Actors from the group Histrionics perform Armistice at Compiegne at the top of Trafalgar St. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

WW1 memories brought to life


Nelson came alive with the memory of those who fought in the First World War on Sunday as 100 years of the Armistice was commemorated.

Hundreds gathered at the top of Trafalgar St to see a performance of “Armistice at Compiegne” by the group Histrionics.

The show brought artillery, infantry and a train carriage into central Nelson to depict the signing of the agreement in the French forest where the event took place.

In Anzac Park, local war heroes who were once left off plaques commemorating the war, were honoured with a new memorial.

The rededication of the Cenotaph came after extensive research revealed the names of the 80 men who were previously not known to have come from the region or whose names had been confused with others.

RSA president Barry Pont welcomed the crowd of hundreds to the centenary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the hostilities on the Western Front of the First World War.

“At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns fell silent.”

Former Nelson Provincial Museum director Peter Millward told the crowd how some 3678 men and woman from the region were in active service during the Great War.

“At the time the province had a population of 43,000 people, so some quick maths tells us that one in three able-bodied residents probably saw service.”

He says the extensive research has seen more than 700 names from the Nelson region added to Auckland’s online Cenotaph.

“Other memorials are about service, but the Cenotaph, that’s about sacrifice.

He says, to be technically included on Anzac Park’s Cenotaph, you had to be a resident at the time of enlistment.

“There were brothers who were both born and educated in Nelson, but one sibling may have married or enlisted elsewhere, who have been separated now for so long.

“It strikes me as being sadly ironic that families that have a long history in our town and who have done so much for the region, do not have the right to have their loved ones named on this Cenotaph.”

He says Sunday’s unveiling is about reuniting those families.

“Six pairs of brothers have now been reunited on this memorial, their names are now recorded where they deserve to be.”