Prince marks New Zealand losses at Pass­chen­daele

Western Mail - - NEWS -

THE Duke of Cam­bridge has told descendants of New Zealand sol­diers who 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 coun­try’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. 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. 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 with Wil­lie Api­ata, the first and so far only re­cip­i­ent of the Vic­to­ria Cross for New Zealand.

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