NZ Remembers: the 90th Anniversary of the Somme
New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa
15 September 2006
New Zealand Remembers: the 90th Anniversary of the Somme
New Zealand Defence Force personnel will join French officials and military representatives on Friday 15 September to mark the 90th anniversary of New Zealand’s involvement in the Battle of the Somme, in a special ceremony near Longueval, France.
Commemorations will begin with a guided tour of the battlefield, which will retrace the steps of the New Zealanders’ advance in pursuit of “Objective 27” – the capture of the town of Flers. This will be followed by the principal event of the day, a wreath laying ceremony at the New Zealand monument about 1km north of Longueval. After the official representatives have laid their wreaths, French and New Zealand children will also lay flowers at the memorial. Defence personnel currently deployed with the Bosnia contingent will provide a catafalque party dressed in WW1 uniforms to support the commemorations.
There will be a further small ceremony, with the official party laying wreaths at the French monument outside the town hall in Longueval. The New Zealand VCDF, Air Vice Marshall David Bamfield, will present prints of the Unknown Warrior to the Mayor of Longeuval and the French military at a small reception to be held after the ceremony.
The local area has other significant sites such as Caterpillar Valley cemetery (where the remains of the Unknown Warrior came from), Deville Wood (where the South Africans fought an especially hard battle), and the town of Flers itself.
New Zealand’s participation in the Battle of the Somme lasted 23 days and saw over 2000 Kiwi soldiers killed and more than 7000 injured. The New Zealand casualties were part of a total of over a million soldiers wounded or killed during one of the most significant campaigns of World War I, when the allied forces attempted to break through the German front line in northern France.