War memorabilia on display

SHARE
Awarua Communications Museum volunteer and committee member Pat Blair demonstrates how an army field telephone would have been used during World War 2. The field telephone is part of a window display of war memorabilia in the former ASB Building on Esk St.

A WINDOW display of war memorabilia has been installed in the former ASB Building on Esk St to promote the Awarua Communications Museum and the part it played during World War 2.

Volunteer and committee member Pat Blair Blair said the museum was formerly Awarua Radio (ZLB) Station, which had originally been built in 1913.

The station was used for worldwide morse communications to and from ships, and was also used to communicate with people in Antarctica, among various telecommunications. By the time of its closure in the 1990s, hundreds of people had worked at the station. Because of its high latitude, low horizon and its isolation form radio interference, Awarua was regarded as an ideal location for a communications facility.

Mr Blair said that during World War 2, a boat leaving Liverpool in England could radio and the signal could be received at Awarua.

Dave Asher, of Riverton, said the station also supported coastwatching services during World War 2.

The deception of the captain of the German steamer Erlangen, which left Dunedin on August 26, 1939 (war was declared on September 3, 1939) and was eventually reported to have arrived in Chile under sail, as well as reports of German raiders in the Pacific, led the New Zealand Government to establish coastwatchers on the uninhabited sub-antarctic Campbell and Auckland islands, the museum’s website said.

Between 1940-1945 sub-antarctic coastwatcher operations were maintained at three locations in the sub-Antarctic Islands, but to keep their presence as low-profile as possible, it was said at the time the coastwatchers were reporting on the weather and were undertaking scientific study.

Mr Asher said the coastwatchers were given enough supplies for a year and were required to scan the seas from daylight to dark for any ships, and report to Awarua Radio Station.

The station received daily weather reports and any vessel sighting reports.

The former radio station is now a museum and houses various communication displays and history, as well as hands-on exhibits, from early telegraph and radio days through to the modern era. It also has a 40-seat Victorian-style miniature (film theatre) picture palace which can be used to show a variety of films to suit various groups.

Volunteer Dianne Blair said the window display was organised to feature in Invercargill’s CBD to coincide with Anzac Day commemorations and would be on show until Monday, April 30.

Normal opening hours of the Awarua Communications Museum are Sundays, 1pm-4pm, but the museum may also be open when other Southland events are on, or could be booked.

For more information about the museum, go to www.awaruamuseum.co.nz

Advertisement