04 October 2017

New Zealand marks centenary of Passchendaele

New Zealand commemorations marking the centenary of Passchendaele will take place at CWGC cemeteries in Belgium today and next week.


On 12 October 1917, the New Zealand Division’s involvement in the Third Battle of Ypres, later known as Passchendaele, led to heavy causalities. It remains the worst 24-hours in New Zealand’s military history in terms of lives lost in a single day.

The commemorations, organised by the New Zealand Defence Force, will begin at CWGC Nine Elms British Cemetery today (4 October) with a Service of Remembrance at 2.30pm. During the service, there will be a tribute to former All Blacks captain David Gallaher, marking the centenary of his death on 4 October 1917.

On Wednesday 11 October from 7pm, a video and sound show will tell the story of New Zealand’s participation in Passchendaele along the ramparts next to CWGC Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. It will be followed by the traditional Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate memorial, which will include a performance by New Zealand musician Dave Dobbyn.

The New Zealand National Commemoration ceremony will take place at the CWGC’s Tyne Cot Cemetery on Thursday 12 October at 11am. On the same day, a sunset ceremony will be held at CWGC Buttes New British Cemetery from 7.15pm.

Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating said: “More than 1,900 New Zealanders lost their lives in less than a month – 960 of them were killed or succumbed to their wounds sustained on just one of these days, 12 October 1917.

“Passchendaele was a tragedy that left scars that have endured for generations. It remains a stark reminder for those of us in the New Zealand Defence Force today of our responsibility to care for those who serve and the families who support us.”

Photo credits: Stall at St Jean supplying hot drinks to walking wounded troops from the New Zealand Division of II Anzac Corps on 5 October, the day after they captured the village of Grafenstafel during the Battle of Broodseinde. © IWM (Q 2973)

New Zealand wounded are carried to the rear by captured German soldiers. 4 October 1917. By Henry Armytage Sanders. Ref 12/012938/G. Alexander Turnbull Library.