Tag Archives: first world war

Cecil Manson at Gallipoli – The End of The War?

How Gallipoli brought a British soldier to New Zealand

Wairarapa Times Age reporter Steve Rendle interviewed Hugo Manson, one of our participants in The End of the War? and found out how his British father’s experience at Gallipoli influenced him into emigrating to New Zealand.

This is an excellent article about how Cecil saw the war — with great insight into his personal experiences and the way they shaped his life, and the lives of his family members.

Gallipoli holds a special place in the history of New Zealand. Masterton’s Hugo Manson heard first-hand from his father what it was like to be there.

“In effect, Gallipoli was his first job . . . and within an hour of his first job, the soldier next to him was shot dead.”

Masterton’s Hugo Manson is talking about his father – or, more accurately, his father’s experience of the World War I campaign regarded as a key part of nation-building for New Zealand.

But Cecil Manson wasn’t fighting with the Anzac troops – his British 2nd 4th Queens Surrey Regiment was operating over the hill from the New Zealanders and Australians on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

“But he met a lot of New Zealanders, and he was terribly impressed,” Hugo Manson recalls. “He thought they had an extremely free way of treating things and treating people.

The article also discusses Cecil’s contribution to the second world war, which Hugo, at the time, had understood was ‘administrative’. It wasn’t until years later, that Hugo discovered his father had been involved Bletchley Park, a British code-breaking center during the Second World War. Click here to see The Wairarapa Times Age article about Cecil’s  Manson’s service and the effect it had on his family.

Enjoy our You Tube teaser of Hugo’s story.

An audio-visual exhibition,  The End of The War? looks at the war-time experiences of nine people – men and women, Māori and Pākehā, Pasifika and Asian – and explores how the impact of their experiences has stretched through the generations, connecting these long-dead New Zealanders to their families 100 years on.

The End of the War? is created by Story Inc. and Dusk, and funded by the Lottery Grants Board. To see The End of the War? and book a guided tour of The Great War Exhibition or a Quinn’s Post Trench Experience, please click here.

First World War Descendants -The End of the War?

The End of the War? our new exhibition, created by Story Inc. and Dusk, shows the effect of the First World War on New Zealanders, and features interviews with descendants of people who had a variety of roles in the war—soldiers, patriotic supporters, conscientious objectors, politicians and nurses.

Lois Wilson, Vic Singe and Felicity Siemmens are three of the descendants featured in the show.

Vic and Felicity are the grandchildren of Victor Sing, who was one of the four ‘fighting Sings’—New Zealand-Irish-Chinese brothers who fought at The Western Front and The Somme. The brothers, Herbert, Albert (known as Victor), Robert and Arthur, were all living in Grey Lynn when they enlisted.

Herbert was a signaller on telephone duty during a bombardment when the telephone wire was repeatedly broken. Each time, Herbert went out to repair the wire, under fire, to keep the lines of communication open. He was recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal for deeds of exceptional bravery.

During the production of the show, Vic and Felicity learned of a letter that Private Albert Sing wrote home about his brother Herbert’s death.

Private Albert Sing wrote, It was only a few weeks previous… that Herbert made a name for himself in a strafe. He was on duty at the telephone when the wire was broken on three different occasions…. He was a great loss to us all and his comrades, for he had many, and was well liked. But it’s hard, Mother, to bear our loss bravely.”

Felicity Siemmens and Vic Singe outside The Great War Exhibition, which is currently screening The End of the War?, a show about the effects of the First World War on New Zealand families.

As Vic says in the show, “He was a ‘Fighting Sing’ till the end for sure, you know. And brave as, going out there and doing it.”

Many participants in The End of the War? mention the effects of the First World War on subsequent generations. Felicity explains, “They had help with their physical wounds, but their psychological wounds really remained. And remained, perhaps, down through the generations.”

The show gave Vic and Felicity the experience of seeing their relatives honoured, and having their story acknowledged in a public space.

Felicity says, “Story Inc has provided our family with a unique opportunity to remember a grandfather and an uncle in a very special way. Albert and Herbert are now being remembered and honoured. It was an honour to pay tribute to an uncle we never knew in the flesh. Pretty amazing … information has come to light in this WW1 Exhibition and shone a spotlight on the past.”

Read more about the fighting Sings here.

