The Battalion with the rest of the Division move to cross the Sangro River in transports. Congestion at the bridge see the troops abandoning transport and fording the icy river to march to their destination, Point 208. The Battalion see their first action in Italy on December 7th. The Division made another attempt to take Orsogna. A, C and D Companies would advance up the Pascuccio spur and hold as deep as the railway line. B Company are in reserve.
- Temporary Lieutenant Colonel: Major MC Fairbrother(CO)
- Majors: RRT Young, C Sorenson
- Captains: Arapeta Awatere, James Henare, Kereti P Mariu, Jack Reedy, Tutu Wirepa, Syd Jackson
- Temporary Captains: Harry Lambert, PF Ornberg, H Wikiriwhi, WDP Wordley
- Lieutenants: G Katene, G McDonald
- 2/Lieutenants: HW Northcroft, Clarence Balzer, TH Pile, PC Munro, Moana Raureti, L Paul, KT Hetet, LP Anaru, Riki Smith, G Tamahori, JR Tomoana, Steven Urlich
- Attached: Capt Cam D’Arcy (RMO), Capt (Rev) WT Huata (Padre), Mr DR Perry (YMCA). Temporary Second Lieutenants: WE Jones, N Mahuika, M Searancke. Second Lieutenants: BC Christy, TC Baker. Lieutenants: WH Prescott (S NZ Infantry), NYM Hutchinson (27 NZ (MG) Bn)
- 1 Dec, Wed Reveille 0600 hrs. Breakfast 0700 hrs. 0700 hrs Commanding Officer, Company Commanders and Sig Officer moved off per jeeps to recce area at P +coy, 208 area. 0730 hrs Intelligence Officer had separate group vehicles formed up on the road 200 yards from Battalion HQ area in the following order: Battalion HQ 10 vehicles, Anti-Tank Mortars, Carriers and followed by the Anti-Aircraft. Company cook and store and store trucks made the total number of vehicles 44. Route Attases right of the Marcone feature and road Bailey bridge area. 0900 hrs Battalion 2 i/c Major RRT Young and (RMT) vehicles carrying troops to turn off at the Division Calvary crossing 345940 fitting in behind the Battalion group. B echelon remained behind in Battalion area 385 865. Much delay in the passage due to the bad approaches to the Bailey bridge. 1400 hrs All troops crossed over the River Sangro wading through the icy cold water and arrived in the area before the vehicle. Commanding Officer and Company Commanders with Brigade Commander recced task assigned to the Battalion- to make a night assault on Red House and exploit 500x beyond. 1600 hrs Separate group arrived at area. 1630 hrs Dive bombing attack by enemy fighters on Bailey bridge but had to jettison their bombs in 21 Battalion area due to interception by spitfires in strength and in an offensive sweep. 1700 hrs Assault cancelled due to good progress made by the 23 Battalion and Division Calvary who exploited to Elici. 23 Battalion had actually taken the road assigned to us. Situation now well in hand on both 5 and 6 Brigade fronts. Practically in Castel Frentano and at top escarpment. Troops bed down for the night and all vehicles arrived in spite of the bad roads. They were well dispersed and camouflaged. Weather: Over cast during morning. Slight rain before dinner but later cleared in the afternoon. Very cold night.
