New Zealand entering World War 1
New Zealand is often overlooked when being recognised for their military actions. A country that is more famous for its friendly inhabitants and beautiful lands, it is not as famous for its military, some people won’t know that they participated in both World War 1 and World War 2 fighting for the British Empire and her allies.
When the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, New Zealand also declared war on Germany. From a population of just over 1 million, 100,444 people served their country during WWII, that is over 1/10 of all New Zealanders.
New Zealands first action in WW1 – The Occupation of German Samoa
The occupation of German Samoa is recognized as New Zealand’s first involvement in World War 1 that started in the August of 1914. The UK highlighted the fact that it would be an ‘imperial service’ if New Zealand forces were able to seize German Samoa as it contained a German wireless radio station; which was one of many used by the German East Asia Squadron.
Before commencing the seize of the island, just over 1,000 soldiers stopped off at Fiji to pick up supplies and interpreters for their raid.
Despite the Germans not officially surrendering the island, German officers never actually offered any sort of resistance. Thus meaning that the occupation involved no fighting. There have been claims made that this was the first seizure of a German territory made by the British Imperial forces, however some have said that Togoland had fallen 4 days earlier as part of the Western Africa Campaign.
The Battle of Gallipoli, Turkey
In April 1915, New Zealanders landed at ‘Anzac Cove’ on the Gallipoli peninsula and fought in the Gallipoli campaign under the British commander Alexander Godley. The goal was to capture the ottoman capital of Constantinople (now known as Istanbul). However, due to a navigational error, the Anzacs came ashore a mile north of their agreed landing point. Instead of beaches and gentle slopes, they arrived at the bottom of steep cliff faces. This allowed a for a far superior position for Ottoman defenders, eventually resulting in an Ottoman victory. This day is now celebrated in Australia and New Zealand, known as ANZAC Day.
Along with multiple other campaigns, the New Zealand army offered everything they could to the war. Field Marshall Sir Edmund Allenby said that “Nothing daunted these intrepid fighters: to them nothing was impossible.” in reference to New Zealand forces. Such a compliment should stay with all generations of New Zealand military services and should act as motivation as to what their small yet strong numbers achieved.
If you want to learn about any of the New Zealanders that sacrificed their lives, then use our search bar at the top of the page or click here: https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/search and see what you are able to discover. Forces War Records hold hand transcribed records from multiple sources including hospital discharge records, enlistment files and service records.