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.
At the outbreak of the war, a commonly expressed concern was the need to enlist quickly in case the fighting ended before New Zealand forces could take part in what was widely imagined to be a great adventure. On August 8 1914, just four days after war was declared, the Evening Post newspaper reported that nearly 600 men in Wellington City had already volunteered for war service. George Davies was a schoolboy growing up in the working class Wellington suburb of Newtown. He recalls the enthusiasm to enlist among the men he knew.
Farewelling troops in Wellington
This rare film records a civic ceremony for New Zealand troops departing for the front. It shows the official farewell to the Wellington Section of the NZ Expeditionary Force on 24 September 1914. The troops are inspected by a group of dignitaries, including Prime Minister William Massey, Lord Liverpool the Governor-General and Major General Sir Alexander Godley. They then march four abreast down Adelaide Road and along Lambton Quay, Wellington’s main shopping street. The men of the NZEF are then seen crammed on board the deck and high up on the rigging of a troopship. Most have happy faces as they await what they expected would be a grand adventure. Contrast this with the more subdued figures of the 6th Reinforcement who appear at the end of the film. They are seen departing for the front in August 1915, when the horrors of the Gallipoli Campaign had become widely known.