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Year in Review: Online Cenotaph 2019

By Madison Pine
Collection Technician, Research Support

Beginning in 2014, New Zealand launched the WW100 centenary commemorations, which encouraged New Zealanders to consider the impact of the First World War. This gave us the opportunity to reflect on the past and how it still shapes us today. As part of these centenary commemorations, Online Cenotaph was re-launched in early 2015. Towards the end of the commemoration period, in November 2018, Online Cenotaph had seen 96,000 pieces of content added by the community.

Nurses with returning wounded in London. PH-CNEG-C23255.

No known copyright restrictions.

Throughout 2019, the final commemorative year, Online Cenotaph has focused on sharing some of the stories of individuals who served during the First World War. As well as adding additional information to the records of those who served during the South African War, the Second World War, and later conflicts.

We have also worked in collaboration with numerous agencies to share our data and add additional information to the database.

For Anzac Day 2019, Online Cenotaph was happy to provide the data for the New Zealand Herald's interactive People: World War One Roll of Honour, which details the name, date, rank and unit of 18,000 New Zealanders who lost their lives during the First World War.

Brothers Allan Edward Insley (23704) (left) and Henry William Insley (23705) (right).

Image provided by the Passau family.No known copyright restrictions.

Online Cenotaph has also collaborated with the WW100 "Finding our Way Back" campaign, which looked at New Zealand's journey back to peacetime, and how the country supported those returning from overseas. When the Armistice was declared on November 11, 1918, there were still over 50,000 New Zealanders overseas. It wasn't until 1921 that the very last servicemen returned to New Zealand.

Two stories added to Online Cenotaph this year focussed on individual contributions during the First World War: Libby Passau shared memories of her grandfather, Henry William Insley, and Audrey Ansell shared her ancestor Stanley James Lugg's experience with the Mounted Rifles.

Whilst Manava Toa: the Cook Islands in WW1 looked at the remarkable service and sacrifice of servicemen from the Cook Islands. One of the smallest territories in the British Empire, it sent five contingents to the First World War, totalling nearly 500 men to reinforce the Māori Contingent, serving mostly in Egypt, Palestine and Sinai.

Group photograph of Apu Tepuretu, Anthony Manuel, Augere Angene, Raitia Tepuretu on cannon.

Image kindly provided by Tekau Framhein via Kees De Boer. Image has no known copyright restrictions.

Through the research kindly shared by the NZEF ANZAC Soldiers Research Project lead by Cate Walker, Bobby Nicholas, and Paula Paniani, Online Cenotaph was able to update the numerous records on Online Cenotaph for soldiers from Atiu, Cook Islands. As a result of their research the Commonwealth War Graves Commission erected six headstones that were unveiled in late November 2019. These soldiers were subsequently added to the New Zealand and Commonwealth War Graves Commission Roll of Honours. The six soldiers are Nga Naeiti, Rangi Tiaure, Tima Mereto, Tearii Taria, Banaba Tipe, and Tuakeo Turongo.

Photograph of patients at 27th General Hospital, Cairo. From Left to Right, unidentified sister, Tuakeo, Sister Monk, Self - David Hunter Palmer, Jerry Spooner, Alan Blackie.

Image kindly provided by Stanley Palmer (October 2019). Image has no known copyright restrictions.

Online Cenotaph Collection Technician Dan Millar happened to visit the home of well-known artist Stanley Palmer, son of First World War veteran James Palmer and nephew of Corporal David Hunter Palmer. Stanley Palmer had a photograph of his uncle at the reception room of the 27th General Hospital, Cairo. The informal photo was taken before many of the ill and wounded left aboard the troopship Willochra. The photograph has been partially identified by Corporal Palmer before he died, the inscription read; "March 7th 1917, Receiving Room 27th General Hospital, Cairo. Leaving for New Zealand. Sister _, Tuakeo, Sister Monk, Self, Jerry Spooner and Alan Blackie." Dan was able to positively identify Tuakeo as Tuakeo Turongo of the Cook Islands, who died shortly after returning to Atiu.

Barry O'Sullivan, a member of the public, provided Online Cenotaph with a list of soldiers from Cook Islands who served during the Second World War with the Cook Island Local Defence Force and Aitutaki Home Guard. He has also written a comprehensive account of the Cook Island Defence Force which has been added to the soldiers' Online Cenotaph records.

In collaboration with the New Zealand War Graves Trust, images from service person graves from around New Zealand have been added to over 2,000 Online Cenotaph records.

We have also added approximately 57 records from New Zealanders who served in overseas contingents during the South African War 1899-1902. The South African War was the first overseas conflict to send New Zealand troops. The addition of those who served for overseas forces brings the number of Online Cenotaph records for South African veterans to over 6,000. Many of these veterans would also go on to serve during the First World War.

Departure of Auckland Contingent for South African War. PH-1995-15-2.

Image has no known copyright restrictions.

During the Second World War over 6,300 members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who were Prisoners of War in Germany and German Occupied territories have now been added to Online Cenotaph. This information has been added from this list of Imperial Prisoners of War in Germany and German Occupied Territories. These records can be found on Online Cenotaph by searching for "Germany and German Occupied Territories".

'Cooking at the Camp' Group photograph of Robert Wilson, Jack Lang Thames NZ, Fred Dowdle Australia, in front Private Kitchen Australia, Private Bennett Australia, Captain Hook Auckland, taken in June 1944. Prisoner of War Camp OFLAG 79.

Image kindly provided by Lynette Wilson (February 2019). Image may be subject to copyright restrictions.

On June 30, 2019, the Post-Vietnam Roll of Honour was unveiled in the Hall of Memories II. This memorial displays the names of those who died in Bosnia, Kuwait, East Timor and Afghanistan. Online Cenotaph worked alongside the New Zealand Defence Force and the Liaison Officers for the Families of the Fallen to gather eight of the seventeen families acknowledged on the roll of honour. This was the culmination of years of hard work and research from Online Cenotaph Collection Technician Dan Millar.

The Roll of Honour for those who served in Bosnia, Kuwait, East Timor, and Afghanistan was unveiled in June 2019.

Gino Demeer© All rights reservedCactus Photography

We also spoke to Angela Ruxton Caughey (née Wilson), who shared how Online Cenotaph helped to connect her with people from around the world to find out how her elder brother Ian Lewis Ruxton Wilson died during the Second World War.

Ian Lewis Ruxton Wilson

Image kindly provided by R A Ringer. Image may be subject to copyright restrictions.

Statistics for 2019

Throughout the year we have worked with researchers, members of the public, organisations and family members to answer over 1,000 of your enquiries, answering over 100 questions each month. There have also been many contributions made to Online Cenotaph over the course of the year, totalling;

83,103 Poppies laid

13,789 Contributions

7,127 Data items added

3,190 Images added

2,283 Unique Contributions

848 Notes added

341 Documents added


It has been a big year and we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our work.

As we now emerge from the WW100 period, and into a new decade, Online Cenotaph is looking at how we can commemorate and remember those from the post-1945 period as well as working on numerous projects to update and continually enhance the database.

Help us improve Online Cenotaph

You can share your knowledge about a serviceperson's life and help us improve Online Cenotaph by adding a brief contribution directly to that person's record.



Cite this article

Pine, Madison. Year in Review: Online Cenotaph 2019 . Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 11 December 2019. Updated: 8 January 2020.