- 2 Dec, Thurs Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. 0900 hrs Commanding Officer attended conference with Brigade Commander. 0930 hrs Commanding Officer, Intelligence Officer and all Coy Commanders accompany Brigade Commander per jeeps to 23 Battalion area beyond Red House overlooking Castel - Frentano. Decision made to move the battalion up to the top of the escarpment to take up 23 Battalion area. Brigade HQ to establish in 23 Battalion HQ area: 28 Battalion forward to command Castel - Frentano – Lanciano road. 1000 hrs Coy Commanders returned to bring up the Battalion per Elici road. Brigade Commander, Commanding Officer, Intelligence Officer and 23 Battalion Commander went forward to recce positions for 23 Battalion to take up. 1100 hrs Returned to Battalion and met them coming up Elici road. Intelligence Officer went back to meet the convoy and led them up to the area. The Commanding Officer returned to Pt 208 to pick up stores etc, and returned in time to set out positions for the Coys. 1300 hrs The Coys settled down in their new areas as per appendix (H Attached). From right to left: D, C, B, A Coys overlooking the main Castel - Frentano – Lanciano road. Anti-Tanks sited to protect right flank down main road with C Squadron of 6 Lancers and Indians forward of own guns. Coys digging forward positions for night and positions on reverse slopes for the day. They also maintained night listening posts. 2300 hrs HQ Coy Anti-Tank patrols took one prisoner-deserter from 5 Coy 145 Programme of the 65 Division. He was forwarded to the Battalion HQ where he was held overnight by the Battalion Provosts. Weather: Fine although looked very much like bad weather in the afternoon.
- 3 Dec, Fri Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. Battalion holding defensive position by daylight- occupying alternative positions. 0900 hrs Prisoner forwarded to Brigade HQ ME 109 raids (approx. 6-12 planes) during the day. No damage to battalion area. Bombs fell forward of D Coy forward plan area 317004. Reports came to say that 6 ME 109’s were shot down over our front. 1900 hrs Contact made by Intelligence Officer with Fifth Essex- over Corp boundary. Weather: Fine weather holding.
- 4 Dec, Sat Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0900 hrs Capt Wordley reported in to the Battalion from Bari after convalescence period. 1000 hrs Commanding Officer visited Brigade and returned at 1100 hrs to Battalion area with Brigade Commander. 1330 hrs Coy Commanders conference. General outline of War given by the Commanding Officer. Battalion still occupying positions and no enemy air raids all day. 1500 hrs I.O1 controlled stonk (artillery bombing) by 6 Field artillery on 3-88mm guns in area 26550345-2 shots were controlled from C Coy HQ area. 1900 hrs Coys carry out wiring practice in own lines, utilising wire left by the enemy. Battalion spent another quiet day in area- no shelling except forward of A Coy frontage (Castel Frentano). Enemy guns attempting to neutralise Division Artillery on reverse slopes. Weather: Overcast- Slightly chilly. Slight rain during early night.
- 5 Dec, Sun Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1600 hrs. 0830 hrs Intelligence Officer and Commanding Officer visited Brigade HQ to get news of the front. Sixth Brigade apparently now by-passing Orsogna and Guard Iorele with a right hook to cut the Orsogna- Poccioficrito road. Padre conducts short services in the Coy area’s during the day. 1000 hrs Coy Commanders conference with Commanding Officer and the general picture was given to all Coy Commanders. Intelligence Officer visited all Coys and made contact with 5 Essex on the right flank of D Coy. 1300 hrs Commanding Officer again called a conference in preparation for move all Coy Commanders, Tank Squadron, (C Sq), Captain, Deans, MMG Commanders, the Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer accompanied the Brigade Commander and Brigade Stewart to view point 289020 from Fifth Forward Artillery OP. Enemy fields were pointed out and a general plan outlined to all. Move also outlined, 28 Battalion to move up after dark and lie up in Wadi (Branch stream of Moro River) area 2601. Possible attack night Mon/Tues. Second Patrol requested by Brigade Commander to recce possible route for tanks to feature Sfasciata 265035 and to recce possible crossing further branch of Moro River. Coy Commanders returned immediately to fix up patrols and prepare Coys to move. 1600 hrs Patrol leaders’ 2/Lt Northcroft and 2/Lt Tomoana were taken to the OP with Tank Officers-Lieutenants Passmore and Thompson who are to make recce on behalf of the tanks and the patrol plans were made. Lt Thompson was wounded at the OP unknown to the party. 1730 hrs Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer RV at OP with patrols which consisted of:- 1 Officer, 10 Other Ranks plus one Tank Officer. 