New Zealand’s international First World War commemorations will focus on the Western Front with Anzac Day-related ceremonies in France and Belgium and the Battle of the Somme centenary on 15 September this year.
It was on the Western Front (France and Belgium) that New Zealand made its most significant contribution to the First World War, and also where New Zealand suffered the greatest loss of life.
New Zealand services for Anzac Day are held every year in France and Belgium and have been enhanced with the participation of a New Zealand Defence Force contingent for the centenary period of the First World War (2014-2018). In 2016, ceremonies will take place in Longueval (23 April) and Le Quesnoy (24th April) in France and ceremonies in Belgium throughout Anzac Day (25 April).
On 15 September, three services are planned to commemorate New Zealand’s involvement in the Battle of the Somme at Longueval in France – a Dawn Service, a National Service and a Ceremony of Beating Retreat.
The Battle of the Somme was New Zealand’s first major engagement on the Western Front. It was on the Somme that the majority of New Zealanders were killed or wounded during the First World War. It took a huge toll on the 15,000 members of the New Zealand Division who were involved. Roughly one in seven of the division who fought on the Somme was killed, and about four in every 10 were wounded.
The majority of New Zealanders killed during the action have no known graves and are commemorated at the New Zealand Memorial to the Missing in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery. New Zealand’s Unknown Warrior was originally buried in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery before his exhumation and internment at National War Memorial in Wellington in 2004.
Anzac Day will also be commemorated in Gallipoli with the traditional Dawn Service at the Anzac Commemorative Site and the New Zealand Service at Chunuk Bair at Gallipoli later that morning.
Anzac Day services in London will especially remember the anniversary of the first Anzac Day, commemorated at Westminster Abby in 1916. New Zealand Anzac Day services will also commemorate this anniversary, with the National Service being held at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park at 11am on the 25 April.
Information about the individual First World War commemorations being held on the Western Front can be found at WW100.govt.nz/international-commmemorations.
SCHEDULE OF SERVICES
Anzac Day-related services
Commemorations in France are traditionally held on the weekend closest to Anzac Day.
23 April, 3.00pm (24 April 1am NZ) – New Zealand National Service at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval, France
24 April, 6.00am (24 April 4pm NZ) – New Zealand Anzac Dawn Service, Le Quesnoy, France (New Zealand also participates in the French service later that morning, which includes a march with the Le Quesnoy community to the New Zealand Memorial embedded in the walls of the town).
25 April - 6.00am (25 April 4pm NZ) – Anzac Day Dawn Service (joint Australia, Belgium, New Zealand service), Buttes New British Cemetery, Zonnebeke, Belgium
11.15am (25 April 9.15pm NZ) – Anzac Last Post ceremony, Menin Gate, Ieper
2.00pm (26/27 April midnight NZ) – New Zealand Anzac Day Service, New Zealand Memorial Park, Nieuwzeelandersstraat, Mesen
8.00pm (26 April 6.00am NZ) – Last Post ceremony, Menin Gate, Ieper
The New Zealand contingent conducting these commemorative services in France and Belgium will also participate in the rekindling of the Eternal Flame ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on 28 April at 6pm (29 April 4.00am NZ).
25 April – Anzac Day Dawn Service followed by the New Zealand Service at Chunuk Bair at Gallipoli
25 April - 5.00am (25 April 4pm NZ) – Dawn Service, Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner
11.00am (25 April 10pm NZ) – Wreath Laying Ceremony and Parade, The Cenotaph, Whitehall
12.00pm (25 April 11pm NZ) – Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving, Westminster Abbey.
New Zealand services in France to mark the centenary of the Somme
12 September – The New Zealand Defence Force will provide the Vigil Guard at the ‘Thiepval 141’ midday ceremony at the France/British memorial at Thiepval at 12.00pm (9.00pm NZ)
15 September – A New Zealand ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme will be held at Longueval, France, and comprises of a Dawn Service at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial, the National service at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, and an evening Ceremony of Beating Retreat at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial.