The consequences of Battle of Passchendaele hit New Zealand very hard. The NZ division deployed on 12 October 1917 had young men from all over the country: Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. Therefore, it is likely that a soldier from your town fought and died in Belgium.
Yr 7-10 Activity
1. Unfortunately, Passchendaele is still a largely unknown battle among New Zealanders today. Why don't you plan a commemoration for a soldier who fought at Passchendaele? Organisations such as Fields of Remembrance can work with your group to commemorate those who fought and died in your communities.
2. In what other ways can you raise awareness and publicise the importance of this devastating battle? See the Passchendaele Society for further information here
A Statistics New Zealand campaign conducted in 2014 found only 17% of New Zealanders knew that more New Zealanders were killed on the Western Front than at Gallipoli. Unsurprisingly, 52% thought it was Gallipoli.
What do we know?
Did you find all 12?
Where to next?
Head over to the Forum where you can comment and share questions, thoughts and stories with other students.
While this project was an individual undertaking, there are many people who gave their time and expertise to support me in completing the resource.
Thank you to Mrs Helen MacDonald and Mr James Evans from St Margaret’s College, Christchurch for providing support and inspiration.
Thank you to the students from Christ’s College, Christchurch Boy’s High and Cashmere High School who volunteered to record audio. Thank you also to the girls and teachers from the St Margaret’s College International Club for their invaluable fresh perspectives on WW1.
This project could not have been completed without support from my family; thank you so much!
Remembering the Fallen
In the days following 12 October, a number of memorial services were held in Flanders for the many soldiers who lost their lives. One such service was held for Colonel George King of the 1st Canterbury Battalion. King had also been the Commanding Officer of the New Zealand (Maori) Pioneer Battalion. It was members of this group who sang a moving tribute Piko nei te matenga to honour their fallen leader. Click here to listen to a rendition of this moving song.
Yr 7 -10 Activity
1. Write your own contemporary song or rap inspired by the sacrifice made by New Zealand soldiers. In Te Reo or English.
Like so many villages in northern France and Belgium, Passchendaele was completely destroyed by artillery from both sides of the conflict. It was rebuilt after the war and today stands as a memorial to all those who lost their lives fighting for the Belgian people. Belgian people still remember the sacrifice that so many New Zealanders, Australians and other members of the British Empire made to defend their country.
Yr 9 -10 Activity
1. Listen to the following podcast and use the information provided to design a commemorative monument to honour those who died.
Church of Saint Audomar in Passendale
1914 & 1917
Drag the slider to see the village of Passchendaele before and after the devastating offensive
Zoom in to explore Passchendaele today over 100 years later
German war memorials tend to have a different focus, described by the German word Mahnmal (plural Mahnmale): a word with no direct equivalent in English. Roughly translated, the word means “a monument that serves as a reminder of a tragic event and a warning that the event should not be allowed to occur again”. German memorials are seldom tributes to heroic sacrifice as New Zealand memorials tend to be. This extract is taken from:
Katharina Teidke a year 12 international student from Germany says:
In Germany we don't talk about the First World War very much. We focus on studying the causes of the war and the impacts it had on ordinary people. Unlike in New Zealand, there isn't one specific day on which we commemorate WW1.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
In Flanders Fields
John McCrae was a Canadian War poet who served and died on the Western Front. Learn more about him at the Poetry Foundation.
Press play to hear the poem read.
John McCrae was a Canadian war poet who served and died on the Western front. Read more about him at the Poetry Foundation
'They are dead, and for their loved ones, that is all that matters' - Sergeant Eric Evans
New Zealand soldiers are buried at Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world with over 12,000 graves. Of the 520 New Zealand headstones in the cemetery, the largest outside New Zealand, 322 are unknown. There are almost certainly many more New Zealanders among those whose nationality could not be determined. For many their gravestone simply reads: “A soldier of The Great War, known unto God”. The Messines Memorial and Buttes Cemetery in Polygon Wood are other memorials to NZ soldiers in Belgium.