The Central Otago Heritage Trust received funding in 2019 for the Oral History Project. Our goal is to develop a collection of oral histories capturing the unique stores of Central Otago. At the heart of this project is a group of volunteers trained to national and international standards and best practice in oral history.
There were exciting developments in the project over the summer period. We completed the first stage of interviewer training for 13 new volunteers who are now completing practice interviews in readiness for follow up training.
We’re fortunate to have been gifted a recording from the Hanrahan family, of John Stewart Hanrahan (1918-1994), a local lad of Ranfurly. In the interview, undertaken by his granddaughter Lauryn Robertson, John recounts his experiences during active service as a Signalman in World War II. Their mission in northern Greece was to establish and maintain telephone lines from headquarters to the battalions. During this time, the New Zealand and Australian forces were forced back and retreated to southern Greece where evacuation ships were waiting. However, John was captured before the boats were able to pick him up. He was taken to various prisoner of war camps in Greece and Austria over the next four years before release and return to New Zealand.
John shares his experiences about conditions in the camps, perspectives on fellow prisoners and the guards, the work prisoners were expected to do, and the joy of receiving letters and parcels from home.
We are very grateful to the Hanrahan family for allowing us to hold such a special recording as part of our repository.
Carolyn Squires. Oral History Manager