Sir Charles Bennett, Commanding Officer of the 28th Māori Battalion details the attack on Point 209; the deadly German artillery and the use of rocks as fake grenades by C Company troops.
The Germans of course had a grandstand view of all this and they started their defensive fire right from the very beginning and then they started firing mortars over from their rear... their troops. We found out afterward it extended considerably...they were there in depth. So they had mortars behind them and these mortars had air bursters, these shells would come over, they'd burst just above the heads of our troops, and then the shrapnel would fly in all directions, ricochet off the rocks and cause very heavy casualties. And so, the battle continued, it was still daylight, 5 o'clock when the attack took place and by the time darkness came C Company was pretty close to the top of the hill, but they hadn't taken it.
When darkness came it provided cover for C Company men and they continued to fight the enemy at the top of the hill right through that night. At one stage they rang me and they said that they'd run out of hand grenades and did we have supplies down below and I told them no, that we had no reserve supplies. I said to them why not use stones, because the enemy can't tell the difference in the dark, because when big stones land they think it's a grenade. And so they did, it's in our history. I think there was a grin on most of their faces when they threw these stones over and they could hear the German's yelling and scattering in all directions thinking it was a hand grenade.
Well the battle continued all night, we hadn't driven the enemy off the top of the hill... I'm sorry we had, but they were just on the brow of the hill on the other side and we were on the brow of the hill on this side. But it was only literally a question of yards separating their troops from our troops that they fought through the night.
Sound file - Extracts from Interview with Sir Charles Bennett, interviewer Jim Sullivan, recorded 31 March and 1 April 1993, commissioned by the Ministry of External Relations.
From the Alexander Turnbull Library Oral History and Sound collection, OHColl-0217-1. All rights reserved. Permission of the Library and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade must be obtained before any re-use of this sound file.
Detail of Officers at Katerini
Alexander Turnbull Library
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