For the first time since 1880 soldiers from Australia and New Zealand will be marching down the Champs Elysées during the traditional 14th July military parade. Their presence is symbolic in a month when France will be marking the centenary of the battles of the Somme (1 July), Fromelles (19 July) and Pozières (23 July) which were all battles in which the ANZAC (Australian and New-Zealand Army Corps) played a major role.
Even if little information has yet filtered concerning Australia’s presence, nevertheless confirmed yesterday by the French Embassy in Canberra, New Zealand newspapers have revealed details of the contingent that will be marching down “the most beautiful avenue in the world”.
According to an article published on 28 June by the New Zealand Herald, the regimental colours of all those that fought on French soil will be hoisted by 86 men and women for the first time outwith New Zealand. Apart from the three traditional armies, the New Zealand delegation will also bring along the colours of more discreet but equally courageous units such as the Royal New Zealand Dental Corps and the armed forces’ chaplaincies.
The entire contingent will be preceded by a section of Maori warriors from the three branches of the armed forces. It will be led by Lieutenant Colonel Eugène Whakahoehoe, who will, on this occasion, be wearing the famous Nga Tapuwae Maori feathered cloak awarded by the New Zealand army in recognition of exemplary conduct.