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Western Front experience captured in new book

A new book capturing the experiences of New Zealand soldiers on the Western Front during the First World War is a vivid and detailed account of a pivotal event in our nation’s history, Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says.

New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign by Dr Ian McGibbon is the first major account of New Zealand’s contribution since the official history was published in 1921,

“Almost 13,000 New Zealand soldiers and airmen died during three years of horrific fighting in France and Belgium from 1916-18. This a timely reminder of the significance of the campaign for New Zealand and its long-lasting repercussions.”

Through specially commissioned new maps, excerpts from soldiers’ diaries, photographs and artwork, this exceptionally well-illustrated book sheds light on the experiences of individuals, including those who served in British and other forces like Cecil Humphries, the first New Zealander to receive a Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallantry on the battlefield.

“The ongoing public interest in the centenary of the First World War, most recently seen at our National Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme at Pukeahu in Wellington last weekend, reveals the debt we still feel to those who fought with courage and valour and those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

“Dr McGibbon’s work will be treasured by scholars and historians, while being eminently readable and accessible to all New Zealanders, and is a worthy addition to our WW100 legacy.”

New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign is supported by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s War History Trust, the result of a generous bequest by Julian Watson, and is part of the WW100 First World War Centenary History programme.

The book, published by David Bateman Ltd, will be officially launched by the Minister at Parliament tomorrow evening.

Updated on 22nd September 2016