2/Lt Northcroft’s patrol was sent off on time. 2/Lt Tomoana’s patrol remained with relief arranged for 2/Lt Thompson through Fifth and Sixth Brigade. Incidentally the patrol did not get away so they reported back to the Battalion at 2230 hrs. 1830 hrs Battalion moved forward to area rear slopes from 24 and 25 Battalions on feature Felice in the following order:- Battalion HQ A Echelon vehicles, only troops were carried on RMT vehicles and they debussed at OP and marched straight down to the Wadi and across to the Battalion area. Precautions for debussing here was due to the heavy shelling of cross roads (289032). Immediately the troops had debussed the RMT moved down to cross roads and returned to camp per Lanciano, with the mortars carriers following in the rear. 1900 hrs Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer moved on to possible Battalion area to recce Coy areas Battalion HQ decided on as at 264018. 2100 hrs Coys arrived in the area and settled down for the night in their allotted areas. Dress for the troops:- heavy battle order, and with a few haystacks around they made themselves as comfortable as possible. 2330 hrs 2/Lt Northcroft returned with his patrol and reported that they were fired on by the enemy with mortars and spandaus but suffered no casualties. He reported also that they heard his six barreled mortar (Nebelwerfer) but none landed near his patrol. Result of patrol:- Track to ford 281039 possible for Tanks- beyond this difficult-recce in the morning necessary. Weather: Fine in early morning but heavy fog set in in the afternoon making observation difficult. Air: Attack by 15 Fochewolfs on Lanciano. Heavy Anti-Aircraft met the raiders and also a heavy concentration of small arms. Spitfires arrived on the scene and the raiders made off in a hurry.
- 6 Dec, Mon Reveille 0430 hrs. Breakfast 0500 hrs. Brought down to Battalion from B Echelon by the Battalion 2i/c Major RRT Young and he returned to B echelon before first light as the Bailey Bridge 280025 to cross roads 289032 was under observation by the enemy and subjected to heavy shelling by mortars and Artillery. 0600 hrs Commanding Officer Lt Parsons (Tank Recce Officer), 2/Lt Northcroft and Intelligence Officer moved down via reverse slopes to 25 Battalion right flanks to make a daylight recce of the Ford and track leading to feature Sfasiata 282039. From this position track deemed impossible for tank passage. 0700 hrs Intelligence Officer takes both Lt Parsons and 2/Lt Northcroft to Fifth Brigade HQ for patrol report and from there to Sixth Brigade HQ where General Officer Commanding was in conference with Division OGp re the proposed Orsogna assault. Attack order for tonight cancelled and postponed for tomorrow in order to tie up more firmly details of the attack. 1100 hrs Intelligence Officer returned from Brigade and the Coys were resting and preparing for call if necessary. 1330 hrs Commanding Officer conference with Coy Commanders- plan for attack very doubtful yet details not available. 1800 hrs tea was brought up by the Coy 2i/c’s and the troops were fed on the road. 2i/c’s returned at 1900 hrs. 2000 hrs Sapper arms (Anti-Tank) vehicles arrived at Battalion and were dispersed along the road. Coy bivouacs were also brought up and they were appreciated by the men as it rained that night. During the day the Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer visited the various HQs 24 and 25 Battalions to gain information on the front and also to make recce to the 24 Battalion Platoon HQs 263023 to view the enemy fronts. Tracks for jeeps were also recced, but it was necessary to send a night patrol to make a full recce. 1930 hrs B Coy was assigned the duty of relieving the 25 Battalion standing patrol (Strength 1 Officer and 10 Other Ranks at 255025). The object of the standing patrol is to protect the Coys approaching the SL tomorrow prior to the attack. Dress: heavy battle order plus 24 hrs rations and maximum ammunition- likelihood of no hot meals for two days. Intelligence Officer guided Coy out to Platoon HQ 24 Battalion 263023 and set the Coy off along the telephone line to the outpost. Intelligence Officer also guided 2/Lt Jones and 3 Other Ranks (Patrol) to recce possibility of road and track for jeeps and Anti-Tank guns crossing to outpost. 2230 hrs B Coy reported back that they have arrived and are digging in at the outpost- all quiet. 2330 hrs 2/Lt Jones reported back to Battalion from patrol with the information that the track is impossible for jeeps to cross therefore for attack MT movement Nil. Weather: Slight rain during afternoon. Very uncomfortable for the men as no bivvys were erected. Slight fog in the evening enabling movement of outpost and recce patrols. Air: Two bombing attacks by Luftwaffe on Lanciano area. Orsogna Assault.
