15 September 1916 was the first real day in action on the Western Front for the New Zealand Division – and it was also the first day that tanks were ever used in battle. The two went into action together, as an interview from our Sound collection reveals. You can hear me talking about this recording with RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan here or read more below.
Lindsay Merritt Inglis, a solicitor from Timaru, was in command of a company of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on the 15 September 1916. In 1964 he was interviewed about his experience and seeing those first tanks.
The British military command had been developing tank technology to try and break the stalemate of trench warfare. Their allied forces had been in the Somme area since July, with both sides quickly becoming bogged down in trench warfare and heavy artillery shelling was causing horrific losses. On the first day, they suffered over 57,470 casualties – the worst day in the history of the British Army. Continue reading →
This post is part of the Audio Curios series. Radio Collection Developer Gareth Watkins regularly comes across interesting, unique, and sometimes downright puzzling bits of audio during his accessioning work. He’s going to share some of these audio treasures with you in the Audio Curios series, which will be posted here on the Gauge blog frequently.
Audio from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection, all rights reserved. To enquire about re-use of these items please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Co-ordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)
100 years ago this week, the New Zealanders still grimly hanging onto the slopes of Gallipoli were dealt yet another blow. After enduring a summer of searing heat, with vast swarms of flies and the dysentery they brought, the northern winter arrived. From November 26-28 a vicious snow storm lashed the peninsula.
Referred to by veterans ever afterwards as “The Blizzard,” the snow brought further misery to the men who were living in bivvies and shallow trenches. Thousands developed frostbite and over 200 died. Interviews with three New Zealand Gallipoli veterans held in the radio collection of Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision recall the snow, mud and frostbite. As one man says, it was then the “higher-ups” realised they couldn’t possibly hold on through the winter, and preparations were made for the evacuation from Gallipoli the following month.
You can hear a compilation of these recollections of “The Blizzard” on our website, Anzac: Sights and Sounds of WWI, here.
It is one of the new archival film and sound items uploaded to the website this month. The site, which is a collaboration between Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, will continue to be updated with new material over the remaining three years of the WWI anniversary period.
Thanks to the power of social media and our colleagues Kiri and Sean at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, we have managed to identify a Gallipoli veteran in a recording housed in the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection, who we knew only as “Bob.” Bob is the name he is called by the interviewer in a 1981 Radio New Zealand interview, which you can listen to on our Anzac: Sights and Sounds of World War I website.
Bob was injured 100 years ago tomorrow, during the Battle of Chunuk Bair, and in this interview describes his experiences.
We had no other details about him, but suspected he had served with the 10th North Otago Company of the Otago Infantry Battalion, as he mentions being with the 10th on Rhododendron Ridge. We posted the interview on our Facebook page with an invitation to the public to help us solve the mystery. Toitū’s history curator Sean Brosnahan came forward with some valuable information – he recognised some of Bob’s turns of phrase and experiences as being similar to those in another interview with an Oamaru man, whose recollections appear in a new book, Remembering Gallipoli, by Christopher Pugsley and Charles Ferrall.
We have compared our transcript with the excerpts in the book and are now fairly confident that our “Bob” is in fact Robert (Bob) Alexander Needs of Oamaru, serial number 8/794, who did indeed serve with the 10th North Otago Company. He was evacuated wounded from Gallipoli and went on to serve on the Western Front. Bob Needs was awarded the Military Medal for bravery and after being wounded again, was evacuated back to New Zealand in April 1918. He died in Oamaru in 1984.
- By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Coordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)
On the 15th of July 1915, the transport ship Willochra brought back to Wellington the first group of men who had been wounded in the Gallipoli campaign. News of men who had been killed or wounded had been in the local newspapers since mid-May, but it was not until the men arrived home that the realities of the war really reached New Zealand.
Thousands of people gathered at the wharf to greet the ship and despite the trauma and injuries the men had suffered, the government had decided a triumphant welcome should be prepared, with a procession through Wellington’s streets and a reception for them in the Town Hall.
A 1981 recording in the Sound Collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision recalls the impact the sight of the wounded, traumatized men had on the citizens who were there.
In it, educator Jack Shallcrass interviews Max Riske, a fellow Wellington teacher and lecturer, who was taken as a young boy by his mother to see the men and attended the Town Hall reception. Sixty years later, he vividly recalls how the experience changed opinions about the war for him and many other Wellingtonians.
- By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Coordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)
One hundred years ago today, the high death rate on Gallipoli triggered an extraordinary truce between the two opposing sides.
The tremendous number of casualties on both sides since the landings on April 25th had led to a large number of unburied corpses piling up between the trenches. As temperatures climbed the health risk and stench these caused became unbearable, and on the 22nd of May Turkish Major Kemal Ohri was escorted, blindfolded to Anzac headquarters to negotiate a truce, so the dead could be buried.
On the 24th of May at an arranged time, a white flag was flown and men cautiously came out of their trenches to begin the grim task. For many, it was a chance to see the enemy face to face.
In particular, they are featuring a 1949 sound recording by the only New Zealander to win a Victoria Cross in the Gallipoli Campaign, Aucklander Cyril Bassett.
As a signaller, Corporal Cyril Bassett received the V.C. for his persistence in keeping vital telephone lines connected during the assault on Chunuk Bair in August 1915. He and other men went out repeatedly under fire to rejoin telephone wires which had been severed, restoring communications between the front-line men and those in command. Continue reading →
A distinctive accent may be the key to matching a second of the mystery voices of Gallipoli to an identity: Hawke’s Bay navy veteran, Captain Alexander McLachlan.
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s ‘mystery voices of Gallipoli’ are five unnamed men interviewed by the late Napier broadcaster Laurie Swindell in January 1969. Swindell used the interviews to create a powerful radio documentary, simply called ANZAC.
[ANZAC (1969). Archival audio from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of Copyright. To request a copy of the recording, please contact us.]
In ANZAC, the anonymous veterans recalled the brutal conditions they experienced in Gallipoli. The first speaker describes his service as an officer aboard the Saturnia, the Royal Navy vessel that transported ANZAC troops to Gallipoli in 1915. The man’s rich Scottish accent adds to the weight and emotion of his story, which describes how poorly prepared they were to receive the unexpectedly high number of casualties that had to be evacuated to hospitals in Greece and Egypt. Continue reading →
Rosemary Steane heard an excerpt of the recording on Radio New Zealand’s “Morning Report” last month and realised one of the men was her great-uncle, Joseph Gasparich.
Joe was a young Auckland school teacher when World War I broke out and signed up to serve with the Auckland Infantry Battalion. He was wounded three times in the course of the war, serving not only on Gallipoli but also the Western Front, where he was eventually promoted to the rank of lieutenant, before being discharged on account of his injuries and shipped home in April 1917. Continue reading →
- By Sarah Johnston (SANTK Client Services Archivist)
Can you help us identify the voices of the five unidentified Gallipoli veterans who feature in this radio documentary?
["ANZAC" (1969). Archival audio from Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of Copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact SANTK.]
The men’s recollections of landing at Gallipoli and the brutal conditions they encountered form a powerful documentary simply called “ANZAC”, which late Napier broadcaster Laurie Swindell made in the studios of station 2ZC in Napier in January 1969.
The programme has been kept since then in the collection of Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero in Christchurch. Continue reading →