Armistice Day. The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry
Good non-fiction titles are rare these days but I am pleased to say that this is one of the very good ones for students of all ages. Very little is told of the Armistice after World War 1, the final battles, the Peace Terms, the return home for the soldiers, the Spanish Flu that followed, the extent of the casualties, the new world at home that awaited the soldiers and what Armistice Day and peace mean today.
After 1561 days of war it all ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918. Approx 70 million men served and 16 million died. Orville Wright said “the aeroplane has made war so terrible that I do not believe any country will again come to start a war” How wrong he was.
The end of war was wildly celebrated by civilians in all countries but the men at the front took it in subdued fashion “outbursts of feeling seemed out of place”.
Some conscientious objectors were kept locked up until 1920 and had no rights for 10 years after that, we were unforgiving even then. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at which all Royal brides place their bouquets on their wedding day, came into being and the soldiers who were promised a world “fit for kings” went back to the same world they left but damaged mentally and physically and told to get on with it. Women lost soul mates, sons and brothers and suffered in silence.
The history is illustrated with superb photographs, newspaper articles, diary entries, maps and opinions from celebrated people. History doesn’t get any better than this.
This 64 page book should be in every school library in the country.