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In honour of war sacrifices

Peter Albrett, left, Bob Hill and Bevan Hefferen at the Masterton Military Museum. PHOTOS/KAREN COLTMAN

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On the 11th day at the 11th hour of the 11th month in 1918, German troops surrendered to the Allied Forces putting an end to World War I.

Around Wairarapa on Wednesday morning, returned servicemen and their families acknowledged the thousands of lives lost in that war – including those of the 500 men from Masterton.

Armistice Day wreaths at Masterton War Memorial, Queen Elizabeth Park.

Recently elected Masterton RSA president Bob Hill [also RSA national executive member vice-president] was a leader of Wednesday morning’s Armistice Day commemoration held at Queen Elizabeth Park at the War Memorial.

“More New Zealand soldiers died in Belgium and France in World War I than the number of men that died at Gallipoli, and it is important to acknowledge this sacrifice,” Hill said.

Hill went to Le Somme in 2016 as part of the 100-year celebrations of the end of WWI.

“There are 1200 New Zealand men buried at Le Somme, and it is really sobering to understand the tragedy of that battle. This many men were killed fighting in just one month,” Hill said.

“All the names on the cenotaph here and around Wairarapa are important, and we must keep remembering the sacrifice of these men.

“Many of the men were young farmers with wives and families, and their deaths left a huge gap here,” Hill said.

Patron of Masterton RSA Bevan Hefferen runs the military museum at the Wairarapa Club on Essex St and says there are many stories here of how hard it was for families after WWI.

“Many of the men that came back were shunned because they were finding it so hard to cope after the war,” Hefferen said.

“Not honouring the men back then was not good at all and is a reason it is right to take time to remember them now and on ANZAC Day,” he said.

New Zealand Army Reserve Command sergeant major of training and doctrine command, Peter Albrett, a long-time Masteron resident, attended the Masterton service.

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