Happy Regimental Day to the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment!
The New Zealand Infantry Corps was formed January 1947, gaining royal status later that same year, before the various regiments (regular and territorial) were amalgamated into the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment in April 1964. As throughout their history (from Corps through to Regiment), the highly trained men and women of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment have been and always will be the backbone of the New Zealand Army, at the forefront of technology and tactics to keep the New Zealand Army an effective and relevant global force.
Training to operate in any weather, season, or terrain, an infantry soldier works in close-knit teams, learning combat skills such as weapon handling, navigation, first aid, field craft, marksmanship, and survival training, all while building physical fitness, strength, high levels of endurance, and stamina. The role of an infantry soldier is varied, requiring mental agility and moral fortitude to operate at home or overseas on military training exercises, operational deployments in conflict areas of the world or in support of humanitarian aid, and disaster relief within New Zealand or overseas. The front-line soldiers of our Infantry Regiment are at the core of what makes the New Zealand Army the modern, agile, and highly adaptive light combat force that it is, and live up to their motto: Onward.
From all of us here, we want to wish the men and women serving in the Infantry Regiment (past and present) a happy Regimental Day and thank you for your service!
At the National Army Museum we have a wide range of artefacts, items, and stories that we could share with you in honour of today’s Regimental Day. We chose this beautiful little artefact. It is a gold sweetheart brooch of a WWI soldier, consisting of a gold rifle surmounted by a fern with ‘NZ’ in the centre. Attached below the rifle is 23/1261, the Regimental No. of Benjamin John Shardlow, New Zealand Rifle Brigade. The brooch was originally set with three precious stones, but one is missing.
Sweetheart Brooches, a favourite part of the collection for our Heraldry Curator, were a keepsake gifted to loved ones during WWI and WWII. Made from materials such as gold, enamel, mother of pearl or brass (even perspex from the broken windscreens of aircraft, tortoiseshell, and coconut shells), they were given by soldiers to their mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, or girlfriends. These brooches came in a varied range of designs. They could be miniature versions of a soldier’s unit badges or uniform buttons, mass-produced ‘Battlefield’ souvenir brooches, and ‘Trench Art’ made by the soldier from material souvenired from the battlefield. The more entrepreneurial would make brooches and other items that could be sold to fellow soldiers.