103 years Battle of Passchendaele is appropriately commemorated at the New Zealand memorial garden

A century ago the landscape between Ypres and Passchendaele formed the backdrop for the bloodiest Battle of the First World War in Flanders. Between 31 July, exactly 103 years ago today, and 10 November 1917 more than half a million casualties occurred. Passchendaele became better known as Passion-dale (valley of suffering) and is to this day an international symbol for total war violence.

The municipal council of Zonnebeke and the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 will continue to commemorate all the victims and spread the message of peace also after the centennial commemoration, according to alderman Vanderhaeghen.

That the Battle left a great impression on the troops stationed here is also evident from the story of Alexander Worsfold who called his daughter 'Zonnebeke'. He was stationed in Zonnebeke on 5 February 1918 when his daughter was born. The son of 'Zonnebeke', Philip Martell called his daughter 'Zonn' and she in turn gave her daughter the name 'Zonnebeke' as a second name. Thus, the connection with Zonnebeke continues to this day. That connection becomes tangible with the planting of a 'Hebe Speciosa', a typical New Zealand plant grown from seeds from the garden of 'Zonnebeke' Worsfold in New Zealand.

The Hebe Speciosa is planted by the New Zealand ambassador H.E. Gregory Andrews next to the memorial garden.
After the planting, the commemoration moves to the 'Pou Maumahara' in the Zonnebeke chateau grounds, which was inaugurated on 25 April 2019 and honours the commitment of the New Zealand Maori during WWI.

'It is extremely important to tell and spread the shared history among the many visitors of the former battlefields of Passchendaele,' said alderman Vanderhaeghen.

In Comines-Warneton the ambassador of New Zealand will also participate in a ceremony commemorating his compatriots who fought there at the start of the Battle of Passchendaele.


Images: memorial garden attendees, planting of Hebe, Wreath laying Pou Maumahara


Freddy Declerck MNZM OAM – director New Zealand Pilgrimage Trust VZW
Bart D’Hulster – Head Tourism Office Zonnebeke