Lois Wilson is the niece-in-law of Louisa Higginson who served as a nurse in the First World War. Lois recently visited to see the show. It was quite an emotional experience for her.

Lois says, “Louisa was given the position of being in charge of a prisoner of war camp and they were German prisoners.”

Louisa wrote home, “I feel so disgusted and ashamed to think I have to nurse the Huns. This is what I paid my fare and came 16,000 miles for. It is a beautiful place and should be used for our boys.”

Lois commented, “But she would do her duty. And she did.”

Lois Wilson and her daughter Glenys. Lois is the great niece of Louisa Higginson, who served as a nurse in the First World War. Hugo Manson is pictured behind them, right, holding a photo of his father Cecil who served in Gallipoli.

Nowadays, attitudes to war are different. “With the stories we heard, we just wondered why they went. I often think, even now, I doubt that the males of the country would think of going to war now,” Lois says in The End of the War?

Read more about Louisa Higginson here.

Kate Manson, the script writer for Story Inc, whose father Hugo Manson and grandfather Cecil Manson (who served at Gallipoli) feature in the show, says being involved in writing the scripts and seeing the final product was an emotional experience. “There was a real connection with their families, discovering their ancestors and their stories and acknowledging what they did.”

The End of the War? is showing at The Great War Exhibition until doors close to the public at 6pm on December 2nd 2018. Book your guided tour or Trench Experience here.

Great War Exhibition Closes 2 December 2018

The Great War Exhibition will now close to the public

at 6pm on 2 December 2018

You may have seen the recent media coverage  about our closure. The Great War Exhibition was always intended to be open for the duration of the centenary of the First World War. Recently, a possible lease extension was discussed, however, The Great War Exhibition will now close to the public at 6pm on 2nd December 2018.

For further information, please read the joint Ministry for Culture and Heritage and Massey University press release. TVNZ covered the closure here.

Dominion Museum Building to Return to Massey

Massey University will return to the Dominion Museum Building in 2019 following the closure of the Great War Exhibition after Armistice Day in November 2018.

The Ministry of Culture and Heritage and Massey University have come to an agreement that will enable the Exhibition to remain open for the Ministry’s planned Armistice Day centenary commemoration. The exhibition will close at the Dominion Museum Building at 6pm on December 2, 2018.

The Great War Exhibition was designed as a temporary exhibition, which would be open for the duration of the First World War centenary, Ministry for Culture and Heritage Chief Executive Paul James says.  “The Ministry appreciates Massey’s willingness to lease the building over the past four years to give people the opportunity to learn more about New Zealand’s First World War stories.

“We would also like to warmly thank the National Military Heritage Charitable Trust for their excellent work in running the exhibition and Sir Peter Jackson for developing the exhibition and lending his extensive collection of First World War artefacts and memorabilia.

“The Great War Exhibition has been an important part of the centenary programme.  It has been well-attended by the public and made a significant contribution towards the programmes objectives around connecting people with this important era of our history.

“More than 400,000 people have visited the exhibition since it opened in April 2015. We encourage the public to take the opportunity to visit the Great War Exhibition and the Trench Experience before it closes,” Mr James says.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the University was delighted to host the exhibition through an important period in New Zealand’s history.

Professor Thomas says the University community is equally happy and excited to again be able to showcase its world-class College of Creative Arts including the Wellington School of Design in such an impressive facility.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the city of Wellington to share in the fantastic work being produced by our students and staff in the fields of fine arts, creative media production, commercial music, and design,” Professor Thomas says.

“The iconic Grand Hall has been the scene of numerous exhibitions, performances and events for decades and it will be wonderful to have such an outstanding asset back in action for the college, the wider Massey University, including the colleges of Business, Health and Humanities and Social Sciences, and the public.

“Overlooking the National War Memorial and Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, it occupies an important place in Wellington’s history and future. It is the front door for Massey University’s Wellington campus and will once again provide an outstanding teaching and learning environment for the University’s students and staff,” Professor Thomas says.

The End of the War? Opens Today

The End of the War? our new audio-visual exhibition showcasing the effect of the First World War on New Zealanders opened today. This final episode in Chapters of the Great War – created by Story Inc and Dusk – was conceived as an inter-generational conversation about the war.  The descendants of eight New Zealanders who were involved in the First World War in different ways talk about its impact on their ancestors, and on the generations that followed.

Today, national  media attended the opening and interviewed some of the show participants about their experiences.

