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NZDF-Supported Anzac Day Commemorations in France, Belgium

Media Release

22 April 2014

NZDF-Supported Anzac Day Commemorations in France And Belgium

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will be increasing its support for official and locally-run Anzac Day commemorations in France and Belgium this year with a 10 person contingent, including a Māori cultural element, from New Zealand as well as personnel based in Europe.

Anzac Day services will be held on 25 April in Zonnebeke, Mesen, Ieper and Comines-Warneton in Belgium, and on 27 April in Le Quesnoy and Longueval in France. This will include for the first time a New Zealand Dawn Service at Le Quesnoy.

Brigadier Lofty Hayward, the New Zealand Defence Advisor in London, said this was the first step in increasing the NZDF participation in Anzac Day services in Europe during the First World War centenary commemorations.

“Over 12,000 New Zealand soldiers and airmen from the First and Second World Wars are buried and memorialised in Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries in Belgium and France. More of our countrymen have been killed in these two countries than anywhere else in the world and we need to honour the memory of their service and sacrifice.”

As well as providing ceremonial support during the commemorations, the contingent will also visit the battlefields where their forebears fought in order to gain a better understanding of the contribution New Zealand made on the Western Front as part of an enormous British and allied effort. The contingent will visit cemeteries where New Zealand soldiers, including some relatives, are buried and lay poppies on their graves to honour their sacrifice.

The NZDF commitment to these commemorations is in support of the key international commemorative programme of New Zealand’s First World War centenary, WW100. For more information about WW100, visit www.WW100.govt.nz.

Details of the commemorations follow the media release.

ENDS


New Zealand Casualties in the First World War


Total Casualties / Total Dead

FIRST WORLD WAR 59,483 / 18,166

Gallipoli 7,473 / 2,721

Western Front 47,902 / 12,483

Egypt-Sinai-Palestine 1,786 / 640

UK, other places, at sea 853 / -


NZDF-supported commemorations in Belgium and France


Thursday 24 April


8:00pm – The ‘Last Post Ceremony’ at the Menin Gate, Ieper

The official New Zealand and Australian delegations and military contingents from the New Zealand Defence Force and Australian Defence Force will participate in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ieper.


Friday 25 April


6:00am – Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Buttes New British Cemetery (Polygon Wood), Zonnebeke

This is a joint Belgian, New Zealand and Australian ceremony hosted by the community of Zonnebeke. Participating in the ceremony will be the official Belgian, New Zealand and Australian delegations and military contingents from the Belgian Armed Forces, New Zealand Defence Force and Australian Defence Force.


7:20am – Mayoral Reception and Breakfast, Zonnebeke

The breakfast reception is hosted by the Mayor and community of Zonnebeke for the officials and members of the public who attend the Dawn Service.


9:00am – New Zealand Memorial Service, New Zealand Memorial, Mesen

This service is the first of two New Zealand-specific services during the day. It is hosted by the community of Mesen (Messines). Participating in the ceremony will be the official Belgian and New Zealand delegations and the New Zealand Defence Force contingent.


9:30am – Mayoral Reception and Morning Tea, the Irish Peace

Village, Mesen

The reception and morning tea is hosted by the Mayor and community of Mesen for the officials and members of the public who attend the New Zealand Memorial Service.


11:00am – Ieper Parade to Menin Gate and Belgium Memorial, the Cloth Hall, Ieper

This is a joint Belgian, New Zealand and Australian ceremony hosted by the community of Ieper. It combines two commemorative ceremonies: the first at the Menin Gate and the second at the Belgian Memorial. Participating in the ceremony will be the official Belgian, New Zealand and Australian delegations and military contingents from the New Zealand

Defence Force and Australian Defence Force.


4:00pm – New Zealand Memorial Service, Berks Cemetery Extension, Ploegsteert, Comines-Warneton

This service is the second of two New Zealand-specific services during the day. It is hosted by the community of Comines-Warneton. Participating in the ceremony will be the official Belgian and New Zealand delegations and the New Zealand Defence Force contingent. This is the first time an official New Zealand commemorative ceremony has been conducted at

this location on Anzac Day.


5:00pm – Unveiling of the New Zealand Soldier Statue and Opening of the Mesen Interpretive Centre, Mesen

The community of Mesen has chosen Anzac Day to unveil the town’s new statue depicting a New Zealand Soldier in recognition of the sacrifice made by New Zealand and the allies to capture the town during the Battle of Messines on 7 June 1917. The official opening of the town’s new interpretation centre will follow the unveiling of the statue. Participating in the ceremony will be the official Belgian, New Zealand and Australian delegations, military contingents from the New Zealand and Australian Defence Forces, and members of the London-based New Zealand cultural group Ngati Ranana.


8:00pm – The ‘Last Post Ceremony’ at the Menin Gate, Ieper

To conclude the official New Zealand and Australian commemorative events in Belgium, the official New Zealand and Australian delegations and military contingents from the New Zealand Defence Force and Australian Defence Force will again participate in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate.


Sunday 27 April


6:00am – Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Le Quesnoy Communal Cemetery Extension, Le Quesnoy

This is a New Zealand ceremony supported by the community of Le Quesnoy. Participating in the ceremony will be the official New Zealand and French delegations, the New Zealand Defence Force contingent and members of the public.


7:00am – Breakfast, Le Quesnoy

The breakfast reception is hosted by the New Zealand Ambassador and the New Zealand Defence Force for the official parties and members of the public who attend the Dawn Service.


9:00am – New Zealand Commemorative Service, Vertigneul Churchyard, Romeries

A small commemorative service will be conducted by the New Zealand official party and the New Zealand Defence Force for Sergeant Henry James Nicholas VC and MM and the 18 other New Zealand soldiers buried in the cemetery.


11:00am – Le Quesnoy National Day of Remembrance, Le Quesnoy

This is a French commemorative activity hosted by the Mayor and community of Le Quesnoy that incorporates a New Zealand ceremony. It combines three commemorative ceremonies: the first is at the Eugene Thomas Memorial for the victims of the deportation and the heroes

of the Resistance during WWII; the second commemorates the New Zealand Division’s liberation of Le Quesnoy on 4 November 1918, and is conducted at the site of the New Zealand Memorial, where the New Zealanders first scaled the town’s medieval ramparts; and the final is at the French Memorial for all wars in the town’s centre. Participating in the ceremony will be the official French and New Zealand delegations, and the New Zealand Defence Force contingent.


4:00pm – New Zealand Memorial Service, New Zealand Memorial,

Longueval

This service is hosted by the Mayor and community of Longueval. Participating in the ceremony will be the official French and New Zealand delegations, the New Zealand Defence Force contingent and members of the public.


4:30pm – French Memorial Service, French Memorial, Longueval

This service is led by the Mayor of Longueval. Participating in the ceremony will be the official French and New Zealand delegations and the New Zealand Defence Force contingent.


4:45pm – Afternoon Tea, Longueval

The afternoon tea reception is hosted by the Mayor and community of Longueval for the officials and members of the public who attend the New Zealand and French Memorial Services.

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