Le Ques­noy bat­tle de­tailed

Le Ques­noy New Zea­land’s Last Bat­tle By Christo­pher Pugs­ley, Ora­tia Books, $39.99 .. .. .. .. .. ..

Manawatu Guardian - - BOOKS - — Ian Reid

An­other mas­ter­ful and timely his­tor­i­cal mil­i­tary ref­er­ence work by Pugs­ley, a re­tired mil­i­tary of­fi­cer and his­to­rian.

Who bet­ter than Pugs­ley to un­der­stand and re­late the mil­i­tary nu­ances of this most im­por­tant but sel­dom told story of the role of New Zea­land Forces in North­ern France just be­fore the dec­la­ra­tion of peace.

In 1918, the Ger­man forces were in re­treat, dis­or­gan­ised and de­mor­alised.

Al­lied troops pushed the Ger­mans back past the me­dieval walled town of Le Ques­noy, de­cid­ing to come back later and re­move the Ger­man con­tin­gent at a more con­ve­nient time. This town was set be­hind medium field guns.

The oc­cu­pa­tion forces were well or­gan­ised but had made the lives of the in­hab­i­tants mis­er­able through de­clin­ing food ra­tions and dif­fi­cult con­di­tions. The na­ture of the an­cient for­ti­fi­ca­tions made it im­pos­si­ble to get in or out. Even­tu­ally it was de­cided that the town had to be taken and it was passed to the New Zea­land Divi­sion.

Ini­tially the town was en­cir­cled by New Zea­land troops but en­try was not achieved. It seemed wise to look at other means and it was de­cided to try and scale the walls. Scal­ing lad­ders were brought up but were found to be not long enough.

It was noted that in one cor­ner was a but­tress. If a lad­der were place upon it, then it would just reach the top of the city wall. This was done and Sec­ond Lieu­tenant Leslie Aver­ill fol­lowed by oth­ers, climbed the lad­der, and com­menced the en­try of the town to the re­lief of the lo­cals. The saviours of the town have be­come he­roes to the peo­ple of Le Ques­noy, as no civil­ian life was lost.

As al­ways, Pugs­ley has re­searched his sub­ject with great thor­ough­ness and pro­vides many ref­er­ences to sup­port for his story line. This is a richly il­lus­trated book which does not gloss over any ac­tiv­i­ties that sur­round this re­mark­able ac­tion.

sev­eral lay­ers of very high stone walls up to 10 me­tres thick and each was cov­ered by ma­chine gun posts, while in­side the town were light and

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