Published 12 October 2017

The Duke of Cambridge, representing The Queen, has attended the New Zealand centenary Commemoration for the Battle of Passchendaele at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium.

The Commemoration marks the centenary of what became known as the 'darkest day' of World War I for the New Zealand Division which, on 12th October 1917, suffered heavy losses during the Third Battle of Passchendaele. New Zealand lost 843 men and more than 100 others died later of their wounds.

On arrival at Tyne Cot, The Duke was welcomed by representatives from the New Zealand Government and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which manages the cemetery.

'Tyne Cot' or 'Tyne Cottage' was the name given by the Northumberland Fusiliers to a barn which stood near the level crossing on the Passchendaele-Broodseinde Road. Today, the site is the world's largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery.

The commemoration started with a ceremonial welcome from the Māori Cultural group of the New Zealand Defence Force. Almost 2200 Māori and around 500 Pacific Islanders served overseas with the New Zealand forces.

At the National Service of Commemoration, The Duke gave an address on behalf of The Queen:

All too often the newsreels speak of "ordinary" men and women. There was nothing ordinary about their service or their sacrifice.

The Duke then laid a wreath at the New Zealand Memorial Wall to the Missing, which was built to commemorate the 1,200 New Zealand men who died after the Battle of Broodsiende Ridge and the Third Battle of Ypres.

Alongside HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium, The Duke unveiled a new centenary plaque to mark to occassion.

At Tyne Cot Visitor Centre His Royal Highness met New Zealand youth ambassadors and the historian, Dr Ian McGibbon, who gave a military overview of the Third Battle of Ypres.

On 12 October 1917, the New Zealand Division attempted to take a German position at Bellevue Spur, this 'darkest day' accounted for six percent of New Zealand's casualties during the First World War.

Following the Service, The Duke attended a lunch reception, which included Willie Apiata VC, who is New Zealand's only living Victoria Cross recipient.