The Passchendaele Centenary will be commemorated in both Wellington and Flanders (Image: WW100 New Zealand)

New Zealand to commemorate its 1917 day of disaster at Passchendaele

Posted on on 04 October 2017
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New Zealand will hold a series of centenary events in October 2017 to commemorate the sacrifices of its troops who fought at the Battle of Passchendaele 100 years ago

Almost 850 New Zealanders fell in the attack on Bellevue Spur on 12 October 1917, part of repeated Allied attempts to overcome strong German resistance in the latter stages of the Third Battle of Ypres.

The Duke of Cambridge, representing Queen Elizabeth, will attend the centenary commemorations at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium on October 12. Events will also be taking place in the New Zealand capital, Wellington.

"It was during this battle that New Zealand experienced one of its darkest days," says WW100 New Zealand Programme Director Sarah Davies.

"On 12 October 1917, approximately 1,860 New Zealand soldiers were wounded and 843 killed. This devastating loss of life remains the highest one-day death toll suffered by New Zealand forces overseas.

"But the tragedy did not end here, with a further 114 men succumbing to their wounds in the following three months."

New Zealand troops near Gravenstafel, early on the morning of 4 October 1917, at the start of the New Zealand Division's involvement in the Third Ypres offensive (Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-012938-G)       

Centenary Events
The Passchendaele Centenary will be marked in Wellington on October 12 with a national ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. This will be followed by the unveiling of a memorial gifted to New Zealand by the Belgian Government. Both events will be streamed live on the WW100 New Zealand website and Facebook page
In Belgium the same day, Tyne Cot Commonwealth Cemetery will be the setting for New Zealand's national commemorative service at 11am. There are 198 named and 322 unknown New Zealanders buried in the cemetery and 1,166 New Zealanders are commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing.
This will be followed by a 7.15pm sunset ceremony at Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood, telling the story of Passchendaele. The New Zealand Memorial to the Missing here commemorates 388 New Zealanders killed in the vicinity between September 1917 and May 1918.
Events in Belgium also include a video and sound show on October 11, telling the story of New Zealand's involvement at Passchendaele. It will take place on the Ypres ramparts, next to the Menin Gate, at 7pm and will be followed by the nightly Last Post Ceremony.
For full details of New Zealand's First World War Centenary events in Belgium from October 4-12, including entry arrangements, see WW100 New Zealand

The commemorations are the latest hosted by countries whose forces fought in the Third Battle of Ypres from July-November 1917. They will culminate next month with a Canadian remembrance ceremony on November 10, marking the 100th anniversary of the capture of Passchendaele village and the end of the battle. For more information about all events, see Passchendaele 2017.

Images courtesy of WW100 New Zealand; Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref: 1/2-012938-G (archive)

Posted by: CN Editorial Team