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Armistice Day: The New Zealand Story

New Holland, 2016
ISBN 9781869664411
Storylines list of notable books for 2016

At the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month each year, we remember the end of the First World War. This book commemorates the day when fighting stopped in Europe on 11 November 1918. It covers the final months, weeks and days of fighting, the influenza epidemic, the return home and the creation of the war cemeteries. It also talks about peace memorials and ways to celebrate and work towards peace.

Well researched and drawing on illustrations, photographs and text from various sources, this is a gripping, moving description of the aftermath of war. Partnered with best-selling Anzac Day: the New Zealand story, it makes an excellent reference for the whole family.

The story behind the book

Lots of people know something about the Gallipoli campaign, but not so much about the rest of World War One and how it ended. Lots of people aren’t sure what Armistice Day is or what it means. We don’t know much about what happened after the war. We think that perhaps everything just went back to how it was before, but that’ s not what happened.

Armistice Day

When I started to do some research for this book, I was amazed at all the things I didn’t know. For example, I didn’t realise that the Armistice which was announced at 11am on 11 November 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) only marked the end of fighting, not the official end of the war.

I had never read much about the Peace Day celebrations that happened all over the country in 1919. I hadn’t thought about how the soldiers got home again, or what it was like for them when they did get home (especially those who had lost limbs, been badly injured, were shell shocked or carried hidden wounds). I didn’t know what happened to the prisoners of war, and how they got home. And what about the conscientious objectors – what did people think of them, once the war was over?

For a long time, Armistice Day was a big event in New Zealand. It is still marked in many countries all around the world, and in the last few years, we have started to pay more attention to it here as well. If you don’t know much about it, or about what happened at the end of World War One – read the book and find out!


“Good non-fiction titles are rare these days but I am pleased to say that this is one of the very good ones for students of all ages…The history is illustrated with superb photographs, newspaper articles, diary entries, maps and opinions from celebrated people. History doesn’t get any better than this.” Thanks to Bobs Books Blog for this review.

“The strongest aspect of the book is the wonderful photos of memorials, events and documents related to the coming of peace.” Thanks to Kathy Watson on The Reader: The Booksellers New Zealand Blog for this review.

“It’s a terrific piece of historical research but the real skill is that Philippa is a writer first and foremost, and she has a way of making the facts come alive and jump off the page, because you’re so entranced in the small stories, you never feel like you’re reading a history book.” listen here
John McIntyre on Radio NZ

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