The partial remains of an unknown New Zealand soldier found on a Western Front battlefield a century after he was killed will be given a proper burial next week.

The remains, found in Belgium, were determined to be those of a World War I Kiwi soldier by a brass 'NZR' shoulder title - worn by troops of the Auckland, Canterbury, Otago and Wellington infantry regiments.

The find was also made in an area where the New Zealand Division was active over the winter of 1917 to 1918.

Now, the remains will be buried alongside the partial remains of two British soldiers at the Perth (China Wall) Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery near Ieper (Ypres), in Belgium, in the early hours of March 8 (NZ time).


The three sets of partial remains will be buried in a single grave with a headstone commemorating the national origin of those interred.

Perth (China Wall) Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery was chosen because it is the resting place of both New Zealand Infantry and Lancashire Fusiliers soldiers, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) said today.

There are 19 known New Zealanders buried and four unknown New Zealanders commemorated in the cemetery.

New Zealand will be represented at the burial by New Zealand Ambassador to Belgium His Excellency Gregory Andrews and European-based NZDF officers.

It is not uncommon for the remains of World War I soldiers to be discovered even today.

This is the third New Zealand unknown soldier to be found in the past five years - the other two were buried in Mesen/Messines.

This year, New Zealand commemorates the 100th anniversaries of the Battle of Messines on June 7 and the Battle of Passchendaele on October 12.

It was on the Western Front that New Zealand made its most significant contribution to World War I, and where it suffered the greatest loss of life.