The young soldiers were hungry, a little tired and perhaps excited to be one step closer to the action.
They had sailed as reinforcements for the NZ Expeditionary Force, leaving Wellington on July 24, 1917 and arriving in Plymouth aboard the troopships Ulimaroa and Norman on September 24.
At 6am that day they had breakfast and prepared for the train journey to Sling Camp on the Salisbury Plains, about a day's travel. Before clambering into the carriages at Plymouth's Friary Station shortly after 3pm, the troops, who had not eaten since early morning, were told to expect rations at their first scheduled stop.
The arrangement was for two men from each carriage to collect buns provided by the Mayoress' Comfort Fund from the brake-van and distribute the provisions among the peckish troops.
Less than an hour into the trip along the London and South Western line, the train pulled into Bere Ferrers, a small siding near the River Tavy.
Because of the length of the train, men from a rear carriage clambered down on to the tracks, thinking their hunger was about to be sated.
As they stretched their legs, the express service from Waterloo hurtled round a sharp curve past the stationary troop train. Its whistle sounded too late.
Fireman Charles Thorn shouted "Whoa! Soldiers on the track" and the express driver, John Skinner, hit the brakes. When the train pulled up, about 400m past the station, blood marks were found on the side of the engine and first coach.
The men on the track never stood a chance.
A report in the Ashburton Guardian described the horrific scene. Two of the soldiers were decapitated, a third was cut in half.
"If there was one cause for thankfulness it was that the men who were killed suffered no pain," the account said.
Interviewed after the tragedy, a New Zealand soldier told a reporter: "We never thought of expresses travelling at 40 miles an hour. They don't travel at that rate in New Zealand."
The serviceman recounted how he narrowly escaped death, being about to step down to the track when the train sped by. "I saw the coat tails of the man in front of me fly up, and I picked his body up afterwards some yards down the line."
An inquest held at Bere Ferrers station a week after the disaster returned a verdict of "accidental death". Coroner Richard Robinson Rodd heard evidence that the soldiers were meant to await orders before disembarking, and had jumped out of their own accord. They got out of the door they had entered. In the circumstances, the coroner ruled, no one was to blame.
Nine soldiers died at the moment of impact. Another died in Tavistock hospital a day later.
They were buried in Efford Cemetery on the outskirts of Plymouth.
The men were William Gillanders, William Greaves, John Jackson, John Judge, Chudleigh Kirton, Baron McBryde, Richard McKenna, William Trussell, John Warden and Sidney West.
The soldiers are remembered on a brass tablet on a wall at St Andrew's Church in Bere Ferrers, a 900-year-old Norman chapel. A New Zealand flag hangs beside the plaque, which honours the men for "their loyalty and self-sacrifice in coming from their far-off homes to fight for England in the great war for the freedom of the world".