When Paraparaumu resident Paul Harrison, aviation historian and author visited his elderly aunties at their rest home recently, he was presented with an item of family memorabilia dating back over 100 years.

His aunty Mary, 95, passed over a small monocular which Paul immediately identified as a military spotting scope.

A monocular is similar to a binocular used to magnify objects in the distance.

A monocular thought to be from WWI.
A monocular thought to be from WWI.

The difference is monoculars produce two-dimensional images, while binoculars add perception of depth, a third dimension.


Looking closely at the monocular Paul was able to determine by the manufacturer's stamp (Gorez Berlin) and serial number that it had been made by this German company around 1915.

Also on the monocular are some painted Arabic letters.

In discussion with his aunties the history of the monocular being in the Harrison hands is the result of his grandfather trooper Arthur Harrison serving with the 4th Waikato Regiment of the Auckland Mounted Rifles in the Sinai campaigns 1916-1918.

Although the exact location of him 'acquiring' this monocular is not recorded in his diaries, he was directly involved in several of the major battles with the Turks as the New Zealanders advanced across the Sinai peninsula.

The presence of the Arabic letters painted on one end of the monocular could mean that it had been passed to the Turkish army by the Germans who were their allies during that campaign.

Mary recalled playing with the monocular as a young child, using it in games of hide and seek, and for observing the cows in the distance on the family farm at Cambridge Rd Tauranga.

For a piece of militaria that is now over 100 years old the monocular is in very good condition, although it has specks of dirt and dust on the inside of the primary lens.

With the family's agreement, Paul is to donate the monocular to the NZ Army Engineer museum at Linton Camp in Palmerston North.


This museum has a wide ranging collection of World War I memorabilia and also has several items from his father Hugh who served with engineers in Italy during World War II.