Thursday, 13 August 2015

Rugby and Commemoration

Rugby in New Zealand is playing a meaningful role in the commemoration of World War One by showcasing the link between theur national game and the conflict and showing that rugby is something that connects New Zealanders today with the people of the past.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

In Memoriam Major General (RDT) L J (Lou) Gardiner, ONZM

Former Chief of Army Lou Gardiner has died of cancer last Saturday.
Lou was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1952. He joined the New Zealand Army in 1971.Be graduated in 1975 he joined the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps. In 1994, he was posted to the United Nations Operations in Somalia (UNOSOM). In late 1995 he returned to NZ, was promoted to Colonel and assumed the appointment of Chief of Staff, Support Command. In Dec 1997 he became the Director of Resource Policy and Plans in HQ NZDF. In December 1998, he was promoted Brigadier and assumed the appointment of Deputy Chief of Staff (DCGS). However, one week later he was appointed as the Land Commander. During his twelve months as Land Commander, he was appointed as Joint Commander for two operations. The first was the provision of support to the NZ Police Force during the security operations for APEC that was held in Auckland. The second was for the deployment and command of NZ forces to, and in East Timor. In December 1999, he was re-appointed to DCGS. In July 2000, he was appointed to the Chief Military Observers appointment in United Nations Transitional Authority East Timor (UNTAET) for twelve months. He returned to NZ in July 2001 and assumed his old appointment as DCGS. In December 2001 he was appointed as the NZ Defence Adviser to Australia. Lou was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for his Operational Service in East Timor, on January 1st 2004. In November 2004 he was promoted to Major General and posted as Commander Joint Forces New Zealand.
On 1 May 2006 Major General Gardiner was appointed to the position of Chief of Army. A position he held until 1 May 2009. More recently Lou Gardiner was appointed the Chief Executive of Crimestoppers New Zealand.

Lou came to Belgium, and was in Passchendaele in 2007 for the 90th  anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele and the remembrance services. We’ve got the honour to be his guests when we went to New Zealand in 2008 to prepare our traveling exhibition. He was very aware of the need to remember the sacrifice that has been brought by his forebears.
Lou talking with me,
hosting our party in Wellington 2008

One of my best friends in NZ, the former Belgian Consul in Christchurch wrote me this morning:
I personally will always remember Gen Lou for what he told me at the Dawn Service at Tyne Cot on 12 October 2007, I remember saying to Gen Lou that I understood that you were going elsewhere in Europe with your wife after the ANZAC weekend of 7 October and would therefore miss the Dawn Service of 12 October. I was very pleased to see him at the service and I will always remember very clearly what he said to me after the service. He said I need to be here on the 12th October at this service in my role of Chief of New Zealand Army to pay my personal respects and on behalf of NZ Army at this hallowed place. He then said it is very important to me that any soldier that is chosen to be Chief of NZ Army has visited the hallowed Battlefields of Flanders before taking up the role and I will be recommending that fact to my military superiors in Wellington.
from right to left: Lou, Judith, Willy Apiata VC
and Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae
October 2007 on Tyne Cot Cemetery Passchendaele
I know that Gen Lou was very moved by the experience of visiting the Battlefields of Flanders.
It is very sad that Gen Lou passed away from cancer at such a young age, such a shame because he would have had a lot more to contribute to New Zealand in the years ahead, may he Rest in Peace.
He leaves his wife Judith, children Matthew, Erin and Benjamin, and granddaughter Melanie
Our sincere condolences to Judith, the children , the family and the many friends

Rest in Peace

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Search Notice - Opsporingsbericht - Avis de Recherche -

This time, this article is in 3 languages, English, Dutch and French because we are searching information on families involved in the escape of a New Zealand POW during WWI

Deze keer is het artikel in 3 talen omdat we informatie zoeken over families die betrokken waren bij de ontsnapping van een Nieuw-Zeelandse krijgsgevangene in WOI.

cette fois l'article est en 3 langues parce-que c'est un avis de recherche pour trouver des familles qui ont aidé un soldat Néo-Zélandais, prisonnier de guerre, qui a évadé de prisons allemandes pendant la Première Guerre mondiale.


