Centenary one for the books

2017 Armistice commemorations at the Cambridge Town Hall. Photo – Michael Jeans.

The countdown is on to a week of spectacular events in Cambridge to mark the centenary of the liberation of Le Quesnoy, France, and the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. The week of commemorations will start on November 4 with a WWI art exhibition at the Town Hall and a photographic display of the liberation of the French town in the plaza outside. At 9pm on the same day, a short light and sound show will premiere, projected onto the outside of the Town Hall. Telling the story of the walled town of Le Quesnoy which was liberated by Kiwi troops on November 4, 1918, the show will be voiced by a young French girl, representing a resident of the town at the time. The light and sound show is short and will be looped to run from 9 – 10pm, continuing each night at the same time through to Armistice Day (Sunday, November 11).

Chairman of the Armistice in Cambridge group, which is behind the activities, Paul Watkins, said: “It’s appropriate that, due to the strong sister city connection between Cambridge and Le Quesnoy, the town marks this occasion in a way that puts it ahead of all other towns”.

A key feature of the week will be the Le Quesnoy Memorial Sculpture. Designed by Waipa artist Fred Graham, this spectacular permanent 6-metre-high sculpture will be placed near Lake Te Koo Utu on the corner of Thornton Rd and Victoria St. The base it is to rest on is in the unique shape of the walls surrounding the town of Le Quesnoy (as shown in the artist’s impression).

The initial concept of Le Quesnoy Memorial Sculpture, subject to final design approval (arrow on picture pointing north).

Paul added: “The Le Quesnoy projects in Cambridge, including the sculpture, are funded primarily by the national WW100 Lotteries fund, which gave $135,000 towards the projects. This was added to with $12,000 from Trust Waikato and $5,000 from the Cambridge Community Board.

The grand finale of the week will be the annual Armistice in Cambridge Event, which will be held at the Mighty River Domain over Saturday, November 10 and Sunday, November 11.

Paul said, “This year’s event will be the biggest ever at the domain. The First World War was an artillery war, with over one and a half billion shells fired. For this reason, we are amassing a large number of historic artillery pieces, dating from as far back at the New Zealand Wars and the First World War.

“Battle re-enactments at the event will include the liberation of Le Quesnoy, with a wall being constructed for that purpose, along with over 20 interactive activities for kids to do, designed to educate and entertain.”

There will also be an Armistice memorial service at the Town Hall on November 11 at 10am.

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