I was recently invited to speak at the weekly St Andrew’s College Chapel Service. One of the features of these services is the Deputy Head Prefects walking up the centre aisle at the conclusion of the first hymn, and saying “Today we remember ….” and naming an Old Collegian who was killed in action.
For my Chapel, I researched Barry Martin, student #101 at St Andrew’s, who attended from 1918-25 in the Preparatory School and completed his first tour in the RAF before volunteering for a second and eventually completing 46 operational missions over occupied Europe, before being killed on 2nd February 1943.
To visually represent Barry’s life, I opted to build a Google Earth Tour (something I shared on at the recent TeachMeet hosted at St Andrew’s) and indicate places of significance such as his birth (Waiau, North Canterbury), where he attended school (here at St Andrew’s College), through to his various flight training and operational bases (Canada, Mildenhall and Oakington) and his final resting place (Rotterdam General Cemetery). Google Earth tours are something we have encouraged teachers to use and some good examples include:
- Plotting significant locations from a film study in Year 10 English
- Social Studies inquiry learning projects, integrating Google Earth and Moodle
- Adding internal tours of College buildings to Google Earth for prospective families
The entire story that I shared at the Chapel Service can be seen in the video at the top of the blog, however you can see the start of the narrated Google Earth tour here. What has been interesting to me is the amount of teachers and students who were really surprised by the power of Google Earth, having never really used it in any meaningful context before. Consequently, Tom Adams (our eLearning Integrator) has run some professional development sessions for staff interested in using it with their students.
The reality is, whilst the visualisations of Barry Martin’s journey added engagement through technology, the researching of the information for the presentation itself was almost entirely dependent on the power of the Internet. I had used Microsoft OneNote to easily compile a working document of information, starting with links to relevant websites and notes to myself on their usefulness:
- http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph – check here first as best starting point
- http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast – great search features – limit by date range and boolean search terms to narrow results. Can export a section as an image too.
- http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/ good overviews of battles and context in eminently readable format.
- http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/researching-first-world-war-soldiers – tips for researching
- http://www.archway.archives.govt.nz/ – lots of digital records available
- http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WH2Maor.html Battalion Histories – searchable
- http://www.Youtube.com – always good for turning things up.
- http://www.bombercommandmemorial.co.nz/ useful for airforce members
- http://www.nzwargraves.org.nz/ as it’s name suggests…
- Copies of the Collegian Magazines at StAC if we get a good lead
- http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/personnel-records/nzdf-archives/ – NZDF Personnel Archives – free copies of military records of all NZ servicemen and women.
The ease of being able to drag ‘n drop and cut ‘n paste information into this notebook accelerated the research considerably:
One of my goals in this research was to bring to life Barry Martin’s story and show more about him as person and not just a statistic from World War II. Through the searching of PapersPast I was able to find references to Barry’s pre-war life, including his engagement and attendance at an Old Collegian dance at the Dunsandel Hall with his fiancee, which sounded like an eventful night with the power cutting out!
Other sources that proved invaluable in finding out more about Barry’s life included Google Books, an unexpected source that showed up the research of Stephen Harris in his book Under a Bomber’s Moon and the relationship between his great Uncle Col Jones and Barry Martin. It is from this source that I obtained the photo below of Barry with unnamed friends, along with the entertaining account of Barry cooking up a storm in the barracks with tins of lambs tongues and tomato sauce sent to him from New Zealand:
Other sources were not so easy, but did manage to turn up gold for this research. I optimistically posted on the Wings Over New Zealand Aviation Forum and was thrilled to get a reply out of that which led to obtaining a copy of the original Dutch Police Report that detailed the circumstances and location of the crashed Stirling Bomber on the night that Barry Martin’s plane was shot down and he was killed. This was eventually sourced from the book “De Crash Van De Padvinder” by P. van der Leer.
This highlights that whilst the Internet can be an outstanding source of quick and accessible information, the importance of human interaction (even if that is via forums, email and text messaging) along with a curiosity not to give up, remains a vital part of any good research. The Christchurch City library had all three volumes of For Your Tomorrow by Errol Martin which was invaluable for factual details, and the St Andrew’s College library had historical records of Barry’s attendance at the College, 98 years ago.
I also discovered that Barry Martin’s medals had been auction at Bonhams in 2014:
It was very gratifying to be able to harness the power of technology to shine some light on an Old Collegian of St Andrew’s College and the ultimate sacrifice he made.
This is the recording of an earlier Chapel Service that I gave on James Samuel Cartwright. He was a former teacher at St Andrew’s College and All Black triallist and was tragically killed only days after the D-Day Normandy invasion: