E-news #31

Posted on September 19th, 2017

The Warneton sector

As with our previous E-news, we have been following in the footsteps of our boys during their campaign on the Western Front, 100 years ago.

Between July 18th and August 31st 1917 the NZ Division was stationed in the Warneton (Waasten) sector, on the southern border of Belgium. The sector stretched from Hyde Park Corner (Ploegsteert) over a wide expanse of torn fields sloping gradually down to the villages of La Basse-Ville and Warneton, on the banks of the River Lys. After bitter fighting on the 27th and 31st July the village of La Basse-Ville was finally captured by the 2nd Wellington Battalion. The new line was consolidated with great difficulty and for the next 3 weeks the men holding the line suffered severely from the enemy fire and the wet and the mud. There were 1,008 New Zealand lives lost.

John Gray writes in his book: ‘From the Uttermost ends of the Earth’:  “The post-Messines period was costly to the NZ Division. Although they were only a series of minor operations rather than a full-scale battle, the Division had 3,843 total casualties in the month of August alone. Let us ponder on this figure. It represents about 25% of the strength of the Division – 1 casualty for every 4 men”.

All the NZ boys had been relieved from the frontline by August 31st and were then stationed behind the lines in the Lumbres area (west of St Omer) until the September 25th 1917, resting and preparing for the October battles around Passchendaele. The month’s rest had worked wonders and throughout there was a feeling of delight at the prospect of once more making an attempt to break the enemy lines.

Nga Pua Mahara – New Zealand Memorial & Garden

We are proud to announce that construction of our Memorial & Garden at the Passchendaele Museum in Zonnebeke is now complete. However due to the dry summer, the planting has been delayed until September. We are also proud to say that our M&G is the only non-Government installation from all the countries represented and all involved have done an outstanding job!

The official opening will take place at 3pm on October 12th, 2017….the setting is quite perfect in a Rhododendron grove amongst the trees. However that also means that space is ‘rather limited’, so our members are advised to arrive early as it has been estimated that there will be 300 – 500 New Zealanders at Passchendaele this year for the commemorations!

The New Zealand Memorial & GardenNga Pua Mahara (Petals of Remembrance) has been created in remembrance of the more than 5,000 New Zealanders who were killed or mortally wounded in Flanders, Belgium. Most still lie in the surrounding Flanders Fields, others made it over the border of France only to die in a Field Dressing Station or hospital and are thus buried in French soil.

The bucket of freshly dug soil taken from the site of the new Belgian Memorial site at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington has also been incorporated into the Garden as the 5,000 soldiers that still lie in Flanders Fields can never return to home soil, therefore the soil has been taken to Flanders. “Provide me with a handful of soil from my homeland so I may feel the warmth of my ancestors and weep”. 

A last-minute added feature at the Memorial & Garden are birds made in metal. These are the New Zealand Tui, Piwakawaka (fantail) and Kereru plus the Belgian (European) Lark often heard singing high above the battlefield during a lull in fighting. Also a Morepork (Ruru) will be included as a guardian or kaitiaki.

As many New Zealanders are unable to make the journey themselves to Belgium we are also creating a documentary to tell the story of the Memorial & Garden, thus keeping very much alive the memory and history of what went on in Belgium for generations to come. As well as being broadcast nationally in libraries, museums and schools, the documentary will be available to the general public free of charge from the Society’s website, the WW100 website and other official sites.

Young People to Passchendaele tour

The Honourable Nikki Kaye MP(Minister of Education) and Hon Maggie Barry MP (Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage) recently announced the winners of the Battle of Passchendaele competition.

The Passchendaele Society is proud to be the initiators of this project to send Young People to Passchendaele. The project involves sending ten youths on a 10-day tour to Europe. The winners will depart on 7th October 2017 to attend the various national commemorations in Belgium. These youngsters will have a starring role during the opening our M&G (see above story).

The competition was intended to help raise awareness of the Battle of Passchendaele, and the entrants were asked to develop a curriculum resource using digital technologies to be used for Year 7 to 10 students in the future. We are thrilled that this project has achieved the Passchendaele Society’s goals of raising awareness to our Younger Generations. See for yourselves the outstanding websites created by the winners:

St Margaret’s College, Christchurch http://www.discoverpasschendaele.com/  by Alexandra Lay

The judges were impressed with the digital map that navigated users through this website. It provided a coordinated story of the Battle of Passchendaele with provocative questions, a brilliant German photo album and some great quotes providing a New Zealand context. It had excellent interactive tasks for the students to complete.

