“Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well.“
I thought I would use this years ANZAC Day commemorations to announce a very significant step forward regarding the ‘Gravestone Image Project, relating to the Roll of Honour section of the blog.
I have great pleasure in announcing the incredibly generous granting of permission for the display of the gravestones of the RNZAF aircrew from the Squadron that have so far been collected by the New Zealand Gravestone Project.
Relative to 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, this means the instant addition of 296 gravestone images which lifts the completion of our Roll of Honour project to 36% (410 images).
The activities and collection of images for the New Zealand War Graves Project is ongoing, so as the collection increases, I would hope that further images can be added.
The New Zealand War Graves Project
There are 31,758 New Zealanders whom the New Zealand War Graves Trust project has been able to identify to date who, serving with New Zealand and Allied forces, died in conflicts from the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) up to the present day and in peacekeeping operations. They are commemorated by burial in Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries, public cemeteries, graves in New Zealand or by inscription on memorials world wide.
The Project aims to:
- To photograph all the war graves and primary memorials of New Zealanders who, serving with New Zealand and Allied forces, died in conflicts, from the Anglo-Boer war (1899-1902), to the present day and in peacekeeping operations. Our research has identified 31,758 New Zealand war graves in 79 countries including New Zealanders serving with other Allied forces.
- To produce a photographic record of the relevant major cemeteries and surrounding areas.
- To create a digital archive and database, accessed via a website, enabling free public access to their biographical information and images.
- To instigate community and education programmes based around the project.
- To instigate the making of a TV documentary telling the story of the project, the cemeteries, but most of all the servicemen.
- To co-operate and collaborate with others working in similar areas, to ensure accuracy and compatibility of data.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, funded by all Commonwealth governments, administers the cemeteries and memorials. Administration in New Zealand is charged to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. The Commission has developed an excellent website, containing a database of servicemen and some pictures of the cemeteries in their care. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage has an informative site, giving some detail of their operation in this area.
Our project builds on this information by developing an exhaustive high-resolution photo-archive of all cemeteries, headstones and memorials of New Zealand servicemen, who died in conflict.
Our internet site is the obvious and logical way for the public to access the archive at present, but a parallel main purpose of the project is to collect the images and associated information in such a way as to form an historical text for future use.
While the largest numbers of casualties are located in the areas of the major battles and campaigns (Gallipoli, Greece, North Africa, Western Front, Italy…), New Zealand forces have served in most of the major conflicts of the 20th Century and their graves and memorials are spread across most of the world.
Amongst these are “oddities” such as the single graves in the Faroe Islands, Falklands and Azores, the servicemen interred in the USA, Iceland and Bangladesh and those graves scattered throughout the African continent. These are of interest in New Zealand’s military history and illustrate the diverse theatres of war, numerous for a small country, where New Zealanders served.
In New Zealand there are the graves and memorials of 3,484 New Zealanders in service that perished both at home and overseas. Some are buried in the 127 servicemen’s cemeteries, others in local churchyards. Many are commemorated only on memorials, as their remains were lost.
The United Kingdom in our most recent estimation is the last resting place of 2,110 New Zealanders serving overseas.
The scope of the project extends the numbers contained in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database (until recently focused on World War I and World War II), to include those that died subsequent to their World War II cut off of 1st December 1947 (Jayforce, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam etc). Numbers of war dead contained in this proposal are from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
Please take some time to visit the New Zealand War Graves Project here.
What we can do……….
Having personally spent some time going through the New Zealand War Graves Project website, there is a clear chance to assist them in their project as they have with ours. Each individual recorded has the space for extra information to be added about then, this includes the opportunity to add photographs. Please, if you have something to add to make real the memory of a loved relative recorded on the site, do so.
Certainly, as and when I get time, I will be looking to add some information for each of the airmen listed that flew with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.