Author(s): John H. Gray
The New Zealand Division's campaign in France and Flanders was the birth of the modern New Zealand Army. At Armentieres, First Somme 1916, Messines and Third Ypres 1917 it established a high reputation. This was enhanced in its great encounter battle when it closed a gap in the British Line on the Ancre in Second Somme, during the German Spring Offensive in March 1918. Following this, it was in the vanguard of the final Advance to Victory in the Last Hundred Days, culminating in its heroic, medieval Relief of Le Quesnoy in the Battle of the Sambre, at war's end. This story tells of national sacrifice. 13,647 New Zealanders died within the Division's ranks in two and a half years; more than in all three Armed Services combined in the six years of World War II. The book demonstrates that casualties were consistently under-reported in Stewart. The campaign in France and Belgian Flanders has long lingered in the shadow of Gallipoli's legendary status. The author lightens that shadow in arguing convincingly that the Western Front was much more significant militarily and historically, and deserves at least equal prominence in New Zealand's national consciousness. This was one of his aims in writing the book. The Western Front campaign was the only occasion in New Zealand's military history when its Division contributed to the defeat of the main army of the main enemy, in the main theatre of war. The foreword is by Dr Christopher Pugsley, New Zealand's pre-eminent authority on the Great War.