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Object: Killing knife

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Title Killing knife
Production Unknown, circa 1942, New Zealand
Materials metal, wood
Classification knives
Dimensions Overall: 20mm (Height) x 267mm (Length) x 45mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Gift of Mrs Doris Buckrell, WLS, 2007
Registration number GH011739

Doris Buckrell (nee Whiting) used this killing knife to slaughter sheep while a ‘land girl’ in New Zealand during World War II. Land girls were women who went to help on farms.

The Women's Land Service
The Women’s Land Service was the largest of the women’s war services. It was voluntary for most of World War II, but, after March 1944, the government directed some women to work on farms. Over the course of the war, 2,711 land girls were placed on farms. Hundreds of women also served unofficially on family land.

A messy business
Doris and her friend Madge left their dressmaking jobs in Pahiatua in the lower North Island to work on an isolated Wairarapa farm as part of their war effort. The farmer wasn’t always around to help them, so they had to learn to do everything he did – including slaughter sheep. He suggested they start by killing a ram. Doris recalled, 'We killed in one of the pens in the woolshed as there was no killing shed. I sat on it and Madge cut it and didn’t do the job properly and we had to get Norman to come and finish the poor animal off. By that time it had done about six circuits of the woolshed and we had blood everywhere. But we became experts at killing after a while.’

A favourite object
Doris continued to use this knife in the kitchen for the next 60 years. As well as being useful, it brought back many happy memories, hence it’s almost been worn away.

Related information

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.