'No ordinary tourists' : the Second New Zealand Division in the Middle East, 1939-1945
For the members of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF) and, in particular, the Second New Zealand Division (2(NZ) Division), World War Two would offer two profound, overlapping experiences. Tne first was the honific experience of modem warfare, while the second was that of travel abroad. Foreign travel has, of course, been an integral part of the New Zealand experience of war this century, but this sort of travel has tended to be seen by most observers as incidental to the primary experience of battle. Yet, as this study argues, for many New Zealand soldiers, the experience of war was largely characterised by the images and metaphors of travel. Either consciously or unconsciously, the soldiers themselves exhibited a range of behaviour usually associated with the 'ordinary' tourists of peacetime. As 'soldier-tourists', these New Zealanders journeyed abroad armed not only for conflict - but also, in another sense - for contact with the 'new lands' and 'new places' that this war offered. They were 'armed' with a set of images, gleaned from their predecessors and from contemporary popular culture, with which they prepared themselves for encountering the foreign, the 'Other'. These preconceptions affected their ways of seeing and experiencing 'familiar' tourist destinations - and ultimately determined their reactions to them. This study explores the ways in which the New Zealanders employed their 'tourist gaze' and their reactions to the places and people they encountered. In particular, it focuses on their experiences in three separate destinations: England, Egypt and 'The Holy Land'. Each destination had a number of historical and cultural associations with New Zealand, and each therefore offered the chance to encounter not only the 'foreign', but also the familiar. The reactions of 2NZEF to the 'tourist' opportunities presented in these three different geographical contexts reveal much about the meaning of the New Zealand wartime travel 'experience'. Reality experienced could not match reality imagined, and ultimately, their 'tourist' outlook became refracted inwards. Ironically perhaps, these tourists' experiences suggest that while travel broadened their horizons, ultimately, it narrowed their outlook.
Advisor: Rabel, Roberto; Moloughney, Brian
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: History
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis