Shellal Mosaic : Fragments of Middle Eastern History at the Hocken

Friday, April 22nd, 2016 | Anna Blackman | 3 Comments

Post researched and written by Dr Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs.

Housed in the Hocken Photographs Collection is an album compiled by a World War I soldier, Francis Leddingham McFarlane (1888-1948) from Dunedin, who occupied a short-lived but significant place in the long history of the Shellal Mosaic.

Sapper McFarlane of the New Zealand Wireless Troop was serving in Palestine in April 1917, when fellow ANZAC soldiers near Shellal stumbled across pieces of this sixth century mosaic.  The chance discovery was made during the second battle of Gaza on the floor of a captured Turkish machine gun outpost, located on a small hill overlooking the cross roads of what would once have been the main road between Egypt and Jerusalem.[i]

The soldiers reported their find to Senior Chaplain, Rev. W. Maitland Woods, who had a keen interest in archaeology and made a habit of entertaining the troops with stories about the Holy Lands where they were based.[ii]  Rev. Maitland sought professional advice from curators at the Cairo Museum and gained permission to organise a group of volunteers to uncover and remove the remains.[iii]  Sapper McFarlane was given the job of drawing what they uncovered (fig. 1).[iv]

Figure 1. The sketcher at work. P1993-024-012c

Album 213 includes three photographs showing sections of the Shellal Mosaic in situ (figs 2, 3 and 4), as well as a photograph of the sketcher at work and his completed drawing of the whole carpet-style design (fig. 5).

S16-070c P1993_024_012a

Figure 2. Mosaic floor discovered at Shellel. P1993-024-012a

S16-070h P1993_024_013a

Figure 3. Inscription and portion of border. P1993-024-013a

S16-070i P1993_024_013b

Figure 4. One of the circular designs. P1993-024-013b

A colour lithograph of McFarlane’s drawing was subsequently published in Cairo but, like the photograph, does not do full justice to the subtle hues.  An example of the lithograph can also be found at the Hocken, housed in the Ephemera Collection (fig.6).

MosaicSidebySide

Figure 5. Photograph of drawing of mosaic fragments. P1993-024-011a. Figure 6. Lithograph of mosaic found at Shellal, South Palestine on 23rd April 1917. Hocken Posters collection acc no. 816608.

The full significance of Sapper McFarlane’s drawing is explained in a booklet, written by A.D. Trendall and published by the Australian War Memorial Museum in 1942, some decades after the mosaic was handed over to the Australian government in 1918. Trendall relates how a second drawing, made by Captain M.S. Briggs six weeks later, reveals that during the interim, portions of the mosaic went missing.  Other soldiers probably took away pieces of the peacock and border in the lower right corner in particular as souvenirs and these proved impossible to recover.  Fortunately 8,000 tesserae survived from the top inscription written in Greek; enough to learn that the mosaic once decorated a church dating to A.D.561-2 and honoured a bishop and a priest called George.  Anyone wanting to learn the whole story plus an analysis of the imagery, technique and style, can read Trentham’s booklet, a later edition of which is housed with the album at the Hocken.

Frank McFarlane went on to serve as a war artist in the Middle East and continued to paint and draw after returning to civilian life. Other photographs in album 213 (all now available online via Hakena) help document McFarlane’s time during World War I in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq).  These include a view of the Arch of Ctesiphon near Baghdad (fig. 7) and a soldier operating a pack set wireless in the field (fig. 8).  A sketchbook in the Hocken Pictorial Collections dates to the 1930s when McFarlane worked as a postmaster at Lawrence in Central Otago.  It includes pencil portraits of local people in Lawrence and remnants of the gold-mining days.

Figure 7. Arch of Ctesiphon near Baghdad. P1993-024-005a

S16-076f P1993_024_022b

Figure 8. Pack set wireless in the field, Mesopotamia. P1993-024-022b

Frank McFarlane married Bessie King and together they had two daughters who became professional painters with work also represented at the Hocken that reflects a shared interest in vestiges of the past.  Their paintings are not currently available online for copyright reasons but Heather McFarlane (1925-2011) married New Zealand diplomat, Sir Laurie Francis and a loose photograph in the back of album 213 shows her viewing the Shellal Mosaic on display at the Australian War Memorial Museum in 1965.  A drawing by Shona McFarlane-Highett (1929-2001) entitled ‘Dunedin-Palmyra’ (1965) depicts a quarter of the city that was once inhabited by Assyrians. A photograph in the Dunedin Public Library Collection at the Hocken (P1990-015/49-264) shows a similar row of houses, presumably named after the Syrian city of Palmyra and since demolished.

