Arrival of war brides in Wellington, 1919

Arrival of war brides in Wellington, 1919

Soldiers, wives and children arrive in Wellington on the Athenic in March 1919.

The government arranged for the brides and babies of New Zealand soldiers who had married women overseas during the war to travel to New Zealand with them. Most came out after the war.

The Athenic carried around 750 men, 180 wives and an unspecified number of children. Most of the brides were British, but there were also Frenchwomen and a smattering of other nationalities, including Poles and Russians. The women were greeted warmly when they arrived in New Zealand, and large groups such as those on the Athenic generated considerable interest.

Their subsequent reception by their husband’s families was not always as warm, as one war bride, Nina Gordon, recalled in Val Wood’s 1991 book War brides: they followed their hearts to New Zealand:

I think every day since I left England I had asked him if they would like me. Gerry, being in love, had replied, of course they will. I really got a rude awakening. They did not want an English wife for Gerry.

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Raewyn Karl

Posted: 03 Feb 2024

The soldier with the pipe and holding the baby and the lady beside them are my Grandparents (John Alexander Duncan and his wife Jane Duncan (nee Gathrum) and my Uncle (Andrew Duncan).