To commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day this weekend, NZ On Screen's Zara Potts looks back at some of our enduring World War I memories.

At 11am on 11 November this year, New Zealand will mark 100 years since the signing of the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918.

On that day, last century, after a terrible four-year war in which millions of people died, the guns were silenced and peace once again came to our shores.

But amongst the tales of bravery and heroism, the war left a terrible legacy, with 18,000 Kiwis dying in the conflict and more than 40,000 wounded. When you realise that New Zealand's population at the time was just over one million people – it becomes clear it was a big price to pay.


There are countless harrowing stories from the all the theatres of war, but our best-known conflict was Gallipoli. In the ill-fated mission to take a piece of Turkish coastline, 2721 New Zealanders died with 4752 wounded. This 1984 documentary interviewed every one of the then-surviving Gallipoli veterans living in New Zealand – with 26 of them actually taking part in the documentary. It's a moving and important record of this terrible campaign.

Watch Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story here:

The last WWI veteran died in 2012. Florence Green, who was 110 years old when she died, served with the Women's Royal Air Force. The service trained women to work as mechanics, drivers and in other jobs to free men for front-line duty. Women took an active part in the war – including our own Ettie Rout who travelled to Egypt to care for Kiwi soldiers; there she found venereal disease was rife, and recommended that prophylactic kits be issued and that brothels be inspected for hygiene. To the establishment her pioneering ideas on health, sex and gender were 'immoral' and received with hostility; while the RSA and some doctors considered her a "guardian angel of the ANZACs".

Find out about Ettie Rout here:

Animals too had a part to play in the Great War. Including tortoises. Yes, you read that right – tortoises. New Zealand had its own adventurous tortoise, who originally came from the trenches in Gallipoli, before being transported to New Zealand where his adventures continued. This Great War Story looks at the well-travelled tortoise of WWI.

Watch Great War Stories – Gallipoli Tortoise here:

For many New Zealanders, Gallipoli tends to be what comes to mind when thinking about World War I – but this last week has seen hundreds of Kiwis in the French town of Le Quesnoy for commemorative events on the Western Front. The town was the New Zealand Division's last major action in the four- year war, and more than 140 of our soldiers died in the battle of November 4, 1918. In this moving documentary, director David Blyth traces the steps of his grandfather who helped free Le Quesnoy from its German occupiers.

Watch the French Connection here:

The trenches of World War I represented warfare on a new scale and also produced head and facial wounds that had rarely been seen before and never in such numbers. While treating these injuries, two pioneering Kiwi surgeons founded what we now know as modern reconstructive surgery. This clip focuses on the two doctors, Sir Harold Gillies and Henry Pickerill, and looks at their remarkable techniques.

Watch an excerpt from Saving Face here:

While some young Kiwis saw the chance of going off to war as a big adventure, and some were conscripted without a choice, most young men went to their postings without complaint. One man who did not was Archibald Baxter. The father of poet James K. was a sworn pacifist who defied conscription and chose, on moral grounds, not to fight. He was one of 14 Kiwi 'conchies' (conscientious objectors) who were jailed, disenfranchised and shipped to the war in Europe. It's a harrowing story and one we should all remember.

Watch the trailer for Field Punishment No.1 here:

See more in NZ On Screen's WWI Collection here: