Wreath lay­ing for lost Kiwi sol­diers

Auckland City Harbour News - - PUBLIC NOTICES - MARY FITZGER­ALD

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.

MARY FITZGER­ALD / FAIR­FAX NZ

Stan and Kathy Hansen will rep­re­sent the fam­ily at a cer­e­mony at the Menin Gate Me­mo­rial in Ypres, Bel­gium.

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