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Hamilton’s connection with the Belgian town of Ieper will be further strengthened during this year’s Anzac Day services at the city’s Cenotaph.
Raf Decombel, a bugler from Ieper’s Last Post Association will play the Last Post during Hamilton’s two Anzac Day services on April 25, and will be part of an official party from Ieper led by Deputy Mayor Frans Lignel.
Ieper continues to recognise the sacrifice of the New Zealand troops during the Battle of Passhendaele in World War I, with a nightly ceremony at the Menin Gate.
Hamilton City Councillor Peter Bos has continued to develop the relationship between Hamilton and Ieper since 2006, and visited the town in 2008, laying a wreath at the grave of Dave Gallaher, the All Black captain from 1905 to 1906 who died in the battle.
“This year we’re delighted to see the return of Mr Decombel. The Association hosts Ieper’s nightly ceremony, so it’s a pleasure to see him back in Hamilton,” says Cr Bos.
Mr Lignel is a well-known historian and chairman of the Flanders Fields Museum Committee in Ieper, while Mr Decombel will make his second visit to Hamilton for this year’s commemorations, after visiting to play during the 2007 Anzac Day services, when Ieper’s Menin Gate was digitally recreated in Hamilton.
“Council is determined to further enhance this meaningful bond and ensure it continues for future generations across both cities,” says Cr Bos.
Hamilton’s Anzac Day commemorations are held at the Cenotaph at Memorial Park. The Dawn Service will commence at 6am, and members of the public or groups wishing wish to join the march to the Cenotaph should assemble on Knox Street by 5.30am. The Civic Service starts at 10am, with wreaths to be laid by more than 20 local groups, including a range of returned military service groups, school cadet corps, public service organisations and representatives of local Boy Scout and Girl Guide groups. People wishing to be part of the Civic Parade should assemble at Knox Street at 9.30am.