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Gallipoli diaries return to New Zealand

Descendants of soldiers who served at Gallipoli in the First World War will hold and read the diaries of their loved ones today, in some cases for the first time, following a transfer of archive material from the United Kingdom, Neill Atkinson, Chief Historian Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage says. “We are delighted to see three 1915 diaries and other historic documents from Gallipoli returned here from Leeds University Library,” Neill Atkinson said.
“The original diaries of Cyril James Claridge, Hartley Valentine Palmer and Clifford James Walsh, have been returned and members of their families will be with us today to mark the occasion.

“These historic documents provide first-hand accounts of Gallipoli and add to our understanding of the First World War as we come to the end of the four-year commemoration period.

“Ministry and National Library representatives have been working on this project with the University of Leeds since the middle of last year.

“Dr Stella Butler, Leeds University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection, has accompanied the items to New Zealand, where they will now form part of the Alexander Turnbull Library’s collection,” Neill Atkinson said.

Mark Crookston, Associate Chief Librarian, Alexander Turnbull Library says the valuable documents will be a significant addition to the First World War collection.

“Additionally, all of the other original New Zealand diaries, letters, photographs and other material in the Liddle Collection at the University of Leeds have been digitised and donated to the Turnbull Library, and we’ll be making these available online early next year. This means the personal experiences of more than 65 veterans will soon be available online.”

British historian Peter Liddle visited New Zealand in 1974 to interview veterans and to add to his First and Second World War collection, which is now held by the University.

“While taking original material out of the country did not breach any cultural heritage legislation at the time, some veterans and their family members have subsequently questioned how Peter Liddle obtained them.

“The provenance of all the New Zealand items in the collection has now been thoroughly investigated and these three diaries have been returned, with good evidence of the others to remain at Leeds University Library, while we receive digital copies

“We acknowledge and thank our Leeds University Library colleagues for the constructive relationship we’ve established to facilitate this positive outcome, Mark Crookston said.

“The four-year centenary of the First World War has highlighted the value of New Zealand’s documentary heritage. Having the diaries here in New Zealand is a tangible reminder of this important event in our country’s history.”

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