NZ buries Unknown SoldierfromWWI French battlefield

12th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

WELLINGTON, Nov 11 (AFP) - New Zealand's capital Wellington came to a Remembrance Day standstill Thursday as the remains of an unknown soldier killed in France during World War 1 were entombed.

WELLINGTON, Nov 11 (AFP) - New Zealand's capital Wellington came to a Remembrance Day standstill Thursday as the remains of an unknown soldier killed in France during World War 1 were entombed.

The casket containing the soldier's remains, which arrived here from the Somme in northern France Wednesday, was lowered slowly into the tomb as hundreds, including a large number of war veterans, stood watching in silence.

New Zealand was one of the last of the war's participants to create a tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The soldier's remains had lain in state in Parliament overnight ahead of the Armistice Day service.

The warrior's casket, draped in the New Zealand flag, was then wheeled on a gun carriage through central Wellington, in a full military funeral procession which began just after midday.

Office workers, shoppers, and those who had come specially to see the soldier's return, lined the streets five and six deep in places, as the procession passed with an estimated 100,000 people watching.

Alan Johnston, a veteran of the World War Two Battle of El Alamein and a leading veterans' advocate, tearfully described the event as "a culmination of everything that we wished for".

"He was one of us, one of those that went off to serve their country," Johnston said.

The government said around 30,000 New Zealanders have died in military conflicts since 1899 and around 9,000 of them lie in unmarked graves.

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article