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Brigadier-Gen's Diary: Clues To Life Behind Front


Brigadier-General's Diary Gives Vital Clues To Combat And Life Behind The Front Line In WWI


The First World War Diary of Brigadier-General Herbert Hart
edited by John Crawford; Publisher: Exisle Publishing

In 1914, like many other New Zealanders, Wairarapa lawyer Herbert Hart decided to keep a diary to record his experiences during the 'great adventure' of the First World War.

Today, Brigadier-General (later Sir) Herbert Hart Hart's diary is regarded as one of the most important personal sources relating to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, in World War 1, and is being published to commemorate Armistice Day.

Edited by NZ Defence Force historian John Crawford, The Devil's Own War (Exisle Publishing, $55.00 HB) will be released on 25 October to mark the upcoming 90th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that marked the end of the First World War.

Exceptionally well written, it includes gripping descriptions of both combat and life behind the front line and on leave in France and United Kingdom.

The book will be officially launched by the Chief of Army Major General Lou Gardiner of the NZ Defence Force, on Armistice Day, 11 November, in Wellington. The NZ Defence Force will also donate one copy of The Devil's Own War to each secondary school in New Zealand to commemorate the end of the First World War and to foster a greater understanding of the conflict amongst young New Zealanders.

Only one diary by a New Zealand battalion or brigade commander has previously been published (William Malone's), and, because he was a more senior commander, Hart was involved in and comments on a much wider range of issues than are dealt with in that or any other published New Zealand diary. The publication of Hart's diary will attract considerable attention in New Zealand and internationally.

Herbert Hart left New Zealand in 1914 as a major with the Main Body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and returned in 1919 as a much decorated brigadier-general. Initially, Hart served as William Malone's second-in-command in the Wellington Infantry Battalion. He commanded the Wellington Battalion during the closing stages of the Gallipoli campaign, and then served as a battalion and brigade commander on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918.
During this time Hart kept a diary, of which his service on the Western Front is the principal focus. It includes gripping descriptions of both combat and life behind the front line and on leave in France and United Kingdom..
This important publication will also include an introductory chapter on Hart's early life, and a concluding chapter about his diverse and distinguished career after the war, including his term as Administrator of Western Samoa from 1931 to 1935.
The original diary is held by the Kippenberger Military Archive and Research Library at the Queen Elizabeth II Army Memorial Museum, Waiouru

Release Date into bookstores 25 October; Official Launch Date 11 November; RRP $55.00

AUTHOR John Crawford is the New Zealand Defence Force Historian and has written on many aspects of the history of the New Zealand Armed Forces and defence policy. In 2007 he edited, with Ian McGibbon, Exisle's monumental book New Zealand's Great War. His other major publications include To Fight for the Empire: An Illustrated History of New Zealand and the South African War, 1899-1902; Kia Kaha: New Zealand in the Second World War; and with the assistance of Peter Cooke, No Better Death: The Great War diaries and letters of William G. Malone. John Crawford lives in Wellington.


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