Newsletter #25

Posted on February 27th, 2017

Battle of Passchendaele Anniversary & Commemoration

The Board of the Passchendaele Society cordially invite all members to attend our annual commemoration to be held at 11am on Wednesday 12th October inside the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

The New Zealand Division’s involvement in the push towards the village of Passchendaele resulted in our worst day in Military history recorded on 12th October 1917 when we lost 846 of our boys on Bellevue Spur on just one day, with many more to die over the coming days from their wounds!

Please come along and be seated by 10.40am in the WW1 Hall of Memories at the top of the stairs on level two (lifts are available). The guest speaker this year will be Rear Adm.(RTD) Roy Clare CBE, Director, Auckland War Memorial Museum. Many military, consular and civic dignitaries have been invited and will be laying wreaths. Medals may be worn and the public are invited to lay floral tributes and/or poppies after the dignitaries.

The Royal New Zealand Navy Band will be playing from 10.35am and the choir this year is again Auckland Choral. The Veterans’ Affairs ‘Why Should We Remember Passchendaele?’ competition winners will also be announced and presented with their prize by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Hon. Craig Foss MP. The prize on offer this year includes a trip to the 100th Commemoration in Passchendaele next year! If you have a family member in Year 13 then there is still time for them to enter, entries close on September 26th – you can Read more here.

Post Commemoration Luncheon

All members and partners are also cordially invited to the Post Commemoration Luncheon directly after the Commemoration which is again supported and hosted by The Auckland Officers’ Club.

Venue: The Northern Club, 19 Princes Street, Auckland

Time: 1.00 pm Wednesday 12th October 2016

Guest Speaker: Rear Adm.(RTD) Roy Clare CBE, Director, Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Cost: $42.00 – Menu: Chef’s Main Course with green vegetable; petit fours, coffee or tea, and two glasses of either house wine, NZ beer or soft drink.

Dress: Serving Personnel: Uniform, Medals and Decorations : Civilians: Suit, Medals and Decorations

RSVP (by Wednesday 5th October latest – preferably sooner) to Bob Davis, (Hon.Secretary) at

Payment: Please remit by Bank Transfer to Kiwibank, Account No: 38-9011 0519917-00 for credit to The Passchendaele Society Inc, quoting your initials, surname and ‘lunch’ as the reference, or send a cheque, payable to The Passchendaele Society Inc. to Mike Hartley, Hon.Treasurer, P O Box 74439, Greenlane, Auckland 1546.


The Victory Medal exhibition commemorating the New Zealand Division on the Western Front has been touring in New Zealand Provincial Museums for the last 2 years. Its final installation is to be at Remembrance Ridge in the Wellington Botanic Garden from September 9th until November 13th. All are welcome to attend the opening ceremony on September 15th at 12 midday. Take the Cable Car to the top where signs will guide you to the location. Victory Medal will then leave Wellington by sea for Europe, as did the young men of the provinces a century ago. In 2017 it will be at the following 3 battlefield towns of:-

Arras, France April 2017 Commemorating the New Zealand Tunnelling Company. Confirmed installation in the Place des Heroes for the Centenary of the Battle of Arras

Messines, Belgium September 2017 to commemorate the New Zealand involvement in the Battle of Messines. Confirmed installation in the Town Square

Le Quesnoy, France November 2018 A proposed permanent memorial installation to commemorate the New Zealanders’ liberation of Le Quesnoy.

Many thanks to the many Society members who responded to our request for personal stories from those who had parents who served at Passchendaele. As we build towards the Centenary in 2017 we hope to see some of these stories appearing in the press. Telling the story about the events that took place there on a personal level and how it affected those here in New Zealand, sometimes for years afterwards, will be a great way of educating the public and raising awareness. If they returned and went on to significantly contribute to New Zealand’s society, even better. If you have not yet made contact then please do, Greg Hall has offered to help gather these together, please email him at

I wish to inform you with a sad heart that Board member Mike Pritchard is currently on leave from his duties while he recovers from a recent stroke. We wish him all the best and a speedy recovery! Chris Mullane is currently covering his Heritage portfolio, including the New Zealand Memorial & Garden project in Belgium. Also, Lawrence Watt has resigned from the Board, his Communications portfolio has temporarily been taken over by Greg Hall.