St Paul’s Collegiate, Hamilton https://bloodandmud.org/ by Dylan Woodhouse, Tony Wu, Lucy Tustin and Conor Horrigan The students created a website which had interactive activities and strong links to the curriculum. The judges were impressed by the use of social media, community engagement and provocative questions. They applauded the website’s ability to address diversity, connect the past with present and encourage students in Years 7 to 10 to engage and do their own research.  It had the standout “wow factor”.

Rotorua Girls’ High School, Rotorua http://themissed.000webhostapp.com/ by Alyssa Mae Pineda, Kayla Kautai, Mairaatea Mohi, Atawhai Ngatai and Keighley Jones The students created a scrolling menu of pages on their website that detailed different aspects of the battle, a quiz to test learning and material in Te Reo Maori. The website impressed the judges because it enables students to think critically about the Battle of Passchendaele.

Important Dates

Here in Auckland we are, of course, holding our own annual commemoration on 12th October at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. However as it is the 100th anniversary it will be a much larger event. The ceremony will be indoors in the Hall of Memories, starting at 11.00am, however attendees should be seated by 10.30am. Sir Don McKinnon and Major General Tim Gall have been confirmed as the guest speakers this year.

Prior to the commemoration there will be a short service at the Field of Remembrance in front of the Cenotaph. Time and details to be confirmed. The Fields of Remembrance Trust (FoRT) will install 2,412 named crosses in front of the museum on 5th October with a brief establishment ceremony and blessing and there will be a disestablishing ceremony on 20th October.

After our 11.00am commemoration, all attendees are invited for complimentary light refreshments served in the Events Centre upstairs at the Museum (12.15pm until 1.15pm). Special thanks are hereby conveyed to Auckland Council for providing this for all attendees to enjoy and for their wonderful support in recognising the importance to our citizens of the First World War and the importance of Passchendaele in that context.

Later that evening a Centenary Commemoration Formal Dinner at the Northern Club, Auckland will be hosted by the Auckland Officers’ Club and the Passchendaele Society. This dinner will be run along the lines of a Formal Mess Dinner. Passchendaele Society Members are most welcome to attend. Details such as timings & cost will be provided closer to the event, Major General Tim Gall is confirmed as the guest speaker.

Auckland’s 3/6 Battalion 1RNZIR will be holding a Charter Parade, marching from Auckland Domain to the Museum, on 16th September at 3.00pm. This is to commemorate the original march of the Auckland Regiment as part of the Main Body in 1914 departing for WW1.

The Passchendaele Symposium Remembering Passchendaele will take place on 3rd October 2017 at the Auckland War Memorial Museum 6-8.30pm. Dr David Littlewood from Massey University will be the MC for the event, with Steven Loveridge and Charlotte Deschamps as guest speakers. More information is available http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/whats-on/war-memorial/remembering-passchendaele-symposium

Mates on the Field is being jointly organised by the Auckland RSA, Eden Park Stadium, Fields of Remembrance Trust and supported by the Passchendaele Society and the NZ Defence Force on 4th October 2017. A commemorative day of activities is planned at Eden Park to coincide with the 100th anniversary death of Dave Gallaher in the Battle of Broodseinde and those that died alongside him on this day 100 years ago. The ‘World’s largest Poppy’ will be painted on Eden Park to commemorate the New Zealand lives lost in the Battle of Broodseinde. Each of the 492 soldiers will be remembered with a white cross on the field acknowledging their sacrifice in Flanders fields. In addition, their names will scroll through on Eden Park’s LED screens at the east and west end of the stadium as a mark of respect. The day will commence at 6am with a long blow of a First World War whistle, timed for the original pre-dawn Zero Hour when New Zealand soldiers went “over the bags”. The public will be invited to attend throughout the day and pay their respects. This day of remembrance will be brought to a conclusion with the playing of The Last Post ‘at the going down of the sun’ (Sunset is timed for 7:27 pm) to be played from the balcony of the Auckland RSA box at Eden Park. Also, 1,000 limited edition badges will be produced for the event and sold for $20 each with all funds raised being donated to the Fields of Remembrance Trust. Collectors will be present throughout the day and free tours of Eden Park will be conducted. Details are still being finalised and we will let you know about any developments. For your information there were 13 former All Blacks killed in WW1, with four deaths in Messines and one at Passchendaele, plus several more Maori All Blacks.

There will also be a national Sunset Ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington on 12th October.  Dunedin Council is organizing several official events on 12th October.  Details from both cities will be advised when more information comes to hand.

It is also pleasing to learn that many smaller communities are also planning events to commemorate their local boys who died at Passchendaele. For example Kaiapoi RSA is intending to hold a service at Kaiapoi on 12th October at 9:00am.

