Members of the public about to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE
Region pays tribute to wartime sacrifices
One hundred years ago, the guns of World War I fell silent at the announcement of peace – it was at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month – a century ago.
On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered at cenotaphs and memorials in the region’s towns to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War.
About 100,000 New Zealanders – or 10 per cent of the population at the time – served overseas during the war, and more than 18,000 lost their lives.
The exact number of Wairarapa men who served in World War I is difficult to calculate but is likely to be more than 2000.
About 100 people attended Sunday’s service in Masterton to reflect on the 100 years that had passed.
Speaking at the Masterton service, St Matthew’s Collegiate pupils Belle Willemstein, 17, and Kitty Riach, 16, noted that 2018 marked another important anniversary – 125 years since women were given the right to vote.
The Armistice Day centenary served as an appropriate time to acknowledge the women who served alongside the soldiers, Kitty said.
Cousins, and Wairarapa women, Nora Hughes and Kate Booth, an ancestor of Carterton Mayor John Booth, were prime examples of this, she said.
In the spring of 1915, Hughes and Booth, who were nursing in Wellington, enlisted as volunteers at the Aotea Hospital in Egypt.
They dedicated their lives to nursing the wounded and sick soldiers and even after the war ended, they continued in their nursing roles.
It was crucial to remember why Armistice Day was an important anniversary because, “all too often we are swept away by our fast-paced lives of the 21st century”, Kitty said.
“The responsibility lies within us to carry the memories of the war beyond the setting of the sun today to ensure the courage demonstrated by out men and women is never forgotten,” she said.
The Australian 7th Light Horse Regiment and the Canterbury Mounted Rifles were on parade alongside returned servicemen, dignitaries, families of those who served, current service personnel and members of the public
at the service.
From Masterton’s Hood Aerodrome, a SVAS Tiger and two Chipmunks completed a flyover of the Masterton service at 11am.
“To those who have fallen in war and peace, we will remember them,” Masterton RSA president Trevor Thompson said as he brought the centenary service to an end.
Services were also held in Featherston, Carterton and Pahiatua.