Sunday, 10 July 2016

Niuean Visit from the Pacific to France and Belgium in September 2016

In September 2016 we will have the visit of a group of 16 people from Niue. Minister Hon Pokotoa Sipeli, Minister for Social Services, which also cover Tāoga Niue, Education & Health will lead the group. A Youth representative (16 years old) is also travelling with them to Belgium and France.
Our recently established non-profit organisation, the New Zealand Pilgrimage Trust ( ), will be involved to help organise their visit.

It’s a mostly unknown story that men fromthe Pacific Island, Niue, came to the Western Front as a contingent of the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces.

Niue is an island in the South Pacific Ocean, 2,400 kilometres northeast of New Zealand, and east of Tonga, south of Samoa and west of the Cook Islands. Its land area is 260 km² and its population is around 1,200. More than 20.000 Niueans are living in New Zealand.

Niue, whose capital is the village of Alofi, is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand since 1974; and New Zealand conducts most diplomatic relations on its behalf. Niueans are also citizens of New Zealand.

Niueans enlisted in their own country and were sent to New Zealand as a group. Most spoke no English and many struggled to adjust to the army diet and wearing boots.
The greatest danger, though, was European diseases, especially in the cold climate of northern France.

150 Niueans from the (estimated 4,000) population came to the war. They came in October 1915 to New Zealand and embarked for Suez in February 1916 where they became part of the NZ Pioneer Battalion. 
In April 1916 they came to the Western Front, in Northern France .
In May they moved into the combat zone. Much work had to be done during the night. It was a hard and dangerous  time for those men coming from a place where the average day temperature is about 25° C.  
However, illness was the main problem. At the end of May, 82% of the Niueans had been hospitalised. 
It was not only the lack of immunity to European diseases but also the colder climate in France.

By September 1916 they were withdrawn from the Western Front and sent to England and then returned to New Zealand. 16 men died , two of them are buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery, corporal Tionesini ( ) and private Tauetuli ( ).

Read more about Niue: 

Read more about Niueans in WWI:

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Cité Bonjean Armentières - Sunday/Dimanche 3 juillet/July 2016

Op zondag 3 juli om 11h00 wordt er een plechtigheid georganiseerd om de inzet de herdenken van de Nieuw Zeelandse troepen tijdens het begin van de Slag aan de Somme. Dit zal gebeuren op de CWGC begraafplaats Cité Bonjean, Avenue Roger Salengro nr 54 in Armentières.
De Nieuw Zeelandse Ambassadeur voor Frankrijk, Dr James Kember, de Stafchef Nieuw Zeelandse Landmacht, Generaal Peter Kelly en de Defensie Attaché, Kapitein-ter-zee Shaun Fogarty zullen daar samen met de Franse autoriteiten uit Armentières en Noord Frankrijk aanwezig zijn.
Iedereen is welkom.

Deze begraafplaats bevat de grootste concentratie van geïdentificeerde Nieuw Zeelandse graven! Nergens anders zijn meer Nieuw Zeelanders, slachtoffers uit WOI, op één en dezelfde plaats begraven dan hier.
Het is de eerste keer dat er een officiële Nieuw Zeelandse herdenkingsplechtigheid gehouden wordt.

On Sunday 3 July at 11 AM there is a commemoration and wreath laying service to commemorate the sacrifice of the New Zealand Soldiers in the start of the Battle of the Somme. This will be done at the CWGC cemetery Cité Bonjean Avenue Roger Salengro 54 in Armentières, Northern France.
The New Zealand Ambassador for France, Dr James Kember, the Chief of Army, General Peter Kelly and the Defence Attaché Navy Captain Shaun Fogarty will be present together with French authorities from Armentières and Northern France.
This ceremony is open for the public.
This cemetery holds the biggest concentration of identified New Zealand graves from WWI on one single place.
It will be the first time that there is an official New Zealand remembrance ceremony.


