Showing posts with label Jackson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jackson. Show all posts

4 May 2015

Chunuk Bair ANZAC Diorama finally opens. A first look at the NZ Room

ANZAC Diorama and New Zealand Room finally opened

After many delays and much anticipation the New Zealand Room and the Chunuk Bair Diorama at the Dominion Museum (National War Memorial in Wellington) finally opened its door to the public today.

Opening of "Gallipoli: the New Zealand Story in Colour" (Photo  Mark Tantrum - mark

I was again fortunate enough to share in a behind the scenes look at the New Zealand Room. On Friday night I joined the Campbell clan on a Night at the Museum tour with Rhys Jones. Thank you again Rhys for the wonderful opportunity to see the diorama and the personalised tour you gave us.

Like the rest of the experience, it was just priceless.

The Museum at Night

I will post photos and my impressions on the rest of the exhibition separately, but now the embargo has been lifted; the first look at the NZ Room:

The purpose of this room is to commemorate the New Zealanders' first taste of war, the disastrous WW1 Dardanelles campaign, and specifically the Gallipoli landings, and the attack on Chunuk Bair.

The topography of the terrain was lasercut from actual measurements by Weta Workshop and the terrain and emplacements based on air recce photographs taken in 1915.

Colourised prints of actual WW1 photographs make the distant memories spring to startling life.

The lighting was not yet set up properly when we had our tour. WETA Workshop workers were still installing displays; and my photographs are so-so, anyway, here they are:

Peter Jackson snuck a little cameo of himself into the diorama; Brownie box camera in hand

I have tried to use the historical time-line to explain the battle as seen in the diorama:

The defense of the trenches at Chunuk Bair was the high water mark of the attack, and the diorama depicts the defense of Chunuk Bair on 8-9 August 2015:

The attack, which began on 6 August, was carried out by two columns of the New Zealand Infantry Brigade. They were to meet at Rhododendron Spur and then move up to the summit of Chunuk Bair. It was an ambitious plan that depended on speedy execution.

1. The operation started well – men of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and the Maori Contingent successfully cleared the way for the assault columns. But delays meant that the attack on the summit was ordered before all the infantrymen had reached the Spur.

View North towards the Summit  and Apex from the South (Seaward side on the Map): Rhododendron Ridge and NZ  Mounted Rifles and Maori Contingent

2. The Auckland Battalion assaulted first and failed. The commander of the Wellington Battalion, Malone, refused to sacrifice his men in a daylight attack and insisted on waiting until night. Malone was a tough but respected commander from Taranaki who regularly put himself on the line for the welfare of his men. He allegedly told his superior, Brigadier-General Johnston: ‘We are not taking orders from you people… My men are not going to commit suicide.’

NZ Mounted Rifles holding Rhododendron Ridge

Looking South

Malone's command dugout

Colourised photographs bring the events to life

Auckland Rifles digging in after suffering horrendous casualties

The Assault on the summit meets with stiff opposition. 
 Corporal Cyril Bassett hauling telegraph line up the hill.  Under continuous fire Bassett succeeded in laying a telephone line from the old position to the new one on Chunuk Bair. He received the only Victoria Cross awarded to a New Zealander in the Gallipoli campaign. 

Another Cameo - Auckland Rifles: Rhys Jones pressing home the attack 

Malone closer to the summit. He was killed by Allied shells later in the day

The Wellington Battalion took and occupied the summit before dawn on 8 August. With sunrise came a barrage of fire from Turks holding higher ground to the north. 

3. A desperate struggle to hold Chunuk Bair ensued. It was not until after dark that the Otago Battalion and the Wellington Mounted Rifles arrived to reinforce the 70 Wellington Battalion men (out of 760) who were still holding the line. Malone had been killed by an Allied shell at about 5 p.m.

Thousands of Turks attack the summit next morning

The Wellington Rifles repel wave after wave of Ottoman attackers

 4. The New Zealanders were relieved on the night of 9/10 August by 2 British battalions, but these quickly succumbed to a counter-attack led by Mustafa Kemal, who was to become the founding President of Turkey. (

I am proud to have played a small part in producing this awesome diorama. It is dedicated to the memory of the men who paid the highest price in Gallipoli. Lest we forget.

Rhododendron Ridge today, looking towards the summit

 For more (and better quality pictures) see the Roly Hermans' official blog page: ANZAC DIORAMA

and Fern and Sam's Napalm Elf and Rebel Scum

26 April 2015

ANZAC Remembrance Day: WW100 - Gallipoli a century on

The ANZAC Dawn Service 2015 - A Century on from the Gallipoli Landings: Two Countries Remember

I attended the Wellington ANZAC Day Dawn Parade and Service at Pukeahu National War Memorial, marking a century since the ANZAC Landings at Gallipoli.

