Members from the Clark, Montgomery, Simpkin and Slade families gathered in Kaipara for Armistice Day to pay tribute to local families who fought on the Western Front. Descendant Robert Montgomery shares his account of the weekend:
‘Ninety nine years ago, the long shadow of the Western Front reached out across the world to touch the small community of Arapohue near Dargaville.
‘On Armistice Day at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, members of the community gathered to remember the six men from the Clark, Montgomery, Simpkin and Slade families who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
‘Later in the day, about 80 descendants of the late Thomas and Alice Ann Montgomery unveiled a plaque to commemorate the centennial of the sacrifice of their three sons who served near Ypres in Belgium.
‘Henry and Edward were killed in action, while John, like so many others who were wounded, gassed and shell-shocked, returned home but was forever changed. In the evening, members of the families joined a community service at All Saints church. During the service, each family had an opportunity to share the wartime experiences of their men. For the living, this brought the memory of these men closer.
‘The men were now more than names on a Roll of Honour and somehow, the community felt whole again.
‘Throughout the day, the younger generation took turns at leading processions with the Belgium and New Zealand flags.
‘Others bore the photos of their relatives.
‘The combination of formal and informal activities and conversation stimulated by various displays of wartime experiences and a century of family life, brought everyone together.
‘A day of memories became a day to remember.’