Military History Of New Zealand In World War I
The military history of New Zealand in World War I was marked by several important events that are worth mentioning. In the beginning of the war, New Zealand followed the UK when it declared war against Germany. Despite its isolated geographical location and a small population of just a million, New Zealand jumped into WWI to back the UK without any hesitation.
Between 1914 and 1918, New Zealand’s overseas military forces comprised of over 103,000 men and nurses. With 16,697 people killed and 41,317 wounded, the troops saw a fifty-eight percent casualty rate during the war. This was recorded to be the highest death and casualty rate per capita of any nation that was involved in the WWI.
Another major event in the military history of New Zealand in WWI was the recruitment of the native Maori soldiers for the first time in a major war. The recruitment was done against the British military policy that prohibited the participation of native soldiers in major conflicts. A batch of Maori soldiers participated actively in the famous Gallipoli Campaign in 1915 and also fought on the Western Front as the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion. Thus, in the First World War, New Zealand military forces comprised of 2,688 Maori soldiers, 150 Niueans, and 346 Pacific Islanders.
Other important landmarks in New Zealand’s military history included occupation of German Samoa in August 1914, evacuation of the troops from Gallipoli in December 1915, the famous Palestine Campaign in April 1916, and the extensive training of the New Zealand troops in England. Thus, despite being small, New Zealand played a significant role during World War I.
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