Messines in June and Passchendaele in October, in particular 12 October which saw more than 800 New Zealanders killed in a single day.

As the First World War disappears from living memory, we are fortunate to have access to historic newspapers either on microfilm at Central Library Manchester or at Papers Past. They can show us how Anzac Day has been commemorated and represented over the past century. An editorial from The Press on 25 April 1917 explains that the “magic word ‘Anzac’… tells us how Australians and New Zealanders fought and died shoulder to shoulder in the cause of freedom” and that “time has not yet mellowed the memory of that day.”

CoverThe editorial also makes a passing reference to some of the Indian troops who served during the Gallipoli campaign. Around 16,000 individuals from the Indian Army served during the campaign and their neglected story is well told in Die in battle, do not despair: the Indians on Gallipoli, 1915 by Peter Stanley.

Ever growing access to different sources and new publications means that we can uncover and share more stories than ever about the First World War and other conflicts New Zealand has been involved in.

Lord Jellicoe inspects the First Canterbury Guard of Honour, ANZAC Day, foundation stone ceremony, Bridge of Remembrance [25 Apr. 1923] CCL PhotoCD 15, IMG0023
Lord Jellicoe inspects the First Canterbury Guard of Honour, ANZAC Day, foundation stone ceremony, Bridge of Remembrance [25 Apr. 1923] CCL PhotoCD 15, IMG0023

Anzac resources

This article was published in issue 3 of our quarterly magazine, uncover – huraina. Read it online.

Anzac Day in Christchurch and Canterbury 2016

Monday 25 April 2016 is Anzac Day. All our libraries will be closed on this public holiday. Read our page on Anzac Day and Gallipoli to find out more about this commemoration.

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.

Assembling for the Anzac Day Parade, 301 Halswell Road. Photo by Ellenor Waters. CCL-HP2015-EW-DSCF2940 Photo from The Halswell Project.
Assembling for the Anzac Day Parade, 301 Halswell Road. Photo by Ellenor Waters. CCL-HP2015-EW-DSCF2940 Photo from The Halswell Project.

Christchurch services and events

The following information is from Christchurch City Council:

Dawn service at Cranmer Square

  • 6am–6.15am: the people gather
  • 6.15am: the parade begins from the RSA building on Armagh Street
  • 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 local youth groups.

Find more Anzac Day services

The RSA website features a Find an Anzac Day service resource.

More Anzac related events

Fields of Remembrance

In 2015, the Canterbury Province Field in Cranmer Square contained 632 crosses commemorating the men and women of Christchurch who died in 1915. That number will be added to in 2016.

Field of Remembrance
Field of Remembrance, Cranmer Square [2015] Flickr 2015-03-27-IMG_6781

Exhibitions and displays

  • Canterbury Mounted Rifles regiment display – 18 to 30 April at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre. Joe Dixon talk on the Canterbury Mounted Rifles, Tuesday 19 April, 2pm.
  • ANZAC: Photographs by Laurence Aberhart at the Canterbury Museum
  • Anzac display Brighton Gallery
  • ANZAC Commemoration Linwood Cemetery (Sunday 24 April)
  • Linwood Community Arts Centre (corner Worcester and Stanmore Road). Anzac Exhibition 2016 Monday 11 April – up to and including Anzac Day. A multi-media participatory experience on the theme, “We honour, we remember, we reflect”. Photographs, artworks, installations, talks, readings, poetry and prose, printed and audiovisual material.

Troops watering horses in the Avon River near Carlton Bridge, Christchurch [23 Sept. 1914]. CCL PhotoCD 7, IMG0069
Troops watering horses in the Avon River near Carlton Bridge, Christchurch [23 Sept. 1914]. CCL PhotoCD 7, IMG0069
Find out more:

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]

Concerts

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:

First World War Exhibition at Central Library Peterborough

Come on down to Central Library Peterborough to have a look at our genuine First World War memorabilia, kindly loaned by local collector Barry O’Sullivan. Featuring gas masks, cameras, soldiers’ kits, uniforms and a wide variety of other items from both home and abroad, this is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with life from 1914 to 1918. The exhibition runs until Sunday 24 May, so do pop in and give us a visit.

First World War

Cover of  Women Heroes of World War I 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and MedicsI’ve just finished reading Women Heroes of World War I. It includes Lady Helena Gleichen and Nina Hollings, radiographers in Italy. Among other things, they x-rayed gassed soldiers and discovered that their lungs shrivelled to about two inches in diameter. That sounds a little uncomfortable to me – all that stood between them and the gas was a flimsy hood soaked in glycerin and sodium thiosulphate. The German gas mask by comparison looks a lot more like the bug-eyed versions I’m familiar with, with goggles attached to a breathing apparatus.

Another exciting discovery is the possible connection between a camera in our exhibit and a roll of film donated to the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. They have kindly provided some scanned copies of the photos taken on the camera which can be viewed alongside the exhibition.

