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Prisoner of War

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“For you the War is over.” This phrase, heard by the approximately 450 RNZAF airmen captured in German-occupied Europe during World War Two, marked the beginning of their new lives as Prisoners of War (POWs). Many others were incarcerated in other parts of the world. This meant having to adjust to life ‘behind the wire’, surviving on limited rations, dealing with difficult living conditions & coping with boredom. These objects and archives belonged to or were made by New Zealander PoWs.
Porcelain ashtray souvenired by Flight Lieutenant Campbell McClean when returning from Germany when he had been a prisoner of war during World War Two. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Porcelain ashtray souvenired by Flight Lieutenant Campbell McClean when returning from Germany when he had been a prisoner of war during World War Two. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Knife, fork and spoon used by Warrant Officer R.C. Warren while a prisoner of war in Rabaul. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Knife, fork and spoon used by Warrant Officer R.C. Warren while a prisoner of war in Rabaul. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Prisoner of war record card belonging to Flight Lieutenant George Ronald Simich while he was incarcerated at Stalag Luft III at Sagan. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Prisoner of war record card belonging to Flight Lieutenant George Ronald Simich while he was incarcerated at Stalag Luft III at Sagan. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Mah jong set made in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The tiles are made from the windscreen of a Japanese trainer aircraft. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Mah jong set made in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The tiles are made from the windscreen of a Japanese trainer aircraft. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Prisoner of war interrogation card or 'krigsgefangenenkartei' for Flight Sergeant Trevor Teague. The card details Trevor's physical appearance, personal details, date of capture etc. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Prisoner of war interrogation card or 'krigsgefangenenkartei' for Flight Sergeant Trevor Teague. The card details Trevor's physical appearance, personal details, date of capture etc. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Souvenir mug from the 1975 30th anniversary reunion of the Ex-Air Force Prisoner of War Association in Canada. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Souvenir mug from the 1975 30th anniversary reunion of the Ex-Air Force Prisoner of War Association in Canada. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Dulag Luft prisoner of war interrogation card for William Milner Smith. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Dulag Luft prisoner of war interrogation card for William Milner Smith. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

This Japanese prisoner of war ID tag had belonged to Leading Aircraftsman Ernest William Dense while in Changi Prison. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

This Japanese prisoner of war ID tag had belonged to Leading Aircraftsman Ernest William Dense while in Changi Prison. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

This white arm band was likely warn by a World War Two prisoner of war while working in a Japanese soap factory. The text is translated as - "Soap Factory Worker / The Eleventh Worker" and features a red stamp factory seal. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

This white arm band was likely warn by a World War Two prisoner of war while working in a Japanese soap factory. The text is translated as - "Soap Factory Worker / The Eleventh Worker" and features a red stamp factory seal. From the collection of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.