Lest we forget . . . Pukerau Cemetery Support Trust Group secretary Margaret Pullar lays a wreath made by Mary Pullar, on trooper James Henry McDonaldÂ’s grave. PHOTO: VALU MAKA

Eighty years after his death, a former World War 1 soldier’s service has been acknowledged with a plaque at the Pukerau Cemetery.

Descendant Veronica Reed said James Henry McDonald was her great uncle.

He was about 25 years old when he went to war, she said.

He served in Egypt as a trooper with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles from 1915 to 1919.

His life was cut short due to the injuries he endured, Mrs Reed said.

“He died at 50 years old and his death was due to what he suffered.”

The official document which recorded his injuries was too old and tattered to read, she said.

“I’m not sure what his injuries were, but my father used to say he lived a terrible life; he couldn’t do much at all.”

She was adamant he deserved to be recognised for his war effort.

“He never had a wife or children, but I thought, should he lie there and not be honoured for his service?’.”

Her persistence paid off, with the help of Bruce Cavanagh, of the Hokonui Heritage Research Centre, Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand and the Southern Funeral Home, who helped with the establishment of the brass plaque.

She acknowledged the Pukerau Cemetery Support Group.

“I was contacted via email late last year and worked with them.”

Group secretary Margaret Pullar said they were still contacting descendants of servicemen in the main block who had no returned service plaques.

“There were a total of 16 servicemen buried in the main block.

“Seven have returned service plaques to commemorate them and we are trying to get in contact with the other families.”