    Title Vest Pocket Kodak, camera and case     Date [circa 1910-1920]      Image 5 of 6     Notes Examples of items soldiers carried with them. Marked with E. J. Jekyll, 7/740. 1 C.M.R. N.Z.M.R.      Source Barry O'Sullivan collection     Collection Description A collection of the types of items taken overseas by enlisted men from Christchurch.     Parent Collection Description Part of a selection of material from the collection of Barry O'Sullivan relating to the first World War. The digital collection includes personal effects of enlisted men from Christchurch, regimental badges, diaries, letters, letterhead paper, newspapers, photographs and postcards.     Collection Location Private collection

Vest Pocket Kodak, camera and case, [circa 1910-1920] Examples of items soldiers carried with them. Marked with E. J. Jekyll, 7/740. 1 C.M.R. N.Z.M.R. Barry O’Sullivan collection. CCL-O’Sullivan-1835-006

First World War information

Remembering ANZAC: WORD Christchurch

Book cover of ANZACPhotographer Laurence Aberhart‘s latest work is ANZAC, a collection of 70 photographs of NZ and Australian war memorials. Laurence,  Jock Phillips (who wrote the introduction to ANZAC) and Christchurch Art Gallery director Jenny Harper discussed the evolving relationship between the community and its war memorials, the changing attitudes to the memorials between the First and Second World Wars and individual monuments and sculptors as part of the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival. The relationship between the community and its memorials was a constant theme of the discussion and in a broader way, Laurence’s book. Jock said they “made claims to be timeless monuments…[but] the way they are treated and meanings they have change dramatically over time.” When they were erected there was an “intense relationship between the community and the memorial”, but over time they fell into disrepair as communities developed and moved around them.  Laurence said that the disappearance of some memorials showed that “nothing is permanent. It can all go in an instant.” Jock explained that all local memorials to World War One were community funded and there was a tension between wanting to create something meaningful and sombre and wanting to create something useful in memory of the fallen. After World War Two, the government offered a subsidy for memorials that also served a practical purpose, hence the proliferation of War Memorial community halls, swimming pools and play grounds.

Jock Phillips and Jenny Harper admire a Laurence Aberhart photograph.
Jock Phillips and Jenny Harper admire a Laurence Aberhart photograph.

Laurence illustrated the session with beautiful photographs from ANZAC illustrating some of the more remarkable war memorials including:

  • A solitary solider standing guard over the now vanished hamlet of Rongahere.
  • The Mercer solider standing atop a turret of a 1860’s Land Wars gun ship.
  • Robert Hosie’s lone soldier standing on Otago Peninsula looking out on the Pacific.
  • Christchurch sculptor William Trethewey’s Kaiapoi war memorial is considered one of the best, and attendees were encouraged to visit it. Trethewey, one of the few New Zealand memorial scupltors, also designed the Cenotaph in Cathedral Square and the Captain Cook statue in Victoria Square.

The session closed with a quote that appears on several war memorials:

“From little towns in a far land we came, To save our honour and a world aflame. By little towns in a far land we sleep, And trust the world we won for you to keep.” Rudyard Kipling

Laurence Aberhart and Jock Phillips
Laurence Aberhart and Jock Phillips
ANZAC Day - Heathcote War Memorial [190-?] Christchurch City Libraries, CCL Gimblett Collection, Gimblett-0018
Anzac Day – Heathcote War Memorial  Gimblett-0018

“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.

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 info@linwoodcemetery.org.nz

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.

Stop Press: two electronic updates for history buffs

We have two new exciting electronic additions just in time for Anzac Day.

Papers Past allows access to digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals from 1839 to 1945. It now includes the Otago Daily Times digitised from 1901-1920 which means the WWI period is covered online by this  major New Zealand daily paper. A great source of information for researchers of family and social history.

Find My Past AU has created the ‘Findmypast ANZAC Memory Bank’ to honour the men and women who represented their country at war. This bank will contain personal accounts, diaries, expert articles, and photographs from ALL wars. The ANZAC Memory Bank will commemorate not only the lost lives but also the brave men and women who made it home safely again. The memory bank will launch on the 1st of April and apparently there is already lots of New Zealand content. If you want to you can add to the memory bank by sharing your thoughts, stories and photos with Find My Past.

Christchurch City Libraries subscribes to a range of electronic resources at the Source including many to help in your family history searches. Take some time to have a play… you would be amazed how much there is to learn and see.

The other ANZACs – New Zealand e-book month

By the end of The Great War, forty-five Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service and over two hundred had been decorated. These were women who left for war on an adventure, but were soon confronted with remarkable challenges for which their civilian lives could never have prepared them.

They were there for the horrors of Gallipoli and they were there for the savagery the Western Front. Within twelve hours of the slaughter at Anzac Cove they had over 500 horrifically injured patients to tend on one crammed hospital ship, and scores of deaths on each of the harrowing days that followed. Every night was a nightmare.Their strength and humanity were remarkable.

Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps, and the wards and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battlefronts of human history. But he also allows the friendships and loves of these courageous and compassionate women to enrich their experiences, and ours. This is a very human story from a different era, when women had not long begun their quest for equality and won the vote. They were on the frontline of social change as well as war, and the hurdles they had to overcome and the price they paid, personally and professionally, make them a unique group in ANZAC history.

You can read The other ANZACs  as an e-book from our Overdrive collection.

The other ANZACs is also available as a paper book

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]
Photo

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