Jane Tolerton An Awfully Big Adventure

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An Awfully Big Adventure: New Zealand's World War One veterans tell their stories by Jane Tolerton (Contributor) What was it like to be a New Zealand soldier in the First World War? What impact did the war have on those who returned? Let them tell you. Part 1 The Outbreak of War.   WW1 began on 4th August 1914. Thousands of men enlisted immediately to fight for the British Empire.  Part 2 The Gallipoli Campaign.   Having landed in Egypt in December 1914, the New Zealander Expeditionary Force spent the first three months training on the desert sands. Part 3 The Gallipoli Campaign.   On 24th May, almost a month after the Anzacs had landed, a one-day armistice was held to bury the massive number of dead. Part 4 Chunuk Bair.   After three months on the Gallipoli peninsula, New Zealander troops set off to capture the heights of Chunuk Bair. Part 5 To the Western Front.   The Gallipoli survivors left the peninsula in December 1915 and returned to Egypt where new reinforcements arrived from New Zealand. In April 1916 the NZ Division was formed and sailed for France and combat on the Western Front. Part 6 The Battle of the Somme.   In September 1916 New Zealanders on the Western Front joined the long-running Battle of the Somme. Part 7 The Western Front.   By late 1916 the New Zealanders had settled into life in the trenches on the Western Front. Part 8 The Sinai-Palestine Campaign. While most New Zealanders were on the Western Front, the men of the Mounted Rifles and thier horses were engaged in a campaign to push the Turks up through Egypt into Palestine. Part 9 Messines.   From late 1916 New Zealand was conscripting men to go to the war. On June 7th 1917, the NZ Division took part in the Battle of Messines. Part 10 Passchendaele.   On October 1917, the New Zealand division fought the two battles we call Passchendaele. The first, on October 4th, was a minor victory. The second, on 12th October, would be the worst day in NZ military history. Part 11 After Passchendaele. 845 New Zealand soldiers died at Passchendaele and alsmot 3000 more were wounded. Part 12 Back to the Somme. In March 1918 the Germans staged a 'Spring Offensive', breaking through on the Somme and heading for Amiens. The New Zealanders and Australians were thrown in to stop them. Part 13 The Sinai-Palestine Campaign and the Battle of Gaza, March 1917.   While most New Zealanders were on the Western Front, the men of the Mounted Rifles and their horses were engaged in the Sinai-Palestine Campaign. Part 14 The Armistice and Afterwards. New Zealand soldiers on the Western Front gradually heard that the Armistice had been signed. Part 15 Home Again. New Zealand soldiers gradually arrived home. Because so many ships had been sunk during the war, it took a long time to get them back. An Awfully Big Adventure traces the reminiscences and reflections of 80 veterans interviewed for the World War One Oral History Archive. Respected journalist Jane Tolerton revisits the interviews and sets pieces in a chronology for 21st-century readers to follow the progress and human experience of the war in the words of those who were there. The men relive their time abroad, offering private moments as well as the unvarnished realities of life at the front. A century on, their voices are vivid, strong and direct, and often humorous. Deeply affecting and absorbing, An Awfully Big Adventure is an important historical memoir that reads as if it all happened yesterday. ====== '[F]ew publications will be quite as engrossing as this one . . . I found the stories of these very real people, who went to war almost a century ago, enormously interesting, moving and compelling.' Lt Gen the Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, Governor-General 'You never took any notice of a dead man. When we were going over in the Battle of Messines, before I got hit, we were passing wounded men, dead men, dead Germans, but we just went straight on. It's a terrible thing to talk about what I'm talking about, you know. But I saw it, I was there.' Stan Herbert 'Never let your mates down – that was a good motto. People used to say to me, 'Were you scared?' I'd say, 'Yes, who wouldn't be? But my biggest worry was not to let me mates think I was scared.' Mustn't let them down.' Thomas Eltringham 'I thought it would be a great adventure, and it'd be real fun. And so it was – up to a point. Past that point it wasn't funny at all.' Sydney Stanfield 

This recording is part of the Old Time Radio collection.