Known as ‘the Hundred Days Offensive’ (although it wasn’t a single co-ordinated offensive), the final period of the First World War involved a rapid, highly effective series of pushes by the Allies all along the Western Front. This forced the Germans from France and resulted in the armistice on 11 November.

The period began with the Battle of Amiens on 8 August 1918. The Second Battle of Bapaume followed, between 21 August and 3 September. Here, on 29 August, the New Zealanders had one of their most significant victories during the war when, alongside British troops, they took Bapaume back from the Germans.


Historian Dr Ian McGibbon talks about New Zealand soldiers during the last weeks of the war.

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The Germans were firmly in retreat by that stage, withdrawing to a series of defensive lines, and many of their demoralised troops were surrendering.  

The New Zealand Division continued to push forward, often mopping up isolated pockets of resistance. They found themselves moving across open ground – a starkly different situation to the claustrophobic trench warfare that they had taken part in on the Western Front previously.

New Zealanders in position on the railway just outside Le Quesnoy, France, 1918.
New Zealanders in position on the railway just outside Le Quesnoy, France, 1918.

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013688-G.

The troops advanced in sections, taking the German defensive outposts one by one. On 1 October, the New Zealand Infantry Brigade captured the town of Crèvecoeur-sur-l’Escaut, establishing a foothold across the Scheldt Canal. By late October, the New Zealanders had reached Le Quesnoy – where they would fight their last engagement of the war.

Allied victory was in sight, and as the men began to realise this, morale rose. Fighting also intensified and casualties increased markedly. On 23 and 24 October alone, 75 New Zealanders were killed and more than 400 wounded. 

During the last two weeks before the armistice, 290 New Zealand men were killed in combat. While this is only a small fraction of those lost during the entire war, it was a very large number over a small space of time. 

Amid the fierce fighting and rapid advances of late 1918 there were many instances of valour and determination, and five out of the eleven Victoria Crosses awarded to New Zealanders were won during the final few months of the war.