New Zealand Embassy & Mission to the European Union, Brussels, Belgium

Seeking stories of New Zealanders who fought in the battle of Messines

Next year the town of Messines in West Flanders will be opening a brand new museum.  The museum will cover the full (>1000 year) history of the town but will also have a particular focus on the battle of Messines in early June 1917, in which the New Zealand Division played such a prominent role. 

As part of that exhibit, the curators of the new museum would really like to incorporate some personal stories about the soldiers from the New Zealand Division who were stationed near Messines and fought there in the battle.   This is where they hope that you (or your family members, or any other New Zealanders you might know with a connection to Messines) might be able to help.   They are not after any physical ‘artefacts’ as such, but what they would really appreciate is personal stories or information that gives a face to those who fought in the battle - copies of photographs or letters home and especially any stories or records that might have been passed down about who the New Zealanders were who fought there, and what it was like for them.

We will of course be making this same request to agencies back in New Zealand but if you, or anyone you know can help with this project then the folks in Messines would be very grateful to hear from you.   You can contact them directly (Messines Council’s culture coordinator, Steven Reynaert, is the key person, at cultuur.mesen@stad-mesen.be ) or via us here at the Embassy (Lisa Houttuin – lisa.houttuin@mfat.govt.nz ).   Please also feel free to forward this request on to anybody else that you think would be interested in assisting with this project.

 

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