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Wednesday, September 12, 2012
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By KARINA ABADIA
Resting place: Belgian soldiers, below, march among the
gravestones at Tyne Cot cemetery during the memorial service
on the 90th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele. Tyne
Cot contains more New Zealand WWI graves than any other
like to see more
recognition of the
bloody battle of
He is pictured
Go to papakura
OCTOBER 12 COMMEMORATING 95TH ANNIVERSARY OF MASSACRE OF NZ SOLDIERS
CONTINUED Page 3
JAMES MacKenzie is too young to remember
the great-grandfather he is named after.
But he knows more than most children about
the battle of Passchendaele his ancestor fought
It would have been quite scary for the sol-
diers because they could have been shot down
at any moment,'' the year 7 Remuera Inter-
mediate student says. It's important to learn
about -- just as important as Anzac Day.''
James' grandfather Iain MacKenzie couldn't
The Scotsman emigrated to New Zealand in
1977 and is president of the Passchendaele
Society. He has connections to the Belgian
Embassy and was the honorary consul for Bel-
gium from 2000 till 2009.
He would like more New Zealanders to
understand the importance of the World War I
battles that will be commemorated with a 95th
anniversary service at the Auckland War
Memorial Museum cenotaph.
The battles took place over several months
but were forgotten about and overshadowed by
the commemoration of Gallipoli on Anzac Day.
Mr MacKenzie says the considerable loss of
life at the battle of Passchendaele, which took
place in Belgium on the Western Front on
October 12, 1917, makes it the blackest day in
New Zealand's history.
Around 846 New Zealand soldiers were
killed within the first four hours of battle. The
total number of casualties, including the dead,
wounded and missing was 2700.
A ceasefire was agreed on Novem-
ber 11, 1918 -- Armistice Day. By
then, more than 12,500 New Zea-
landers had died on the Western
Front out of a total of 18,188 during
the entire war.
By that time New Zealand was
war weary and the government
didn't want to encourage the news
of a massive defeat. We don't
remember because it was too ter-
Mr MacKenzie's father was a
20-year-old British soldier at
Passchendaele and never spoke
about his experience.
But from a historical per-
spective, I think it's really
important New Zealanders
know their history.''
Massey University professor
of war studies Glyn Harper is
the author of Massacre at
Passchendaele: The New Zea-
Passchendaele is a
crucial part of our
heritage,'' he says.
Military history is family history and it's part
of what makes us New Zealanders.''
Dr Harper will give the address at this year's
Any opportunity to promote an awareness
of the battle and its importance to New Zea-
land is an honour.
We're generally not good at remembering
our military history.
The Battle of the Somme in 1916 for
publisher of the Papakura
Courier, is running a
competition to encourage
young people to find out
about their ancestors'
involvement in the Battle of
The contest is open to
young people up to the age
of 16 and requires them to
research their chosen
soldier via websites such as
the Auckland War Memorial
database, the War Graves
Commission and Archway
Participants then submit
250 words about the soldier
along with a photograph,
where possible, for
publication online. Entries
can be sent to
close on October 2. Please
enter Passchendaele Tribute
in the subject line.
Five of the entrants will be
chosen to lay a wreath at the
October 12 commemorative
Go to passchendaele
society.org to find out more
about the Passchendaele
Society and read last year's
winning essay by Eve Bain.
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