22battalion crest

22nd Battalion 2NZEF

"Vrai et Fort"



Passchendale 1917

The Battle of Passchendale was fought in late 1917, an event in which more New Zelanders lost their lives in one day than in any other battle. The 90th anniversary was attended by a small contingent of New Zealanders, including the Prime Minister of the time the Hon Helen Clark. Ten veterans were included in the party, the oldest being a member of the 22nd Battalion - Doug Froggatt.

Background

The name Passchendaele is synonymous with images of sinking mud, shell holes filled with water, and vast expanse of barren wasteland. The Third Battle of Ypres, also known as Passchendaele, was one of the major battles of World War I, fought by British, ANZAC and Canadian soldiers against the German Army in 1917. The aim of the battle was to break through the German defences and capture Passchendaele Ridge then drive north to the Belgian coast and capture the German submarine bases there. After three months of fierce fighting the town was finally taken by the Canadian forces, but the allies suffered almost half a million casualties, and the Germans almost a quarter of a million. Allied soldiers who lost their lives at Passchendaele are commemorated at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing and at the Tyne Cot and neighbouring Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries. Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in the world with nearly 12,000 graves, including 519 New Zealanders, 322 of them unidentified.

Passchendale 2007 - the 90th Commemoration - and the 22nd Battalion was represented

During 2007 the Prime Minister the Hon Helen Clark announced an official commemoration service for the 90th anniversary of New Zealand's involvement in the Battle of Passchendale. The plan was to take a small number of veterans on the trip, those who had some family connection with the battle or more generally with the Western Front.

Ten veterans were accepted for the tour, with only two - one being Doug Froggatt - representing WWII veterans. This is his story and photos of the event.

Television News Items

The event at Passchendale was well covered by the news media, including television. here is a TV3 newsclip.


Press Release by NZDF

NZ Veterans Remember Passchendaele

Douglas Froggatt from Tauranga places a poppy on the grave of a friend's relative at Underhill Farm Cemetery in Belgium.

10 October 2007

Ten veterans from as far afield as Kamo to Geraldine travelled to Belgium recently to attend a number of ceremonies to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele. The Battle of Passchendaele on October 12 1917 was the most tragic day in New Zealand’s military history; in just two hours more than 2800 men were killed, wounded or listed as missing in action. The veterans delegation were among a large gathering of New Zealanders including the Prime Minister Helen Clark, who attended a special Anzac service held at Tyne Cot cemetery, October 4 to mark the 90th anniversary of Passchendaele. While in Belgium the group have a programme of activities which includes battlefield tours, visits to significant New Zealand gravesites and watching a commemorative rugby match between the London New Zealand team and an invitation French team. On Saturday the group visited Longueval and Caterpillar Valley cemetery where the Unknown Warrior was brought from to New Zealand. World War Two veteran Douglas Froggatt (85) of Tauranga said the trip had been very thought provoking causing him to ask what was it all for. He said, “I am impressed at how well the gravesites are tended. New Zealand has left a permanent mark here. He enjoyed visiting the sites where New Zealand Victoria Cross (VC) recipients earned their medals and would like to fit in a visit to a unique headstone of a British double VC winner. Mr Froggatt served in Italy and Egypt in WWII in the Taranaki Regiment. He fought in the Battle of Cassino and the Battle for Florence where he was wounded in the leg. He returned to New Zealand on the hospital ship Maunganui. The delegation returned to New Zealand on October 10.


Passchendaele. Flanders. The Somme. The 90th Commemorations 1917-2007

The party left New Zealand by commercial airline on Monday 1 October, arriving in Brussels on 2 October. The visit itinerary was:

Itinerary of the New Zealand Veterans Delegation: 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, 2-9 October 2007
Tuesday 2 October 2007 Arrive Brussels. Drive to Park Hotel in Roeselare
Wednesday 3 October 2007 Sightseeing trip to Brugge
Thursday 4 October 2007
New Zealand Official Ceremony at the NZ Memorial at 's Graventafel
Old Cheese Factory tour
ANZAC ceremony at Tyne Cot Cemetery
Zonnebeke Chateau for Memorial Museum
Visit Buttes and Polygon Wood Cemeteries for reinterment of Australian soldiers
"Songs for Passchendaele" concert by Hayley Westenra
Commemoration Dinner
Friday 5 October 2007 Visit Messines
Saturday 6 October 2007 Visit Longueval and Caterpillar Valley Cemeteries
Sunday 7 October 2007 Commemorative Rugby Match
Monday 8 October 2007 Visit Memorial Museum, Passchendaele. Attend Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate, Ieper.
Tuesday 9 October 2007 Return to New Zealand

Wednesday - Sightseeing to Brugge

Doug Froggatt on the plane to Belgium
The veterans group arrive in Belgium
The tour of Brugge: the Town Hall
Don Quixote statue
Modern "art"
Brugge
Brugge
Acres of crops in the fields around Brugge


Thursday: ANZAC Ceremonies, the Memorial Museum and the Commemoration Dinner

The NZ Ceremony at 's Graventafel

The veterans arrive at 's Graventafel
Seated, waiting for the NZ Ceremony
The Prime Minister, Hon Helen Clark lays a wreath
Doug Froggatt lays a poppy
The cenotaph at 's Graventafel
The veterans beside the cenotaph
The veterans group

Tyne Cot: The ANZAC Ceremony

From 's Graventafel the party moved on to the ANZAC Service for the 90th Anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele. This ceremony was attnded by New Zealand, Australian and Belgium representatives, as the Order of Service booklet explains.