Christchurch Memorial RSA is planning to hold a commemorative parade and service with wreath laying at the Bridge of Remembrance on 12th October. They will also be placing 3,200 Fields of Remembrance crosses in the Park of Remembrance on the bank of the Avon adjacent to the Bridge of Remembrance from 1st October until 30th November to cover the period of Passchendaele, the sinking of HMS Marquette and Armistice Day 2017.

The 7WnHB Regimental Association is organising commemorations in Lower Hutt on 13th & 14th October. Members have already received information about this on a previous email but in case you have missed it please contact Campbell Sutherland on acsutherland@xtra.co.nz

For those lucky enough to be going to Belgium, please visit this webpage for detailed information on what is planned in the Ypres area in October 2017: https://sway.com/37IEVSI6G7EX4yDz On 4th October at 2pm there will be a New Zealand Remembrance ceremony at Nine Elms British Cemetery in Poperinghe in tribute to All Black Captain Sergeant Dave Gallaher. Afterwards, everyone will make their way to the commemoration at the New Zealand Memorial at ‘s Gravenstafel at 4pm. ‘s Gravenstafel is a crossroad marking the successfully achieved objective for the New Zealanders on 4th October 1917 in our push for the Passchendaele Ridge.

On 6th October there will be a concert by at 7.00pm at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele in Zonnebeke. They will also play at Dave Gallaher’s graveside on the 4th, and at the Menin Gate the same evening.

All Kiwis will be welcome in Zonnebeke for the special Council meeting in the afternoon of 11th October. It will be a good place to meet other people coming from the different parts of New Zealand and elsewhere. Everyone will then go to the Menin Gate Ceremony, this will be a New Zealand focused ceremony. You are advised to be there by 7.30pm latest. For more information please contact the Passchendaele Memorial Museum in Zonnebeke: www.passchendaele.be/en

The New Zealand Embassy in Belgium is coordinating the 12th October 2017 events and this is what we know so far. The 11.00am ceremony at Tyne Cot Cemetary is intended primarily for New Zealanders and will not be ticketed. However, security will be tight so arriving early is advised. It will not be possible to self-drive to Tyne Cot. You will be required to park at “Parking C” of the Bellewaerde Amusement Park on Frezenbergstraat. Buses will run from Parking C to the entrance of Tyne Cot cemetery. Before getting on buses you will be required to go through security screening, so please arrive well in advance – they recommend you arrive at Parking C before 9.30am. For details including access, shuttle buses, etc. see: www.ww100.govt.nz/passchendaele

Following the service, the shuttle buses will return to Parking C via the Memorial Museum Passchendaele so that you can attend the opening of the New Zealand Memorial & Garden at 3pm. See above for more details. Afterwards, everyone will then be shuttled to Polygon Wood for the Wood of Peace project. The aim is to have a tree planted for every serviceman buried at Polygon Wood and Buttes New British Cemeteries. You need to register online by 31st August at http://passchendaele2017.org/en/evenementen/plantdag-vredesbos/

The day will conclude at 7.15pm with a sunset ceremony at the Buttes New British Cemetery in Polygon Wood to commemorate the New Zealand soldiers who were killed in the vicinity of Polygon Wood and Polderhoek Chateau between September 1917 and May 1918. There are 388 names mentioned on the New Zealand Memorial to the Missing who have no known grave. The cemetery also has 95 New Zealand graves of known soldiers, plus there are also many more scattered around nearby cemeteries in Belgium and France for those that made it as far as Casualty Clearing Stations or hospitals.

A Tri-Service NZ Defence Force Band, including Navy vocalist Rebecca Nelson will be in Flanders for the main centennial period.

On October 14th at 7pm you can be part of an event called Silent City meets Living City at the Tyne Cot Cemetery in Passchendaele. There will be a moment of silence and reflection to commemorate the many victims of the Battle of Passchendaele, participants will then illuminate the gravestones and the names on the Tyne Cot Memorial to bring a proper tribute during a serene sound and light show with music, evocation and personal stories. With nearly 12,000 graves and 35,000 names of soldiers with no known grave, CWGC Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. Have a look at the promotional movie. If you want to be part of this unique and powerful ceremony you need to register on www.passchendaele2017.org

Wearing of medals by family members

Next-of-kin and other relatives of deceased servicemen and women wearing their relative’s medals has become common at commemoration services since the 1990s. The wearing of deceased relatives’ medals is appropriate on specific occasions and under certain circumstances. Conventions for wearing a relative’s medals include:

People should only wear one set of medals and they should be directly related to their family, for example, should have belonged to a brother or sister, father or mother, grandfather or grandmother; or those of a relative whose medals you have inherited. Note: It is very common for military personnel who died in the First World War to have no children. Thus family members who have inherited medals can wear these medals at Commemorations or give permission for another member of the deceased’s family to wear these medals.