S16-037e P1990_015_49_0264

Figure 9 Palmyra before demolition, 1971. P1990-015-49-0264

These days the Shellal Mosaic is internationally recognised as one of the finest sixth-century mosaics in existence and as we prepare to welcome more Syrian refugees to the city, it may be a comfort for them to know that the Hocken also preserves some memories and material of relevance to that part of the world.

 

[i] A.D. Trendall, The Shellel Mosaic and Other Classical Antiquities in the Australian War Memorial Canberra, Canberra, 1964, p.9.

[ii] General Sir Harry Chauvel, ‘Foreword’ in The Shellel Mosaic and Other Classical Antiquities in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1964.

[iii] Trendall, p.9.

[iv] Ibid.

Busy lead-up to ANZAC Day

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post prepared by Dr Anna Petersen, Assistant Curator of Photographs

Hocken Album 512 has seen a busy time these past few weeks with University of Otago Art History students opting to study it for an assignment and images copied for an exhibition at Fraser Island in Australia to commemorate the part the hospital ship ‘Maheno’ and its crew played in World War One.

The album first became available to the public in 2001 when it was purchased for the Hocken Photographs Collection at a local auction.  Some years later, Sandy Callister featured whole pages from it in her book The Face of War: New Zealand Great War Photography, Auckland University Press, 2008, partly singling it out from the many war albums dominated by images from the Gallipoli Campaign because of the excellent quality of the images.  Callister also found the content and arrangement of the photographs revealing in her quest to uncover the public understanding of the sacrificial cost of the war.

The four different pages shown below include rare snapshots of life on board the HS Maheno, glimpses of people from other countries who toiled to provide coal for the mighty, steam-powered ship as it traveled to the other side of the world, and images of soldiers at ANZAC Cove.

S15-108a

S15-108a P2001-009/2 Page 8

 

S15-118a   P2001-009 Page 15

S15-118a P2001-009/2 Page 15

 

S15-118b   P2001-009 Page 17

S15-118b P2001-009/2 Page 17

 

S15-118c   P2001-009 Page 19

S15-118c P2001-009/2 Page 19

 

No supplementary information came with the album regarding its creator or provenance but clues contained within it have led researchers to conclude it was most likely compiled from photographs taken by Lieutenant Howard Beecham Pattrick (1884-1962).  Pattrick first enlisted as a medic in 1915 when living as a student at Knox College, Dunedin.  He later became part of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and suffered a serious wound on the Western Front in 1917.  According to the Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (p.251)

During operations lasting several days, he displayed conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  On one occasion he was blown up by a shell and badly shaken, but he declined to retire, and carried on with his men.  When all the officers had become casualties, he took command of the company, and it was largely owing to his fine and resolute leadership that the objective was quickly reached.  He set a splendid example to his men.

Pattrick was awarded the Military Cross in August 1918 for the acts described above, and was finally discharged from service on 25 November 1919.

Album 512 is available to patrons upstairs in the Pictorial Collections Reading Room under the accession number P2001-009/2.

The musical heritage of war.

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wait till the clouds go by (2)Post researched and written by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian Music and Audio Visual

Music touches our lives in many ways, and often stays with communities and individuals for decades, even centuries after it was first written.  Sadly, this is not often the case with music written for, and around, The Great War of 1914-1918 (WWI). While British songs like “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” are still used frequently in film and television, and are in the public consciousness, many songs (both international and closer to home) have been forgotten. NZ written songs like “Call of the Southern Men”, “Haere Tonu” and “Thoughts” have disappeared from public and individual knowledge, but we are lucky sheet music has survived in collections both private and institutional. The Hocken Collections’ interesting WWI music sheets have been recently used for research, and are another way to view the narrative of war.

 

Many of the titles have been digitised, and are available to view and from Otago University’s OUR Heritage site http://otago.ourheritage.ac.nz/collections/show/60. More will be added in due course.

