Thursday, 25 October 2012

Message from the Passchendaele Society of New Zealand



October 2012 E-DITION #6

Dear All

Welcome to the Passchendaele Society’s 6th edition of E-News!
If you are a new member, you can catch up on what we have been
 doing on the Newsletters page of our website.


95th Commemorations

The Commemoration of the 95th Anniversary of the Battle
of Passchendaele took place on Friday 12th October at the
 Auckland War Memorial Museum.
There was a great turnout and the Hall of Memories
was filled to capacity, the Museum estimated there were
350 to 400 people (including band and choir)
by the number of seats they put out.
The guests included the
Minister of Veterans’ Affairs, Hon Nathan Guy, the
National President of RNZRSA LtGen Don McIver,
several Auckland Councillors, members of the Diplomatic
Corps and local heads of the military Services. 
Guest speakers this year were Professor Glyn Harper QSM
and Lt. Col. Chris Powell ED.
Glyn said “War is the destroyer of families and the Battle
of Passchendaele destroyed more families than any
other action in our military history”

Our Vice-President Chris Mullane read a very graphic
and moving poem by Wilfred Owen called
Dulce et Decorum Est. Listen to this reading and then
watch the video that comes after (a mixture of real and
movie footage), very powerful!
Be warned, for the first time in many years I was
reduced to uncontrollable sobs!
Another one of his famous poems was called
Anthem for Doomed Youth, you can hear the reading here.
It too is accompanied by some very moving images.

The ceremony was followed by a Passchendaele Luncheon
hosted by the Auckland Officers’ Club at the Northern Club,
where Glyn Harper gave a creative presentation about some
 of the photos he used in his recently released book
“Images of the Great War”.





World War One Centenary project announced

Auckland Council announced a commemoration project
 for the Centenary of World War One. A steering group
will organise events for the period from 2014 to 2018. 
These will include considering initiatives such as a
World War One heritage trail on public parks and land.
Chair of the Parks, Recreation and Heritage Forum,
Councillor Sandra Coney, says cenotaphs, memorials
and war graves will be cleaned, restored and where
necessary upgraded for the centenary. She says we owe
a huge debt to the young men and women of Auckland
who sacrificed their lives, health and prospects for the country.

RNZRSA affiliation

At their Annual General meeting in Wellington on
15 to 17 October the National Council of the Royal
New Zealand Returned and Services Association approved
the admittance of the Passchendaele Society as an Affiliated
Organisation  effective from 1 November.

Ron Longley, Board member responsible for Related
Organisations, represented our Society at the National Council
meeting. He said to the meeting that the Passchendaele Society
has a lot in common with the RSA. Ron also said on behalf of
our Society that we are very proud to be affiliated to the RNZRSA.

Chris Mullane was also in Wellington and briefed the National
Council on the White Crosses Fields of Remembrance project.
The concept was well received and at breaks during the rest
of the day he was inundated by local RSA representatives from
around the country wanting to discuss the project and how they
can be involved.
Many have asked for some of the white crosses from the 2009
Exhibition at Fort Takapuna in advance to the centenary
commemorations so that they can emulate the Whangarei RSA
who now enact a particularly wonderful annual
commemoration event centred on the 650 white crosses
they obtained from us back in November 2009.



Royal visit


A high level Belgian delegation led by HRH Prince Philippe
will be coming to New Zealand towards the end of November.
Four members of the Belgian Federal Government’s Organising
Committee for World War One Centenary have joined this delegation
and have asked to meet with Iain MacKenzie, our President
of the Passchendaele Society to discuss commemoration plans.




New Youth Ambassador

The Passchendaele Society’s first Youth Ambassador
Eve Bain laid a wreath at the Wellington ceremony on
our behalf on October 12th.
She said she enjoyed the Commemoration thoroughly
and that there was “a 5-person choir whose performances
I found moving, especially when they sung 'In Flanders Fields',
the venue was beautiful” but that
the “public attendance was quite low”.

This year’s Y13 winner of the Veterans’ Affairs competition
was Nathan Garry from Dunstan High School, Central Otago.
He attended this year’s ceremony in Auckland and was
presented with his prize by VA Minister Hon. Nathan Guy.
You can read his winning entry here.

Nathan Garry has accepted the invitation to become a
Youth Ambassador, he said
 “The opportunity to attend the Commemoration on 95th
Anniversary of The Battle of Passchendaele was both
an honour and a privilege.
I would like to extend my thanks to all members
of the Passchendaele Society who made this competition possible.

I have gained from this experience in many ways.
The encouragement of the competition gave me the motivation to
delve into my past, through the research I gained an insight into not
only the lives of those directly related to me but a better appreciation
of how this tragedy affected communities around the country.”

Portraits of Passchendaele

A special thanks to the Auckland Suburban Newspapers 
for their initiative in promoting the competition called 
Portraits of Passchendaele”. 
The competition was aimed at youths under 16 to encourage 
young people to find out about their ancestors’ involvement 
in the Battle of Passchendaele. 
Some of their stories can be read here.

I was touched by what young Sam Molloy wrote 
“Hundreds of people died in minutes and yet everyone just seems 
to move on. To me, this is unacceptable and rather than trying 
to forget all destruction that  occurred that day, we should embrace 
all the amazing people who gave their lives to this country and 
if there is one thing we shall not do, 
it is to forget them, because if we did, they would have died for nothing“.

Follow up stories before and after October 12th were also featured  
in several Suburban Newspapers, contributing to a massive 400 hits 
on our website on October 12th alone!


How to contact us

passchendaelesociety@clear.net.nz (Editor:  Sandi Notredame)
Or telephone:- (09) 413 5322 (Hon. Secretary Bob Davis).

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Lewis Holden, CEO of the New Zealand Ministry of Culture and Heritage


Lewis Holden, CEO of the New Zealand Ministry of Culture and Heritage (NZs lead agency for World War One Centenary Commemorations) was visiting the NZ battlefields in Flanders.

He was here to meet some key people involved with WWI commemoration in Belgium to prepare the centennial.

After visiting Messines and Ploegsteert this morning (6 October 2012) he was in Passchendaele, Zonnebeke and Polygon Wood in the afternoon.

The weather was as bad as 95 years ago, rain the whole morning but at least we had a clear view of the landscape in the afternoon. We started in the Passchendaele Memorial Museum 1917, we went to Frezenberg, Wieltje, St Julian, 's Graventafel, Belle Vue, Tyne Cot and Polygon Wood.

As we said often: the landscape is the last witness!
It was good to talk about our shared memories, culture and common heritage.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Battle of Broodseinde , 95 years ago



Today exactly 95 years ago, on 4 October 1917 started the Battle of Broodseinde, part of the Battle of Passchendaele. Four ANZAC Divisions were at the centre of the major thrust in the Battle of Passchendaele. One of these, the New Zealand Division, is to provide central flanking support by seizing ‘s Graventafel Spur, it is also known as the Battle of Gravenstafel. 

David Gallaher
David Gallaher, former captain of the Original All Blacks was wounded at 's Graventafel and died later that day.















The 3rd Australian Division took Tyne Cot (today Tyne Cot Cemetery), Lewis Mc Gee from the 40th Bn earned his VC. The 1st and 2nd Australian Division were attacking Broodseinde.
It was a formidable task requiring the men to advance up open slopes, all of which were comprehensively covered by a mixture of mutually supporting German pillboxes as well as isolated machine-gun groups posted in shell holes and protected by barbed wire.
Lest we forget