War in the Holy Lands

13 Dec 2017 – 20 Feb 2018

One hundred years ago, our soldiers were part of the army that captured Jerusalem. Their war, fought on horseback across the ancient Holy Lands of Sinai and Palestine, may have sounded romantic. But the reality was often harsh and heart breaking. War in the Holy Lands, a dynamic audio-visual touring exhibition, takes you on their journey.

In 1916, New Zealand mounted soldiers joined the British attack on Sinai, fighting to protect the strategically important Suez Canal from the soldiers of the Ottoman Empire. Over the next two years they fought in what is now Egypt, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

Places like Jericho, Bethlehem and Jerusalem were familiar to the men from Sunday School lessons, but harsh battles, hordes of flies, extreme temperatures, poverty, and rampant malaria meant that the reality was far from the romantic vision of the Holy Land held by those at home.

Horses played a major role in the Middle East campaigns. The bond between animal and rider was strong, and only made stronger on the battlefield, but most of these valiant beasts would never return home.

Holy Lands World War One in Egypt

The ‘Mounteds’ gained a formidable reputation as fighters, but it was not all glory. Following the end of the war, one of the most shameful events in New Zealand’s military history occurred, a massacre of civilians in the Palestinian village of Surafend.

War in the Holy Lands is created by Story Inc. and Dusk, and funded by the Lottery Grants Board. The fifth of seven touring exhibitions, the show gives The Great War Exhibition a chance to tell the lesser-known stories the First World War. Opening & closing dates may be subject to change.

To see Holy Lands and book a guided tour of The Great War Exhibition, please click here.

If your institution would like to host a touring exhibition, please contact us by email, info@GreatWarExhibition.nz

Photo credits:

Soldiers resting in the shade of their horse: PA-1-Q-604-2, Powles Family Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library

Waikato men in Palestine: Collection of Richard Stowers