New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Earl of Liverpool's Own)
|The New Zealand Rifle Brigade|
NZRB cap badge
|Active||1 May 1915 – 4 February 1919|
|Engagements||First World War|
|Ceremonial chief||Earl of Liverpool|
Herbert Ernest Hart
The New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Earl of Liverpool's Own), affectionately known as The Dinks, was formed on 1 May 1915 as the 3rd Brigade of the New Zealand Division, part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. During the First World War it fought in Egypt, against the Senussi, and then on the Western Front. It was disbanded on 4 February 1919.
When the first World War commenced New Zealand only had sufficient infantry battalions to form a single brigade and this was combined with an Australian brigade to form the New Zealand and Australian Division. New Zealand had also been recruiting reinforcements to fill the ranks of soldiers killed and wounded and after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire Suez Offensive with minimal losses, it became clear that additional units could be formed.
The decision was taken to use the three battalions of reinforcements in Egypt, with another inbound, to form the 2nd New Zealand Brigade. The 5th Reinforcements were still in New Zealand and were nominated to form the nucleus of a new infantry unit that was initially designated as the Trentham Infantry Regiment, after the camp where it was formed. Consisting of two battalions and commanded by a British Army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Fulton, it did not become the New Zealand Rifle Brigade until 1 Oct 1915 shortly after a 3rd and 4th Battalion had been added.
Two battalions left Wellington on 8 October 1915 eventually arriving in Cairo on 14 November. They were then attached for duties with the Western Frontier Force. They were joined on 13 and 15 March 1916 by the third and fourth battalions. After a period of reorganisation the full brigade left Alexandria on 7 April for France.
After a period of training the brigade entered the line on 13 May east of Armentieres. It participated in the vast majority of the battles of 1916, 1917 and 1918. Notable examples include:
- The brigade's first major offensive was during the Battle of the Somme when it attacked on 15 September as part of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
- The Battle of Messines, possibly the most complete Allied victory of the war until late 1918.
- Third Ypres, normally described these days as Passchendaele.
- It was thrown into a gap in the line caused by the German attack, called Operation Michael, on 26 April 1918.
- Finally it fully participated in the Hundred Days Offensive that ultimately culminated inside Germany
The first elements of the Brigade were returned to New Zealand from 26 December 1918, with up to 1000 per week leaving. By the end of January 1919, the four battalions had been reduced to two with the final units being disbanded on 4 February 1919.
Model WW1 battlefield
In September 2013 it was reported that Staffordshire County Council would excavate the World war I model battlefield near Brocton, Staffordshire, which had been constructed by German Prisoners of War held in a camp on nearby Cannock Chase and guarded by soldiers of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Earl of Liverpool's Own). The model of the village and surrounding area of Messines in Belgium, which included replica trenches and dugouts, railway lines, roads, and accurate contours of the surrounding terrain, would be open to public view for a few weeks before being buried over again to ensure its preservation. The excavation  has revealed amazing details of the 40 metre square battlefield which is said to be perfectly preserved. "Staffordshire County Council will be using laser-scanning technology to re-create the site as a 3D interactive model that can be explored online." 
During its short existence the Brigade was awarded the following battle honours
- 18 Distinguished Service Orders (including 2 with bar)
- 94 Military Crosses (including 5 with bar)
- Austin 1924, p. 55.
- The Archaeology of the Camps
- Brocton WWI model battlefield excavation to begin, BBC News, 2 September 2013
- Kurt Bayer, Archaeologists uncover practice WW1 battlefield, New Zealand Herald, 3 September 2013
- Brocton WWI model battlefield excavation to begin, War History Online, 2 September 2013
- Battlefield emerges from under Cannock Chase bushes, Express & Star, 11 September, 2013
- Michael Bradley, 'Brocton's lost Army 'tribute' excavated after a century,' BBC News, 11 September 2013
- Stewart, H, Col (1921), The New Zealand Division 1916–19: A Popular History Based on Official Records, Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd
- Austin 1924, pp. 481–489.
- Austin, W. S. (1924). The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (The Earl of Liverpool's Own). New Zealand in the First World War 1914–1918. Wellington, NZ: L. T. Watkins. OCLC 22988355. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
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