Military Christmas Cards

As we get closer to Christmas 2016 thought I would show some of the military related Christmas cards I have collected over the years. Have a small collection of around 38 cards from all different time periods, the only thing they have in common is they are all New Zealand Military.

Here is a small selection.

Starting with this oneww1-christmas-cardThis is a World War 1 period card. Harere mai is Maori for “welcome, come here”. The imagery on the front with the NZ flag and silver ferns is nice but not too sure how settling the imagery of being hit with a piece of “good luck shrapnel” would be to the serviceman who received this card.  The initials at the bottom of the card, R.J.P., probably refer to Robert J. Pope who was a poet, sportsman, musician and educator who wrote a large number of poems between 1910 to 1945.   The back of the card shows this was published by Frank Duncan, city chambers, Auckland.ww1-christmas-card-bckThe card above, I believe, was sent to a serviceman, most of the cards in my collection were sent by servicemen, so that makes this one a little more special.

Here is another WW1 period card this time sent by an New Zealand Engineer in France in central image is of the NZ Engineers cap badge. On the base scroll is listed the three areas the 1st NZ Expeditionary Force had been from 1914 to 1917. The ribbon is a neat little item and is a miniature version of the hat puggaree worn on the lemon Squeezer hat ( see the WW2 engineers squeezer here Anzac day 2016 ).christmas-engineers-2At the bottom of this card Les has written “Que Dieu vous benisse” this is French for “God bless you”.

In 1940 NZEF Headquarters engaged itself to produce a Christmas card to be distributed to units at cost (which was exceptionally low in Egypt) and sold by them at a slightly higher rate, the profit going to regimental funds. Each year until 1944 they repeated the performance, there were problems though. Each year there was dissension about the design, although it had been drawn by the Official Artist. Each year at the last moment some units decided to have a card of their own. Each year it took well into the next year to get payment for the cards. The end came in 1944, when for the first time the card printed in Italy by the British Stationery Service. It arrived so late that it had to be given away for free to units in the hope that there would be some that would have time to use it.

In his autobiographical book on his war art McIntyre shows an early sketch for the 1941 Divisional Christmas card.

Amongst my bits and pieces I have picked up over there years is this photo…


I am not sure if McIntyre based his sketch on this photo or if some joker kiwi tried his best to copy the cards pose either way here is the end product, that first artwork on this particular card was by the official war artist of the 2nd NZEF, Peter McIntyre. This card was one of his first commissions while he was still a Gunner before he became the official war example of a unit designed cardchristmas-27-bat The unit in question is the 27th Machine Gun Battalion. To have a look at a Battle Dress blouse worn by a Sargent of the 27th MG Bn follow this link 27th Machine Gun Battalion uniform

Inside of the is one of my favorite cards, this one from the 6th Field Company, NZ Engineers. christmas-engineers-ww2

Nice artwork on the insidechristmas-engineers-ww2-2But what I particularly like is that all the servicemen of the 3rd section are listed on the back of the cardchristmas-engineers-ww2-3Unfortunately not all the names listed on the back of this card made it home to New Zealand.

As well as the kiwis in the Middle East we cant forget those who served in the Pacific theater. Here is a un-used Christmas card from 1943-44 depicting a NZ soldier in typical dress as worn in the the back you can see that this card was issued by the National Patriotic Fund majority of my cards are Army but of course there were two other services so here are examples from…. the Navychristmas-navyAnd the Air Force

Some examples of my post World War Two cardschristmas-modern-east-timorThe New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) supported various stability and security operations in Timor-Leste from 1999 until December 2012. The main tasks of the NZDF contribution were to facilitate the return of thousands of displaced Timorese from West Timor, provide border security in the New Zealand sector, helicopter support to the force, staff officers to two United Nations Headquarters and training support to the East Timor Defence Force.

This card was one of the last physical cards issued by the NZDF, it now sends E-Cards.

Amongst one of the cards I have collected was this message that was given to members of the NZ Petrol Company on Christmas 1943.

christmas-h-van-dykeThe words of the American author, educator and clergyman Henry van Dykes ‘Keeping Christmas’ still resonate today as they did in 1943.

Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope 2017 brings you all happiness and prosperity.







Uniforms with a Kiwi twist

Have a few uniforms in my collection that although they are not NZ military they do have a kiwi connection. Some were either worn by New Zealander’s in service of another country or were NZ manufactured uniforms that were converted for service in another country.

The first item is a converted 1940 pattern Battle Dress Blouse. The collar has been converted to an open front and all the buttons changed for leather.somerset-bd-collar-conversionThe collar conversion has been done rather professionally by adding extra material to the collar so the once high collar now lays nice and flat. The top two button holes have also been sewn up the extra material also nicely covers the evidence of these up too.

Here is an example, picked off the web, of an unconverted 1940 pattern blouse.britbdfront

Below is my example. This particular uniform is badged up to a Captain in the 43rd Infantry Division, 130th Infantry brigade, 7th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry.Somerset BD full.JPGSomerset BD badges.JPG    The rank pips of the captain have the usual infantry red branch colour (see the Engineer blue backing in my thread Battle Dress Tunic & trousers to a lieutenant in the NZ Engineers.) as a backing to the pip and under that is the green & yellow (there was a red and white version as well) shoulder title. Under this is the unusual red nationality shoulder title that indicates that the original owner was a kiwi serving with the British Army.

