Saying goodbye to family in any cemetery is difficult. Saying hello to them nearly 100 hundred years after their life was snatched away during a bloody battle can be heart-wrenching.

Leading Aircraftman (LAC) Dan May met his great-great uncle Arthur Harry "Boy" Ramsey on a chilly spring morning, as watery sunshine thawed the frost between rows of headstones at Grevillers British Cemetery.

Whangarei-born LAC May is a member of the ceremonial guard in the New Zealand Defence Force contingent for the Western Front Anzac Day commemorations.

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


Arthur Ramsey, of the Auckland Regiment of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and a former farmer in Waikato, died on 27 August, 1918.

He is flanked in the cemetery by other New Zealand soldiers killed on the battlefields of France in the First World War.

The New Zealand ceremonial contingent conducted a short service at the cemetery that included laying a wreath, reciting the Ode and playing the Last Post.

Leading Aircraftman May then paid his respects at the graveside of his great-great uncle.

LAC May, 33, is a communications and information systems technician based at Whenuapai in Auckland.

He joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force looking for better work stories, after several years in retail and hospitality jobs.

"I was working with a couple of guys who joined the Air Force and it looked and sounded so much better than what I was doing at the time. And it definitely hasn't disappointed."

LAC May is used to travelling overseas. He spent several years at secondary school in Brunei while his parents were teaching there. This is his first visit to France.


"Having the support of the contingent around me when meeting Boy was very special," he said.

"It showed the strong sense of comradeship that is part of military life. It's comforting to know that Boy would have experienced that in the trenches and in battle. And he still has his mates around him."