This year was a milestone year for Online Cenotaph celebrating both 25 years of Online Cenotaph, and also reaching over 100,000 public data contributions and 65,000 images uploaded. This year we also welcomed Nelson Bennett and Matt Nickless into the Online Cenotaph team. While Madison Pine moved into a new role in the Research Library.
To acknowledge the past quarter century of hard work we created a donations page for you to support our mahi. We are a small team of three and work with a team of amazing volunteers and your donation will go towards increasing the range of stories being told on Online Cenotaph. Your donation will help us to collaborate with veterans, creators, community members and researchers through interviews, digital storytelling and other creative outputs. The options are endless, but our budget is not. We would love if you would consider donating to Online Cenotaph to help us tell the stories of our military personnel for future generations.
THE IMPACT OF ONLINE CENOTAPH
In December 2019, a descendant of Gallipoli veteran John O’Callaghan reached out to Online Cenotaph asking if we had any contact details for the family of Morris Milliken who died during the First World War. We were able to put them in touch with two family members who had contributed to Online Cenotaph. In May 2022 we received an update from the family who were able to reunite the diary of Morris Milliken with the Milliken family. The story was featured in the Melbourne newspaper The Age.
Our volunteers are invaluable to the support of Online Cenotaph, supporting our work both in person and online transcribing material from our collaboration with Archives New Zealand. We asked some of our Volunteers what they enjoy about volunteering with us.
Liz, one of our newest volunteers, replied,
"Visitors to Pou Maumahara are often looking to connect with family members who served. On occasion I assist people to use the onsite devices. Watching their faces light up, and hearing them speak about those who served - it’s a privilege indeed.I encourage those visitors who engage with me to contribute to the Online Cenotaph themselves, should they wish to do so. It’s been very satisfying for my own whānau to see a much loved relation added recently."
Liz, a retired Education Librarian, has also been working on transcribing the Nominal Roll of those who embarked from Italy and the Middle East and to serve in Japan. This Nominal Roll will be immensely helpful for recognising those who served in Japan as part of Jayforce. This nominal roll is a list of the initial contingent which was formed in Florence Italy in November 1945, and those who drafted from the 13th, 14th, 15th Reinforcements who were conscripted for the force, as well as volunteers and specialists from earlier reinforcements.
"I have a particular focus on transcribing data for the records of those who served in Jay Force, who literally went many extra miles over several years, building peace with Japan. These service people are certainly deserving of this respectful acknowledgement."
Marion, volunteer and researcher extraordinaire, is particularly well known within the team for finding interesting stories and going down research rabbit holes.
She mentioned that she "… enjoy[s] learning about people in history and Online Cenotaph is about the people who helped make history, it’s the “big” names that are remembered but the “ordinary” people who really made it happen."
She has worked on numerous transcription projects for us over the past few years including a list of 1918 Flu Epidemic names to find who of those listed also served during the WWI, transcribing the names and captions from Peter Gallacher Malaya photos, and now working her way through the RNZAF Deceased Personnel files on From the Page.
Marion has shared some of these fascinating stories she’s come across. "Who would believe a ‘deserter’ could be spotted and recognised at Gallipoli?"
William Henry Thompson Brown 6/1250 aka William Smith AIF 1870. William Henry Thompson Brown enlisted with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in …. And embarked overseas with the Canterbury Infantry Battalion, while stopping off in Hobart he ‘deserted’ only to enlist with the Australian Imperial Force, where he was subsequently reported as having been seen at Gallipoli. Despite the fact that he deserted, it was requested that the New Zealand Military Authorities not pursue the matter further. "In view of the fact that this soldier has rendered the service for which he enlisted, although not with the New Zealand Forces, it is suggested no further action be taken by you in the matter."
She is continuing supporting our ongoing transcription with Archives New Zealand we have recently uploaded some of the RNZAF Biographies of Deceased Personnel to the transcription project website From the Page.
"What a massive undertaking that was originally and how fascinating to read even now. The biographies seem to include all those who served with them during WW2 from WWI veterans who helped maintain the aerodromes etc in NZ to elite pilots.
It is very easy to get sidetracked and fascinated by some stories and comments. There are some hidden gems in the records"
If you are interested in giving some transcription a go, and supporting our work, you can find a list of ongoing projects here.
Another of our amazing Online Cenotaph volunteer transcribers is Marguerite Durling who was recognised as an Associate Emerita of the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
In October more than 2,200 images were contributed to Online Cenotaph tripling our monthly average of 700 image uploads. Most of these were contributed by our super users such as Ian Pilkinton who has been working tirelessly on adding photographs of WWI memorials to individual Online Cenotaph records.
