Māori Battalion diary - April 1943


Having succeeded in taking Point 209 as part of the Eighth Army’s “left hook” behind the Mareth Line, the 28th Māori Battalion pushed on and as members of the Second New Zealand Division received a wonderful welcome from the French population of Gabes. Next the Battalion rested alongside the Mediterranean coast.

In the meantime the German-Italian Army, having given up the Mareth Line, withdrew to plan another stand in the rugged coastal foothills near Enfidaville.

Before the move north, some of the Eighth Māori Reinforcements were brought up to bolster the Māori Battalion’s depleted ranks. By 7 April, the Americans, French and British were closing in on the German–Italian army with Tunis as their next objective. The Eighth Army was to attack the defences around the village of Enfidaville to draw the enemy’s attention away from the Allies’ real target.

Near Enfidaville, 5 NZ Infantry Brigade, of which the Māori Battalion was a part, found in its path a 180-m high rock fortress called Takrouna which was held by the enemy. The Māori Battalion’s role in taking Takrouna would see B Company skirt the eastern base of the hill with C Company on their right. A Company would be further right and tasked with securing Djebel Bir, a long ridge running parallel to Takrouna. Both hills were manned by Germans and Italians. The 650-m-wide gap between the two features was covered with olive groves surrounded by cactus hedges and small wadis in which enemy mines had been planted. D Company was to follow the forward companies until they reached the Enfidaville–Zaghouan road about 2400 m from the start line, when they were then to turn about and assault Takrouna from the rear.

In the end, however, it was a handful of B Company men who were to turn the tables on the enemy at Takrouna. This group was led by Sgt Johnnie Rogers and L/Sgt Haane Manahi. The latter was recommended for the award of the Victoria Cross for his bravery and outstanding leadership during the assault.

The Māori Battalion reported 12 officers and 104 other ranks killed, wounded or missing out of the 17 officers and 302 men who took part in the action at Takrouna. Alongside them 21 Battalion suffered 171 casualties and 23 Battalion 116. So reduced in senior officers was the Battalion during the battle that a junior officer, Lt Monty Wikiriwhi, was compelled to take command until Major Reta Keiha arrived.[1]

At the start of April the Battalion had 25 officers plus the doctor, chaplain, and YMCA driver of Te Rau Aroha canteen truck – the latter three being attached to the unit. 

  • Lieutenant-Colonel: Charles Bennett
  • Major: Ben Porter
  • Captains: Mervyn Mitchell, Ruhi Pene, Chris Sorrenson
  • Temporary Captains: Ted Hayward, Roy Te Punga
  • Lieutenants: Jim Aperahama, Walton Haig, Syd Jackson, Harry Lambert, Herbert Marsden, Eddie Morgan, A. E. (Duncan) McRae, Peter Ornberg, Matt Swainson, William Vercoe, Monty Wikiriwhi, Wally Wordley
  • Second Lieutenants: Wi Anaru, George Katene, George McDonald, Kara Rika, Jerry Smith, Andrew Stephens
  • Attached: Capt. Cam, D’Arcy (RMO, unit doctor), Capt. Chaplain Tunoa Wanoa (unit padre), Mr Charlie Bennett (YMCA)