Le dimanche 3 juillet à 11h00 est organisé un dépôt de gerbe au cimetière Cité Bonjean, 54 Avenue Roger Salengro à Armentières (59) en présence
de l’Ambassadeur de Nouvelle-Zélande, Dr James Kember, le Chef de l’armée Néo-Zélandais, General Peter Kelly et l’Attaché de Défense, le Capitaine de vaisseau Shaun Fogarty.
Ouvert au public.
Cette cérémonie, ouverte au grand public, rend hommage aux premiers Néo-zélandais qui perdirent leur vie sur le front Occidental, dans la bataille de la Somme.
C’est la première fois qu’on aura une cérémonie officielle Neo-Zélandaise au Cité Bonjean. Ici au Cité Bonjean c’est la plus large concentration des tombes Néo-Zélandaises identifiés sur une seule place.

Ville d’Armentières, 
Ambassade Nouvelle Zélande à Paris, 
New Zealand Pilgrimage Trust.

Friday, 20 May 2016

CDF New Zealand visit Belgium and pays his respect to forgotten New Zealand soldiers.

On invitation of General Gerard VAN CAELENBERGE, CDF of the Belgian Forces Lt.General Timothy KEATING, CDF of the New Zealand Forces was on a official visit in Belgium.
LtGen Tim Keating at Coxyde Cemetery

There was also some quality time during the visit and they choose to visit a place that was almost forgotten in history.
It's the story of the 2nd Brigade of the New Zealand Artillery in the Field. In this article you can read a summary of that story.


On the cemetery there are 19 victims of WWI and 1victim of WWII (Lt Orchiston , RNZAF) buried from the New Zealand Forces, there is also an New Zealander who was serving with the Australian Artillery and one who served in a UK regiment. Lt Gen Keating and his staff payed their respect to every individual New Zealand grave and together with General Van Caelenberge they each lay a wreath for all 1517 victims from WWI and the 155 victims of WWII.

This CWGC-cemetery is the most important at the Belgian Coast and is just near the barracks of the Air Force Base of Coxyde (these days known as Koksijde).

It is known that Coxyde was a resting place for the soldiers, about 10 km behind the frontline - but often shelled - were they could bury their death during the night.  

This is a picture of a battlefield map with German defence transparent over google earth map, the British sector was from the sea till St Joris/St George.
CWGC Coxyde marks the place of the cemetery.

Summary of the story of the 2nd Brigade NZ Artillery in the Field

After the battle of Messines till the first days of December, 1917, the 2nd Brigade was in action on the Belgian coast, where, about the end of June, British troops had relieved the French on the sector from St. Georges to the sea. This relief was effected in accordance with an arrangement by which the French should take part in the Third Battle of Ypres, by extending the British flank northwards beyond Boesinghe, on the left of the 5th Army.
 The enemy had a strong concentration of artillery who was aggressive during the period July to mid-November.
From 10 July the Brigade marched off for the coast to go into the line near Nieuport. They came in Coxyde on 13 July 1917.
On arrival at Coxyde the batteries were ordered to go into the line next day. The positions were situated on the sand dunes, and guns fired across the Yser Canal. There was heavy shelling every day. The flat country afforded very little cover; and by the end of July the brigade had suffered a good many casualties, six other ranks having been killed and two officers and twenty-six other ranks wounded.
Ammunition and rations were brought up by the road from Oostduinkerke. It was almost continually under fire. Bad weather was experienced in the early part of August, and much discomfort was caused, by the heavy rains; the flats became flooded, increasing the difficulties of transport, and the gun-pits in the low-lying dunes were under water for some time. In digging the pits, water was generally struck about two feet below the surface of the ground, and it was accordingly a case of building up rather than digging in. The 6th (Howitzer) Battery experienced a bad day on the 12th, when three of its guns were put out of action, and on the following day Brigade Headquarters and the vicinity were shelled with what were afterwards discovered to be 17in. shells from one of the big coast guns along by Ostend.
At the close of the month the personnel at the guns was withdrawn for rest situated in particularly pleasant quarters in the sand dunes at Coxyde-les-Bains. During this brief spell all ranks were able to enjoy bathing and football on the beach nearby, which was also used for exercising the horses. The town of La Panne, with some civilian population and open shops, was within easy distance.
On September 2nd the Brigade went into action again. The enemy kept his guns aggressively active. Brigade Headquarters and battery positions were shelled both day and night, and on fine nights the back areas were bombed. Casualties in the brigade during the month totalled thirty-three.
October, ushered in with broken weather, and "shell storms" were of frequent occurrence. During severe shelling on the 8th the 2nd Battery had seven casualties, one of the two who were killed being 2nd Lieutenant T.S. Grant, who had only that day joined the unit, after passing through an Officers' Training College in England.
French troops commenced to take over the sector again in November, and on the 17th of that month a brigade of French Field Artillery marched in to relieve the 2nd New Zealand Brigade. The following day the French batteries conducted their registrations under covering fire from the New Zealand batteries, and on the 20th the relief was complete
The column marched out at Coxyde at 3 a.m. on the 21st November.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Belgian Medal Queen Elisabeth finally at home

