Delegation of New Zealand


As a result of a proposal by the past national president of the Souvenir Francais, General Gerard DELBAUFFE, the New Zealand Souvenir Francais Delegation was created on 01 January 2015.

This followed the rediscovery of a French ‘poilu’: the soldier Tetiamana ATEA who died in Wellington, New Zealand, and was buried there in September, 1918.

The Delegation also wanted to honour the memory of Lieutenant-Colonel James WADDELL, a New Zealander who served principally with the French Foreign Legion from 1900 to 1926. In 1954, he returned to live in his native country and died there at the age of 81.

Below are the service records and biographies of both these soldiers, taken from the French Overseas National Archives and the French Leonore database.

Their extraordinary journeys in the service of the French army remind us of our duty to remember them and of the eternal motto of the Souvenir Francais:

« A nous le souvenir, à eux l’immortalité »

(‘For us remembrance, for them immortality’)

Private Tetiamana ATEA

Tetiamana ATEA or TETIAMANA-A-ATEA (the ‘A’ in the middle meaning ‘son of’) was born on 15 April 1887 in Papetoai village, Moorea Island, Tahiti, in French Polynesia.

On 08 May, 1916, aged 28, he joined the Colonial Infantry Company n 1 (the section which was sent on secondment to Tahiti). And the next day, he set sail from Papeete to New Caledonia.

After travelling for nearly a month, he disembarked at Noumea on 04 June 1916 and stayed there with his division.

A revolt of some Kanak tribes having broken out in New Caledonia, private Tetiamana ATEA was sent on secondment to Pouembout on 27 May 1917, and ‘took part in military operations in the Pouembout district in order to suppress native insurgents’.

After that, he was also sent on secondment to Voh, before finally embarking for Noumea on 01 February, 1918.

After more than two years’ military service in New Caledonia, Tetiamana ATEA was awarded with the French Colonial Medal. He left Noumea on 06 August 1918 and sailed to French Polynesia, having been consigned to the ‘Tahiti Contingent’.

On his way to Papeete, Tetiamana’s boat made a stopover in Wellington, New Zealand, and Private ATEA, who was sick, was transferred to the Victoria Military Hospital there.

Unfortunately, Tetiamana ATEA ’s health deteriorated and he died on 10 September 1918 from a disease he had contracted while on military service.

SourceFrench Overseas National Archives

Tetiamana ATEA’s Funeral Service

Attending the funeral were:

  • General Officer Commanding Sir Alfred William ROBIN and staff,
  • Surgeon-General HENDERSON (Director of Medical Services),
  • Mr. J. MACKINTOSH (French Consul),
  • Captain R.W. SMITH of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Defence Department),
  • Captain GENTRY (in charge of the French Reservists),
  • A firing party and band from Trentham Camp,
  • Army Chaplain Reverend TAYLOR (who officiated at the graveside).

As the coffin was being placed on the gun carriage bound for his last home, the band of our military allies played the French anthem ‘La Marseillaise’ (Evening Post, 10 September 1918).

Since then, Tetiamana ATEA’s body has lain in the military section of Wellington’s Karori Cemetery – in Grave A.3 – next to his New Zealand brothers-in-arms.

However, a transcription error on his gravestone resulted in the spelling of his name as ‘TETIANA-A-ATEA‘ instead of ‘TETIAMANA-A-ATEA‘.

In the course of 2015, the Souvenir Francais Delegation met with the New Zealand Minister of Cultural Affairs and with the New Zealand Veterans Affairs to propose a replacement of Tetiamana ATEA’s gravestone.

All our proposals were accepted and a new gravestone was ordered by the New Zealand Authorities.

In early 2016, the new gravestone was installed and now includes the French words: 'Mort Pour La France' (see definition).

Lieutenant-Colonel James WADDELL

James WADDELL was born on 11 October 1873 in Dunedin, New Zealand.

After he distinguished himself in South Africa and India in the British army, he chose to serve France and enrolled himself in the 2nd Regiment of the French Foreign Legion as a Sub-Lieutenant in the “foreign status” category as appointed by the presidential decree of 25 April 1900.

These are the details found in his Legion of Honour file:

  • Made Lieutenant under “foreign status” on 01 April 1902.
  • Appointed by 18 June 1904 decree as naturalized French.
  • Divorced in 03 November 1905.
  • Named Lieutenant under the “French status” on 31 January 1906.
  • Cancellation of the “French status” previously appointed by 31 January 1906 decree, by the 04 April 1906 decree.
  • Completed a training course in the artillery division (battery of “cannon 75” from Oran group in Algeria) from May to July 1912.
  • Promoted to Captain under “foreign status” by 23 December 1913 decree and assigned to the 1st Foreign Regiment [French Foreign Legion].
  • Remarried on June 29 1914 to Marguerite FOURNIER.
  • Promoted to Battalion Head as a “temporary position” for the duration of the war under Ministry ruling on 13 July 1915, effective since 25 June 1915.
  • Assigned by the 11 October 1915 Military ruling on the 2nd [Regiment] of the 1st of French Foreign Legion.
  • [Ed: November 11, 1915, the regiment was dissolved and merged with the 2nd of the 2nd Foreign Legion Regiment to form the Foreign Legion Regiment of March (RMLE).]
  • Sent on assignment by Ministry ruling n° 3916 from General to the French Military Mission alongside the British army.
  • Sent on assignment to the 159th Infantry Regiment on 20 December 1918.
  • Allowed, under 02 March 1919 decree, to serve in the “French cadre” and maintain his actual rank, from the date of the decree and assigned to the 159th Infantry Regiment (military service first residence post-war) under 06 August 1920 Ministry ruling.
  • Assigned on 10 August 1920 to the Inter-Allied High Committee for the Rhineland-Germany Territories (166th Infantry Regiment).
  • Assigned to the 3rd Infantry Regiment [last assignment].
  • Promoted to the rank of “Lieutenant-Colonel” and removed from active service on 01 September 1926.

James WADDELL's Campaigns

  • Algeria from 23/06/1900 to 30/04/1901.
  • Tonkin from 01/05/1901 to 13/07/1903.
  • Algeria from 03/10/1903 to 21/10/1904.
  • Saharan Territory from 22/10/1904 to 27/10/1905.
  • Algeria from 28/10/1905 to 26/07/1906.
  • Algeria from 27/09/1906 to 26/07/1907.
  • Algeria from 28/09/1907 to 30/06/1908.
  • Saharan Territory from 01/07/1908 to 14/08/1908.
  • Morocco from 15/08/1908 to 30/09/1908.
  • Algeria from 01/10/1908 to 16/11/1908.
  • Tonkin from 17/11/1908 to 12/01/1914.
  • Algeria from 14/07/1914 to 01/08/1914.
  • Against Germany (Algeria) from 02/08/1914 to 09/05/1915.
  • Against Germany (Orient) from 10/05/1915 to 22/07/1915.
  • Against Germany (France) from 23/07/1915 to 23/10/1919.
  • Military Occupation (in Germany) from 24/10/1919 […].

James WADDELL in World War I

War injuries:

  • “Injured on 12 July 1915 by shrapnel on the right shoulder blade and by a bullet on the left shoulder.”

  • “Injured on 20 August 1918 on fighting field of north-western plateau of Vezaponin [Picardy region], wounds and fractures from shrapnel on the left hand”

Military Citations:

  • Order n° 73 from French Oriental Expeditionary Force on 04 July 1915: “The Foreign Legion Battalion of the 1st African Walking Regiment which was ordered by Captain WADDELL, since its Gallipoli landing, never stopped proving, in each and every fight, its bravery, self-control, sturdiness which are proven skills in the Foreign Legion since many years. On the 21 June, while we were defeating since the morning, the assault took the Turkish trenches in one bound and maintained its position while facing a ferocious counter-attack”.
  • Order n° 91 From the French Army on 27 August 1915: “Straight after he lead his battalion to battle, blown away by his undeniable bravery and military expertise, headed himself his battalion fight […] against an extremely strong enemy position which he defeated. Severely injured while crossed by a bullet, he wanted to perform his works by maintaining his position and, until the next day, the leadership and the organization of the battle field he had just won.
  • Order n°375 from 6th French Army n°91 on 05 August 1916: “Stand for everyone as an example of bravery and energy. Brilliantly seized a village on 04 July [1916] and maintained his position while battling back several ferocious enemy counter-attacks.
  • Order n°888 from 2nd French Army on 10 September 1917: “On 20 August 1917, brilliantly removed his battalion from enemy fights; carried away by enthusiasm, he reached the final objective ahead of an hour; exceeding our own artillery roadblocks, he seized 4 cannons and caught several prisoners. On 21 August 1917, he leaded a new battle which linked to seize another village and 6 more canons.
  • Order n°341 from 10th French Army on 21 September 1918: “Senior Officer whose expertise balanced his legendary bravery. Nominated 4 times on Army’s Order, he succeeded, on 3 June 1918, through a brilliant attitude and actions facing an extremely difficult situation, in maintaining his battle line integrity, making his enemy suffer from heavy losses, gaining many prisoners and seizing several machine guns.
  • Order n° 343 from 10th French Army on 10 October 1918: “On 20 August 1918, led a battle with his battalion on an open field through trenches which were supported by machine guns, succeeded in getting into it and seizing it while enemy was counter-attacking. Severely injured at the beginning of the fight, he nevertheless leaded his battalion for 12 hours as they were in a risky position. He only left the leadership when the situation calmed down showing once more, his brilliant military and leadership skills which he generously devoted to his adoptive motherland since 4 years.
  • Order n° 345 from 10th French Army on 18 October 1918: “Succeeded on 18 July 1918, through his ascendency on his troop and his own merit, in seizing a wood where the enemy took refuge, reaching by the way the objective limits that were allocated to the Regiment, and gaining 8 canons and many other pieces of equipment.

Lieutenant-Colonel James WADDELL

Lieutenant-colonel, James WADDELL, an outstanding "Kiwi" legionaire officer, serving the arms of France and honoured on many occasions:

  • China Expedition Commemorative Medal - 1900-1901 (see more).

  • Colonial Medal - clasp "Sahara" (see more)

  • Morocco commemorative medal - clasp "Haut-Guir" (see more)

  • Croix de Guerre (Cross of War) 1914-1918 with 7 palms (see more)

  • Chevalier (Knight) of the Legion of Honour - on 12/07/1914 (see more)

  • Officier (Officer) of the Legion of Honour - on 10/06/1917 (see more)

  • Commandeur (Commander) of the Legion of Honour - on 08/11/1920 (see more)

Source : French Leonore database

France & New Zealand, a long shared military history

France and New Zealand have a long shared military history which began in 1915 on the WWI Eastern front, specifically on the Gallipoli peninsula.

The first day of this battle, on 25 April, 1915, known today as “ANZAC DAY” (Australian & New Zealand Army Corps), forged a strong sense of national identity having previously been known simply as Commonwealth Dominions.

Conflicts where France and New Zealand were Allies:

  • World War I (1914-1918)
  • World War II (1939-1945)
  • Gulf War I (1990-1991)

 Military operations as part of the NATO:

  • Kosovo (1999-2008)
  • Afghanistan (2001-2014)

 Past peace-keeping operations with the UN:

  • UNTAG “Namibia” - 1989/1990 (see more)
  • UNAMIC “Cambodia” - 1991/1992 (see more)
  • UNTAC “Cambodia” - 1992/1993 (see more)
  • UNPROFOR “former Yugoslavia” - 1992/1995 (see more)
  • UNMIH “Haiti” - 1993/1996 (see more)
  • UNOMA “Angola” - 1997/1999 (see more)
  • UNOMSIL “Sierra Leone” - 1998/1999 (see more)
  • UNSMIS “Syria” - 2012/2012 (see more)

Current peace-keeping operations with the UN:

  • UNTSO “Middle-East” - since 1948 (see more)

Through the two World Wars, many Australian, British, New Zealand and South African soldiers died on French fields of honour and were buried on remembrance dedicated fields.