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New Collection Items – Autumn 2023

In the last few months, the Collections Team have been busy processing some new acquisitions to the collection. Here are a selection of some of the items.

Pacific Ocean Currents Document 

On the 1st of November 1928, HMS Diomede released a message in a bottle out to sea between Samoa and Hawaii. The purpose of this was to measure the flow of Pacific Ocean currents. The message asked the finder of the bottle to fill in their details and the location of discovery for the reward of two shillings.

The form was then to be forwarded to the director of the Apia Observatory in Samoa, who had presumably asked the crew of the Diomede to set the bottle adrift when they had been in Samoa.

The form had both English and French language sections which could be filled out, and on the back had brief instructions in Samoan, Fijian, Tongan, Ellice, and Gilbertese.

This would increase the likelihood that the person who found the bottle and its message would understand its purpose and fulfil the requirements. It also tells us which general geographical regions the observers suspected would be the final destination for the bottle.

At 6 P.M. on Christmas day 1929, over a year after the bottle was deposited into the ocean by Diomede, a person by the name of Isidro J. Cuento discovered the bottle on the Island of Alabat, in the Philippines. He noted that the bottle was “still in good condition” and was presumably rewarded the two shillings promised for his part in aiding the pursuit of scientific discovery.
Read more about HMS Diomede.

Pacific Ocean Currents Document 2013.7.2_001
Photograph of John Spencer-Daniell and his son George. 2022.17.2


Black and white portrait photograph of Christchurch-born Temporary Surgeon John Spencer-Daniell and his son George.

The photograph was taken at Wakefield’s photographic studio in London, September 1914.

George can be seen in a child’s sailor outfit standing on a chair to the right of his father. John is wearing the uniform of the Royal Navy Medical Corps and holding a sword in his left hand.

See the next artefact for an example of an Edwardian child’s sailor uniform donated to the Navy Museum in 2022.

Child’s Sailor Uniform

Edwardian child’s sailor uniform comprised of trousers, top, collar, and black silk scarf. Circa 1900-1910. Another example of a sailor suit from this time is worn by George Spencer-Daniell in the previous photograph (2022.17.2).

The history of naval-inspired and nautical-inspired clothing for children can be traced back to the reign of Queen Victoria.

For further information go to the article written by Royal Museums Greenwich.

Another interesting article can be found at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. webpage.

Child's Sailor Uniform. 2022.45.4
Photograph from collection of HMNZS Monowai. 2022.22.45

HMNZS Monowai Photographic Collection

A colour photograph of a sailor named ‘Cass’ painting rust on HMNZS Monowai (A06), 1978.

The photograph was taken in the Mediterranean.

Cass can be seen leaning out a port hole with a paintbrush in his hand.

Photographer is Mark Holms who was serving in Monowai at the time. This image is one of 50 donated by Mr Holms in 2022.

Portrait of Rear Admiral Simpson

Portrait painting of Rear Admiral George Walter Gillow Simpson (Royal Navy). Oil on board, 1951, by German portrait artist, Martin Betzou.

To read a brief biography about Rear Admiral Simpson and see images of his medals visit our medals website.

Medals and portrait were kindly donated to the Navy Museum by the son of Rear Admiral Simpson.

Portrait of Rear Admiral George Walter Gillow Simpson. 2022.36.4
White Shorts. 2022.45.1
White Shorts. 2022.45.1


White shorts issued to RNZN personnel for wear during physical training and/or sporting activities.

From HMNZS Southland, decorated with an image of the Southland’s ship’s badge on one leg and a kiwi on the other.

Circa 1983-1995.

Ratings’ Uniform

Aubrey Dalton served in the Pacific during the Second World War under the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy. Notably he served in HMNZS Kiwi which, in 1943 alongside HMNZS Moa, intercepted and sank Japanese submarine I-1.

For his bravery as a gunner, Dalton received a Distinguished Service Medal (DSM), as well as the United States Navy Silver Star. He went on to receive four other medals during the war.

Dalton’s jumper and trop shirt were recently donated to the Museum collection. On the blue serge (woollen) jumper you can see on the left breast Dalton’s two medal ribbon bars for the DSM and the Silver Star. On the left-hand sleeve there is a badge sewn using intricate gold lace which dictates his rank as Petty Officer.

The dickie trop shirt, ‘dickie’ being a term used to describe a false shirt front, and ‘trop’ being short for tropical, was officially non-regulation in style – missing the arms – but was fashionable at the time and often produced by on-board tailors.

Ratings Uniform. 2022.75.1
Trop Shirt. 2022.75.2


Last year the Collections team took in fifteen original Jim “Inky” McNicol cartoons.

These cartoons were published in magazines such as ‘Blighty’ and ‘Barracks’ during McNicol’s service and are well known for their reproduction on postcards.

These originals were hung on the wall in the private Navy bar above the Family Hotel in Otaki until they eventually made their way into the Navy Museum collection. Zoom in on the image and you’ll notice they still have visible pencil sketch line work under the final ink layer!

Jim 'Inky' McNicol Cartoon. 2022.87.10

Jigsaw Puzzle

On hundred-piece jigsaw puzzle with an image of HMNZS Achilles and the text, “New Zealand Honours You”. Likely to have been produced to celebrate the victorious outcome of the Battle of the River Plate.

Read about the Battle of the River Plate 13 December 1939.

View images from the Battle of the River Plate.

HMS Achilles Jigsaw Puzzle. 2022.5.1

Article compiled by members of the Navy Museum Collections Team – March 2023. 

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