by Greta Yeoman
A Kiwi connection to a small French town is part of the inspiration behind an upcoming Armistice Day ball.
Regional naval officer Grant Finlayson has organised the Armistice Day event, which celebrates the end of World War 1, to be held at the Landing Services Building in Timaru on November 10.
November 11 marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice, marking the end of the war, signed at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.
The ball would raise funds for the establishment of the New Zealand War Memorial Museum in Le Quesnoy, France.
The museum would be the first in Europe dedicated to the New Zealand effort during WW1.
The location of the museum was due to the longstanding Kiwi connection to the small French town, which was liberated by New Zealand soldiers six days before the end of the war, Mr Finlayson said.
The fortress town had been captured by German forces in 1914 and there were several thousand German soldiers in the town.
However, New Zealand soldiers got into Le Quesnoy on November 4, 1918 by climbing the walls of the town – and while there were German casualties, no French civilians lost their lives.
Because of this, there had long been an affinity to New Zealand by residents of the town, who had named streets after All Blacks and former prime minister Helen Clark.
The museum would recognise the work of New Zealanders in WW1 as well as potentially increasing the number of New Zealand visitors to the town, Mr Finlayson said.
He had been contacted by the museum trust team to help organise a South Canterbury event to help raise funds for the venture – which was where the ball came into play.
The Armistice Day ball will include a buffet meal, cocktail on entry and a charity auction.
Auction items include a trip for two to Le Quesnoy, a cruise around Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf for up to 20 people, a shot owned by shot putter Tom Walsh and a trip on the Timaru Port pilot boat.
Live music at the ball would be provided by Christchurch band the Starlets and those attending are invited to dress up in period costume.