CAMBRIDGE / LE QUESNOY
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The Battle of Le Quesnoy

Before The Battle
The following six postcards from before the battle show the objective that the New Zealanders had to take

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

 

The German Occupation

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010  

Though the date is unknown, this photo is believed to have been taken during the occupation by
German forces shows German soldiers with British prisoners of war (seen on the left and in the centre
wearing putties), outside of what looks to be a German headquarters building. The words in large
letters 'Etappen Kommandantur' on the building above the town's name mean Sector Commander.
Photo via Richard Stowers

 

The Battle for Liberation

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010 

Units of the New Zealand Field Artillery take up position around Le Quesnoy

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

New Zealand Division's support line troops wait in a ditch the provides them cover

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

A New Zealand machine gunner mans his Maxim gun from behind the cover of a hedgerow

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

New Zealand troops rest in a trench during the battle

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Kiwi soldiers arrive on the scene aboard a truck

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

An open trench provides little cover for these soldiers

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Members of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade who had a big hand in the capture of Le Quesnoy
resting before their next onslaught

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Wounded soldiers are loaded aboard an ambulance to be rushed to the nearest field hospital

 Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Kiwi troops queue up for a much deserved meal and a hot drink in the field during the battle

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

A New Zealand mortar crew about to fire their deadly shell at the enemy

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

A view of the daunting walls that faced the New Zealand and British troops

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Another view of the wall, with a New Zealand soldier on the top providing a scale for the size of the
structure. Note the shell damage to the wall but the fact that the explosives did little damage to
the ancient walls is testiment to their design in the middle ages. This photo was taken after the nattle had ended and the town had been liberated.

 

The Battle Won...

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010 

The New Zealand national flag newly flies in le Quesnoy. The town has been won by the kiwis, and the German flag lowered with the Ensign of the New Zealand Army replacing it.

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

German prisoners are rallied at a school near to Le Quesnoy

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Another view of the german prisoners

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Captured German artillery pieces are amassed in a nearby field

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

The town celebrates its liberation

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

New Zealanders now guard a bridge that allows access to the town of Le Quesnoy

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010

Members of the Maori Pioneer Battalion set to work to help the locals clear away rubble and bomb
damage, and clean up the town after the battle. The Maori Pioneer Battalion seldom got into the front
line fighting, their main role was essential maintenance behind the lines such as this rubble clearing, or
digging trenches. They were hard workers and were extremely efficient at digging trenches, tunnels and
other such underground fortifications. It was through this that they earned the nickname of The Diggers
from the British troops. It was only later in the war that the Australians began to also get called " diggers "
because they wore the same hats as the Maori diggers and the name was bestowed on Aussies through
this confusion. It stuck with them and now when the nickname of diggers is mentioned everyone
pictures Australian soldiers instead of the Maori Pioneer Battalion boys.

It was widely reported that during the battle it was a member of the Maori Pioneer Battalion, Winiata
Topihana (16135) of Maketu in the Bay of Plenty, who was the first Allied soldier to reach the top of the
ramparts. His rifle was thrown up to him by a salvage officer and he was involved in the fire fight. he
was however not believed to have been the first soldier to actually enter the town boundaries.

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010  

A work party of Kiwi soldiers, with shovels over their shoulders, head off to help clear bomb damage in
the region around the town

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010 

A New Zealand soldier lends a hand to a local lady to shift some furniture. She has perhaps lost her
home in the battle

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010 

After the battle German prisoners are put to work to fill in the shell holes in the fields around the town

Photo via Richard Stowers - Copyright 2010 

A bridge that was built over the moat by New Zealand Engineers in the week after the battle

Thanks to Richard Stowers for providing the photographs on this page

 

 

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