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American Soldiers in New Zealand during WWII

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Auckland Museum has recently digitised a unique and heart-warming set of photos of US servicemen stationed at Warkworth, a provincial town in northern New Zealand, during the Second World War. These servicemen were in New Zealand in preparation for their departure for the Pacific theatres of war. 

Six military servicemen around a campfire.

Six military servicemen around a campfire.

Tudor Collins.Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-2013-7-TC-B895-04.

Taken by notable local photographer, Tudor Collins, the photos are a wonderful trove of individual and group portraits together with action shots of the men having fun while taking advantage of the relaxed lifestyle in this rural New Zealand town – including sea fishing and hunting for pukeko, a local swamp hen.

Collins, who was renowned for his personable, larger-than-life personality and his bushman skills, clearly established a rapport with his subjects – he has captured the men proudly showing off their catches, smoking fish around campfires, wading in deep water, and enjoying a quiet beer or two.

Other portraits show the men in and out of uniform, pants rolled up, leaning against cars and relaxing in front of local homes. More formal photos of entire companies and pairs of buddies are also common in the collection, and are a far cry from the studio portraits often taken at that time.

Can you help us identify these US servicemen?

Unfortunately none of these photos are captioned so we don’t know who these men are. Similarly, families in the US may never have seen these photos of their menfolk.

It would be wonderful for families or the men themselves to contribute to these photos with the names of these men.

How to contribute

Browse the photos

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The text for this collection highlight was provided by Michaela O'Donovan, Head of Museum Library & Enquiry Services at Auckland War Memorial Museum.