Topic: Aquitatler (1942)

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Excerpts from the magazine created by soldiers returning to New Zealand aboard the Aquitania in 1945.

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6th Hauraki Insignia


When you've read this magazine of ours, you'll know all about this truth of ours. As this magazine was written on board and all articles are pertaining to incidences on board. Also the cartoons depict the everyday life on board of which we are all very familiar. In the centre you will find a page of pictures of which is part of the boxing we were all so interested in. I can't be sure but I've a vague idea that's "yours truly" in the jersey. At the back of the magazine you will notice it is well autographed and perhaps you'll recognise some of the names.

Its new years day here and the water is as calm as a milk pond also we an all land on either side of the ship though very faintly. I hope this little magazine will prove interesting as I think it will. It's only small but of course we've only been at sea for a short while.
Hugh Harrison


How it happened...

Paper, ships' magazines for the printing of, being such a rare commodity these days, it is nothing short of a miracle that this particular ship's magazine ever saw the light. But a series of minor miracles did come to pass and this little book is the result.

The ship's printing shop, the more mechanically qualified members of the Magazine Committee were delighted to discover, housed a linotype machine. It had not been in use for over a year but there was no lack of mechanics to get it in running order again. (Indeed, the number of linotype operators, compositors, machinist and members of allied trades who answered the call was one of manifestations of Providence associated with the production of "Aquitatler").

As we neared our first port of call, it became evident that much would depend on the assistance given us by "friendly natives". A vital part of the linotype had broken; a quick repair must be made. The stapler was out of commission altogether; a substitute must 
be improvised. A series of photographs had been taken of shipboard life; enlargements and blocks must be made in a matter of a few hours and most important of all, sufficient paper must be located and cajoled from its owner.

And so, in a midget craft on a lumpy sea, two officers of the troopship made their way landward with these very definite objects in view. Did they achieve them? They did, but not through their own efforts by a very long way. These are the simple facts. They were met, they were directed, they were advised and all their wants were supplied in approximately six hours. It entailed seeing process engravers, instructing them and leaving them to print negatives, to group and size the job and to make their blocks. It meant working out paper requirements, choosing cover paper and having it cut. And it involved the buying of a dozen or more necessities, from reglets to ribbon. All this and more was done through the courtesy and kindness of Mr W Eddy of Alex Cowans and Mr J Parker of Gibbneys.

It is thanks to them that we have a magazine at all. Without them and their overplus of kindness, the paper would still be lurking on city selves and the blocks imprinted only on our imaginations. Mr Eddy and Mr Parker incidentally, would have been delighted to see the struggle the two officers had to get the precious paper on board the troopship from a small tossing ferry, battling against wind and water and an audience of doubtful sympathy.

Finally, a word of appreciation to all those who spent so many hours of tropical days and nights deep down in the ship printing shop. Our sincere thanks to Mr Harry Puckering and Mr Gordon Warren, the ship's printers for their kindly tolerance of such a large scale invasion of their premises.



We are known as the Eighth Reinforcements. Our official title matters little; nor is it important to what branch of Service we belong. What is significant is that we are yet further evidence of New Zealand's determination to carry through an ugly and distasteful job to the end. A country that has given freely, is giving again.

Or shall we think of ourselves as another small weight added to a balance in which i
s already swinging surely against the Axis? Few of us are setting out in an easy careless spirit of adventure but we have at least the hope that with resolution and steadfastness of spirit the task may soon be accomplished and the day of home coming at hand.

Post-war reconstruction is a phrase that is on the lips of a great many thinking people these days. Perhaps it is not out of place to remind ourselves that our responsibilities will not end with the signing of peace. As individuals we have to do our bit toward building a secure foundation. This time an order, one of the first principles of which will be the outlawing of war.
Maybe we need a little of the vision of Blake:

"I will not cease from mental strife,

Nor shall my sword rest in my hand,

Till we have built Jerusalem

In England's green and pleasant land."



Here she is, of poignant memories: "Aquitania", a remarkable war career. In a ship-board lecture an officer said a bomb down a funnel would sink a ship. "Hell," came the Kiwi response, "I wish we weren't on this ship".

Aquitana - she sails again, in unforgettable memory, as we within her, with never again such scenes sailed off into history in WW2:

  • Gross tons 45,647. Service speed 23 knots from four propellers and 21 double-ended boilers. Length overall 869 feet, largest then launched on the Clyde.
  • Carried 30,000 troops in three months to the Dardanelles; as Hospital Ship bought 25,000 wounded to UK, then with 1917, USA in the war, Atlantic troop carrying.Then converted to oil, her complement of stokers reduced from 350 to 50.
  • 1920's luxury cruises, once striking Atlantic waves of 60 feet. Dancing continued!
  • WW2: Nov.39 - March 1940: Canadian troops to Europe. Then NZ and Aussie troops to Middle East; Atlantic runs with troops and POW's; then returning 400,000 troops over 526,000 miles.
  • Back to civilian run to Canada, 22,000 new settlers transported by end of 1949, her final voyage November 24, December 1, 49, then sold for scrapping. Then February 19, 1950, leaves Southampton, en route saluted by every passing ship by flag, siren or signal lamp to end at Clyde.
  • With "Finish with Engines" had logged over 3 million miles, over 1.2 million passengers. 22 months to reduce her to 36,000 tons of crap.

