Post to the Past aims to individually commemorate all the NZ soldiers who fell in the battle of Messines (Belgium). Participants are asked to leave a personal message for 'their' kiwi.
On the 7th of June 1917, over a quarter of a million men were involved in a bloody battle on the Messines Ridge. After the detonation of 19 underground mines, the men of the New Zealand Division rushed the Messines Ridge. More than 550 Kiwis would not see the sun set on the ridge that night with a further 350 falling within a week as the Battle of Messines died down. In total, some 9,000 soldiers perished.
Many of the victims were denied a known burial. And those who did have their name cast in stone, today remain largely anonymous in a sea of headstones. Time heals wounds and in time people and their story are forgotten. A century on, still only a minority of them have ever received a personal visit.
In “Post to the Past”, the Peace Village wants to encourage participants to look beyond the sea of names and remember the individual. Participants will receive a casualty record of a soldier who fell between 7 & 14 June 1917 (Battle of Messines). They are asked to write their name next to his on a wooden post. On the opposite side of the post, they are invited to leave a personal message to 'their' soldier. The posts are put on display at the Peace Village.
A trail of remembrance – 7 June 2017
On the 7th June 2017, we will mark the centenary of the Battle of Messines. From all the nationalities involved in the fighting, the New Zealand Division travelled the furthest and are perhaps the least likeliest to have received family or friends on a visit. Over the past century, Messines has forged a strong bond with New Zealand.
This year, the project will focus on the NZ casualties of the battle. Other nationalities will follow in later stages of the project. On 7 June 2017, a century after the battle was fought, the posts will be placed in Messines. Our trail of remembrance will link together the New Zealand Memorials & Cemeteries.
The casualty record can encourage participants to find out more about the soldier, perhaps add some more information to his file or even visit his last resting place or memorial. And eventually, like a New Zealand Maori tradition, they get to take him home and tell people about ‘their’ soldier and ensure his tale lives on.
The “100 New Zealand faces from Messines” exhibition will highlight personal stories in a temporarily exhibition housed in the Messines Information Centre. The exhibition in the Messines Tourism Centre will launch spring 2017 and run throughout the year.
How can you participate?
Guests at the Peace Village in Messines are able to take part in a series of educational activities. The March of the Phoenix is an interactive walk of remembrance which encourages young people to think openly on remembrance. In the Footsteps of the Kiwis takes groups across the former battlefield of Messines telling the story of the battle. The Post to the Past-project is integrated in both walks.
Find out more about the Peace Village and our ongoing commitment to remembrance.