Thursday, April 24, 2014

ANZAC day post 2014 Part 1

Laurent VC Street. A street I saw regularly in my childhood town of Hawera in New Zealand. Named after Henry John Laurent a Victoria Cross recipient from WWI. As a kid I thought it was unusual to see a street name with VC in it and didn't think much beyond that. Later in life I realised what VC stood for. The highest medal for gallantry in the face of the enemy that a British and Commonwealth servicemen can receive.

So who was Harry?
One of five Laurens men (later anglicised to Laurents) who served on the front lines of WWI. That's one mighty contribution by a single family alone. When he enlisted he said "I am going to live to see my country free." At that time his father lived in Hawera. He left with the 6th Reinforcements. Enlisted with the NZEF in May 1915 aged 20. Prior to that he was in the Territorial Force since he was 16 years old.
Like his long lived grandfather who was 93 when he won the VC he lived til 92 and was the last NZ WWI VC winner at the time of his death.

Joined the Western Front 1916, 2nd Battalion, 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade.
Wounded in the Somme Offensive.
Become Sergeant by 1918.

WWII, commanded a Home Guard Battalion.
Retired with Rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Hundred Days Offensive
It was for action during this period which Harry was awarded the VC. The Hundred Days Offensive was the final period of WWI from August 8 til November 11, 1918. A rapid series of attacks that pushed the Germans out of France and the armistice followed.

The Citation
After the 2nd battle of Bapaume the NZ division was in pursuit of German forces.
September 12 Harry leads a patrol in the area east of Gouzeacourt Wood. Orders....locate and regain contact with the German front line.
Harrys VC gazettal notice.

To return with 112 prisoners from a patrol must have been a big surprise when they arrived back at the NZ front line. I wonder if all of his family returned from WWI? As prestigious as VC is returning alive would have been the best reward for any family.

Lest We Forget


  1. Great post, thanks for sharing. It's great that blogs and wargaming are helping to keep these stories alive. I wonder what his "resourcefulness in controlling and encouraging his men" was? Bet it wasn't too PC! Cheers, Paul.

    1. At war both humanity and savagery seem to exist side by side at times.

  2. Cracking post sir. We will remember them!

  3. Great post Brendon thanks for sharing

  4. Great post mate! Never forget!

  5. This was well done. By telling the story of a man who lived, served and did so with honour and distinction you remind everyone of the importance of your Remembrance Day.

    1. Cheers Anne. Yeah, ANZAC day is important. 99 years since Gallipoli so 2015 will be significant.