Waitaki Herald : August 13th 2014
4 WAITAKI HERALD, AUGUST 13, 2014 NEWS Author: Graeme Leather speaks about his book. Life at home duringWWI By DANIEL BIRCHFIELD email@example.com M onths of trawling through photographs and newspaper clippings of North Otago’s World War I effort at home has come to fruition for local author Graeme Leather. His book, The Home Front: North Otago 1914-18, was officially launched at the North Otago Museum last week. The event also previewed the museum’s World War I exhibition, which opens to the public in September. Speaking at the launch, Leather says the timing for a book on the subject of the Great War was perfect. ‘‘I’ve always thought that any book I write would be a history book, simply because it was the most interesting topic I had at school. ‘‘I realised the centenary of World War I was approaching so I thought there’s a possibility there to write about it.’’ He says while most books on the subject focus on the front lines, it’s not often they look at what went on in local communities at the time. ‘‘There are lots of books about the soldiers and life in the trenches, but there are few books about the people at home and what their lives were like. Their contribution was vital to the victory. ‘‘There’s a lot of new infor- mation in the book I think you will all find interesting. ‘‘I’ve tried to include a lot of life and personal stories to really bring it home to individuals.’’ Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher felt the book was a fine tribute to those living in the North Otago area during World War I. ‘‘It was a huge sacrifice that was made. What Graeme’s book does is it gives you a real feel for what it was like for people left behind. ‘‘It’s a fascinating look at the situation as it was back then.’’ North Otago Museum collections and exhibitions curator Chloe Searle spoke about the Museum’s World War I exhibition, From Little Towns in a Far Land which opens next month. The exhibition takes it’s name from a passage by author Rudyard Kipling, which is featured on Oamaru’s World War I memorial. Kipling’s son John was killed during the war. The exhibition is part of several events happening in North Otago to commemorate the first year of World War I. ‘‘The World War I centennial commemorations are a chance for everyone to learn more about this important part of our history. ‘‘There are some amazing stories and it’s great to have the opportunity to share them with the community. ‘‘Some will be quite warm stories and then of course we have some tragic ones.’’ Searle hopes the exhibition will give people a sense of life during World War I, with items such as uniforms, letters, items soldiers Family link: Shirley Simpson holds a photo of her father, Charles Arthur Orr. Orr, from Herbert, fought in Turkey and was wounded in Cyprus in 1917. He returned home in 1919. Simpson says her father never talked about his experiences during World War I. carried on the battlefield and propaganda posters being displayed. Another item is North Otago’s roll of honour, with the name of every person from North Otago who fought in the war listed. The roll, now part of the museum’s collection, used to be locked in the town’s World War I memorial until it was retrieved several years ago. Off the press: Author Graeme Leather, left, signs a copy of his book The Home Front: North Otago 1914-18 for Malcolm McKenzie. Standing to attention: Chris Meech, left, and James MacKenzie.
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