Cambridge-Le Quesnoy Sculpture

Commemorating the Cambridge and Le Quesnoy sister city relationship

A beautiful six-metre-high sculpture in Cambridge commemorates Cambridge’s sister city relationship with Le Quesnoy and continues the historic link that drew these two towns together.

Le Quesnoy is a town in Northern France that was liberated by the bravery and ingenuity of New Zealand soldiers on November 4, 1918 during World War I.

Le Quesnoy had been under German occupation for four years and the New Zealand 3rd Infantry (Rifle) Brigade was tasked with liberating the town. The town’s fortress design made it difficult to launch an attack - the New Zealand soldiers had to contend with the heavily defended Valenciennes Gate entrance, imposing outer walls (six and eight metres high) and inner ramparts a sheer thirteen metres high. The walls of Le Quesnoy could have been quickly reduced to rubble by heavy artillery, but the soldiers wanted to ensure the least amount of damage to the town, and potential loss of residents’ lives. Going over the walls became the plan and in the final stage of the attack a ladder carried the soldiers over the ramparts and into the town where the Germans soon surrendered. Not one civilian was injured.

Le Quesnoy have never forgotten their liberators, and each year they commemorate in special ceremonies at ANZAC Day and on the November 4th Liberation Day.

Each year on November 4th, Cambridge holds a commemoration of the liberation of Le Quesnoy at the sculpture.

The sculpture was designed by renowned New Zealand artist Fred Graham, who drew inspiration from the Eiffel Tower and the silver fern.

The unveiling of the sculpture took place on Saturday 2 November 2019 and was funded with the help of a NZ Lottery Grant for WW1 Commemorations. The surrounding star-shaped paved area complements the sculpture’s beautiful design and signifies the distinctive shape of the Le Quesnoy town ramparts.

The sculpture is located in the park bordering Te Koutu Domain and Lake Reserve (corner of Victoria Street and Thornton Road). It is close to the St Andrew’s Church, which holds other reminders of New Zealand's wartime history in the form of three beautiful stained-glass windows dedicated to the memory of the World War I soldiers who died in the field of honour. One of the panes shows soldiers scaling Le Quesnoy’s wall on 4 November 1918 and successfully liberating the town. These stained-glass panes were unveiled in December 1923, coinciding with the unveiling of Le Quesnoy’s memorial in their town to the soldiers who lost their lives.

Click on the pdf below to see New Zealand artist Fred Graham's Le Quesnoy sculpture drawings, courtesy of Cambridge Historical Society.

The Cambridge-Le Quesnoy Friendship Association
The Cambridge-Le Quesnoy Friendship Association keeps the bond strong between the twinned towns of Cambridge (New Zealand) and Le Quesnoy (France). This group is based in Cambridge and holds regular events - all are welcome.

If you would like to join the Cambridge-Le Quesnoy Friendship Association, simply fill out  your details here and receive our regular email newsletters. It's free to join. 

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