Prince Charles to attend NZ's Somme commemoration in France

Prince Charles on his visit to New Zealand in 2015. Photo/ SNPA
Prince Charles on his visit to New Zealand in 2015. Photo/ SNPA

The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, will attend New Zealand's Battle of the Somme commemorations in Longueval, France, this month, Prime Minister John Key has announced.

"We are honoured that he will join New Zealanders as we mark one of the most significant and costly campaigns for our country during the First World War," Key said.

Prince Charles will attend the wreath-laying at the New Zealand Battlefield Memorial at the Caterpillar Valley War Cemetery on September 15.

The Prince of Wales would also take the opportunity to meet young people from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, who were in France learning more about their countries' participation in the Battle of the Somme.

"Prince Charles will attend the commemoration as Field Marshal of the New Zealand Army, an honorary appointment that was acknowledged in November last year in Wellington, and when His Royal Highness joined New Zealand Defence Force personnel in Westport during Exercise Southern Katipo," Key said.

The Battle of the Somme was New Zealand's first major engagement on the Western Front.

Of the 15,000 members of the New Zealand Division, 8000 were wounded and 2111 soldiers were killed.

The New Zealand Memorial to the Missing in Caterpillar Valley cemetery lists 1205 names of New Zealanders without marked graves.

New Zealand's Unknown Warrior was exhumed from this cemetery and reinterred at the National War Memorial in 2004.

The Government will be represented at the commemoration by Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee and Ambassador to France James Kember.

- NZ Herald

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