The Battle of Passchendaele

It is 100 years since The Battle of Passchendaele.

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Stuff: Passchendaele – 100 years since New Zealand’s darkest day of the First World War

“I died in hell (They called it Passchendaele),” is how the poet Seigfried Sassoon described the three month battle that left 500,000 casualties and became synonymous with the slaughter of the First World War.

It’s exactly 100 years since the name of the tiny Belgian village on the Western Front name became linked to New Zealand’s “darkest hour” of the 1914-18 conflict.

On October 12, 1917 an Allied attack on heavily-defended German lines snuffed out the lives of 845 Kiwi soldiers in a quagmire of liquid mud, barbed wire and machine guns. The total rises to 950 after soldiers succumbed to their wounds in the following days. Some 1860 were injured.

NZ History: New Zealand’s ‘blackest day’ at Passchendaele

Last year Missy wrote some posts about her visit to Ypres (which is near Passchendaele):

 

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6 Comments

  1. George

     /  October 12, 2017

    Grandfather and step Grandfather were there
    And survived.
    I’m raising a glass to those brave men

    Reply
    • I have been to some of those places-it’s probably true that more men drowned in the mud at Passchendael than were shot dead. Hideous thought. Ypres must have been like Hell in winter for anyone in the trenches, it’s hellish enough in winter anyway. I am glad that I was there in November (one Armistice Day) and saw what it was like in winter-and, of course, winter there is not at its worst in November,

      Reply
  2. We lived very roughly halfway between Brussels and Ypres & Passchendaele-it’s hard to work it out on a blank map. But everywhere in Flanders is near everywhere else.

    Reply
    • It was so cold in winter that the canals froze solid and our window shutters froze shut. I was once in a sleet and hail storm that cut me and left me looking as if I’d been attacked or fallen into a giant cactus…if I stood still for a few seconds in the street, my feet went numb with cold, even in boots. And those men were fighting in that, for several winters if they lived that long. I don’t blame the ‘deserters’ at all.

      Reply
  3. Reply
  4. Missy

     /  October 16, 2017

    The speech by Princess Astrid, Princess of Belgium was very moving in her tribute to New Zealand and the sacrifice they made for her country. I will admit to shedding a tear or two.

    Whilst the official national commemoration was incredible and moving, I will admit to being more moved by the sunset service, a musical tribute, finished with a NZDF haka. At the end those in attendance stood in stunned silence, no-one seemed to know what to say or do, it was so emotional. They had to be told to leave. I felt really proud to hear the comments of the non-NZers present – especially the Belgians.

    Reply

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