Māori Battalion diary - January 1943

Overview

The Battalion’s first assignment for the New Year was to clear a landing ground near Wadi Tamet for use by light bombers. For nine days companies from each of the battalions in the Fifth Brigade took turns clearing rocks and stones on the landing ground. With enemy-held Sirte only 48 km away, they were exposed to attack by fighter-bombers who could come in very quickly, firing on the men whose slit trenches where off to the side of the airfield. The Battalion lost 7 killed and 13 wounded during one of these raids. Before they left the area, members of the Māori Battalion went to the makeshift cemetery to pay their last respects. Peta Awatere spoke in Māori of the splendid work done by their fallen comrades. For those who were present, wrote Colonel Bennett, ‘it was most impressive’.

By 22 January the Battalion had left the open desert and were headed down the highway through Azizia, with the Maori Battalion at the front of 5 Brigade. After a failed attempt to enter the city of Tripoli (a rearguard from 15 Panzer Division was still in possession), the Battalion pulled back. The Germans departed during the night, and next morning the Battalion’s Bren-carrier platoon led the New Zealand Division into the city. They arrived to find that a British unit and the Scots, who had advanced along the coast, were already there.

See Appendix A for Climatic Conditions.

At the start of January the Battalion had 30 officers plus the doctor, chaplain, and YMCA driver of Te Rau Aroha canteen truck – the latter three being attached to the unit. 

  • Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel: Charles Bennett
  • Temporary Major: Reta Keiha Bn 2IC, Rangi Logan, Ben Porter
  • Captains: Peta Awatere, Mervyn Mitchell, Ruhi Pene, Ben Porter, Chris Sorrenson, Tutu Wirepa.
  • Temporary Captains: Jim Aperahama, Ted Hayward, Pine Taiapa, Roy Te Punga. Ted Pohio
  • Lieutenants: Syd Jackson, Harry Lambert, Peter Ornberg, Matt Swainson, Wally Wordley, Walton Haig
  • Temporary Lieutenants: William Vercoe
  • Second Lieutenants: George Katene, Eddie Morgan, George McDonald, A. E. (Duncan) McRae, Moana Ngarimu, Kara Rika, Jerry Smith, Dick Stephens, Monty Wikiriwhi,
  • Attached: Capt. Cam, D’Arcy (RMO), Capt. Chaplain Tunoa Wanoa (unit padre), Mr Charlie Bennett (YMCA)

Diary

  • 1 Jan, Fri location: Sirte. 0600 hrs reveille. 0630 hrs breakfast after which the Battalion began to strike bivvys and prepared to move with the intention of constructing an airfield. Battalion 2 i/c with all Company CSMs reported to Brigade and moved with them to Battalion portees. 0830 hrs Battalion area cleaned and all slit trenches buried. The head of the Battalion column rested on the start line road. Approx 3.2 km from start line Battalion contacted rear of 23 Battalion and followed that Battalion on a well-defined track south. Approx 18 km was covered when the Battalion struck 7 Armoured Division axis running west. Battalion halted. 1700 hrs tea after which the Battalion erected bivvys and bedded down. Normal sentries for platoon areas were posted.
  • 2 Jan, Sat.  0730 hrs reveille. 0800 hrs breakfast and striking of bivvys. 0830 hrs Companies fall in. 0930 hrs moved off along the axis of advance following 23 Battalion. Miserable day owing to a cold wind coming from the north. Word is received that the Battalion was to supply one platoon to guard 110 FMC and the CO, T/Lt-Col Charles Bennett detailed one platoon of B Company for the job. 1150 hrs halt for lunch. 1245 hrs 2/Lt William Vercoe departed to contact 110 FMC and obtain details of the job to be done. 1400 hrs 2/Lt Vercoe and 29 ORs departed for 110 FMC on a three-ton truck supplied by that unit. 1500 hrs Battalion had covered a distance of 18 km. Bivvys were erected and the cooks began the evening cooking. 1600 hrs MT under Brigade transport officer arrives in Battalion area to lift the Battalion forward. The men were very pleased at the arrival of the RMT as many were foot-sore and weary. 1700 hrs evening meal. 1745 hrs “O” Group conference at the CO’s car. Battalion was not to be caught unguarded so the normal sentries of 1 NCO and 4 ORs per platoon areas were detailed by companies. The unit’s strength, excluding officers, was 697 ORs, 6 of who were attached from NZEME. 70 ORs were required to bring the unit to full strength. The total number of officers was 33 (3 of whom were attached).
