From Shan­non to Ar­ras

The Horowhenua Mail - - OUT & ABOUT - KIRSTY LAWRENCE

Trav­el­ling to the other side of the world to stand where those who fought be­fore him once stood was a mov­ing moment for a Shan­non sol­dier.

Cor­po­ral Tainui Wood­mass is a plumber, based at Lin­ton Mil­i­tary Camp in the 2nd En­gi­neer Reg­i­ment, who was over on the Western Front for Anzac Day.

Wood­mass, 32, is a mem­ber of the Maori cul­tural group that trav­elled to the other side of the world to remember those who fell and those who re­turned home.

It was on the Western Front that New Zealand made its most sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to World War I.

It was also where New Zealand suf­fered the great­est loss of life.

While Wood­mass was there, he vis­ited the labyrinth of tun­nels un­der Ar­ras that the Royal New Zealand En­gi­neers dug to launch the bat­tle of Ar­ras in April 1917.

He headed 20 me­tres un­der­ground to give a read­ing that de­scribed the con­di­tions faced 100 years ago by his tun­nelling coun­ter­parts, who spent months plan­ning the sur­prise at­tack on the Ger­mans from be­neath the ground.

‘‘The tun­nels are an amaz­ing place and it is hum­bling to see the con­di­tions the men lived in,’’ he said.

A new sculp­ture was un­veiled for the com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 100th an­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of Ar­ras on April 9, 1917.

The hol­lowed-out work de­picts a New Zealand sol­dier and is dec­o­rated in­side with pas­sages from let­ters home and the faces of sol­diers who gave their lives in the war.

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