Shield, Athletics

Production date
Circa 1946
An athletics shield made from a large turtle shell. A wooden backboard with an attached stand is mounted on the reverse of the shell. "WYNN WILSON/ MEMORIAL/ SHIELD /TARANAKI A.A./ CHAMPIONSHIP" is engraved on a plaque at the centre of the shell. Numerous small plaques recording the winners of the shield are mounted near the edge of the backing board. The earliest date recorded is 1948-49 and the latest date is 1978-85. "The timber of the Ya [illegible] was treated [illegible] the prevention of borer in December 1946 " is written on a paper label on the reverse.
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Object detail

Production date
Circa 1946
Subject person
Credit line
The turtle shell used for this shield was purchased overseas during World War II and converted into a memorial for New Plymouth man Wynn Wilson. Before the war Wilson was an active member of the New Plymouth Athletics Club, winning the Taranaki Championships mile race in 1935. He also was active in rugby, cycling and cricket.
When World War II began he was one of the first Taranaki men to ship out on the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in an advance party which left in December 1939. He served in the thick of the action in Greece and Crete until he was captured in 1941. He spent the rest of the war in Bavarian P.O.W camps, completing a law degree, accountancy exam and Māori language qualification.
Towards the end of the war, with the Allied forces advancing, Wilson was forced to leave his camp with the other prisoners and march ahead of the advance. During the march he fell seriously ill and when he was rescued he was also found to have sustained a serious head injury, thought to be from a rifle butt. He was returned to London for treatment but died soon afterwards. He was 29.
The Wynn Wilson memorial shield, awarded annually to the club which earned the most points in the Taranaki Amateur Athletics Championships, was first contested in the 1948-1949 season. For more information see 'Dedicated and Determined': The Wynn Wilson Memorial Shield in Moffat, A. Flashback: Tales and Treasures of Taranaki. Wellington, Huia, 2012, pp.57-59. 
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