Books

Armistice Day: the New Zealand story

At the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month each year, we remember the end of the First World War. This book commemorates the day (11 November 1918) when fighting stopped in Europe. It covers the final months, weeks and days of fighting, the influenza epidemic, the return home and the creation of the war cemeteries. It also talks about peace memorials and ways to celebrate and work towards peace.

Well researched and drawing on illustrations, photographs and text from various sources, this is a gripping, moving description of the aftermath of war. Partnered with best-selling Anzac Day: the New Zealand story, it makes an excellent reference for the whole family.


Remembrance art installation in Wellington, November 2015
Remembrance art installation in Wellington, November 2015
This artwork by Chris Bennewith consisted of more than 860 interactive LEDs, illuminated at night as a tribute to fallen Wellington soldiers at Gallipoli a century ago. Read more...

  • Karori services cemetery in Wellington. Several of the gravestones here are for men who died towards the end of the war, including some who died on Armistice Day itself, 11 November 1918.
  • Karori services cemetery in Wellington. Several of the gravestones here are for men who died towards the end of the war, including some who died on Armistice Day itself, 11 November 1918.
Karori services cemetery in Wellington. Several of the gravestones here are for men who died towards the end of the war, including some who died on Armistice Day itself, 11 November 1918.

The story behind the book

Lots of people know something about the Gallipoli campaign, but not so much about the rest of World War One and how it ended. Lots of people aren't sure what Armistice Day is or what it means. We don't know much about what happened after the war. We think that perhaps everything just went back to how it was before, but that' s not what happened.

When I started to do some research for this book, I was amazed at all the things I didn't know. For example, I didn't realise that the Armistice which was announced at 11am on 11 November 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) only marked the end of fighting, not the actual end of the war.

I had never read much about the Peace Day celebrations that happened all over the country in 1919. I hadn't thought about how the soldiers got home again, or what it was like for them when they did get home (especially those who had lost limbs, been badly injured, were shell shocked or carried hidden wounds). I didn't know what happened to the prisoners of war, and how they got home. And what about the conscientious objectors - what did people think of them, once the war was over?

For a long time, Armistice Day was a big event in New Zealand. It is still marked in many countries all around the world, and in the last few years, we have started to pay more attention to it here as well. If you don't know much about it, or about what happened at the end of World War One - read the book and find out!

Reader's Activity

• Find out if there is a peace memorial anywhere near where you live. How is it different from a war memorial?

• Read some books about the end of World War One or the influenza epidemic. Some good ones to start with are Le Quesnoy: the story of the town New Zealand saved by Glyn Harper, illustrated by Jenny Cooper; After the war by Bob Kerr and Pandemic: Spanish flu 1918 by Sally Stone.

Reviews

"History doesn't get any better than this" ... read more
Bobs books blog

"Philippa… has a way of making the facts come alive to jump off the page" ... read more
John McIntyre on Radio NZ

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