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FRENCH CEREMONY.

♦ LE QUESNOY REMEMBERS* HONOUR TO DOMINION TROOPS, LONDON, June 2. Much to their surprise Sir James Alien and his party, who paid a visit to the battlenelds a week ago, entered Le Quesnoy beneath a, triumphal archway and drove into the centre of the town over a pathway strewn with flowers. This was a graceful tribute the people paid to the New Zealand troops who scaled the walls and delivered the town from the enemy on that memorable morning m 1918. The High Commissioner had business to see to m. connection with the war memorials, but he was glad of an opportunity of conducting Sir William flerries over those portions of the battlefields of special interest to New Zealanders. The people of Le Quesnoy were determined to show their gratitude to the New Zealand soldiers, and evidently on hearing of the High Commissioner's proposed visit they set to work to givesome outward expression of the grateful memories they retain of the New Zealanders' part m their long-hoped-for deliverance from the yoke of Germany. The first indication of this determinatltm * as a g rea * archway of branches and flowers erected over the entrance gate to the town. Flags were hung from every house along the main street,, and children strewed flowers ixt the path of the motor-cars. Children brought bouquets and presented them to Sir James and his daughters, and the journey to the Mairie, led by the local band, was a triumphal procession m miniature, every person m the town being out to welcome the New Zealand party. • At the (Mairie a feast had been prepared, and a liberal supply of champagne was ready for the guests. And here the Deputy-Mayor made a speech of welcome, for the Mayor himself was unfortunately absent from the town. "Hurrah for New Zealand 1 !" A typewritten copy of a free translation was provided for each of the visitors, but the interpreter gave bis version of the speech an English as it proceeded. ' Sir James Allen's reply was also translated into French. Allowing for several pardonable mistakes, the translation, reads: — "In the presence of messieurs, the members of the Town Council and the representatives of the Great War-com-bating men, I will bow to you — those who have delivered our town from the German yoke. Our children, our municipal band, haye desired to wish you welcome, and to show you by their presence the gratefulness of all the town to New Zealand. Your colours, which, we received from General Hart, fly with ours on our Town Hall, and mark how much we desire to keep the souvenir of the blood shed for right and liberty. "We are happy, monsieur the High. Commissioner, to hear of your intention to erect a commemorative slab of your soldiers' "deed at the place itself where first New Zealanders climbed' over our walls. We will do our best to make easy for you the realisation of your project. The slab will remain always to our sons as a reminder of the eternal gratefulness we owe to those who, coming from the farthest spot of the world, have given life itself, to throw back the enemy of our Motherland and give back to us our liberty. "Blessed they will be for ever. I drink to New Zealand, to the health of General Hart, to your noble soldiers, to you monsieur the High Commissioner, and say 'Hurrah for New Zealand!'" A Memorial Tablet. Sir James Allen, m reply, thanked the people of Le Quesnoy for their wonderful reception, and the honour they did to the soldiers of New Zealand. He was overwhelmed and astonished with their gratitude and ho would never forget his visit, nor the graceful tribute paid to his fellow countrymen by the citizens and children of Le Quesnoy. Citizens, children, and the band--in-deed, the whole town — then formed a procession and followed the visitors out of another gateway round the walls, and to the spot where it is proposed to place the commemorative slab and form .. a decorative garden and shrubbery. Finally the party bade good-bye to tfreir. hosts at 7\ o'clock m the evening, and motored on their journey to Cambrai. Arrangements for erecting the slab will have to be made with the milientail a visit of Sir James to iParis m the near future, but he does not anticipate any difficulty. The Messines Site, After leaving Cambrai, Sir James Allen and Sir William. Merries had the opportunity of seeing two of the completed cemeteries with headstones, the Oross of Sacrifice, and the Stone of Remembrance, at lorceyille and Louyancourt. They then went on to Messines. and met there the secretary of the High Commissioner for the district. The question oj: .a memorial site at Messines has not yet been decided — that previously proposed appears to be too much m the line of advance of the Australians. Generals with whom Sir James has been m touch suggest a spot at the junction of two roads • just outside the .village, and Sir James is much m favour of this. 1 He is inquiring further into the matter, however, and will make his recommendations to the New Zealand Government. A visit was also paid to Passchendaele and the Tynecott cemetery on the ridge. The Gravenstafel site has already been selected, and the War Graves Commission is at present obtaining a title for possession. ■ On the way back to Calais the party visited one of the largest British cemeteries at Lyssenthock, where there are 11,000 graves". Here the Imperial War Graves Commission proposes to erect a commemorative chapel m addition to the Cross of Sacrifice and the Stone of Remembrance.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19210803.2.37

Bibliographic details

FRENCH CEREMONY., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XLII, Issue 9571, 3 August 1921

Word Count
941

FRENCH CEREMONY. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XLII, Issue 9571, 3 August 1921

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