An exhibition of personal stories from the frontline, published accounts of home front efforts, and modern reflections on Passchendaele.
The campaign that Commonwealth troops launched in Passchendaele, Belgium, on 12 October 1917 was supposed to be the answer to the years of utterly futile trench warfare that the First World War had become mired in. Instead, it became the single most disastrous day in New Zealand’s military history.
Some 2,700 Kiwis became casualties, with 843 falling in less than four hours for the sum gain of 400 metres of enemy territory.
The total number of British, Australian and New Zealand casualties claimed in the campaign was nearly 12,000, and most of them lie to this day in Tyne Cot Cemetery near the battlefield; 8,366 of the graves are unnamed.
Commemorating Passchendaele – Home Front to Front Line by Robyn Hughes aims to bring those young men back from anonymity. From excerpts of local bank clerk Monty Ingram’s frontline diary and newspaper entries recording the knitted contributions of New Zealand’s women – sent to brothers, fathers and husbands – Robyn’s work tracks her attempt to understand what happened at Passchendaele through personal stories from the frontline, published accounts of home front efforts, and her own experience as a contemporary reflection on the war a century later.