  • 1 April, Thur Battalion spent a quiet day cleaning arms and carrying out transport maintenance. 1630 hrs A and D Coys left and moved forward to guard artillery gun lines. 1930 hrs CO, Lt-Col Charles Bennett, called full Battalion muster giving them the story of the recent operations and Rev. Chaplain Tunoa Wanoa held service in the centre of the unit in memory of those of comrades who fell. CO also made mention of the fact that all ranks had done a great job. Normal sentries were posted. Weather: fine, sunny and very warm.
  • 2 April, Fri 0800 hrs received word to move from our present position which is on the east side of the road running from Gabes to Oudreff to the western side of the road a distance of less than 800 m. In the new position by 1130 hrs. 1400 hrs Brigade officers and NCOs also NZ Divisional Calvary officers and NCOs paraded forward of C Coy area and were addressed by Eighth Army Commander General Montgomery (GOC). His talk was divided into two parts (a) the recent “left hook” by the NZ Division and the operations leading to the final capture of the formidable Mareth positions and (b) the future. Of the future the GOC stated that Sunday would be the big day when 30 Corps was to attack and smash the strong line now held by the enemy in the Akaritwadi. He stated at present the line was being held by four Italian Divisions or what remains of them, ie Trieste, Young Fascists, Pitoia and Spenzia with the German forces consisting of the remnants of 90 Light Division and 15 and 21 Panzer Division bracing the line. Against the positions we would pit 30 Corps with 400 guns and 30 squadrons of aircraft in support. The role of the NZ Division was to break through the gap which was to be created and head north. He spoke in his typical confident style but he warned us that the enemy air force was still liable to be a factor to be considered. 2230 hrs A and D Coys returned back to the Battalion from forward and took up their respective positions in the Battalion area. All ranks were paid this day, in the new franc currency, this being the first pay since Tripoli on Feb 26. Pay was £1 or 200 francs. Weather: fine, sunny and very warm.
  • 3 April, Sat 0700 hrs reveille 0730 hrs breakfast. Companies inspected at 0930 hrs and were then dismissed. The remainder of the day being more or less easy. Weather: miserable weather with occasional showers and strong gusty winds.
  • 4 April, Sun Church parades were held by companies. Otherwise most of the time spent resting and interior economy (ie. cleaning camp and personal area). Capt. Wai Awarau with an Eighth Reinforcement officer, 2/Lt Tom Keelan, reported to Battalion. Capt. Awarau informed the Battalion that he was OC of a NZ detachment who had been guarding prisoners of war and were at present camped 1.6 km west of Gabes. CO informed Capt. Awarau that the Māori Battalion reinforcements with him would be brought up to the Battalion as soon as possible. Enemy bombers were again active over the Gabes area this night. The unit’s strength, excluding officers, was 584 ORs, six of who were attached from NZEME. 175 ORs were required to bring the unit to full strength. The total number of officers was 28 (three of whom were attached).Weather: fine and sunny with north westerly winds.
  • 5 April, Mon 0700 hrs reveille, 0730 hrs breakfast. 0900 hrs C Coy fall in and inspection. Remainder of the day again devoted to cleaning of arms and equipment and vehicle maintenance. Capt. Awarau and 2/Lt Keelan and 57 other ranks marched in. Among the reinforcements were 50 of the Eighth Reinforcement draft joining the Battalion for the first time. 1700 hrs Conference at Brigade where the Brigadier stated (a) Enemy situation, from Tactical Reconnaissance (Tac R) and other sources, appeared that Rommel was in a state of uncertainty and much doubt as to our intentions and with a fear of the repetition of our recent left hook he was continually shuffling his forces. (b) Own situation: Eighth Army was definitely attacking the Gabes gap tomorrow on a one Corps or three Division front. 30 Corps employing three Divisions, 4 Indian on left, 50 Northumbrian in the centre, with the 51 Highland Division on the right. Zero hour is 0400 hrs with heavy artillery support from 0415 hrs and RAF support from 0640 hrs. The role of the NZ Division as part of 10 Corps will be to pass through the gap made by 30 Corps hopefully sometime tomorrow. 1815 hrs CO returned to the Battalion and called a conference of all officers at which he gave the officers the story. CO laid down the routine for tomorrow as follows: reveille 0630 hrs, breakfast 0700 hrs, ready to move by 0930 hrs. Battalion was moving initially in nine columns on nine tracks lettered consecutively from the left Z X W Y T S R Q P. Again “jerry” was over this evening on his nuisance bombing raids and dropped a few bombs. None, however, landed near the Battalion. Weather: fine and sunny.
