Spectrum 256. A land fit for heroes
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New Zealand soldiers who survived the slaughter of World War I were told on their homecoming that they had returned to a "land fit for heroes", but the reality they found was very different. The programme describes the ending of the war and the 'outbreak' of peace.
Jack Perkins looks at the ending of the Great War and the peace that followed through the eyes of New Zealand soldiers and civilians. Contributors were John A. Lee and Colin Scrimgeour. Material made available by Jim Henderson.
The programme opens with John A. Lee recalling the celebrations by London munitions factory workers at the announcement of the Armistice.
The documentary is mixture of interviews and readings, with veterans of the trenches recalling memories of Armistice Day. Jack Perkins interviews Walter Crowther of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade about the Armistice: “We felt quite confident that peace could come any day […] it was a sort of anti-climax […] everybody was fairly steady, there was no violent excitement..”
Description of Armistice Day and joy in the streets of Wellington.
Talking about recruitment. Reading of: “Some hints for recruiting speakers. To suggest that enlistment means almost certain death is a fatal mistake. A good recruiting speaker must convince his audience that the man is almost sure to come back […]”.
Talking about the role of women, supporting the war effort with needles. Reading of a poem called “Socks” by Jessie Pope.
New Zealand soldiers are writing poetry to express their feelings of outrage and despair: reading of a poem written by a machine gunner from Palmerston North.
Colin Scrimgeour talks about the reality of returning to New Zealand for the soldiers of WWI and for himself. He talks about the influenza that affected many soldiers and also civilian New Zealanders in 1918, contaminated while celebrating the Armistice. Several people recall memories of the Spanish flu epidemic, including the allegations that it had been brought to New Zealand on board the "Niagara" with William Massey and Joseph Ward.
Colin Scrimgeour recalls carting bodies on a horse-drawn wagon in the Motu Ranges and contracting influenza himself. He describes his symptoms and drinking a bottle of laudanum which made him unconscious for four days. He says many people just collapsed and died where they stood
Reading of advertising columns in newspaper promoting anti-flu medicines. The son of Reverend James McCaw of Lower Hutt recalls his father treating ill parishioners during the epidemic and the Armistice.
Colin Scrimgeour talks about economic crisis and repatriation in 1919. After WWI, the New Zealand government encouraged returning soldiers to work on the land as farmers, but most of them failed.
J.J. Archibald recalls working on an orchard in Nelson and the difficulties he experienced.
Scrimgeour talks about the wave of immigrants who came from England, who got quite disillusioned when arriving in New Zealand, and the feeling of resentment coming from both sides.
He says the war did not change the role of women. They were still expected to be wives and mothers and there were very few places where they could find work. Competition for work was high between returning soldiers and new immigrants.
Colin Scrimgeour talks about the prohibition and the liquor question. A returned soldier (Jack Archibald) recalls being annoyed by the six o’clock closing of the pubs, which was introduced while the men were serving overseas.
Monte Holcroft (editor of The Listener) comments on the negative impact of six o'clock closing.
An unidentified returned man talks about the 'anti-shouting' regulations which had also been brought in.
Reference number 22197
Media type AUDIO
Collection Sound Collection
Documentary radio programs
Nonfiction radio programs
Perkins, Jack (b.1940), Interviewer
Scrimgeour, Colin Graham (b.1903, d.1987), Interviewee
Crowther, Walter, 1897-1983, Interviewee
Archibald, Jack, Interviewee
Radio New Zealand. National Programme (estab. 1964, closed 1986), Broadcaster