New Zealand War Memorial, Le Quesnoy

New Zealand War Memorial, Le Quesnoy

The town hall in Le Quesnoy, France.

The Town Hall, Le Quesnoy

Le Quesnoy is a small commune in the Nord department of northern France. The town is situated approximately 20km south east of Valenciennes and 33km north east of Cambrai.


View location of 59530 Le Quesnoy, France.


Rue Casimir Fournier, Le Quesnoy, Hauts-de-France

Rue Casimir Fournier, 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.

French War Memorial outside the church: Paroisse Saint Jean Bosco En Mormal, Le Quesnoy

French War Memorial, Le Quesnoy

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

A sign post indicating the direction of the New Zealand War Memorial, Le Quesnoy

Pointing the Way to the New Zealand Forces 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.

The fortified ramparts of Le Quesnoy and the moat and garden below.

Fortified Ramparts, Le Quesnoy

A walk along the very edge of these fortified walls requires a certain degree of derring-do, as the wall edges are unprotected.

Danger of falling, Le Quesnoy

Bords de Muraille non Protégés (Unprotected Wall Edges), Le Quesnoy

However, safer routes do exist.

A young woman walking in Le Quesnoy, France

Taking the Safer Route, Le Quesnoy

The ramparts offer an elevated platform from which to view Le Quesnoy itself or the beautiful gardens and moat below.

The Town Hall at Le Quesnoy, taken from the fortified ramparts

From the Ramparts, Le Quesnoy

The garden is tranquil and offers various areas to sit, relax and enjoy a picnic.

A cyclist admiring the view, Le Quesnoy

Admiring the View, Le Quesnoy

Underground passages lead from the garden to the New Zealand War Memorial.

Underground passage, Le Quesnoy

Passage, Le Quesnoy

 

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.

New Zealand War Memorial, Le Quesnoy, France.

New Zealand Forces War Memorial, Le Quesnoy

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.

New Zealand Forces War Memorial by Félix-Alexandre Desruelles, Le Quesnoy

New Zealand Forces War Memorial, Le Quesnoy

The following words are carved on the left side of the memorial:

IN
HONOUR OF
THE MEN OF
NEW ZEALAND
THROUGH
WHOSE VALOUR
THE TOWN
OF
LE QUESNOY
WAS RESTORED
TO FRANCE
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”.

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One thought on “New Zealand War Memorial, Le Quesnoy

  1. One of the things I love about France is that they have so many memorials for those who died in the wars, were sent to concentrations camps, or liberated various places. Lest we forget!

    janet

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