Victory Medal will be displayed in the Town Square, Mesen-Messines, until November 2017 (Photo © Helen Pollock)

NZ 'Victory Medal' sculpture to mark Flanders battle centenaries

Posted on on 03 June 2017
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A commemorative work by the sculptor Helen Pollock has been installed in Messines for the next stage of New Zealand's First World War Centenary remembrance in Europe.

Victory Medal will be displayed in the Town Square from June for events marking the 1917 Flanders campaign - battles that began with the Allies' capture of Messines Ridge.

In Helen Pollock's words:"Victory Medal honours our forebears who fought in the First World War; those who died and those who returned with their lives blighted and shortened by the experience of war. Victory Medal acknowledges all of our heroes."

The sculpture features 36 pairs of feet, representing the size of a platoon.

One pair is cast in bronze as a recognised hero; the rest are made from rough, unprocessed New Zealand clay

"Footsloggers' feet"

Fired in intense heat, they are permanently altered and hardened, sinewed footsloggers' feet, Helen Pollock explains.

Like New Zealand's Great War soldiers a century ago, the sculpture has made the long journey to France and Belgium by sea.

It's being displayed at Western Front sites of particular significance to New Zealanders.

Victory Medal in Arras (Photo: Centenary News)

Following a two-year tour of New Zealand, Victory Medal made its first European appearance at the Battle of Arras Centenary commemorations in April.

It formed the heart of a giant Poppy of Peace, surrounded by red discs bearing commemorative messages.

The sculpture will remain in Flanders during commemorations for the Third Battle of Ypres/Passchendaele in the summer and autumn of 2017, before returning to France next year.

In November 2018, Victory Medal will be permanently installed at Le Quesnoy on the centenary of the town's liberation by New Zealand troops in the last week of the Great War.

Like 12,500 young New Zealanders who didn't come home, it will lie forever in Europe.

Helen Pollock's 'Victory Medal' sculpture will be displayed in the Town Square, Mesen (Messines) from June - November 2017. More details, including a video, can be found on the WW100 New Zealand website, together with information about New Zealand's Battle of Messines Centenary commemorations on June 7.

Also in Centenary News:

Britain & Ireland to share Messines Centenary remembrance (this event is ticketed).

Source: WW100 New Zealand

Images courtesy of Helen Pollock (Victory Medal in Messines); Centenary News (Victory Medal, Arras)