Raglan community gathers to remember the Anzacs

Scallop shells painted bright red were used to make the petals of gorgeous, big poppies on one of the many wreaths laid at the cenotaph during Raglan’s Anzac Day ceremony on Monday.

The wreath by Raglan Area School’s room 12 students was among the 35 or so wreaths that were laid out in memory of New Zealanders who have served and died in past wars and conflicts.

Hundreds of people attended the Anzac Day service, and followed the procession of the Raglan Pipe Band, New Zealand army, navy and air force, veterans, coastguard, fire service, police, St John, two horses, a Red Cross donkey and school pupils from Wainui Rd to the cenotaph, outside the library in Bow St.

The rain mostly held off for the duration of the service, although there were showers for the bugle call of the Last Post and the lowering of the New Zealand flag.

The service marked a century since the first commemoration of Anzac Day on the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.

Master of ceremonies Saen O’Brien, the new president of the Raglan Club, welcomed special guests Taranaki/King Country MP Barbara Kuriger, Waikato District Councillor Clint Baddeley, Raglan Community Board chairman Alan Vink, and Raglan Community Arts Council chairman Rodger Gallagher.

Mr O’Brien said it had been 101 years since the landing at Gallipoli, in a campaign that claimed the lives of 2779 New Zealanders.

“We have come here to reflect on one of the bloodiest battles our country has been involved in.

“Many of our soldiers had never left home before … and many never returned.”

Reverend Kathleen Gavin, who led the service along with kaumatua Sean Ellison, said the commemoration was also to honour those who had fought in any war, not just the campaign at Gallipoli.

She said the Gallipoli experience of 1915 had somewhat overshadowed what happened in Somme, 1916-1918, where even a greater number of New Zealanders had lost their lives.

She said the Battle of Somme was New Zealand’s first major engagement on the Western Front. Of 15,000 soldiers in the New Zealand Division, one in seven who fought was killed and four in ten were wounded.

“Today we honour them for their bravery and sacrifice,” she said, “and honour those who fought in any war.

“May their sacrifice never be forgotten.”

Raglan Area School students Ziggy Knuiman and Ella McLeod-Edwards both shared stories of family members who had served in wars.

Ziggy said even today, most young people had family members or friends who had been casualties of war.

He spoke of a great, great uncle who was killed in World War I in France, and whose letters home had given an insight into the atrocities of war, of surviving explosions and the “shocking manner” in which soldiers were killed.

Ella spoke of her grandfather, the youngest of 13 brothers who had lied about his age to go to war, and who fought in and survived both world wars.

“He was the only brother to survive.”

Following the service, the Raglan Club put on afternoon tea for the community.

Inger Vos

Images thanks to Leanne Roughton.

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