Young, old to honour WWI soldiers with white crosses

By Roger Moroney

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Tony Fraser
Tony Fraser

Napier's Memorial Square will become a "field of white crosses" next month as the 207 men from the city and Taradale who died in WWI will be honoured and remembered.

Napier RSA support convener Tony Fraser said the Civic Field of Remembrance will be made up of white crosses which will each bear the name of a fallen soldier.

There would also be a 208th cross to signify the national memorial of the unknown warrior.

Mr Fraser said the RSAs wanted to create something significant for this year's Anzac Day commemorations as it would be the 100th centenary of the outbreak of WWI and the field would continue to be laid over the next five years until 2018 - the end of the war.

The crosses would then be gathered up and sent to Wellington where a major tribute site was being planned.

"It is something the RSA wants to do nationally and here we will be including the youth of the city in it," Mr Fraser said.

Eight pupils each from 22 schools across the district, as well as young people from the army and air cadet services, Sea Scouts and St Johns will be place the crosses in a 16m by 13m grid beside the cenotaph.

After a blessing they will be put in place on April 14 and will remain there until the day after Anzac Day.

Mr Fraser and long-time stalwart of the Taradale RSA, Sylvia Frame, have worked in with the Napier City Council to plan the field of crosses and they paid tribute to the sponsors, including Timu Timbers as well as all the painters and sign writers, who had put their support behind it.

The Hastings RSA is considering whether a similar field could be created for the district there, although the main problem was where to place it, a spokesperson said.

During WWI 103,000 New Zealanders served overseas, with 41,000 wounded and 18,500 losing their lives either on the battle fronts or dying of their wounds.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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