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Object: ’Sweetheart’ brooch

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Title ’Sweetheart’ brooch
Production Unknown, early 1940s
Materials metal, glass
Classification brooches, costume jewellery
Dimensions Overall: 36mm (Height) x 30mm (Width) x 8mm (Depth)
Credit line Gift of Philip Menzies in memory of Ada Menzies, 2012
Registration number GH022536

This sweetheart brooch was given to New Zealander Ada Menzies by a United States serviceman during the Second World War. Like many young women during the war, Ada socialised and danced with men of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army who were stationed in and near her city (Wellington).

American servicemen brought excitement and glamour to the big cities of the North Island from June 1942 to October 1944. In total, 100,000 American servicemen (and some women as nurses) came to New Zealand to prepare for, and then recuperate from battles in the Pacific theatre of war. Their off-duty time required new facilities and products. Taxi companies, florists, jewellers, hoteliers and drycleaners experienced a boom - particularly in Auckland and Wellington.

The Americans were polite and generous, and were particularly welcomed as attentive dance partners, either at dances organised in the camps, or in city cabarets, nightclubs and dance halls. Friendships and relationships would be marked with gifts, such as this brooch.

The V-shape of the brooch symbolises V for Victory. V for Victory campaigns started throughout the Allied world in early 1941. British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, popularised the V symbol with his upheld fingers in the shape of a V. The three Vs of this brooch may also symbolise the giver's rank, which in this case would be the three chevrons of a sergeant.

This brooch could have been given to Ada by First Lieutenant Hugh Leidel. He arrived in Wellington with the U.S. Marine Corps in early 1943. They fell in love and got engaged in October 1943. One month later, Hugh died from wounds received in action at Tarawa in the Pacific.

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Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.