2018 TRIP TO LE QUESNOY IN FRANCE TO COMMEMORATE THE CENTENARY OF ITS LIBERATION




Doug Rose, the principal cornet of the band, lays a poppy at the foot of the New Zealand soldier at Messines.



This little shrine is located at the entrance to the New Zealand Division War Memorial on the Messines Ridge.

Doug playing the last post at the New Zealand Division War Memorial on Messines Ridge.




The touring party in front of the New Zealand Division Monument.

The entrance to Messines Ridge British Cemetery. The walls contain the names of 839 New Zealand soldiers without known graves killed during the Battle of Messines Ridge in 1917.




Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission military cemeteriies.







There are just under 12000 graves.

Having visited Messines, Messines Ridge and the cemeteries at Messines amd Tyne Cot we proceeded to Ieper, also know under its French name of Ypres. We were there for dinner and the ceremony at the Menin Gate. The town was completely rebuilt after the First World War.

The Church of St John resplendent with poppies in preparation for the 2018 Armistice commemorations.

Time was running short so the band did not visit as planned the cemetery at Polygon Wood. We had though made a commitment to lay a poppy there so our guide kindly took a small group in his car, We arrived at dusk and laid the poppy. We are indebted to our guide for going beyond what could have been expected.

Every evening since the dedication of the Menin Gate, other than during the occupation during the Second World War, a commemorative service is held finishing with buglers playing the last post.

Two of the Menin Gate buglers playing the last post.

On the next day the band rehearsed. Some of the non-playing party walked around the ramparts of the old town. The moat was normally kept dry. As there is no local river to flood the moats in time of threat there were three reservoirs built for the purpose.

Parts of the moat structure are kept full. In 1918 for the town's liberating troops were given floatation devices which they did not need to use. There is a local unsubstantiated rumor that the reservoir gates were sabotaged to prevent the germans from filling the moats.







A preserved chapel attached to the Résidence Vauban, a retirement home.



Later that night the band attended a dinner held by the Le Quesnoy New Zealand Association. Among the guests was the New Zealand Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.

The Cambridge Brass Band playing to the dinner guests.

New Zealand Chamber Choir.

November the fourth, the big day. The memorial to the New Zealand liberators of Le Quesnoy is on the outside of the inner defensive rampart. It does not hold many people. As a consequence the ceremony was livecast to a marquee in the Cambridge Garden. The Cambridge Brass Band and others were invited to join the crowd of mixed nationalities in the marquee.




The assembling crowd were entertained by Waiata - Whakaaria Mai, drawn from the New Zealand Defence Force. Before proceeding down to the wall the official party spoke to the crowd in the marquee. Among the dignitaries was the New Zealand Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.



Seen here is Madame Genevieve Darrieussecq the Secretary of State attached to the French Minister for the Armed Forces,

Having watched the service live on large screens the band went off to lunch past this group in the uniforms of allied soldiers from World War One.

After another splendid lunch the band proceeded to the site of the new New Zealand War Memorial Museum where they played at its opening. https://www.nzwmm.org.nz/

The Victory Medal sculpture by the New Zealander Helen Pollock. Thirty five of the thirty six pairs of feet are made from Coromandel clay and one from cast bronze. Thirty six relates to the size of a platoon at the time of the First World War, and as Helen Pollock was to put it in her speech thirty five unrecognised heros and one recognised hero.

The band with Rebecca Nelson on the steps of the museum.




The marguee where the band performed.



Helen Pollock speaking to the crowd.

The mayor of Le Quesnoy Madame Marie-Sophie Lesne.

Rebecca Nelson.

Jack and Carmen, members of the Cambridge Brass Band group broke, lowered to half mast and later raised the flags of New Zealand and France during the ceremony.




Doug Rose playing the last post.

Rebecca Nelson with children from the Cambridge Brass Band group about to distribute poppies to the crowd for laying on the Victory Medal.




I was fortunate to be able to rush to the remaining ceremony and catch the lone piper playing on the top of the inner rampart above the New Zealand Memorial. My thanks to Jean-Philippe for showing me the way.