- 7 Dec, Tues -FIRST ACTION IN ITALY- 0430 hrs Reveille. Breakfast brought forward again by Coy 2i/c’s in jeeps from B Echelon area Castel-Frentano 313093. 24 hrs rations issued to troops and Coy 2i/c’s returned before first light. Morning spent making preparations for the coming stunt. 0830 hrs Commanding Officer conference with Coy Commanders and Support arms Commanders re the plan- decision to make the assault not yet final- higher Command still deliberating whether to make a night show of it or not. General planed outlined- Division plan: Repeated attempts to break through Orsogna unsuccessful. Division attempt then to make a right flanking attack to cut road Orsogna-Poggiofiorito. Attack to be made as follows: (a) 24 Battalion on left to assault Orsogna and clear road for tanks, (b) 28 Battalion centre: Objectives rd 240028 to 247035 and exploit to railway and beyond on forward slopes, (c) 23 Battalion to make assault on feature Sfasciata 264035 to 280044 and thus protect right flank and possibly exploit to road 250038 and to make contact with 28 Battalion right flank. Support Weapons: Air (a) 148 Kitty bombers to strafe and bomb Orsogna-Poggiofiorito road and give support, Artillery (b) To stonk whole enemy area for 1 hr, then creeping barrage in front of advance, Anti-Tank (c) Anti-Tank gun positions along feature Felice (25 and 24 Battalions existing front) and fire onto road, MMGs (d) to take up positions along feature Felice and give covering fire, Mortars (e) all 4.2 mortars under Command Mortar Officer, 21 Battalion positioned at approximately 265024 to give assistance in advance, 25 Battalion (f) from existing front to give support as far as possible with fire.
Fifth Brigade Plan: As above where applicable. Due to hilly and rough nature of country for advance unit MMg and Anti-Tank weapons would not be possible to move with units in the assault therefore strictly speaking attack would be purely Infantry, supported only from long range. Unit Mortars would be manhandled across.
Battalion Plan: Battalion to move to SL. under cover of barrage in order of march; C, D and A Coys followed by Battalion HQ SL fixed by Artillery Barrage at 1430 hrs across ridge astride track at 256037.
Plan of Assault: D Coy left, C Coy right. Objective bend road 240028 – road 242031 to bend in road to 242031 – track inter Coy 245035 and exploit across Bdy and exploit across Rly to forward slopes.
A Coy: to follow in rear of the two forward Coys and on success to exploit to left of D Coy along road towards Orsogna to bend 233025.
B Coy: From its standing patrol role at 255025 to follow in reserve and take up position around Battalion HQ probable area 254028.
Support Arms: MMGs to remain in present area Felice and move around road through Orsogna on success signal by 24 Battalion. Squadron of Tanks under Capt Deans, likewise. Anti-Tank guns under Maj Awatere, likewise. All move forward to battalion on possible success to be under control of Battalion 2i/c located at present Battalion area. No wheeled traffic would move with Battalion due to impassibility of MT, even jeeps. Consequently all reserve Ammunition, Medical supplies etc. would have to be manhandled over, including Mortars.
