Key Battles Fought by New Zealand in WW2

New Zealand entered World War 2 in a similar fashion as to how they entered World War 1; when the United Kingdom declared war on Nazi Germany. A lot of the New Zealand involvement was fueled by appeasement of fascist dictators as well as economic and defensive considerations.

With New Zealand donating their Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) pilots to the RAF, it meant that the rate of New Zealand involvement progressed rapidly. Around 100 New Zealand pilots were sent to Europe by the time the Battle of Britain had started.

The North African Campaign in 1941

A small number of New Zealand troops supported the British Operation Compass in the Western Desert in December 1940. But it wasn’t until November 1941 that New Zealand became fully involved. With a recent defeat at Crete, New Zealand reinforcements were sent over to bolster the numbers and re-strengthen the troops. Taking part in Operation Crusader (a mission to lift the siege of Tobruk), New Zealand forces helped push back Axis forces back to the Libyan frontier into Cyrenaica. It was in fact the New Zealand troops that relieved Tobruk after fighting around Sidi Rezegh, even after taking heavy damage from Axis tanks. After a vital victory, the New Zealand government insisted that New Zealand troops retreat from Syria to re-group and recover.

New Zealand Forces arriving in Italy 1943

In October/November 1943, New Zealand troops assembled in Bari with aims to cross the river Sangro with a view to breach the Gustav Line. After a month of advancing, they manage to capture a village in Abruzzo, which was part of the Gustav Line. Unfortunately, further advancements were repulsed by strong German defences. With many failed attempts at progression, the New Zealand troops withdrew from the stalled line, only to aid British and Polish troops a few months later, and then starting another advancement themselves. By July 1944, the NZ troops had captured Arezzo and by the 4th of August, had reached Florence. Their advancements were far too quick for German defenses’ as by 28th April 1945, the troops had captured Padua, a mere 291km advancement in under a year. By the time the New Zealanders had reached Trieste, the Germans had unconditionally surrendered.

There are other equally as important battles that New Zealand participated in, however these were two of the most significant. To learn more about any of the troops or soldiers, use the search bar at the top of the page or you can click here to begin your search:

Image from:

Over 7 million records and counting - free search

Click here to search for British and Commonwealth military records