SNOW MAN’S LAND (EXPEDITIONARY FORCE TRAINING, FEATHERSTON CAMP)

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This is the only film in the NZFA’s collection which shows members of the NZEF training, and having some fun, in New Zealand. The Featherston Military Training Camp, where this was shot, was the largest training camp in the country with the grounds covering more than 1800 acres of land. It had a capacity of 9850 soldiers and during the course of World War One nearly 60,000 men passed through it.

As early as 1914 training of the main body of the NZEF at Trentham Camp was filmed by the Government Cinematography S. Taylor, at the request of Force’s Commanding Officer Major General Sir A. Godley. Unfortunately however this film has been lost. Later, in 1917, moves were afoot to film soldiers training, but this didn’t come to fruition.

Indeed, and unlike much of the other World War One footage, this was not shot by an official cameraman but rather by Luther Mence, who was one of a number of photographers vying for soldier’s business at the camp. Mence shot film of camp life during the two years he spent as Camp Photographer and in 1919 showed this film to the Minister of Defence, Sir James Allen, at the Censor’s office. It was agreed to purchase 5000 feet of film from Mence, at a cost of £80. A compilation of this film was sent to the Imperial War Museum in 1920.

Instructional staff double forward, watched on by an Officer, at the Rifle Range at the Featherston Training Camp. Staff form up ready to move forward in pairs to fire the Lewis Gun light machine gun. Views of staff firing Lewis Guns on practice range, supervised by Officers. Staff and officers inspecting targets at the end of the range and patching up bullet holes. Wide shot of group of soldiers practising bayonet charges. Bayonet practice with straw filled dummies.

Views of winter scenes at Featherston; soldiers gathered around a snowman, a snow fight begins and the snowman is destroyed. Pan across row of shops on the main street of the Featherston Military Camp to men throwing snowballs a short distance from accommodation huts and stores. Pans of big snow fight, huts in background. Pan across snow covered Wairarapa Plains towards the Rimutaka Range. More snow fighting. Fatigue parties clearing snow off the roads and parade grounds.

From notes by Chris Pugsley.

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Year 1917

Reference number F1475

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image

Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Actuality

Duration 0:04:58

Production company L. W. Mence

Credits Photography: Luther W Mence

Related Link Featherston Military Training Camp at Masterton District Library & Wairarapa Archive

Related Link Tim Shoebridge's history of the Featherston Military Camp