This particular uniform was originally owned by Winston Malbourne CRAIG . Winston was born in Australia in 1913 and at some point moved to NZ. In June 1940 he enlisted in the NZ Army. His occupation on enlistment was carpenter and this might be why he was transferred in July 1940 to the 15th Forestry Company, NZ Engineers. On 27 August 1940 he embarked for overseas service, with the rest of the Forestry Company, on board the ship Empress of Japan. They trans-shipped at Bombay, India onto SS Ocades an set sail for the United Kingdom arriving there in November 1940. In May 1943 he was selected to attend a Officer Cadet Training Unit. In September 1943 he was married to Irene BONNER at the parish church Woking, Surrey and on the 15 September 1943 was transferred to the British Army (Pioneer Corps). This transfer was confirmed 7 January 1944. His service with the British Army was from January 1944 till July 1946, he then seems to have returned to NZ and lived here for the rest of his life, he died in 1989.

As well as the Battle Dress Blouse I have also been lucky enough to pick up his Service Dress tunic and trousers. queens-royal-rgt-fullThe style of Service dress is a little different as it is an example of the Austerity Pattern introduced in 1942 in an effort to conserve materials and production time. The new Austerity pattern tunics no longer had box pleated breast pockets, though it still has the scalloped pocket flaps, and the lower pockets were now of the internal type just with a flap instead of the previous patch pocket style. The sleeves were plain. This new pattern tunic was introduced under “Army Council Instruction (ACI) 501, dated March 7th 1942”. By early 1945, the situation had improved and under “ACI 340” military tailors were once again allowed to supply tunics of the pre 1942 pattern, but only to newly commisioned Officers or to those who truly needed a new replacement tunic due to their old one being worn out.

The ribbons are for the 1939-45 Star, France & Germany Star and Defence Medal. The collar badges are for the Queen’s Royal Regiment. The collar badges are the standard bronze for officers and appear to be stamped rather than cast.queens-royal-rgt-clse

The Queen’s Royal Regiment can trace its beginnings back to 1661 when it was raised specifically to garrison the recent acquisition of Tangier. After a number of amalgamations, the last being in 1992, the lineage of the Queen’s Royal Regiment is continued by the Princess of Wale’s Royal Regiment (Queen’s & Royal Hampshire’s).

The brass buttons have the date the regiment was raised, 1661 queens-royal-rgt-button

As on the Battle Dress blouse this Service Dress has the red New Zealand shoulder title.queens-royal-rgt-nz-titleMy second uniform item with a kiwi link is another battle dress blouse worn by a kiwi in the British Army. This one is a Canadian made 1949 pattern Battle Dress blouse worn by a Major in the 54th (East Anglian) Infantry.royal-artil-1948-pat-ft

royal-artil-1948-pat-badgeThe ribbon bar for this unknown Major includes the ribbons for the Military Cross, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star with 8th Army clasp, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, NZ War Service Medal, Korea Medal & UN Korea Medal.royal-artil-1948-pat-ribbon-bar


The Military Cross (MC) was instituted on 31 December 1914. It is awarded to junior officers and senior non commissioned officers of the Army for courage and devotion to duty on active service. Over 500 MCs were awarded to New Zealanders during the First World War and over 250 in the Second World War.

Unfortunately I have tried unsuccessfully to identify the original owner, apart from his ribbon bar the only other clue to the mystery is the letters AT510 on the inside pocket. This could be initials and a partial service number, a laundry code or it might mean nothing at all. If anyone has any idea who this MC winner was please feel free to leave a comment.royal-artil-1948-pat-nameMy last kiwi twist uniform is the one I have owned the longest and is full of mysteries. I do not know who the original owner was and I can not find all that much about the regiment.

The badge on the SD cap was the original thing that caught my eyedelhi-rgt-sd-cap-badgeThe original building is the Qutub Minar which at 73 metres, is the tallest brick minaret in the world and second highest minar in India . Qutub Minar, along with the ancient and medieval monuments surrounding it, form the Qutab complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower is located in the Mehrauli area of Delhi, India



Collar badge of the Service dress delhi-rgt-collar1delhi-rgt-fulldelhi-rgt-ribbonsThe Captains Service Dress Jacket show he was probably a career officer serving in both World Wars. The ribbons from  left to right are; 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, War Medal 1939-45 and NZ War Service Medal. The trio of WW1 medals indicate that this was probably someone who was part of the “Main body” of the 1st NZ Expeditionary Force and might have served in Gallipoli (could also have served in Samoa or Egypt/Palestine). The second World War Medals show he was still a full time member of the NZ Military Force who did not go overseas.

The service dress was tailored by George Harrison Co, Wellington, NZ.delhi-rgt-jaket-makerThe SD Cap that came with the group. The two small buttons on with side of the cap and leather chin strap are missing from this example.delhi-rgt-hat-ft-1On the inside you can see the green leather lining to the peak and leather sweat band liner.

delhi-rgt-hat-insideThe hat was retailed by Chas Hill & Sons, Wellington. The company is now called Hills Hats but it is still in existence and still making hats for the NZ Defence Force.delhi-rgt-hat-maker-name-1