Thursday, February 8, 2018

Bamboo Mug

This unique bamboo mug was brought over from New Zealand by William (Bill) Gasson who believed it should be returned to Norfolk Island.  It belonged to his father, Corporal Jim Gasson of New Zealand’s ‘A’ Company during WWII. Bill isn’t sure how his father ended up with the mug; he assumes he was probably the last to drink out of it, ‘he was a real character’, said Bill.
The handmade mug is made from bamboo with a handle secured by screws, it has been varnished and handpainted with an ink drawing of an oversized allied serviceman putting his hand up to stop a proportionally smaller drawing of a tank carrying the Axis leaders, Hitler, Hirohiro and Mussolini, the artist is unknown. The caption reads ‘What-a-way-you ‘Little’ men’.  It also features fifty-two signatures of the New Zealand servicemen who were stationed here in 1943, it’s quite a treasure.
Bill also provided us with copies of part of Jim’s diary, as well as photographs of his time here.  Jim records the arrival of ‘A’ Company at Norfolk in April 1943. ‘Landing at Norfolk Island had a dash of excitement.  The transport lay half-a-mile off-shore and we loaded up with full equipment, rifle slung on back, and climbed down a landing net into a motor launch below.  It was typical of Army training that for the only exercise with some suggestion of danger we had been given no training at all’.
Jim writes of the time the ship ‘Ronaki’ stayed fast on the reef and the troops were given the job of unloading her over the side – ‘Our boys caught on to the possibilities with cases of cigarettes but those boxes were damned hard to break by dropping them on to the rocks.  We scored one box of ‘Lucky Strike’ and hid it under a big rock but a blasted MP came along and found it’.
Jim also assisted Stan Gazzard, owner and editor of ‘Nformation’, the local newsletter for the forces on the island during World War II. He says, ‘I found relaxation visiting Stan Gazzard, owner and editor of the local paper ‘Nformation’, which was a cyclostyled job. Stan persuaded my company commander to release me to help him produce the paper so I spent some time there.  Helping to produce the paper consisted of drinking his liquor and eating the sumptuous meals his sprightly young daughter cooked’.
The bamboo mug has been accessioned into the Norfolk Island Museum Trust Collection and will be on display in the Pier Store Museum once an appropriate display cabinet has been sourced.  A fantastic object to enhance our display on World War II and Norfolk Island.  

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