Sunday, 26 April 2015


Hon Jerry Brownlee New Zealand  Minister for Defence
 It was an early start on ANZAC Day in Polygon Wood. About 1500 people attended the Dawn Service.

Every year the crowd is growing. The ceremony is, since last year, with more emotion because of the presence of the Defence Forces with a Catafalque Party and a Cultural Group. Soprano Carleen Ebbs from New Zealand  buit resident in the UK was also performing during the ceremony.
RADM Jack Steer New Zealand Chief of Navy

Just before the start there was a light drizzling rain, but after the ceremony started the sky was very open. the sun was raising from the East over the butte during the ceremony and the birds were singing in the sky.

After the ceremony, public and dignitaries could place flax crosses from the Dolores Project on the graves of the New Zealand victims during the Winter of 1917-1918 on this cemetery. this area has been defended by New Zealand Force during this cold winter. It was called a quiet winter but the New Zealand losses were about 3,000 men!
New Zealand Defence Cultural Group
It was also in this area on 3 December 1917, there was an attack on Polderhoek Chateau were Sergeant Henry James Nicholas VC, MM earned his VC.
Wreath Laying on behalf of the NZ Defence Forces
 On the other side of Polygon Wood, a memorial is erected for Sgt Nicholas. On the other site of the road, there is Polygon Cemetery. A small cemetery with almost all New Zealanders. Amongst them is also George Charles Lee Wilson, a very well know cricketer in his time. Private Wilson was in the Canterbury Infantry Batalion. He died here on 14 December 1917 (aged 30). for more information, see this blog .

The Alderperson for Tourism on behalf of Waimakariri
 In Polygon Wood, you have also 2 concrete shelters build by the Kiwies during this winter.
During the NZ Hymn

A visit to New Zealand headstones on Butte's

(c) Photos: Willy Roets

Thursday, 23 April 2015

New Zealand Defense Contingent for ANZAC Day in France in Flanders

On April 21, 2015 the NZ Defense Contingent who came from New Zealand to participate in the ceremonies on ANZAC Day in France have been in Flanders for a battlefield tour as well.
After a very moving day on the battlefields of Messines and Passchendaele they participated in the Last Post Ceremony under the Menin Gate in Ieper/Ypres.

The Contingent under the Menin Gate

The delegation in the Royal Suite
They will be in Longueval and Le Quesnoy in France to participate in the ceremonies to remember and commemorate their Forebears who came from the Uttermost Ends of the Earth to fight, for peace and democracy in Europe.
reading the ode

wreath laying

wreath laying

Army, Air Force, Navy and Civilian are involved
paying respect to the Buglers

Defense Cultural Group

Last Post

Captain Fogarty with the Buglers

the Haka under the Menin Gate

Marching off!
the Contingent with one of the Belgians

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Raid on Zeebrugge- 23/04/1918 Saint Georges Day

This book is the fruit of the chance discovery of a series of photographic plates belonging to Alfred Carpenter, who commanded the lead ship, HMS Vindictive, during the raid. These pictures provide us with a unique insight into this daring naval operation, which was to result in the most Victoria crosses ever being awarded for a single action. The plates were used by Captain Carpenter to illustrate a lecture tour of the United States and Canada after the war.
Winston Churchill called the raid on Zeebrugge 'the finest feat of arms of the Great War'. This brief, but bloody, action resulted in the highest number of Victoria Crosses ever awarded for a single action. Approximately one thousand officers and men of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines stormed the most heavily defended U-Boat base in Occupied Europe. German submarines based in Zeebrugge were responsible for a third of all allied shipping losses during the First World War.

During the Passchendaele offensive of 1917, the Allies attempted to capture these U-boat bases by means of a land-based attack. The failure of the Battle of Passchendaele made it clear that a naval assault was the only solution. As a result, on 23 April 1918, a small force of fighting vessels, towing three blockships, set out across the North Sea...

What is not known by most people is the fact that also New Zealanders took part in the raid on Zeebrugge. See

Also Belgian fishermen have been involved.

preorder this book  here:

On the road to the Great War Exhibition in Wellington

loading of artefacts from Passchendaele and Arras

On Friday 17 April a transport company came to collect the artefacts from Arras, Messines and Passchendaele for Sir Peter Jacksons' Great War Exhibition in Wellington.

