New Zealand soldiers in Switch Trench shortly after its capture in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, part of the 1916 Somme offensive (Image courtesy of New Zealand National Army Museum - 2007.549)

Somme Centenary - New Zealand remembers at Longueval Sept 15

Posted on on 07 September 2016
Share |

Prince Charles is to join commemorations in France next week paying tribute to New Zealanders who fought at the Battle of the Somme a century ago.

Three remembrance events will be held at Longueval on September 15 2016 - 100 years to the day since the New Zealand Division first went into action on the Somme.

Prince Charles, in his role as Field Marshal of the New Zealand Army, will take part in the national commemorative service at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery in mid-morning.

"The Prince of Wales has attended many commemorations for New Zealand, both during the First World War centenary period, and on other occasions," New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said.

"We are honoured that he will join New Zealanders as we mark one of the most significant and costly campaigns for our country during the First World War."

There will also be a dawn service and a special sunset ceremony closing the day's commemorations, both taking place at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial near the village of Longueval.

A New Zealand headstone in France - photographed at Etaples Commonwealth Military Cemetery (Centenary News)

More New Zealand military personnel are buried in France than anywhere else in the world, explains New Zealand's present-day military chief, Lieutenant General Tim Keating,

"More than 15,000 New Zealanders served in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 – it’s impossible to overstate the impact this terrible battle had on those men and their families back in New Zealand," he said.

New Zealand suffered 8,000 casualties on the Somme - 2,111 of them killed. In 2004, New Zealand's Unknown Warrior was exhumed from Caterpillar Valley Cemetery and reburied at the National War Memorial in Wellington.

Lt Gen Keating will deliver a poroporoaki, or farewell reflection, at the closing sunset ceremony. 


Buglers and drummers from the New Zealand Defence Force will perform a special centenary composition recreating the sounds of a day in battle for a New Zealand WW1 soldier.

“We will also remember the Battle of the Somme’s impact on the people of France and the enduring friendship between our nations," General Keating said.

"The centenary commemorations remind us of our duty as New Zealanders to never forget the brutality of war and to always strive for peace in our world."

During his Somme visit, Prince Charles will meet young people from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, who are in France learning more about their countries’ involvement on the Somme.

Information about attending New Zealand's Somme centenary commemorations in France on September 15 can be found on the official NZ WW100 website. In New Zealand itself, there will be a remembrance ceremony and a programme of French-inspired cultural events at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, Wellington, on September 18.

Also in Centenary News:

Australia marks Battle of Pozières Centenary

New Delville Wood memorial remembers South Africans of all races.

Royal family join tributes to Newfoundlanders who fell at Beaumont-Hamel

'India Remembers' campaign launches on centenary of Somme cavalry attack

Sources: New Zealand Government, New Zealand WW100

Images courtesy of New Zealand National Army Museum, accession number: 2007.549 (NZ soldiers archive photo); Centenary News (Etaples headstone)

Posted by CN Editorial Team