DEFENCE

Professor Glyn Harper at the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery in the Somme province of France,  kneeling next to the original grave of the soldier who now rests in the Tomb of the Unknown  Warrior in Wellington. Professor Glyn Harper at the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery in the Somme province of France, kneeling next to the original grave of the soldier who now rests in the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Wellington. CREDIT: Massey University

Tour tells of New Zealand's WW1 triumph and tragedy

Friday 13 July 2012, 4:14PM
By Massey University
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The battles fought in the toughest year of the First World War will be told as part of a history tour.

Professor of War Studies Glyn Harper will deliver free public lectures in Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Palmerston North next week entitled Triumph and Tragedy: Battles of 1917.

Professor Harper says the lecture will focus on three 1917 battles, including the Passchendaele battle – New Zealand’s worst military disaster.

“We are focusing on 1917 for two reasons; that it is 95 years ago, and because it was the toughest year of war for the Allies and New Zealand division.

“There were three large battles that were all significant in terms of the military history of the First World War.”

The lecture will outline the battles in Messines in June, Broodseinde in early October and Passchendaele on October 12 that year. “First Passchendaele is important in our military history because it’s our worst ever military disaster,” Professor Harper says. “We had more New Zealanders killed and wounded on that day than any other day in our military history. It’s our one great disaster on the western front.”

The tour will also promote the Centenary History Project, which will see up to 12 volumes published on different aspects of the conflict – subject to funding – to tell the complete story of New Zealand’s involvement in the First World War.

Massey University, the New Zealand Defence Force, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association are working together on the project. Professor Harper is writing a volume on the experience of the New Zealand soldier.

The project will form part of the commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the war. The Massey University Foundation is collecting contributions on behalf of this project online at http://foundation.massey.ac.nz.

Triumph and Tragedy: Battles of 1917 tour dates:

Auckland – Monday 16 July
Auckland War Memorial Museum

Christchurch – Tuesday 17 July
The George, 50 Park Terrace

Wellington – Wednesday 18 July
Massey University, Museum Building, Buckle Street

Palmerston North – Thursday 19 July
Massey University, Japanese Lecture Theatre, University House

The events start at 5.30pm and Professor Harper will speak from 6.15pm.
Space is limited so to RSVP email alumni@massey.ac.nz, phone +64 6 3505865 or register online.