As we count down to the centenary of the Anzac landings on Gallipoli – 25 April – we need to remember that New Zealand’s First World War was far larger than just that campaign.
Our soldiers fought from France to Gallipoli to Palestine – and this last campaign, in sharp contrast to the other two, was a fast-moving, far-reaching effort that was in many ways the antithesis of the trench warfare that has become such a symbol of the way we imagine the First World War. That’s not to diminish the importance of the trenches as the definition of the war for us. Our largest campaign was the Western Front, where the bulk of the 100,000-plus Kiwis who fought in the First World War were stationed. Memorials scattered across northern France and into Belgium mark the graves of the 12,483 New Zealanders killed in that campaign, between April 1916 when they arrived, and November 1918. We need to remember these brave soldiers too – as well as those who fought in Gallipoli, where 2,779 Kiwis died. I’ve written a variety of books on New Zealand’s First World War. And if you want to learn more, you can grab Western Front: The New Zealand Division 1916-18, right now, on Kindle. Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015