A short introduction to  Company Quarter Master Sergeant (CQMS) 
24/2530 NZEF 1896 – 1951.

An Auckland man is searching for any relatives of the Belgian people, who provided a safe haven in Brussels to his father after he was captured by the Germans during the last few months of WW1.

CQMS H R (Bert) Hansen, NZEF, had been captured at Meteren in April 1918. Shunted from one horrific prison to another, he finally escaped for the first time from Leuze-en-Hainaut early in June.

Assisted by friendly country people, he reached Brussels safely a few days later and was sheltered in several houses until arrangements could be made for him to continue his journey to find ways and means to cross the border into Holland.

Bert Hansen’s Memoir describes his P.O.W. experience in great detail from capture in April through to the month of September when he was taken prisoner again by the Germans as he was walking to Liege.

His second escape from captivity took place in November, from the Fort de la Chartreuse in Liege just days before the Armistice, as he was about to be put on a train for Germany. He made his way back to Brussels where he was sheltered again by his old friends.

The intrepid escaper made his own way back to British lines at Courtrai where he was given a complete new uniform. He was hospitalised in a weak condition, shipped over to Dover on 4th December and admitted to an English hospital with “debility”. (Bert’s first visit to England).

Bert was demobbed on 15th May 1919 and immediately went back to France where he became a pastry cook and learned many aspects of the bakery trade.

He married Mathilde Alphonsine Anquetin in Paris in August 1920 and they sailed back to New Zealand at the end of 1921. The marriage ended in divorce a few years later. Mathilde had been born in Richeville, Eure; the daughter of Alfred Alphonse Anquetin and his wife, Leonie Hortense nee Raffy.

Kath and Stan Hansen made a trip to France and Belgium in 2011 to visit the 11 war graves for Hansen cousins who had lost their lives on the Western Front in WW1. They also made a point of retracing Bert Hansen’s footsteps from the place where he was taken prisoner in April 1918, right through to Brussels where he was being sheltered even as the Armistice was being signed in November.

Bert’s story as a P.O.W. is one of courage and endurance in the face of adversity but it is also unique because he is thought to be the only New Zealand prisoner to have escaped twice from German captivity on the Western Front.

Fast forward 97 years as we remember the events involving the NZ Division in France and Belgium. Stan and Kath Hansen are anxious to try and trace some of the surviving descendants of the families in Belgium who sheltered Bert Hansen as an escaped prisoner and saved his life into the bargain.

Bert’s Memoir was very descriptive and named several street locations in Brussels for his safe houses but they were not numbered. It lacked surnames for some of the most important people who sheltered him. That is, except for a certain Baron who had a son called Oscar, and two other surnames.

There is also a studio portrait of Sgt Hansen in Army uniform with a young lad who is not a Hansen family member and he is not identified on the back of the photo. It could have been taken in London, after he was repatriated, or maybe in Paris, before he married the French girl. Could it be Mathilde’s young brother? Maybe, it could have been taken in Belgium?

The Hansen family believe the photo was taken during 1918, possibly after the war ended, because Bert is looking far too old and haggard for a 22 year old, even though he had spent two years on the Front Line. His health had suffered a great deal after he became a P.O.W. in April 1918. He was a sergeant all through 1918 so we believe the photo with the boy was taken that year.

The most likely clues to the mystery come from Bert’s Memoir, though spelling of names may not be 100% accurate, but all are in Brussels and associated with safe houses.

Streets named: No. 9 Rue Washington; (an English R.C. priest)

No. 2 Place St. John;

Rue d’Aricu where Bert stayed one night.

Rue Wery; one of the safe houses.

Ave de Couronne occupied by a couple named Sacre. (Their daughter later married Auguste, (Bert’s ‘minder’).

