Interview with Merle Morgan

Date
10 Nov 2005
By
Morgan, Merle Joan, 1923-
Ref
OHInt-0938-22
Description

Interview with Merle Morgan, born in Nuhaka in 1923. Mentions her great grandfather William Rudolph Charles Sturm had emigrated to New Zealand from Europe (Austria or Germany). Recalls being at school on the day of the Napier earthquake and being sent outside by the teacher. Describes damage to their home and the farm from the earthquake. Comments on how her older sister who was working in Napier Hospital was hit on the head by falling bricks, taken to Wellington suffering amnesia, and the family did not find her for three months.

Mentions she wanted to be a nurse when she left school but her mother organised a job for her with the Post Office as a telephone exchange operator, where she was working when war broke out in 1939. Recalls an occasion in 1940 or 1941 when she had to relay a message from the operator at Gisborne to the local Home Guard that a Japanese submarine had been seen at Opoutama, and that two Wairoa women who had lived in Japan were murdered that night. Talks about her mother arranging for her to be manpowered as a land girl on the family farm for two years. Refers to milking 40 cows by hand, managing the farm while her father managed another farm, and killing goats to feed the dogs. Comments that her father was very strict about adhering to meat rationing regulations. Recalls getting news of the progress of the war overseas in newspapers and on the radio. Mentions that her family all forgot her 21st birthday.

Describes how her mother got her a job in Wellington with the Radio Corporation in 1944, making transmitter and receiver sets for the Army. Talks about the luxury of having a comparatively well-paid job, living first in a hostel and then going flatting with another girl. Comments that they went dancing every night except when soldiers were on their final leave. Refers to being put on shorter hours and night shift work when Radio Corp. ran short of components because a ship had been torpedoed. Talks about being sent to work in another factory in a basement in Courtenay Place, drilling fine holes in mortar bombs. Describes her next manpowered job at Alex Harveys, making toothpaste tubes. Talks about difficult encounters with the Manpower office. Refers to spending Saturdays packing Red Cross parcels. Remembers being given the day off on VE Day and the celebrations in the streets. Refers to realising the impact of the atomic bombs on Japan when she saw newsreels and photographs in newspapers. Recalls VJ Day, heavy rain on the day and getting very muddy. Talks about moving to another factory to work after the war and doing some waitressing as well to increase her income. Mentions going to the hospital in her spare time to visit returned servicemen and write letters for them, the terrible state some were in, and in some cases their wives not wanting them back. Refers being recalled to the family farm by her mother, returning to Wellington in 1947, and meeting her husband.

Interviewer(s) - Martin Halliday

Arrangement: Tape numbers - OHC-017876 - OHC-017877

Quantity: 1 Electronic document(s). 1 transcript(s). 2 C60 cassette(s). 1 interview(s). 2 Hours Duration.

Finding Aids: Abstract Available - transcript(s) available OHDL-000421, OHA-6368.

Search dates: 1923 - 1939 - 2005 - 1945

Additional description

Original recordings not available for playback. Surrogate copies will be provided.

Alternative form available: Both printed and digital versions of the transcript are available

Use/Reproduction
Public use may require the written permission of the copyright holder Copyright: Copyright is held by the New Zealand Defence Force
Access restrictions
Partly restricted material
Format
1 Electronic document(s), 1 transcript(s), 2 C60 cassette(s), 1 interview(s), 2 Hours Duration, Oral histories, Electronic records (Digital records), Electronic documents
There are 4 items in total.
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There are 4 items in this group.
Date: 10 Nov 2005 From: New Zealand Defence Force Military oral history project Ref: OHA-6368 Description: Interviewer(s) - Martin Halliday Quantity: 1 transcript(s).
Date: 10 Nov 2005 From: New Zealand Defence Force Military oral history project Ref: OHC-017876 Description: Interviewer(s) - Martin Halliday Arrangement: Tape sequence - 1 of 2 Quantity: 1 C60 cassette(s).
Date: 10 Nov 2005 From: New Zealand Defence Force Military oral history project Ref: OHC-017877 Description: Interviewer(s) - Martin Halliday Arrangement: Tape sequence - 2 of 2 Quantity: 1 C60 cassette(s).
Date: 10 Nov 2005 From: New Zealand Defence Force Military oral history project Ref: OHDL-000421 Description: Interviewer(s) - Martin Halliday Quantity: 1 Electronic document(s).