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Finding family at the Somme

Able Steward Aleshia MacGregor with a photo of her great great uncle, Second Lieutenant Alexander Ormond, at the Thiepval Memorial in France.
Able Steward Aleshia MacGregor with a photo of her great great uncle, Second Lieutenant Alexander Ormond, at the Thiepval Memorial in France.

13 September 2016

Able Steward (ASTD) Aleshia MacGregor, from Gisborne, found her great great uncle’s name among 72,000 listed on the Thiepval Memorial in France.

Members of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) participated in the daily Service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Thiepval Memorial to The Missing of the Somme on Monday, 12 September.

While the NZDF contingent was preparing for the service ASTD MacGregor was able to search for her great great uncle on the memorial.

She said it was emotional to find Alexander Ormond’s name among the tens of thousands of those recorded on the memorial.

“It was beautiful to put a name to a face and it is an experience I will never forget.”

ASTD MacGregor placed a photo of her great great uncle at the memorial, along with a paua shell and a New Zealand pin to symbolise his New Zealand roots. 

Second Lieutenant (2LT) Alexander Ormond was part of the Manchester Regiment, 27th Battalion, attached to the 11th Battalion. He was born in Mahia, Hawke’s Bay, and went to England to obtain a commission to the British Army. He was sent to the Western Front in August 1916 and was killed in action on 30 September 1916 at the Somme.

ASTD MacGregor is taking part in the Battle of the Somme centenary commemorations on 15 September in Longueval. She is a member of the NZDF Māori Cultural Group.

The Battle of the Somme was New Zealand’s first big engagement on the Western Front and took a huge toll on the 15,000 members of the New Zealand Division who were involved.

The New Zealand Division sustained 8,000 casualties and 2,111 soldiers were killed in action at the Battle of the Somme from 1 July -18 November 1916. The New Zealand Memorial to the missing in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery lists 1,204 names.

WW100 is a programme established by the New Zealand Government to mark the World War I centenary through a range of activities from 2014 to 2019, in New Zealand and overseas.

For more information about WW100, visit WW100.govt.nz.


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