Ave de la Toison d’Or, the home of M. Terlinden;

Rue d’Arlon; home of Mde. Ryntions?

Surnames mentioned: Mde. Ryntions (Louise’s employer, said by her to be the most beautiful woman in Brussels, mother of four girls).

Baron Von de Nutte/or Nout who had a son named Oscar.

Miss Jones of the Secret Service;

M. Terlinden, possibly one time Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Ave Toison d’Or.

First names only: Louise, an English governess in the Quartier Leopold; Auguste, a manservant and maitre d’., employed by M. Terlinden who had a son serving in the Belgian Army.

A condensed version of Bert Hansen’s seven month life as a POW has been incorporated into In the Field – Mud and Blood on the Western Front, a WW1 story written by Kath Hansen in 2012.

For more information in English, please contact:
Stan & Kathleen Hansen, e-mail :


Een korte introductie tot het boeiend verhaal van
Company Quarter Master Sergeant(CQMS)
24/2530 NZEF 1896 – 1951.

In Auckland, Nieuw Zeeland, is een man op zoek naar familie van Belgen die zijn vader een veilige haven boden in Brussel tijdens de laatste maanden van WO1 nadat hij was gevangen genomen door de Duitsers.

CQMS H R (Bert) Hansen, NZEF, is gevangen genomen te Meteren (Noord Frankrijk) in april 1918 en werd van de ene naar de andere gevangenis overgebracht tot hij uiteindelijk voor de eerste keer kon ontsnappen vanuit Leuze-en-Hainaut begin juni.

Met de hulp van vriendelijke mensen te lande, kwam hij enkele dagen later veilig in Brussel aan en kreeg er een schuilplaats in verschillende huizen tot er een oplossing werd gevonden om zijn ontsnapping verder te zetten richting Nederlandse grens.

Bert Hansens dagboek verhaalt zijn krijgsgevangenschap met veel zin voor detail vanaf de gevangenneming in april 1918 tot de maand september wanneer hij opnieuw gevangen genomen werd door de Duitsers terwijl hij naar Luik ging.

Zijn tweede ontsnappingspoging was in november 1918, vanuit het Fort de la Chartreuse in Luik enkele dagen voor de Wapenstilstand toen hij op een trein zou gezet worden richting Duitsland. Hij kwam terug naar Brussel waar hij opnieuw door zijn Belgische vrienden geholpen werd.

Deze onversaagde ontsnapper ging met eigen middelen naar de Britse linies in Kortrijk waar hij een compleet nieuw uniform kreeg. Hij werd gehospitaliseerd met een zwakke conditie, overgebracht naar Dover op 4 december en opgenomen in een Brits hospitaal voor dezelfde reden (het was Berts eerste bezoek in Engeland).

Bert werd gedemobiliseerd op 15 mei 1919 en ging onmiddellijk terug naar Frankrijk waar hij er het beroep van banketbakker leerde en nadien ook uitoefende.

Hij huwde met Mathilde Alphonsine Anquetin in Parijs in augustus 1920 en ze vaarden naar Nieuw Zeeland terug eind 1921. Hun huwelijk eindigde met een scheiding enkele jaren later. Mathilde was geboren in Richeville, Eure; als, dochter van Alfred Alphonse Anquetin en zijn echtgenote, Leonie Hortense Raffy.

Kath en Stan Hansen maakten een reis naar Frankrijk en België in 2011 om de 11 oorlogsgraven te bezoeken van de Hansen familie die hun leven verloren op het Westelijk Front in WO1. Ze volgden ook het voetspoor van Bert Hansen vanaf de plaats waar hij werd gevangen genomen in april 1918 tot in Brussel waar hij onderdook tot na 11 november.

Het verhaal van Bert als krijgsgevangene is er een van moed en volharding met veel tegenslag maar is ook uniek omdat hij waarschijnlijk de enige krijgsgevangen Nieuw Zeelander is die twee keer kon ontsnappen uit Duitse gevangenschap aan het Westelijk Front.

