Caption: His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau at the Commemoration of 1st Fiji Contingent to World War 1.Photo:SUPPLIED.
His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau led the nation today in commemorating the 1st Fiji Contingent to World War 1 at the National War Memorial site in Veiuto, Suva.
Family representatives of the 1st and 2nd Fiji Contingent and Fiji Labour Corps were in attendance at the service held this morning to commemorate those who had lost their lives in the First World War.
As part of the program, His Excellency read out the Roll of Honour of those 124 soldiers who served in the First Fiji Contingent in World War 1.
Fiji’s first contingent was made up of 57 Fijians who departed for Britain on December 31, 1914. The second contingent of 64 men were sent for battle in 1915 with two smaller groups of reinforcement arriving in Britain in 1916 and 1917. A third Fiji contingent formed in 1918 arrived in Auckland for training but never saw action as the Armistice was signed in 1918.
The Hon. Minister for Immigration, National Security and Defence, Timoci Natuva saidthis was the first time for Fiji to commemorate 100 years of the First World War.
“This year in August, in the presence of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, a commemorative service was held at the Glasgow Cathedral, Scotland to mark the centenary of the First World War. His Excellency the President represented Fiji and laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in George Square,” Minister Natuva said.
Minister Natuva said His Excellency also travelled to Ypres, Belgium and visited the war cemetery in Menin Gate, where 15 Fijians are remembered with honour.
The President of Returned Soldiers and Ex-servicemen Association (RSEA), Major Vanavasa Vakacegu commended the Fijian Government for commemorating those that sacrificed their lives in the First World War.
“I’m glad to witness the commemoration of the First Fiji Contingent to World WarOne. I thank the Government for remembering the fallen soldiers,” Vakacegu said.