New Zealand troops marching after the armistice

New Zealand troops march behind an army band through a city after the armistice – probably Verviers in Belgium, where they were welcomed on 19 December 1918. These troops were en route to Germany from Beauvois, France, which they had left on 28 November. On 20 December, the first New Zealand formation, the 2nd Brigade, crossed the Rhine into Cologne as part of the Allied Army of Occupation.

The Maori (Pioneer) Battalion also marched to the German border, but at the last minute the British authorities decided they should not be part of the occupation force; instead, they were to go to England via Dunkirk. In his history of the battalion, Chris Pugsley notes: ‘It seemed that with the signing of the Armistice, the old rules once again applied and native troops would not be used to garrison Germany. The men resented this attitude, but welcomed the thought of going home’.

More than 24,000 New Zealand troops were in France at the time of the armistice. Most of the men of the New Zealand Division were sent home in batches between January and March 1919.

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