Showing posts with label Museum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Museum. 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

13 April 2015

A Second Weekend behind the scenes in the Weta Workshop: ANZACs at Gallipoli - Chanuk Bair

Weekend 2 of the Kapiti Wargames Club's involvement with Peter Jackson's WW100 Project 

Or "How I helped to win the war."

(That subtitle reminds me a bit of the title of a Spike Milligan book I once read...)

But literature aside, I was lucky enough to make my way down to the Weta Workshop to work on the ANZAC Diorama (again) yesterday.

Despairing, as I was supposed to be on call for our surgery, I implore my colleagues for help last week.

Clive and Romain step up, and take over my morning clinic, and the call for the rest of the day.
Yay! Thanks guys, you've allowed me another day of modeling, painting  and wargaming bliss!

Going past Te Papa I couldn't but notice how apt the name of their contribution to the WW100 project was to our miniature efforts. The Scale of  Our War. 

The scale of "our" WW100 is 54 mm or 1:32 !

Some of us realised that we had not got photos of ourselves painting the figures. 
Here I am, starting work on the the Maori contingent.

An (inadvertent) atmospheric shot of Turks making a dawn attack?

So I arrive to find the diorama proper missing. As expected, it had already departed to  (what used to be) the Dominion Museum earlier in the week. The professional team from Weta Workshop was on site there with Rhys and the Perry brothers on hand for guidance.

 I'm sure every one of us would have loved to go to the museum and work on the diorama in its final display position.There was limited space available, and only 4 or 5 of us could go. Bo Patterson waves us goodbye as he departs. Drat!

Anyhow, plenty left to do at the Weta Workshop, and plenty of time, so we get stuck into the job at hand. Varnishing Turks first, then ANZACs. 2 of the team are already in the spray booth at the back of Weta Workshop.

Most of the fugures will probably never be seen close-up again. 
Each one is a work of art in its own right.

Turks ready for the spray booth and the varnish. 
Another unplanned likeness - are they cresting the hill or at the parapet?

Sandbags coming along nicely Bruce and Shaun!

Bruce and Shaun are hard at work spraying and painting sandbags. Alan Perry sends me off to find more spraypaint. Off to Gordon Harris, Wellington's handy dandy artist supply store. Zoom back with the spraycans, and find something to do. Time for a few snaps fist: 

ANZACs at the ready!

Roly and Rhys got their own unique models

As did other contributors to the project

I can still pick out the ANZACs I painted

A small number of British soldiers are also represented in the diorama

Varnish coat being applied in the spraybooth

Roly with the finished products - ready for the diorama !

A phone call from the museum:
Where is the Maori contingent ? What Maori contingent? Roly had painted some figures as Maori, but was told to stop, as it was the wrong figures. We painstakingly  search the hundreds (nay, thousands) of painted figures: We come up with 18 painted figures that will pass as Maori. I pick out a few that will need minimal retouching to look Maori...

 Executive decision. 
No, we'll just build and paint the required 120 figures!

Dig into the last box of unpainted and unbuilt figures. What do we have? NZ Maori ! Someone had returned a number of unpainted and unbuilt figures. Time had run out, and they couldn't finish them.

The well oiled machine springs into action. Soon we have 3 tables humming: building, removing flash and filing, gluing and prepping, base coating and painting the figures destined to become the Maori contingent.

Next thing Rhys arrives with a TVNZ crew. They interview him, Sam and some of the other guys painting at table no 1.

Sam gets interviewed by the TVNZ crew

Filming the action at table no 1.

All too soon it is 5 o'clock! Tools down boys! I tear myself away from the figures I am painting. Oh, the compulsion... I won't be able to come back to finish them tomorrow. Rhys wants to know who will not be back on Sunday. I raise my hand. "Ok, you guys can come on the tour of the museum tonight. The rest can go tomorrow. See you at the pub !"

Outside the museum

Safety briefing and background from the Armchair General. No further photos, 
What an experience NZ has in store for them. Can't wait for it to open.

Kiwi on the balustrade. No other photos inside, sorry.

Night at the museum

In the pub with some of the real-life models for the diorama and their creators.
And some good ale, of course.