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St Bede’s Meet Old Boy Captain Peoples

When a year-thirteen history class from St Bede’s College took an education tour at The Great War Exhibition in Wellington, they didn’t expect to meet Captain Gerard Peoples, an ex-St Bede’s student serving within the New Zealand Army. Captain Peoples was at the neighbouring Pukeahu National War Memorial Park as part of the centenary commemoration of the Battle of Messines.

“It was good to catch up with boys who are young, energetic and interested in learning about our history,” Captain Peoples says. “The exhibition is well done, very detailed, and gives people insight into the progression of war, and the attitude at the time—that it would be over by Christmas—although it dragged on in harsh reality.”

“The Great War Exhibition is good, because it’s so confronting and doesn’t sugar coat anything,” student Will Connell says. “Previous stuff had a tendency to do this, so, for young New Zealanders, some of the war gets lost in translation. Coming here has reinforced the stark reality of war for us.”

St Bede’s history teacher, Callum Wilson agrees. “This exhibition makes them aware of war, and fires their imaginations about the effects and impacts of war.”

Education tours can be booked here.

Their meeting featured in the Christchurch Mail (on page 12) here.

Trentham Soldiers

Twelve soldiers, currently based at Trentham Military Camp, recently visited The Great War Exhibition. Their visit allowed them to appreciate the conditions their forebears were exposed to in the First World War.

“It’s quite sobering really,” said one of the visiting soldiers, “to see what they went through.”

Strong Family Connection

When Blenheim resident Eileen Guard visited The Great War Exhibition in Wellington, she found a family connection in more ways than one. Lynne Roberts of Christchurch had booked a premium tour of the Exhibition for her mother, knowing Eileen’s father, Edgar Hammond, had served in the Canterbury Mounted Rifles during World War One—but they didn’t expect to re-establish a connection with a living relative.

As part of the premium tour package, Chris Harp, a guide at the Exhibition, researched Edgar Hammond’s history so he could tailor the guided tour to highlight Edgar’s service in the Great War. Eileen and her family (her husband Rex, and Lynne and Chris Roberts from Christchurch) all participated in the tour. It was only when Chris Harp was discussing the tour afterwards with new staff member, Eileen Mueller, that they realised the two Eileen’s were related. Edgar Hammond is Eileen Mueller’s great-great-uncle, and she had met Eileen Guard in Blenheim years before, while researching her own family history.

Enlisted at only twenty years old, Edgar Hammond commenced duty in December 1914 and arrived in Zeitoun Camp, Cairo on 24 June 1915. He served in Gallipoli from July to December 1915 and was then stationed in Sinai and Palestine in 1916–18.

“I learned a lot and felt quite close to Dad again,” Eileen Guard said. “I knew he’d been in Gallipoli, but I didn’t realise he was there for five months. I knew he’d been in hospital, but not what for. He was very ill, but not injured. When he came home, he’d lost one and a half stone. They were hungry all the time.”

The Exhibition features realistic mannequins in war-time situations, including picking their way through fly-ridden food. “Seeing those cans reminded of me how Dad never touched bully beef again, ever,” said Eileen, speaking of wartime rations. “And they learnt to smoke in the war, because they were handed out cigarettes.”

After the Armistice, Edgar Hammond was part of the Canterbury regiment that returned to Gallipoli to maintain the graves of their fallen comrades. “I knew what Gallipoli looked like because Dad had gone back to clean up the grave sites and had taken photos, so we’d seen those, but seeing the colour photos and the dioramas made everything more real.”

“It was good to talk to Eileen Mueller again and renew our family connection,” said Eileen Guard, “and it was quite special having Chris [Harp] as our tour guide, because he was from Nelson. The tour was really worthwhile and helped me feel closer to Dad. It took three hours, but I’ve been living it since.”

Eileen’s experience was featured in the Blenheim Sun here.

Wounded in the DomPost

Wounded, a temporary exhibition at The Great War Exhibition, highlights the effects of First World War conflict on injured service people.

During World War One, 41,000 wounds to New Zealand soldiers were treated. Some of these were people who were wounded more than once, or later died.

Wounded is the latest in a series of seven temporary exhibitions called Chapters of the Great War, created by Story Inc. This short audio-visual experience uses voices of  nurses, soldiers, and doctors to portray the impact of injuries on survivors and those who tended them.

Wounded recently featured in the Dominion Post and several community newspapers across the Wellington area. The full article appears here on stuff.co.nz and the exhibition was also covered on TVNZ here.

Wounded is open until Sunday 16 June 2017 at 6 p.m.  More information is available here.

(The content of Wounded may disturb young children. Content and lighting may affect some people, so viewer discretion is advised.)

Image: A formal photograph of the Wellington Regiment – amended to represent the dead, in black, and the wounded, in red. (Original from Auckland War Memorial Museum. Colour added).

Stratford High Education Tour

When a year-thirteen class from Stratford High visited The Great War Exhibition in Wellington recently, the students got more than they’d bargained for. In preparation for their NCEA level three history internals, the students were researching milestones in New Zealand history. While participating in an education tour, they learned about local Taranaki First World War officer, Lieutenant Colonel Malone, and were left with a lasting impression of the devastation and tragedy of war.

“It’s my first time here,” said Riley Mackintosh. “It puts everything in perspective. Their conditions weren’t great. They [Malone and his soldiers] were pretty uncomfortable. Their food doesn’t look that appetising, and seeing the death lists really hits home.”

Daniel Kerr and Christel Broadmore, teachers from Stratford High, were pleased at the class response. “This is my second time coming, and it’s just as amazing as the first,” Ms Broadmore said. “Every young person in New Zealand needs to learn about this history.”

Their story was featured in the Taranaki Star and here, on stuff.co.nz

Photo, left to right: David Foote, Riley Mackintosh, Macey Murray,  Paytn Cameron, Christel Broadmore (teacher), Grace Burroughs on their education tour with a photo of Lieutenant Colonel Malone in his dugout.

Official Delegation from Samoa

The Great War Exhibition recently hosted an official delegation from Samoa.  The Honourable Leaupepe Taimaaiono Toleafoa Faafisi, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Samoa, was accompanied by Toleafoa Ken Vaafausuaga Poutoa MP, Leaana Ronnie Posini MP, Faalogo Iosefa Sopi MP,  and Toomata Aki Tuipea MP.

The Samoan Speaker was in New Zealand as  a Guest of the New Zealand Parliament, marking the 55th  anniversary of the 1962 Treaty of Friendship, signed after Samoa became independent after a period of New Zealand Trusteeship.

The delegation had particular interest in the Samoan artefacts, history and photos from the First World War. More information about their visit to New Zealand is available here.