Breakthrough discovery doubles number of Gallipoli soldiers

updated By Aroha Treacher
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The biggest military discovery in NZ history laid in some military notebooks tucked away in the Archives New Zealand vaults. That's where historian John Crawford found evidence that almost 8,000 more soldiers had served in Gallipoli than previously recorded.

A game changer in NZ war history was discovered in some military notebooks.

The finding were made by New Zealand Defence Force Historian John Crawford, “They'd been sitting in Archives New Zealand for a long time and no-one had looked at them and I found them and couldn't believe my eyes, there they were, all  the information for most of the campaign we'd been looking for.”

Fellow historian Matthew Buck says “This is a really significant new discovery it completely revolutionises our view of the impact of the Gallipoli campaign on New Zealand both at the time and of course today.”

The meticulous note keeping inside those records detailed the movements of the Australian and NZ troops on and off the peninsula.

“The problem with Gallipoli is that it was very chaotic and we know now that a lot of vital records relating to the arrival of soldiers on the peninsula had not survived,” says Crawford.

“What it means is that double effectively the New Zealand families were directly affected by the campaign, because they would've known somebody or been related to somebody who was serving,” says Buck.

But not all the details of names, rank and military history have been recorded yet.

Buck says, “It would be a huge task 17,000 records would have to be checked and they certainly vary in quality and it’s a very specialist job as you can imagine. Those files were written for military purposes and they can be difficult to interpret.”

The findings, however, do not affect medal entitlement, war memorials or the National Roll of Honour.

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