Nu reeds 97 jaar herdenkt de familie de gebeurtenissen van de NZ Divisie in Frankrijk en België. Stan en Kath Hansen zijn ongerust op zoek naar overlevende nazaten van de families in België die Bert een schuilplaats hebben gegeven en zo misschien zijn leven hebben gered.

Berts dagboek was heel beschrijvend en hij noemt verschillende Brusselse straten en veilige huizen soms met de namen, meestal enkel de voornaam, van de bewoners. Familienamen - van de belangrijkste personen die hem hielpen - worden meestal niet gegeven met uitzondering van een zekere Baron die een zoon had die Oscar genoemd werd en twee andere familienamen.

Er is ook een studioportret van Sgt Hansen in uniform met een jongeman die geen lid is van de Hansen familie en die nog niet geïdentificeerd kon worden. Het kan in Londen gemaakt zijn nadat hij gerepatrieerd was, of misschien in Parijs vooraleer hij huwde met Mathilde. Misschien is het wel een jongere broer van Mathilde? Misschien is de foto in België genomen?

De Hansen familie gelooft dat de foto genomen is in 1918, mogelijk na het einde van WO1, Bert ziet er te oud en afgepeigerd uit voor een 22-jarige, zelfs voor iemand die 2 jaar aan het front was. Zijn gezondheid heeft het wel zwaar te verduren gehad nadat hij krijgsgevangen werd in april 1918. Hij werd sergeant in 1918 en dus denken ze dat de foto in dat jaar genomen werd.

De meest waarschijnlijk aanwijzingen komen uit het dagboek van Bert, de spelling van de namen zal misschien niet 100% correct zijn, maar het was allemaal in Brussel en gerelateerd met veilige huizen.

Straatnamen: Nr. 9 Rue Washington; (een Engelse Rooms-Katholieke priester)

Nr. 2 Place St. John.

Rue d’Aricu waar Bert een nacht verbleef.

Rue Wery; een van de veilige huizen.

Ave de Couronne waar een Koppel met de naam Sacre gehuisvest was. (hun dochter huwde later met Auguste – Auguste was diegene die zorgde voor Bert toen hij onderdook in Brussel ).

Ave de la Toison d’Or, het huis van M. Terlinden;

Rue d’Arlon; het huis van Mde. Ryntions?

Familienamen: Mde. Ryntions (Louise’s werkgever, zei van haar dat ze de mooiste vrouw van Brussel was, moeder van 4 dochters).

Baron Von de Nutte of Nout die een zoon had, Oscar genoemd.

Miss Jones van de het verzet/geheim leger;

M. Terlinden, mogelijks ooit minister van Buitenlandse Zaken geweest in Ave Toison d’Or.

Voornamen: Louise, een Britse gouvernante in het Quartier Leopold; Auguste, een huisknecht bij M. Terlinden die een zoon had bij het Belgisch Leger.

Een beknopte versie van de zeven maand dat Bert Hansen krijgsgevangen was, is te lezen in “In the Field – Mud and Blood on the Western Front”, a WW1 verhaal geschreven door Kath Hansen in 2012.
voor verdere informatie in het Nederlands:
Freddy Declerck

Concerne le Quartier Maître de Compagnie Sergent
Herbert, Reginald Hansen (Bert)

24/2530 NZEF 1896 – 1951

Un homme d'Auckland (Nouvelle-Zélande) est à la recherche de descendants de plusieurs familles Belges qui ont abrité son père Bert Hansen à Bruxelles, après qu'il ait fui des prisons allemandes, dans les derniers mois de la Première Guerre Mondiale (Grande Guerre, Guerre 14-18).

Bert Hansen originaire de Nouvelle Zélande (NZEF), a été fait prisonnier à Meteren en avril 1918. Transféré d'une prison à l'autre, il réussit finalement à s'échapper une première fois, début juin 1918, de la prison de Leuze-en-Hainaut.

