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Cenotaph Stories

  • Serious business: Women in the Army

    Gail Romano
    Associate Curator, War History

    July 2022 marked the 80th Anniversary of the formation of the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps. Formed in July 1942, it was the last of the three women's services to be established. In this article, Gail Romano (Associate Curator) discusses the history of the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps from its inception.

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  • Death in the Spring

    By Gail Romano
    Associate Curator, History

    In this article, Gail Romano writes on the life of Private Lemuel John Bagnall known as Jack, and the Bagnall family of Auckland. Jack served with the New Zealand Railway Engineers in Samoa, and then later with the Auckland Regiment, during the German Spring Offensive.

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  • Bobby Newson

    Madison Pine
    Collection Technician, Research Support

    Robert Newson, known as Bobby is a beloved member of the Tāmaki Paenga Hira whanau. We sat down with Bobby earlier this year, to chat about his experiences with the New Zealand Army. We share his story in commemoration of Armistice Day, where we come together to remember the service of New Zealanders in war and peacekeeping operations.

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  • September Somme

    Martin Collett and Shaun Higgins
    Collection Manager Documentary Heritage and Curator, Pictorial

    On 15 September 1916 New Zealand soldiers joined the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles of the time. Letters and images from those involved tell us of the horrors.

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  • Passchendaele

    Kristen MacFarlane

    Find out why this major World War One battle took place and how it led to two of New Zealand's greatest tragedies amid dreadful conditions.

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  • Dear Mother this war is a bugger

    Gail Romano
    Associate Curator, History

    When Private Donald Melville Wood Brown wrote home in June 1916, quoting a fellow soldier, he had changed his mind about soldiering. Sadly, his war ended when he was killed in action three months later on the Somme.

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  • Peter Gallacher: Documentarian of D Company

    Victoria Passau
    Collection Manager Online Cenotaph

    We recently interviewed Malayan Emergency Veteran Private Peter Gallacher who served in 10 Platoon D Company 2 New Zealand Regiment. The avid photographer has kindly shared his collection of images taken throughout his Malayan service.

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  • Uncle Bambi and the mystery of the travelling guitar

    Victoria Passau
    Collection Manager, Online Cenotaph

    Many Online Cenotaph staff have had an ongoing fascination with a series of photos of a guitar that have been attached to nearly 150 personnel records. This is the story Peter Utanga's guitar.

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  • Murray Watene

    By Madison Pine
    Collection Technician, Research Support

    "I wasn't a good scholar, but I was a good rugby player" recalls Murray Watene, playing rugby led him to joining and touring with the New Zealand Police rugby team and eventually to joining the New Zealand Defence Force for service in Malaya, Vietnam and Antarctica.

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  • World War Voices

    By Sarah Johnston
    Sound History Researcher (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Rākaipaaka)

    During the Second World War the National Broadcasting Service Mobile Unit recorded interviews and reports about the fighting and the day-to-day business of war, as well as thousands of simple messages home from servicemen – and a few women. Sound History Researcher, Sarah Johnston explores their stories.

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