A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 99

The home of the Lonsdale Battalion 1914-1918
Jump to navigation Jump to search


defence of the empire. The news of the declaration of war was made in dramatic fashion. The governor appeared on the steps of Parliament House on the memorable afternoon and read a cablegram from the king thanking the Dominions for their loyal messages. Then he proceeded, almost as though in an afterthought: "I have yet another message — England and Germany are now at war."

Action like that in other parts of the empire followed. Men everywhere volunteered for service. The well-to-do made gifts of money and supplies. One of the most notable of national gifts was £20,000 divided between the National Relief Fund and the Belgian Relief Fund. In April, 1915, the postmaster general was able to announce that the total contribution to the Belgian fund was £133,000 in cash, and goods and produce worth £65,000. The cash and produce sent for the poor of Great Britain and Ireland amounted to £138,000. The Maori people demanded that they should be allowed to share with the white races in the defence of the Flag. They offered to raise some thousands of men, and when news came that the British Government had decided to employ Indian soldiers in the war, it was impossible to refuse to the Maoris the opportunity of doing their share in the empire's effort.

In a very short time an expeditionary army of 8,000 was ready, and on September 24 the troops went on ship-board for Europe. "Time was, not very long ago," said Lord Liverpool, the governor, "when the sight of a troopship in the New Zealand harbour denoted the arrival of troops from the Old Country. To-day the position is reversed. England has need of all her sons to-day, and the young Dominion is sending home to the Mother-land of her best." The expedition was timed to sail on September 25, but, probably on account of the activity of the German cruisers in the Pacific, the sailing was postponed at the last moment. The troops and horses were landed, and waited another twenty days. Then they got away to Albany where they joined the Australians. The Australian and New Zealand contingents believed that they were going to Europe. Great was the surprise, when the ships arrived at the Suez Canal, to find that orders had come for them to disembark there, to complete their training in Egypt, and to help to guard that country from the coming attack by the Turkish army that even then was crossing the desert.

← 98   ·   99   ·   100 →
(page index)