Le Quesnoy museum for Kiwis and French

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A trip in time from Wanaka to the battlefields of World War 1 is an emotional journey for Jude Frazer, of Lake Hawea.

Alongside six other descendants, Mrs Frazer was in France touring battle sites and war museums, including Messines, Passchendaele, Amiens and Ypres.

A key part of her trip was taking part in the 100th anniversary commemorations of the liberation of Le Quesnoy on November 4, 1918.

Her grandfather, Captain Claude James Hunter Davidson, was part of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, tasked with the liberation of the town.

He was awarded the Military Cross “for his bravery beyond the call of duty in urging his men forwards over open ground”, she said.

Mrs Frazer said her grandfather never mentioned the war, and her parents never told her about what he did or where he was.

However Mrs Frazer felt “very emotional and very proud of Popa”.

It was important to remember the 100th anniversary, she said.

“So many men lost their lives for a cause that seemed so remote from New Zealand but they were willing to pay the price of their deaths for a better, safer world for the rest of their fellow citizens.”

As part of the commemorations, the former Le Quesnoy mayor’s residence had been turned into a memorial museum.

The New Zealand Memorial Museum Trust communications director Penny Hartill said the museum would open its doors on November 4.

“The museum’s aim is to commemorate all New Zealanders who fought on the Western Front across both World Wars, via arresting multimedia exhibitions.

“It will be a home for Kiwis visiting Europe as well as a fascinating place to visit for tourists and French citizens.”

Fundraising for the museum was ongoing, with $15 million needed to maintain the facility, she said.

To give, visit www.nzwmm.org.nz/donate