A study has found that almost twice the number of New Zealand soldiers than what the official archives suggested participated in the Gallipoli campaign in the World War I. According to the research, the number of Kiwi soldiers that served in the campaign was nearly 16,000, as opposed to the official figures of 8,556.
The new findings followed the discovery of old notebooks in January which contained details on the movements of Australian and New Zealand Division soldiers in 1915.
A historian of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage said in 2013 that, because of an error in the calculation by a British general, the total tally for the NZ soldiers was also recorded incorrectly in the documents. According to him, the number of Kiwi soldiers who served at Gallipoli was about 14,000, which brought down the casualty to 53 percent.
The research was carried out by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the Defence Force.
Neill Atkinson, the ministry’s chief historian, said that a large number of individual military files were studied, but the scope of the records was limited.
“First, World War military service files recorded a soldier’s military career, movements between units, and illnesses, but were less concerned with placing them in a particular campaign or theatre of war. Sometimes that ‘Gallipoli box’ simply wasn’t checked,” the Radio NZ quoted Atkinson as saying.
Defence Force historian John Crawford then came across the notebooks of the Deputy Assistance Adjutant General in Archives New Zealand.
“These meticulously kept records detail the movements of Australian and New Zealand Division soldiers on and off the Peninsula during June, July and August 1915 and meant we could calculate the total numbers with a much higher accuracy,” he said.
According to Mathew Buck, the senior advisor for heritage for the Defence Force, the new findings made the battle more significant to many more families, after new links to it was discovered.
“Gallipoli could hardly be more important as part of the New Zealand national story, so it has huge significance straight away just for that reason,” the News Talk ZB quoted him as saying. “It begins to explain a bit more about the huge impact of that campaign, both at the time and still to the present day.”