Veterans to commemorate Monte Cassino

Last updated 18:28 14/05/2014

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Thirty-eight New Zealand war veterans will be in Italy this week to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Monte Cassino.

The veterans, all in their 90s and accompanied by a medical support team, left New Zealand yesterday.

In Cassino they will attend a service of remembrance at the Cassino railway sation and the New Zealand national commemorative service at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

The veterans are expected to be joined by Prince Harry at the New Zealand service on May 18.

They will also attend a private service at the Abbey of Monte Cassino and have a guided battlefield tour.

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae is attending the commemorations, along with Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman and Chief of Army Major General Davenport Gawn.

A total of 2176 New Zealanders lost their lives in Italy during World War II, and 456 are buried in Cassino.

The Battle of Monte Cassino is regarded as one of the hardest-fought battles of the war.

German defenders were driven from their positions but at a high cost, including the loss of 352 New Zealand lives and 1200 wounded.

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