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Lieutenant-Colonel J. Hardie Neil D.5.0., Croix de Guerre, of Auckland, who has been on active service with the New Zealand Medical Corps for the past three years, returned to Auckland by the troopship Maunganui. Referring to the taking of Le Ques>noy on November 4th, he said the work of the New Zealandfers had been magnificent, and they had earned a reputation second to none m the British Array. He did not think the Guards would care to claim a finer record. The New Zealanders were m at the beginning of the British offensive m this region, and advanced) the line for almost 40 miles. He spoke of the elaborate preparations for the storming of Le Quesnoy. After the ramparts had ibeen mercilessly attacked with trench mortars and heavy explosives the New Zealanders attacked m brilliant style, routing the enemy and taking possession of the German stronghold. They followed this up with dashing fighting m the Morval Forest, the Otago Infantry being especially severe on the enemy. After the taking of Le Quesnoy Colonel Neil established his ambulance m a town which had been a large hospital centre. French Sisters of Mercy, who had. worked m the German hospitals told him of the appalling treatment meted out to British prisoners, and evidence which he gathered during the stay convinced him that tho stories he had heard of German cruelties were m no way exaggerated. Tho graveyards at Le Quesnoy were ample evidence of the heavy death-rate among British prisoners. He was assured that the prisoners were forced to work behind the lines, and 1 when they became ill through exhaustion, bad food and ill-treatment, they were .compelled to live m a building which was used to stable horses. They were fed on bad bread, and soup made from offal. Whik occupying the town the Germans removed all objects made of copper and brass and, after getting the citizens out of the. houses on some pretext, removed all sheets and similar articles, which were sent to Germany for the manufacture of gun-cotton. Many enemy officers had taken their wives with them to avoid the food shortage m Germany, and when these women required clothing it was taken from the French residents. The wine supply of the town was commandeered, and only issued to the French on a German doctor's certificate, but when the supply was getting low they put the price" up to 2000 marks per bottle. Civilians ,w.ef"e required to raise their hats to the Germans, and if they failed to raise the hat well above the head they were fined 50 marks, m addition to undergoing two weeks' imprisonment. The enemy «yen took all the cows away, under the pretext of sending them into Belgium, but they We sent to Germany instead. The result of this was that there was no milk for th© civilian population, and many children died. Colonel Hardie Neil said! that to see the joy on the faces of the French people when they realised that they were free, made one realise the true nature of the German. He expressed the opinion that had it not been for the American Food Commission the plight of the civilians would have been terrible. H© remarked that he did not see much evidence of rejoicing among the New Zealand solcfiers on the front when the news of the armistice was received, and accounted for this by the fact that after a strenuous period the division was about to be relieved, and all were too busy to give way to jubilation. *•

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Bibliographic details

DR HARDIE NEIL'S RETURN, Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLVI, Issue 14815, 20 January 1919

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DR HARDIE NEIL'S RETURN Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XLVI, Issue 14815, 20 January 1919