This is the only film in the NZFA’s collection which shows members of the NZEF training, and having some fun, in New Zealand. The Featherston Military Training Camp, where this was shot, was the largest training camp in the country with the grounds covering more than 1800 acres of land. It had a capacity of 9850 soldiers and during the course of World War One nearly 60,000 men passed through it.
As early as 1914 training of the main body of the NZEF at Trentham Camp was filmed by the Government Cinematography S. Taylor, at the request of Force’s Commanding Officer Major General Sir A. Godley. Unfortunately however this film has been lost. Later, in 1917, moves were afoot to film soldiers training, but this didn’t come to fruition.
Indeed, and unlike much of the other World War One footage, this was not shot by an official cameraman but rather by Luther Mence, who was one of a number of photographers vying for soldier’s business at the camp. Mence shot film of camp life during the two years he spent as Camp Photographer and in 1919 showed this film to the Minister of Defence, Sir James Allen, at the Censor’s office. It was agreed to purchase 5000 feet of film from Mence, at a cost of £80. A compilation of this film was sent to the Imperial War Museum in 1920.
From notes by Chris Pugsley.
General Views: New Zealand Soldiers in lemon squeezer hats forming up in front of officer.
General Views: Lewis gun teams firing weapons on rifle range of Featherston Training Camp while being observed by officers.
Officers and soldiers inspecting targets at end of rifle range and patching up bullet holes.
Wide Shot - General Views: Soldiers practising bayonet drill and practice, stabbing straw filled dummies.
Soldiers gathered around a snowman and posing for camera - snowball fight begins and the snowman is dismantled to be used for snowballs.
Pan Across: Row of shops on main street of Featherston Military Camp to men throwing snowballs
Pan Across: Large crowd of soldiers having snowball fight in front of Featherston camp huts.
Pan Across: Snow covered Rimutaka Range’s with Wairarapa Plains in foreground.
Soldiers having snowball fight outside barracks huts.
Time Lapse: Soldiers sweeping snow and mud from road between camp huts.