90 kg soil from Longueval
We are sure the artefacts and soil will be received with respect from the people of New Zealand and will have a special place in the exhibition. the soil is coming from three major battlefields,  Longueval (France), Messines and Passchendaele. the soil has been donated by farmers living and working on those battlefields. Before sending it to New Zealand , there was a heat treatment for the  soil and the wooden crates to be sure not to pollute anything in New Zealand.

The artefacts are coming from the Pond Farm in St Julian (Langemark), Tte Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, the  Wellington Quarry in Arras and the City of Mesen/Messines. Different people were involved in France and Belgium.

On the road to Aotearoa
Some stunning photographs have been made by Di Mackey ( a professional photographer, a New Zealander living in Belgium - from NZ graves in Flanders and Northern France. These will be used  in the Great War Exhibition in Wellington.

To read more information see:

Friday, 3 April 2015

Battlefield soil ceremony at Messines

 A short but poignant ceremony and blessing was held in the theatre at Mesen/Messines yesterday for soil from the battlefields of Longueval (Somme), Messines and Passchendaele which is destined for the new Great War Exhibition in Wellington, New Zealand.

According to Maori custom (tikanga), Donna Scott and Lewis Whaitiri of the London-based cultural group Ngāti Rānana performed an acceptance and thanks ceremony for what is regarded as a sacred gift (taonga).
A karanga and mihi of thanks were performed and followed by a blessing by the Reverend Brian Llewellyn of St George's Memorial Church, Ieper/Ypres.

The soil, in containers ready for heat-treatment processing today in order to meet New Zealand biosecurity standards, is from three of New Zealand's most iconic World War One battlefields and will form part of the new Great War Exhibition being developed by the film director Sir Peter Jackson. A number of other items are also travelling to the exhibition on loan from the Memorial Museum Passchendaele in Zonnebeke, the Messines collections, The Pond Farm from St Julian - Langemark, the Mémorial de la Bataille d'Arras and other sources.
The Mayor of Messines, Sandy Evrard (left), looks on as Freddy Declerck opens the containers.

The four-year exhibition will be in Wellington’s former Dominion Museum at the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.

Photos by Di Mackey.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

New Zealand Garden in the Passchendaele Memorial Gardens at Zonnebeke

It is with great pleasure that the Passchendaele Society’s ‘project team’ announces the launch of the New Zealand Garden Appeal.

Donations are now being sought to help fund the New Zealand Memorial Garden at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 in the village of Zonnebeke, Belgium – a place where possibly tens of thousands of New Zealanders will visit over the coming years, so something we feel all New Zealanders can contribute to! The area around the villages of Zonnebeke and Passchendaele in the province of Flanders is of immense significance to New Zealand and its involvement in World War I. A staggering 5,000 New Zealanders were killed in Flanders in the series of battles leading to the Battle of Passchendaele.
We are seeking to raise up to $450,000! This figure includes construction of permanent features here in New Zealand and shipping to Belgium. The final figure will depend on sponsorship of services and materials in New Zealand and how much work is done in Belgium for us pro-bono. Members are encouraged to think about becoming Life Members and/or to encourage others to become members.
We will also be seeking funding from Corporate Sponsorship from iconic New Zealand brand names & businesses – there will be opportunities to adequately recognise sponsors, both here and at the garden site in Belgium. Naming rights is another possibility that could be negotiated.
Donations from individuals may be made via the Telecom crowd funding website – 100% of what you donate is then given to this project thanks to the help of the Telecom Foundation. Supporters can create their own fundraising pages to directly support this initiative and become Charity Champions – I just created a Charity Champion page of my own, It was easy and 100% of donations generated from my page and fundraising efforts will go directly to this project! Or you can fundraise or promote events on your own – for example, placing a small bucket (with a lid on) at your workplace or local garden centre to collect donations; or school ‘mufti’ days with gold coin donations would be wonderful ways to fundraise for this exciting project of national significance!
We have taken on this project in response to a request from the WW100 Director to create a suitable design for a New Zealand themed garden in the grounds of the Zonnebeke Chateau, home to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917. The Passchendaele Memorial Gardens project includes seven poppy-shaped small gardens designed to represent each nation involved, including Australia and the UK. This is an important opportunity for New Zealand to be represented with its own garden. The gardens are all in the shape of a poppy when seen from the air. Elements include three large “petals”, delineated by red planks; a central area designed for seating containing black gravel; a smaller “petal” containing an information panel; and a flagpole. Plant species will be typical for the represented nation. We published a request for expressions of interest and proposals - the winning design was submitted by Cathy Challinor of Boffa Miskell, a prominent design practice in New Zealand. You can see the winning design here.

