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Book Launch For Important WW1 Diary

<> New Zealand Defence Force Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media release

7 November 2008

Book Launch For Important WW1 Diary

"The Devil's Own War", a book capturing a unique time in our nation's military history will be launched at Defence House, Wellington on Armistice Day, Tuesday, 11 November.

Edited by New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) historian, John Crawford, "The Devil's Own War" contains the diary of Brigadier-General Herbert Hart which is now widely regarded to be one of the most important personal sources relating to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

The book, which will be officially launched by the Chief of Army, Major General Lou Gardiner, includes gripping descriptions of both combat and life behind the front line during World War I.

Brigadier-General Herbert Hart left New Zealand in 1914 as a major in the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and returned in 1919 as a much decorated brigadier general. 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.

Several descendants of Brigadier General Hart will be travelling from Northland and the Wairarapa to the launch. Hart's granddaughter, Merrilyn Bartram of Masterton, will make a short speech.

The book launch is part of a series of events held around the country to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day.

Armistice Day is the anniversary of the official end of World War I, November 11, 1918. It commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

The NZDF will donate one copy of "The Devil's Own War" to each secondary and area school in New Zealand to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War, in a gesture aimed to foster a greater understanding of the conflict by young New Zealanders.


Media wishing to attend are required to register with Denise Landau, Defence Public Relations 04 496 0463 or 027 290 6009 before 2 pm Tuesday 11 Nov. Appropriate photo ID must be on display at all times while on Defence property.

Editor's note: World War I was undoubtedly the most traumatic event in New Zealand's history. From a population of a little more than one million in 1914, the Dominion sent just over 100,000 soldiers overseas as members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force [NZEF] during the War.

In addition, many New Zealanders served with the British and Australian Armed Forces. The loss of 16, 697 members of the NZEF overseas meant that approximately 15 in every 1000 New Zealanders became victims (in Britain the comparable figure was 16, in Australia 12 and Canada eight).

When deaths among NZEF personnel in New Zealand and those who died after discharge from the war-related conditions up to the end of 1923 are included, New Zealand's death toll rises to 18, 166. Since the end of the World War I, much attention the New Zealand has focused on the Gallipoli campaign, but it was the Western Front in France and Belgium where the majority of New Zealanders fought and the majority of casualties were suffered. Hardly a family was unaffected by these terrible losses, which continued to have a major impact on New Zealand society long after the end of hostilities. John Crawford - New Zealand Defence Force Historian

In 2007 John Crawford edited, with Ian McGibbon, Exisle's 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.

A number of Armistice Day activities will be run by government agencies under the theme Homecoming Te Hokinga Mai, go to www.nzlive.com for more details.


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