Carols strong for the wounded

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 17:15 18/12/2012

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Seventy years after it was sung, a moving version of the Christmas carol Silent Night, sung by wounded soldiers of the 28th Maori Battalion, has emerged.

Found in the Sound Archives Nga Taonga Korero, it was recorded at the No 2 New Zealand General Hospital in North Africa in 1942.

Ngati Toa nurse Wiki Katene of Porirua sang the version in Maori.

Posted on the Maori Battalion website it has already started to go viral on New Zealand networks.

The website was one of the final wishes of the battalion’s association, which was found up last month.

Yesterday another of its veterans died, leaving just 24 alive.

Ninety-two-year-old Donald Taylor died peacefully last week in Gisborne and his funeral service will be held today.

Of the 3600 men who served voluntarily with the battalion, 655 were killed or died on active service, 1712 were wounded and 267 were taken prisoner.

This casualty rate was almost 50 per cent higher than other New Zealand infantry battalions.

Silent Night or Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht was composed 1818 in Austria by Franz Xaver Gruber who wrote the melody and Father Joseph Mohr who wore the lyrics.

During the Great War truce in 1914 it was sung in French, English and German on the Western Front.

It remains one of the most recorded of all Christmas songs.

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