This edition of Great War Stories series revisits “a candidate for the darkest day in New Zealand war history” — 12 October 1917. The Passchendaele disaster in Belgium is explored via a letter smuggled home from 23-year-old private Leonard Hart. The front was a quagmire of mud and blood where, in a catastrophic blunder, Kiwi soldiers were shelled by their own artillery fire before being caught in barbed wire, and slaughtered by enemy machine guns. Hart called it “the most appalling slaughter I’ve ever seen.” Presenter Hilary Barry also sings the opening hymn, 'Abide with Me'.
For the first time in our brief history as an army, the New Zealanders failed in their objective, with the most appalling slaughter I’ve ever seen. Still, we have nothing to be ashamed of, as our commander afterwards told us that no troops in the world could have taken the position.– Leonard Hart's letter
Made with funding from NZ On Air
'Abide with Me' sung by Hillary Barry