|Full Name||46 Dominion of New Zealand|
|Alliance||Allies - Minor Member Nation or Possession|
|Possessing Power||United Kingdom|
|Entry into WW2||3 Sep 1939|
|Population in 1939||1,641,600|
|Military Deaths in WW2||11,671|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseBeing a small country, New Zealand's contribution to the war seemed, and was, equally small. However, proportionally speaking, New Zealand made a greater contribution to WW2 among all Commonwealth nations.
ww2dbaseNew Zealand entered WW2 as it declared war on Germany at 2130 hours on 3 Sep 1939. Far from home, New Zealand 2nd Expeditionary Force troops fought in mainland Greece under British command, losing 291 men killed, 1,826 captured, and 387 seriously wounded in this early campaign in the European War; in May 1941, New Zealand troops defended against German attacks in northwestern Crete, an island in southern Greece. Meanwhile, to the south in North Africa, a small contingent of New Zealand troops fought in the Desert War; by Nov 1941, the main New Zealand force evacuated from Greece and fresh troops from home joined them, participating in Operation Crusader, Operation Lightfoot, and other important operations in this theater. In North Africa, New Zealand suffered 2,989 killed, 4,041 taken prisoner, and 7,000 wounded. When the war initially began, the New Zealand naval contingent fighting with the British Royal Navy was named the New Zealand Division; on 1 Oct 1941, this force was granted the name Royal New Zealand Navy by King George VI of the United Kingdom.
ww2dbaseThe British Royal Air Force had many foreign nationals serving with them, the largest contingent of which were from New Zealand. Among the first of them were Alan Deere, whose sentiments expressed many of the New Zealanders who served so far away from home, not just in the air force but cross all branches of service:
ww2dbaseMany New Zealand pilots were distinguish themselves during the Battle of Britain.
ww2dbaseAlthough by late 1941 to early 1942, New Zealand became involved in the Pacific War that roared on close to home, the New Zealand 2nd Expeditionary Force remained in Europe, advancing up Italy at a slow pace. The decision by Prime Minister Peter Fraser to keep the expeditionary force in North Africa was partially due to the promise and arrival of the United States 1st Marine Division, which gave New Zealand time to raise a new force against a potential attack by Japan. This new force, the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Pacific, would found itself not defending their home country, but rather fighting cross the South Pacific islands. Major General Harold Barrowclough, for example, led the New Zealand 3rd Division in the fighting in Guadalcanal and other locations in the Solomon Islands. In the war, the Royal New Zealand Air Force contributed a squadron of Hudson bombers at Guadalcanal in Nov 1942 followed by a squadron of Warhawk fighters in Jun 1943. By mid-1944, eight RNZAF squadrons (four fighter, two bomber, one dive bomber, and one flying boat) were operating in the Solomon Islands. In the Solomon Island campaign, just under 600 New Zealanders were killed, 345 of which were from the RNZAF. By the end of the war, the RNZAF operated thirteen squadrons of Corsair fighters, six squadrons of Ventura bombers, two squadrons of Catalina flying boats, two squadrons of Avenger torpedo bombers, two squadrons of Dakota transports, one squadron of Dauntless dive bombers, plus other smaller formations; 41,000 personnel served in the RNZAF by this time, which included about 10,000 in Europe.
ww2dbaseWhen Japan surrendered, Air Vice Marshal Leonard Isitt signed the surrender document on behalf of New Zealand. In retrospect, New Zealand was at its strongest militarily in Jul 1942 when its military reached 154,549 men and women in uniform, which even excluded those who served in the Home Guard. Over 11,000 died in combat, which translated to 0.73% of the population; in comparison, the United Kingdom lost 0.93%, Australia 0.57%, Canada 0.12%, and South Africa 0.12%.
Daniel Marston, The Pacific War
Kate Moore, The Battle of Britain
Last Major Update: Jul 2010
|Carr, Roderick||Freyberg, Bernard|
|Coningham, Arthur||Park, Keith|
New Zealand in World War II Interactive Map
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939