Thanks to the power of social media and our colleagues Kiri and Sean at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum, we have managed to identify a Gallipoli veteran in a recording housed in the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection, who we knew only as “Bob.” Bob is the name he is called by the interviewer in a 1981 Radio New Zealand interview, which you can listen to on our Anzac: Sights and Sounds of World War I website.
Bob was injured 100 years ago tomorrow, during the Battle of Chunuk Bair, and in this interview describes his experiences.
We had no other details about him, but suspected he had served with the 10th North Otago Company of the Otago Infantry Battalion, as he mentions being with the 10th on Rhododendron Ridge. We posted the interview on our Facebook page with an invitation to the public to help us solve the mystery. Toitū’s history curator Sean Brosnahan came forward with some valuable information – he recognised some of Bob’s turns of phrase and experiences as being similar to those in another interview with an Oamaru man, whose recollections appear in a new book, Remembering Gallipoli, by Christopher Pugsley and Charles Ferrall.
We have compared our transcript with the excerpts in the book and are now fairly confident that our “Bob” is in fact Robert (Bob) Alexander Needs of Oamaru, serial number 8/794, who did indeed serve with the 10th North Otago Company. He was evacuated wounded from Gallipoli and went on to serve on the Western Front. Bob Needs was awarded the Military Medal for bravery and after being wounded again, was evacuated back to New Zealand in April 1918. He died in Oamaru in 1984.