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La Basseville Andrew VC

La Basseville Andrew VC https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/la-basseville-andrew-vc In the fight for La Basseville, Leslie Andrew bravely took out an enemy machine-gun position. Ngā Tapuwae Trails https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/sites/default/files/stop/media/Western%20Front-Plugstreet-La%20Basseville-National%20Army%20Museum-NAM%201403.jpg

In the fight for La Basseville, Leslie Andrew bravely took out an enemy machine-gun position.

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La Basseville Andrew VC

You’re standing, facing the memorial of Lance Corporal Leslie Andrew, and you’re between what was the former village of La Basseville, on your right, and the current village of Warneton on your left. You can see the church spire at Warneton further down the road on your left. By July 1917, after the battle of Messines, the New Zealanders had taken over this sector of the frontline and were pushing the Germans back beyond the river Lys - which is in front of you - behind this memorial.

On 27 July, Captain Hugh McLean of the Hawkes Bay Company of the Wellington Battalion, attacked La Basseville, and initially grabbed the village. But, in the heavy fighting that followed, they were driven out when a battalion of the 16th German Division counter-attacked and regained the town. On 31 July the New Zealanders attacked again, this time featuring the Wellington Battalion made up of the West Coast Taranaki Company, some of the Ruahines and the Hawkes Bay company. They knew the ground, as they had been part of the previous attack. So once again they fought their way into the town, and battled their way along this street, house-by-house, grenading and bayoneting the German occupants until they reached this point.

Right about here was a strongpoint that had been identified, and it was the target of the young lance-corporal, Leslie Andrew. Andrew, with two sections of infantry, took out the machine gun, and then advanced through the artillery fire, in the direction of Warneton - to your left, following up the retreating Germans. He and one of his men, Private Lawrence Ritchie, kept going on their own. And if you go up about 200 metres from where you’re standing, there was a cabaret - a local pub with a machine gun post outside it. Andrew attacked and took the machine gun, killed its crew, and then grenaded the occupants in the pub. He and Ritchie then rejoined the garrison here in La Basseville. For the rest of the day there were furious German counter-attacks to regain this position - but using every weapon they had, the New Zealanders held them off. Meanwhile, General Gough’s 5th Army had commenced the 3rd Battle of Ypres on a 15-mile front.

400 metres to your right, there is a small road, and a sign post to the memorial to Charles Sciascia of the Wellington Battalion. He was a former Māori All Black, and was killed in this attack on 31 July. This private monument has been erected to his memory. It’s quite unusual because it’s one of the few private monuments that exists to Allied soldiers in Belgium or France - and it’s built to be exactly Sciascia’s height.

How to get here

Getting there

Go back to Prowse Point Cemetery and continue along the road Chemin du Mont de la Hutte until you come to a T-junction. Take a right onto Chemin de St Yvon. Continue along this road until you come to another T-junction, take a right. Continue until you come to a crossroads. Take a left onto Ploegsteertbaan (N515) and follow this road for about 3 kilometres. The road goes under the N58 and you will come to houses that were once the town of La Basseville.

Continue for about 1.5km, passing Gravier du Rooster on your left and, just afterwards, you will see on the right beside the road a memorial plaque to Leslie Andrew VC.

Where to stand

Face Leslie Andrew’s VC plaque.

GPS
50°44'58"N
2°56'29"E
Decimal GPS
50.74951
2.9416
  • An aerial photograph, date unknown, showing the Basseville sector, Belgium. Bunkers or pillboxes have been circled in pen.
    An aerial photograph, date unknown, showing the Basseville sector, Belgium. Bunkers or pillboxes have been circled in pen.Credits

    1990.312 National Army Museum, NZ http://nam.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/1403

  • Victoria Cross winner Leslie Wilton Andrew in full military dress complete with sword, England, 1918.
    Victoria Cross winner Leslie Wilton Andrew in full military dress complete with sword, England, 1918.Credits

    Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Ref: 1/2-014070-G http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22852064

  • A photograph os Charles Sciascia, a Māori All Black and Gallipoli veteran, who was killed in action on the Western Front.
    A photograph os Charles Sciascia, a Māori All Black and Gallipoli veteran, who was killed in action on the Western Front.Credits

    Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19171206-40-4

  • A view of partly destroyed dugouts and trenches at La Basseville.
    A view of partly destroyed dugouts and trenches at La Basseville.Credits

    CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ J.D. Harries

  • Dugouts and wooden structures at La Basseville, Belgium.
    Dugouts and wooden structures at La Basseville, Belgium.Credits

    CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ J.D. Harries

  • Buildings ruined by shell fire on the banks of the River Lys, Warneton, October 1916.
    Buildings ruined by shell fire on the banks of the River Lys, Warneton, October 1916.Credits

    © Imperial War Museums (Q 45602)

Stories & Insights

As a young New Zealand officer, serving in the British army, Beauchamp was ‘full of beans’.

An example of the type of weapon used during a raid - a German trench club studded with nails.

Even in a quiet sector, raids were still conducted to keep the men aggressive and to obtain intelligence.

A postcard from Bill Jenkins, Armentières, 19 October 1916.

The YMCA aimed to make soldier's lives more bearable.

Because of his German heritage, Nimot was treated terribly by his fellow New Zealand soldiers.

A group of unidentified Australian and New Zealand soldiers with French civilians "somewhere in France".

New Zealanders often experienced culture shock when interacting with French locals.

McColl was excited to be leading a raid against the German lines.

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 Arras. Proceed to La Carrière Wellington.
Link to the first stop

Decimal GPS:
71.00230776692428
-108.03456274999996
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Decimal GPS:
72.8024499076606
-102.48248137500002
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Decimal GPS:
76.30009933657021
-90.4421890625
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Decimal GPS:
62.84465695507049
-48.31402806250003
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Decimal GPS:
55.75279326711145
-54.39751418750012
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Decimal GPS:
69.4024499074282
-15.595494218749991
Sequence:
6

Stop Images

Sequence:
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Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.73929
2.883406
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Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.74214
2.898378
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Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.74951
2.9416
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Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.68663
2.882261
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Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.68626
2.863228
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Decimal GPS Real Location:
50.66998
2.927455