This film shows the inspection of the New Zealand and Australian Division during World War One on 28 March 1915. It was a repeat of the previous Divisional inspection of 22 March 1915 and was the last parade of the NZEF before embarkation for Gallipoli in April 1915. As well as the inspection, the film also shows a haka by the Maori Contingent’s officers.
“Nearly 20,000 troops were on parade, including 400 horses. There were four New Zealand Mounted Regiments, the Australian LH (Light Horse), four New Zealand Infantry... Battalions, the Ceylon Company, six batteries of artillery, ammunition columns, ambulances galore, engineers, transport signallers, ordnance... The parade was inspected by General Sir Ian Hamilton who has come out to take command of the combined Allied Army operating in Turkey.” (Hart Diary, 22 March 1915)
“20,000 troops on parade again, and we had the biggest dusting there since reaching Egypt. The sand is worked into such fine dust near camp, that it now flies everywhere whenever the troops move over it. We had dust in our ears, eyes, mouth, nose and everywhere, it fell from our pug-garees, pouches, pockets and from all our clothes.” (Hart Diary, 28 March 1915)
The film of the parade was taken at Major General Godley’s initiative by an unknown commercial photographer and the world rights were purchased for the 505 metre film for £160. It was sent to the Tourists Department, Wellington on SS Willochra and arrived on 16 July 1915.
However, this was too late to capitalise on the local picture market as this initiative had already been trumpeted by commercial films. Already OUR BOYS IN EGYPT was shown at King’s Theatre from 21 April 1915 onwards. The King’s advertisement read: 'OUR BOYS IN EGYPT! - A grand parade of N.Z. Forces in Cairo before Major-General Godley, General Birdwood and Mr. T. Mackenzie. Infantry, Mounted, Ambulance, Transport, etc,, all N.Z. sons are in it, also the Australian troops.’ (Evening Post, 28 April 1915, p.2).
This was one of a number of films showing the work of the New Zealanders and Australians in Egypt screened in local cinemas from early 1915 onwards. It also shows that the commercial market was as aware as Godley of the interest of the New Zealand public in seeing their boys overseas.
From notes by Chris Pugsley.