Great War Experiences. Leslie Averill talks about the taking of Le Quesnoy in WWI
Loading the player...
Leslie Cecil Averill describes the taking of Le Quesnoy on November 4th, 1918.
He describes Le Quesnoy's walls and the events leading up to November 4th. The rifle brigade was to surround the town. The 2nd Battalion was on the left, 3rd on the right and 4th in the centre.
It was a cloudy morning. The artillery's first barrage was centred on the fortifications. The town was covered in smoke bombs as well, so the infantry could advance on the town. The smoke began to clear about 10am and from then on they were pinned down by machine guns fired from the fortifications for several hours.
An attempt was made to persuade the Germans to surrender but without success. The brigadier, Colonel H. E. Barrowclough, decided a final assault should be made. The outer bastions were cleared by a small party climbing the walls with a ladder, establishing a machine gunpost on top and then pulling the ladder up and proceeding to the next wall.
During the afternoon, between 3 or 4pm, they were protected from the final wall by another low wall, and a council of war was held. Colonel Barrowclough decided the reserve company under Lieutenant Birch should be brought up to make the final assault.
Lieutenant Birch detailed Lieutenant H. W. Kerr to select three of his best men to accompany him. Colonel Barrowclough detailed Averill to accompany this party as his intelligence officer, as he knew where the ladders were located as he had been involved with placing them.
He describes how with Kerr and his three men, they proceeded through the trees and found the ladder and moved along the sluice gate bridge to the foot of the wall. The ladder was placed against the final rampart and reached the top with about 2 feet to spare.
They brought out about 20-25 Germans, who they made surrender. Colonel Barrowclough then came up the ladder and brought a signaller with a field telephone so he could ring brigade headquarters and claim the honour of being the first battalion to enter Le Quesnoy.
The remainder of the battalion then swarmed up the ladder. He says whoever was responsible for the ladders deserved a great deal of credit.
Large numbers of Germans were rounded up and sent to a prisoner of war camp. He concludes, for a modern army to have to attack a walled town using ancient methods was probably unique in New Zealand history.
Reference number 27627
Media type AUDIO
Collection Sound Collection
Averill, Leslie Cecil Lloyd, 1897–1981