Ashley Mackenzie-White, whose great granduncle William Arthur Ham was the first New Zealand soldier killed in the First World War (in the Middle East) is one of the eight descendants who speaks in the show. Here’s short snippet of her contribution.

 

The End of the War? looks at the war-time experiences of men and women, Māori, Pākehā, Pasifika and Asian. The feelings engendered by the war are as varied as the experiences of those who lived it — nurses, ambulance drivers, patriotic supporters, conscientious objectors, wounded soldiers and those killed in action.

Private Frank William Tararo from the Cook Islands served in the Maori battalion and lost an arm. He was the only one of 500 to return to the islands after the war. His granddaughter, Tui Tararo, says, “I have to think about my sons and my daughter. I would probably be the parent that would be standing there saying ‘No, this is not our war.’”

Tui Tararo - the End of the War?
Tui Tararo, Private Frank Tararo’s granddaughter

New Zealand’s most famous conscientious objector, Archibald Baxter was one of four New Zealand pacifists who were physically forced to go to the front. His great-grandson Jack Baxter comments, “I’ve always found ANZAC Day quite challenging growing up… and that’s not because I don’t think that we should be remembering or commemorating World War One — I absolutely think we should be, to learn those lessons.”

 

NewsHub Jack McDonald The End of the War
Jack McDonald is interviewed by NewsHub

Hugo Manson, son of Cecil Manson, who was only 19 years old at Gallipoli, reflects upon his father’s experience. “Not to go, is not to support, or not to be helping, what a lot of other people have no choice being a part of.”

The End of the War?
NewsHub interview Briar Barry and Steve La Hood of StoryInc., and Hugo Manson and Jack McDonald

Māori Member of Parliament Sir Maui Pomare and his influential wife Lady Miria were at the forefront of the Māori and Pacific Islands contribution to the war. Sir Maui was Chairman of the Maori Recruiting Board responsible for recruiting the Māori Battalion, and visited the Cook Islands to recruit the Rarotongan Contingent.  Lady Miria launched the Maori Soldiers’ Fund in 1915, which provided comforts to Māori soldiers overseas.

Miria Pomare talks about the effects of World War One on her family
Miria Pomare talks about the effects of World War One on her family

“I’m sure there were regrets,” her great-granddaughter, Miria Pomare says. “She had a real empathy, as Sir Maui did, with the Waikato people, the Taranaki people — his people — who struggled with the notion of sending their sons to fight a pākehā war on the other side of the world. When those lists of Māori deaths were first released, I think that she and Maui would have felt a very very personal and deep sense of loss.”

The End of The War
Sound Engineer Jeremy Cullen tweaks the sound in the final stages of preparation.

Story Inc.’s blog post about the exhibition is here.

Leading up to commemorations of Armistice Day in November, this exhibition is a reminder that although the Great War ended, its effect on New Zealand society did not.

The End of the War? runs until late November 2018. To book general admission to the main exhibition, a guided tour, a Quinn’s Post Trench Experience, or a combo ticket for all three, please click here.

Behind The Quinn’s Post Trench Experience

Dan King, the project manager and art director behind The Quinn’s Post Trench Experience, spent 18 months on the job, ensuring The Trench was as authentic as possible, so visitors are able to experience what it was like to be in the dangerous trenches of Gallipoli in 1915.

Dan, a Carterton resident,  talks to reporter Steve Rendle of the Wairarapa Times Age  about his experiences, which involved shooting machine guns, weighing wet plaster (to conform to the building’s weight restrictions) and working with Sir Peter Jackson, whose attention to detail enabled the crew to “make this the closest thing to being there.”

For more about this exciting view behind the Quinn’s Post Trench Experience, see the full news article here.

To find out more about The Trench Experience, please click here. To make a booking for The Quinn’s Post Trench Experience, please click here.

Dan King - project manager and art director behind the Quinn's Post Trench Experience
Dan King in The Quinn’s Post Trench Experience, with replicas of boxes used at Gallipoli for explosives and biscuits.

 

 

Open 6:30am on ANZAC Day in Wellington

This ANZAC Day in Wellington, The Great War Exhibition will open at 6:30 a.m. to welcome visitors who have attended the 6 a.m. memorial service at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, next door.

A full list of ANZAC memorial services is available at The Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the Wellington City Council.  After attending memorial services for our ANZAC troops, visitors are welcome to explore The Great War Exhibition at their leisure.

We have a variety of attractions with the Exhibition, including:

We welcome you to explore an important part of New Zealand’s history.

 

Women’s War was Annie’s War

Our new touring exhibition, Women’s War, draws upon the experiences of New Zealand Women who lived through the First World War, responding to the war as workers, supportive family members, patriots, nurses, entertainers or pioneers.

Annie Montgomerie had two sons, Oswald and Seton, who wanted to serve as pilots, which meant enlisting in Britain. She moved to London, keeping a diary of her experiences, and faced Zeppelin attacks and suffered in the influenza epidemic.

Her granddaughter Susanna Montgomerie Norris is a teacher and librarian with an interest in history, and knew Annie’s diaries were a treasure trove of information about life in the war. She spent five years with her husband, Michael, transcribing Annie’s experiences in war-torn London.

Excerpts of Annie’s dairies were published in Annie’s War (Otago University Press, edited by Anna Rogers and Susanna Montgomerie Norris) in 2014.

Annie's War Otago University Press

Briar Barry of Story Inc. (the creators of Women’s War) said, “We wanted the show to be about women, using women’s voices, so when our scriptwriter, Katie, found Annie’s War, we got in touch with Susanna about using quotes from Annie.”

One of the quotes in the show:

“Tuesday 12 June, 1917: Went off to Pall Mall. Got a table quite near one Princess Beatrice of Battenberg and her party sat at, and we had a good view of them all the time. She is no looker but a lot of her party were worse.”

Susanna enjoyed Women’s War. “I was very excited. It’s amazing what they’ve picked out. That quote about princess Beatrice was Granny all over. She could be quite brutal. She’d let fly with her opinions about the war and the generals and get everyone stirred up.”

Susanna says Annie felt for the young New Zealand soldiers so far away from home. “She gave each young soldier a kiss for their mother before they left.”

Ian Wards, Exhibitions Manager at The Great War Exhibition, says, “So much of this war story has been told through the eyes and ears of men, so it is great to acknowledge, see and hear the experiences of women in the war.”

Women’s War runs until 19 May 2018. More information about Women’s War is here. For information about Annie’s War, click here.

Annie Montgomerie of Annie's War, features in The Great War Exhibition's touring exhibition Women's War
Susanna Montgomerie Norris, Briar Barry (Story Inc.) and Susanna’s husband, Michael. Susanna is holding a copy of Annie’s War

Women’s War – Opening this Week

Our exciting new exhibition, Women’s War, is opening this Friday, 23 February.

Catch a glimpse into the lives of six different types of New Zealand women who were active in the First World War—patriotic, supportive family, nurses, entertainers, independent workers and pioneers. Hear their voices come to life in a captivating audio-visual show. See examples of the clothing they used to wear. Experience the First World War from a woman’s perspective.

While men suffered ghastly atrocities on the battlefields, the women of New Zealand also faced the realities of war. Everyone was called upon to support the war effort—girls gave up their educations to tend to family farms, while other women volunteered by knitting socks for soldiers. Nurses fought to travel to the front lines to tend the sick and wounded, while others challenged the status-quo by pioneering campaigns on issues like venereal disease.

Please click here for more information about this fresh and compelling view of the Great War.

Spot The Bus and Win

You may have seen some of Wellington’s buses sporting shiny new advertisements for The Great War Exhibition.

Snap a picture of a Great War Exhibition bus and post it to our Facebook page, and you’ll go in the draw to win a Family Pass and Guided Tour to the Great War Exhibition!

(Or a Double Pass with Guided Tour, whichever you prefer).

If the bus is too fast to snap a photo, just post where you saw the bus instead!

Spot The Great War Exhibition Bus and Win

 

War in the Holy Lands – Cook Strait News

Our latest touring exhibition, War in the Holy Lands featured in the Cook Strait News in late December. Reporter Jamie Adams interviewed James McLean, one of the creators from Story Inc., who co-produced War in the Holy Lands and many of our other touring exhibitions.

War in the Holy Lands runs until 20 February 2018 and shows a side of the Middle East that our soldiers never learned about in Sunday school. Read the article below or here.

 

Cook Strait - War in the Holy Lands
Jamie Adams interviews James McLean, whose silhouette is featured as General Allenby behind them in shadow play.