Kiwi war dead hon­oured

Roy­als: Duke leads trib­utes to the New Zealand vic­tims of Pass­chen­daele

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS - BY TONY JONES

The Duke of Cam­bridge has told de­scen­dants of New Zealand sol­diers who fought and died at the Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele that although we may never truly un­der­stand the con­di­tions they en­dured “we can re­mem­ber”.

Speak­ing at a cen­te­nary ser­vice com­mem­o­rat­ing the ac­tions, val­our and com­mit­ment of the Ki­wis, Wil­liam said news­reels may have de­scribed them as or­di­nary men and women but “there was noth­ing or­di­nary about their ser­vice or their sac­ri­fice”.

The duke, who rep­re­sented the Queen at the event in Bel­gium, was joined by the county’s Princess Astrid and de­liv­ered his speech at Tyne Cot ceme­tery, near the town of Ypres in Flan­ders, sur­rounded by thou­sands of head­stones of Al­lied ser­vice­men who died in the Great War.

Oc­to­ber 12 1917 has be­come known as the dark­est day of the war for the New Zealand Di­vi­sion, which suf­fered heavy loses when they were or­dered to take an area called Belle­vue Spur but were bogged down in shell holes un­der en­emy fire.

On that day, more than 840 Ki­wis were killed fight­ing in a for­eign land far from home – part of a huge toll of dead and in­jured both sides suf­fered that sum­mer.

The duke said: “For New Zealan­ders, the loss of more than 840 men in just a few hours is seared into the na­tional con­scious­ness. All told, the Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele would claim close to two thou­sand lives – a dev­as­tat­ing toll for a coun­try with a pop­u­la­tion of just over a mil­lion.

“Half a world away, news of the losses was felt like a shock­wave. Ev­ery death here left a shat­tered fam­ily there. En­tire com­mu­ni­ties were robbed of their young peo­ple. No part of New Zealand was un­touched.”

David Carter, the speaker of the New Zealand House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, ear­lier told how Kiwi sol­diers de­scribed dev­as­tat­ing scenes amidst a “por­ridge of mud” and in “a place that stamps it­self on one’s mind and mem­ory – like a red iron”.

Be­fore the ser­vice be­gan, Wil­liam and Astrid were greeted by the Maori cul­tural group of the New Zealand De­fence Force, whose spir­i­tual calls and chants rang out across the white head­stones.

The duke also shared the tra­di­tional Maori greet­ing – a hongi – with Wil­lie Api­ata, the first and so far only re­cip­i­ent of the Vic­to­ria Cross for New Zealand.

The cer­e­mony had an added poignancy as Tyne Cot ceme­tery is close to the bat­tle­fields of Pass­chen­daele, and it ended with a bu­gler sound­ing the Last Post and the guests ob­serv­ing a minute’s si­lence.

HONGI GREET­ING: Prince Wil­liam with for­mer New Zealand sol­dier and Vic­to­ria Cross awardee, Wil­lie Api­ata

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.