25/08/2010

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VISITING LE QUESNOY

"The nights were chilly and the early mornings often misty, but when the sun burst through it shone glorious and warm. The part of the country which we had now reached was exquisitely beautiful. It was mostly rolling, cultivated down-land, dotted over with many orchards, and the copses about the villages shone in all their autumn glory. Before us were the ancient walls and tall buildings of Le Quesnoy, seemingly untouched by the devastating engines of war."

Lieut.-Col. W. S. Austin, The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, L. T. Watkins Ltd., 1924, Wellington

The historical town of Le Quesnoy dates back to the 12th Century, when a wealthy Comte was attracted to the area's rich countryside, forest and good hunting. Its border location meant the town was often under siege and fortifications were gradually erected. The town was Spanish for over 100 years, and only became French in the mid 17th Century. Shortly afterwards the current fortifications were built by Vauban, an important military engineer and politician.

A large part of the fortifications still exist and have been carefully renovated.

A town trail passes through them and will take you past the New Zealand Memorial Plaque.

 

As you walk around Le Quesnoy you will discover other signs of New Zealand including the “Oak and Fern” memorial garden and the Dr Colin Averill  primary school. Several roads in Le Quesnoy have been renamed to mark the NZ connection and a Maori giant stands in the Town Hall alongside his French friend Bimberlot.

The town serves as a hub and market town for the 27 surrounding villages, many of which are worth a visit too.

Beaudignies : played an important role in the events of November 1918. Local farms, including the Pont à Pierre farm, were used by the NZ troops as headquarters and a field hospital. A battle took place in the centre of the village – where bullet holes can be seen to this day in the walls of the church! The main square in front of the church is called La Place du Colonel Blyth .

Henry James Nicholas, VC - MM, whose statue stands in Christchurch, fought and died in Beaudignies. A road has recently been renamed in his honour. He is buried in nearby Vertigneul.

Set in beautiful countryside, the 12th Century Château of Potelle  was used by NZ officers after the war. (Not open to the public).

Near Le Quesnoy :

GREAT WAR

Fort Levau

OTHER

 

 

 

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