Le Quesnoy - it’s a special place for All New Zealanders in France, the town of Le Quesnoy liberated on November 4, 1918 by the NZ Regiment.The Story is told in a stained glass window in St Andrews in Cambridge, and in Le Quesnoy they have commemorated Anzac Day ever since.
There is a big presence of Kiwis here in Le Quesnoy this year. There is the Tag Along Tour Group, a Group from high schools in Invercargill, and independent tourists like Ray and I.
We are being hosted by Alain and Marie- Christine who have stayed with us in Cambridge as part of a group from Le Quesnoy on 2 visits.
As Kiwis we are being shown the sites of the Great War ,including the significant ramparts(city wall) designed by Vauban in the 17th century and was the scene of the Kiwi ingenuity ,when the son of a vicar of Cambridge and others improvised a ladder to scale the wall and in a few hours had liberated the town from German occupation.
We have visited War cemeteries , the Wellington Quarry at Arras and other towns that are forever part of our New Xealand Story.
Yesterday afternoon there was a choral concert with a New Zealand theme - When the Poppies Bloom,featuring our National Anthem in Te Reo Māori and English as the songs told the liberation story.
The second piece was The Armed Man, reflecting on the tragedy of war, it was accompanied by beautiful slides including The Bridge of Remembrance in Christchurch, under which so many Returned Servicemen marched every Anzac Day.The other slide that moved a girl raised in Sumner,was a view of the Lyttelton Heads,seen by many leaving and returning to the South.
These items performed to full house of largely French people by local residents,
The standard was high and moving for all the New Zealanders present.
In the evening the Cambridge Le Quesnoy association hosted a wonderful dinner for us all.
This morning there was a Dawn Service conducted by the NZ Embassy and NZDF ,many locals attended and aside from the translation of speeches into French , it was a truly NZ event with representatives present also from the other Allied Forces which served in the Great War.
Later there is another service in the centre of town,
I will lay a wreath on behalf of the Cambridge Community Board.
In November there will be an even bigger Commemoration - for the Liberation of Le Quesnoy , and then the Armistice that ended hostilities. Cambridge Community and Waipa District Council will be represented.
A huge thanks to to the people of Le Quesnoy who continue to keep the traditions of Anzac Day , and who cherish their connection with us. It is very special to share it with them.