We have very little contextual information around some of these songs. Papers Past gives some information about the songs’ background and early performances. Some composer/lyricist information can sometimes be gleaned from military records if they served in the military. For example, the lyrics of Hampton Wood’s (H.W. Taman) “Keep On Keepin’ On”, subtitled “John Bull’s Advice for Those Who Can’t Go to the Front” suggest ways to help the war effort other than enlisting. Proceeds from sales went to the War Relief Fund, and the Prime Minister (William Massey) expressed the Government’s gratitude.

March of the Anzacs

Known as ‘The ‘March King of the Antipodes’, Alex Lithgow wrote “March of the ANZACs”. Lithgow was born in Scotland, lived in Launceston, Australia, but spent about 20 years in New Zealand, primarily in Invercargill. “March of the Anzacs” was an upbeat, sprightly march, no doubt intending to inspire a patriotic swell of pride in the hearts of all who heard it. The lithographed cover illustrates the troops landing at Kabatepe (although the actual landing occurred further north at Ari Burnu), and presents an early image of the ANZAC troops.

Haere Tonu (2)

Another treasure is “Haere Tonu: Maori War Song” by R.A. Horne and Ernest Hoben. The Press quoted the Christchurch Star’s view that the composition had caught the “true spirit and atmosphere of the haka”. The composer was the store manager of The Bristol Piano Company in Christchurch, and his advertisement prompted residents to call in to the store, where the song would be played for them. The lyrics (in both English and Maori) inspire patriotism, and encourage enlisting in the Expeditionary Forces, and looked to past Maori wars, as well as the current world war. “Haere Tonu” also had resurgence in the Second World War, associated with the 28th Maori Battalion.

Thoughts (2)“Thoughts: Dedicated to all who whose loved one have suffered in the war” by R.S Black, and A.H. Banwell was published in 1919, and is the opposite of the optimistic, militaristic, patriotic attitude that most WWI music presented. Banwell was a returning soldier, who served as Lance Corporal in Gallipoli, and Sergeant in Cairo, before being discharged in August 1915, diagnosed with neurasthenia. He returned to New Zealand and deserted from Trentham in 1918, and was court marshalled in 1920.The lyrics by Black were possibly influenced by Banwell’s wartime experiences. “Thoughts” is very bleak in tone, presenting a darker view of life in the midst of war.

When memory’s merely a tragedy sad

And life a “procession of years”…

Then naught seems left to the sore-stricken soul

But a bed in the cold, cold ground

The proceeds of the sale of Thoughts went to the Returned Soldiers Club in Dunedin.

 

Australian and British WWI-related sheet music also feature in collections. One Australian war song in particular is directed at women. “Mother of Men: Dedicated to the Mothers of the men of the Expeditionary Forces” by Tom Armstrong was straightforward in message, the song leaning heavily on the image of the soldier’s close relationship with his mother. Similarly, the British “Somewhere in France, Dear Mother”, written in 1915 by Arthur Leclerq and Jack O’Connor was another wartime song that gained longevity. A patriotic song designed to rally the masses, the song highlighted sentimentality and national pride, again focussing on maternal pride and love.

A mother in tears it’s the first time she hears

From her boy who is fighting in the war

Still full of pride she dries her eye

And soon forgets her pain

 

Your king and country want you (2)Another British song from the era that addresses women in a non-romanticised way is 1914’s “Your King and Country Want you: A Woman’s Recruiting Song” by Paul A. Rubens. This was a successful attempt to persuade more men to enlist for war, from the voice of a proud woman. Vocalist Vestra Tilley would perform the song at recruitment rallies, and men who failed to enlist at the end of the rally were given white feathers, symbolising cowardice, by children especially chosen for the task. Profits from the sale of 1914’s “Your King and Country Want You” went to Queen Mary’s Work for Women fund.

 

Amanda Mills

Centenary of declaration of the Great War in Europe

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

George Malcolm Thomson was MP for Dunedin North from 1908-1914. At the time war was declared Thomson was in Wellington as Parliament was sitting. He was in the habit of writing a diary entry most days, recording a mix of parliamentary activity, letter writing and family news.

What follows are extracts from his 1914 diary, along with snaps of the original text.

Monday – Augt. 3rd

The declaration of war by Germany on France and Russia was the engrossing topic of conversation today. I spent the day in the library at the Education Bill. Prof. Prince came to tea with me, & and later we went together to the Town Hall & heard a delightful recitation by Mr. Watson on “Nicolas Nickleby”. Letter from Grandma

3aug

Tuesday – Augt. 4th

Education Committee met this morning, and Bishop Cleary was cross-examined by Canon Garland and Prof. Hunter. In the afternoon the House sat till 5 o’clock, & after getting through some work adjourned till 2.30pm tomorrow.

