Bloody battle marked in Chch exhibition

An exhibition on Passchendaele opens in Christchurch on Tuesday.
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An exhibition on Passchendaele opens in Christchurch on Tuesday.

A new exhibition exploring one of the greatest disasters in New Zealand military history opens in Christchurch on Tuesday.

The exhibition, called The Belgians have not forgotten, explores the World War I battle at Passchendaele in Belgium where hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, including hundreds of New Zealanders. On October 12, 1917, about 2800 Kiwi troops were killed, wounded or went missing over just two hours.

The battle was fought from the end of July to November 10 in 1917 near the border of Belgium and France. Historians estimate that both sides suffered casualties of about 260,000 each.

Flowers bloom amongst the graves of soldiers on the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele at Tyne Cot ...
YVES HERMAN

Flowers bloom amongst the graves of soldiers on the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele at Tyne Cot cemetery near Ypres in Belgium, July 31, 2017.

The exhibition was curated by the Waimakariri Passchendaele Trust to mark the centenary of the battle.

Trustee Dave Adamson said he hoped the exhibition would help promote "peace and understanding". He said many soldiers from the Waimakariri region served at Passchendaele.

"Passchendaele was mass slaughter," he said.

Poppies with personalised messages from members of the British public are seen at the Tyne Cot Cemetery on July 29, 2017 ...
Leon Neal

Poppies with personalised messages from members of the British public are seen at the Tyne Cot Cemetery on July 29, 2017 in Zonnebeke, in the Ypres Salient battlefields area of Belgium.

"They were butchered in their thousands. There were 50,000 men killed in one day. It was just horrendous."

"This exhibition is all about trying to support understanding and peace. That is what drives me to be involved in this."

The exhibition includes artefacts and photographs from the battle, including helmets and documents written by New Zealand soldiers during the battle. It has already toured Australia and parts of New Zealand and was created by the Memorial Museum Passchendaele, with funding and support from the Belgian government.

A larger version of the exhibition came to Christchurch in 2009.

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In July, members of the British royal family and United Kingdom prime minister Theresa May marked the centenary of the start of the battle with two days of ceremonies in Ypres in Belguim.

The exhibition runs at the Air Force Museum in Wigram, Christchurch, from August 8 to 27.

 - Stuff

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