Locomotive at Louvencourt, 1918

Locomotive at Louvencourt, 1918

New Zealand soldiers pose on a French narrow-gauge SACM 0-6-2T locomotive at Louvencourt, a field ambulance centre north-east of Amiens. This photograph was taken by H.A. Sanders on 22 April 1918.

When the Germans launched their spring offensive on the Somme in March that year, the New Zealand Division, then in Flanders, was rushed south by train to help defend Amiens – a strategic rail hub linking the Somme with Flanders and the Channel ports. Ira Robinson of the 2nd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade, described receiving sudden orders to 'shift in a hurry' and the 'all night ride' from Poperinge, with 30-plus men crowded into each wagon: it was 'one tangled mess of legs, arms, boots, rifles and equipment, steel hats and gas helmets, but in spite of it all I managed to get a few hours' sleep.' [1]

[1] Quoted in Glyn Harper, Johnny Enzed, Exisle, Auckland, 2015, p. 440

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