The atmosphere was electrical, party distinctions seemed to completely disappear, and the expected news came through at night that the Germans had violated Belgium territory & the British Army was mobilising, which amounted to a declaration of War. It is the beginning of the most appalling struggle known in the history of the world. Wrote John.

4aug

Wednesday – Augt. 5th

Letters from Stuart & John. Education sat again in the forenoon. In the afternoon we adjourned the House for an hour, & at 3 p.m. from the library entrance the Governor announced to a crowd of 3-4000 that the Empire had declared war against Germany. The House then adjourned till tomorrow. I went out to tea with Gertie and then wrote to Malcolm & Stuart. Earthquake shock at 9.30 p.m.

5aug

 

All images are from George Malcolm Thomson’s diary 23 May 1914-30 October 1916  (AG-926/004). The Hocken holds Thomson’s papers

For further information on George Malcolm Thomson see the Dictionary of NZ Biography entry on him from this link>http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/biographies/2t40/thomson-george-malcolm

Llewellyn Henry Norman Beaumont (1892-1963)

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Llewellyn Beaumont was raised in Dunedin and served in both WW1 (in artillery units at Gallipoli and the Western Front in France) and WW2 (commanding coastal artillery at Taiaroa Heads). As a civilian Llewellyn worked in the wool industry, starting out as a wool classer and eventually working for David Reid and Co. as head of the wool department.

In 2002 Llewellyn’s son Matheson Beaumont donated several items relating to his father to the Hocken Collections.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Matheson at a community day recently held at Otago Boys High School. The day was organised as part of the filming of a television documentary series called “Tony Robinson’s Tour of Duty” about the experiences of New Zealanders and Australians during war time. My role was simply to safely transport two items from the Hocken Collections and back again.

Tour of duty 005

Tony Robinson interviewing Matheson Beaumont about Llewllyn Beaumont.

At the community day Matheson was interviewed by NZ historian Damien Fenton, and by Tony Robinson himself about the items – a postcard written on a piece of wood from Gallipoli and a piece of “trench art” – a tobacco jar made from brass bullets and shell cases in France and dedicated to Llewellyn’s father, Captain Norman Beaumont back home in NZ.

MiiscMS1787a

Tobacco jar and wooden “post card”. Hocken Collections Misc-MS-1787.

Both items are evocative of the wartime – the postcard on wood sent from Gallipoli because they couldn’t get paper to write on. The tobacco jar is more decorative and includes bullets representing several nationalities, including German, and a NZ artillery badge.

The postcard is addressed to Llewellyn’s sister, Con[stance] and has a positive tone although obviously he was making do with whatever he could find. Given that we know life for NZ soldiers at Gallipoli was hard perhaps he was being positive to save his family worry.

The post card reads

May 8th 1915

My Dear Con

Paper scarcer than ever.

Received news-papers but no letters lately. Paper appreciated very much.

Receiving very little news of what is going on.

Keeping in splendid health & enjoying life thoroughly.

Fondest love to all. Your afect[affecionate] brother

L Beaumont

 

The good ship Maheno, an ANZAC hero

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012 | Anna Blackman | 4 Comments

This wonderful image is a photograph of the ship Maheno, which served at Gallipoli as well as elsewhere in the Mediterranean during the First World War.  Along with sister hospital ship Marama, it transported over 47,000 wounded soldiers to safety. For the winter months of 2012 the Hocken Library is using this image to promote the current exhibition – Ship Shape – an exhibition based on the idea of “portraits” of ships.
Maheno in her building berth, 1905, Cameron Family Papers MS-1046/422
Maheno was built by William Denny and Brothers at Dumbarton, Scotland but Dunedin was its home.   Joining the Union Steam Ship Company’s fleet in 1905, the Maheno was the first turbine-powered ship to work the Trans-Tasman route.  The vessel had a strong link with the University of Otago as well since the Ministry of Defence offered the institution surplus money from the Hospital Ships’ Fund to build a hall for the military training of medical students in 1919.  Maheno and Marama Hall (as it was originally called) was completed in 1923 and is now occupied by the Department of Music.  A roll of honour in the foyer lists medical staff who served on the ships.
Maheno’s elegant profile was much admired, as were its comfortable and beautiful interiors. Original photographs of the ship from the Hocken Archives Collection are currently on show as part of the exhibition:
For more information about the exhibition, follow this link Ship Shape
 
Blog post prepared by Assistant Curator of Photographs, Anna Petersen, with David Murray, Acting Arrangement and Description Archivist.

