3 Sep 2013

Gallipoli casualty percentage revised

8:04 pm on 3 September 2013

It has been revealed why the number of New Zealand troops who served at Gallipoli has been miscalculated for almost a century, leading to an implausibly high casualty rate.

For a long time it was stated that 8556 New Zealanders landed on the Turkish peninsula in 1915, with 7447, or a staggering 87%, killed or wounded. In recent years, the number who fought has been revised upward.

But it's only now that the origins of the miscalculation have been uncovered by Ministry for Culture and Heritage historian David Green.

Mr Green says a British general added together two tables at the back of a book about New Zealand's involvement at Gallipoli and recorded that as the total soldiers who served, without including the reinforcements who landed later.

"The official history after the war was written by Major Fred Waite and published in 1919, and there was a preface to it written by General Sir Ian Hamilton and he added together the totals of two tables at the back of Fred Waite's book but that didn't take into account the several drafts of reinforcements that landed on Gallipoli after the official landing."

The two tables comprised the size of main body that left New Zealand in 1914 and the numbers raised in new units in Egypt but not the reinforcements.

Mr Green says the true number of New Zealanders who served at Gallipoli is more like 14,000, bringing down the percentage of casualties to 53%, in line with Australian losses.