'Play and die for their country' - All Blacks who gave their lives in WWI remembered at sombre Passchendaele ceremony




A dawn service was held today to honour the Kiwis who died at a bloody World War I battle - including the first All Blacks captain Dave Gallaher.

Buck attended a commemoration at Eden Park today for the 13 All Blacks who fought and died in the Battle of Broodseinde in Belgium.
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Gallaher is immortalised in a statue outside Auckland's Eden Park, which is where a contingent of veterans, local iwi and sporting personalities gathered in the early hours this morning.

The Battle of Broodseinde took place 100 years ago today as part of the Passchendaele Offensive.
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The Battle of Broodseinde took place 100 years ago today on October 4 1917 as part of the Passchendaele Offensive, and the New Zealand division was tasked with seizing part of the Broodseinde Ridge.

Today at Eden Park the deadly cost of the Battle of Passchendaele was remembered.
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They were successful - but the victory came at a terrible price, with 492 New Zealanders killed in the battle.

A field of white crosses was set up at Eden Park, with former All Black Buck Shelford among those paying his respects to the 13 All Blacks killed during WWI.

"It's quite humbling, they played for the All Blacks back in 1905, then they go to war," Mr Shelford said.

"They play for their country on the football field, then they died for their country, when the empire put out the call, New Zealand went to fight for them."

Mr Shelford said Gallaher, who died aged 43, was the New Zealand's first All Blacks captain, and he was also dedicated to doing his bit for the country on the battlefield.

"He fought in the Boer War as well, when his younger brother died in the first world war he then re-enlisted," Mr Shelford said.

"It's quite humbling to see, that these people actually died for us - to make our country safer."

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