The World War II Multimedia Database

For the 72 Million

New Zealand in World War II

New Zealand declared war on Germany almost as soon as the United Kingdom verified that the they had done so. Some 200,000 New Zealanders served abroad during World War II, mostly volunteering for overseas duty, until the Dunkirk evacuation mandated conscription in the summer of 1940.

New Zealanders served with distinction in Greece, Crete, and North Africa, until the Japanese attack provoked an urgent recall. This was somethong of a crisis on two fronts. The British were reticent to pull them out of North Africa, and at the same time didn’t have the resources to defend their home island in the Pacific. This led the New Zealand government increasingly to pivot to the United States.

New Zealanders served in the Pacific, flying American-built Curtiss Warhawks and British-built Beaufighters against Japanese targets, while ground troops fought the Japanese in the Solomons.

With American forces pushing the Japanese back from the home islands by 1943, New Zealanders served in Italy, at Cassino, Florence, and Trieste, through the end of the war in 1945.

10,033 New Zealanders were killed in action; 19,314 were wounded. 10,582 civilians were wounded.

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