Prince marks New Zealand losses at Passchendaele: We may never understand horror

Soldiers manhandle a field gun through the mud at Passchendaele

Tyne Cot cemetery is the largest Commonwealth burial ground in the world, with 11,971 servicemen buried and remembered there - 8,373 of whom are unidentified.

"The 12th of October 1917 at Passchendaele was the worst loss of life in New Zealand history, with 843 soldiers killed that day".

It's been an emotionally draining day around Yrpes in Belgium where New Zealand has been remembering its contribution in blood and sorrow in the Battle of Passchendaele 100 years ago.

New Zealand's heavy losses on October 12, 1917 were the result of an attempt to take a German position at Bellevue Spur.

The Duke said: "All too often the newsreels speak of "ordinary" men and women. We remember the courage and sacrifice of these courageous men in atrocious conditions and pay tribute to their service to our country and the values they stood for", Dr Smith says.

"The losses at Passchendaele were so huge that most New Zealand families have a connection to a fallen soldier". Entire communities were robbed of their young people. "These tragic campaigns contributed to New Zealand having the highest per capita loss of life of any country during WW1".

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David Carter, speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives, earlier told how Kiwi soldiers described devastating scenes amidst a "porridge of mud" and "a place that stamps itself on one's mind and memory - like a red iron".

"The fight in these fields was of a magnitude and ferocity that is hard for us, today, to fully comprehend".

He was given the traditional greeting by Bill Henry "Willie" Apiata, a former corporal in the New Zealand Special Air Service and a Victoria Cross recipient.

There will also be a ceremonial welcome from the Maori Cultural Group of the New Zealand Defence Force.

The ceremony had an added poignancy as Tyne Cot cemetery is close to the battlefields of Passchendaele, and it ended with a bugler sounding the Last Post and the guests observing a minute's silence.

Wearing a dark navy suit with a poppy pinned to his lapel, William is attending today's engagement on behalf of the Queen.

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