New Zealand War Memorial, Le Quesnoy
The town is famous for the medieval fortified ramparts on which it is built, and its liberation from German occupation, towards the end of the First World War, by New Zealand Forces on 4th November 1918. The unorthodox methods employed by the New Zealand troops to liberate this town led to success and few civilian casualties. It was the New Zealand Division’s last major action in the First World War.
French War Memorial, Le Quesnoy
In the town centre, a First World War memorial stands in a circular garden, adjacent to the Catholic church, Paroisse Saint Jean Bosco en Mormal, and the Town Hall.
This war memorial commemorates the names of local French soldiers who died for France during the Great War. It was designed and sculptured by the French sculptor, Félix-Alexandre Desruelles. A series of plaques and a second memorial stone have since been added to commemorate those killed in subsequent conflicts.
New Zealand Forces War Memorial, Le Quesnoy
The New Zealand War Memorial is mounted on one of Le Quesnoy’s fortified inner walls. It can be reached from the town’s centre by making the trek across the tops of the fortification, descending to the beautiful grounds below and then following the underground passageways.
A walk along the very edge of these fortified walls requires a certain degree of derring-do, as the wall edges are unprotected.
However, safer routes do exist.
The ramparts offer an elevated platform from which to view Le Quesnoy itself or the beautiful gardens and moat below.
The garden is tranquil and offers various areas to sit, relax and enjoy a picnic.
Underground passages lead from the garden to the New Zealand War Memorial.
FROM THE UTTERMOST ENDS OF THE EARTH
–inscription on the wall in front of the New Zealand memorial
On the 4th November 1918, the New Zealand Division attacked and bypassed the fortified town of Le Quesnoy, consolidating positions beyond it and gaining around 10 kilometres. After the success of their advance, they turned their attention to the town itself, which had been invaded by the Germans in 1914 and held ever since.
The 3rd New Zealand (Rifle) Brigade penetrated the town’s outer ramparts. However, when a section of the 4th Battalion reached the inner walls (where the war memorial is fixed), they found that the walls were too high for their ladder. They positioned the ladder on a small ledge, situated on top of a sluice gate, and scaled the wall one by one. Having exchanged shots with German defenders, they went in further. When the remaining German defenders learned that the walls had been breached, they laid down their weapons and surrendered.
The relief of the French inhabitants was immense. Not only had their town been liberated, but it had been done with relatively little impact on the local population. The armistice was signed a week later, and to this day, Le Quesnoy people remember and honour the New Zealanders who rescued their town.
The New Zealand Forces War Memorial was sculptured by Félix-Alexandre Desruelles and commemorates the role played by the New Zealand army in liberating Le Quesnoy from German occupation in November 1918. The relief depicts an Angel of Victory overlooking the New Zealander troops as they use a ladder to scale the fortified wall and start the process of liberating Le Quesnoy.
The following words are carved on the left side of the memorial:
THE MEN OF
4TH NOVER 1918
On the right side of the memorial, the same commemoration is carved in French.
Engraved in the wall opposite the memorial are the words: “From the uttermost ends of the earth”, in recognition of the vast distance that the New Zealand army traveled to assist France. The same meaning is conveyed in French beneath these words: “De l’autre extrémité du monde”.