Armistice Day

Page 6 – New Zealanders overseas

As recently as a week before the Armistice, on 4 November 1918, New Zealand troops had been involved in the liberation of the French town of Le Quesnoy. The attack cost the lives of about 80 New Zealand soldiers virtually the last of the 12,483 who fell on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918.

Coming home

From the time of the Armistice until April 1919, an average of 4500 men returned to New Zealand from the United Kingdom and France each month, plus another 500 from Egypt. In addition, about 3000 wives and 600 children of New Zealand soldiers who were married abroad returned in the troopships during this period of demobilisation.

On the declaration of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, a total of 52,123 New Zealand troops were still overseas, including 24,115 in France, 23,541 in England and 4451 in Egypt.

The New Zealand Division official history records that those in France received the news of the Armistice ‘generally in a matter of fact way, totally devoid of any demonstration of emotion. A Divisional Service of Thanksgiving was held on 14th November.’ Most of these troops then faced a long march across north-east France and Belgium to join the Allied Army of Occupation of Germany. On 20 December, the first New Zealand formation, the 2nd Brigade, crossed the Rhine River into Cologne.

Many of the New Zealand soldiers who had been training or recuperating in England took part in local Armistice celebrations, marching on parade in London and displaying captured German guns at the Lord Mayor’s Show.

How to cite this page

'New Zealanders overseas', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/armistice-day/armistice-overseas, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Oct-2018