Steeds and shellfire on the Western Front
The horses that were sent to the Western Front during the First World War faced many of the same difficulties as the soldiers that they served. Horses were used to transport officers, heavy artillery and other equipment to the front lines. The artillery conveyed by these horses was an essential element of the military strategies that developed on the battlefront. The Battle of the Somme in 1916 in particular saw the first widespread use of the ‘creeping barrage’, a strategy designed to provide cover for an advancing line of infantry.
Leonard Leary was a law student in Wellington who first served in Samoa after joining up in 1914 and then joined the British Royal Artillery and fought at the Battle of the Somme. In this 'Spectrum' radio documentary from 1982 he recalls both the trials of controlling horses amid the confusion of a battlefield and the use of the creeping barrage at the Somme.
From 18 to 20 December 1915, the Allies retreated from the Gallipoli peninsula. In the days beforehand, rumours of their impending departure produced mixed feelings in the men. After months of the hardships of war, they were reluctant to leave the resting place of their fallen pals. Had it all been in vain? In this compilation, three veterans remember the evacuation of Gallipoli.
Machine gunners at Chunuk Bair
Leonard Leary was an ammunition handler with a Wellington Infantry Battalion machine gun team, and was wounded at Chunk Bair. The outdated Maxim machine guns used by New Zealand troops on Gallipoli were operated by a team of six men. These teams had to carry their guns up to vantage points and assemble them there in the heat of battle.
Listen to Leonard Leary reading from his memoir about the battle of Chunuk Bair.