  • 6 April, Tues Battalion was embussed by 0900 hrs and at 1045 hrs moved off to the nine tracks which were about 800 m from the Battalion and by 1100 hrs we were in position behind 23 Battalion and facing northwest. 1230 hrs we are still stationary and awaiting the word go. Sitrep which came in at 1200 hrs stated that 30 Corps had attained right and left first objectives but the 50 Northumbrian Division in the centre were temporarily held up in the centre by Anti-tank ditches and heavy cross fire. The Corps however was pushing on to the final objective. 1700 hrs we begin to move at last and it is reported that the situation forward has cleared up and that the final objectives have been reached. We moved but only covered 6 km when we halted just outside the Oudreff Z village. O Group brought up to the head of the colony and the following instructions issued: reveille 0630 hrs, breakfast 0700 hrs, sentries to be posted per platoon area. These instructions were issued after Brigade had informed us to bed down for the night. Prepare to move tomorrow at 0830 hrs. 1750 hrs six enemy bombers came in low from the coast and were met by a terrific Anti-aircraft barrage. Three were reported shot down. Again “jerry” came over tonight on his nocturnal bombing and strafing visit, but none landed near the Battalion. Weather: strong south westerly winds but fine and sunny.
  • 7 April, Wed Battalion moved off still in nine columns and heading west at 0900 hrs and still following 23 Battalion. Progress was very slow and tedious and by midday we had covered a distance of only 10 km. At 1400 hrs the Brigade contracted its front to three columns in order to negotiate a minefield and an Anti-tank ditch between the high hills Fatnassa – Roumana. We passed through the scene of the recent 30 Corps action. Hundreds of prisoners of war, mainly Italians passed us on their way back to the army cage. We reached the flats at 1700 hrs, where we reformed nine columns and proceeded to a larger area which had been laid down by the Brigade. Battalion was in position by 2100 hrs the layout of companies being roughly A B D forward facing south and south-west with C Coy in rear. We covered 45 km this day. In the air the RAF was continually on the job and only once at 1800 hrs did we see the Luftwaffe when four Me 109 flew over very fast and dropped bombs. They hit one of their own ammunition dumps that had been left but otherwise did no damage. The routine for tomorrow: stand to 0545 – 0630 hrs, breakfast 0700 hrs. Prepare to move 0730 hrs. Weather: fine and sunny with strong winds. 
  • 8 April, Thurs Battalion moved off at 0830 hrs and proceeded north. 1030 hrs we halt till midday. It appears that “jerry” has a gun line 5-6 km north of the Mahares – Mezzounary Line and we are taking measures to deal with him. Battalion lunched at 1130 hrs. 1330 hrs the CO was called to Brigade where he was informed that 28 Battalion would be temporarily coming under command of Eighth Armoured Brigade (led by Brigadier Harvey, DSO).1540 hrs Brigadier Harvey outlined the plan for this night’s operations. At Zero hour (1745 hrs) Battalion was to move forward with tanks with the final objective ‘Tunny’ being the road from U 2027 – U 2629. Battalion had tea at 1700 hrs and at 1745 hrs were ready to move. B Echelon instructed to remain in present area U 1897 and to move up to Battalion when the situation should have been cleared at first light. 1800 hrs Battalion now in three columns moved forward heading north and by last light crossed ‘Oyster’ at point U 2004, and following the armour. We encountered no opposition and reached ‘Tunny’ at 2200 hrs without incident. CO reported to Brigadier Harvey at 2230 hrs and the Brigadier informed him that his tanks would be exploiting to the high country Atta Iat U 2030 at first light and that he required 28 Battalion to consolidate the features. CO called up O Group on his return and gave instructions to bed down and be prepared to move at 0700 hrs. RAF had a busy day and numerous sorties of our light and medium bombers were seen heading north. Odd lots of prisoners kept passing back through us including an Italian General and his chief staff officers (later identified as Gen. Mannerini who was GOC Saharan-Tripolitanian forces). Weather: Fine and sunny during the day but coldish in the evening and by 2300 hrs was blowing a regular gale. Prepared for a cold night.
