March to war commemorated

19:23, Jul 31 2014
Tony Rippin
PAST PRESENTED: South Canterbury Museum curator of documentary history Tony Rippin with a 1916 Lee Enfield rifle, a ‘‘Dead Man’s Penny’’ memorial plaque, and a German Pickelhaube helmet.

South Cantabrians' reactions to the outbreak of World War I are at the heart of a new exhibition at the South Canterbury Museum.

The exhibition, 1914: South Canterbury on the Eve of War, will open to the public at 10am on Monday, 100 years to the day since war was declared in Europe.

Curator of documentary history Tony Rippin, said the exhibition begins in pre-war Edwardian New Zealand and aims to capture the South Canterbury public's mood when the war began.

Rippin said he thought contemporary South Cantabrians might be surprised by the initial enthusiasm and relief with which people reacted to the declaration of war.

"The reaction is quite astonishing," Rippin said.

The exhibit discusses the causes of the war and local reactions to it using a variety of collection items, interactive exhibits and written sources.

One highlight is a diary written by a Timaru butchery partner, David Grant, who became a major in the South Canterbury Infantry Regiment.

Rippin said the exhibition was the first of a series to be held over the next four years exploring different aspects of World War I.

Grant's diary and other personal items recently donated to the museum by his descendants, will feature in future exhibitions.


The Timaru Herald