From Shannon to Arras
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.