Hundreds join commemorations marking 100 years since WW1 guns fell silent

NPRSA President Graeme Lowe addresses the gathering.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFNPRSA President Graeme Lowe addresses the gathering.

Among those gathered near the cenotaph in New Plymouth on Sunday was Turkish ambassador Ahmet Ergin, who said his grandfather, who fought the Anzacs in WWI, would have cried for joy seeing him speak at the Armistice Day centenary celebration.

Turkish ambassador Ahmet Erginspeaks at the ceremony.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFTurkish ambassador Ahmet Erginspeaks at the ceremony.

“After the tears of love for the lost loved ones he would have been in tears of happiness if he saw me here,” Ergin said.

Rear Admiral Anthony Parr, ex Chief of Navy (Rtd), at thge Armistice commemorations in New Plymouth. He is standing in front of the new statue.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFRear Admiral Anthony Parr, ex Chief of Navy (Rtd), at thge Armistice commemorations in New Plymouth. He is standing in front of the new statue.

“All of us have lost someone in our families, be it Gallipoli or one of the other fronts we fought on. My family has also suffered loss like  families in Taranaki,” he said.

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“We lost 250,000 just at Gallipoli. We really attribute so much importance to the friendship we built afterwards.”

A wreath from the New Plymouth District council.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFA wreath from the New Plymouth District council.

Ergin read words penned by Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal: ‘To the mothers who had sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.’

A Catalina sea plane made a flyover.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFA Catalina sea plane made a flyover.

The 100 years since the Armistice was declared was marked with a parade, music, song and prayers in te reo and English, speeches and the laying of wreaths.

Cpl Heather on duty at the cenotaph
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFCpl Heather on duty at the cenotaph

Two bands, RSA veterans, service clubs, schools and The Salvation Army, Girls’ Brigade, and St John members joined representatives of the NZ Army, Navy, airforce and merchant navy, politicians including Justice Minister Andrew Little, New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young and King Country MP Barbara Kuriger, along with district councillors and a trifecta of Taranaki mayors, as they marched down Queen St to the cenotaph.

The Reverend Albie Martin and Archbishop Philip Richardson address the gathering.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFThe Reverend Albie Martin and Archbishop Philip Richardson address the gathering.

A new statue, The Taranaki Salute to the Anzacs, was unveiled by Rear Admiral Anthony Parr ONZM MVO and its creator, sculptor Fridtjof Hanson, and blessed by Archbishop Philip Richardson, and Rev Albie Martin QSM.

Port Taranaki tugs saluted by spraying seawater.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFPort Taranaki tugs saluted by spraying seawater.

The soldier, dressed in the Taranaki Regiment uniform,  stands facing out to sea towards Australia. 

Dignitaries at the ceremony.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFDignitaries at the ceremony.

He overlooks the former railway station, where countless soldiers embarked for faraway places, and where those who made it home desembarked.

The last post was played by Trevor Bremner.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFThe last post was played by Trevor Bremner.

His rifle is pointed down to show the war is ended.

The ceremony saw the unveiling of a 2 metre high bronze statue.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFThe ceremony saw the unveiling of a 2 metre high bronze statue.

Speakers talked about the lives lost and the war’s terrible toll on New Zealand, with more New Zealanders dying as a proportion of population than any other of the allies.

Archbishop Phillip Richardson with the new statue, which looks out towards Australia.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFArchbishop Phillip Richardson with the new statue, which looks out towards Australia.

Rear Admiral Anthony Parr ONZM MVO said one hundred years, to the day, after ‘the war to end all wars ended’, was cause to dwell on and think of the consequences should future conflict be contemplated or entered into.

Cpl Gillanders on duty at the cenotaph.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFCpl Gillanders on duty at the cenotaph.

New Plymouth RSA president Graeme Lowe was the master of ceremonies in a commemoration that lasted nearly an hour and a half.

Sergeant Major John McLeod talking to Harry Duynhoven  and Andrew Little
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFSergeant Major John McLeod talking to Harry Duynhoven and Andrew Little

A siren blared and vehicle horn sounded as the moment approached – the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, when all the guns fell silent. 

Dignitaries leading the parade
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFDignitaries leading the parade

A flyover by a vintage Catalina, and water gun salutes by two tugboats close to shore added to the ceremonies.

Corporal Andrew Osborne with Private Tyler Antill Taranaki platoon 5/7 RNZIR
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFCorporal Andrew Osborne with Private Tyler Antill Taranaki platoon 5/7 RNZIR

At least one person fainted under the hot sun.

Port Taranaki Tugs giving a display in commemoration of the signing of the Armistice.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFPort Taranaki Tugs giving a display in commemoration of the signing of the Armistice.

Chris and Jenna D’Ath and their children Alex, 8, and Mela, 5, were lined up ready to watch their son Toby, 9, march past with the Cubs.

The laying of wreathes at the feet of the soldier.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFThe laying of wreathes at the feet of the soldier.

Although they did not know of any ancestors who fought in the war, they wanted their children to learn about it, Jenna said.

Wreathes around the statue and WW2 howitzer gun.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFWreathes around the statue and WW2 howitzer gun.

John Chapman, of New Plymouth, laid a wreath at the foot of the statue in memory of his great uncle, Jack Mangin, who was killed in France on October 8, just weeks before Armistice Day.

The Archbishop Philip Richardson giving an address.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFThe Archbishop Philip Richardson giving an address.

“It’s so far gone but it’s one that needs to be remembered. It’s uncertain times isn’t it,” he said.

The Reverend Albie Martin and Archbishop Philip Richardson blessing the statue of the soldier.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFThe Reverend Albie Martin and Archbishop Philip Richardson blessing the statue of the soldier.

Other services were held around Taranaki including Waitara, Hāwera, Eltham, Waverley and Pātea.

Servicemen attending the Armistice commemorations.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFServicemen attending the Armistice commemorations.
Veterans John Whiskey Walker of the 17th, 21st Lancers Britain and Colin Cochran, both served in World War 2.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFVeterans John Whiskey Walker of the 17th, 21st Lancers Britain and Colin Cochran, both served in World War 2.
Cadets of the city of New Plymouth cadet unit on duty around the cenotaph.
JOHN VELVIN/STUFFCadets of the city of New Plymouth cadet unit on duty around the cenotaph.

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