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Names on the walls, engraved in stone

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, Germany signed an Armistice with the Allied powers. The First World War centenary period has seen anniversaries of the capture of Samoa in 1914, the battles of Gallipoli in 1915, and the first battle of the Somme in 1916. As with Anzac Day, Armistice Day — the day the guns fell silent — is an opportunity to acknowledge and remember those who served and died.

The architects' design for the Museum, which was to be “Auckland’s undying memorial to her glorious dead.” This drawing pairs a long view of the north face of the building with a detail of the inscription upon the façade of a funeral oration by Pericles.

Grierson, Aimer and Draffin, 1921. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira. MUS-2009-20-1-1.No known copyright restrictions.

The architects of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Hugh Grierson, Kenneth Aimer, and Keith Draffin, were all New Zealanders who had served in the First World War. Theirs was the winning entry in a competition for a War Memorial Museum for Auckland that would commemorate those from the region (from the far north to Taupō) who made the ultimate sacrifice.

When the competition deadline was extended to allow more time for the overseas entries to arrive, Grierson, Aimer and Draffin used the extra days to submit a final drawing. Embodying the spirit of the building, this was a long view of the Museum’s north face, which bears the following inscription taken from a funeral oration by Pericles.

MCMXIV MCMXVIII THE WHOLE EARTH IS THE SEPULCHRE OF FAMOUS MEN THEY ARE COMMEMORATED NOT ONLY BY COLUMNS AND INSCRIPTIONS IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY BUT IN FOREIGN LANDS ALSO BY MEMORIALS GRAVEN NOT ON STONE BUT ON THE HEARTS OF MEN

Read the Māori translation

Working drawing of the Hall of Memories (detail)

Grierson, Aimer and Draffin, 1928. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira. MUS-2009-20-11-1.

The war memorial aspects of the building are evident on its exterior and interior, and are made explicit in the Cenotaph and Court of Honour, and in the Roll of Honour.

Concept drawing for the Hall of Memories. Grierson, Aimer and Draffin, 1923.

Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira. MUS-2009-20-2-2.

The Roll of Honour lists every serviceperson from the Auckland region who died in the war. The definitive list was collated by the RSA. The names were inscribed in the Hall of Memories, which was formally opened in 1932, finally achieving the vision of this early drawing from a fundraising pamphlet from 1923.

Hansford and Mills working plans for construction: Set B, Sheet 15 (detail). Grierson, Aimer and Draffin, 1924.

Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira. MUS-2009-20-4-15.

Above the windows on the outside of the building are the names of significant battles in which Aucklanders of the New Zealand Division fought. The sequence of the inscriptions follows the timeline of the First World War — from the first engagements in Samoa on the 29th of August 1914, to the Suez in February 1915, to the battle for Le Quesnoy on the 4th of November 1918 (just one week before the Armistice). On the west and east sides of the building are two fountains that commemorate the battles of Gallipoli in 1915, and of Palestine (1916-18). All the named battles are listed below.

Sheet 22: Exterior Details Portion of East Façade (detail). Grierson, Aimer and Draffin, 1924.

Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira. MUS-2009-20-4-22.

Significant World War I battles inscribed on Auckland War Memorial Museum

Battle Location of inscription
Suez Eastern Door to north east corner
Samoa  
Senussi  
Armentieres  
Somme  
High Wood  
Flers  
Fleurbaix  
Messines Ridge  
Gallipoli 1915 Fountain — The Landing 25th Day of April 1915, Shrapnel Gully, Walker’s Ridge, Quinn’s Post, Russell’s Top, Krithia, Sari Bair, Pope’s, Lone Pine, Chunuk Bair, Apex, Kaiajik Aghala, Hill 971.
Basseville North Façade east to west
Gravenstafel  
Bellevue Spur  
Polygon Wood  
Polderhoek Spur  
Hebuterne  
La Signy Farm  
Rossignol Wood  
Puisieux Au Mont  
Loupart Wood  
Palestine 1916-18 Fountain — Romani, Bir el Abd, El Arish, Magdhaba, Rafa, Gaza Beersheba, Ayun Kara, Khurbet Hadrah, Jerusalem, Jericho, Amman, Jordan Valley.
Grevilliers West Door to north west corner
Faurcuil  
Bapaume  
Havrincourt Wood  
Trescault Ridge  
Crevecoeur  
Briastre  
Beaudignies  
Le Quesnoy  

Further reading

  1. The history of Auckland Museum. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.
  2. Stevens, A. (2015). A living memorial. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.
  3. Stevens, A. (2015). The Auckland Museum frieze: Scenes of war. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

Cite this article

Lorimer, Elizabeth. Names on the walls, engraved in stone. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 7 November 2016. Updated: 30 June 2017.
URL: www.aucklandmuseum.com/collections-research/collections/topics/names-on-the-walls-engraved-in-stone

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