Waitaki Boys’ High School held a memorial service yesterday to honour New Zealanders who fought to liberate the French town of Le Quesnoy in 1918.
The service was further acknowledgement of the centenary of World War I with yesterday’s date, November 4, being historically significant to the battle of Le Quesnoy. It was this day that former WBHS student, Lance-Corporal Alfred John Randall, showed great courage and determination by assisting soldiers to scale a defensive wall. His citation outlines how he charged through heavy fire, went over the first platoon into the fortress and removed mines from the bridges at the gates of the town. The New Zealanders were said to have liberated the French town without any loss of life of civilians.
Rector, Paul Jackson, said on November 2, 1914 a flotilla of ships left Albany fill of 18 year old boys ready to fight. Today, he said, was about honouring those soldiers in their bid to take a town.
“It was a battle which saved a lot of lives, but it cost a lot of lives,” Mr Jackson said.
“There is never a just war.”
Lindsay Malcolm and his family attended the service to honour former WBHS student and platoon commander, 2nd Lieutenant George Malcolm, who died in action in France. The lieutenant’s platoon went on to fight for LeQuesnoy going up and over the ladders to secure the town.
Mr Malcolm’s son, William, presented the school with a war medal belonging to LC Randall and an illustration portraying the New Zealanders storming Le Quesnoy.
Also presented to the school by Greg Manson was a tapestry embroidered by his great uncle, David, while serving in the trenches on the Western Front. During the service Mr Jackson said the work of art was likely to have given the soldier a focus for his mind and heart, and to help link things together.
“To do something like this … if you look at the craftmanship that’s gone into this given he was wounded, very badly wounded, and he put years of work into it so he could hang it when he got home. We’re very honoured to accept this,” Mr Jackson said.
“Its been a great day. We’ve received some great items to hang in our Hall of Memories.”
PHOTO: Greg Manson (left) holds the tapestry which was embroidered by his great uncle, David Manson, while serving in the trenches on the Western Front. The tapestry was presented to Waitaki Boys’ High School yesterday and will hang in the Hall of Memories. Greg’s father, Robin (right), was there for the presentation.