  • 3 Jan, Sun. 0600 hrs reveille. 0630 hrs breakfast and the MT reported to Companies and began loading. 0815 hrs battalion moves off along the 7 Armoured Division axis and after by-passing the 23 NZ Battalion our right flank column travelled on the axis. The Intelligence Officer (IO),  2/Lt Moana Ngarimu, was at the head and responsible for  directing the Battalion. The Battalion formation was Battalion HQ in three columns D Company, B Company and C Company (less one platoon), A Company and HQ Company all in three columns. During the move the Battalion vehicles were hardly visible on account of a very severe dust storm which increased in intensity towards the lunch hour. 1200 hrs Battalion halts. The men have dry rations for the meal. At this stage dust was terrific. 1300 hrs the Battalion again on the move. 1500 hrs the head of Battalion column reaches the 5 Brigade area. Maj. Reta Keiha, who had travelled with brigade and  arrived in the area with Company Sergeant Majors (CSMs), contacted the Battalion and, with CSMs, led the companies to their respective areas amid the raging dust storm. The transport, which brought the Battalion, reported back to brigade whence they had come the previous day. Dust storm reached its peak while the Companies were settling in and meals that the cooks turned on contained about 25 % dust and sand. The battalion defences were based on a square formation with D Company facing west and south on the Battalion left, C Company facing north and west, A company facing north and east and B Company facing south and east. Normal sentries were posted during the night.
  • 4 Jan, Mon 0700 hrs reveille. 0730 hrs breakfast. 0830 hrs every available man in Battalion, excepting cooks, embuss and depart approx 6.4 km to work in the No. 1 LG, the nature of the work being picking up stones. The work on the LG was well organised and it did not take the men long to settle down to some serious work. 1200 hrs the men had hot lunch on the job. 1430 hrs Capt. Ted Hayward and the Carrier Platoon, who had missed the 7 Armoured Division axis the previous day during the dust storm, reached the Battalion. 1500 hrs Battalion candidates for OCTU assembled at Battalion Headquarters awaiting to go to 5 Brigade HQ for Brigade Command interview. The nominees were Sgt Bill Mohi - Mortar Platoon, Sgt Arthur Goodwillie - Carrier Platoon, Sgt George Munn - Carrier Platoon, Pte Len Mackey - I Section. 1600 hrs candidates depart for Brigade. Normal sentries during the night.
  • 5 Jan, Tue 0700 hrs reveille. 0730 hrs breakfast. 0830 hrs embuss and proceed to LG work. 1200 hrs lunch on the job. 1530 hrs enemy paid a surprise visit and bombed and strafed the men on the LG. Out of the Brigade Units and the Battalion sustained the most casualties: 7 killed and 13 wounded. 1800 hrs members of the Battalion on 3 tonners proceed to ADS burial ground to pay their last respects to the killed. This convoy was led by Lt-Col Bennett. At the funeral Capt. Arapeta Awatere, OC C Company, spoke on behalf of the Battalion regarding the splendid work done by our fallen comrades both in and out of action. This was spoken in Maori and to those who were present it was most impressive. 1900 hrs CO and funeral party arrived back in Battalion area. Normal sentries.
  • 6 Jan, Wed 0700 hrs reveille. 0730 hrs breakfast. 0830 hrs fall in and embuss for work on the LG. NCOs, from corporals down, assembled under RSM and WO II Pahau to undergo refresher course on arms, foot drill etc. Fighters operating off a completed portion of the LG provided an umbrella for the men working, but this did not prevent the enemy from making another bombing venture. This time the bombs fell close but fortunately there was not a repetition of the previous day’s casualties. No casualties were sustained by the Battalion. 1330 hrs 2/Lt Vercoe and a platoon of B Company arrived back from 110 FMC and proceeded to Division Petrol Dump to guard it. 1700 hrs tea was served to the boys. Normal sentries.
