Report by NewsroomPlus.com
At the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, Armistice Day commemorates fallen soldiers throughout the First World War.
This date marks the anniversary of all hostilities ceasing on the Western Front, and has been marked annually since the end of the war that was supposed to ‘end all wars’. With the official day taking place yesterday, ceremonies were organised all over New Zealand in memory of those who died in the battle.
Few people may have known that a week before, on 4 November, a ceremony was held in Whangamata connected to one of the last battles of World War 1 with a special connection to New Zealand – the battle of Le Quesnoy.
With about fifty people attending the event, the spirit of New Zealand history was very much alive. Among those who attended were service personnel, RSA members, Lions members, Mayor Glenn Leach and Waikato Regional Council Chair Paula Southgate. Descendants of WWI soldiers also attended the event.
Timothy Clarke’s great uncle died in the battle of Le Quesnoy, and he attended the event to show his respect.
“People say, ‘Lest we forget’. We haven’t forgotten”.
Timothy found out about his great uncle Vincent and his role in WWI when he asked his grandmother if she had any medals he could wear in this year’s Anzac Day parade – which marked the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. Shortly after Anzac Day he had a school assignment to research the war and working on this project he discovered his great uncle’s war record and that he had been killed at Le Quesnoy liberating the town from German troops.
“His brothers came home but he didn’t. It would have been heart-breaking news for his family as he was unmarried and had plenty more life to liv
The Thames Coromandel District Council opted to plant a World War I memorial forest in Whangamata as an honour to those who fought for New Zealand.
The forest has been officially renamed Le Quesnoy Park, a tribute to the liberation led by New Zealanders in World War I. The forest is home to 122 trees, each representing a soldier who died overcoming the German enemy occupants in the small French town Le Quesnoy.
With the symbolism of the trees reflecting the respective sacrifices these soldiers made, Mayor Glenn Leach praises the efforts of those involved in organising the memorial forest, the seventh of its kind in the Coromandel region.
“When we look at the Memorial Forests across the Coromandel, this is the finished article. Whangamata, you have set the benchmark”.
This year alone, approximately 3000 trees have been planted since planting began on Anzac Day. More than 12,000 New Zealanders died on the Western Front in just two and a half years of fighting, more than the final count of the entire Second World War.
Donations can still be made to fund the cost of a tree. Each tree planted is named in honour of a chosen soldier who was killed through the war, or to the “unknown soldier” – one of those whose remains were never identified.
To donate go to www.tcdc.govt.nz/donatetree