The colour bearer party on the top of the rampart. The wall at this point is over 12 metres high.

The memorial. The flags were raised and lowered on the wall rather than on poles during the ceremony.




The place is stunningly beautiful. Where ever you look there is a photograph worth taking. By this time it was early in the evening with a soft autumn light and just enough artificial light to highlight the speaker.



The lowered colours.



The day started with a visit to the Le Quesnoy Cemetery where there is a Commonwealth War Graves section. In addition to the graves in the extention there are a number of individual soldier's graves spread through the civilian cemetery. All are well kept. On the day there were poppies in abundance including on the graves of two german soldiers buried nearby in the civilian cemetery.

Along with New Zealand soldier's graves there are those of other nationalities including some Chinese labourers. Seen here is a reminder of 49 soldiers who died as prisoners of war and who are buried in the Valenciennes Communial Cemetery where their names are also recorded.

In addition to the years of the war 1914-1918 there are a number of graves of soldiers who died in 1919. Some died from their wounds and others from the Spanish Flu. The Spanish Flu was a pandemic that is thought to have originated in the trenches and spread with returning soldiers. It killed more people than the actual war. New Zealand was not spared, there were many deaths in New Zealand.

We were now given a bit of a tour of the ramparts and the lake which was originally one of three reservoirs maintained to fill the moats.




This is the spot on the inner rampart where the young 2nd Lt Leslie Averill climbed the remaining ladder to be the first soldier into the city on the fourth of November 1918. The ladders came from apple orchards and were described as not being very sturdy. It was one soldier at a time.



Just along from the point where the wall was scaled is the memorial. The design was by a New Zealand sculpturer and executed by a Frenchman.



The French Government gifted the land around the memorial to New Zealand. The coat of arms on this gateway is that of New Zealand.




Doug with the lady of the house. This is just one of the streets named in New Zealand's honour.



The town hall. This was destroyed in the First World War but not as part of the town's liberation.



The town's war memorial. There is the main World War One section containing 104 names many with the same family name. Additionally there are sections for the Second World War, Indo-China and Africa.

In the afternoon the Auxiliary Band played at Résidence Vauban, a retirement home. As you can see there were a number of displays about the liberation of Le Quesnoy. They too had commemorated the efforts of the New Zealand Division.







In the morning of the sixth of November the Auxiliary Band and helpers visited Chevray Primary School. Initially they played inside to two sets of children.




Ashley read a speech in French.

Jean-Philipe and Rob. Without the support of Jean-Philipe and others from the local community the trip would not have been anything like as enjoyable as it was.

These three normally attend Leamington School.

The Cambridge high School gang less Pierce who was off getting his foot checked.

This group of students sang to the band before the band played to them.

Some of the percussion instruments were put with the children.




After the playing stopped Bernadette pointed some of the children in the direction of Tess. As you can see it worked.



Having been fed at the school the next stop was Résidance Harmonie, another retirement home. Doug played several well received solos.




Anna played a solo part too.

Without a doubt the visits to the resthomes and the school were some of the highlights of the trip.

On our final evening in Le Quesnoy the band played in the Music from the Uttermost Ends of the Earth concert at the Théâtre des 3 Chénes.




First up was Harmonie Municipale du Quesnoy. It was good to see and hear an adult wind band.



A number of the younger Cambridge Brass Band players play or have played in Waikato wind bands.







Jean-Claude Lequeux the Musical Director of Harmonie Municipale du Quesnoy.




Next up was the Cambridge Brass Band.

Pierce with his by now famous foot in it's cast.

Father and son on the bases.

Rob had the Auxiliary Band play Slaidburn and then stood the younger players up.




Following the Cambridge Brass Band was the Brass Band du Hainaut.






Thibaut Bruniaux conducted the Brass Band du Hainaut for the night.

For the final segment the Cambridge Brass Band and the Brass Band du Hainaut combined on stage. Thibaut Bruniaux conducted the combined bands through Hine e Hine. Dwayne Bloomfield then conducted his esspecially composed piece The Liberation of Le Quesnoy. Dwayne seem pretty pleased with how it went.

The combined bands on stage.