8.30am – 5.00pm, Monday to Saturday | Ground floor
...We went up the line on a working party and I saw some pitiful sights, dozens of our men (Rifle Brigade) were coming back wounded and the track for two miles was sprinkled with blood...
— Jesse Stayte's diary, 14 October 1917
On the morning of 12 October 1917, New Zealand troops serving with the ANZAC Corps advanced towards the German lines in atrocious conditions of rain, mud, and among the dead and wounded British soldiers left stranded after an attack three days earlier.
Shell burst at No 6 Track, Passchendaele, 1917. Ref: PAColl-2667-013.
The artillery barrage preceding the New Zealander’s advance had failed to destroy the formidable German machine gun defences and had not cut the wire. Within hours the New Zealand Division had sustained 2700 casualties, with 843 killed.
The total casualties on both sides at Passchendaele are so vast — about 475,000 — to be incomprehensible, and it is only by focusing on individual experience does it begin to make some (appalling) sense.
In their own words
This newly opened exhibition looks at the experience of Passchendaele from the perspective of New Zealand soldiers who took part, including Jesse Stayte, Peter Howden and Leonard Hart, and draws on the letters and diaries they wrote, held by the Alexander Turnbull Library.
...we have done our stunt and I can tell you old girl, it has not been a very pleasant time... You’ll have seen by the papers that old Fritz gave us a pretty hot time...
— Peter Howden to Rhoda Howden, 14 October 1917
Peter and Rhoda Howden. Howden Family Collection. Photograph originally appeared in Jock Phillips et al, The Great Adventure (Wellington: Allan & Unwin, 1989).