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Training at Trentham

The New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) required fit, young, trained solders, both to prepare them for the realities of marching and fighting on the Western Front, but also to reinforce those who met their deaths there. Many men who were trained during the First World War had already received compulsory drilling during junior cadet training at school. The Trentham Military Camp in the Hutt Valley was opened in 1915 to accommodate and train newly recruited soldiers before they were sent to Europe, where their training would continue.

Year:1915

Location:Trentham, Upper Hutt, New Zealand

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Training at Trentham

The New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) required fit, young, trained solders, both to prepare them for the realities of marching and fighting on the Western Front, but also to reinforce those who met their deaths there. Many men who were trained during the First World War had already received compulsory drilling during junior cadet training at school. The Trentham Military Camp in the Hutt Valley was opened in 1915 to accommodate and train newly recruited soldiers before they were sent to Europe, where their training would continue.


Year: 1915

Length: 00:57

Production Company: Pathé Freres

Credits: Possibly filmed by the Government Cinematographer Sydney B. Taylor. Footage supplied by British Pathé.

Source: Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Catalogue Reference: F245691 [New Zealand Recruits]


Location: Trentham, Upper Hutt, New Zealand

Tags: Soldiers, Training, Trentham, Infantrymen, Drills


“The infantry made up more than half the NZEF’s overall strength throughout the war, with the proportion reaching 60% by 1918. In 1914 New Zealand worked to maintain a total of 4062 infantrymen in active service through a flow of reinforcements; by 1918 this number had more than tripled to 14,371. Infantry training imbued recruits with ‘soldierly spirit’, improved their physical fitness, and taught them ‘the use of rifle, bayonet, and spade.’ The 16-week infantry training programme began with three weeks of recruits’ drill and physical training at Trentham, followed by four weeks – mostly spent at Featherston – of drill (from squad to platoon levels), physical training, bayonet-fighting, elementary musketry, individual training, and elementary night training. Final leave in the ninth and tenth weeks was followed by platoon and company drill, more night operations, physical training and bayonet-fighting, and advanced musketry. The other units shared many of these elements, splitting off into more specialised training after their basic drill and musketry work was complete. More advanced training followed in England to flesh out the men’s understanding of current conditions at the front.” Tim Shoebridge, Featherston Military Training Camp and the First World War, 1915-27, Wellington, 2011, p.12.

This film footage depicts a large number of uniformed infantrymen performing arms drills at Trentham, raising and lowering their rifles in unison. A second shot shows them marching with their rifles in formation.