Tens of thousands of Kiwis have marked the centenary of the Gallipoli landings at Anzac Day dawn ceremonies around the country; whilst Australia did the same across the Tasman 3 hours later.

It was the first ever dawn service to be held at the newly-opened Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, which was packed beyond capacity, with 40,000 people turning up.

Press photograph ( from the carillion tower

Nearby roads were closed to accommodate them and those determined to get a good view had been camping out on Buckle St since the early hours. My wife and I had booked a hotel room in the CBD to avoid traffic. Trains started running from Kapiti at 3 am. Jeanine and the children went ahead on Friday night. I was on call, and followed by train after 10pm when my call ended.

A 4 am start, getting Luc from Te Aro, and then off to Pukeahu. The streets were packed with people, emerging from their houses and making their way towards the memorial in a quiet, solemn migration.

Arriving at the memorial well before 5am, we could only get as close as the corner of Taranaki and buckle streets. Massive video screens were in place, as was a good PA system, so no-one missed anything. Particularly touching was the images of Wellington war casualties, from WW1 through to Afghanistan, that were shown on the screens while the crowd waited for the 5.30 start.

The start of the event was marked by a blast of the dawn gun. The parade and procession was led by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae who said the day was to "honour and remember all those who have served their country in all wars and, in particular, those who have lost their lives in executing that duty". The Governors-General from Australia and New Zealand both attended to mark 100 years since the combined forces landed at Gallipoli.

Australia's Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove said the Gallipoli landings had forged a special bond between the nations.

"Australians will never forget the gallantry of the New Zealanders. Today we stand side by side, from this dawn to dusk in New Zealand, Australia, and Turkey."

Lieutenant Colonel Ron Turner (retired) read the Ode of Remembrance. The crowed responded, "we will remember them", before observing a minute's silence.

As dawn broke the national anthem of Australia, followed by that of New Zealand, could be heard across the capital.

The Vice-Regal parties then rushed to catch a flight to Canberra, to attend Dawn services there; while members of the audience came forward to place poppies on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Tea and ANZAC biscuits were made available in the Arras tunnel.

We opted to visit the Australian part of the memorial first, then the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. My intention was to then go up to the Dominion museum, still believing that the New Zealand room, where the Chanuk Bair ANZAC diorama is, was to open. I enquired from a guard, who said that the museum would open at 8am.

Red rock symbolising Australia, and Gum trees.

Just to double check I called up Roly's ANZAC diorama website, just to find out that the display was not opening for week, as Peter Jackson was not satisfied with some other  aspects of the experience yet.
I was glad to note Rhys Jones' invitation to have a personal tour before the official opening for those of us who had worked on the project.

I most certainly will take him up on this.

The NZ room is to open officially NEXT Saturday.

From the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior we went down into the Arras tunnel, where we were served Coffee and ANZAC biscuits.

We brushed shoulders with the Acting Prime Minister, Bill English (Minister of Finance) and the Mayor of Wellington with the French Ambassador.

This is one of the great things about New Zealand. How approachable, humble and down-to-earth people are.

Officials and politicians not afraid to have their coffee with the public, and from the same paper cups!


Wellington Regiment drums with battle honours inscribed on them 
(apologies for poor quality pics - poor lighting, and phone camera)

We grabbed breakfast at a nearby cafe, and then headed for Te Papa instead. 

Boy, was I impressed. The "Scale of Our War" exhibit takes you on an emotional journey that cannot leave you untouched. I was very impressed by the three dimensional visual map of the attack on Chanuk Bair, which brought the events to life for me.

(Photos again not great, taken with my phone, and no flash allowed.)

Photos cannot do the journey the exhibition takes you on justice. 
You have to experience it for yourself!

The display included the story of Lt Col William Malone, who was killed by "friendly" fire, probably from a NZ Howitzer and that of Percival Fenwick, a doctor at Gallipoli.

The latter was particularly poignant to me dued to our shared vocation. Interesting for me was that he had served in the Boer Wars, and thus been the enemy of my family's ancestors at some point.

I too had been called up to serve in the  Medical Corps in South Africa , but conscription ended the year that I finished my Internship, and I did not have to go. Most of my school classmates had already served in the armed forces, and several of my school friends paid the highest price.

I reflected on the futility of that particular war, and how useless the sacrifice of their young lives had been, and how they no longer receive the recognition of the country they died for. It probably is the subject of a different post, but I suspect that S. African war dead and veterans no longer get the recognition they deserve.

Not the case in New Zealand.

Lest we forget...

A diorama of the camp at Gallipoli. I am proud to say that the quality the painting on the figures in the ANZAC diorama is better than those in this diorama, presumably made by Weta workshop.

 The exhibition had many hands-on experiences, from firing a periscope rifle through to writing letters to the front, and trying on the headgear of the period. The lemon squeezer hat suited me best.

Original German Machine gun 

The ANZAC equivalent

The Chilling statistics:

...for you, who were our future