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Unknown WWI NZ soldier buried in France

Published: 6:20PM Thursday February 17, 2011 Source: ONE News

Just a day after our latest military death, a New Zealand soldier who was killed in World War I 95 years ago has been buried in France.

The remains of the soldier, whose identity is unknown, were discovered 14 months ago in a ploughed up field by retired French sailor M R Blyr.

"I was walking in the area and I noticed some remains in the field and on closer inspection I noticed they had a New Zealand badge," Blyr said.

The collar badges are the only clue to the soldier's identity, and show that he fought in the Auckland regiment.

A small group of New Zealand dignitaries gathered at Caterpillar Valley cemetery in Longueval to bury the man, laying a New Zealand flag over his casket.

"It is still tragic but I think here today we have shown him the respect that he clearly deserves," said Brigadier Phil Gibbons.

Military historian Chris Pugsley said the soldier was probably one of many men who did not know what they were getting in to when they went to war.

"You've got someone who came here with his mates and found himself in a battle he could never have imagined when he left New Zealand."

The soldier is believed to have died during the Battle of the Somme in September 1916, where the biggest New Zealand contingent ever assembled at that time went into battle.

Of the 18,000 men, more than 2000 died.

There are 125 New Zealand graves at Caterpillar Valley, many of whom are also unnamed.

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