 Click here to read about the Aquitania

R.M.S Aquitania (wikimedia commons) Click image to read about the ships history in Wikipedia.

Q. Ship

Q stands for breakfast from seven till nine.

Lunch and for tea and a wash in the brine.

Q at the canteen for hours and hours

And if you feel dirty you Q for the showers.

Q for the pictures and Q for your beer,

Q-ing for baths that you seldom get near!

Q for your boat drill at least twice a day,

Q for an air raid and then for your pay.

So I'm giving up eating and cleanliness too,

Renouncing imbibings, as puritans do.

No more at the movies I'll sit of a night,

Roll no more fags and then scrounge for a light.

And though I may suffer from B.O (like pigs)

FalI victim to why you take syrup of figs,

I'm risking an end that I'll possibly rue

But they'll never again make me stand in a Q!


Monkey Glands...

Pithecanthropus - my arboreal simian ancestor has nothing on me! I am an example of retrogressive evolution due to maritime causes. In the words of Ariel's song: "He doth suffer a sea change into something rich and strange".

Locust-like, I have shed the garment of my former self. That self whose thoughts coursed along the grooves of conventional education and scheming propaganda; whose actions lay within the limits marked by repressive social system. A poor biped, muzzled by censorship, hedged in by a host of conventions and regulations, blared at by radio, bullied by blatant advertisements, rigged out with false
teeth, a glass eye and a mechanical stomach and deprived of the normal functions of self-propulsion by automobiles and trams. The height of evolutionary triumph!

Behold the metamorphosis! The smouldering embers of the raw primordial ape-man have been kindled by the ocean. I slink on board with a "fiver" stuffed in my cheek and thereby cunningly defeat the currency of regulations. I scale the rigging with simian nimbleness and breathing the winds of heaven, watch distance dissolve my country into the "land of the long white cloud" while I sorrowfully murmur, "breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, "this is my own, my native land".

To reach my precarious perch I have to swing from branch to branch and nicely avoid my recumbent comrades and finally execute a couple of somersaults. There rocked in the cradle (vile misnomer) of the deep. I am subjected to highly disturbing motions both lateral and vertical. Simian dreams ensue and I endure horrors, swinging by the tail, until my grasp gives way and I hurtle through space - invariable to land in the scupper ways.

One certainly needs to be a philosopher to wake up in a stream of water and seeing one's impedimenta being borne away in a pathetic procession, still maintain one's equanimity.

What else can you expect? The army is a monkey business; our officers are trained as gorillas. Need I ask what sold out first at the canteen - salted peanuts!



A certain group of "Diggers"

At thieving were adept,

They stole a pup in N.Z

The night before they left.

Taken aboard the transport

Wrapped up in overcoats,

He was hidden on "A" deck

Behind a stack of floats.

When we left, the seas were rough,

The boys all looked like ghosts,

The pup was busy hunting round

Trying to find some posts.

Though he's only a little mascot,

When we reach the land of "Wog"

We all feel sure that he'll behave

Like a real New Zealand dog.


To see ourselves

The following article was written after several personal (very personal) interviews. "Tell me nurse, what do you think of our New Zealand soldiers?"

In the first place, soldiers are noisy creatures - they are bunk lovers, bath singers, stairway-stampeders and break fast bolters. And in between all these uproars they say "Can't we have a little quietness on this boat?" Furthermore, they are destructive and untidy; they love to spill cigarette ash, leave endless trails of biscuit packets and countless fruit tins. They pace up and down their spacious quarters while dressing and undressing, shedding garments as they go.

They consider it unsoldierly to pick up anything without the assistance of an S.M, and despite their much-vaunted abilities as cricketers, or deck-quoit artists, their aim at waste paper baskets or such receptacles is far from good. There seems to be far too many pockets in a battledress, and as they have no sense of direction or location, they are forced to go through every single pocket to find anything at all! Kit bags are chaotic, and yet in civil life their favourite domestic cry was "Who's shifted my studs?" -though nobody had! It has always been a matter of pride, with troops to catch trains and boats with only seconds to spare, and this reminds me that their watches are always right. If a soldier's own watch says 0555hours, well then the Ship's Captain and the Brigadiers are all wrong, and it's time the authorities were told about it.

They never want to go out, but once out they never want to come home. They dislike to dress in their evening clothes (namely battledress) but are often enchanted by the way they look once the S.M has finally persuaded them to do so. They make fun of woman prinking in public but they themselves cannot pass a mirror without a slowing of pace and a glance at "that handsome soldier".

When in camp all they can talk is "home", and when home, it is nothing but "camp".

What a mixture! I ask you, what's a poor girl to do?

The physical courage they exhibit in sport and in war is conspicuous by its absence when the R.A.P corporal calls his roll the day preceding a route march. The personification of mortal terror is a soldier awaiting his turn at the Dental Corps.

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