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Ernest Arthur Griffin and his soldier friends at Trentham Camp

The New Zealand Rifle Brigade was formed on 1 May 1915 In 1916, it was divided into three brigades and the 1st and 2nd Battalions arrived in Egypt in time to become the only New Zealand unit to participate in the Senussi Campaign and then on the Western front. In January 1916, New Zealand’s infantry was divided into three brigades - Ernest was with the 3rd Wellington Infantry Battalion, which existed from March 1917 and campaigned on the Western Front - the Somme 1916; Messines 1917; Passchendaele 1917. They had cloth patches sewn on the backs of uniform jackets from to identify their unit.

Src: 100 Days Offensive

Early September, 1918, the Allied British pushed the German forces on the Somme back to the Hindenburg Line where the German Army had launched its spring offensive in March became its last major line of defence on the Western Front.
The New Zealand Division followed mopping up a succession of rearguards. They fought their way through Havrincourt Forest and Gouzeaucourt Wood before reaching Trescault Ridge, a position that was part of a chain of enemy outposts and strongpoints screening the Hindenburg Line, just 4 km to the east.
On 12 September, the Third Army attempted to overwhelm the German positions along Trescault Ridge, capturing the villages of Havrincourt and Trescault and some of the high ground during the Battle of Havrincourt (12–14 September). The New Zealand Division, weakened from its efforts at Bapaume, struggled to advance on Trescault Spur, an offshoot of the main ridge defended by elite troops. After two days of bloody fighting the New Zealanders were relieved and moved back to Bapaume to rest.

Late September, the Allies launched a massive offensive against the Hindenburg Line, attacking simultaneously along more than half of the Western Front. On the 26th, American and French forces struck in the Meuse-Argonne region in the north-east. The next day, the British First and Third armies pushed toward the city of Cambrai, capturing 10,000 prisoners and 200 field guns. In Flanders, the British Second Army and the Belgian Army punched through German defences near Ypres on 28 September, advancing up to 9 km in 24 hours – more ground than was taken in three months of fighting at Passchendaele in 1917. Back on the Somme, the British Fourth Army attacked the central sector of the Hindenburg Line on 29 September, crossing the St Quentin Canal and penetrating German support lines.
Stunned by the scale and ferocity of the Allied offensive, the German high command implored the Kaiser to seek an immediate armistice to allow their troops to withdraw to Germany and regroup. On 4 October, the German government asked the Americans to broker a ceasefire.
The New Zealand Division came out of reserve for the final phases of the Battle of the Canal du Nord (27 Sept – 1 Oct). Fighting their way through the main Hindenburg Line, the 1st New Zealand Infantry Brigade seized the town of Crèvecoeur on the final day of the battle, establishing a valuable foothold across the Scheldt (Escaut) Canal in the process. In effect, the New Zealanders had already broken through the ‘Masnières–Beaurevoir line’, a trench system prepared hastily behind the Hindenburg Line on which the Germans hoped to hold the Allied advance in this sector.
After pausing to regroup, the British Third and Fourth armies renewed their attack on 8 October. Breaking through weak German defences, the New Zealand Division advanced more than 5 km to take the village of Esnes, capturing more than 1000 prisoners and a dozen field guns along the way. New Zealand suffered 800 casualties and Ernest Griffin was one of 150 who died in this offensive. That night German forces withdrew to the Selle River, allowing Canadian troops to take Cambrai unopposed. Further south, the New Zealanders continued the pursuit for 18 km to the river, seizing an important bridgehead at Briastre before being relieved on 14 October.

Lynley Reynolds visited the Wellington 100th ANZAC "Field of Crosses" display held at the Wellington Botanic Gardens. This display was a commemoration for all the Wellington Region WW1 service personnel who lost their lives during the conflict - there were over 4000 crosses. The cross she located and photographed commemorating the sacrifice made by Ernest Arthur Griffin is shared by Randall Hughes. These have since been removed,and are to be distributed to some 40 schools and will be brought out for future ANZAC Day commemorations.
8/10/2018 - it will be 100 years since Ernest was killed in action in France and we who honor his memory, are left to reflect that just over a month later at 11 a.m. on 11 November 1918, the armistice on the Western Front came into effect .. the fighting ended as all guns fell silent......