Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The White Ships launched

 Last night the Minister  for Arts, Culture and Heritage, the Hon Christopher Finlayson, launched Gavin McLean’s  book The White Ships: New Zealand’s First World War Hospital Ships, in the historic boardroom of the Museum of Wellington, City and Sea.

The White Ships is the first book in a Ministry-led multi-agency publishing programme of histories of New Zealand’s First World War experience.  The series, which will also include contributions by Massey University and the New Zealand Defence Force, will total at least 13 books. The second Ministry title, New Zealand and the First World War (Penguin), goes on sale on 25 October.
The hospital ships were the ‘poster ships’ of the war. Fitted out with the help of public donations, refitted at Port Chalmers in an amazing 4-5 weeks, and always well-reported back home, they eventually carried 47,000 patients.
It wasn’t all smooth. There were tensions between the governor and his minister over their control, the senior army doctor thought he should boss around the  Maheno’s captain, the same doctor tried to deny army nurses officer status and there was a mutiny off Malta. But the ships worked well and the Maheno’s merchant seamen made a little-known civilian contribution to Gallipoli.

The 208-page hardback is published by the New Zealand Ship & Marine Society. Copies may be obtained from selected booksellers or from the Society http://www.nzshipmarine.com/node/1558

ISSBN: 978-0-473-24977-9
$60 RRP

Photo caption: Emcee Neill Atkinson prepares to introduce the speakers (seated, from right to left, Captain Mike Pryce, author Gavin McLean and Minister Christopher Finlayson). – Fran McGowan 

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