  • 7 Jan, Thur 0700 hrs reveille. 0730 hrs breakfast. 0800 hrs Battalion embuss and proceed to work on the LG. NCOs again on refresher course under RSM . 0830 hrs enemy planes again attacked LG but owing to the intense A/A fire from the outskirts of the LG the fighters were forced to “jettison” their load clear of their objective. These planes were rather fortunate to escape the heavy AA. But it is assumed that at least one was a probable casualty as the engine could be heard to falter. 1200 hrs lunch. 1300 hrs fighter bombers again strafed and bombed the working men, killing one and wounding one. Spitfires operating off the landing ground engaged the enemy north of the LG. 1600 hrs Battalion embussed and returned to bivvy area. 1700 hrs tea. Normal sentries were posted around the area. Normal routine.
  • 8 Jan, Fri 0830 hrs Battalion leaves for LG. 0900 hrs CO, Adj., Intelligence Sgt and two ORs i/c vehicles left for Nofilia to attend to attend Division exercise in forming of a Anti-tank line. During the absence of the CO, Battalion i/c – Maj. Reta Keiha (MC), took over the Battalion and duties of the Adj. was assumed by the IO - 2/Lt Ngarimu. The AOC Western Desert landed on the drome for a few minutes then departed escorted by five or more fighters. 1200 hrs Lunch. 1600 hrs men return from LG an issue of ½ gallon of water per man was made available for washing purposes. One bottle of Canadian beer was issued to each man. The enemy, finding our planes and ground defences too hot, did not make an appearance this day. Normal sentries during the hours of darkness.
  • 9 Jan, Sat 0730 hrs reveille. 0800 hrs breakfast. 0845 hrs RCs paraded in Battalion Headquarters area under an RC Chaplain from other units who conducted Mass. 0930 hrs Capt. Ruhi Pene - OC B Company departed with one member of I Section (Pte H. D. Irwin) for Division Petrol Dump with rations for 2/Lt Vercoe’s Platoon. 1000-1200 hrs Interior Economy. 1300 hrs ‘Fall In’ by Companies for Inspection and cleaning of arms. 1400-1630 hrs.  This period was laid down by Battalion to be used up in letter writing. 1630 hrs the CO Adj and party returns to camp from Nofilia. 1700 hrs Tea. Again normal sentries were posted. See Routine Order. The unit’s strength, excluding officers, was 697 ORs, 6 of who were attached from NZEME. 47 ORs were required to bring the unit to full strength. The total number of officers was 33 (3 of whom were attached).
  • 10 Jan, Sun 0830 hrs work as usual on the LG. Capt. Mervyn Mitchell and Battalion A/Tk Platoon depart to practice shoot with 32 A/Tk Bty. 0900 hrs CO proceeded to Brigade Headquarters and thence to Army Commanding Conference somewhere on road to Tamet. 1145 hrs 2/Lts Walton Haig, Eddie Morgan and 3 ORs arrived back from No 2. Course at A30 Corp School of Patrolling. 1530 hrs Capt. Mitchell and platoon return from shoot. 1700 hrs tea. 1815 hrs Battalion assembled in Battalion Headquarters area when the Unit Chaplain gave a very inspiring sermon. After this the CO read out the telegram from the people of the Ngati Pikiao tribe. Company Commanders remained behind while the Company 2 i/cs marched Companies back to areas. CO talked to Company Commanders. Normal sentries. Work on the LG for the Battalion was completed today and word that the Brigade will move tomorrow reached Battalion late this night. Normal routine.  See Routine Order.
  • 11 Jan, Mon 0800 hrs OCTU candidates leave for Division on one 3 tonner with candidates from other units. 0900 hrs the striking of bivvys and the cleaning up of the area in readiness for the move to Division assembly. See Routine Order. 1200 hrs lunch. 2/Lt Ngarimu - acting IO returns to his appropriate Company and Sgt Mahuika Waerea takes over the duties of the IO. 1400 hrs embussed and moved to Brigade start line 1.6 km south of Brigade Headquarters. 1430 hrs Battalion in position on right flank of Brigade. The Brigade formation was 21 Battalion leading, 23 Battalion on the left and the 28 Battalion on the right with Brigade HQ Gp in middle. The Battalion was formed up in five columns. Attached troops joined the Battalion Group at approx 1400 hrs. They were as follows: MMG, 6 Pdr and Bofors. 1435 hrs Brigade moves off on a bearing of approx 140 degrees. 1630 hrs Brigade arrives at division assembly area and takes up a march position in rear of 6 Brigade and the Brigade Commander orders the whole Brigade to Bivvy down. 1700 hrs tea. T/Cpt. Jim Matahaere, who was wounded and evacuated during the action 1/2 Nov, returns and resumes his duties as 2 i/c D Company. Capt. Pohio, who was acting 2 i/c for D Company, transferred to B Company to be 2 i/c for that Company. Normal sentries.