  • In all cases these are worn on the right chest (former servicemen and women wear their own medals on the left chest)
  • Only service medals and decorations mounted on a medal bar (full-size or miniature) can be worn by a relative. It is perfectly acceptable for people to wear miniature medals mounted on a medal bar as the weight is far easier to handle.
  • Royal Honours insignia such as neck badges, sashes, sash badges, or breast stars cannot be worn by anyone other than the original recipient. The same rule applies to any Unit and Personal Commendations that the deceased wore on their right chest.
  • The occasions on which wearing of relatives medals is permitted are confined to Anzac Day (25 April) and Remembrance Day (11 November). In addition, it may be appropriate for next-of-kin and other relatives to wear relative’s medals on an occasion where either the relative’s service or the unit in which they served is being commemorated, e.g. the Battle of Passchendaele Commemoration.


The Passchendaele Society has joined with the New Zealand Branch of The International Military Music Society (IMMS) in staging a Grand Massed Bands Concert entitled Passchendaele Remembered, at the Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna on Sunday 15th October 2017 at 2.30pm, featuring the RNZ Navy Band, the RNZ Artillery Band, the RNZ Air Force Base Auckland Band, the Auckland Police Pipe Band, and the NZ Police Auckland Choir.  Tickets are $28 for adults or $24 for seniors and students. Tickets are available at: www.ticketmaster.co.nz; Tel: 0800 111999; or buy directly at their Box office.

The exhibition The Belgians Have Not Forgotten has now moved to the Air Force Museum,

45 Harvard Ave, Wigram, Christchurch (August/September). The following link has more information about the exhibition  –  there are also some other very good links to all manner of useful information about other events in Belgium throughout the whole of 2017 on this website: http://www.passchendaele.be/en/Configuratie/Calender/2017/The_Belgians_have_not_forgotten

Toitu Otago Settlers’ Museum is hosting the final leg of the Belgians Have Not Forgotten exhibition in October & November (timed to coincide with the centenary) and will have Freddy Declerck from Belgium come to speak at its opening. His lecture is part of a four-lecture series over October, with two Belgian experts (Freddy and Charlotte Descamps) and two New Zealand experts (Professor Tom Brooking and Sean Brosnahan) to discuss Passchendaele from different perspectives. Toitu is also staging a complementary exhibition The Women’s War: patriotism, service and dissent in their temporary exhibition gallery. You may also be interested to view their documentary Journey of the Otagos, which includes a specific episode on Passchendaele called The Darkest Days https://youtu.be/3X6xX6_AgNE

The Third Battle of Ypres officially started July 31st 1917, the battle later became known as the Battle of Passchendaele. The UK coordinated a large commemoration at Tyne Cot Cemetery and in Ypres on July 31st 2017, followed by a 3-hour live show. Both events were broadcast live on the BBC, this is the link to the Tyne Cot commemoration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzI62I0fomQ and this is the link to the Menin Gate ceremony and the show that followed on the Market Square of Ypres: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voWrPJSM8Io

New Zealand’s relationship with Belgium was forged not only on the battlefield, but through efforts here at home. Here in New Zealand, socks were knitted, clothing donated and fundraisers held. By the end of the war, New Zealanders had raised around £805,000 for the Belgian Relief Fund – that’s around $100 million today!  WW100 is remembering the compassion New Zealanders showed towards Belgium and its refugees during the First World War.  You can learn more by clicking on the compassion video on this page: http://ww100.govt.nz/compassion

The New Zealand Herald recently featured the following blog in its Travel section: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/news/article.cfm?c_id=7&objectid=11901797

The Passchendaele 2017 event is being held 4-5-6 November 2017 in Flanders. Please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/1826648810957458/ or email passchendaele2017@gmail.com to know more if you happen to be in the area at the time.

The Passchendaele Society is facing huge financial pressures in trying to respond to and be represented at all the centennial commemorations of the Battle of Passchendaele. If you are one of the handful of members who have not yet paid your membership subscription of $20 this year, please forward as soon as possible……every little bit helps, thanks.  Our Give-a-little page is where you can donate if you so wish, here is the link https://givealittle.co.nz/org/passchsoc1 Or another great way to donate is to become a Paid Life Member.

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