I asked in a previous E-News about any information regarding the first New Zealander to die in Flanders Fields. I think I have that answer – the remains of Henry Walker have recently been unearthed near Langemark while excavating for a pipeline through the middle of the battlefields. His remains were able to be identified by his rather well preserved possessions…..the thick blue clay in Flanders does not have any oxygen and thus anything buried remains well preserved, much like our Swamp Kauri logs in Northland. Walker was from Auckland but joined the British Army soon after the declaration of war and rose to become a Captain with the 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was killed in action on April 25th, 1915, having being shot in the stomach at 3.30am, coincidentally just hours before the New Zealanders landed on the beaches in Gallipoli. Comrades of Captain Walker believed that the enemy probably buried him in the natural grave of a shell crater. He attended King’s College in Auckland where his name now appears on the school’s Roll of Honour. He is also remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres and at Auckland War Memorial Museum’s World War One Hall of Memories.

The Fields of Remembrance Trust (FoRT)

An Auckland Field of Remembrance will again be erected in front of the Auckland War Memorial Museum this month to honour the 163 men of the Auckland Battalion and from the wider Auckland region who made the ultimate sacrifice on 15th September 1916 in the Battle of the Somme. In France the Bleuet de France (cornflower) is the flower of remembrance so the named crosses are decorated with a poppy and cornflower motif.

Visit the FoRT’s website for more information. A series of four lapel pins honouring those who died in significant battles of the First World War are available from ANZ Bank branches. Pins commemorating Chunuk Bair and the Somme have so far been released.

Important Dates

The Passchendaele Society commemorates all those that lost their lives on the Western Front. Captain Shaun Fogarty RNZN, MNZM, Passchendaele Society member and NZ Defence Attaché in Paris & Brussels attended the commemoration service on July 3rd at Armentieres……the New Zealand boys finally arrived in Europe April 1916 and made their way to the north of France by train to various training camps where they were taught about trench warfare. They then marched east to the Armentieres Salient. It was not until the night of May 20th/21st 1916 that the New Zealand Division went to the frontline. This was their first experience at life in the trenches under fire. There is a New Zealand Memorial to the Missing at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres (just south of the Belgian border).

The Battle of the Somme will be commemorated this year on September 18th at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington:- 11am UNKNOWN BUT NOT FORGOTTEN 12 noon FRANCE IN THE PARK – a celebration of French culture (suitable for all the family).

There is also an 11am service at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on September 15th in the WW1 Sanctuary on Level 2. Plus another 11am service at Nelson’s Founders Heritage Park, also on September 15th.

Or if you are in Europe, there are three Commemorations planned on September 15th in Longueval, France – a 7am Dawn service at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial, an 11am service at the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery and a 7pm sunset ceremony at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial again.

Back in New Zealand, the Waitakere Ranges Local Board is presenting a ticketed free concert at Glen Eden’s Playhouse Theatre at 2pm on September 25th, featuring the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery Band, followed by a free tea at Glen Eden RSA (next door to the theatre). Tickets from the Local Board office (Tel: 09 813 9150). And the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum will present a talk on 24th September at 2pm to commemorate Otago’s worst day in the Battle of the Somme.

Planned Commemorations in Belgium 2017

We are increasingly being asked about upcoming commemoration events planned in Belgium, it is wonderful to see that many of our members are planning to visit Passchendaele next year. Our Government is yet to approve a programme for the National New Zealand remembrance service(s) on October 12th 2017, however as the ceremonies are aimed solely for New Zealanders, it is not envisaged to be a large event and thus, at this stage, will not be a ticketed event. There are likely to be several events (for example at Dawn and at 11am) and they are yet to decide on the location for each service, such as Tyne Cot Cemetery (where so many of our boys are buried), Polygon Wood (where there is another Memorial to the Missing) and/or at the New Zealand Memorial at ‘s Gravenstafel (the successfully achieved objective for the New Zealanders on October 4th 1917 in our push for the Passchendaele Ridge).

There is however a ticketed event in Flanders on July 12th 2017 with attendees limited to 5000 on Tyne Cot and another 5000 at the Passchendaele Memorial Museum, Zonnebeke Chateau (via a big screen). There will also be an Australian service on 26th September 2017 at the Buttes New British Cemetery. This website is an excellent source to stay abreast of any developments in Zonnebeke/Passchendaele Also the is a great source of information.


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