Aidé par des Belges, il atteint Bruxelles quelques jours plus tard. Il est accueilli et abrité dans plusieurs maisons dans l’attente qu’un arrangement soit trouvé pour lui permettre de continuer son périple et trouver un moyen de traverser la frontière jusqu’en Hollande.

Les mémoires de Bert Hansen décrivent en détail son expérience de Prisonnier de Guerre, depuis sa première capture (en avril) jusqu'à sa seconde arrestation par les Allemands (en septembre), alors qu’il était en chemin vers Liège.

En novembre, après avoir été détenu au Fort de la Chartreuse de Liège et à quelques jours de l’Armistice, il parvient à s’évader une seconde fois alors qu’il devait embarquer dans un train en direction de l'Allemagne. En fuite, il retourna à Bruxelles où il fut à nouveau abrité par ceux qui l’avait aidé la première fois.

Bert is believed to be in the red circle
Par la suite, Bert parvint à rejoindre les lignes anglaises à Courtrai par ses propres moyens. Il y reçut un tout nouvel uniforme. Hospitalisé dans un état de santé médiocre, il fut embarqué le 4 décembre vers Douvres et admis dans un hôpital anglais pour “asthénie”. Ce fut le premier séjour de Bert en Angleterre.

Démobilisé le 15 mai 1919, Bert retourna immédiatement en France pour y devenir boulanger/pâtissier et y apprendre les rudiments du métier.

Il épousât Mathilde Alphonsine Anquetin à Paris en août 1920 et retourna vivre avec elle en Nouvelle Zélande fin 1921. Le mariage se conclut par un divorce quelques années plus tard. Mathilde (née à Richeville, dans l’Eure) était la fille d'Alfred Alphonse Anquetin et de sa femme Léonie Hortense (née Raffy).

En 2011, Kath et Stan Hansen effectuèrent un voyage en France et en Belgique afin de retrouver les 11 sépultures de guerre des cousins Hansen ayant péri sur le front ouest de la Première Guerre Mondiale. Ils parvinrent également à retracer le parcours de Bert Hansen, depuis l'endroit où il fut fait prisonnier en avril 1918, jusqu'à Bruxelles où il demeura caché jusqu’à la signature de l'Armistice en novembre 1918.

L'Histoire de Bert, en tant que Prisonnier de Guerre, témoigne de son courage et de sa détermination face à l'adversité. Cette histoire singulière est d’autant plus captivante que Bert est l’unique prisonnier Néo-Zélandais connu à s’être évadé à deux reprises des prisons allemandes sur le front ouest.

Alors que nous commémorons le centenaire de cette guerre qui impliqua la participation de divisions Néo-Zélandaises en France et en Belgique, Stan (fils de Bert) et Kath (Kathleen son épouse) tiennent à retrouver les descendants actuels des familles Belges qui ont hébergé et sauvé la vie de Bert Hansen alors qu’il n’était qu’un prisonnier en fuite.

Les mémoires de Bert sont très détaillés et contiennent les noms de quelques rues de Bruxelles où il fût hébergé (sans toutefois préciser les numéros). Malheureusement, il manque quelquefois les noms de famille des principales personnes qui lui sont venues en aide et l’ont caché. Ceci est valable à l’exception d’un certain Baron, qui avait un fils appelé Oscar, ainsi que deux autres personnes.

Il existe un portrait de studio du Sergent H.R. Hansen, en uniforme militaire, et d’un adolescent qui ne fait pas partie de la famille Hansen et n'est pas identifié à l'arrière de la photo. Cette photo pourrait avoir été prise à Londres (après le rapatriement de Bert) ou peut-être à Paris (avant son mariage avec la jeune française). Pourrait-il s’agir du jeune frère de Mathilde? La photo aurait-t ‘elle été prise en Belgique?

