Centenary of New Zealand Soldiers Tragedy
Every year Bere Ferrers remembers the 10 New Zealand World War I soldiers who died here in a tragic accident on September 24, 1917.
Whanganui men William Trussell, Joseph Judge and John Warden were among those killed when they stepped in to the path of an express train that was unable to stop. They thought the train had stopped so they could pick up refreshments, but it had only stopped because of the oncoming train, and they stepped out onto the rails rather than the platform.
In 2017 a special centenary service was attended by New Zealand's former Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae, who attended in his current capacity as New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and placed a wreath on the 2001 memorial to the soldiers.
"It's incredibly special what the people of Bere Ferrers and Bere Alston have been doing, for a century now, to remember the 10 New Zealand soldiers who lost their lives so far from home," he said. "Like half of all working-age New Zealand men at the time, some 100,000 New Zealanders, they'd volunteered...voyaged to the other side of the globe to follow mates, to do their duty for New Zealand and the Empire and with the backdrop of an adventure. That their commitment is remembered to this day is testament to the deep sense of gratitude of the villagers and the continued strong bonds and friendship between New Zealand and the UK.