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Town Square

Town Square https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/town-square Already demoralised, once the walls were breached, the Germans promptly surrendered. Ngā Tapuwae Trails https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/sites/default/files/stop/media/Western%20Front-Road%20to%20Le%20Quesnoy-Town%20Square-Alexander%20Turnbull%20Library-12-013787-G.jpg

Already demoralised, once the walls were breached, the Germans promptly surrendered.

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Town Square

On 5 November, the New Zealand Division was relieved by a British Division - and there was a parade here in Le Quesnoy. Flags were presented to the town and the town presented a standard to the New Zealand Division. Marshal Petain and Prime Minister George Clemenceau attended and they were part of the grand parade through the town itself. The New Zealanders then withdrew back to Solesmes.

Six days later, word came through about the armistice and the men could barely comprehend that the war was finally over. They also found out - and they weren’t particularly happy about it, that as an honour, New Zealand would be tasked with being part of the occupation army in Germany. They were to occupy key bridgeheads across the Rhine to emphasis to Germany that they had lost the war.

The New Zealand Division was to be based in Cologne, and so leading up to Christmas 1918 - it trekked through Belgium, into Luxembourg and then Cologne. In Cologne, there was supposed to be no fraternisation, but the New Zealanders made themselves at home. The demobilisation of the division began. Men were sent back to New Zealand according to when they enlisted. The only two groups that went back as complete units were the Māori Pioneer Battalion and the Tunnelling Company.

The record of New Zealand achievement is best seen by following the road to the place of their last great success - Le Quesnoy. It’s important to recognise what a brilliant division it was. It was a citizen army, honed by trial and error under an outstanding divisional commander, Major-General Sir Andrew Russell, he forged it into one of the most outstanding divisions in the British armies of the First World War.

How to get here

Getting there

Follow the walking track and you will come to Avenue des Néo-Zéalandais which will lead you through the Porte du Château to Place Général Leclerc. From here you can see a church and the clocktower of the Mairie (Town Hall) behind it.

Make your way towards these buildings and you will walk through a garden area where the monument aux morts (French war memorial) is located.

Where to stand

Stand facing the monument aux morts (French war memorial).

GPS
50°14'49"N
3°38'17"E
Decimal GPS
50.24718
3.638219
  • A New Zealand flag, presented to the town of Le Quesnoy, hangs over the damaged town hall. November 1918.
    A New Zealand flag, presented to the town of Le Quesnoy, hangs over the damaged town hall. November 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013787-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22830106

  • Divisional commanders enter Le Quesnoy on horseback in the early morning, after its capture. 5 November, 1918.
    Divisional commanders enter Le Quesnoy on horseback in the early morning, after its capture. 5 November, 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013708-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22849873

  • New Zealand soldiers march through Le Quesnoy during Poincaré's visit. 10 November 1918.
    New Zealand soldiers march through Le Quesnoy during Poincaré's visit. 10 November 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/4-017543-F. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22885118

  • French President Raymond Poincaré of France (right of centre) after his arrival at Le Quesnoy. 10 November 1918.
    French President Raymond Poincaré of France (right of centre) after his arrival at Le Quesnoy. 10 November 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013784-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23141985

  • French President Raymond Poincaré visits New Zealand soldiers in the town centre after their successful capture of Le Quesnoy. November 1918.
    French President Raymond Poincaré visits New Zealand soldiers in the town centre after their successful capture of Le Quesnoy. November 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-013801-G. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22732052

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:
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-101.5576450625
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68.38910634696182
-74.29393290625
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75.30629972519277
-50.21918915624997
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Decimal GPS:
64.15802586841806
-1.7293801250000342
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5
Decimal GPS:
70.15281214467677
-0.7782849062500645
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6

Stop Images

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Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.11001
3.0678
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Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.06197
3.076144
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50.10447
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50.24017
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Decimal GPS Real Location:
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Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.24718
3.638219