Belgium New Zealand WWI Passchendaele

New Zealand Engineers resting in a large shell hole at Spree Farm Ypres Salient 12 October 1917

ALEXANDER TUNRBULL LIBRARY Ref 1/2-012935-G New Zealand Engineers resting in a large shell hole at Spree Farm Ypres Salient 12 October 1917

Hundreds gathered at Wellington's Pukeahu National War Memorial for the centenary commemorations of one of New Zealand's greatest military disasters; The Battle of Passchendaele; often referred to as the country's darkest day.

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".

The Duke met with representatives of the New Zealand Parliament and government at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Flanders, which is run by the War Graves Commission, which has responsibility for the burial space.

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. There was nothing ordinary about their service or their sacrifice. Every death here left a shattered family there. "No part of New Zealand was untouched by loss". The royal received a traditional Maori greeting upon his arrival from former corporal Bill Henry "Willie" Apiata and paid a moving tribute to the New Zealand troops who fought in World War I.

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.

Wearing a dark navy suit with a poppy pinned to his lapel, William is attending today's engagement on behalf of the Queen.

Altre Notizie