Jackson and ANZAC Day

April 25th, 2013 at 10:13 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Sir might not have been a New Zealander if not for the courage and tenacity of Kiwi soldiers in World War I.

The Lord of the Rings director said his British grandfather, William John Jackson, developed a respect for the Kiwi character while fighting alongside the Anzacs at Gallipoli.

When Sir Peter’s father emigrated to New Zealand years later, his decision was influenced by the stories he had been told about the country’s inhabitants.

“My dad always told me that the principal reason he chose New Zealand to emigrate to after World War II was the high regard his father had for the Kiwis he encountered at Gallipoli,” Sir Peter told the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

William Jackson, the grandfather Sir Peter never met, won a Distinguished Conduct Medal at Gallipoli, and fought in most major battles of World War I. He died in 1940, aged 51.

He was lucky to survive. The death toll was horrific.

13 Responses to “Jackson and ANZAC Day”

  1. Pete George (24,828 comments) says:

    One of my grandfathers served with the British in WWI until he suffered a chest wound. I don’t know why but he was determined to emigrate to New Zealand. Due to his war injuries he was unable to get assisted passage but he was eventually able to pay his own way, not long before my mother was born.

    My other grandfathers was born in New Zealand and served with the NZ Engineers in WWI in France. He came home with an English bride. He also served in WWII at home, dying just after the war while my father was in Japan with J Force. When my father was about seventy I took him to Bromley Cemetery, it was the first time he’d seen his father’s grave.

    Many Kiwis have family links with ANZAC.

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  2. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    My Grandfather was in the Machine Gunners Corp at Passchendaele. He survived the 12th of October, but was wounded on the 16th, when a shell aimed at his post landed behind them. He woke a few days later to find only four of his team had survived. Ten days later, still with shrapnel in his back he returned to the front, and served to the end of the war.

    Grandad was lucky, as a machine gunner he did not have to march into the barbed wire that trapped his mates, who were then shot like sitting ducks when they could not get free. Instead he sat for days in mud up to his waist, watching the slaughter hour after hour and day after day, returning fire when they could. He survived mustard gas attacks which burned men to death through their clothes. Horrors even Peter Jackson would have trouble replicating on the screen.

    The older I have got, the more I realise the commitment he and others like him made, and how much he gave. As each year passes the more proud I become of him and my father who fought in WWII at Italy and Egypt.

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  3. Aredhel777 (383 comments) says:

    ANZAC Day is New Zealand’s real and more meaningful national holiday these days, not Waitangi Day. It’s great, because the politically correct can’t stop us. I usually get up to go to the dawn service but I’m a bit snowed under with work at the moment.

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  4. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    I’ve known a few Brits who have emigrated here because of their experience of Kiwis they met in war.

    One was an Englishwoman, who with her husband and children came here because she had been so impressed with New Zealand pilots from a local airfield. She remembered them as young, always cheerful, understated in their bravery, ‘quite without airs and graces’, modest , reassuring, and ‘they had all come from the other side of the world to protect us. No others made such an impression’.

    Then there was the Englishman who finally got his chance to migrate with his family in the early 1950s. He had been an armourer or rigger in the Royal Air Force, and in the middle of the war was posted to one of the ‘New Zealand’ squadrons (485, 486, 487, 488, 489, 490, 75). He said the New Zealand pilots and officers were an eye-opener.

    ‘They talked to you like you were a human being and not down at you like you were an inferior species. They were very relaxed and informal, yet they could be formal when they had to, such as when the King and Queen visited. Orders were given conversationally, and not barked like they were talking to a dog. Kiwi pilots were brave, above-average, and very professional. Blokes like me had never struck anything like them. And I vowed that if we ever won the war, and I survived it, then I was going to live in a country that produced men like them.’

    He told me he was able to get a job in New Zealand after he had contacted a former Kiwi pilot, who remembered him, and who put him on to another ex-pilot who did have vacancies in his business. They set him up with a house when he and his family arrived. Apparently they did this for other Brits, too. This man was telling me this on the bus coming out of Wellington one day.

    I have known of men who came here because of their experiences with the 2nd (NZ) Division during WW2, especially in Greece, Crete, and North Africa. I have known Kiwis who got jobs in the UK because of Brits who’d been impressed with New Zealand servicemen during the war.

