E-news #38

Posted on May 15th, 2019

January 2019                                                                                                    E-DITION #38

Dear Members,

Now that the busy Christmas/New Year period is behind us, I thought it time for a little news…we wish you all good health & happiness in 2019!

100 years ago – what happened after Armistice Day

In our previous E-news, we told the story up until early October. Stunned by the scale and ferocity of the Allied offensive, the German high command implored the Kaiser to seek an immediate armistice to allow their troops to withdraw to Germany and regroup. On 4th October, the German government asked the Americans to broker a ceasefire.

Our boys came out of reserve for the final phases of the Battle of the Canal du Nord in the northern Somme area (27 September–1 October), fighting their way through the main Hindenburg Line. After a small pause in their push, they broke through weak German defences on 8 October, capturing more than 1000 prisoners and a dozen field guns along the way. The 800 New Zealand casualties included 150 dead.

A week later, the New Zealand Division advanced to within a kilometre of the old fortress town of Le Quesnoy in northern France, which was encircled by elaborate and historic brick ramparts and occupied by Germans as well as a significant number of civilians. During this attack, New Zealand lost one of its most courageous soldiers – Sergeant Henry James Nicholas received the Victoria Cross in Flanders, but was killed in action on 23 October. Le Quesnoy was the last major battle for the New Zealand Division, the town was finally liberated on 4 November. The New Zealand War Memorial Museum for both wars is being developed in Le Quesnoy, you can learn more about this ongoing project https://www.nzwmm.org.nz/story/

Abandoned by its allies – Bulgaria, and with its armies in disarray, Germany accepted defeat. Its population had suffered heavily from the effects of the Allied blockade. An armistice on the Western Front came into effect at 11am on 11 November 1918.

The conditions of the armistice gave the Germans 14 days to leave all occupied territory and 28 days to withdraw across the River Rhine. The New Zealand Division marched 240km through France and Belgium in December, reaching the German border on 19 December. Led by 1st Battalion, Canterbury Regiment, the infantry entered Cologne the next day, followed on Boxing Day by the artillery and other horse-borne units. The winter of 18/19 was mercifully spent indoors on occupying duties.

The New Zealanders’ role as occupiers was short-lived. Once it became clear that Germany could not resume the fight, attention turned to demobilising the troops and getting them home. Beginning in late December, married men and those who had enlisted in 1914–15 were sent back to England and from there to New Zealand. The process sped up from January 1919, with 700–1000 men leaving each week. However, in mid-March, hundreds of bored New Zealand and Australian soldiers rioted at Sling Camp in England. They were enraged at repeated delays in scheduled troopship departures, bias in decisions about sending men home, pointless guard duty and lack of leave.

On 25 March 1919, the last New Zealand soldiers left Cologne and the New Zealand Division was officially disbanded. After nearly three years in France & Belgium and at a cost of more than 12,000 lives, the New Zealand Expeditionary Force’s campaign on the Western Front was over. With perhaps 500 New Zealanders falling while serving in imperial units, including the air forces & Navy, New Zealand’s death toll during the four-year Western Front struggle was close to 13,000.

AGM & Membership Renewal

Our AGM will be held on Thursday 28th March 2019 at 5pm – please note that due to major renovations at the museum, the location of the meeting will be held elsewhere. Formal notice will be issued shortly confirming location and time, but it’s worth mentioning now so you can write it in your diary. Nominations for Board members are of course always welcome, please contact the Secretary for a nomination form. The future direction of the Society will be focusing on Youth and the continued education in schools so that Passchendaele is never forgotten.

In the next few weeks our Treasurer will be sending out the annual membership subscription notices.  As was set at the last AGM, the amount of the subscription will remain at $20.00 for individuals and $100.00 for organisations. We would be grateful for your prompt payment. Some things to remember:

  1. If we need to update your address, please email your new address details.
  2. If we need to update your email address, please let us know what it should be.
  3. If you are paying by direct credit or going into a bank to pay manually or if a cheque is not in your name, please ensure that your name and the invoice number from the subscription notice are included on the reference or details part of the payment.

