Rare Photos of WWII U.S. Servicemen in New Zealand

The Auckland War Memorial Museum in New Zealand has just digitized and published an amazing collection of photographs of United States servicemen who were stationed at Warkworth in northern New Zealand during World War II. The museum is asking for help from Americans to identify the service members.

Nearly 1,100 images can be viewed on the museum’s web site. They were taken by local photographer Tudor Collins. Some of the images appear to be servicemen from other countries, but many if not most of them are of U.S. soldiers, sailors and Marines. Collins, himself a petty officer in the Royal New Zealand Navy, had a knack for putting his visitors from America at ease. It shows in the photographs.

New Zealand was a major staging and training area for U.S. forces that later attacked Guadalcanal, Tarawa and other key Japanese-held locations during the Pacific war. It also served as an exotic locale where troops came back to rest from the horrors of some of the bloodiest fighting ever recorded.

Servicemen show off the day’s catch near Warkworth, New Zealand. (Auckland War Memorial Museum)

“Collins, who was renowned for his personable, larger-than-life personality and his bushman skills, clearly established a rapport with his subjects – he has captured the men proudly showing off their catches, smoking fish around campfires, wading in deep water, and enjoying a quiet beer or two,” reads an article on the museum web site.

Two U.S. servicemen photographed by New Zealand photographer Tudor Collins during WWII. (Auckland War Memorial Museum)

Between 1942 and 1944, camps were established around New Zealand to house tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Locations included Wellington, Auckland, Warkworth, Titahi Bay, Paraparaumu and dozens of others. There was an American hospital at Warkworth, and nearby camps housed the U.S. 3rd Marine Division, the 43rd Infantry Division and the 25th Infantry Division. The map below from NZ History shows the camp locations around New Zealand.

A number of U.S. Marines from the suburban Milwaukee city of Cudahy were stationed on New Zealand in 1942 and 1943 as they prepared for, and recovered from, battle. Earl J. Mulqueen Jr. of the 6th Marine Regiment,  2nd Marine Division, was twice based at Camp McKay, located northwest of Wellington. He and his buddies often traveled north to Wanganui when they had leave time, according to a letter sent back to Cudahy from a young woman from that city.

Marine Cpl. Earl J. Mulqueen Jr. was stationed near Wellington, New Zealand during WWII.

“He and his friend Jerry Goodrich, who comes from Battle Creek, came up here nearly every night for the week they were here,” June Fisher wrote in April 1943. “…Earl is fit and well and happy, and I think and hope, he is liking it here in New Zealand.”

At about the same time, Earl wrote home to his parents, Earl and Margaret Mulqueen, reporting on the death of a friend. “Do you remember Francis Dunn? He died the other day of malaria,” Earl wrote. “He was the one who went to Pio Nono (High School).” Dunn, a private first class in Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, died on March 21, 1943. He was 21. Earl would suffer several bouts of malaria during his wartime service. He also wrote home several more times to report on local buddies injured or killed in battle.

The 2nd Marine Division took part in the invasion of Guadalcanal and the assault on Tarawa atoll. Those were two of the most important, and costliest, battles of the war in the Pacific. New Zealand was the respite spot for these Marines after the battles. The people of New Zealand made a great impression on these young men. Earl was among a group who returned in the 1970s to tour the island nation during peacetime.

©2015 Treasured Lives

(A hat tip and thanks to New Zealand blogger Su Leslie for alerting us to the museum photo collection.)




8 thoughts on “Rare Photos of WWII U.S. Servicemen in New Zealand

    1. Thanks so much! I saw right away the traffic it is generating! After the holidays I will contact the museum to see if they’ve been able to identify anyone. I’m thinking the children of these vets will be able to recognize their fathers. Here’s hoping!

      Liked by 2 people

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