The Last Post

Today its appropriately raining heavily for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the battle of the Somme in 1916…. remembering the mud and stench of the rain filled trenches. A hell of futility not to be forgotten in the strange times we live in today.

Its especially poignant for me to remember my Great Uncle Frank who was killed on the first day of action on the 15th September, aged only 26 with all his life ahead of him. 

‘But all that my mind sees

Is a quaking bog in a mist

 — stark, snapped trees,

 And the dark Somme flowing.’

Vance Palmer (1885–1959), ‘The farmer remembers the Somme’

On Thursday (the 15th) I went with my brother Rob to hear the last post played for those who lost their lives for our freedom on that day 100 years ago. It was a beautiful still evening – before the rain set in the next day, just as then. 



Frank didn’t make it through the day. Somewhere heading for the Blue Line or in the taking of Flers, his young life was cut short. His unidentified body could have been taken to the Caterpillar Valley cemetery and buried as an unknown kiwi soldier, or he may still lie where he fell in the fields between Longueval and Flers. The unimaginable horrors and terror that filled his final hours will be forever etched in history.



The Karanga

Te mamae nei a te pōuri nui

Tēnei ra e te tau

Aue hoki mai ra ki te kainga tūturu

E tatari atu nei ki a kou tou

Ngā tau roa

I ngaro atu ai te aroha

E ngau kino nei I ahau aue taukuri e
The great pain we feel

Is for you who were our future

Come back return home,

We have waited for you

Through the long years

You were away. Sorrow

Aches within me.

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