  • 9 April, Fri 0530 hrs reveille. At 0630 hrs we observed that our armour had reached the heights 3-5 km northwest of us and the Brigade ordered us to push forward and continue. Battalion moved forward at 0730 hrs and was halted by CO at the foot of hill Point 264 U2133. At this stage we were dissolved from Eighth Armoured Brigade command and reverted to own 5 Brigade. 5 Brigade instructed us to follow behind Tactical HQ. We had some difficulty in contacting the tail of Tac HQ but finally discovered at midday that we were 3 km ahead of them where we halted MR U 2348. We are instructed to be ready to move at 0700 hrs tomorrow and to bed down for the night. The Luftwaffe was again active during late afternoon and early evening. Many bombs were dropped including the butterfly type. One ‘blow up’ was observed a fair way to the rear. B Echelon rejoined Battalion at 1000 hrs. The weather improved, was fine and sunny but still rather chilly.
  • 10 April, Sat 0545 hrs reveille. 0600 hrs breakfast and at 0730 hrs Battalion was ready to move. 0745 hrs CO reported to Brigade where the brigadier outlined the plan of operations for the day. He stated that the NZ Division was to proceed with Eighth Armoured Brigade under its command northeast to La Hencha – the object being to cut the main Sfax – Souage road. Battalion moved off behind 5 Tac HQ in nine columns at 0830 hrs. At midday we boiled up and had lunch. Battalion at this stage is back in three columns and on either side of the road, with the road as the axis of advance. We moved forward again at 1350 hrs finally halting about 10 km from La Hencha. At 1600 hrs we bed down for the night. Our armed forces are reported to have passed through La Hencha and are heading north to El Djem. Sfax fell into our hands at 1100 hrs today. To the northwest in the central sector our forces are reported to have broken through the Fonduk sector and are threatening Kairouan. Again we had the Luftwaffe at last light but Battalion was not ‘the target for tonight’. Weather: Fine and Sunny.
    Topography: On reaching Pt U 4050 we left the barren wastes of the desert and crossed into the beautiful fertile plains of Diertntana and Sfax. Olive groves reminiscent of Greece and Crete stretch for miles and miles and interspersed at various points along the country side beautiful white homesteads. The roads are good. Although there are no running streams good water is available from numerous wells.
  • 11 April, Sun 0700 hrs reveille. Routine for today was that laid down in Routine order No. 29 and we prepared to stay for a few days. At 1200 hrs we received a warning order to move and we moved off again 1445 hrs in 9 columns and still behind Brigade Tac HQ. We left the road at U 6971 and headed north cross country at times the going was difficult and the nine columns were compelled to reduce to three in close country. We crossed the El Djem – Smala road at U 6796 at 1738 hrs and finally halted at U6799 on the left side of the main El Djem – Sousan road in nine columns facing north at 1900 hrs. We were ordered to bed down and prepare to move at 0730 hrs. Battalion formation at present B and A Coys forward and D and C behind B and A respectively and HQ Coy in rear. For the first time for many nights the Luftwaffe did not trouble us. After an absence of two days the RAF was on the job again this afternoon and formations of Spitfires and Kittyhawks were observed heading north. The unit’s strength, excluding officers, was 627 ORs, six of who were attached from NZEME. 133 ORs were required to bring the unit to full strength. The total number of officers was 30 (three of whom were attached). Weather: Beautiful and sunny and very warm
  • 12 April, Mon 0630 hrs reveille. 0830 hrs we moved off in nine columns along the main Sousse - El DjemRd. At 0930 hrs we halt 800 m south of the cross roads where we are informed that the Brigade will proceed now only in single file. At 1030 hrs we pushed slowly on again. Our leading forces entered Sousse town sometime this morning. 1315 hrs we again push on and pass through Bourdjine at 1425 hrs. Progress now is much better and we passed through Masken at 1440 hrs. At Masken we leave the main road and take the secondary road leading towards Kalaa Shira and passed through the village at 1530 hrs. After a two hour delay we eventually struck the main Tunis – Sousse rd at Akouda. We are given 30 minutes for tea. CO was called forward to Brigade at 2000 hrs and the Brigadier instructed that 28 Battalion push on to the village of Sidi Bou Ali and occupy it. Although it was reported clear of enemy we had to treat it as being still in the hands of the enemy. We also had to detail one company to patrol as far forward of the village as possible and to detail another company with sappers to be used if and where parts of the road had been blown and to assist in clearing any minefields which may have been encountered. At 2100 hrs Battalion lead by a section of carriers pushed on in order B, A, C and D. We reached the 1 km peg at 2245 hrs without incident. Battalion was halted here A Coy was debussed and prepared to go forward through Sidi Bou Ali. The village was reported clear of enemy at 0100 hrs and at that time B Coy with sappers moved forward still on their vehicles. HQ Coy with B Echelon personal were instructed to remain in this area east of the village whilst C and D Coys were to dig in on either side of the road 1.6 km west of the village. Meanwhile A Coy probed forward and reached a point about 6.5 km from the village when they were fired upon by enemy rear guard forces. In the skirmish that ensued A Coy knocked out an enemy gun (type not known) mounted on a truck, killed two of the crew, took two prisoners, and wounded two more, but who unfortunately got away in the darkness. These two prisoners of war were later identified as belonging to 90 Lt German Division. On account of the lateness of the hour, A Coy suffered three casualties: one killed, Pte Jack Kareko of Moerewa, and two others wounded. Pte Kareko was buried at the 1 km peg on the Sousse side of the main road to Sidi Bou Ali. B Coy did not have anything to do as only at one spot (which was easily by-passed by vehicles) was the road blown and up. No mines were encountered. Both companies returned at 0500 hrs and took up rest positions in HQ Coy area east of Sidi Bou Ali. C and D companies were reported dug in and in position by 0430 hrs. Battalion HQ established itself west of the village. Weather: Fine and sunny.
  • 13 April, Tues Battalion breakfast at 0630 hrs. We came under slight enemy shelling at first light, but this did not last long and we suffered no casualties. At 1000 hrs we read a warning order to move. The Brigadier came down to Battalion HQ and we learnt that the tasks for the day were to reach a final objective ‘Cat’ P 2387. 21 Battalion temporarily detached and attached to Eighth Armed Brigade. Own order of march B, A, D, C, HQ companies. We lunched at 1200 hrs and were ready to move by 1245 hrs, at which time we edged on to the road and contacted tail of 5 Field Regiment. We proceeded up the road in a very slow advance and turned off the road at P 3969 heading roughly northwest. We crossed the railway line at 1500 hrs and reached a point where Battalion was ordered to form nine columns. CO was called to Brigade at this time and with the Brigadier went forward to 23 Battalion area where the Brigadier laid down the tasks of the Māori. CO returned to Battalion at 1830 hrs and called up O Group. He instructed A and C companies to position themselves on the left of 23 Battalion and B and D companies to patrol the road to see if enemy present. At 1930 hrs after last light Battalion moved forward along the main Enfidaville tarmac to a point 299758 where we left the road and went across country on a 340 degree bearing. We reached Battalion dispersal point 275794 at 2230 hrs and here CO detailed companies into their respective positions. Battalion HQ was established 450 m east of 23 Battalion HQ. HQ Coy with B Echelon remaining in a rear area near main road at P 2976. B and D Coy’s patrols returned at first light - nothing to report. These companies then took up positions to the right of the 23 Battalion. Weather: fine and sunny and rather coldish evening.
