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 Auckland Passchendaele Society 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 Auckland Passchendaele Society 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

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Honorary member of Passchendaele Society, Diane Melloy as WWI widow to Gallipoli

Diane Melloy - Picture: Megan Slade
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs of Australia, senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, announced the names of the ten widows of Australian First World War veterans travelling to Gallipoli for this year’s Anzac Day Services on April 13, 2015.
One of those ten widows who went to Gallipoli is Diane MELLOY from Woombye, QLD!

It is nice to know that Diane is a honorary member of the Passchendaele Society in Belgium. After she lost her husband Major  Robert "Bob" Sidney MELLOY (who served with the 42nd Battalion AIF and has his best friend buried on Tyne Cot Cemetery ),  Diane remarried a French historian Jacques Follet and she was living in Northern France during some years. In that period she and her French husband started a small Australian museum ( Musée Franco-Australien) in Vieux Berquin (France) in 1997.

Bob Melloy died in 1993 after a long and very special life. He was a veteran of WWI and WWII.

I had the honour to met her and Jacques in 2007, during the events around 90 year Battle of Passchendaele.

In 2008, Diane and Jacques made the decision to go back to Australia and the couple offered me a big part of their collection (about 400 items) for the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917. Also including some special personal items belonging to her late husband Major Bob Melloy and who are on display in the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.
You can still a part of the collection here:

I'm still in contact with Diane and she gives me these links for her interview and newspaper articles about her trip to Gallipoli: