Newsletter #15

Posted on July 1st, 2014


We were again well represented by our members at Anzac Day commemorations this year. In Belgium, Board Member Ken Young laid a wreath on behalf of the New Zealand Passchendaele Society as part of the opening ceremony of the refurbished Historical Museum of Messines (Mesen) and the unveiling of the life-sized bronze statue of a New Zealand soldier. Mesen is a ‘must-see’ stop for anyone visiting Belgium as the displays feature the New Zealanders’ contribution during the Battle of Messines in June 1917, and in front of the church you can see a mosaic map of New Zealand. Click here to see photos of the opening, sorry the story is in Dutch but pictures can say a thousand words. The title of the article reads ‘Unveiling New Zealand soldier + opening of tourist information centre & Heritage Museum.’

At the Auckland War Memorial Museum our President Iain MacKenzie laid a wreath on behalf of the Passchendaele Society at the 11.00am Citizens’ Service.

Also on Anzac Day, the splendidly restored locomotive Passchendaele Ab608 was rededicated at Steam Incorporated, Paekakariki.   You can access a wealth of photos of the occasion at″ target=”_blank”>

Remembrance Trail

All members of the Passchendaele Society should have received a copy of the ‘New Zealand Remembrance Trail’by now.  It covers the New Zealand Division’s campaign in Flanders in 1917-18. If you have not received one, or did not pick one up at the AGM, then please let Bob Davis know at  –   however please note that he is away on vacation from May 29th.  Extra copies are available to members, for which a donation would be appreciated to cover costs (around $5 a booklet is suggested).  The Society is a registered Charitable Organisation and has also been granted Donee Organisation status. Individuals can claim a tax credit for donations ($5 or more) made to the Passchendaele Society and they can claim back 1/3rd of all donations within limits.
In the ‘Remembrance Trail’, the authors acknowledge the help they received from books and guides by New Zealand military historians. In particular they refer to John H. Gray’s From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth – The New Zealand Division on the Western Front 1916-1918. A History and Guide to its Battlefields. This book deals in depth with the Division’s campaign including October 4th & 12th 1917, (Battles of Broodseinde & First Passchendaele) and subsequently elsewhere in the Ypres Salient until February 1918. The book describes the campaign and its terrain, both historical and contemporary, in great detail.
Members may be interested to know that the 408-page book (with 41 maps & 131 detailed illustrations) is still available from the Christchurch publishers. For a synopsis, extracts and other information, go to The recommended retail price is $65 plus postage. However Willson-Scott are willing to sell it to members of the Passchendaele Society at the concessional price of $37, postage free in NZ. If you wish to take advantage of this offer, send an e-mail to: or telephone (03) 342 3138, identifying yourself as a member of the Society

Other Books

In Flanders Fields, the World War One Diary of Private Monty Ingram is a vivid, gripping and revealing diary which provides a remarkable insight into the mind of a front-line Digger. It is a wonderful learning resource for understanding the true nature of a soldier’s WW1 experience, not only in battle, but in other aspects of their day-to-day lives. The book is available to members at a price of $35 including postage and packaging within NZ. If anyone considered it desirable, Neil Ingram (the author) can autograph the book for you. Profits of any sales will be spilt with the Society. Please contact Neil directly if you would like a copy by sending a cheque to : ‘In Flanders Fields’, PO Box 31-514 Milford, Auckland 0741.
Sandy McKay’s book When our Jack went to War is an excellent educational tool for young teenagers. Unfortunately on Page 174, the text states that the barrage started at 5.25 pm which we know is incorrect. The barrage started at 5.25 am. The publishers will be correcting this with a second print run and have said they will make a note of this on the free downloadable teacher notes available on their website.
Glyn Harper’s children’s book was presented to Prince George during the recent Royal Tour. Actually it’s about Le Quesnoy, but as he is our official Historical Adviser its worth a mention here.

New Board

The Board has many ongoing projects, with some projects now requiring ‘extra pairs of hands’. Members are encouraged to get involved in the Society’s activities, such as – think about the “portfolio” which has most appeal to you and make email contact with the “portfolio Director”.  It is a rapidly changing scenario but if we can establish “virtual portfolio committees” and utilise the talent we know exists in the Society our effectiveness will grow exponentially.

Your new Board members are:-

Iain MacKenzie – President & Community portfolio

Chis Mullane – Vice-President

Mike Hartley  – Treasurer

Bob Davis – Hon. Secretary

Leon O’Flynn – Related Organisations portfolio

Ken Young – Commemorations portfolio

Mike Pritchard – Heritage Materials portfolio

Lode Notredame – Historic Sites portfolio

Jamie Wansey – Younger Generations portfolio

Lawrence Watt – has been co-opted by the Board to take up the position of the Communications portfolio after that position remained open after the AGM. For those that do not know Lawrence, you may recognise him having spoken at AGMs. He is a researcher and writer, who has at one time worked for UNICEF and has a good understanding of the media.

Project Leaders have also been established in the following areas :-
Sandi Notredame – E-News Editor
Juliana Austen – Website
Julie Johnston – has volunteered to investigate ways of developing local activities for members in the lower North Island area where we currently have 20 members.
Phil Martel – remains active within the Society, in particular with the Poppy Garden Project. Cathy Challinor from Boffa Miskell submitted a winning design to represent New Zealand in the Passchendaele Memorial Gardens in Zonnebeke, Belgium. This has now been sent to the Passchendaele Memorial Museum for approval and it is hoped the garden will be installed by October 2014, subject to funding of course. Those able to help out in this area should contact Phil directly for more information.

Interesting Links

The overview of what the Government of Flanders is planning for their Great War commemorations, can be found at

Here is a link to a WW1 poem – “Maunganui Duff” composed on the troopship on route to Egypt, which Paul Turner has set to music

There is a Smartphone App available called Flanders Fields Memorials App available for Apple & Android phones for sale from the iTunes store or from Google Play. There are over 300 items listed including memorials, cemeteries, museums and trench sites – plus heaps more such as hotels and B&Bs!

If you are in Belgium on October 17th 2014 then you will be interested to know that the Province of West Flanders has plans for 8,000 torch-bearers along the 76 kilometres of frontline in Flanders from the beach at Nieuwpoort through to Messines, the project is called Front of Light. The path will follow the original 1914 frontline formed after the flooding of the northern part of the area by the Belgian Army. It will cross eight council areas – Nieuwpoort, Diksmuide, Houthulst, Ieper/Ypres, Langemark-Poelkappelle, Zonnebeke, Heuvelland and Mesen/Messines. The hope is that it can be extended through Ploegsteert to the French border. It is planned that each of the council areas will have a main fire site where guests and associated activities will be focused. The Province is looking to make this both a participation event for the local communities involved as well as an opportunity to host dignitaries from both Belgium and abroad.

The Centenary History Programme

Massey University in Palmerston North is hosting a conference in August for the Centenary History Programme.
Please find attached the poster for the August conference they are hosting. To register, copy the following into your browser The international conference will examine and discuss the individuals, identities and leadership during the First Worl War. Renowned New Zealand Historians will be joined by eminent international Historians – Professor Sir Hew Strachan, Professor Michael Neiberg, Professor Peter Stanley, Professor Glyn Harper and Dr Mesut Uyar.

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