1000 hrs Brigade Commander arrives at Battalion HQ with all Support Arms Commanders- plan to attack at 1430 hrs and to be a daylight show. Brigade Commander outlined the whole operation and final orders given. 23 Battalion “O” Group also arrives at Battalion and receives operation orders. Plan of attack:- 23 Battalion right, 28 Battalion Centre and 24 Battalion left. Objectives: consolidation and exploitation as per diagram (appendix H). 0900 hrs Intelligence Officer, Coy Commanders and 2i/c to view the ground of operation from forward Platoon HQ D Coy 24 Battalion. 1000 hrs Brigade Commander visited Battalion HQ and ran through the whole operation in conjunction with the Artillery-MMGs-Tank and Anti-Tank Commanders. Plan for 23 Battalion assault was also brought out by the Brigade Commander at Battalion HQ. Commanding Officer of the 25 Battalion, who is to provide a firm base, was also present. 1000 hrs – 1100 hrs Coys prepare for moving up. Dress: Battle order less respirator. 24 hrs rations carried plus maximum ammunition. Carrier Platoon personnel utilised to carry reserve ammunition, stretches and medical supplies (carried by manual labour), mules also standing by to transport ammunition forward if required. 1115 hrs The Coys moved off in the following order: C, D, A Coys followed by Battalion HQ. Route to SL Battalion HQ moved up the road thence through the 24 Battalion lines. A Coy moved to forward Platoon HQ thence down steep Wadi following outpost line to outpost itself. 1145 hrs Battalion moved forward in column if route to forming up area 263020 in order C, D, A Coys followed by Battalion HQ. 1215 hrs Enemy firing at Anti-Tank guns along 25 Battalion ridge, others falling in Battalion area causing slight casualties and damage. 1 casualty from A Coy evacuated and 1 Bren Carrier damaged. For a while Battalion area concealed as it is on reverse slope hitherto quite safe from enemy shelling. Shells falling mainly in the Support Arms area. 1300 hrs Artillery opens up and a very heavy concentration put down over whole enemy area. Weather conditions at that time very hazy and dull with a tendency to rain, smoke shells also making visibility very limited. Runner despatched by B Coy over shorter and better route reported that advance to SL possible in one hour’s time so C Coy delayed ST from forming up area till 1330 hrs. 1330 hrs Coys moved forward to SL in dispersal order and suffered no casualties. Battalion HQ was then caught by heavy Mortar fire in 24 Battalion A Coy HQs. Heavy shelling on 24 Battalion forming up area. 1430 hrs Barrage by artillery defining SL and a few shells were falling short collecting 3 casualties in B Coy outpost. Coys up to this time clear of enemy shells, until they encountered small arms fire from the escarpment face. Battalion HQ still pinned down but were able to move forward later to Platoon HQ 24 Battalion and viewed the Coys advancing from top of deep Wadi. Enemy still shelling Battalion area. Up to this time the Artillery barrage provided good cover from observation of the forward troops from the enemy. Furthermore the natural conditions of the ground and the thick heavy fog combined and made a very good screen. 1430 hrs Coys approach to SL accomplished safely excepting A Coy who suffered one casualty. Main Assault: (For graphic details of the action see Coy Commanders reports in appendix “D” attached; the following is a very brief account from thence on- the main details being included in the Coy Commanders reports. 1715 C Coy had arrived on its objective and are consolidating. Battalion HQ established in house 253029. D Coy was fiercely contesting the steep escarpment on the left- the very steepness of it made the progress very difficult. A Coy in its reserve role had moved in to support D Coy by fire. 1810 hrs C Coy counter attacked 5 or 6 Tanks followed by Infantry and threat so imminent, flank so open, that the Coy Commander had to order a withdrawal. Coy routed by tanks which came down from Poggiofiorito road. One flame thrower being reported and the tanks manoeuvred in behind the Coy FDLs and pounded and shot them up with LMG. One tank possibly "Mk 1V" special (although reported at that time to be Mk V1) was fired on at 20 yards range with Piat Mortar and reported disabled due to tracks blown by placing 6 Hawkins Mines under the tracks. C Coy moved back to Battalion HQ area. Prisoners of War taken were from the 7 and 8 Coys 146 Pgr – 165 Division. 2200 hrs B Coy held back as reserve now, was brought forward through Battalion HQ area and ordered to take up positions along the escarpment ridge at approx. 