Soldiers, ships and the ‘Waimana scandal’

Friday, February 10th, 2012 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Among the treasures in a box of odd bits and pieces discovered during one of the Hocken’s building manoeuvres is this 1919 blueprint of the TSS Waimana, showing “accommodation for Australian families”. We don’t know the provenance of this plan, but a little research on the wonderful Papers Past website revealed its link to an event labelled by newspapers “the Waimana scandal”.
The blueprint, MS-3755
The Waimana, a twin-screw ship, was built in Belfast in 1911 for Shaw, Savill and Albion, to carry immigrants and cargo on the New Zealand run. In 1914 the Waimana took on a new role as troopship, for which she was “altered out of recognition”. She was one of the largest of the steamers that departed New Zealand in October 1914 with the main body of New Zealand Expeditionary Force troops. After a rapid conversion, the Waimana could carry around 1500 men, 62 officers and 500 horses. Through the war, the ship returned to its more usual duties, transporting cargo to and from Britain, but in 1919 troopships were again needed. In June 1919 the Waimana arrived in Auckland with 1675 returning soldiers, whose “behaviour during the voyage was excellent”.
Troopships were not renowned for their comfort, but soldiers generally tolerated some degree of privation without too much complaint. When it came to their wives and children, though, they had higher expectations. In October 1919 the Waimana was fitted out, as per our blueprint, to carry a group of 500 or so returning Australian servicemen from London, together with 400 women and 100 children under three. As soon as the passengers arrived, complaints began about overcrowding and inadequate facilities and supplies. The final straw for some may have come when one of the many babies aboard had its toe bitten by one of the ship’s large complement of rats. The military hierarchy agreed that the complaints were justified and the passengers disembarked while better transport was sorted out.
The origins of the blueprint remain a mystery – perhaps somebody kept it as an example of how not to fit out a steamer for families on long haul voyages.
Blog post prepared by Ali Clarke, Reference Assistant
Waimana at the Cross Wharf, Dunedin, 1922. Otago Harbour Board collection, S04-167a

Soldiers diaries and letters

Thursday, April 21st, 2011 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Behind the downstairs reference desk at the Hocken are some shelves where each week’s newly acquired books are kept for staff to familiarise themselves with what is newly published. In the lead up to Anzac Day each year there are often books relating to New Zealand’s experience of war, and in particular the First and Second World Wars. The stand out book on the shelf last week was Glyn Harper’s latest, Letters from Gallipoli : New Zealand Soldiers Write Home. Professor Harper has collected together and edited the letters of many soldiers to tell the story of Gallipoli in a kind of collective first person account.

Letters from Gallipoli includes letters that are held at the Hocken Collections. We are grateful to many Otago soldier’s letters and diaries which have been generously donated by families. We would welcome further donations of soldier’s papers and photographs, not just relating to the First and Second World Wars but all wars that New Zealanders have experienced. These kinds of papers are the primary sources for books such as Professor Harper’s, and they are also regularly used by University of Otago students for their studies. Apart from post-grads researching and writing theses, Professor Tom Brooking’s HIST 105 paper focuses on the ANZAC’s and their legacy, students of this paper make intensive use of some of the soldier’s papers cared for at the Hocken.

A selection of soldiers papers from the Hocken Collections

To hear more about Professor Harper’s research and the book listen to Radio NZ online
2009 interview (half way through research)
2011 interview (project finished)

War is almost certainly the most popular topic for historical research in New Zealand after family history. And so often family history is entertwined with war history. This keen interest is undoubtedly because of New Zealander’s close personal involvement in these wars. Almost every NZ family in the early to mid 20th century had at least one or more family member(s) in the armed forces and even if they didn’t their daily lives were greatly effected by what was happening.

The Hocken Collections is well resourced to meet this interest and has produced a series of subject guides to assist researchers. The guides are available in PDF form from the Guides page of our website. There are five guides covering the NZ Wars 1840s, NZ Wars 1860s-1870s, South African War, World War I and World War II.

Post prepared by Anna Blackman, Curator of Archives and Manuscripts