Seeing the Sights in Paris
A party of young women show a group of smartly dressed British, Australian, American and New Zealand soldiers the sights of Paris. Insignia on the women’s clothing suggests they are from the Red Cross. In this excerpt, the group walk along a concourse toward the Eiffel Tower. A pan around the party of sightseers shows a smiling, cheerful group. Later on, the group is in front of the Hôtel de Ville, before all climbing into a truck.
When the Armistice was signed in November 1918, there were 56,000 New Zealanders overseas or at sea. Demobilisation was a carefully planned manoeuvre with most troops and nurses returning home during 1919 – though the last New Zealanders did not return home until 1921. Troops were anxious to leave and so, to counter rising tension as soldiers waited to hear when they could go home, activities such as the Inter-Allied Games and sightseeing parties were designed to keep the men occupied.
Tonight at O’Brien’s
Savvy theatre operators were quick to recognise the power of the local when it came to filling the house. Many cinemas employed cameramen to record local events, rapidly processed the films, which were then on the cinema screen within days – and people flocked to see themselves.
In this case O’Brien’s Empire Theatre, Dunedin’s De Luxe Picture House, filmed the 1921 Anzac Day Parade (25 April) and the unveiling of the North East Valley Memorial. By 28 April the Otago Daily Times carried the advertisement “Special Announcement Re Anzac Day. Pictures of the unveiling, the wreaths, the children, the parade of Anzacs, the councillors and the crowds etc would be shown that night at O’Brien’s”.
This was a remarkable achievement when you consider the necessary developing, printing, processing, editing and delivery that had to occur to make these events happen so quickly.
It’s 11 June 1921. In Blenheim, New Zealand the anticipation mounts! Will Dick Arnst defend his world title against challenger Pat Hannan – a champion sculler for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF)?
The race was big news and had been widely reported in local papers. In response a huge crowd gathered on the banks of the Wairau River, near Blenheim to witness Hannan’s challenge. Arnst had first won the world championship in 1908, then he lost it to Ernest Barry in 1912 and retired from sculling in 1915. But he was back on the scene in 1920. The world title reverted to Arnst by forfeit in 1921 and Hannan was the first to challenge. The papers picked a close race. The excitement was building.
Sadly, though, views of much of the action in this film clip of the race have been obliterated by nitrate decomposition. However, a surprising twist at the end of the film is clear – and well worth the wait!
A Hero’s Painful Memories
Bernard “Tiny” Freyberg VC, CMG, DSO ended World War One a highly decorated hero – celebrated in Britain as well as his homeland of New Zealand. He had served with the British forces: his Distinguished Service Order (DSO) was won at Gallipoli, his Victoria Cross (VC) on the Somme and, at the age of 27, he was made the youngest Brigadier-General in the British Army. He would go on to command the 2nd New Zealand Division in World War Two and become Governor-General of New Zealand.
Born in London, he grew up in New Zealand after his family emigrated and he attended Wellington College, in the capital city.
In 1921, still suffering from the many wounds he received during the war, he returned to New Zealand for several weeks to recuperate. He turned down all requests for public appearances and a civic reception, but he did take time to visit his old school and address an assembly of the boys.
One of those schoolboys, Max Riske, vividly recalled the event some 60 years later in a radio interview. As Max explains, the boys were expecting a stirring speech from a glorious war hero – but got something quite different from the man who had lost two brothers and many friends in the war.
Flying over Gallipoli with the RNAS
Most New Zealanders who flew as pilots in World War I went to Britain and joined the Royal Flying Corps. However, Phillip Kenning Fowler from Feilding, took a different path. Making his own way to England in 1916, he joined the Royal Navy and trained to become a pilot in the Royal Naval Air Service. This air-borne division operated under the Admiralty from 1914 to April 1918 when it merged with the R.F.C. and formed the Royal Air Force, or R.A.F.
Fowler was based initially in the Aegean Sea and eastern Mediterranean. Later in the war, he was one of the pilots tasked with trying to bring down German Zeppelin airships over the English Channel, before they could bomb British cities.
In this radio interview recorded in the 1960s, he recalls burning crops destined for Germany and early aerial bombing techniques. which amounted to simply dropping explosives over the side of the plane.
Ask Your Tailor for Anzac Tweed
The factory weaving Anzac Tweed was on the brink of closure when it was taken over by the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League. It then employed only returned servicemen and their families.