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Beaudignies

Beaudignies https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/beaudignies The Germans were falling back, and the New Zealanders and British were in hot pursuit. Ngā Tapuwae Trails https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/sites/default/files/stop/media/Western%20Front-Road%20to%20Le%20Quesnoy-Beaudignies-Alexander%20Turnbull%20Library-12-013672-G.jpg

The Germans were falling back, and the New Zealanders and British were in hot pursuit.

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Beaudignies

You’re standing on the edge of the small village of Beaudignies next to the tiny Ecallion stream. 23 October 1918 was a successful day for the New Zealand Division. It had advanced from Solesmes, pushing the Germans back, and snuffing out any resistance as they came. The British armies in France were on a roll, and Haig was pushing his army commanders to keep going - and keep the Germans off-balance. The German withdrawal, now started to fall apart.

By October, the British, including the New Zealanders, had broken through the Hindenburg line - and were advancing towards the Belgian frontier. Germany was exhausted and the German Army was now reduced to old men and young boys. Companies were down to 30 or 40 men, and there was now only one team of horses for every three guns in their artillery. Supplies were severely stretched, and morale was low, with desertions more and more common - it was increasingly obvious that they could not win this war. The Germans, facing the New Zealanders, fell back on the old fortress town of Le Quesnoy.

Here, late in the afternoon, on 23 October the 2nd Canterburys reached this bridge. The leading infantry ran into a German patrol at the corner ahead of you - there was a burst of fire and the New Zealand sergeant leading the patrol was killed. The dead man was Sergeant Henry James Nicholas, Victoria Cross and Military Medal winner. Again, it was these experienced NCOs who took the lead and in this case paid the price.

The New Zealand Division pushed on towards the next obstacle which was the German-held town of Le Quesnoy.

How to get here

Getting there

Continue down the road that brought you here and follow the signpost straight onto the D76 towards Cambrai. Go straight through the roundabout to stay on the D76. After approximately 6.5 kilometres you will reach Cambrai.  At the mini-roundabout, take the second exit to remain on the D76. At the next large roundabout, tke the first exit towards Valenciennes. At the second roundabout take the second exit onto the D2076 towards Valenciennes. Continue straight on at the traffic lights on D2076.  Shortly after going over a railway track, you will come to a  third roundabout - take the third exit onto the D2643 signposted ‘Autres Directions’. After about 750 metres, take a right turn to Valenciennes onto the D630. At the roundabout take the second exit, following the D114.

Continue on this road for approximately 20 kilometres - it will take you through the towns of Villers-en-Cauchies and Saulzoir towards Bermerain/Le Quesnoy. At Saulzoir you will come to a T-junction.  Turn right onto the D955 and then third left will bring you back onto the D114 towards Le Quesnoy.  After crossing a second stream (L’Écaillon) you will come to a T-junction. Take a right onto the D85 towards Bermerain. At Bermerain follow the signs to Ruesnes/Le Quesnoy this will take you back onto the D114. Drive through Ruesnes and you will come to a roundabout. Take the first exit onto the D100 signposted to Beaudignies.

Follow the main road as you come into the town and you will pass a small chapel on your right. About 50 metres down the road you will come to a carpark on your left. There is a small stream (L’Écaillon) and a bridge next to this carpark.

Where to stand

Stand on the small bridge over the Écaillon stream and face the way you have come. You should be able to see the small chapel on the corner.

GPS
50°14'24"N
3°35'30"E
Decimal GPS
50.24017
3.591846
  • New Zealand soldiers grabbing a bite to eat near the town of Solesmes. 28 October 1918.
    New Zealand soldiers grabbing a bite to eat near the town of Solesmes. 28 October 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013672-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22372093

  • New Zealand soldiers move wounded German soldiers from a farm cart onto stretchers. November 1918.
    New Zealand soldiers move wounded German soldiers from a farm cart onto stretchers. November 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013694-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22756725

  • Two New Zealand soldiers firing a captured German machine gun at Beaudignies. 3 November 1918.
    Two New Zealand soldiers firing a captured German machine gun at Beaudignies. 3 November 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013668-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22816048

  • Cooks preparing a meal for New Zealand soldiers near the front. Beaudignies, 29 October 1918.
    Cooks preparing a meal for New Zealand soldiers near the front. Beaudignies, 29 October 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013690-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22885561

  • New Zealand soldiers gather at the grave of Sergeant Henry James Nicholas, VC, MM, France 9 November 1918.
    New Zealand soldiers gather at the grave of Sergeant Henry James Nicholas, VC, MM, France 9 November 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013667-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23124751

Stories & Insights

After the Germans were cleared from the walls, Averill was sent forward to investigate.

'Diggers on the Rhine'. New Zealand soldiers on leave in Cologne, Germany. January 1919.

Stationed in Cologne, New Zealand soldiers acted as occupiers, but got on well with the German inhabitants.

This charcoal-wash picture entitled "Stretcher Party" by George Edmund Butler was displayed in 1952 Exhibition of Official War Paintings by New Zealand Artists.

Even with the war nearly over, and the Germans near exhaustion, casualties still mounted.

Leslie Averill (pointing) at the dedication ceremony for the New Zealand memorial at Le Quesnoy, France, 1923.

After the capture of the town, a special bond was formed, which continues to this day.

Like many soldiers during the final weeks, McKenzie had been anticipating Germany’s surrender.

Before Le Quesnoy fell, Nimmo helped mop up German defenders, with a couple of close calls.

Useful resources for those looking for more information.

A selection of First World War vocabulary and common phrases.

Take the next trail

The next Ngā Tapuwae trail is Brockenhurst. Proceed to St Nicholas Church.
Link to the first stop

Decimal GPS:
65.02188017973471
-108.28962187499997
Sequence:
1
Decimal GPS:
61.22573429520632
-101.5576450625
Sequence:
2
Decimal GPS:
68.38910634696182
-74.29393290625
Sequence:
3
Decimal GPS:
75.30629972519277
-50.21918915624997
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4
Decimal GPS:
64.15802586841806
-1.7293801250000342
Sequence:
5
Decimal GPS:
70.15281214467677
-0.7782849062500645
Sequence:
6

Stop Images

Sequence:
1
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.11001
3.0678
Sequence:
2
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.06197
3.076144
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3
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.10447
3.247571
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4
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.24017
3.591846
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5
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.24619
3.631948
Sequence:
6
Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.24718
3.638219