Myth and Reality: The New Zealand Soldier in World War II

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by Chris C, Apr 15, 2024.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Hi all,

    I was just about to start reading this book by John McLeod I picked up in a sale last fall. But it is almost 40 years old (no, that can't be...) so I thought I would ask, especially for the New Zealand posters here, how is this book viewed today? I did myself just decide not to finish reading an old Canadian book for repeating things we would now consider inaccuracies. And there were some Canadian TV documentaries in the 1990s which were just bad history.

    Is this book outdated...? Well regarded? Worth my time?
  2. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    By coincidence I read two parts of the Kiwi experience in July 1942 trying to take Ruweisat Ridge, it is worth a read and from pg. 280 onwards if time is not abundant the two broadcast wartime commentaries. See: CHAPTER 11 — Ruweisat Ridge | NZETC

    Now several years ago there was a post-war book, which I dipped into here and now cannot recall the author or title.:mad:
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2024
    Chris C likes this.
  3. Chris C

    Chris C Canadian

    Hi David,

    I have several multiple books on the North African campaign and some about Italy, if not focusing specifically on the 2nd New Zealand Division. But this book is something else. To quote some bits from the introduction:

    "In the [official] war histories there are many triumphs, few reverses, and only muted criticisms. It is beyond doubt that the men of 2NZEF performed many credible and gallant deeds, and that the Division executed executed many operations in a most efficient manner, but surely there were occasions when the men or the organization failed to measure up to what was required...

    "The aim here is neither to denigrate New Zealand soldiers nor to belittle their efforts. It was they who endured the mutilations, the hardships, the dangers, and the most disabling of fears...

    "We should not, however, be blinded by national pride or nostalgia into avoiding an honest and frank appraisal of our involvement in wars."

    Chapters are on combat, losses, morale, the bayonet(!), soldiering as a way of life, "Crimes, follies and indiscretions" etc.
  4. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    Kippenberger's temporary replacement as divisional C.O. a Major General Inglis is fairly sharp in what I read.

    Hopefully GeoffMNZ will be along to add a Kiwi view. If he doesn't appear PM him.
  5. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    My focus has been to understand what happened to my father, and to appreciate the context of the time. I have read many years ago from the Official History "Problems of the 2 NZEF"
    Problems of 2 NZEF | NZETC
    I have just found the thesis by McLeod, which I will read as time allows;
    In all my research for family history if have found it really important to be aware of the culture, society's expectations of the time, and of individual circumstances so not to judge by current standards.

    I have formed a view that the individuals acted for the best as they saw it at the time, and we judge their actions at our peril.
    davidbfpo and Chris C like this.

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