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.
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.
Teenage soldiers and a boat full of blood
Seventeen-year-old Daniel Patrick (Pat) Lloyd of Christchurch was among the New Zealanders who landed at Gallipoli on April 25 1915. He witnessed the carnage when the boatloads of men came under heavy machine-gun fire as they came ashore. Pat survived and went on to serve in France where he won a Distinguished Conduct Medal for ‘gallantry in the field’. Fifty years later he took part in an anniversary ‘pilgrimage’ by New Zealand veterans, who returned to Gallipoli to retrace their footsteps and visit graves and memorials to fallen comrades.