This film shows New Zealand recruits training at Sling Camp, in Wiltshire, in the United Kingdom during World War One. It was shot in 1917 and features a grenade practice, Lewis gun drill, trench fighting drill and the final inspection and departure of reinforcements for France.
Spliced into the film is an improvised bridge crossing exercise filmed by the New Zealand Government cameraman Sydney Taylor at the Tauherenikau River in the Wairarapa. This material was filmed by Taylor in 1915 and sent to England in early 1916.
This is the only surviving film shot by T. F. Scales of New Zealanders training in the United Kingdom, and similarly one of the few extant films which shows troops training in New Zealand. Both films were originally parts of a number of composite films which all used the same material: THE DIGGERS IN BLIGHTY; WITH THE NEW ZEALANDERS ABROAD; WITH THE NZEF IN THE UNITED KINGDOM and DIGGERS DAY AT WORK AND PLAY. The film as it survives now may have been put together in New Zealand when DIGGERS DAY AT WORK AND PLAY was compiled.
Officer firing a rifle grenade at a rifle range at Sling Camp, two instructors are in the bay with him and a squad of reinforcements sit behind cover to their right; grenade craters can be seen in the middle distance. A soldier doubles forward into the firing bay, throws a practice grenade then two live grenades. Instructor loads rifle grenade for Officer who then fires it. A squad of newly arrived reinforcements, mostly young men and wearing gas satchels on their chests, are instructed by a training NCO; the buildings of Sling Camp and another squadron can be seen in the background. Pan of group of soldiers from various units wearing lemon squeezer hats watch an instructor demonstrate the use of a Lewis Gun as an Officer observes to the left of the gun. Officer looks down at soldiers in training trenches. Soldier runs through zig-zag training trench.
Engineer reinforcements drag a General Service wagon across an improvised bridge on the Tauherenikau River during training in New Zealand, testing if the bridge they’d built would take the strain. Engineers dismantling wagon. Engineers marching across improvised bridge, followed by instructor.
View of reinforcements on the morning march at Sling Camp, while the Commandant and his Officers watch on and take the salute. Wide shot of reinforcements carrying rifles and wearing packs assemble in the training area, watched by a dog. Reinforcements form into lines. Reinforcements with packs at their feet in front of them get ready for final inspections, inspected by Officers brandishing canes.
Reinforcements, with Draft Conducting Officer, at railway station march past waiting train and are then halted. Soldier allocated, and enter, train carriages. Station Master sends the train carrying reinforcements on its way; the depot band is in the background, and the soldiers wave to the camera as the train departs.
From notes by Chris Pugsley.