  • 12 Jan, Tues 0730 hrs reveille.0800 hrs breakfast and striking of bivvys. Officers’ conference at Battalion Headquarters. Dry rations were given to the men for the lunch meal. In a developing dust-storm the Battalion moves in rear of the 21 Battalion. 1100 hrs Brigade Orders Gp consisting of the CO, 2 Pdr and 6 Pdr officers and Sgt Waerea (acting IO) report to Brigade and travelled with Brigade HQ. Forward elements of the Brigade enters Wadi Tamet. Brigade Order of march through the Wadi was 21 Battalion, Brigade HQ, 23 Battalion, 5 Field Artillery, 28 Battalion, all in six columns. 1630 hrs Battalion arrives at its position on the right of Brigade Hq and in rear of 21 Battalion. Bn Hqrs was on an escarpment overlooking the 6 Brigade Gp, who were down a deep wide Wadi. Companies are dug in with A Company facing southwest, B Company northwest., D Company facing northwest. C Company northeast. MMGs are placed where they would be of most value if and when any surprise attack came during the night. Slit trenches were dug and all precautions were taken against possible attack from both land and air. Trucks were well dispersed. 1715 hrs tea and bed down.
  • 13 Jan, Wed 0730 hrs reveille. 0800 hrs breakfast. 0915 Company Fall In and Inspection. 1200 hrs lunch. During the afternoon the men rested and began striking bivvys in readiness for the Division’s night move. 1630 hrs all gear packed and the men had evening meal. 1800 hrs Battalion move onto Division axis for the start of the night move of approx 48 km through very rough country and soft sand. Approx 0230 hrs the Battalion came to a halt and the men bedded down. Again normal sentries were posted.
  • 14 Jan, Thurs 0645 hrs Battalion moved out into normal desert formation and harboured. Elements of Armoured Division passed through our lines this morning. Slight air activity to the west. 1800 hrs moved off with Brigade Gp for a distance of approx 33 km, then bedded down. Sentries were posted.
  • 15 Jan, Fri 0645 hrs reveille and move out into Desert Formation. Fierce AA fire met a dive-bombing attack on our Armoured Division ahead and to the right of the Brigade Gp. The RAF continually passed overhead in waves of 8 to 15 fighter-bombers. Enemy fighter-bombers were also active over elements of the 7 Armoured Division. 1500 hrs Battalion on the move again than halted at 1800 hrs and bed down. Normal sentries.
  • 16 Jan, Sat 0645 hrs reveille and shake out into desert formation. 0700 hrs breakfast. 1100 hrs moved off and stopped for lunch at 1200 hrs. 1300 hrs moved again and crossed road. Cheddahia-bu Ngem. Moved until 2000 hrs when word was given to bed down. Outposts duties in the rear of the Battalion were taken over by D Company. Task given this Company was to protect then rear of the Brigade Gp.
  • 17 Jan, Sun 0645 hrs reveille then move out to Desert Formation. 0800 hrs breakfast. After which the whole Brigade moved only to stop at approx 1400 hrs. Short moves ensued throughout the day until at about 1830 hrs we passed through Wadi in single file.  0245 hrs Battalion halts in its position on the right flank of the Brigade in 5 columns. Closed in to visibility distance and bed down. C Company plus one platoon from D Company on usual outpost duties. The unit’s strength, excluding officers, was 692 ORs, 6 of who were attached from NZEME. 69 ORs were required to bring the unit to full strength. The total number of officers was 34 (3 of whom were attached).
  • 18 Jan, Mon 0645 hrs reveille. 0715 hrs shake out to open Desert Formation. 0740 hrs a snappy boil up and breakfast. 1000 hrs Battalion in three columns moves off in rear of 5 Field Regiment. Battalion “O” Group consisting of Company Commanders and Acting Commanders travel with Brigade Headquarters while the Battalion moved forward under direction of Battalion 2 i/c Maj. Keiha (MC). Battalion encountered very rough going and at times vehicles had to be pulled out of soft sand. 1120 hrs Battalion changes into three columns and moves forward to its original place on right of Brigade Group. 1220 hrs halt and lunch. Battalion moved again until 1600 hrs when word was given to bed down in the area. B Company detailed to do outpost duties.
