When HMS Achilles opened fire on the German 'pocket battleship' Admiral Graf Spee on 13 December 1939, it became the first NZ unit to engage the enemy in the Second World War. Over seventy years later, the Battle of the River Plate still holds a special place in this country's naval history.
Page 2 – New Zealand's naval forces
New Zealand's naval forces and strategy before the outbreak of the Second World War.
Page 3 – The outbreak of war
The outbreak of the Second World War and New Zealand naval involvement in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Page 4 – Into the South Atlantic
HMS Achilles joins the Royal Navy's South America Division patrolling the South Atlantic in search of German raiders.
Page 5 – The battle
The British cruisers Achilles, Ajax and Exeter engage the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee in battle.
Page 6 – After the battle
The aftermath of the battle and the return of HMS Achilles to New Zealand.
Page 7 – Further information
Website links and books related to the Battle of the River Plate.
When the Royal New Zealand Navy came into being on 1 October 1941, its main combat units were two Leander-class cruisers: Achilles and Leander. Although its early war was quieter than the Achilles, the Leander was to see dramtic action in the Pacific War.
Page 2 – Leander-class light cruisers
Facts and stats about the Leander light cruiser ships
Page 3 – Leander goes to war
By mid-1940 the Leander was escorting convoys in the Red Sea and Aden areas. In between escorting merchant ships, the cruiser further pummelled the Italian submarine Torricelli
Page 4 – Pacific attack
After some early successes, the Leander's war came to an end when she was hit by a long-range Japanese torpedo
Page 5 – Recovery and repair
The Leander was hit just abaft the ‘A’ boiler room. Four hundred and ninety kilograms of high explosive killed everyone in that boiler room and the blast, venting
Page 6 – Last days
The Leander never fought under the New Zealand ensign again and was eventually scrapped in 1949
Page 7 – Further information
Links and books relating the to the HMNZS Leander
Seventy years old in October 2011, the Royal New Zealand Navy is today an integral part of the New Zealand Defence Force. But its 1941 establishment was the result of a long process of naval development.
Page 2 – Origins
Although some gunboats were acquired by the colonial government during the New Zealand Wars in the 1860s and torpedo boats for the coast defences in the 1880s, the genesis of
Page 3 – First World War
Establishing NZ's naval forcesWhen the Reform government took office in 1912, the way was opened for New Zealand to begin a new approach.
Page 4 – NZ Division of the Royal Navy
The First World War experience convinced Allen that New Zealand’s approach to naval defence had been on the right lines.
Page 5 – Second World War
On 1 October 1941 an order-in-council changed the name of the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy to Royal New Zealand Navy.
Page 6 – Post-war operations
Like all the services the RNZN faced difficulties of readjustment to peacetime conditions, not only in drastically reducing numbers but also in determining the shape of the
Page 7 – New directions
The RNZN’s independence as a service came to an end when the Ministry of Defence (created in July 1963) was reconstituted to incorporate all three armed services on 1 January
Page 8 – Further information
Links and books for further reading about the Royal New Zealand Navy
New Zealand was involved militarily in Korea from 1950 to 1957, first as part of the United Nations 'police action' to repel North Korea's invasion of its southern neighbour, and then in a garrison role after the armistice in July 1953.
- Page 3 - The 'first' and 'second' Korean Wars New Zealand was one of the first states to answer the Security Council's call with combat assistance (sixteen would eventually do so). On 29 June, the government offered two
The New Zealand Flag hasn't always been our official flag. It was adopted in 1902, replacing the Union Jack. Between 1834 and 1840, the Flag of the United Tribes was recognised as our first 'national' flag. Waitangi Day 2010 also marked the first official recognition of the national Māori flag.
- Page 5 - Other official flagsSix flags other than the New Zealand Flag are flown for official purposes in New
New Zealand's first warship, HMS Philomel formed the core of the country's naval forces during the First World War. The aged and largely obsolete vessel was commissioned in New Zealand in July 1914, and went on to serve in the Pacific, Mediterranean and Middle East.
- Page 1 - NZ's first warshipNew Zealand's first warship, HMS Philomel formed the core of the country's naval forces during the First World War. The aged and largely obsolete vessel was commissioned in New
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