THE BATTLE OF BROODSEINDE
4 OCTOBER 1917
This unique tribute to New Zealand’s WWI heroes on 4 October 2017 saw a giant poppy represented on Eden Park’s playing field, where personalised white crosses honoured the 492 New Zealanders who lost their lives during The Battle of Broodseinde in Belgium on 4 October 1917 including Dave Gallaher who captained The Originals in 1905.
Gallaher, a sergeant in the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment, was killed when he led his men in an attack on 's Graventafel spur. Dave Gallaher’s cross was accompanied by 12 other white crosses which honoured the 13 All Blacks who lost their lives during WWI.
During WWI, the Passchendaele Offensive (known as the Third Battle of Ypres) took place from 31 July until 10 November 1917. It involved a series of assaults against German forces holding the plateau overlooking the city of Ypres, Belgium.
4 October 1917: Broodseinde
100 years ago on 4 October 1917 the New Zealand Division took part in the Battle of Broodseinde. They were tasked with seizing part of the Broodseinde Ridge called 's Gravenstafel Spur. They were successful in achieving their allocated objectives but success came at a terrible price with the loss of 492 lives.
Sergeant Dave Gallaher
Among the casualties was the first All Blacks captain, Dave Gallaher, who captained The Originals on their celebrated tour of Britain, France and North America in 1905 and 1906.
Gallaher, who had served in the South African War, was 40 when WWI broke out in 1914, but when a younger brother was killed in action, he lowered his age to enlist. In 1917 he sailed again for Europe as a sergeant in the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment, New Zealand Division. In the attack on 's Gravenstafel Spur on 4 October 1917, Gallaher was shot. He died later that day, aged almost 44.
Gallaher lies in Flanders Fields at Nine Elms Cemetery, buried with his mates under the silver fern. A statue of him stands proudly at the northern entrance to Eden Park. His name lives on in the Gallaher Shield, awarded to the winner of Auckland’s premier club rugby competition since 1922. Gallaher himself regularly turned out for Ponsonby and Auckland during his rugby career.
All Blacks lost in WWI
Dave Gallaher was one of 13 All Blacks killed during WWI.
The others were Albert Downing, Henry Dewar (Gallipoli, 1915), Frank Wilson, Robert Black (Somme, 1916), George Seller, James Baird, Reginald Taylor, James McNeece (Messines, 1917), Hubert Turtill, Ernest Dodd, Alex Ridland (Somme, 1918) and Eric Harper (Palestine, 1918).
100 years on
The commemoration at Eden Park of the Battle of Broodseinde was the first in a series of Auckland events commemorating Passchendaele.