While considered outmoded by the 19th century, they would prove to be an effective defence with the weapons available to the Germans in 1918.The town was taken by German forces in August 1914.Supported by mortars and covering fire from Lewis machine guns, they reached the bridge and erected the ladder.It was steadied by two riflemen and Averill was first up.By early November the New Zealand Division was outside Le Quesnoy.The next phase would involve the town although it was not the primary objective.The creeping barrage machine guns maintained intense fire throughout the first phase, in spite of the heavy shelling that came down round about the positions.The 3rd New Zealand (Rifle) Brigade resting before the Le Quesnoy attack (NZ Army Museum) The 3rd (New Zealand) Rifle Brigade had to clear positions forward of the town and this indicated that the Germans were prepared to fight and hold.
At 5.30am, the guns opened fire and the New Zealand Division raced forward.There was an instant crashing through some brushwood on the far side and Averill saw two Germans of the bombing post rushing away. The whole enemy party bolted into an underground cavern under the rampart. By this time the remainder of the battalion were swarming up the ladder.They were led by Barraclough himself who took with him a signaller and apparatus in order to open communications with brigade headquarters and establish the 4th Battalion’s claim to the honour of the town’s capture.The Division’s Official History recorded the moment: “ … The two officers could see a pair of machine guns on the salient on their right, pointing into the moat but abandoned.Averill quickly reached the top of the brick work and stepped over the coping onto the grassy bank. It was one of the most dramatic moments in the Division’s history. They stood up and walked over the top of the grass slope and down the other side towards the boulevard. Kerr fired a shot at the man who appeared to be leader, but missed.