Passchendaele Remembered

New Zealand and Belgian flags fly at half-mast in Rangiora in memory of those who died at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

From: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/new-zealanders-in-belgium/passchendaele

Troops from 2nd Brigade and 3rd (Rifle) Brigade advanced at 5.25 a.m. in drizzle that soon turned to driving rain. As they struggled towards the ridge in front of them, they found their way blocked by the uncut barbed wire. Exposed to raking German machine-gun fire from both the front and flank, the New Zealanders were pinned down in shell craters in front of the wire. A few determined individuals tried to get through the barrier, but they were quickly killed.

Orders came for another push at 3 p.m., but this was mercifully postponed and then cancelled. The troops eventually fell back to positions close to their start line. For badly wounded soldiers lying in the mud, the aftermath of the battle was a private hell; many died before they could be rescued.

The toll was horrendous. There were more than 2700 New Zealand casualties, of which 45 officers and 800 men were either dead or lying mortally wounded between the lines. In terms of lives lost in a single day, this remains the blackest day in New Zealand’s post-1840 existence.

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