La famille Hansen pense que cette photo a été prise en 1918 (probablement à l’issue de la guerre), étant donné que Bert y semble trop âgé et hagard pour un jeune homme de 22 ans (bien qu’il ait vécu 2 ans en ligne de front). Dès son arrestation en tant que Prisonnier de Guerre en avril 1918, la santé de Bert s’aggrava. Etant donné qu’il fut Sergent pendant toute l'année 1918, tout porte à croire que la photo daterait de cette année-là.

Les indices les plus précieux pour retrouver les descendants des sauveurs de Bert sont contenus dans les mémoires de Bert. Malgré d’éventuelles erreurs d'orthographe de certains noms, tous les noms concernent Bruxelles et sont associés à des maisons d'accueil.

Noms de rues mentionnées :

Numéro 9 rue Washington (prêtre R.C. anglais)

Numéro 2 Place St. John

Rue d’Aricu, où Bert resta une nuit

Rue Wéry, une de ses maisons d'accueil

Avenue de la Couronne, occupée par un couple nommé Sacré (leur fille épousait plus tard Auguste (le « mentor » de Bert?)

Avenue de la Toison d’Or, où se trouvait la maison de M. Terlinden

Rue d’Arlon, où se trouvait la maison de Mde. Ryntions ?

Noms mentionnés :

Mde. Ryntions (L’employeur de Louise, réputée pour être l’une des plus belles femmes de Bruxelles, mère de 4 filles).

Baron Von de Nutte/ou Nout dont le fils s'appelait Oscar.

Mademoiselle Jones des Services Secrets

M. Terlinden, peut-être devenu Ministre des Affaires étrangères, Avenue de la Toison d’Or.

Prénoms seulement:

Louise, une gouvernante anglaise du Quartier Léopold

Auguste, majordome and maître d’hôtel, employé par M. Terlinden qui avait un fils enrôlé dans l'armée Belge

Un résumé des 7 mois de la vie de Bert Hansen en tant que Prisonnier de Guerre a été incorporée dans l’ouvrage écrit par Kath Hansen en 2012 et intitulé : “In the Field – Mud and Blood on the Western Front” (Dans le Champ – Boue et Sang sur la Front Ouest).

Pour des renseignements en Français:
Dany & Roland de Timary
Musées Héritage de Goesnes
72a chemin de Tahier
5353 Goesnes
tél: mobile +32 (0)474 444 226 (Dany); +32 (0)475 68 44 94 (Roland); +32 (0)85 41 37 48

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Australian Minister for Finance (with Belgian roots) on Tyne Cot today

A delegation from the European Australian Business Council (EABC) has visited Tyne Cot Cemetery today. The delegation was led by the Australian Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon Matthias Cormann. His party was around 50 people. On the picture he is with the Alderperson for the Centennial on his left and the Australian Ambassador to Belgium on his right. The Minister is a Belgian who went to Australia in 1994. He's coming from the Eastern part of Belgiam (Eupen) and is speaking French, German and Flemish. 
It was very special to guide an Australian Minister with Belgian roots.

Battlefield Tour from Passchendaele to Messines in the trail of some New Zealanders

Lt NZ Royal Navy Benjamin Martin (left) and LtCol Marcus NZ Army at 's Graventafel
Saturday, two New Zealand Officers had a day off and could do a battlefield tour. LtCol Marcus Linehan was in search of his great uncle who died with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade on 3 February 2018 at Reutel in Beselare/Zonnebeke. He is buried in Polygon Wood Cemetery.

Lt Arthur Harry Charlton KIA 3 February 1918
It was the first time Marcus was visiting the grave of his great uncle and it was for all of us a moving moment to pay our respect to Lt Charlton. Arthur came here in the winter on 6 December 1917. This was just after the attack on Polderhoek Chateau (3 December 1917). He was the only officer killed in February 1918 in the NZ Rifle Brigade in Flanders. He was one of the 3,000 New Zealanders who have been lost in the Winter of 1917-1918.
Lest we Forget!

