Le Quesnoy

Le Quesnoy – Memorial

The liberation of Le Quesnoy by the New Zealand Division on 4 November, 1918, is commemorated by the New Zealand battlefield memorial at an inner wall to the west of the town. It consists of a relief sculpture set into the wall and a ‘Garden of Memory’ that was established in front of the memorial on an island, separated by a moat. 

Seager’s design concept was put forward to the government in early 1921. The sculptural panel is the memorial's centrepiece, depicting six New Zealanders scaling the wall with a ladder. From the right, Peace Victorious watches on with a laurel wreath of victory in one hand and an olive branch in the other. Inscriptions and badges of New Zealand and Le Quesnoy were carved into the aedicule Seager designed as a frame for the panel.

The unveiling ceremonies for the New Zealand memorial and Le Quesnoy’s own memorial (also sculpted by Desruelles) to French soldiers and civilians, and the three New Zealanders who lost their lives, both took place on 15 July 1923. The town was decorated with garlands and flags, particularly on the Rue Baillon, up which the New Zealand Division had first advanced in 1918. After a banquet in the town hall, visitors, local authorities, and the entire town, walked up the Avenue d’Honneur to the New Zealand memorial. The Rev. Mullineux made the dedication and the memorial was then unveiled by Lord Milner. 

The two national anthems were sung, followed by a ‘Chant of Deliverance’ written about the liberation by Cure Monsignor Debailleux, and set to music by Monsignor Henri Rousse. Wreaths were laid against the balustrade, including one by Hester Seager. Marshal Joffre, Sir Fabian Ware, Sir James and Lady Allen, and Fraser were present, along with several of the New Zealand Division soldiers who had fought at Le Quesnoy, including Lieutenant Leslie Averill, the first man to scale the wall.

Inscribed in the surrounding aedicule is the following text, along with the French translation: In Honour of the Men of New Zealand, Through Whose Valour the Town of Le Quesnoy was Restored to France, 4th November, 1918.