Staff Sergeant Carlo De Negri at the gravestone of his great uncle, Private Henare Mete Kingi.
19 September 2016
Staff Sergeant (SSGT) Carlo De Negri paid his respects to a number of family members while at the Battle of the Somme commemorations in France with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) contingent.
SSGT De Negri, of Whanganui, who was the catafalque guard commander, has a number of family members who were killed in action during World War I.
His great uncle, Private (Pte) Henare Mete Kingi was killed in action at the Somme in 1916 and his resting place is the Dantzig Alley British Cemetery. Lieutenant (LT) Ngapaki Metekingi, his great grandfather, and his brother Corporal (CPL) Teira Mete Kingi fought in Gallipoli together. LT Metekingi was fortunate enough to return to Whanganui in 1917, but CPL Mete Kingi was killed in action at Chunuk Bair on 8 August 1915.
SSGT De Negri is the first of his immediate family to visit Pte Mete Kingi’s grave.
“It was emotional to see his grave - I felt like he was there with me and we had an instant connection,” SSGT De Negri said.
“It is very sad that he never came home but he will always live on in our memories and it is something special I can pass on to my children and that his memory will live on through my family.”
SSGT De Negri said he was honoured to be a part of the Battle of the Somme commemorations.
“I’ve been privileged to follow in the footsteps of my ancestors by paying respects to those who fought at the Battle of the Somme and now visiting the battlefields of France, where my relatives fought for New Zealand,” he said.
The Battle of the Somme was New Zealand’s first big engagement on the Western Front. It took a huge toll on the 15,000 members of the New Zealand Division who were involved. The sustained 8,000 casualties and 2,111 soldiers were killed in action at the battle from 1 July - 18 November 1916. The New Zealand Memorial to the Missing in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery lists 1,205 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.