Story: First World War

Passchendaele offensive, October 1917 (1st of 2)

Passchendaele offensive, October 1917

The New Zealand Division took part in two major actions at Passchendaele, in Belgium, in October 1917. The first, on 4 October, was comparatively successful. However, on 12 October there had been heavy rain. The artillery, shown in the top image, were handicapped by the mud and did not succeed in destroying the German barbed wire. As the New Zealanders moved forward in the mud they encountered undamaged German pillboxes (defensive bunkers), shown in the bottom image, which allowed the defenders to mow down the advancing troops. In all, 843 New Zealand soldiers died in several hours of disastrous fighting.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PAColl-2667-014 (top); 1/2-C-003343-F (bottom)

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Ian McGibbon, 'First World War - Western Front, 1916 to 1917', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 March 2023)

Story by Ian McGibbon, published 20 Jun 2012