The story of the delivery of Le Quesnoy by the men of the 3rd
(Rifle) Brigade is imprinted in the very walls of the town
and in the memory of all New Zealanders.
The troops of the 2nd Brigade (Otago and Canterbury)
prepared the ground, with a series of operations in the
hamlets of Vertigneul and Pont-à-Pierres, near
Neuville-en-Avesnois and in Salesches, and above all the
capture of Beaudignies.
On 4 November 1918 the entire 3rd Rifle Brigade, totalling
just under 1,700 men, was positioned at the foot of the town
walls, while the 1st Brigade (Auckland and
Wellington) was on the northern side of the town, moving
east towards the Mormal forest.
By 10.00 a.m. the town was encircled, but it was only at
4.00 p.m. that the first troops of the Rifle Brigade’s 4th
battalion managed to enter the town by using a – now
legendary – ladder to scale the walls. Half an hour later,
the 2nd battalion broke through enemy defences at
the Porte de Valenciennes and also entered the town.
The 2nd Brigade was in action again the next day,
fighting in and around the Mormal forest in what would be
the last battle fought by the New Zealand Division in the
First World War.
The Battle of Le Quesnoy is an important chapter in the
history of New Zealand, the smallest and youngest nation to
take part in the Great War, and also in that of Le Quesnoy
and the Avesnois region.