A little re-cap of our history - the Rt, Hon. Helen Clark ONZ was in Ypres on 4th October 2007 (the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Broadseinde), when she was representing the Government of New Zealand as Prime Minister where, together with the Flemish Government, they signed the Ypres Agreement (2007).

The agreement committed New Zealand to cooperate in “…increasing broad community recognition…educating younger generations…honouring the war dead…preserving heritage material…and encouraging tourism to commemorative and historical sites in Flanders and New Zealand…”

The Agreement then inspired the Memorial Museum Passchendaele to create a travelling exhibition to New Zealand in 2009 entitled “Passchendaele: The Belgians Have Not Forgotten”. You can read her full speech on our Home page.

This in turn inspired our founding Board members to form the Passchendaele Society here in New Zealand to help increase ‘broad community recognition’ of the Battles of Passchendaele!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Sir Peter Jackson in MMP1917

This week on Tuesday 20 May we've got the honor to welcome Sir Peter Jackson in Zonnebeke and Passchendaele area.

Sir Peter Jackson is very well known as one of New Zealand's best-known film-makers (J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, which has won numerous awards. He stayed with the Tolkien fantasy brand with The Hobbit ).

He was here with his uncle and 2 cousins for a private two-days family visit.
He has been here before in search of the place where his great-uncle was killed in action during the gas attack in May 1915.
This time he asked for a local guide to find the exact place where his great-uncle was killed and where his body was lost during the war.
It was a very nice and pleasant day for all of us because we could help him and his family to locate the almost exact place (today it's cropland and the farmer was very cooperative). We don't want to mention the exact place because we don't want people to go to that particular spot and disturb the farmer. It is also the last resting place of many soldiers who died
After we discovered the place there was a visit to Tyne Cot Cemetery and around 04.30 pm we visited the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.
Sir Peter with uncle and his two cousins in the New Zealand anchor point in MMP1917

Sir Peter is also a member of the W100 committee in New Zealand.

In the evening they attend the ceremony at the Menin Gate. The next day they have gone back to the farm where the body was lost and after that they visited Messines/Mesen.

Thank you Sir Peter for this emotional battlefield experience with your 89 year old uncle !

Saturday, 26 April 2014

New Song from Paul Turner New Zealand

It is most likely that this poem was the product of a joint effort among soldiers on the troopship Maunganui as they travelled to Egypt to join the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War. The collections of Herbert Spencer Rutherford and Albert George Turner include handwritten copies of this poem. Both men embarked from Wellington on 8 January 1916 and were attached to the 9th Reinforcements Wellington Infantry Battalion, B Company. At La Basseville, Belgium on 31 July 1917 during fierce fighting, Turner 10/3762 suffered a severe gunshot wound to the chest and Rutherford 10/3728 was killed.

ANZAC Day in Christchurch

Past Honorary Consul for Belgium Michael Petterson and Major Brendan Wood, good friends of us at the Dawn Service in Christchurch
Here you wil see a piece of film footage about the Belgium wreath laying in Christchurch. Honorary Citizen of Zonnebeke Jo Kane is doing the "job" together with Past Honorary Consul for Belgium Michael Petterson. Apologies for the bad quality of the film but it is second hand done from TV by IPhone.

Friday, 25 April 2014

ANZAC DAY in Belgium 2014

 Polygon Wood , Zonnebeke 25 April 2004

For the first time more then 1000 people attend the ceremony.
For the first time we've got children and students attending. The foundation has been made, now they can start building the real commemoration service for future generations.
For the first time there was also a Defence contingent from Australia and New Zealand
Well done!