World War One (battles and campaigns)

What were the main battles or campaigns of World War One that New Zealanders were involved in?

Entry last updated: 13/01/21


World War One was a major global conflict fought between July 28, 1914, and November 11, 1918. It involved 28 countries and although it was fought mainly in Europe fighting also took place in Africa and the Middle East. The war was known at the time as the Great War, the War to End War, and (in the United States) the European War.

New Zealand fought as part of the Allies (the British Empire, France, Russia and others) against the Central Powers (Germany, Italy, Turkey and others).

Battles and campaigns of World War One

Some of the main battles of the war and those New Zealanders were involved in include:

  • Battle of Le Quesnoy 1918: In this battle in northern France, New Zealand soldiers helped liberate the fortress town of Le Quesnoy, which had been in German hands since 1814.
  • Battle of Ypres 1917: New Zealand was involved in the Third Battle of Ypres that was fought over land near the town ofPasschendaele.
  • Battle of Passchendaele 1917: This was one of the bloodiest battles fought by New Zealand for the Belgium village of Passchendaele near Ypres.
  • Battle of the Somme 1916: This was New Zealand's first major involvement on the Western Front with brigades from the newly formed New Zealand Division.
  • Battle of Messines 1917: The New Zealand Division moved to Flanders to take part in the successful capture of the Messines ridge.
  • Battle of Arras (Arras tunnels) 1917: Several hundred men of the New Zealand Tunnelling Company expanded the tunnel systems under the city Arras in France to help the Allies maintain pressure on the enemy.
  • Gallipoli campaign 1915-1916: Troops from New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Ireland, France, India and Newfoundland landed on beaches of Gallipoli (Turkey) to fight the Ottoman empire.
  • Battle of Chunuk Bair 1915: Two columns of the New Zealand Infantry Brigade carried out the attack that began on 6 August. Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone was one of the casualties of this attack.
  • Sinai and Palestine campaign 1915-1918: New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and Imperial Camel Corps which formed part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force fought to secure the Suez Canal, and Gaza the gateway to Palestine.
  • Battle of Jutland 1916: HMS New Zealand was one of the 250 ships from Britain and Germany to go into battle in the North Sea.
Tips: To find information on individual battles or campaigns, try using a keyword such as 'Jutland' or 'Arras'. Don't forget to search the other websites we have mentioned in this entry.

General websites

There are many good websites that have useful facts, images, stories and other information about World War One battles and campaigns. Here are some of our favourite sites with information about where the battles were and what it was like for the soldiers and other people involved.

Imperial War Museum

This is one of the world’s best military history museums.

  1. Select Menu in the top left.
  2. Go to the Stories section.
  3. You can then search for a battle or browse the stories.

The website has some mini-guides about World War One all written by experts. These include How the world went to war in 1914 and Pre-war alliances. You can also find out about the Gallipoli Campaign, Living in the trenches, air aces (World War One fighter pilots) and many other topics.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it its. Check the About us link on the website if you can find one. That can tell you what the company's mission and values are.

BBC History

This is a great website where you can search for information on the course of the war and individual battles.

  • Go to the World War One section, which links to lots of useful articles, videos and pictures.
  • Check out the World War One Secondary Schools page for interactive guides.
  • The BBC's World War One programmes site, includes a series of interactive guides and articles presented by well-known historians and experts on topics such as the Battle of the Somme, the home front and war horses. New articles are being added to all the time.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About the BBC page on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Britannica School

Another great place to look is EPIC. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics and is put together especially for New Zealand school students. You may need a password from your school or local library to access it.

Britannica School is a database for schools with encyclopaedia articles, journals and periodicals, multimedia, primary sources, and other learning resources.

  • Select a level.
  • Do a keyword search eg 'Somme'.
  • You can move up or down a level if you need to, depending on the amount of detail you wish to know.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it's better to leave out small words like the, a and of and just choose the main ones, eg Somme. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

World History in Context

This EPIC database provides an overview of world history including World War One. To find the best information we suggest using keywords such as 'Passchendaele' or ‘Gallipoli'.

Tips: To get to the EPIC databases you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or, you can log on to AnyQuestions between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday, and one of the librarians can help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Long, Long Trail

Although the home page of this website states it is 'dedicated to helping you discover the British army and its soldiers of the First World War', it is also a great resource for New Zealand soldiers and campaigns, with a fairly detailed overview of the battles and general army life.

  • To find the articles from the homepage, choose a tab such as battles or enter a keyword into the search bar.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About page on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

New Zealand websites

There are also some great New Zealand sites about World War One that you can explore.


WW100 is a New Zealand government website dedicated to remembering the First World War, one hundred years on. New Zealand's First World War Centenary commemorates the conflict from 2014 to 2019 (when our troops came home) through a range of events, activities and projects in all parts of the country.

  • Go to Discover WW1 to find facts and stories along with an interactive New Zealand at War timeline of New Zealand's involvement.
  • They also have information on various actions New Zealand solders were involved with such as the Arras tunnels.

Ngā Tapuwae New Zealand First World War Trails

This website has been put together by the government and includes travel guides and plenty of primary source material. The trails have been designed for travellers to visit on the ground, or as an informative guide for those who would like to explore from home.

Mainly intended as a battlefield guide to Gallipoli and the Western Front, there are a few ways to experience the trails. Start by scrolling down the home page and choosing find out more.

  • Download an app: the Ngā Tapuwae apps provide you with the full trails experience in a format you can use offline. There are two apps to choose from, The Western Front or Gallipoli.
  • Explore the website: the website has the same content as the apps but requires an internet connection. It is also divided into the Western Front or Gallipoli.
  • If you don't have a smart device like a mobile or a tablet there are PDFs that can be downloaded. To find these scroll down to printed guides & e-books.


There have been many books written about World War One - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

Some suggested titles are:

SCIS no: 1915707

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