Kiwi at Passchendaele searching for great-grandfather's German saviour

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1 NEWS

The great-grandson of a heroic Kiwi solider wants to reunite an empty wallet with the family of a German officer who saved his ancestor's life in World War I. 

All they have is a wallet, and a pretty inspiring story of heroism.
Source: 1 NEWS

Private Hayden Cullen from Cambridge is at Passchendaele commemorations near Ypres, Belgium for the centenary of the greatest loss of New Zealand life in a single day, where about 960 soldiers were killed or mortally wounded. 

Hayden is part of the NZ Army band over in Passchendaele for the 100 year commemorations, but he's also on the hunt to find the family of a German officer who saved his great-grandfather's life. 

"If it wasn't for him we wouldn't be here," Hayden said. 

His great grandfather Private Ray Cullen was part of the NZ Machine Gun Corps during the 1918 liberation of the French town Le Quesnoy from German hands since 1914. 

However a shell exploded in the machine gun post, killing five of Ray Cullen's crew and leaving him seriously wounded. 

He tried to make his way back to friendly lines, but collapsed after losing blood.

A German officer and his men who were about to surrender came across him, and made a stretcher out of their tunics. 

They carried Ray Cullen to get medical attention. 

Before the Germans were taken into captivity, the German officer gave Ray Cullen his wallet, which the Cullen family have attempted to return to the unknown savior ever since. 

Hayden told 1 NEWS the wallet has the German officer's initials on it, H. Held, and the officer's name was Henrick Held from Hanover. 

"I want to get in contact with family to thank them for what their relative did for us."

"We've managed to find some promising leads. And maybe some relatives... so it's looking very promising."

More footage from Passchendaele

The pair spoke briefly at the resting place of 512 Kiwis who lost their lives in the battle.
Source: 1 NEWS
The pair spoke briefly at the resting place of 512 Kiwis who lost their lives in the battle.
Source: 1 NEWS
He spoke passionately about the devastating impact the military offensive had on New Zealand.
Source: 1 NEWS
Today marks 100 years since 846 Kiwi soldiers lost their lives in the Battle of Passchendaele.
Source: 1 NEWS

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