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New Zealand Artillery in the Field, 1914-18

From The C.R.A

page xi

From The C.R.A.

I have been asked to write an introduction to the History of the New Zealand Field Artillery in the Great War, now being prepared in New Zealand. That History will contain all details regarding the New Zealand Field Artillery in the war, so that I may only be expected to make some general observations. From the formation of the original Brigade in New Zealand, the Artillery was always animated by a spirit of self-sacrifice and a desire to fulfil to the very limit of its ability its function of protecting and supporting its own infantry. How well it succeeded in accomplishing this task at Anzac, and in all the hard-fought battles on the Western Front may be gauged from the regard in which the New Zealand infantrymen held their own gunners.

After the Armistice the Artillery marched to Cologne, through an interesting country, passing by many of the old historic battlefields of the Netherlands—Malplaquet, Ramillies, Oudenarde, Waterloo, etc. One could not help thinking how surprised some of those old warriors of the past would have been could they but have seen a Division of their descendants from far-off New Zealand march past—a Division that had fully maintained the high fighting reputation of their forebears. The Artillery journeyed past Maubeuge, Mons, Charleroi, Namur, Liege, and so into Germany, arriving at Cologne shortly after Christmas, 1918. After a pleasant and interesting experience at Cologne, the Artillery, in common with the rest of the Division, was demobilised, and within a month or two had ceased to exist.

The New Zealand Divisional Artillery is now a thing of the past; its guns are silent and many of its members lie buried on the battlefields of Gallipoli, of Flanders, and of France. Those who came safely through have settled down again to their normal occupations; the survivors will, I feel page xiisure, look back with a feeling of growing satisfaction when they think of the Great War, and what they did to help it along. Their memories will be varied; many will recall when they stood in the presence of what makes all men equal; they will recall in those moments of shining remembrance the wonderful spirit which animated every man in the Division; part of it was the consciousness of the single purpose which inspired the whole Division, and the obedience to it of men who trusted one another.

All who had the honour of belonging to the New Zealand Field Artillery will, I feel sure, cherish the memory of their association with that Force as time goes by; forgetting the hardships of the war, they will remember only the spirit of good feeling and friendliness that animated all ranks in every phase of the conflict. Their varied experiences and journeyings in foreign lands will be pleasant to look back upon as the years roll by; and above all they will always cherish an increasing feeling of satisfaction at the thought of duty well done in the greatest war known to history.

It only remains for me, as the old C.R.A. of the New Zealand Division, to thank all ranks of the Artillery for their loyal co-operation throughout. I shall always look back on my command as the highest honour which could have befallen me, and I count myself fortunate in having been so long associated with such men.

G. N. Johnston, Brig.-General,

C.R.A. N.Z. Division, 1914-19.