  • 19 Jan, Tues 0800 hrs reveille. 0830 hrs breakfast and Battalion rests till further orders. 10–1100 hrs route march for all available personnel. 1230 hrs lunch. 1300 hrs RCs service held in Battalion Headquarter area. 1600 hrs word received to prepare to move. 1700 hrs tea. 1730 hrs embuss and moved into formation of three columns. 1900 hrs Battalion moves along right flank of Brigade for about 5 mins. 2130 moved into single file behind Brigade Tactical Headquarters and waited for the order to move along the Misurata Beni Ulid Road. Approx 2200 hrs Battalion moved off leading the 5 Brigade Group. The going for the most part of the journey was very difficult on account of the dust. After passing through Beni Ulid we reached area allocated to the Brigade about 0500 hrs. Slit trenches were dug and no sleep was had by the troops.
  • 20 Jan, Wed 0800 hrs breakfast 0800-1100 hrs Battalion rests and cleaning and maintenance of vehicles for drivers. 1100 hrs “O” Group conference. 1130 hrs prepared to move forward in open Desert Formation on a bearing of 330 degrees. Sgt Waerea, acting IO, was responsible for navigation. 1230 hrs halt for lunch. 1315 Battalion moved off in three columns. The going was very rough undulating and rocky with several soft patches of sand encountered on route. 1500 hrs hurried “O” Group conference at Battalion HQ when word is received that the enemy had evacuated Tarhuna. 1530 hrs the CO fires a white flare for a change of formation. Battalion takes up and open Desert Formation. 1600 hrs halted for further orders. 1700 hrs tea. Still awaiting word to advance. 1915 hrs “O” Group conference when the following points were given by the CO: - 1) Slit trenches will have been dug for each man. 2) Procedure to be adopted, instructive and locations on arrival in Tripoli. Battalion bedded down in open desert formation. Usual sentries were posted during the night.
  • 21 Jan, Thurs 0745 hrs reveille. 0815 hrs breakfast. 0930 hrs Battalion Headquarters moved off into line about 800 m from resting place while rest of the Battalion followed. At this stage 16 Platoon from D Company, under 2/Lt Jerry Smith, was temporarily detached from parent company and placed about 800 m forward of the Battalion to act as Advance Guard. The formation at this stage was Carrier screen followed by the acting IO’s ‘Jeep’, who was responsible for direction and they were 100 m forward of 16 Platoon while one 2-Pdr moved on each flank of the Advance Guard. 800 m behind came the CO and Command Group followed by A & B Companies on the left, C & D Companies on the right, then B Echelon. 1100 hrs Battalion moved off. Heavy going through soft sand made the pace very slow. After covering approx 16 km the Battalion reached a point 4 km south of Tazzoli. The going up to this stage was made simple by the work of the Division’s Provost Section in marking the route with Black Diamonds. At Tazzoli at approx 1430 hrs the Battalion broke into single file on account of having to move on the track Tarhuna-Garian, which ran southwest over the range of hills commonly called the Tarhuna Hills. We travelled along the road with 70 m between vehicles following the 4 Field Regt who were supporting the Divisional Cavalry Headquarters. The Greys Harbour area was for the most part soft sand covered with stunted vegetation. However, after the trucks struggled in the sand, we reached the tanks. The Companies formed defences around the armour and listening posts were maintained.
