Service and Sacrifice

Lyttelton stories from World War One

On 4th August 1914, Great Britain declared war on Germany and in response to the Empire’s call many men and women from Lyttelton left their homes and traveled to the far side of the world to serve their country. What may have initially seemed like an adventure, ended for some in the ultimate sacrifice, and for many others who served and survived it resulted in injury and illness both physical and mental.

This exhibition contrasts three different stories. Lance Corporal Bertie Huon Victor Harkess (Military Registration Number 11698), Sister Nona Mildred Hildyard (22/125), and Bombardier Walter David Lester (2/327) who all grew up in Lyttelton but encountered very different situations in WWI. As a nurse, Nona travelled to Egypt and the Aegean. Walter was with the Field Artillery in Gallipoli for the whole campaign before moving to France. And in the Infantry, Bertie was in France and Belgium on the Western Front through battles at the Somme, Messines, and Passchendaele.

The accompanying slideshow of images from Lyttelton Museum’s collection includes photographs and postcards of Lyttelton men in service at home in the Harbour, in the North Island in preparation to leave, and abroad. Through these stories and images we can catch a glimpse of what our servicemen and women experienced in WWI and begin to contemplate the sacrifices they made.

Walter David Lester, 1916, photographer unknown, Albumen print, 61 x 83 mm, Lyttelton Museum

Lyttelton Nurse Nona Hilliard, c.1917, Richard Wallwork, 1882-1955, Oil on canvas, 870 x 1180mm, Photographed by John Collie, Christchurch Art Gallery collection 2009/044, Transferred from Banks Peninsula District Council, 2006

Lyttelton Nurse Nona Hilliard, c.1917, Richard Wallwork, 1882-1955, Oil on canvas, 870 x 1180mm, Photographed by John Collie, Christchurch Art Gallery collection 2009/044, Transferred from Banks Peninsula District Council, 2006

Bertie Huon Victor Harkess, 1916, George Henry James Hillsdon, 1852-1926, Silver gelatin print, 88 x 126 mm, Lyttelton Museum

Walter's Story

Bombardier Walter David Lester (2/327)

Walter was a painter in Lyttelton and already involved with the Artillery in the Harbour and in Christchurch before he enlisted at the outbreak of war and left with the main body of the Expeditionary Force. Find out more about his experiences at Gallipoli and on the Western Front  here.

 

Nona's Story

Staff Nurse Nona Mildred Hildyard (22/125)

Nona was the first nurse from Lyttelton to enlist in the New Zealand Army Nursing Service and travel to join the troops in the northern hemisphere. However tragedy stuck the No. 1 New Zealand Stationary Hospital before it even arrived at its first deployment. Read more about what happened to Nona in the Aegean Sea here.

 

Bertie’s Story

Lance Corporal Bertie Huon Victor Harkess (11698)

Bertie was only 19 years old when he enlisted in 1916. After growing up and working as a clerk in Lyttelton, he was obviously keen to join his fellow servicemen and women in the reinforcements to the Expeditionary Force.  Find out more about Bertie and what happened to him in Europe here.