Seeing the Sights in Paris
A party of young women show a group of smartly dressed British, Australian, American and New Zealand soldiers the sights of Paris. Insignia on the women’s clothing suggests they are from the Red Cross. In this excerpt, the group walk along a concourse toward the Eiffel Tower. A pan around the party of sightseers shows a smiling, cheerful group. Later on, the group is in front of the Hôtel de Ville, before all climbing into a truck.
When the Armistice was signed in November 1918, there were 56,000 New Zealanders overseas or at sea. Demobilisation was a carefully planned manoeuvre with most troops and nurses returning home during 1919 – though the last New Zealanders did not return home until 1921. Troops were anxious to leave and so, to counter rising tension as soldiers waited to hear when they could go home, activities such as the Inter-Allied Games and sightseeing parties were designed to keep the men occupied.
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.