  • 22 Jan, Fri 0700 hrs reveille. 0730 hrs breakfast. 0830 packed and prepared to move off. The GOC 2NZEF who was moving with our Divisional Cavalry arrived in the area and, after a consultation with Squadron Commanders, he led the Divisional Cavalry bound for Azizia. Battalion forms up and moves up behind the 4 Field Regiment. 1030 hrs Divisional Cavalry patrols were reported to have been fired on from the direction of Azizia. Column halts. 1130 hrs moves forward again till halted by enemy fire approx 1230 hrs. At this halt Battalion had lunch. A few enemy shells were dropped in our forward elements. Luckily no damage was done. 1415 hrs once again the Battalion moves forward for about 3 km when more enemy fire was encountered. 1530 hrs Battalion turns due north to strike the Azizia-Garian Rd, the intention being to go to Azizia and thence to Tripoli. Advance guards were placed at the head of the Battalion while the Carriers maintained their usual role of screen. The Battalion is formed up into three columns and waiting for the signal to move forward. In the meantime 4 Field Regiment is relentlessly shelling Azizia village. One section of Carriers was detailed to move forward to Azizia and it was not long before the Carriers reported they were fired on. At the same time Brigade received word that we had intercepted a message to the enemy troops in Azizia and Suani Ben Aden to hold on to these places until 1900 hrs. So the Brigade Commander decided not to move forward until 2000 hrs. 1800 hrs CO’s Conference with Coy Commanders when orders for the advance at 2000 hrs were given. The plan was briefly as follows: B Company (less one platoon) to act as Advance Guard and they were to move in bounds from Azizia to Suani Ben Aden. At each bound B Company was to send up a white flare if NO opposition was met and which would indicate to the Battalion Commander that the road up to the bound was clear of the enemy. Red flares denoted an attack by tanks. Green flares would mean that mines were encountered. Sappers with mine detecting apparatus, two 2-pounders and other supporting arms were attached to the Advance Guard under command of Capt. Ruhi Pene. 2000 hrs Battalion moves off. The Brigadier with Brigade tactical headquarters moved with Battalion, but after covering approx 9 km B Company reported that resistance was met and that they had debussed and were moving forward to attack position. The Battalion halted, while waiting for further developments. Battalion lost contact with B Company for some considerable time and the next report was that they had encountered armoured cars and at least one tank. 23 Battalion carriers came up to head of Battalion column to assist in the routing of the enemy. At this stage enemy mortars were being dropped around halted convoy. Machine-gun fire also came very close. 0230 hrs Brigade Commander orders the Brigade to move back to harbour about 11 km. The Battalion moved back and at Kilo 14 went off the road and the Companies dug in and went to sleep. Normal sentries posted.
  • 23 Jan, Sat 0730 hrs reveille. 0800 hrs breakfast and the Battalion prepares to move forward. 1030 hrs “O” Group conference when the CO gave out that the enemy had evacuated the Azizia and Suani Ben Aden positions. The intention that day was to move to Tripoli on the main road in single file. 1100 hrs Battalion moves leading the Brigade and following the NZ Division Cavalry. 1330 hrs the Battalion at head of Brigade Gp arrives at El Azizia Gate where we were informed that elements of the 50 Division was already occupying the town, having already arrived to find the enemy at 0600 hrs already evacuated. CO reports to Benito Gates with other Battalion commanders where the Brigadier gave out new orders. 1630 hrs CO arrives back and a conference of Battalion “O” Gp takes place at the head of the column after which the Battalion moves off to a bivvy area on the outskirts of the town. On route A Company, under Maj. Ben Porter (MC and bar), moved out to guard the Fiat works on the corner of Sciara Ben Ascuer and Sciara El Geraba streets. The Battalion carries on and bivvy down. Yesterday the 28 Battalion was to have entered Tripoli, but owing to enemy rear-guard action at Azizia it was  delayed. The Battalion did not reach the gates of the town until 1330 hrs this day – only to find 51st Highland Division had entered the town that morning. Consequently plans had to be rearranged and 5 Brigade had to establish themselves on the outskirts of the town. 1730 hrs tea, erection of bivvys, general cleaning up of personnel then bed. The unit’s strength, excluding officers, was 690 ORs, 6 of who were attached from NZEME. 71 ORs were required to bring the unit to full strength. The total number of officers was 34 (3 of whom were attached).
  • 24 Jan, Sun 0800hrs reveille.0830 hrs breakfast. Rest of the morning was spent by Battalion cleaning and airing of clothing and blankets. 1100 hrs Brigadier visits Battalion area. 1230 hrs lunch. 1600 hrs word was received for the Battalion to be prepared for a possible move tomorrow. 1700 hrs tea. A supply of fresh cabbages was made to all Companies this day. Chaplain Tunoa Wanoa conducted Divine Services with C Company.
  • 25 Jan, Mon 0730 hrs reveille. 0800 hrs breakfast: RC personnel paraded at Battalion Headquarters where they were conveyed in 3-tonners to a service in the city at the invitation of the Bishop. Proposed move today has not so far eventuated. 0930–1130 hrs route march for all available ranks. 1200 hrs lunch. During the afternoon Companies were conveyed independently in 3-tonner trucks on a two-hour tour of the city of Tripoli. B & D Companies moved out at 1330 hrs and C Company, Headquarters at 1500 hrs. 1600 hrs YMCA arrived back in Battalion area after being away, replenishing its supplies. 1700 hrs tea. A batch of 21 reinforcements marched in to Battalion. They were welcomed by the CO after which they were marched out to their respective Companies. The batch comprised of one officer, 2/Lt Herbie Marsden, and 20 ORs. See Routine Order No.6.
