New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel are travelling to Belgium to mark 100 years since New Zealand’s involvement in the Battle of Messines at Mesen/Messines in Belgium on 7 June 2017.
The NZDF is responsible for the planning and delivery of international military commemorations on behalf of the New Zealand Government. This is conducted with a strong sense of connection with those First World War soldiers in whose footsteps the modern NZDF follows, said Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Tim Keating, Chief of Defence Force.
“Since the end of the First World War, New Zealand’s Armed Forces personnel have travelled to the uttermost ends of the earth to pay their respects to our dead, and those of other nations.
“It is a role, undertaken on behalf of all New Zealanders, that will remain our duty and our honour”, said LTGEN Keating.
New Zealand’s National Commemorative Service at Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Mesen/Messines will take place at 8am on 7 June (6.00pm NZ time). The service will feature readings, waiata (songs) and the Last Post and will include the marching in of the Regimental Colour of the 2nd Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and West Coast Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment which carries 21 battle honours including ‘Messines 1917’.
The Sunset Ceremony will take place at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial at 7.30pm (5.30am NZ time). It will be a uniquely Kiwi farewell to the men who lost their lives in the service of New Zealand and will tell the story of Battle of Messines through music and ceremony featuring NZDF musicians, Māori Cultural Group, and military ceremonial personnel.
The NZDF contingent will also take part in the iconic Last Post ceremony under Menin Gate in Ieper on the evening of 6 June at 8.00pm (7am NZ time).
The attack on Messines Ridge was a preliminary move to support the Third Battle of Ypres (also known as the Battle of Passchendaele). Meticulously planned, it was one of the most successful operations of the First World War but came at a great cost to the New Zealand Division. The division sustained 3000 casualties and 700 soldiers were killed in action between 7 and 9 June 1917.
The services are open to the public, regardless of nationality, and are not ticketed. Information for those wishing to attend the services can be found here.
For more information please contact Defence Public Affairs: 021 487 980 or [email protected]
Photo: The New Zealand Battlefield Memorial at Mesen/Messines where the Sunset Ceremony to mark the centenary of New Zealand’s involvement in the Battle of Messines will take place.