Poppies in remembrance

by Mike Isle

A salute to those who served in the armed forces in Selwyn’s past has been added to the streets in Leeston with a poppy added to the signs for Gallipoli Street and Messines Street, which border the township’s landmark cenotaph.

Both streets trace their origins to the Leeston war memorial, erected in 1924 to commemorate soldiers from Ellesmere County who lost their lives during the first world war and the additions are added under the Poppy Places Trust.

Many Territorial soldiers from the Ellesmere area volunteered to serve in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force when it was established at the outbreak of the first world war in August 1914.

It was these initial volunteers and those who followed in the reinforcement contingents in 1915, who fought during the Gallipoli campaign.

Council asset engineer, Mark Chamberlain, says the historic value of the poppy, street name and location made the addition an easy decision — Gallipoli Street.

“As a growing district, it is important to remember the people who have come before us and the sacrifices they made. There are a number of families still in the Ellesmere area who would have had family members fight in the first world war, and this gesture is about helping to maintain the knowledge of what our forefathers went through.”

Information on the Poppy Places Trust can be found on their website — poppyplaces.nz — with information on Gallipoli Street, Messines Street and the other sites around New Zealand.