The below photograph of Tyne Cot Memorial to the missing was contributed to the Online Cenotaph record of Norman Macleod-Smith, a Rifleman with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 4th Battalion who was killed in action during Passchendaele on 12 October 1917.
We created 1600 Merchant Navy Records on Online Cenotaph, these cards were imaged as part of our partnership with Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga transcribed by our volunteers.
These records will then have additional information on the ships they served on and their many embarkations added, from the work of our two summer transcribers, Hebe and Alisha who transcribed a phenomenal 11,000 index cards of the Records of the New Zealand Seamen.
The contribution of the New Zealand Seamen, known as the Merchant Navy has long been under-represented in both the history of New Zealand’s war time experience and public life.
We published an article, ‘Records of the Fourth Force’ in March highlighting the incredible work of Hebe and Aleisha and sharing some of the stories they came across of those who served with the Merchant Navy in WWII.
Online Cenotaph has also just received $6,000 from the James Searle Say Foundation to continue this project!
For Anzac Day we shared the story of Richard Grace and Alice Crump, whose letters featured in our Love & Loss exhibition.
We also had a record number of page views on Anzac Day this year 467,810 pageviews in April with over 50,000 individuals users. The site received over 100,000 views on Anzac Day itself with 27,000 virtual poppies laid.
Throughout the year we have been sharing some of the beautiful photographs and memories of loved ones on Online Cenotaph. You can see some of the heartwarming contributions made on Anzac Day and some of the beautiful notes and stories left on Online Cenotaph here.
Between August and December we published 3,779 Royal New Zealand Navy Records (c.1921-c1970) which were created from a list provided by Lieutenant Commander (Retired) Ralph McNabb. This also enabled us to update a further 5,000 records of those who served in the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Victoria Passau was fortunate to interview Ralph McNabb for Cenotaph Stories who shared with us stories from his 46 year naval career.
We are enormously grateful to Ralph for providing the Online Cenotaph with numerous resources that have helped to clarify the complexities of service with the Royal New Zealand Navy and his research which has contributed to the creation of these records.
This work enabled us to match 6,000 existing records and create 800+ records for the Record Book of Naval Personnel - c.1920-1945 - Lists Navy number, alphabetical list of names of ratings trained in England, numerical lists of officers. Archives New Zealand, R21346617.
Throughout the year we have been working closely with Veteran Affairs, to highlight some of our Cenotaph Stories in their Veterans Affairs Newsletter.
Captain Peter Sheppard (Ret) kindly provided an article in response to a call for submissions printed in the Spring 2022 Edition of the Veteran's News. Peter was a member of the Driver Training Team as part of the Multinational Force and Observers Sinai, 1983 – 1984.
We also worked closely with the Nelson Provincial Museum who shared over 500 images from the South African and First World War. We were able to match these images with the individual Online Cenotaph records and add these photographs to their records.
During the Ngāti Raukawa Treaty claim process, ngā hapū o Kereru claimant Te Kenehi Teira began to consider the extent and significance of Ngāti Raukawa’s participation in 20th century wars. This created an opportunity for many whānau to share stories about the participation in war, which when compiled creates a bigger picture of Ngāti Raukawa and affiliated iwi and hapū involvement in war, and its impact on their people and community.
They kindly shared these stories with the Online Cenotaph team in this article Ngāti Raukawa Sacrifice and Suffering in 20th Century Wars.
Lance Corporal Heremaia
Lance Corporal Te Hira Wati Heremaia served with both the New Zealand Special Air Service and as part of the New Zealand Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion. During his tours in Vietnam he took many photos, preserving his wartime experience. Te Hira’s granddaughter, Taylen Heremaia was gracious enough to share the slides with us.
STATS AND ENQUIRIES
Every year one of our highlights is working with our researchers and contributors who add incredible amounts of information to Online Cenotaph. Below we have shared our statistics from our user statistics. We also share these monthly on our Statistics and Usage page. We also love to connect with whānau, researchers, veterans to help answer your questions and assist with your research enquiries. This year we have answered over 2,000 of your enquiries.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed and supported Online Cenotaph this year, through laying a poppy, sharing your stories, contributing to records or getting in touch with us. We appreciate all your support.
We would love it if you would consider donating to the Online Cenotaph to help us tell the stories of our military personnel for future generations.
Cover Image: To Greet You, Collection of Tāmaki Paenga Hira EPH-W2-2-7. All Rights Reserved.
Cite this article
Madison Pine and Victoria Passau.
A year in review: Online Cenotaph 2022. Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 9 December 2022. Updated: 19 January 2023.