Wreath laying for lost Kiwi soldiers
A wreath is to be laid in memory of 11 cousins who have never returned home.
Auckland couple Stan and Kathy Hansen are preparing to journey to Ypres, Belgium to represent the family at a formal wreath laying ceremony on October 12 at the Menin Gate Memorial.
The Hansens, from Pt Chevalier, will be accompanied by other members of their family.
October 12 is the 99th anniversary of New Zealand’s greatest military disaster.
‘‘On October 12 1917, 845 New Zealanders were killed in one day in Passchendaele in Belgium.
‘‘This was the greatest loss of life in a single day in New Zealand’s history and resulted in significant losses for the extended Hansen family,’’ Stan says.
Forty-two young men from the Hansen family served in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and the Australian Imperial Force.
‘‘Of these 42 men, 14 died and 11 remain buried in either France or Belgium.
‘‘It is these 11 Hansen men, cousins of my father, who never returned to New Zealand that I will be honouring with the laying of the wreath,’’ Stan says.
‘‘I feel incredibly honoured to have been invited to lay the wreath at the Menin Gate on behalf of these family members.’’
The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres salient of World War I.
It’s reserved for those whose graves are unknown.
‘‘The memorial is engraved with the 54,389 soldiers’ names who have no known graves,’’ Stan says.
While in Europe Stan and Kathy will retrace the footsteps of Stan’s father, Lieutenant Bert Hansen.
Bert was taken by the Germans as a prisoner of war in 1918.
Kathy is a family historian and author. She was honoured this year with a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for her services to historical research.
With the support of researchers in Belgium and review of Bert Hansen’s memoir, Kathy will publish a book next year.
It will feature Bert Hansen’s two escapes from German prisons in 1918.
Stan and Kathy Hansen will represent the family at a ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium.