Many more Kiwis at Gallipoli than previously thought

New evidence uncovered in New Zealand strongly suggests twice as many New Zealanders served in the Dardanelles campaign than has previously been thought. Research by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the New Zealand Defence Force shows more than 16 000 soldiers were at Gallipoli, rather than 8556 as previously thought. The new information comes from recently discovered notebooks and is reported on Radio New Zealand and by Tony Wright on News Hub.

The discovery is being hailed as one of the greatest discoveries in New Zealand military history. It shows the Kiwi contribution to the campaign was greater than previously thought – though it brings casualty rates back to roughly the same as Australia’s.

One wonders how many other previously accepted figures and ‘facts’ may need to be revised. This new discovery has been done under official auspices; that should make it easier for the new figures to be accepted. By contrast, it has not been easy to get Australian official gatekeepers – and even some historians – to accept that less fundamental but still dearly-held notions (such as those relating to the supposed ‘Ataturk words’) are so much tosh.

Update 22 April 2020: Detailed official research in New Zealand confirms that the numbers were much greater than previously thought. Report is fully downloadable.

The new evidence uncovered and the additional analysis undertaken for this study clearly demonstrate that the 16,000–17,000 figure in the interim report [from 2016] is correct. Unfortunately, the limitations of the surviving evidence preclude us reaching a more definite estimate. The new suggested figure means that New Zealand soldiers at Gallipoli probably suffered rates of attrition similar to those of their Australian counterparts. It cannot be argued from present data that New Zealand suffered disproportionate losses.

David Stephens

23 March 2016 updated

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