Patriots remembering Passchendaele

12 Oct 2021

Patriots remembering Passchendaele

Approximately 20 members of the Patriots, a nationwide organisation of motorcyclists who used to serve in the New Zealand Defence Force, visited Whitianga last weekend to remember those who lost their lives in the World War I Battle of Passchendaele. Most of the motorcyclists belong to the Hauraki Chapter of the Patriots, but some came from as far as Rotorua and Whakatane.

With 957 lives lost on 12 October 1917, the battle was the most catastrophic in New Zealand’s post 1840 history. On Saturday afternoon, the Patriots visited the Kaimarama Cemetery where they planted 25 trees in 2017 in memory of those from Mercury Bay who lost their lives in the campaign. 

According to Ra Koia, padre of the Hauraki Chapter, Passchendaele was a horrific campaign and those who lost their lives died in appalling conditions. “It’s a part of our history we should never forget,” he says. “We need to remember those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Ra was a member of the New Zealand Army for 22 years and was mostly based at the Linton Military Camp just south of Palmerston North. He was deployed on several tours of duty overseas, including to East Timor and twice to Afghanistan. “I was the first New Zealand padre to serve in Afghanistan,” he says.

After their visit to the Kaimarama Cemetery, the Patriots enjoyed dinner at the Mercury Bay Club on Saturday evening where they were joined by several members of the Mercury Bay RSA. They were also joined by Jessy James, a Patriots member who have recently moved from Cambridge to Whitianga.

Pictured are some of those who attended the dinner on Saturday evening. 

Pictured - Des Gyde (Mercury Bay RSA welfare support officer), Patriots Jessy James, Albert Solomon and John Brokenshaw, Bruce Page (Mercury Bay RSA) and Ra Koia (Patriots padre).