A plaque in honour of Sergeant Henry James Nicholas VC, MM, will be unveiled on Sunday, 14 September 2008 (Open Monuments Day in Flanders).
Located on Oude Kortrijkstraat near Geluveld to the south of Polygon Wood, the plaque will be close to the spot where Nicholas won the Victoria Cross on 3 December 1917. Nicholas was the first soldier from the Canterbury Regiment, New Zealand, to win the VC.
Following the unveiling at 9.45 am, those attending the ceremony will be guided through Polygon Wood where they will visit two dug-outs built by New Zealand engineers in 1917. The short walk will end at the New Zealand Memorial to the Missing at Buttes New British Cemetery where a Memorial Service will be held. Members of the public are welcome to attend the ceremonies and the guided walk.
Due to the narrow lanes in the vicinity and a lack of suitable parking, shuttle buses will operate from 9 to 9.30 a.m. between the Memorial Museum Passchendaele in Zonnebeke (Ieperstraat 7A) to the site of the plaque and back to the Memorial Museum at the conclusion of the Memorial Service at Buttes Cemetery.
The plaque has been erected by the Community of Zonnebeke and the New Zealand Embassy in Brussels. New Zealand Defence Force personnel based in Great Britain will participate in both the unveiling ceremony and the Memorial Service.
Zonnebeke in West Flanders is twinned with Waimakariri in Canterbury, New Zealand, and its district council covers the region of the 1917 Battle of Passchendaele including the village of Passchendaele itself, Polygon Wood and the Polderhoek Chateau area where Nicholas won the Victoria Cross.
The New Zealand Memorial to the Missing at Buttes bears the names of 378 officers and men of the New Zealand Division who died in the Polygon Wood sector between September 1917 and May 1918, and who have no known grave. Almost 80 of those men were from the Canterbury Regiment and 122 were from the Otago Regiment.
Henry Nicholas was the third New Zealand Division serviceman to win the Victoria Cross in Belgium during 1917. The first was Samuel Frickleton at Mesen/Messines and the second Leslie Wilton Andrew at La Basseville, near Messines, in July that year. A plaque to Samuel Frickleton was unveiled by the Hon Annette King during the 90th Commemorations at Mesen/Messines in June last year and a plaque to Leslie Andrew will be unveiled on 26 October this year at Comines-Warneton.
In March last year a statue of Henry Nicholas was unveiled near the Christchurch Bridge of Remembrance in New Zealand. The statue was commissioned by the Canterbury District RSA and the Christchurch City Council and was sculpted by Mark Whyte. One third larger than life size, the figure stands on a two-metre-high base which includes stones from Le Quesnoy and the Polderhoek Chateau area of Flanders.
Sergeant Nicholas lost his life 19 days before the Armistice in 1918 during a fight for bridgeheads near the village of Beaudignies, close to Le Quesnoy, in France.
Bron: Memorial Museum Passchendaele