    New Zealanders built up an impressive record in the RAF. Many of them were aces, they rose to command positions (AVM Keith Park, AVM ‘Maori’ Coningham [though Australian-born], Sam Elworthy, Les Gandar, Alan Deere, Bill Tacon, and many more….). A retired wing commander from the time told me that at one stage during the war 27 squadrons and wings and groups – fighter, bomber, Coastal Command – stationed between London and Cairo were commanded by New Zealanders. Some of them were little more than teenagers, which struck me deeply when my own son turned 20, and I’d known a squadron leader, aged 20.

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  5. GJKiwi (181 comments) says:

    Just to be a little picky. In most major battles? Oh, so somehow he got to the Eastern Front as well? And the Italian campaign? I doubt that anyone fought in even half the battles of the First World War, considering the fact that in France some battles were fought solely by the French. Remember it was a world war. One of my great uncles fought in the World War I and was killed on the 11th of the 10th, just one month before the end of the war. Regarding TripeWryter’s comments about the age of these guys fighting. It was hardly surprising that they were so young, as that was the age that men were when they signed up, so when promotions came along, as they had to in order to keep the command structure in place, where else would they find them? Draught in men aged 30 to 45? Stephen Ambrose commented on the fact in one of his books, Citizen Soldiers I think, about how we had men aged in their early 20s commanding literally hundreds of men, with the rank of Major, Colonel or even General. We would hardly dream of doing that in civilian life, yet war demands it. The commanding officer, first Lieutenant, then Captain who finally rose to the rank of Major was only 26 when the war ended.

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  6. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    GJ: no argument from me re your comments about mine.

    No, it wasn’t surprising they were so young, but noteworthy that they had a maturity to shoulder the load.

    Jim Macdonald was a 17 year-old bank clerk and naval reservist able seaman in Wellington when WW2 began. By 19 he was battling German S-boats in the English Channel.

    When the Germans signed the surrender in 1945 he was a 23 year-old lieutenant-commander, a flotilla leader (of up to 8 MTBs), holder of the DSO and DSC and two Bars. He was New Zealand’s most decorated naval officer of the war.

    At 19 he was credited with being ‘the youngest ship’s captain in His Majesty’s navies’. At 20 he was the acknowleged, unofficial flotilla leader by his peers (but not officially because the RN said he wasn’t old enough). War brought something out in him.

    Brendan Finucane, aged 21, might have been just another bright Irish boy who wrote home to his parents regularly if war had not come along. Aged 21, Wing Commander (lieutenant-colonel) ‘Paddy’ Finucane was a leading fighter ace in the RAF, and at the time of his death commanded the three-squadron Kenley Wing, which included a New Zealand fighter squadron.

    So yes, war speeds up the promotions, and provides abundant opportunities for it.

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  7. GJKiwi (181 comments) says:

    Sorry, I meant to make an edit on the fact that the commanding officer I was referring to was Dick Winters, commander of Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne, until promoted to battalion commander as Major as Battalion commander, aged 26.

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  8. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    I knew whom you meant. Just couldn’t remember his name, off-hand.

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  9. Andrei (4,523 comments) says:

    What a non story – WW1 and WW2 are part of everybody’s family history one way or another and none of us, well those under sixty anyway, would be here if they hadn’t happened.

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  10. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    That doesn’t make it a non-story, Andrei. It makes it one of millions of stories. Some of which people have shared above.
    Nothing wrong with people, famous or otherwise, expressing their gratitude on this day.

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  11. RRM (12,583 comments) says:


    RRM’s grandfather was in Egypt in WW2. The only way story he ever told any of us concerned this one time a low-flying Messerschmidt appeared out of nowhere. He and his mates all ducked for cover under the nearest vehicle – which they noticed only in hindsight was a petrol tanker…

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  12. Redbaiter (11,656 comments) says:

    “He and his mates all ducked for cover under the nearest vehicle – which they noticed only in hindsight was a petrol tanker…”

    So its hereditary then.

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  13. RRM (12,583 comments) says:

    LOL what a piece of shit you are.

    He served this country, he had more than the basic attendance medals so presumably he did other things over there, that he felt he needed to keep to himself, and never told his wife, kids or grandchildren a word about.

    You won’t even sign your name to words you write on your website.

    Have you ever faced live bullets meant for you “Redbaiter”?

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