06 May 2020

Wednesday 06 May 2020

Among the artefacts stored in the King’s College archives is a collection of letters from Old Collegian John Canning Dove (Remuera, 1910-16).

John Canning Dove Front Left In Egypt

John Canning Dove (Front Left) In Egypt, 1918


His prose paints a picture of life in the New Zealand Army during World War One, with its personal nature (being addressed to his family) giving today’s reader an insight into John’s personality.

A prefect, librarian and choir singer, John was said to have greatly enjoyed his time at King’s College. He went on to enrol in medical school afterwards, but soon enlisted, leaving from Wellington in April 1918.

After only four weeks serving on the front line, he was killed in France on 26 October 1918, just 16 days before the end of the war. 

The letters John wrote to his family throughout his time in the army were generously donated to the King’s College Archives and are available for you to read on our website.

In a letter to his “Dear old Dad”, John says, “You won’t forget to let me know any news of King’s you hear” – so passionate was he about his school.

Canning Dove Letter
View the John Canning Dove collection

In earlier years while editing the Collegian, John implored his fellow students to make the most of their time at King’s.

‘If you thus take an interest in the affairs of your school, King’s will become to you a second home, and in future years, you will realise the vast amount of good it has done you and you will be able to look back to your College days with pride, pleasure and gratitude.” 

We invite members of the King’s College community to help us transcribe John’s letters and ensure his legacy can be shared with generations to come.

Instructions on how you can help can be found here.

Join us in remembering these Old Collegians and commemorating the service of all New Zealanders who have served for our country this Saturday, when we share our traditional ANZAC Day service online.