WWI 100 years ago – Troopship Magazines

The main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force departed from Wellington on 16 October 1914 heading for Europe. The 8,000 troops who left for the First World War on this date were the largest body of men to ever leave New Zealand. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the troops heading overseas in this convoy and how they might have been feeling. So many young men full of bravado and the excitement of new adventures, add to that the monotony of a long sea voyage and the possibility of German torpedoes and these Troopships have their own stories to tell. A great insight to this journey can be found in our archives in a publication called the Athenian Lyre.
This was a troopship magazine produced on board the H.M.N.Z.T. Athenic and then printed in Hobart on their first stopover. It is full of humour and I love the adverts. It especially reinforces for me that Kiwi joking attitude that is prevalent in times of stress and is still a big part of our New Zealand identity today. Most, if not all, of the troopships produced these magazines and although we only have a few examples in our Archives at Aotea Utanganui many more can be found online at the Auckland War Memorial Museum Website – just search ‘troopship magazines’.
Rob Groat – Museum Educator


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