Home sought for wartime newspapers

MEGAN MILLER
Last updated 08:44 30/10/2012
blue hogg
MEGAN MILLER/ Fairfax NZ
HISTORY PAGES: Temuka RSA member Blue Hogg examines bound copies of 1940s military newspapers kept through the war years by his friend and fellow veteran, Keith Marshall

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In yellowed pages seven decades old, a collection of historical newspapers holds stories both of a world at war and of a country trying to maintain normality in life at home.

The 1940s-era newspapers were carefully kept and bound into eight volumes by Sergeant Keith Marshall, who served in the 2nd New Zealand Division of the 8th Army in World War II.

Mr Marshall, a lifetime member of the Temuka RSA, died about two years ago, and the newspapers were given to his friend and fellow RSA member, Blue Hogg.

They have been used as resources for the occasional student project and RSA special events, but the RSA has limited space to store them, Mr Hogg said.

Now he is seeking a more permanent home for the historical papers.

"If something happened to me, what would be done with them?" he said.

"I hope that a museum or another organisation would be interested to have them."

The collection includes copies of the United States military publication Stars and Stripes, the weekly British forces paper Crusader, early copies of the RSA Review and many editions of the New Zealand Defence Force Times.

Within the pages are updates on the latest events from theatres of war and international politics - valuable information for troops who often found it very difficult to get news about anything going on outside their own area, Mr Hogg said.

"When you're a soldier in a war, the only bit of the war that you know anything about is the bit where you're at," he said.

There is also the latest news from New Zealand and familiar advertisements - such as several for Timaru beer featuring the characters "Tim" and "Ru" - which must have been a comfort to men and women far from home.

The collection even includes the May 8, 1945, edition of the Otago Daily Times, which announced, at long last, Victory in Europe, on a front page emblazoned with large photos of Franklin D Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, King George VI and Winston Churchill.

But tucked away inside the pages, too, are more personal stories that bring the war home.

In a letter to his family in Timaru, published in the February 8, 1943, edition of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Times, Sergeant A R Brown described how he and other Royal Air Force personnel, taken prisoner after being shot down at sea, overwhelmed the Italian crew on a transport airplane and flew themselves to safety in Malta.

At Malta they were met by a squadron of Spitfires and fell under friendly fire, he wrote. "That, I think, was our worst moment. There is not much more to tell you, except that we have given the island something to talk about."

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Other pages are filled with photographs and descriptions of men gone missing, published by families still hoping for answers about their loved ones.

In one, the mother of Private L A (Len) Verdon asked anyone with information about her son to contact her at 15 Bank St, Timaru.

He was a member of the 23rd Rifle Battalion and had been reported missing several years earlier, in June 1941, from Crete.

Taken together, the newspapers give a wider picture of life during the war, both for those in service and for those trying to carry on at home. Mr Hogg would like to hear from any organisation interested in keeping and preserving the newspapers for their historical value.

For more information, phone the Temuka RSA, 03 615 7663.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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