Who was to blame for the sinking of the Marquette?
Thirty-two New Zealand medical staff, including ten nurses, were killed when the troop transport ship SS Marquette was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-boat on 23 October 1915. The Marquette was en route from Alexandria to Salonika, carrying troops of the British 29th Division Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery, along with their equipment and animals. The medical personnel, equipment and stores of the New Zealand No. 1 Stationary Hospital were also on board. Questions were later asked about why a hospital unit was travelling with an ammunition column, which made the ship a legitimate military target.
In this 1965 recording two survivors, Herbert Hyde and Alexander Prentice of the New Zealand Medical Corps, recall the shipwreck and their impressions of why the disaster happened.
At the outbreak of the war, a commonly expressed concern was the need to enlist quickly in case the fighting ended before New Zealand forces could take part in what was widely imagined to be a great adventure. On August 8 1914, just four days after war was declared, the Evening Post newspaper reported that nearly 600 men in Wellington City had already volunteered for war service. George Davies was a schoolboy growing up in the working class Wellington suburb of Newtown. He recalls the enthusiasm to enlist among the men he knew.
The turkey, the eagle, the lion and the dove
'The War Zoo' is the original title of this animated cartoon by the renowned Australian caricaturist Harry Julius. The miserable fez-wearing turkey represents the battered Turkish forces. The ferocious German eagle is approached by the ‘dove of peace’ and the British lion, ‘still the king of all’. Cartoons like this one, screened about 1915, were a direct and light-hearted form of war news and propaganda for the public at home.
Household pets join the forces
Ena Ryan of Wellington was a young girl when war was declared in August 1914, but she vividly recalled the excitement of those days. In this 1985 interview she describes watching the Main Body marching through the streets of Wellington to the departing ships. She noticed that one of the men had a kitten buttoned into his tunic. Once they arrived at the battlefront the men adopted other pets, including dogs, donkeys and goats found in and around battlefields. These animals helped to keep up the mens’ spirits, and some became official mascots.