Printed from the Auckland Museum New Zealand web site on Thursday, 20 June 2013 2:32:57 a.m..
War In Paradise
Photos: Archives New Zealand/Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga, Wellington office, Ref: WAII 7
War in Paradise tells the story of soldiers in New Zealand Third Division living in New Caledonia, the largest forward base for allied soldiers during the Pacific theatre of World War II.
The exhibition looks away from the heat of battle to explore the soldiers’ experiences on a Pacific island dubbed the ‘Paris of the Pacific’ and the relationships they forged with the French, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Kanak peoples who lived there. Using material from the Third Division’s unofficial history, contemporary images of New Caledonia and a soundscape featuring music from the period mixed with traditional Kaneka chants, the exhibition explores the soldiers’ sense of dislocation and notions of place.
21 March - 2 August 2009 | Pictorial Gallery | Entry included with admission donation
Auckland War Memorial Museum Collections
Auckland Museum Library
Among its rich archive of material the Auckland War Memorial Museum Library holds the scrapbooks and journals from some of the New Zealanders who served and lived in New Caledonia during World War II. It also holds copies of the troop newspapers produced on the island that brought the soldiers news from home and was distributed across the Pacific to wherever New Zealanders were stationed. These precious collections give insight into the daily existence of life lived away from home under the clouds of war and the personal experiences of individuals who found themselves caught up in a global hostility.
Library Catalogue records relating to the WW2 campaign in the Pacific including New Zealand and other forces. View Records»
Library Catalogue records relating to 2NZEF 3rd Division. View Records»
Nurse Violet Johnson
WWII Serviceman William John Richard Townsend
Anne Violet Mary Johnson (known as Violet) served at 4 NZ General Hospital in New Caledonia as part of ‘Kiwi Force’ from 1941 to 1944.
The ‘tent hospital’ catered for patients wounded in battles fought further afield in the Pacific. Her scrapbooks, held by the Museum Library, give glimpses of daily life in New Caledonia and what it was like to live and nurse in the rudimentary structures that served as the hospital. She left New Caledonia in 1944 and transferred to the Middle East and then Italy where she nursed at the 3 NZ General Hospital until returning home in April 1946. She died in Auckland in 1986 aged 75.
Lance Corporal William John Richard Townsend left his job at Farmers' Trading Company in Auckland and enlisted in the army aged 35. He sailed to New Caledonia in 1942 aboard the Dutch ship M.V. Brastagi.
Townsend spent a year and a half in the Pacific, based in New Caledonia from where he saw action in the Solomon Islands. His notebooks detail days and nights spent unloading ships, working in camp and the passing of quiet Christmas and New Year celebrations as well as observations about the people and flora of New Caledonia. He returned home on 9 June 1944 and died in Auckland, in 1975, aged 68 years.
New Caledonia was never a battlefield, but served as a forward base for the Pacific theatre of war. The wider story of the war in the Pacific and New Zealand’s role in it is displayed in Scars on the Heart II, on level three of Auckland Museum . From the captured Japanese artillery and landing craft to the uniform of Nurse Johnson the campaigns in which New Zealanders fought are explored through film, objects and images. View the Gallery»
The Museum’s Cenotaph database contains records of many of the thousands of New Zealanders who served and died in wars since the 19th century and includes many of those who saw action in the Pacific, including those who lie in the New Zealand War Cemetery in Bourail, New Caledonia. The cemetery is the resting place of 242 New Zealanders and is an enduring link between New Zealand and it's nearest island neighbour in the Pacific.