The main entrance to Tyne Cot Cemetery
The Cross of Sacrifice at Tyne Cot
Rows of headstones
Looking across the headstones
The upper part of the cemetery
Roses and headstones
The veterans seated for the ceremony
More of the roses
James Farmer pointing out the name of a relative
The veterans at Tyne Cot
Three of the veterans being interviewed by TV3
Examining the rows of headstones: Doug Froggatt points out an NZ grave

Zonnebeke Chateau Memorial Museum

The chateau houses an extensive museum including uniforms, weapons and various models.

Buttes Cemetery for ceremony for the re-interment of Australian Soldiers

Shortly before the 90th ceremony, local easrthworks uncovered five Australian soldiers in an unmarked grave. Their remains were transferred to the big Australian cemetery at Buttes, and were re-interred as part of the 90th events. There are also many New Zealand graves and Buttes, and many more names commemorated on the walls.

Entrance to Buttes cemetery
The veterans' party entering Buttes
Sign showing Buttes in 1920
From the entrance looking up to the Australian Memorial
The Memorial on the hill
From the main cemetery
The re-interment ceremony
Looking down on the main cemetery
The New Zealand section

Thiepval - The British Memorial to the Missing

The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing is a huge structure, listing the names of over 70,000 soldiers missing on the Passchendaele battlefields. The veterans paid a short visit here, and to the small cemetery adjacent to the memorial.

The Thiepval memorial
Closer view of the Memorial
Inside, showing part of the ceiling and some of the eight pillars
Describing the Memorial
The veterans discuss the events
Examining the Anglo-French cemetery nearby

Dinner at the Old Cheese Factory

The Legend of the Raven and the Fox ...
On the wall of the restaurant
Flags and memorabilia at the restaurant


Friday: Visit to Messines, Longueval and Caterpillar Valley Cemeteries

Friday took us to the village of Messines and the New Zealand memorial. Near the church is a plaque to the memory of New Zealander Lance-Corporal Frickleton, who won the Victoria Cross here. Further along the road we passed the Red Rooster Inn, the site of an action that saw a Victoria Cross awarded to another New Zealander - this time to Les Andrew, who went on to become the first Commanding Officer of the 22nd Battalion when it was formed in December 1939 and in which one of the veterans (Doug Froggatt) later served.

Messines

Looking across the fields to Messines Ridge
Messine with the New Zealand Memorial, the white pillar
Closer view of the New Zealand memorial
The start of New Zealand Street
The Church at Messines, the scene of fighting and where Frickleton won his Victoria Cross
The courtyard in front of the church and the Frickleton Memorial
Map of New Zealand showing Featherston, the home town of Frickelton
The Frickleton Memorial
Doug Froggatt at the other end of New Zealand Street
Near to Messines, the Red Rooster Cafe, where Leslie Andrew won his Victoria Cross
The Scots Memorial
One of many Commonwealth cemetery signposts

Caterpillar Valley Cemetery

Caterpillar Valley is another large Cemetery holding many New Zealand graves. This is the Cemetery from where the "unknown soldier" was selected for re-interment in the National War Memorial in Wellington, his original grave now marked by a headstone recording the event. The veterans spent some time here.


Sunday: Rugby!

Pre-match entertainment....
WWI British Army and nursing uniforms
Showing off the NZ fernleaf
The veterans are ready for the match
Watching.....
Wait for it.....!
That must have been a try!
Congratulations all round.
Scenes from the match
Ending with the Haka.

Monday: The Last Post at Menin Gate, Ypres

Every night at dusk, the road through the Menin Gate at Ypres is closed to traffic, crowds gather and members of the local fire brigade (sometimes accompanied by other musicians) perform the Last Post. The short ceremony is often accompanied by wreath-laying or other marks of respect. The NZ veteran's group attended on their last night in Belgium.

Approaching the Menin Gate
View from within Ypres looking out through the gate
The Gate straddles the river
The view from the gate into Ypres
Inside the Gate
Internal panels covered in the names of the missing
The roof structure
At dusk, the crowds gather for the last Post
Wreaths from previous evenings
A larger band played this night
Doug Froggatt at Menin Gate
The last photo of the ten veterans at Menin Gate, accompanied by the NZ nurse on left and Jessie Gunn of Veterans' Affairs on right.

And that was it. The next morning we were off to the airport for the long trip back to New Zealand. It really had been the trip of a lifetime. Doug Froggatt was 85 years old and this was to be his final overseas excursion. His first trip had been in 1943 - and that trip was also paid for by the Government. He visited battlefields and paid his respects at many graves. But on that first trip he was 21 years old and a signaller in the 22 Battalion 2NZEF. Twice more the Government paid his way, first to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Cassino in 1994 and then for the 50th anniversary of VJ Day in London in 1995. He also attended the 60th anniversary of Cassino in 2004 and the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Trieste and the German surrender there in 2005.

All these visits to the world's battlefields gave him a chance to reflect on it all. His thoughts in Passchendaele were the same as in Cassino in 1994:

"Fifty years on and one is back as a veteran,
armed only with thoughts of the mind,
To stand pensive amidst graveyards overflowing,
with New Zealand's young men left behind.
Yet one's thoughts come the same where the Germans,
in their thousands lie six in each bed,
Pray! who are the victors and who are the vanquished,
when the young manhood of nations is dead?"
Douglas Froggatt,
Penned at Cassino, May 1994

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Last updated: 23/11/16