For the New Zealand Division, part of II Anzac Corps, major operations in Belgium began in June 1917 with the capture of Messines ridge. The battle for Passchendaele reached a climax in early October when a successful assault on Gravenstafel Spur on the 4th was followed by a devastating defeat at Bellevue Spur on the 12th.
In December, at nearby Polderhoek, the New Zealanders suffered another costly setback. By the time they were finally withdrawn from the Ypres front line in February 1918, the New Zealand Division had suffered more than 18,000 casualties – including around 5000 deaths – and won three Victoria Crosses for bravery.
For the men in the trenches, Passchendaele was a living nightmare, but the impact of war reached far beyond those serving at the front line in Belgium. Many New Zealand families, communities, workplaces, schools and clubs were affected in a very direct way. Throughout the war, communities and patriotic organisations worked together to raise funds for Belgian war refugees and provide comforts for New Zealand soldiers at the front line.
Some reasons why people were not allowed to fight was because they had diabetes, disabilitess , religious beliefs and just because they didnt want to leave their family. The people who didntt want to fight were prepared to do a non combat action either at home or at the hospital. Many of the men who didntt do even that or even refuse to put on the uniform were sent to prision and sometimes badly beaten.
EQUIPMENT FOR A NEW ZEALAND SOLDIER
A New Zealand soldier went to war in August 1914, wearing the 1902 Pattern Service Dress tunic and trousers. There were two breast pockets for personal items and the soldiers AB64 Pay Book, two smaller pockets for other items, and an internal pocket sewn under the right flap of the lower tunic. Rifle patches were sewn above the breast pockets, to prevent wear from the webbing equipment and rifle. Shoulder straps were sewn on and fastened with brass buttons, with enough space for a brass regimental shoulder title.
The Pith helmet is a lightweight helmet made of cork or pith, with a cloth cover, designed to shade the wearer's head from the sun. They wore these till 1815 until the Brodie helmet came in use which was made of steel.
The first use of poison gas on the Western Front was on 22 April 1915, by the Germans at Ypres, against Canadian and French colonial troops.The initial response was to equip troops with cotton mouth pads for protection. Soon afterwards the British introduced the Black Veil Respirator.This mask offered protection to the eyes as well as to the respiratory system. Soon enough many New Zealand troops were equipped with them.
The were equipped with m1-grand rifles, if lucky a Thompson machine gun, hand grenades, and usually some spare ammunition. The men with a good shot were able to get a sniper rifle but were only usually used on special missions.