Camps were necessary to train the newly-enlisted troops. A large central training camp at Trentham near Wellington replaced regional camps such as those at Addington and Sockburn.
When Canterbury carpenter Henry Nicholas enlisted in February 1916, like most recruits, he spent 4 months at Trentham undertaking weapons and fitness training as well as preparing for a life outdoors.
Henry Nicholas was drafted into the 13th Reinforcements. He wrote to his friend George Barker about his training experiences at Trentham Camp. He noted the cost of equipping and training the approximately 2,000 men in the 13th Reinforcements. The cost of training just this one draft was £8,000 in wages (about $1 million in today’s money).
Altogether 43 reinforcement drafts were sent. Henry also wrote of his belief that it was important for men to stay behind to work on the land and provide supplies for the war effort.
Once overseas, many men underwent additional training. Christchurch barrister Harold Edgar was 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd New Zealand Light Battery in France and spent Christmas 1917 undergoing mortar training at Morbecque.
He kept a notebook – now held by his descendants – that contains detailed drawings and notes on topics such as the range of different mortars, methods for selecting targets and using mortars in offensive trench operations.