  • 14 April, Wed 0515 – 0600 hrs stand to. Our vehicle park in B Echelon area came under rather heavy enemy shelling this morning. We suffered two killed, Ptes Honehana (Joe) Wyllie of Muriwai and John Tumataroa of Mohaka, both of D Company. They were buried in NZ war cemetery P 285729. 1430 hrs Brigadier Kippenberger came up and held a conference with his Battalion commanders at point 70 P 268805. It was decided that 21 Battalion attack and take feature Takrouna P 2785 in the near future, while the 23 Battalion were to be prepared to take hill P 2588. Local changes in dispositions. C Company took over an area previously held by a section of carriers of 23 Battalion and the relief was completed by 2230 hrs. B and D Coys were also instructed to move forward and to continue the 23 Battalion line from 277815 to 295813. This latter move was completed by 2230 hrs. CO ordered A Coy to send two patrols to probe Takrouna, each patrol to consist of one NCO and two ORs. The patrol moved out at 2100 hrs.
    Topography: we are situated on the low ground southwest of the town of Enfidaville while to the north of us the enemy holds all the high ground. Thus we are handicapped to a certain degree by lack of decent observation posts. On the other hand the enemy has full view on to practically the whole of the division front. Takrouna stands like a grim sentinel ahead of us and is much reminiscent of the village of Platanias in Crete. Weather: Beautiful and sunny but nights are still cold.
  • 15 April, Thurs Stand-to: 0515 – 0600 hrs. A Coy patrols reported to Battalion HQ at 0700 hrs but gave little information of value as neither reached the hill proper. Battalion spent the day quietly in its positions. Brigade notified us that the attack on Takrouna was to be postponed indefinitely. 21 Battalion attained their objective last night without any opposition. A party from 4 Indian Division came up and carried out a recce of C Coy area. They are taking over the area to the west of us. B Echelon was withdrawn to an area further rearward this afternoon on account of the heavy shelling they have experienced. Three patrols were detailed by CO this night from A, B, D Coys, each patrol to consist of one officer and two other ranks. Their task was again to obtain information about Takrouna. They were seen off by the CO at 2000 hrs from D Coy area. There was nothing else of note. Weather: A heavy shower at 0630 hrs and looked threatening at dusk.
  • 16 April, Fri 0515 – 0600 hrs stand to. The three patrols sent out last night reported that the enemy was definitely holding a line around the Takrouna feature but they could not establish whether Italian or German. 1300 hrs received a warning order from Brigade to move. CO detailed a recce party consisting of coy commanders and IO to recce new Battalion area P 307736. Capt. Ruhi Pene instructed to have Battalion transport available to companies at 2000 hrs. Battalion packed up at last light and were ready to embuss at 2030 hrs. 2100 hrs Battalion moved off in column of route in order Battalion HQ-A-C-D-B and reached the new area at 2115 hrs. We have been informed this is to be a resting area: Bivvies may be erected. Nevertheless, the companies are sited tactically in order from the left A-D-C-A with B in rear with Battalion HQ. Weather: Fine and sunny.
  • 17 April, Sat Revielle 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs/ Tea 1700 hrs. During this day men were instructed to rest and to attend to cleaning of arms and equipment. CO called up coy commanders and took them up to 23 Battalion area where they made a closer study of Takrouna hill and he informed them that this Battalion would almost be certainly attacking on the 20th instant as part of a corps show. The enemy put down some very heavy concentrations of artillery on our forward positions this evening at 1830 hrs. Weather: fine and sunny.
  • 18 April, Sun Battalion spent another quiet day and took things easy. The coy commanders in turn took their platoon commanders forward and studied Takrouna. A Coy sent out another recce patrol under 2/Lt Kara Rika to Takrouna this night but on return also had little to report. 2000 hrs a church parade was held in Battalion HQ area. Otherwise it was just another day. The unit’s strength, excluding officers, was 617 ORs, six of who were attached from NZEME. 143 ORs were required to bring the unit to full strength. The total number of officers was 30, three of whom were attached. Weather: Fine and sunny.
