The Tank Museum | Second World War Donation

Second World War Donation

Significant donation to the Archives.

5th January 2018

NZ ArchivesThis photograph gives only a faint impression of the very generous donation recently sent to the Tank Museum Archive and Library from New Zealand. 

The contents within are all related to 2nd Lieutenant Robert Evans, 184242, who commanded a tank in the 40th Royal Tank Regiment [‘Monty’s Foxhounds’] and 43rd Royal Tank Regiment during World War II. Included in this extensive donation are maps, accounts of battles, memoirs, telegrams and 2/Lt Evans 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal and the War Medal and medal miniatures.

The box is also filled with considerable quantities of correspondence from 2/Lt Evans to his wife Morna. Of particular interest is a blank postcard featuring multiple ‘jotted down’ notes in pencil and black pen of a Cipher. On the card, Evans writes a key and advises his wife to take the first letter of each sentence of the second paragraph in his letters to work out where his is currently stationed. Although it was not unusual for letters from soldiers to their family and friends at home to contain codes on their location, it is unusual to see a Cipher page within a donation and this one is particularly detailed. Further, 2/Lt Evans daughter, reveals that the letters indeed “got passed censor.”

As each individual letter and item requires a separate entry on our record system called TRACER2, it is expected that the cataloguing of this one donation will take several months.

It is also important to note that the donation included Evans compass. First World War and Second World War compasses are among several historical items that contains a material called Radium emits harmful quantities of Alpha, Beta and Gamma Radiation. Radium is found in the luminous paint coating the compass. Compasses which are intact are seen as a sealed source which are less dangerous that, compasses whose glass is broken due to the potential leaking and contamination by the Radium. Regretfully, as the items conflict with our Collections Policy, the Museum is unable to display radioactive items due to the hazards they contain and would advise that such items are not sent to the Museum.