Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Rifleman Harold John Batten, service number 44182, New Zealand Rifle Brigade Harold Batten, son of Alfred and Lucy Batten, was 24 years old when he commenced service on 5 January 1917. At this time he lived in Otaki and was working as a horse trainer and jockey. After training with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, he embarked on the troopship 'Pakeha' from Wellington on 26 April 1917 as a member of 'G' Company, 24th Reinforcements. At Sling Camp in England he re-joined the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. Harold's unit endured the terrible fighting at Passchendaele in October 1917, where he was wounded in his lower left forearm by an exploding shell on 12 October. This was the worst day of the entire war for New Zealand when 845 men died and over 2700 were wounded. The high casualty figures stemmed in part from the failure of the Allies' creeping barrage during the attack on Bellevue Spur: this was an attempt by the artillery to give close-range cover to advancing infantry, but many...