VISIT OF THE HON W. F. MASSEY AND SIR J. WARD TO WESTERN FRONT 30 JUNE - 2 JULY 1918

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This is the second of the two surviving films taken of the 'Siamese Twins', the Prime Minister William Massey and Deputy Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward, on their frequent trips to the UK and the Western Front during World War One. It was filmed from 1 to 4 July 1918. The other such film is HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V REVIEWING NEW ZEALAND TROOPS ON SALISBURY PLAIN (F5540).

He whakāhua ēnei mo te haerenga a te PM Hon W H Massey rao ko Sir Joseph Ward ki te mura o te ahi i Ūropi. I reira ka haere rāua ki te tūtaki i ngā hōia Māori i Te Hokowhitu-ā-Tū i runga i ngā whīra pakanga o te Aro Uru.

There were criticisms, both in the Division and at home, concerning the pair making yet another visit to the Western Front. However, they had a gruelling schedule which shows as both men are seen to wilt at the pace. Indeed, at the time it was reported that they had:

“an extraordinarily busy time while with the New Zealand Forces. From morning till night their little fleet of cars carried them over country roads, and unit after unit was inspected and addressed. The great desire of Mr Massey and Sir Joseph Ward seemed to be to see as many men as possible, and by the close of the tour they will have seen almost all the New Zealanders. In addition to seeing infantry, artillery, and other units on parade in considerable masses, they went out of their way to visit smaller units and even permitted many personal interviews, renewing acquaintanceships and listening to individual requests.” (Malcom Ross, Chronicles of the NZEF, Vol.IV, No.48, 19 July 1918).

This film is notable for its length as well as showing a number of memorable moments. There is a marvellous scene of Sir Joseph Ward smoking a cigar with the Māori soldier Hemi. Viewers see the earnestness of the personal interviews with both VIPs and the contrasting approaches taken by Massey and Ward. It illustrates well the size of the New Zealand Division, its faces and its professionalism; also the healthy cynicism of the New Zealand diggers to the politicians, shown with their lukewarm response to calls for three cheers. Notice too the number who smoke, and the number of times the stills cameraman is caught by the cinema camera.

This was the New Zealand Division after it had held the line in March-April 1918 and during its final spell before its outstanding performance in the advance of August to November 1918. These are scenes of the strongest and perhaps the most professional division in the British armies on the Western Front. The only time New Zealanders at home would see this achievement would be on films like this in the picture palaces.

From notes by Chris Pugsley.

“Massey and Ward are seen with the acting divisional commander, Brigadier-General F N Johnston (Major-General Russell was on sick leave in England) and accompanied by Brigadier-General G S Richardson, Commander NZEF (UK). They attend a church parade and address to 1st Brigade, the Engineers and the NZ (Māori) Pioneer Battalion. For the camera's benefit Ward gives a cigar to a giant Māori Pioneer (Hemi) and they talk and smoke together. An inspection of the 2nd Brigade (the commander, Brigadier-General R Young, is visible), the divisional Artillery, the Squadron of Otago Mounted Rifle Regiment and the NZ Cyclist Battalion. At the 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade, accompanied by the brigade commander Colonel Stewart, they watch a demonstration of an aeroplane dropping a message and Ward takes part in a wireless demonstration. They inspect No 4 NZ Field Ambulance and talk to patients. They give speeches to the Rifle Brigade, the Entrenching Group, and to a reinforcement draft at the New Zealand Infantry and General Training Depot at Etaples. Finally, the divisional Machine Gun Battalion gives them a demonstration of setting up a Vickers machine gun at high speed. A posed shot of the battalion arranged in tiers behind the two men, while Massey, grinning broadly, menaces the camera with the Vickers and Ward acts as his loader.” Imperial War Museum Catalogue (IWM 269); www.iwm.org.uk; 30/01/2013

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Year 1918

Reference number F1068

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image

Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Actuality

Duration 0:18:55

Production company New Zealand Official War Film

Viewing locations Digital file available to view at medialibrary, Wellington

Taonga Māori Collection Yes

Credits Camera: Henry A. Sanders
Distribution: Pathe Freres
Distribution: New Zealand Picture Supplies

Related Link Watch this online: IWM 269 - VISIT OF THE HON W F MASSEY AND SIR J WARD TO THE WESTERN FRONT 30 JUNE-2 JULY 1918