The email to send updates to is treasurer@passchendaelesociety.org.

We would like to thank you for your continued support of the Society as we continue to strive to meet our aims of supporting the commemoration and recognition of the Battles of Passchendaele. We have retained 75% of the pre-Centenary membership which is a strong indictor for us to continue as before!

New Board Member

Bill MacGregor has willingly agreed to join the Passchendaele Society Board as an interim replacement for Greg Hall who has resigned. He has taken over the duties of Minutes Secretary and the Communications role. Bill and his wife Rose went to Flanders for the Centenary in 2017. He is ex-RNZAF and was mainly involved with helicopters. Although supposedly retired, he spends a lot of time advising the smaller Pacific Islands.

Belgian Memorial Garden

On Friday 28th September 2018, the Belgian Memorial Garden was officially opened in the Passchendaele Memorial Park on the grounds of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele in Zonnebeke. You can have a look at the seven Memorial gardens (including the New Zealand Memorial & Garden) via this promotional clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKk4YzVeZQ4

Heritage Awards

At the 2018 Devonport-Takapuna Local Board Heritage Awards the Devonport Museum received a Heritage Champion Award for ongoing service to the community. Former deputy mayor and chairman of the Takapuna Reserve Protection Trust Michael Pritchard also received a Heritage Champion Award for his contribution to heritage conservation, promotion and education over many years. Mike was also a founding Board member of the Passchendaele Society until his resignation due to ill health.

At the same ceremony, a Heritage Education Award was presented to North Shore resident Gavin Sheehan who took time to restore six local plaques that were overgrown, hidden and forgotten. One was for Devonport resident Lt. Hugh Alexander Forrest who was killed in action on 12 October 1917 at Passchendaele, he was part of the 2nd Battalion. Hugh was only 24 years old, he is buried at the New Irish Farm Cemetery, on the outskirts of Ypres, Belgium. The Takapuna Borough Council renamed Whites Hill in his honour at a council meeting on the 22 October 1919. The area of Forrest Hill Rd grew to become a large suburb of Auckland’s North Shore and now proudly carry’s Lt. Forrest’s name for eternity. He is also remembered on the College Rifles Rugby Club Roll of Honour, the Devonport Primary School memorial granite tablet and the Auckland Grammar School Memorial, amongst others. The children of Forrest Hill Primary School have taken great pride in the history. They are fascinated with their soldier and they have recently made and installed planter boxes that have been placed alongside the memorial plaque and they intend eventually growing poppies in them.


Board Member Dylan Woodhouse is regularly posting on our Passchendaele Society Facebook page. This is proving a successful way of educating the Public about the Battle of Passchendaele. If you are a FB member, please click on Follow to help spread the word further into our community.

Pete Gilliland (S35L International Liaison Officer-Land) had the pleasure of escorting 10 NZCF Cadets to Europe to coincide with the Armistice commemorations. Applications for the trip were received from throughout the country and the cadets had to be between 16-18yrs and selection criteria used included upholding the Core Values of NZCF – Commitment, Courage, Comradeship and Integrity, their service to their unit and community (RSA’s, Civic parades, ANZAC DAY, Poppy Day, charity work, etc) schooling, family military connections including WW1 service, their future careers (military?), Unit Commander recommendation and recommendation from an independent Senior NZCF Officer. The Passchendaele Society provided them with New Zealand Remembrance Trails and Passchendaele Society badges.

This is an interesting article about the All Blacks who died in World War One, please click on: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=12158107

During the centenary commemorations of the Great War 2014-2018, the Last Post Association in Ypres, Belgium welcomed many visitors from around the world, not only for the playing of the daily Last Post, but also for the numerous special ceremonies that have been organized under the Menin Gate. The Last Post Association sincerely thanks everyone for his or her contribution for the smooth running of the different ceremonies as well as everyone who collaborated in these ceremonies. They are proud of what they were able to achieve during the period and made a presentation of it with many photos and also some videos. New Zealand features several times: https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=A6A126BD9D835949!107&ithint=file%2cpptx&app=PowerPoint&authkey=!ANKSL2dgvfzqDlg


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