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Bull, George Robert, 1910-1996. Signalman W Smith recording a message to be broadcast to New Zealand on the Cassino Front, Italy - Photograph taken by George Bull. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch. Ref: DA-05598-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22702117

Bull, George Robert, 1910-1996. Signalman W Smith recording a message to be broadcast to New Zealand on the Cassino Front, Italy - Photograph taken by George Bull. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch. Ref: DA-05598-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22702117

A brief history of the Mobile Unit recordings

Sarah Johnston

In August 1940,  three New Zealand radio broadcasters set sail on an army troop ship from Wellington. They were bound for Egypt, where the New Zealand armed forces were part of the British Empire’s push to drive the German and Italian armies out of North Africa and the Middle East. With them was a mobile recording van, equipped to capture the voices and sounds of New Zealanders at war on lacquer discs, and send those recordings back for radio broadcasts on the other side of the world.

For the next five years, 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.  The unit also recorded in the Italy campaign and a second Mobile Unit travelled with New Zealanders fighting in the Pacific.

Today, the 1600 surviving Mobile Unit discs form part of the sound archives of Radio New Zealand, held by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Work to digitise the discs and make them available online is on-going. Some of the recordings can be heard online already, while others may be requested via Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision's online catalogue.


About the author

In 2021, Sarah Johnston, recipient of funding from the Judith Binney Trust and Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage New Zealand History Research Fund, commenced work on providing insight into the content and significance of the National Broadcasting Service Mobile Units. 

Online Cenotaph is pleased to be collaborating with Sarah to help match the personnel records with the recordings held in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Read more about the project at worldwarvoices.wordpress.com

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Results

Displaying 1 - 20 of 102 records
PhotoFamily nameFirst namesForceWarsService # 
C20143AgnewAllan Edward ManusArmyWorld War II, 1939-19459105 
C134286AsherFrankArmyWorld War II, 1939-19455748 
149907BarrJames AmbroseArmyWorld War II, 1939-194527752 
117333BeggJonathan SpencerArmyWorld War II, 1939-194527571 
C120048BelkMary HelenArmyWorld War II, 1939-194534967 
147499BellHenry HectorArmyWorld War II, 1939-194523034 
C134539BenningtonLawrenceArmyWorld War II, 1939-19454295 
C38844BourkeAlfred BernardArmyWorld War I, 1914-1918, World War II, 1939-194511/6, 5589 
117594BrothersBenjamin HenryArmyWorld War II, 1939-194534518 
C118015BrownDoris IreneArmyWorld War II, 1939-1945, Regular Military Service1426 
88214BrowneLaurence HamiltonArmyWorld War II, 1939-1945, World War II, 1939-19454444 
117626BuckettIvan DarcyArmyWorld War II, 1939-194527506 
144491BurtCharles JohnArmyWorld War II, 1939-194514021 
C135059CampbellWilliam DonaldArmyWorld War II, 1939-19459376 
C135081CarrollThomas AnthonyArmyWorld War II, 1939-19452134 
117789CaugheyJohn EgertonArmyWorld War II, 1939-194531827 
C40641CobbWalterArmyWorld War I, 1914-1918, World War II, 1939-194511/26, 804515 
C36029CohenKeith John HartogArmyWorld War II, 1939-194523050 
C135340ConwayFranklin GordonArmyWorld War II, 1939-19451038 
89315CooksleyBertie VictorArmyWorld War I, 1914-1918, World War II, 1939-19454/1086a, 72174