The Polygoneveld, or Bois de Polygone, is a wood about 1,200 yards North of the Ypres-Menin road at Veldhoek. On the North-East edge of the wood is a prominent artificial mound called the Butte. At the South-West end of Buttes New British Cemetery lies the Memorial to those "Officers and Men of New Zealand who fell in the Polygon Wood Sector, September, 1917, to May, 1918, and whose graves are known only to God."
The New Zealand Division left the Messines area in August, 1917, after the Battle of Messines and the fighting towards La Basse-Ville. The 3rd (Rifle) Brigade, with the XXII Corps Cyclist Battalion, was left working on cable communications behind the Ypres battlefield, while the rest of the Division was training near Lumbres; and certain names from the Rifle Brigade are the earliest in date on this Memorial.
In the last days of September the Division took over the old German trenches about Wieltje and St. Jean; and on the 4th October they fought in the Battle of Broodseinde, and on the 12th October in the First Battle of Passchendaele. The infantry of the Division returned to Lumbres; and in November, after rest and training, they took over the line from In de Ster Cabaret (on the Passchendaele-Becelaere road) to the Reutelbeek, immediately North-West of the spur on which stood Polderhoek Chateau.
On the 3rd December the 1st Canterbury and 1st Otago Battalions attacked the Chateau, which had been the scene of serious fighting earlier in the autumn; but although ground was won the Chateau itself was not taken. At the beginning of December, the Divisional front was extended North for a further 500 yards East of Molenaarelsthoek. The new line was held by the Division until the end of January, and a slightly more Northerly sector (including Broodseinde ridge) until the 24th February. The dug-outs under the Butte were used as Brigade and Battalion Headquarters until on the 19th February they were gassed and abandoned.
In February the 4th Brigade was abolished and absorbed, part of it forming the three Entrenching Battalions; the II Anzac Corps Cyclist Battalion became a purely New Zealand Unit, and was renamed the XXII Corps Cyclist Battalion; the Machine Gun Companies became the Machine Gun Battalion.
On the 24th February the 2nd and Rifle Brigades were about Staple, in rest, while the 1st Brigade were left working on the Corps defence system. On the 24th and 25th March the Division entrained for the Somme, and of the New Zealand units only the 2nd (Army) Brigade of Field Artillery, the Cyclist-Battalion, the 2nd Entrenching Battalion and the Otago Mounted Rifles were left in Flanders. These played their part in the Battles of the Days, and the last man named on this Memorial fell on the 10th May, 1918.
The dead of the Division in November, 1917 - February, 1918, inclusive numbered 452, and the missing 89. The names on this Memorial, covering the same period (and excluding the losses of detached units before and after) number nearly 350, a number of these belonged to the Canterbury and Otago Regiments, the two which attacked Polderhoek Chateau.
The greater part of the dead fell in the trenches, or in working and carrying; and the conditions in the Salient during the winter of 1917-18 must explain the comparatively large number of names on this Memorial, which deals with only one set attack on an enemy position.
The Memorial is composed of two shelter buildings linked by a colonnade, and is built of Euville Marbrier stone. The names of the war dead, 378 casualties, are engraved on stone panels.
The Memorial commemorates the "Officers and Men of New Zealand who fell in the Polygon Wood Section, September 1917 to May 1918 and whose graves are known only to God". It takes the form of two shelter buildings linked by a colonnade and is built of Euville Marbrier stone with the names of the servicemen engraved on stone panels.