John Moore

Because of ANZAC day I think this is a beautiful story worth to tell and proof of cooperation in the real ANZAC spirit with a huge link to Belgium.

It’s the story of ANZAC Jack and his mother Mary Ann Wick.

ANZAC jack, as he was called, was serving as New Zealander with the Australian army during WWI. His real name was John Moore and he was awarded the D.C.M and mentioned twice in Sir Douglas Haig’s dispatches .
He has been in Polygon Wood and Zonnebeke/Passchendaele in September and October 1917.

His war service: 5 years (of which 4 years 228 days were abroad)
Landed at Gallipoli, 25 April 1915; wounded.
Evacuated to Malta and thence to England.
Sent back to the Suez Canal; returned to England in early 1916 and assigned to training duties with the rank of corporal.
Reverted to the ranks at his own request and posted to the Western Front.
Remained there until the armistice, November 1918, then served with the army of occupation in Belgium.

His mother Mary Ann Wick was a lady well known in the Auckland, Thames and Waihi districts and conspicuous amongst the workers in the interests of sufferers through the war. From the commencement of the war she devoted the proceeds of the garden on her property at Takapuna to the Belgian Relief Fund, and at the end of the war to the Red Cross movement.

Mrs Moore selling vegetables for the Belgian Relief Fund
In recognition of her services to the Belgian cause she was awarded the Belgian Queen Elisabeth Medal instituted by the King Albert of Belgium for conferment upon ladies throughout the world who have distinguished themselves in working for the downtrodden nation.

the citation
Unfortunately she didn’t live long enough to receive the well-deserved honour in her own hands.
Because the family has the certificate also the Medal should be somewhere , those two are always together, but they are surely not in the family anymore and maybe they never reveived this award.
Since 1994 the family is in search for the Medal and they have been in contact with the Belgian Embassy and Consulates for support in their research.

A couple of days ago, their was a newspaper article in New Zealand saying; getting the original or a replica from Belgium would be a huge emotional significance for the family

This year, 99 years after the battle of Passchendaele, a member of Mrs Wick family is here in Belgium with the military contingent who are commemorating ANZAC day in France and Belgium and are doing a pilgrimage to the different places where their forebears have given the ultimate sacrifice.

A lot of people have searched in all possible directions to find the medal, but the files are closed since 1924, the Royal Decree was in 1919. They are not making those medals anymore. The specialised shops don’t have them, the people who are collecting medals wants to keep them….

But luck was with us. With the help from some friends from the Belgian study Group for Phaleristic who were helping to search I could buy an authentic Medal on an auction and only short time ago we had what the family of Mrs Mary Ann Wick never has seen. Of course we don’t know who was the owner of this award in the first place but there is a small chance that this is Mrs Wicks’ own well deserved Medal.

It is an authentic relict from 1919 and we are very honoured to hand it over to the family of Mrs Mary Ann Wick represented by WOET Te Kani Te Wiata who’s the husband of the Great Great Granddaughter of Mrs Mary Ann Wick.

Mary Ann Wick is buried at the Waikaraka Cemetery in Onehunga, Auckland. Only 21 graves of the 32 New Zealand women who received the medal have been found and the Belgium government has a plan to pay for all 21 graves to be restored with new headstones, including a facsimile of the medal