247030; and to contact A and D Coys on the left. C Coy now takes over reserve positions around Battalion HQ area. They were also utilised as stretcher bearers and ammunition carriers. 1930 hrs A Coy straddled the road and commenced to dig in. Strong counter attacks were staged by the enemy against A Coy and in all A Coy suffered 5 counter attacks and at least 10 infiltration attempts. 1730 hrs D Coy although suffering perhaps the toughest advance of the battle due to the precipitous nature of the country had succeeded in getting to the top of the cliff and by 1930 hrs the Platoons had consolidated over the main road. 1930 hrs C Coy informed A and D Coys that C Coy was being counter attacked by tanks so Coys had to withdraw to the edge of the cliff and dug in. From now till approx 0100 hrs when all Coys had consolidated and that Coy Commanders were satisfied about their positions, the enemy made repeated counter attacks, but the lip of the cliff prevented any serious damage. A Coy sent back to Battalion HQ an urgent request for replenishment of ammunition. By this time reserve ammunition had been brought up per mules under 2/Lt Urlich and a point established in B Coy area in reserve. 0100 hrs Commanding Officer had seen that the positions would not hold out by daylight so a withdrawal order was given and forwarded to Coys over the 38set. 0130 hrs Order for withdrawal given as par appendix “C” attached. Battalion to withdraw to original bivvy area, B Coy to cover the withdrawal. A and D Coys to commence withdrawal at 0230 hrs. Carry out own wounded and ammunition. C Coy operating from Battalion HQ as carrying parties for the wounded to the RAP. 0230 hrs Forward Coys commenced to pull out but found it difficult to disengage from the enemy; apparently they had sensed a withdrawal as from 0200 hrs heavy mortaring and shelling down both Wadis until daylight. 0400 hrs Forward Coys completed disengagement and commenced the long trek back to the original Bivvy area. B Coy left a party to guard out post in B Coy former reserve area consisting of 1 Officer, 2/Lt Northcroft and 8 Other Ranks. B Coy completed withdrawal by 0630 hrs. Reserve ammunition left in dump at out post area. By time of arrival of all Coys 2i/c of all Coys had breakfast awaiting them in the former area. Tired and weary the Coys arrived in at various times from 0530 hrs to 0700 hrs having carried own wounded back. All personnel then retired and slept the sleep of exhaustion proud of having attained their objectives but greatly disappointed in having to give up ground which cost so much life and material. Following are particulars dealing with the action see appendix “I” attached.
- 8 Dec, Wed 0500 hrs First of Coys personnel arrived in. C Coy carrying wounded on stretchers. 0500 hrs – 0700 hrs A, B, C and D Coys arrived in at various times, tired and weary. Coy 2 i/c’s had breakfast ready and fed their men on the road as they came in. All troops then retired for a well-earned rest. For the remainder of the day Coys rested and there was very little movement about. Preliminary checks of Coy personnel was carried out in the late afternoon. B Coy Platoon under 2/Lt Northcroft was still out in the outpost and was in direct line command with Battalion HQ. Nothing to report from the outpost apparently the enemy had left them alone as no movements seen on the enemy front. Regrettable feature of the withdrawal was the fact that due to excessive stretcher cases within the Battalion itself 10 German stretcher cases were left at the RAP, although local Italians went to assist them during the day. Outpost on instructions from Battalion HQ visited the RAP and reported that the wounded were still there. Coy Commanders were called together and a decision was then made to send out a carrying party and a fighting screen to bring back the wounded. After consultation with the Brigade Commander, final decision made to carry out the venture commencing at 1830 hrs. 1830 hrs Carrying party of 40 personnel (part of HQ personnel and part of A and B Coys) protected by 2 Platoons of fighting strength from C Coy as screen moved out plus 12 Mules to bring back the Battalion reserve ammunition. 2300 hrs Everything completed without incident and a very successful job. Outpost Platoon under instructions from Battalion HQ left with the party and returned to Battalion HQ. Outpost now vacant. Weather: Fairly cold day and over cast all day. Quite uncomfortable for the troops but weariness overcame for the day at least. Slight drizzle at times.
