12 Oct 2012

NZ soldiers killed at Passchendaele honoured

8:44 pm on 12 October 2012

New Zealand soldiers killed in fighting at Passchendaele 95 years ago have been honoured in Wellington.

Some 845 New Zealanders died in the opening hours of the World War I campaign in Belgium.

By the time the soldiers were withdrawn from the Ypres front line in February 1918, the New Zealand division had suffered more than 18,000 casualties, including about 5000 deaths.

Three Victoria Crosses were awarded for bravery.

The chief of the Army, Major General Tim Keating, says what these young men went through can never be forgotten.

"The roots of all those families still exist throughout New Zealand, so I'd like to look at those names on those war memorials and understand each individual life, each young New Zealander (and) that promise that was unrealised in life."

The Honorary Consul for Belgium, Don Staples, says the bond between the two countries is a blood tie because so many New Zealanders are buried there.

The ceremony concluded with wreath laying at the foot of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.