National Army Museum’s Windsor Jones beside the Rover bike owned by three generations, donated by Marilyn Subritzky. Photos / National Army Museum
An old bike with miles of history and a Katikati connection is now on display at the National Army Museum.
Six years ago Marilyn Subritzky donated a 100-plus-year-old bike that had belonged to her grandmother, her mother and herself. The bike has seen two world wars and Marilyn’s mother also used it when while in the New Zealand Land Army.
Marilyn, from Katikati, had the bike restored and, along with her mother’s land army uniform, donated it to National Army Museum in 2016.
The museum currently has the bike and uniform on display as part of the Service and Sacrifice exhibition. Service and Sacrifice was created by Western Bay Museum and after its debut in Katikati, it became their first travelling exhibition.
The Rover bike was purchased in Thames in 1906 for Marilyn’s grandmother Maggie Pulford who lived on a Ngarimu Bay farm on Thames Coast.
Maggie was a nurse at Thames Hospital after World War II during the flu epidemic. She rode the Rover to work every day.
She met her future husband Basil Pulford who was helping out at the hospital after he’d returned to New Zealand after the war.
The bike was then passed to their daughter (Marilyn’s mother) Gwenevere Williams who ‘’rode it everywhere’’ during World War II. Gwenevere joined the New Zealand Land Army.
Gwenevere carried out both signalling and nursing duties in the Thames and Coromandel areas.
Details about Gwenevere’s life are mentioned on a plaque — about how she cycled 10 kilometres every day up the Thames coast road to the Women’s War Service Auxiliary and also used the bike for message delivery. When she moved to Coromandel she used the same bike for her nursing rounds.
Marilyn was given the bike at age 12.
‘’The bike was owned by myself and, on occasion, I used to ride it to Tararu School, also known as Thames Old North School,’’ she says. ‘’My grandmother and mother also attended the same school.’’
‘’I had the bike done up and donated to it to Waiouru Museum plus my mother’s land army uniform which was in perfect condition.’’
The Service and Sacrifice exhibition tells the stories of heroic Kiwi women throughout military history. It contains stories from the first New Zealand nurses in a military campaign during the Boer War, nurses of World War I and II, the heroine of the Battle of Pukehinahina, land girls and auxiliary corp of World War II to the Fundraiser and Soldiers Friend.
National Army Museum collections and exhibitions manager Windsor Jones says Service and Sacrifice has been a great addition to their programme this year and has been well received by visitors.
‘’Having the opportunity to display Service and Sacrifice enables the museum to tell some heroic and often unknown stories of New Zealand women in times of war and has also provided the opportunity to include artefacts from our own collection including the bicycle and uniform of Gwenevere who was a member of the cyclist division of the Women’s War Service Auxiliary in Thames during World War II.
Marilyn wears her mother’s Land Army Service medal on Anzac and Armistice Day.
■ Service and Sacrifice is on display at the National Army Museum until May 23.