Baker's account of the bayonet charge at 42nd Street

Fred Baker, the Battalion's fourth commander writes from the Middle East on the 24th of June 1941.  This extract is taken from his letter where he describes the bayonet charge at 42nd Street. 

The next day he decided to switch off other units and have a crack at us.  I was one of our forward Coys. and he picked on us.  He got right up to us and then we caught him from all sides and gave him a hell of a surprise.  The ones that got away did not stop till they were at least a quarter of a mile away.  His planes came back to us after that of course as well as his mortars and we spent the day dodging.  That night we pulled back again as his planes were playing up.  He followed up and the next morning early he came right down on us.  It was there that we had our greatest bayonet charge - the Bn. had had about four others while up at Maleme Aerodrome and knew what effect they had had.

In this one, three other N.Z. Bns. And one Aussie Bn. came in with us and we swept the whole area in front of us for about 1000 yds.  The formation was something like this as we went in: 


Baker bayonet charge

Our Bn. was slightly in front of the others and went straight after him.  I am very proud of that show as I lead my whole Coy.  (or rather what remained of it) myself, and they lead our Bn.  Our Coy. was spread out in one single line right across our front and two other Coys. followed us, taking up half the front each.  Jerry tried to hold us back with everything he had.   We had no supporting fire except Bren and Tommy guns fired from the hip as we came.  We walked all the way, jumped into his first positions, bayoneted or tommy-gunned them, then walked on to his next line.  My fellows behaved as if they were on parade and after we got to his second line he started to crack and run.  We got to about his fourth line before we met any further opposition.  We soon silenced that.  By that time all opposition had vanished - the rest of the day he spent in reforming at a safe distance and once again dealing with us from the air.  It was during this advance that I got my whang in the right arm - that was during the first 300 yds.  I would say.  I bled like a stuck pig and as I went on till it petered out I did not feel too hot by the time I got the R.A.P. for attention.  Still it was worth it for on our front dead for dead the odds were in our favour by 30 to 1.  Then we call him a soldier and we were fighting the famous Jaegar Divn. at that!  Whenever they came near enough we cracked him and as soon as we can keep his aircraft in check he can pack up and go home.  They were certainly unnerved on the day I am referring to and their shooting was frightful.  I should have been shot to pieces as I was about 10 yds. in front of my crowd and the chap who got me was no more than 20 yds. in front of me.  He was behind a tree (this all happened in a big olive grove or groves) and fired two bursts at me with his sub-machine gun and that is all he could do.  I know if my life had depended on it I would have done much better, for my boys got him.  Strange though it sounds, I was the only casualty in my Coy. there, although we stayed in front throughout.  I did lose two other men but they had become detached and went in with the Aussies further over.  The other losses were in Coys. behind us.  Jerry won't forget that show in a hurry and for the next five days he handled us very gingerly although his Air Force (like the poor) were always with us. 

Read Dyer's account of the bayonet charge on 42nd Street.


Archives New Zealand = Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Campaign in Greece 1941, correspondence files 28 (Maori) Battalion
WAII 3 1/12 

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