Having a quick lunch in St Jef, former Old Cheese Factory restaurant.

Both together with the NZ soldier in Messines.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Royal New Zealand Navy Officer Ben Martin at EGUERMIN in Ostend/Belgium for NATO excercise visit the Battlefields of his forebears

 Lt Benjamin Martin Royal New Zealand Navy came from Ostend – where he’s participating in a NATO exercise Dynamic Move - to Ieper/Ypres under the Menin Gate to pay respect to his forebears.

Lt Martin is reading the Ode during the ceremony,

It was a real pleasure for me to guide him, especially because I’m a former instructor and sea rider of this very well-known NATO school EGUERMIN in Ostend(35 years ago). 

Lt Ben Martin in company with the NZDF  ATTAMIL for France and Belgium, Capt Shaun Fogarty and a couple of NZ pilgrims
wreath laying

Well Done!
Brian and Lynda McCutcheon followed by Capt Fogarty who assisted with the wreath laying

greeting the Last Post Buglers
Kiwi's in  front of the Menin Gate

Monday, 15 June 2015

And they shall forge their swords into ploughshares!

Since today, the Passchendaele Society of New Zealand is owner of this art work made by Rik Ryon.
a Kiwi soldier forging a sword into plowshares.

It is made of WWI copper found on the Battlefields of Flanders, we call it Iron Harvest.
One can see that the soldier is made of the driving bands of shells who have been shot during the Great War.

To know more about the artist see

Sandi and Lode Notredame from the Passchendaele Society in New Zealand will travel back home tomorrow with this piece of art made by Rik Ryon.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Today 98 years ago - James Baird an almost forgotten All Black died at Messines

Portrait, Auckland Weekly News 1917 - No known copyright restrictions
On June 7, 1917 at 3:10am New Zealand and Irish divisions fought alongside Australian and British troops at the Battle of Messines Ridge in Flanders, Belgium. The battle was considered one of the few Allied successes. The losses were significant. The NZ division suffered almost 3,700 casualties (killed, missing and wounded). Of the 700 Kiwi soldiers killed in action, three were All Blacks: George Sellars, James (Jim) McNeece and Reginald (Reg) Taylor.
     The fourth All Black to die as a result of that battle, James Baird, died from wounds (abdomen penetration wound) the same day. He was in the 4th Company of the 1st Bn Otago Infantry, in the first wave of the attacking New Zealanders. He was brought to the australian 1st Casual Clearing Station at Bailleul (Belle in Flemish)
just over the border in France. he died there later that day and was buried at the Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, .
I suggest, James was wounded by artillery fire and moved to the 1st Australian casualty clearing station in Bailleul, with the intention of then moving him to the base hospital at St Omer. 

James was aged only 23 when he died. Too young some would argue to be an All Black but most would agree - too young to die. As the ANZACs took the town of Messines itself as a result of the battle, the Irish took the town of Wijtschaete just a few kilometres further round the ridge.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Thank you New Zealand / Tena koutou Aotearoa

I'm very grateful for the many mails, messages, phone calls, to be tagged on Facebook, etc... regarding the Queen's Birthday Honours and to become an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

I'm very pleased, proud and grateful to call myself now officially an honorary Kiwi.

It's a highly appreciated recognition for me.

I’m very grateful to New Zealand, to you and all the people I have worked with in Belgium and New Zealand.

This recognition is also because of the awareness we brought to New Zealand - but also in Belgium - about the involvement and sacrifice of New Zealand Soldiers on the Western Front.
Without the help of so many New Zealanders and Belgians it would not have been possible to achieve what has been done.

My prime objective is to remember and commemorate WWI to increase community awareness and recognition of the events on the Western Front especially for those countries and people who have been forgotten during ages of history.

A good friend from New Zealand said today; you are always saying: the Belgians Have not Forgotten but this time I can say to you: The New Zealanders have not Forgotten.

So, I’m very grateful to all of you who helped me to achieve my objective.

One of the Belgians