The following interesting review of the two volumes of the "New Zealand War History," Major Waite's book on the ' Gallipoli operations, and Colonel Stewart's book, "The New Zealand Division," appears in the "Army Quarterly":— These two volumes have been produced under the auspices of the New Zealand Ministry of Defence, and are designed to put before the inhabitants of the Dominion an account based on accurate and official information, and written by competent authorities, of the doings of their contingents in the field. Two more volumes are to follow, one dealing with the New Zealand mounted troops in Palestine, the other, of a more general character, with the "war" effort of New Zealand. The whole series is planned the general reader than for the more technical needs of the military reader, but, though it is entitled "The New Zealand Popular History Series," it" is a serious work, and it is hard to see what more is wanted beyond Colonel Stewart's narrative in the way of an account of the doings of the New Zealand Division in France. For the instruction of soldiers detailed monographs on various individual operations in which the Division took part might be written, but Colonel Stewart has done his work so thoroughly, and'shows such a grasp,of the conditions and circumstances which influenced the operations he describes, that his book cannot fail to be of real value to soldiers* "He is very happy in his lucid explanations of the development of tactical methods and ideas (e.g. pp. 302ff.). His comments on. the general situation are sound, and show capacity to see beyond the, immediate situation. He is reasonably proud of the great exploits of the New Zealand Division, and few divisions have such a record of almost unbroken success, but he is quite free from the "parochialism" and narrowness'< of view which too often mar the narra- ! tives of the achievement of individual divisions or other uuits. His v comments on the Division's one failure in a major operation are eminently just. This was the Division's second effort in the course of the Ypres offensive of 1917, the "second battle of Passehendaele" (October 12th ? 1917), when the state of the ground was such that it was impossible to prelude the attack by an artillery bombardment capable of demolishing the pillboxes and the wire which checked the attack. He realises the- difficulties against which the troops in front had to contend, but he realises also that it adds nothing to the credit they earned T>y their gallantry and determination in the face of the most unfavourable conditions to indulge in recriminations, or wisdom after the event, at the expense of" the higher authorities. Aa an example of Colonel Stewart's interesting and suggestive comments, one may quote his remark that the New Zealanders, on. arriving in France after serving at Gallipoli, found that the latter campaign was "a century behind the -warfare in France, owing to the continuous development of military technique and the intensive application of science tojthe military art."' (p. 30.) In the long roll' of successes which the New Zealand Division achieved in France, General Harper, who contributes a "foreword" to Colonel Stewart's yolume, selects the capture of (August, 1918), the "bril--1 liant night advance from Welsh Bidge which" led to the capture of Crevecoeu*>" and the great attack "of the Bth of October as- the most notable; but, great as were - the Division's achievements in the "Hundred Days" of 1918, there are some earlier episodes which seem to stand out as even more creditable. ;In the "Hundred Days" the Division' enjoyed the enormous advantage ct being kept well up .to strength, and of being able to keep its brigades at four battalions; ,it was natural, therefore, that it could achieve more than divisions which had been cut down to three battalions to a brigade. But .what strikes one as in some ways the most remarkable proof of ..the high' quality of the Division is the narrative of the exploitation, in June, 1917, of the Division's gains in the battle of Messines. This work was carried out. by the very battalion which had suffered most severely in the battle., Despite increasing resistance and many counter-attacks, the 'men. pressed forward south of the Dduyein the; most brilliant fashion,' and the Division clinched its.work^ in this quarter by a-really brilliant minor operation which reduced "La Basseville. , But an /even moife interesting, and certainly a. more ; important series of operations was. that which the Division undertook on the -Ancre in March and April, 1918, when it was suddenly pushed forward to meet the German advance. This "episode is most lucidly described in chapter IX., and .affords an excellent .example of the "encounter battle;"-well worth detailed study. Probably- there was- no achievement in the history of the New Division which was of greater practical or moral, value. " ■ ■
. The New.Zealanders ur France, may be congratulated on their historian; his volume* is well written, very well illustrated by photographs, and, if the maps do not open out clear of the book, at least they are in the right places in the volume. It is an excellent account, and few divisional histories have been so satisfactorily written. Major Waite's volume on the "New Zealanders at Gallipoli" does not, it must be admitted, reach the same levelHe has, no doubt, been handicapped as any one must who tries the story of Gallipoli,. especially of the early days,-by the-inadequacy of the material available, but- certainly his account of the landing is neither illuminating nor detailed; while, though he gives a better account of the gallant efforts of the New Zealanders- to secure Chunuk Bair in the August effort, he is not very accurate as to what was happening at Suvla at the same time. His" Volume as a wjiole is distinctly more in style, inasmuch as it goes in more for descriptions of a general chnrfieter. yul lacks the»precision and workmanlike character of Colonel Stewart's nook. A plan of the-first few days' fighting is badly wanted —it would doubtless be very difficult to construct, but that does not make it. any less necessary—arid so- is one for the New Zealanders' gallant effort to take Krithia in May. But perhaps' one would be inclined to think better of Major Waite's performance had it not to stand comparison with Colonel Stewart's volume.
Permanent link to this item
WAR HISTORIES., Press, Volume LVIII, Issue 17648, 28 December 1922
WAR HISTORIES. Press, Volume LVIII, Issue 17648, 28 December 1922
Using This Item
Fairfax Media is the copyright owner for the Press. You can reproduce in-copyright material from this newspaper for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons New Zealand BY-NC-SA licence. This newspaper is not available for commercial use without the consent of Fairfax Media. For advice on reproduction of out-of-copyright material from this newspaper, please refer to the Copyright guide.
This newspaper was digitised in partnership with Christchurch City Libraries (1921-1945).