Features of interest:

This page will feature items of interest supplied by members covering the complete range of content related to our military history. If you are a member and have material suitable for inclusion please contact the Secretary.

Victory Medal Touring exhibition in Europe

For the past two years Victory Medal, commemorative sculpture has been touring to Provincial Museums throughout New Zealand. 

Like the young New Zealand soldiers a century ago, Victory Medal has now crossed the sea and the countryside of France for installations in three Battlefield towns over the next two years.


Arras  2 – 13 April

Last week it was unloaded at Arras for installation early April, in the Place des Heroes for the centenary of the Battle of Arras events, and commemorating the New Zealand Tunnelling Company in Arras in 1917.

The installation in Arras is described as a ‘participatory’ exhibition. It will be joined by large poppies designed by Tony McNeight which will be signed and laid around the sculpture to become the Coquelicot de Paix


Messines Ridge in Belgium June 2017 - February 8 2018 

Victory Medal in the Town Square to commemorate the Centenaries of the New Zealand Division involvement in the Battle of Messines, June 7 onwards.


Other dates of importance to New Zealand at this time.

La Basse Ville, July 2017,

Passchendaele, October 2017 

Polderhoek, December 2017 and the final withdrawal of the New Zealanders from Belgium February 1918.


Le Quesnoy: November 4 2018 

A permanent installation of Victory Medal to commemorate the New Zealanders liberation of Le Quesnoy, in front of the proposed New Zealand Memorial Museum.

 Like 12,500 young New Zealanders in WW1, Victory Medal will lie forever in Europe.

 The Victory Medal Tour has received funding from New Zealand Lotteries and the New Zealand France Friendship Fund.

In association with the New Zealand Military Historical Society.


Helen Pollock – Sculptor                                                                               




1845-46 Northern War - NZ Land Wars

Tasmania, stands an imposing memorial to the 1840s New Zealand Wars.

One side of the memorial reveals the following inscription:

This Pillar
Was erected by the Voluntary Subscription
of the Officers
Non Commd. Officers and Privates
of the 99th Regiment
to perpetuate the Memory of these brave Men
of that Regiment who fell
in record the names of
in the Service of their Queen and Country
during the Campaigns in New Zealand
in the Years 1845 and 1846.

Find out more about this fascinating, and little known, aspect of the NZ Land Wars (Northern War) - click HERE to read the full article.

Standard Campaign Medals of WW1

The British War Medal was awarded to all officers and other ranks of British and Imperial forces who had served for a prescribed period during any stage of the war, or who had died on active service before the completion of this period.

The medal is a silver or bronze disk, 36mm in diameter, with a straight clasp suspender without swivel.

The medal was designed by W. McMillan and struck by the Royal Mint. The recipient's name, rank, service number and unit are impressed on the bottom edge of the medal. On medals awarded to Army officers, with the exception of the Royal Artillery, the name of the regiment or corps was omitted.





The Victory Medal was awarded to the forces of Britain and its then colonies and dominions (e.g. Canada, Australia, New Zealand). The basic design and ribbon was also adopted by Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Romania, Siam, Union of South Africa and the USA in accordance with the decision of the Inter-Allied Peace Conference at Versailles.

The dates of the war were in every case 1914 to 1918, except that of the British Empire, which gave the dates as illustrated (1914 to 1919).

The medal was issued to all those who received the 1914 Star or the 1914–15 Star, and to most of those who were awarded the British War Medal - it was never awarded singly.

The 1914–15 Star was instituted in December 1918 and was awarded to officers and men of British and Imperial forces who served against the Central European Powers in any theatre of the Great War between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915.

The period of eligibility was prior to the introduction of the Military Service Act 1916, which instituted conscription in Britain.

To be eligible for the award of the medal, a member must have served on the establishment of a unit in a theatre of war during the relevant dates of operations in that theatre.

No clasp or bar to the medal was approved.




Rare Disappearing Gun Barrel recovered


The recovery of a  rare historic artillery gun barrel buried for the best part of 90 years on  the Miramar Peninsula in Wellington epitomised inter-agency cooperation and ingenuity.


“Ultimately it was a rewarding experience that provided all with a unique hands-on encounter with NZ’s military heritage,” explains Warrant Officer Class One Roger Middleton who coordinated the recovery and engineering aspects of the task.

The barrel is that of the 8 inch Armstrong “disappearing” coastal defence gun that was emplaced at Fort Gordon as part of NZ’s coastal defence network during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The disappearing guns were designed to recoil downwards into a protected pit after firing. This allowed them to be reloaded out the view of enemy vessels.

According to records the gun was first proof fired in place in 1895. The gun was capable of firing 95 kg projectiles out to a range of 6 km and the barrel alone weighed in at 13.5 tonnes.

