New Zealand on the Somme, 1916 - map

New Zealand on the Somme, 1916 - map

You can also download a hi-res copy as a pdf (1.6 mbs).

In late August 1916 the New Zealand Division was transferred from the ‘quiet’ Armentières sector to the Somme sector, where a bloody offensive had been launched in July. The map above shows the advance the division made as part of the British Fourth Army’s XV Corps in three battles in September and October: Flers-Courcelette, Morval and the Transloy Ridges. This was the division’s first experience of large-scale action on the Western Front.

At 6.20 a.m. on 15 September 1916, the New Zealand Division set off from the front line (the solid purple line on the map above) into no-man’s-land behind a curtain of artillery fire. In the first push, the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, the New Zealanders captured the German-occupied Switch Trench after close-quarter fighting with grenades and bayonets, while the British 41st Division secured the town of Flers. The front line moved northwards to the line of purple dashes on the map, where the corps consolidated its new positions and repelled German counter-attacks.

A second attack – which became known as the Battle of Morval – was launched on 25 September. More German trenches were taken in this sweep towards the north and west before the Corps consolidated again along the line of purple dashes and dots. Within a few days a third attack was launched to the west against the fortified ruins of Eaucourt L’Abbaye as part of the Battle of Transloy Ridges, which extended the front to the purple dotted line.

The New Zealand Division’s infantry was relieved on 4 October, while the artillery brigades stayed on to support British operations until 25-26 October. The division had been relatively successful in achieving its objectives, but at a cost of some 8000 casualties, including more than 2100 fatalities – not far off its total death toll during the Gallipoli campaign.

Community contributions

2 comments have been posted about New Zealand on the Somme, 1916 - map

What do you know?

Jamie M

Posted: 07 Nov 2017

Hi Malcolm - thanks for your comment, you make a very good point. We'll look into adding a key to these symbols and linking to it for all our military maps.

In the meantime, here is a rough guide:

XXXX over a box refers to an Army; XXX a Corps; xx an Infantry Division; III an Infantry Regiment. 

Colours of boxes: British Empire, pink; French, blue; Other Allied forces, brown; German and Ottoman forces, Green.

(See this map: - for examples of Army boxes and colours of different allied forces).

The numbers inside the boxes refer to the name of the unit - so XV under a box with XXX refers to the 15th Corps.

Most Infantry Divisions were referred to by numbers, however the NZ Division was known by its name - hence the 'NZ' next to the xx box above Longueval. They fought next to the 47th Division. (Both were part of XV Corps, along with the 41st and 14th Divisions).

It is all very complicated, but does mean something to military historians. Hopefully the general public can still understand the main information the map is portraying without knowing all this stuff!

Regards, Jamie

Malcolm Sperring-Toy

Posted: 07 Nov 2017

The maps are excellent but with the glaring exception of the lack of a 'legend' which would explain exactly what the red coloured oblong boxes with lettering such as 'XXX' above the box and 'XIV' or similar inside the box - what do these refer to ? Also, small oblong red 'envelopes' with markings such as 'xx' above and 'NZ' or two numbers to the side - what's all that about?

I am a Great War enthusiast looking at many trench maps but the NZ ones baffle me. How the casual observer gets on, one can only guess.