ele From Papanui to Passchenda

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From Papanui to Passchendaele

World War I

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip. This event set in train a series of events that was to change the world forever - the outbreak of World War I. Because New Zealand was a British Dominion, it followed Britain enthusiastically to war. This is the story of how a New Zealand community contributed to the war effort and suffered as a result. It is also the story of the New Zealand Division in World War I - how it was transformed from a collection of courageous amateur soldiers into a professional fighting unit that ranked among the most effective of the British divisions in World War I.

Service in World War I cost New Zealand dearly. More than 100,000 men (out of a population of 1.1 million people) served in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Over 18,000 were killed, and nearly 40,000 others became casualties, giving an overall casualty rate of 57%. In the case of the men from Papanui, evidence from memorials suggests that it is possible that this district suffered an even greater percentage of deaths than was the case nationally.

Papanui in 1914

Today Papanui is a suburb of the New Zealand city of Christchurch. In 1914, it was on the rural fringe of the city, and was linked to nearby districts of Harewood, Styx, Belfast and Coutts Island. Papanui was an area that was partly suburban, linked to the centre of Christchurch by a tram line that ran down Papanui Road, but linked closely to other neighbouring districts that were mostly rural. The population of the whole district was about 5000 people. Most of them were employed in semi-skilled or labouring jobs on local farms, orchards or in industries based on farming, such as the meat works or wool scour at Belfast. In many ways, this community was typical of the ones from which New Zealand soldiers came. Over 500 men from this district marched away to serve in World War I. Ninety-six did not return. This is their story.

This story has been complied by researching the personal military records of the individual soldiers, combined with extensive research from newspapers of the time, personal family accounts and other primary records relating to these men or the communities from which they came. The historical context of their wartime service has derived from reading extensively from published personal accounts of wartime experiences as well as the work of historians who have begun to re-examine the way in which the war was fought.

Papanui Learn more about the Papanui districts' community and how they supported their men during the war.

The New Zealand Division Learn about the role of the New Zealand Division in famous World War I battles and campaigns.

The Experience of War Learn more about Jack Leversedge and Jack Elderton, two Papanui men, through their diaries and letters, as well as other personal narratives about the war.

Memorials Learn how the local communities remembered the sacrifice of the men from Papanui and how their memory is preserved today.

The Men from Papanui Learn more about the ordinary men from the district who served and died in World War I.

Roll of Honour Read the details of the men from Papanui who gave their lives fighting in World War I.

A Profile of the Papanui Soldiers Learn more about issues such as enlistment, length of service, discipline and other issues Sources Learn more about the sources used in the preparation of this web site.
About the writer | Contact the Writer | © 2005 Paul O'Connor