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New book offers a fresh perspective on New Zealand’s contribution to Western Front campaign

Media release: 5 September 2016

Between 1914 and 1918 New Zealand fought the bloodiest and most traumatic campaign in its military history

Since the first official history of the New Zealand Division on the Western Front was published in 1921, no scholarly overview volume has been written, until now. New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign challenges myths that exist about New Zealand’s effort and throws new light on aspects of the country’s overall involvement in the First World War.

Book cover for Ian McGibbon's New Zealand's Western Front campaign publication.

Ian McGibbon is one of this country’s leading historians and his meticulous research, careful analysis and clear narrative style make this book a benchmark of military history and a book that will be the cornerstone reference on this subject for many years to come.

The book covers participation in all its facets: the battles that New Zealand soldiers fought are described in detail, and placed in the wider context of the conflict. The tedium of trench warfare, the terror of going over the top in major attacks and the exhilaration of taking part in the open warfare that concluded the campaign are all part of the story. Specially commissioned maps bring the detail of campaigns and battles to life and offer a fresh perspective on the action.

The book has been produced by Manatū Taonga, Ministry for Culture and Heritage as part of the First World War Centenary History Programme. The Ministry’s War History Trust, the result of a generous bequest by Julian Watson, has been an important source of support in the completion of this project. On Sunday 18 September 2016 a national commemoration will be held at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park to honour those who served on the Western Front in France. This commemoration will mark the New Zealand Expeditionary Force’s experiences during the Somme offensive of 1916, as well as New Zealanders’ wider engagements on French soil during the War.

Dr Ian McGibbon ONZM was formerly General Editor (War History) at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. He has published extensively on New Zealand’s war history, including the two volume official history of New Zealand’s involvement in the Korean War and the official history of combat operations in the Vietnam War. He edited the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History (2000), and is the author of battlefield guides to both the Western Front and Gallipoli. He was New Zealand’s representative on the tri-nation historical and archaeological survey of the Anzac Battlefield at Gallipoli 2009–14. He was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to historical research in 1997.

The book, published by David Bateman Ltd, will be available for purchase from 16 September.

Updated on 22nd September 2016