Invested at Buckingham Palace
London – 3 May 1919 – crowds gather outside Buckingham Palace in London for an investiture by his Majesty King George V. Among the nurses and soldiers receiving awards and honours is a smartly dressed New Zealand officer in his lemon squeezer hat.
On the dais are Queen Mary and members of the royal household. In front stand Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig and his Generals – Plumer and Sir William Birdwood. Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for War, stands proudly in morning suit and top hat.
After the ceremony, the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) Depot Band march past, followed by the New Zealand Parade Commander. Behind them are the New Zealand Field Artillery – note the infantry with their rifles and bayonets. Next, the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) march past. Mounted officers of the AIF and the Australian Light Horse trot by, and the crowd cheers and waves, then the AIF band march past – they are marching easy – and are followed by the Australian infantry.
An ANZAC visit to Versailles
Produced in 1918 – 1919 the film The Land We Live In was a two-hour long extravaganza. Sadly only 21 minutes of the original film survive. Aimed at an education market, the film focused on the main centres and principal towns in Aoteroa New Zealand, promoting scenic views and industry in each province.
Curiously, sandwiched between images of scenic wonder and industry is this sequence showing New Zealand soldiers sightseeing at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, in 1919, during the negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles.
The images were most likely taken by New Zealander Charlie Barton. At that time Barton was New Zealand’s only native-born official war cameraman – unfortunately this is one of the few of his films that survive.
All Hostilities Will Cease
Shortly after 8 am on 11 November 1918, army telegraphist George Thomas was one of the first New Zealanders to learn that after four long years, the war was at an end.
An Armistice with Germany had been signed at 5.20 am that morning. Thomas took down the telegraph message, sent in Morse code, at his New Zealand Division signal station in northern France. He wrote it out in pencil, and when he was interviewed for radio some 50 years later in the 1960s, proudly showed the interviewer the original pencil and message form, which he had kept.
A Hero’s Painful Memories
Bernard “Tiny” Freyberg VC, CMG, DSO ended World War One a highly decorated hero – celebrated in Britain as well as his homeland of New Zealand. He had served with the British forces: his Distinguished Service Order (DSO) was won at Gallipoli, his Victoria Cross (VC) on the Somme and, at the age of 27, he was made the youngest Brigadier-General in the British Army. He would go on to command the 2nd New Zealand Division in World War Two and become Governor-General of New Zealand.
Born in London, he grew up in New Zealand after his family emigrated and he attended Wellington College, in the capital city.
In 1921, still suffering from the many wounds he received during the war, he returned to New Zealand for several weeks to recuperate. He turned down all requests for public appearances and a civic reception, but he did take time to visit his old school and address an assembly of the boys.
One of those schoolboys, Max Riske, vividly recalled the event some 60 years later in a radio interview. As Max explains, the boys were expecting a stirring speech from a glorious war hero – but got something quite different from the man who had lost two brothers and many friends in the war.
The Diggers’ March in Sydney
In April 1938, several thousand New Zealand “diggers” sailed from Wellington for Sydney, where they reunited with their Australian “cobbers” of 1914 – 1918 in a grand Anzac Day procession through the city.
The huge march from the Cenotaph to the Domain, where a commemoration service was held, was part of Australia’s 150th anniversary celebrations and some 50,000 returned servicemen took part – with an estimated half a million people lining the Sydney streets.
In this live radio broadcast from the Wellington waterfront, Station 2ZB announcers – who were veterans themselves – capture the cheering, bands and excitement on the docks. New Zealand Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage farewells the old soldiers as they board former World War One troopships – ‘the Monowai’ and ‘the Maunganui’ – for the trip across the Tasman.
Images of war
A sergeant from the 1st Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade fires rifle grenades from a trench. The work is repetitious and dangerous, as rifle grenades were temperamental – sometimes landing in the trench or exploding in the barrel.
The destructive power of heavy artillery fire is seen in a pan across the pulverised remains of a village – the scene is one of complete desolation. The pan ends on a trench scene, sandbags are piled high and soldiers with their gas mask satchels on their chest descend into a dugout.
A line of soldiers stumbles through a large shell hole, knee-deep in water – it is some 20 meters in diameter and 4 to 5 metres deep. The soldiers are conscious of the camera, however the conditions are not staged – they are typical of those endured by the New Zealand Division in the low-lying trenches of Northern France during the winters of 1916 and 1917. It was not uncommon for men to spend up to eight days at a stretch in these tough conditions.
Back to Blighty
An ambulance arrives at a New Zealand General Hospital and medical orderlies unload wounded soldiers. Around them are wounded men in various states of recovery – note the number of walking sticks and amputees. All of the patients are dressed in “hospital blues” – a uniform worn by all hospital soldiers in the United Kingdom. Under the Defence of the Realm Act it was forbidden for Public Houses to sell liquor to a soldier in hospital blues.
Can you help us identify the hospital? We know it is a New Zealand General Hospital, so it is either Brockenhurst or Walton-on-Thames. Please contact us if can you help us.
Journeys on a jigger
Stretcher bearers evacuate a wounded soldier from the front line on a stretcher case on a ‘jigger’. The stretcher case is wheeled into the courtyard of the ADS (Advanced Dressing Station). Medicals admit the soldier and his condition is assessed and wounds dressed. More serious cases would have been evacuated by motor ambulance to the Main Dressing Station, in this case the No.3 Field Ambulance at Pont D’Achelles. Just as the ambulance drives off an orderly runs out and throws a soldier’s pack on board.
Filmed in June 1917, in Northern France when the New Zealand Division was on the front line forward of Ploegsteert Wood. It was a period of heavy activity – the buildings were under constant shellfire and were heavily sandbagged.
Flying the “Fighting Experimental Machine”
Royal Flying Corps Flight Commander Reg Kingsford of Nelson, New Zealand describes the third aircraft he learnt to fly during World War I, as the “Fighting Experimental machine.” Officially, it was the Royal Air Factory F.E.2b, the Farman Experimental 2 biplane (two-seater), in which he took a fellow Kiwi for a joyride.
First day on the Somme for Kiwis and tanks
On the 15th of September 1916, the New Zealand Division saw their first major action on the Western Front. In the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, they joined British forces as part of the continued effort to attack German-held territory around the river Somme in northern France.
A new element was also introduced on September 15 with the arrival of tanks in battle for the first time. British military leaders hoped that these new armoured machines, initially known as land-ships, would be able to straddle enemy trenches, break through barbed wire entanglements and end the stalemate of trench warfare.
But Lindsay Inglis, a New Zealand officer involved in action that day, recalls the tanks he saw were less-than-impressive.