by Chris Tobin
More than 18,000 New Zealanders died serving in World War 1, the equivalent of 80,000 in today’s population figures, a small gathering of 35 people were told at an Armistice Day commemoration in Timaru on Monday morning.
“The statistics emphasise the great impact of war on New Zealand society,” Reservist army chaplain and Holy Family parish priest Fr Brian Fennessy said at the Caroline Bay World World 1 memorial.
The number who were wounded in the war – 40,000 – would equate to 180,000 today, he said.
Armistice Day commemorates the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when World War 1 formally ended 101 years ago with the signing of a peace treaty between the Allies and Germany at Compiegne, France.
Timaru Mayor Nigel Bowen also spoke at the short ceremony, which ended with poppies being laid on the memorial wall which bears the name of all 101 battles in which New Zealanders fought during the war.
More than 1500 people from South Canterbury were killed or died when serving in World War 1 when the region’s population was about 20,000.