Southern military history

The other side of wartime stories ...

The initial Anzac Day commemorations were "a man's do" in the late 1920s and early 1930s, recalls 86-year-old former WAAC Doreen Heffernan.

From Gallipoli: Fred Rogers

'It's pretty tough up there'

Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers makes a gentlemanly apology for the tremor in his voice when he talks about the Gallipoli landing.

Cow first victim of exploding bullet

The messy demise of a cow in Invercargill's Thompsons Bush had significant implications for both world wars.

Beyond the pale

Gore's Edmund Bowler was the whistleblower the military never forgave.

WWI air ace 'daring, skilful leader'

Ronald Bannerman, of Gore, was a World War I air ace who recorded 17 kills – 16 German aircraft and a balloon.

Sharp eyes helped air ace take on Nazis


It happened in the space of a single minute. Eight German fighter pilots, flying over France on August 9, 1943, had been paying attention to what was around and below them.

Southlanders were set to fight the Russians

2010 marks 150 years since the formation of the first militia units, the forerunners of the army, navy and air force, in Southland and Otago. We take a look back at the southern experiences.

Diack's priorities clearly in order despite royalty

A man doesn't want to seem ungrateful, and Arthur Diack wasn't, but after the Prince of Wales pinned his Military Medal on to his chest, he found himself in a bit of a predicament.

Wartime experiences

"Call yourself the cream of New Zealand?" barked the sergeant major. "Good God, I wouldn't like to taste the milk!"

The fine art of thuggery

To the headhunters of Borneo, in 1943, Southland soldier George Edlin was a real puzzle.

The great escape

Late autumn, 1943, two German officers, a young Frenchman and a silent Southlander shared a dining table on a train bound for Toulouse in occupied France. It was a polite, not unfriendly, but exquisitely dangerous meal.

Father and Old Man remember Vietnam

Neil Hogan they called Father. Even back then he'd fuss over the others a bit.

Stars of the war, and the big screen

Peter King invaded German-occupied France in World War 2.

More than a man of steel

Irwin Gillies did memorable things with metal, when he turned it to his will.

Reporting back

Geoffrey Cox was an intrepid reporter at the start of World War 2, sneaking into a Hitler Youth camp for an insider's view, and later getting thumped by Brown Shirts, on their way to one of the infamous Nuremberg Rallies, for keeping hands in his pockets when all around him were returning Nazi salutes.

'Who'll come with me?'

How stroppy colonial disrespect brought the highest honour

Jack Hinton had had enough of this retreating malarky. It was April 1941 and in military terms the Greek campaign was already lost.

A trip down memory lane

Jeremy Robinson talked to Invercargill man Stuart Craig and Bluff's Ronnie Beaton after their commemorative trip back to South Korea to see how the country compared with the battle-zone they once knew.

Time for training

Compulsory Military Training: a time when New Zealand's ardent young men were required to do some soldiering. Southlander Leo Ward reflects on the experience.

War Crimes Tribunal testimony recalled

Sergeant Pilot Jim MacIntosh was caught up in the capitulation of Java and taken prisoner by the Japanese. In 1946 he testified at the War Crimes Tribunal about the way he and other prisoners of war were treated. This is his account.

Making things work

Jack Pritchard is not the classic war hero, yet his modification to the field telephone was adopted by most Allied forces in North Africa in World War 2. Jared Morgan spoke to the Riverton man and found heroes often go unsung.

Voices from the past tell their stories

 "I suppose the poor (German) devils who ran away would tell their cobbers we were savages," Lance Corporal Charles Kerse, from Gore, wrote after the capture of Circus Trench.

Inconspicuous memories

When he saw the Christmas tree, outside on a cold Glenorchy day, Gilbert John McMeeking turned to his two young daughters in a state of distress that shocked them.

Brothers in arms

How many times can a heart break?

Stark and Spencer

James Douglas Stark was the sort of soldier who seemed at equal risk of Victoria Cross or a firing squad.

Fine and dandy

The main body of Southlanders to head to the Boer War were in a contingent known, pleasingly to modern ears, as the Rough Riders. Time has subverted the dashing and rakish connotations of the other popular nickname – the Dandy Forth.

Dick Travis' exploits

Dick Travis

One-time Southlander Dick Travis was a capable killer, at home on the battlefields of World War 1. Read any account of his war history and the anecdotal evidence suggests he was the archetypal strong and silent Southlander who got on with the job.
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