  • 26 Jan, Tues 0730 hrs reveille. 0800 breakfast. 0900 Company inspection. 0915–1000 hrs Pay Parade. Payments made in the new 8th Army currency B.M.A (British Military Authorities) with a limit of £2-0-0 to ORs. See Appendix 2. 1100 hrs the striking of Bivvys, packing of personnel equipment, filling slit trenches and the general cleaning up of occupied areas. 1200 hrs lunch. 1245 hrs HQ Company and MMGs embussed and moved into position ready to start for new Battalion area. 1300 hrs HQ Company and attached arms moved off via the road running south from the area and contact the main road. 1500 hrs Battalion embussed and prepared to move. 1525 hrs Battalion move off to Brigade start line which was road junction at Castel Benito Gate. In the following order Battalion HQ, B, D, C, A Companies. 1700 hrs Battalion arrives at new Bivvy area and settles down. Normal sentries during the night.
  • 27 Jan, Wed 0730 hrs reveille. 0800 hrs breakfast. 0900–1130 hrs devoted to the digging of slit trenches and settling in the new area. Heavy rain fell during the morning. 1200 hrs lunch. 1530 hrs Coy Commanders conference at Battalion HQ where the following points were made known: (1) The NZ Division would be staying in this area for at least five weeks. (2) that the enemy is holding a line known as the Mareth Line. (3) Battalion reinforcements who recently arrived in Egypt were coming up to join Battalion. (4) a parade representing all Arms of the 8th Army would be held in Tripoli and the allocation of men for this Battalion will be one Officer in command, 6 NCOs and 23 ORs.  (5) Leave not yet finalised. 1700 hrs tea. Usual guard.
  • 28 Jan, Thurs  0730hrs reveille. Remainder of day as per syllabus. See Routine Order No.7.
  • 29 Jan, Fri  0730hrs reveille. Normal routine. The remainder of day as per syllabus. Normal sentries.
  • 30 Jan, Sat 0730 hrs reveille. 0745–0815 hrs P and RT. 0830 hrs breakfast. 0900 hrs Battalion Detachment for the Division Church Parade depart for rehearsal at corner of road at Suani Ben Aden. See Church Parade Order.  B Company depart for Tripoli for leave. 1200 hrs lunch. Remainder of day as per syllabus. 1600 hrs Battalion OCTU nominees proceed to HQ 5 NZ Infantry Brigade for Brigade Commanders interview they were as follows:- WOII Pahau (MM) C Company, Sgt Waerea I Section, Sgt John I. Walker Carrier Platoon, Sgt Bill Te Anga Anti/Tank Platoon. During this afternoon a rugby XV comprising of officers of the 23 Battalion arrived at the Battalion sports ground to play a Battalion Officers’ Team. The game which was played in good spirit resulted in a draw, the score being 6–all. The curtain raiser to this game was a friendly match between the Battalion’s A and B Teams. See Routine Order No. 6 which list team members. Normal sentries. The unit’s strength, excluding officers, was 708 ORs, 6 of who were attached from NZEME. 53 ORs were required to bring the unit to full strength. The total number of officers was 35 (3 of whom were attached).
  • 31 Jan, Sun 0800 hrs reveille.0830 hrs breakfast. RCs parade and depart for Tripoli to attend Mass. Representatives of the Battalion for the Army Church Parade embuss and depart. 1000 hrs Battalion assembled on C Company Parade Ground where the Unit Chaplain conducted Divine Service. The remainder of the day was utilised as a period for all members of the Battalion to write home. 1300 hrs Army Church Parade personnel arrived back. 1700 hrs tea. Normal sentries maintained throughout the night. See Routine Order No.9.

Reference

Archives New Zealand = Te Rua Mahara a te Kāwanatanga
28 (Maori) Battalion War Diary, WAII 1 1666 DA 68/1/37-38

Submitted by mbadmin on Sun, 10/02/2013 - 14:56

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