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NZ contingent to mark Battle of Messines

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 2/06/2017

New Zealand's involvement in a bloody WWI battle will be commemorated in Belgium on June 7 with music and military ceremonies.

The Battle of Messines in Belgium was fought between June 7 and 14, 1917, and was a major tactical success for the Second British Army.

The New Zealand Division was heavily involved and sustained 3000 casualties and 700 killed in action between June 7 and 9.

To mark 100 years since the battle, New Zealand Defence Force personnel will travel to Messines.

Lieutenant-General Tim Keating, Chief of Defence Force, says the visit is conducted with a strong sense of connection with those First World War soldiers.

"Since the end of the First World War, New Zealand's Armed Forces personnel have travelled to the uttermost ends of the earth to pay their respects to our dead, and those of other nations," he said.

"It is a role, undertaken on behalf of all New Zealanders, that will remain our duty and our honour."

Beginning at 8am on June 7 at Messines Ridge British Cemetery, a service will feature readings, waiata, the Last Post and the marching in of the Regimental Colour of the 2nd Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and West Coast Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, which carries 21 battle honours including Messines 1917.

A sunset ceremony will also be held that day at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial.

It will be a uniquely Kiwi farewell to the men who died, with music, the Maori Cultural Group and a military ceremony.

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