The partially exposed barrel was discovered by DOC staff in March 2012. However, whether it was an artillery barrel or just part of an old water pipe did not become clear until it had been inspected by HQ NZDF heritage advisor, Matthew Buck. A site reconnaissance in Jun 2012 concluded that the recovery of the barrel was feasible. The barrel was found lying down a steep slope which was overgrown with vegetation. This, coupled with the historic and cultural significance of the barrel and surrounding area, ruled out the use of heavy cranes or earthmovers to recover it.

The Directorate of Land Equipment (DLE) in Trentham was tasked with investigating methods of lifting the barrel and the design and fabrication of a mobility cradle to minimise damage to the environment and the barrel.  A system incorporating steel beams coupled to NZLAV air jacks powered by Karcher Kitchen compressors was the preferred option for controlled and accurate lifting. DLE’s design engineer, Mr Ollie Smith’s final design calculations created the British Artillery Recovery Trolley (BART) which once positioned under the barrel would effectively turn the combination into a rigid trailer. DLE workshop tradesmen then fabricated the beams and the trolley.

HQ NZDF staff obtained the necessary resource, iwi and heritage consents and also engaged civilian archaeology providers to excavate the barrel and accompanying artefacts by hand.

During the last week of March personnel from HQ NZDF, 2 Workshop Coy, 2 Engineer Regiment and Logistics Command (Land) teamed up with archaeologists from DOC and the Historic Places Trust to tackle what would be a considerable task. A detailed site safety plan was explained to all participants and the task was discussed in stages to enable everyone to focus on their particular areas of expertise.

Once foliage was cleared by chainsaw, an initial hand excavation led by Andy Dodd of Subsurface Limited was conducted. This produced several artefacts such as primer caps and golf-ball sized steel canister projectiles. Next WO2 John Flintoft and a small hire excavator were winched down the slope to dig out the majority of the earth surrounding the barrel. This was a painstaking process where extreme care was exercised to avoid damage to the barrel and all spoil was examined for further artefacts.

Following this footings were prepared for the jacking system and  the recovery team began lifting operations  with the barrel beginning to inch skyward from its 90-year resting place. This was a slow and tedious process taking over a day as the gradient, gravity and the laws of physics would only allow small bites to be safely achieved. The cradle was eventually manoeuvred underneath the barrel and the barrel was secured off the ground.  Corporal Trevor Kreegher and Private Johno Bollmann were now responsible for the winching of the barrel and cradle up the steep slope. This was achieved using the M1089 recovery vehicle, an indirect recovery layout and conveniently located trees as anchors.

With the barrel on level ground the jacking system again came to the fore to allow the fitting of wheels to “BART” and the combination was then carefully towed to a hard standing area by the M1089. From the hard standing the cradle was loaded onto the recovery trailer for one final journey.

Several open mouths and turned heads were observed at the sight of the barrel being transported down the tight coastal road through Shelley Bay to Rongotai. The barrel was unloaded from the trailer on the premises of The Vintage Aviator Limited. The company is owned by Sir Peter Jackson and specialises in the restoration of vintage militaria. It is planned that the barrel will be restored after a conservation plan is drafted. The ultimate location of the barrel is still to be finalised.

Both the military and civilian personnel involved with the task maintained an enthusiastic attitude throughout the week despite delays beyond their control and some very long days which at times stretched into darkness. The successful task epitomised inter-agency cooperation and ingenuity. Ultimately it was a rewarding experience that provided all with a unique hands-on encounter with NZ’s military heritage.


Text by WO1 Roger Middleton, images by Mr Bruce Fraser.

Article used with permission of Army News







Tawhiti Museum – Hawera - Taranaki


This fascinating private museum is the creation of Nigel Ogle and his team at Tawhiti just a short distance from Hawera in South Taranaki.

It covers a huge range of Taranaki history from the whalers and early settlers and the impact of the New Zealand Wars, through the social and rural history of Taranaki to modern day machinery and vehicles.

While the modern history is represented by real artefacts, buildings, equipment and vehicles (including a chapter of the NZ Military Vehicle Collectors Club trucks on site), the more distant parts of local history are recreated through both life-size and minutre models, dioramas and figurines.

Of particular interest are the major displays of the Taranaki Wars and the Armed Constabulary camp and redoubt reconstructions. These contain recovered artefacts, uniform and weapon displays as well as biographies and stories of the people and places on both sides that played a part in the conflict.

Below is a small selection of images that capture some of the incredible model work Nogel as created.

The museum also contains a 'Traders and Whalers' boat tour through a wonderfully recreated life-size coastal community of the 1820's complete with audio and visual effects as everyday life in the early days of trading is portrayed. See www.tradersandwhalers.co.nz for more.

This fabulous museum is well worth the short side-trip in south Taranaki if you are passing and is jam-packed full of the history - much of it by necessity military - of the region.

Highly recommended.


Jeff A