Thursday, 30 April 2015

New WWI pavilion in Auckland Navy Museum

Hon. Maggie Barry Minister of Culture and Heritage and RADM Jack Steer Chief of Navy

The WW100 Commemorative Pavilion, and new AD Boyle room was officially opened at the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum by Hon Maggie Barry, Mar 5th. 

Helen Pollock and Cmd David Wright, director of the Museum
It is intended as a place of reflection and contemplation. 
This beautiful new community facility is now open to the public and is a multi purpose space designed for the smooth delivery of education programmes, lectures, temporary exhibitions and functions.

The centrepiece of the pavilion is a sculpture by Devonport artist Helen Pollock called As Above, So Below  commissioned by the Museum.

Helen with her art work
The bronze and water sculpture acknowledges the struggle and sacrifice of those who served at sea  during WW1, depicting the nobility of their commitment and acknowledging the often appalling conditions they had to endure.
It features a 'archaic' bronze ladder stretching seemingly infinitely above and below - a nautical Jacob's ladder  and a universal symbol of ascent.

The Dedication Ceremony
It was dedicated at a ceremony at the museum by the Bishop of Auckland Rt Rev. Ross Bay and the Navy Chaplain Colin Mason early March.

Helen Pollock and Dr Lisbeth Jacobs Hon Belgian Consul in Auckland
Two previous commemorative works by Helen Pollock are: Falls the Shadow - now permanently installed as part of the New Zealand Memorial at the Passchendaele Memorial Museum 1917 in Zonnebeke, Belgium, and Victory Medal currently touring in New Zealand. 

Victory Medal will tour to the battlefield towns of Arras, Messines, and Le Quesnoy over the next four years.

She says "My father served as a signaller on the Western Front from April 1918. He died when I was young and these 3 works are basically retracing his footsteps."

Naval Sunset Ceremony at Torpedo Bay Navy Museum Opening

Monday, 27 April 2015

In Memory of William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse VC

Today, it's exactly 100 years ago that William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse VC died.
 Born in England but of Maori New Zealand descent, was the first airman to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
He died in the 2nd Battle of Ypres. He was shot above Courtrai/Kortrijk when he was bombing the railway station. Train were going from Kortrijk to Roeselare/Roulers with logistics for the Germans.
He was direct involved in the 2nd Battle of Ypres, better known as the First Gas Attack.
He could fly back to his base in Merville (France) but died of his wounds. 
In WWII his son, William Henry Rhodes-Moorhouse born in 1914, was based for a short time on the same air base but he died in the Battle of Britain at the age of 26.

to read more about this story see:

Lest We Forget

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
the same contingent was performing also in Mesen/Messines and under the Mening Gate.
Click on this link to see the Haka under the Menin Gate

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.