On 1st June 1945, St James Avenue in Papanui became the first street/road/avenue of fifteen to be made into a living memorial for those Cantabarians who lost their lives during WWII.
These fifteen thoroughfares were chosen as many of the residents there had not returned from active service overseas. In fact, this group of streets had the highest war related death rate than in any another part of Christchurch.
Twenty one pairs of Oaks were purchased and planted along these selected roads in this specialised project. It was lead by the Christchurch and Papanui Beautifying Associations, the R.S.A, the C.C.C with the help of some of the city’s unemployed. This species of tree was chosen due to having ‘…strength and endurance…’’. Acknowledgement plaques were also placed at the end of every street.
Here are all the streets/roads/avenues lined with these special memorial trees: Dormer, Gambia and Halton Streets, Hartley, Kenwyn, Lansbury, Scotston, Alpha, Claremont and Condell Avenues and Tomes and Windermere Roads.
The attached photo shows New Zealand’s soldiers of the 2nd NZEF 20 Battalion marching in Baggush, Egypt in September 1941.
*Image courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand – Soldiers of 2nd NZEF 20 Battalion C Company marching in Baggush, Egypt. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch: Photographs relating to World War 1914-1918, World War 1939-1945, occupation of Japan, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency. Ref: DA-03717-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22807732*