A Roll of Honour is a list of names of people who served their country during war. Whether marked in stone, newsprint or handwritten, a Roll of Honour is a poignant reminder of the impact of war.
Commemorating those who served
As the First World War drew to a close, New Zealand communities began to consider how to commemorate their friends and family who had served in the war.
Many organisations, churches, schools, community groups and commercial enterprises commissioned Rolls of Honour to acknowledge pupils, friends, colleagues or family members.
Rolls of Honour can be found throughout New Zealand - in rural communities and large towns and cities. They often form part of a larger war memorial. Other Rolls acknowledge a particular group of people - members of a sports club or employees such as railway workers.
Rolls of Honour can be found all over the world. Some commemorate everyone who served; others list those who made the "ultimate sacrifice" and did not return.
Rolls of Honour at Auckland Museum
Auckland War Memorial Museum has many Rolls of Honour in its collection. Auckland War Memorial Museum's Hall of Memories is a physical Roll of Honour - it forms part of the building itself.
Many organisations have been digitising existing rolls and commemorating service people online. Auckland Museum's Online Cenotaph is an example of a digital Roll of Honour.
The Auckland Roll of Honour
In the World War One Sanctuary there are two parchment Rolls of Honour on display. They are housed in two bronze caskets.
The Rolls of Honour were handwritten by Major Percival Beaumont Greenhough and include the names of those who died in the "Great War" who registered in the Auckland Province. It includes the regimental number, rank, unit and "honours the next of kin of the fallen".
Louise Tilsley (1898-1983), a calligraphic artist, created the gold-leafed frontispieces for the books. She was also responsible for creating many illuminated addresses to Returned Servicemen. Mrs Tilsley was wife of Lieut. Col. Robert Tilsley, M.C., D.C.M.
The caskets were designed and cast by local sculptor Richard Oliver Gross (1882-1963).
Gross was a leading figure in the Auckland arts community and "made a major contribution to public sculpture in New Zealand between the wars" (Jock Phillips, Te Ara). His other works include the stone frieze that wraps around the Museum building and the bronze statue, 'The Athlete', on the Domain Gates.
Auckland Museum's Documentary Heritage Collection holds the business records of the Auckland Provincial Roll of Honour Committee. This collection includes receipts and correspondence to Greenhough, Tilsley and Gross as well as correspondence between the committee and the Museum's Institute for the purchase of the volumes.
Receipts and correspondence
The Auckland Roll of Honour volumes are on permanent display. A digital copy is available to view.
Cite this article
Passau, Victoria and Robinson, Philippa.
Auckland Roll of Honour. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 18 January 2016. Updated: 11 March 2016.