Tag Archives: The End of the War

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.

Media Coverage of End of the War?

Our new exhibition End of the War? – the final episode in Chapters of the Great War – opened on Thursday to acclaim from local and national media outlets.

Stuff reporter Amber Woolfe talked to Ashley Mackenzie-White who is the great grandniece of William Arthur Ham was the first New Zealand soldier killed in the First World War. Click here to see their interview.

Ben Irwin of NewsHub interviewed Steve La Hood of Story Inc, who created the seven Chapters of The Great War; and also talked to Jack McDonald, great grandson of Archibald Baxter, a conscientious objector from the First World War; and to Hugo Manson, the son of Cecil Manson, who was in Gallipoli at 19 years of age.

NewsHub in action, Ben Irwin interviews Briar Barry and Steve LaHood of Story Inc. and Hugo Manson and Jack McDonald

Frances Cook and Matt Mitchell of the New Zealand Herald spoke with Miria Pomare, great granddaughter of Māori Member of Parliament Sir Maui Pomare and his influential wife Lady Miria who supported the Māori and Pacific Islands contribution to the war. Their interview is here.

Radio New Zealand reporter Ruth Hill discusses the effect of the First World War on families with Tui Tararo, granddaughter of Private Frank Tararo, a Cook Islander who lost an arm fighting in the Māori battalion. Please click here to read the article.

Radio Waatea interviewed Miria Pomare and Jack McDonald, both of Māori descent.

The final episode in Chapters of the Great War – created by Story Inc and Dusk – is open from 26 July to late November at The Great War Exhibition. 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.