The Great War (1914–1918) was one of the most significant events of the 20th Century and had a profound and lasting impact on New Zealand society. Our troops travelled the furthest and our contribution came at a very high cost. Ten percent of our population of one million people served overseas — more than 18,000 died and over 40,000 were wounded. Nearly every New Zealand family was touched by tragedy along with every school and workplace and many communities large and small have a memorial commemorating World War I.
Ormond Burton was a stretcher-bearer at Anzac Cove who became a highly decorated infantryman on the Western Front. He summed up the significance of the war when he famously said “somewhere between the landing at Anzac and the end of the battle of the Somme, New Zealand very definitely became a nation”.
Upon reflection on the significance of this important event in our history, I wanted to highlight the sacrifice and commitment the people of Rodney made to the war efforts. My office has put together our own way of commemorating the efforts from Rodney during this time. Over the next year on my website I will be highlighting the soldiers who travelled from Rodney to serve in The Great War; along with showing the different ways our communities contributed to the war efforts. I will be highlighting this through profiles, historical information and sitting down with decedents of those who served.
The next four years will provide many opportunities to remember those momentous events, which will allow us to reflect on the difficulties our soldiers faced with courage and determination. We wouldn’t be the country we are today without their sacrifice.
Lest we forget.