Naval Memorial Chapel of St Christopher's, Devonport

Naval Memorial Chapel of St Christopher's, Devonport

This stands behind the Royal New Zealand Navy Second World War memorial wall in the Devonport naval base. It was dedicated as the Chapel of St Christopher on 20 June 1943. After the dedication of the memorial wall in 1956, it became known as the Fleet Memorial Chapel of St Christopher, but was rededicated after extensions as the Naval Memorial Chapel of St Christopher’s on 5 October 1997. 

A memorial wall to the left of the chapel entrance - a companion to the larger Second World War memorial wall - records the names of naval personnel who lost their lives in the First World War or in conflicts since 1945 and who have no known grave.

Inside the chapel are a large number of other naval memorial items. Among the most notable perhaps are three memorial stained glass windows. The rose window in the apse was dedicated on 15 July 1951 to the memory of all New Zealand naval personnel who lost their lives during the Second World War. The window displays symbols representing the nine ships that lost men during the war (NeptuneAchillesLeanderTuiMoaMonowaiPuririKahuKiwi), prisoners of war, the Fleet Air Arm and armed merchant ships. A stained glass lancet window was dedicated on 15 August 1999 to commemorate the service of the 1,655 women who served in the Women's Royal New Zealand Naval Service (WRNZNS) between 1942 and 1977. A third window recalls Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNZNVR) personnel who died in the Second World War. This window was originally unveiled in St Brandan’s Chapel at HMNZ Tamaki on Motuihe Island, then moved to Narrow Neck in 1963, and finally rededicated in St Christopher’s on 22 August 1999.

Many other objects in the chapel have a commemorative or memorial significance (not all are listed or pictured here). There is a Book of Remembrance listing every Royal New Zealand Navy officer and rating who died in the Second World War; rolls of honour for HMS Philomel, HMNZ Achilles, HMNZ Leander, and HMNZ Monowai; and plaques commemorating service in the Fleet Air Arm, Royal Marines, and Royal Naval Submarine Service, and by nuclear test veterans and veterans of the Indonesian Confrontation, 1965-6. The significance of some items is less immediately apparent: the altar was made by HMNZ Dockyard in 1981 for the 40th anniversary of the loss of HMS Neptune in which 151 RNZN sailors were lost, and the communion set was presented by the World War II Cruiser Association in memory of all those who served on cruisers during the war, etc..

For more information, see K.F. Wilson, Saint Christopher’s: The Naval Memorial Chapel in the Devonport Naval Base, Auckland, 2018.

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