I’ve been meaning to write a post about this for a while, and following a Twitter conversation with Barry Blades of the Schooling and the Great War project, I decided it really was about time.
New Zealand’s Auckland War Memorial Museum runs the very comprehensive Cenotaph database. This provides information on those who have served in New Zealand’s armed forces from at least the Boer War onwards (I can’t remember if it includes the colonial wars against the Maori, and annoyingly, the database seems to be down at the time of writing!).
For the First World War this includes links to the service records held by Archives New Zealand, and also the embarkation rolls which show additional details of the ships on which the men left New Zealand for the theatres of war.
The data has been re-worked into linked data. This allows a number of statistics to be easily extracted. I had looked at some of this information previously due to the appearance of Ernest James Hamblin on the Surrey Association roll of honour. Originally from Hersham his family had emigrated to New Zealand before the war. The linked data version of the data can be found here.
Barry was interested in those who given their occupation as teaching – I knew that one of the examples given was a breakdown of the pre-war occupations of those who served in New Zealand’s forces. School teacher is there, but rather a small slice to pick out in the pie chart. Carpenter, Ernest Hamblin’s trade, is rather easier to find being the fifth largest group. Fortunately we can see that the full results are also given in numeric form, if we expand the “Results” area of the page. The easiest way to find them is to do use the web browser’s text search facility, usually accessed by pressing -F, and entering teacher. We soon find that 378 men enlisted giving that as their occupation (in fact a few slightly different synonyms appear, but 378 is the total given for each of them, and it appears that these are alternatives rather than needing to add all of those, as only one slice is given in the pie chart).
One of the other charts available is a breakdown of New Zealand deaths by day throughout the war. This chart shows correlations with the major battles in which the New Zealanders fought, and you can adjust the dates covered by the chart, which effectively allows you to zoom in on particular periods. I had already commented in my first article on Ernest that the day on which he died, 4 October 1917, was the bloodiest of the war for the New Zealanders to that point with 487 dead, though it lost that dubious honour 8 days later when 12 October saw 839 New Zealand deaths. A screenshot of the “zoomed in” data is shown below.
Ultimately I would also like to recast the data displayed on the individual men’s pages on this site into the form of linked data, though I haven’t yet worked out the best way of achieving that. It would then be possible to generate similar statistics for the men named on the Surrey Association roll.