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New Zealand soldiers in the front line on the Somme, La Signy Farm, France | by Archives New Zealand
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New Zealand soldiers in the front line on the Somme, La Signy Farm, France

On 15 September 1916 New Zealand infantry entered the Battle of the Somme. The New Zealand Division supported a major attack that day. The anticipated breakthrough was not achieved and one-third of those who fought in the battle became casualties – a typical toll on the Somme.


According to, it was on the battlefields of the Somme that New Zealand experienced some of its worst days in military history in terms of loss of life. Of the 15000 New Zealanders who fought there, nearly 6000 were wounded and 2000 lost their lives.


The photograph above shows New Zealand soldiers in a trench on the front line on the Somme. Sergeant Ormond Burton is shown standing on a firing step in the trench wall. Burton was the Auckland Regiment's official historian and became a prominent Second World War conscientious objector.


Taken by the Official NZEF photographer Henry Armytage Sanders on 6 April 1918, this image is part of what is referred to as the ‘H series’. The H series is a collection of official First World War photographs which are freely available for anyone to download and use. For more information about the photographs see:


Archives reference: ACGO 8398 IA76 7/13 H474 (R24203999)


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Taken on April 22, 2014