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Passchendaele anniversary

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage advises that Wednesday 12 October marks the 94th anniversary of the bloodiest battle fought by New Zealand soldiers during the First World War.

On that day in 1917, 845 New Zealand soldiers lost their lives and almost 2000 were wounded during a devastating defeat at Bellevue Spur, part of the battle for Passchendaele, Belgium.

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage's New Zealand History website has a comprehensive feature on the Passchendaele offensive. It explores life in the mud-filled trenches and the impact of war at home, including the story of one Nelson family who lost three sons in one week, including two on October 12.

Chief historian Neill Atkinson says the Passchendaele campaign has become synonymous with the horror of the Great War.

"The capture of the Belgian village of Passchendaele near Ypres became an objective that cost thousands of lives, including many New Zealanders. In many ways it was this country's worst ever disaster - with a death toll equivalent to the Erebus crash, Tangiwai tragedy and the Hawke's Bay and Christchurch earthquakes combined."

A Passchendaele commemorative service is being held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Wednesday 12 October, starting at 10.30am.

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