  • 19 April, Mon This day opened much similar to any other, but how few, if any, realised what lay in store for many of us after 24 hrs had passed. It began at 1000 hrs with a CO’s conference at Brigade HQ at which Brigadier Kippenberger laid down that 10 Corps was attacking tonight on a three divisional front - 4 Indian Division on the left, 2 NZ Division in the centre, while 50 Northumbrian Division was attacking (with fire only) the town of Enfidaville. NZ division was attacking with 5 Brigade on the left and 6 Brigade on the right. 5 NZ infantry Brigade in turn was employing three Battalions for phase one, 21 Battalion on the left and 28 Battalion on the right. For phase two, 23 Battalion was to pass through us on to a much forward objective. Zero hour to be 2300 hrs. See 5 NZ Infantry Brigade Operation Order No. 18At 1300 hrs CO called a conference of all officers and as he gave his orders he pointed out various features on the ground. CO laid down B, C and D Coys to be forward in that order from the left, with D coy mopping-up in rear. O Group returned to their coys at 1500 hrs and we sat to and prepared for battle. (Regret that the operation order covering this action “Oration” has since been misplaced). A report attached as appendix 4 covers the actions of this unit for the period, night 19/ 20 April to 23 April when Battalion was withdrawn from the field.
  • 20-23 April Battle of Takrouna, see accounts of operations See map Enfidaville
  • 24 April, Sat 0700 hrs reveille. 0745 hrs breakfast. Battalion spent this day more or less easy and devoted most of the time to cleaning up. Showers were made available to us and Battalion was put through by companies. The wash was much appreciated. A NZ mobile dental unit also reported to us and carried out urgent cases. Capt. Jim Matehaere marched in from Advance Base and Pte 39649 William Wehipeihana from Division Signals. See Routine Order No. 1Weather: Dull and overcast and at time showery.
  • 25 April, Sun Anzac Day. Routine laid down for duration of stay here. 0700 hrs reveille, 0745 hrs breakfast, 1230 hrs lunch, tea 1730 hrs. At 1000 hrs Roman Catholics, under Capt. Matehaere, paraded and went to 23 Battalion area where mass was held. At 1055 hrs a Church of England parade was held in Battalion HQ area for the remainder of Battalion conducted by Chaplain Capt. Wanoa. It was followed by a holy communion service. All ranks were paid today 100 Francs. Otherwise Battalion spent another quiet day resting. The unit’s strength, excluding officers, was 505 ORs, six of who were attached from NZEME. 255 ORs were required to bring the unit to full strength. The total number of officers was 21 (three of whom were attached). Weather: fine but cloudy and overcast.
  • 26 April, Mon General routine. See Routine Order No. 2Two officers marched in from advance base - Capt. Jim Henare, Lt Ted Pohio and 49 ORs (who were Left out of Battle) and 56 reinforcements. These were drafted and sent to companies. Weather: Fine and sunny.
  • 27 April, Tues Again most of the time was devoted to cleaning of arms, etc. See Routine Order No. 3. Weather: Fine and Sunny.
  • 28 April, Wed normal routine. See Routine Order No. 4A-B-C-D Coys went out to beach for a swim from 1000 to 1530 hrs. Weather: muggy with occasional showers.
  • 29 April, Thur normal routine. Battalion paraded at 1030 hrs for the visit of Minister of Defence Hon. F Jones. We had 5 Brigade brass band in attendance. The Minister arrived at 1130 hrs accompanied by Maj-Gen. Kippenberger. He shook hands with all of the officers and then addressed all ranks. He dealt generally with home topics and on behalf of the government and peoples of New Zealand he thanked this division for all that it had done. He also took questions and quite a number of subjects were discussed. He left at 1330 hrs. HQ Coy and Battalion HQ supplied bathing parties for the beach. Weather: fine, sunny and very warm.
  • 30 April, Fri normal routine. A-B-C-D Coys (less Roman Catholics) went to the beach this day. Roman Catholics paraded at 1030 hrs and went to 23 Battalion lines for mass. Otherwise there was nothing else of note. Weather: fine and warm during the day but coldish towards evening.

Points about April:

  1. Accommodation: All ranks lived in bivvies. Often when in the line no bivvies were permitted and men lived in their trenches.
  2. Rations: Normal hard-scale ME rations. This was at times supplemented by fresh meat, especially since being in Tunisia.
  3. Topography: It may be said that we left the desert proper south of Sfax and entered the fertile districts to the north. The country in the Enfidaville district is low-lying and covered with pastures. Cactus very prolific and used as hedges to keep stock together.

Climatic Condition: As notified from day to day. Usually dry but some showers at times.



Archives New Zealand = Te Rua Mahara a te Kāwanatanga
28 (Maori) Battalion War Diary, WAII 1 1666 DA 68/1/40


[1] Nga Tama Toa, pp. 260-267.

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