Monday, November 16, 2009

5,000 Crosses For 5,000 Losses

poster of Passchendaele displayOver the past four months a display titled "Passchendaele: The Belgians Have Not Forgotten" has toured New Zealand. It marked the 92nd anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele.
Every Anzac Day, kiwis commemorate Gallipoli as the focus of our country's WW1 involvement, yet the losses on the Western Front far outweighed any battles before or since. NZ lost 5,000 men in Belgium from 1917 – 1918, more than double the number killed at Gallipoli, and the NZ Division won three Victoria Crosses for bravery. Of all the battles fought by New Zealanders overseas, there are more NZ soldiers buried in Belgium than in any other country.
On October 12, 1917 (the day of the greatest casualties), 845 NZ men were killed – more than the combined total from the Mt Tarawera eruption, Hawke's Bay earthquake, Tangiwai rail disaster, sinking of the ferry Wahine and Erebus plane crash!
the 5000 crosses erected for the display - sobering imagePasschendaele had a devastating effect on the social fabric of what was then a very small nation. This exhibition was the Belgian people's way of showing that they have not forgotten the great sacrifice made by New Zealanders 92 years ago.
Thank you, Belgium: your poignant gesture of remembrance was very much appreciated.

1 comment:

Maria Lanois said...

Vous êtes très bienvenus!