- 9 Dec, Thurs Reveille 0430 hrs. Breakfast 0500 hrs. Under usual arrangements Battalion again resting up – after complete rest yesterday troops are again taking interest in things and general cleaning and tidying up in the areas. Divine service was conducted by Battalion Padre (Capt Huata) during the day. Very quiet on the whole. 1600 hrs Commanding Officers conference with Coy Commanders- general picture outlined and a possible programme given. Coys given option to return to B Echelon area if desirous and to move as a whole Battalion, but as there is a likelihood of going into operation again, Coy Commanders expressed the desire to remain in present area and be handy. Weather: Very quiet and warm day- very mild weather. Bright sunshine giving troops time to dry up a few wet clothing items and a good rest.
- 10 Dec, Fri Reveille 0430 hrs. Breakfast 0500 hrs, under usual arrangement Coys still resting. 1000 hrs Brigade informs Battalion to move back to previous area (present B Echelon area) 31259925 Castel-Frentano. Information and reason for pulling out- NZ Division is to remain as it is, until a further Division (5 British Division) brought up on right between NZ Division and Ind sector Poggiofiorito and then further attacks in the Germans. 1100 hrs Coy Commanders conference and the information passed on. Orders as follows: Troops to march straight across the Wadi and up the slope join the road at approx. 285008 and to march via Castel-Frentano to Coy areas already allotted by 2i/c’s – incidentally the same areas previously occupied; prior to move down for attack. Order of march:- A, B, C, D Coys, SL immediately after tea at 1830 hrs. Ammunition trucks and bivvy trucks to move down with the evening meal and to carry back to the areas all stores etc. Truck convoy to move at 0200 hrs. During the afternoon Coys prepared to move back – packing up battle order as for march back and stacking of heavier stuff (Piat Mortars Ammunition etc.) onto transport for transportation back. 1730 hrs Coy 2i/c’s arrived with the tea and was served on the road. 1830 hrs Coys then set off on march back to Castel-Frentano area. All ammunition and packs were loaded at 1900 hrs. 2300 hrs All Coys arrived safely back in their areas and settled down for the night.
- 11 Dec, Sat Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. Coys settled down in their areas and found them very muddy and dirty, nevertheless the majority of the troops found shelter in the form of deserted houses and dug-outs. A quiet day spent on the whole- (little shelling mainly concentrations on Lanciano and Castel) Frentano areas against own Artillery. No aerial attack today, in fact no air activity all around due to adverse weather. Slight rain and overcast all day. Coy 2 i/c’s working on indents for re-equipment for the men after the action. All jeeps in the Battalion (10) have Coy letters painted on them. During the afternoon Anti-Tank personnel took 6 pdrs downhill in the direction of Elici and practice transport up and down hill slopes. 0930 hrs Intelligence Officer and Sergeant visited Brigade HQ for information and also to collect maps:- 9 series of 1.50.000 scale of country forward of Orsogna. Sufficient maps were collected to issue down to Platoon Commanders. 1300 hrs 39 reinforcements arrived in from Bari (Adv Base) and were immediately posted to their respective Coys. 1330 hrs Regimental Medical Officer and padre visited MDs at Attessa to see the wounded. 1630 hrs Officers mess formed in half of civilian’s houses and functioned well. Routine Orders issued today. Lanciano and all Towns declared OUT OF BOUNDS due to trouble by Indians with own troops. Weather: Overcast all day, fairly heavy rain during the night. Slight drizzle during the day, however ground very soggy and wet and uncomfortable.
- 12 Dec, Sun Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. Routine as per Routine Order 124. Another quiet day for the Battalion – no aerial attacks and no shelling in the area. Drizzling weather makes conditions very difficult and uncomfortable for the troops. 1400 hrs Changeover of Brigade runner, Private P Mackey returning to the Battalion. 1730 hrs Battalion church parade held in the Battalion HQ area and all Coys were present for it. Divine service was again conducted by Padre Huata and a commemoration for the killed in action. The Commanding Officer then addressed the gathering and explained the present position and future plans as it affects the Battalion. 1900 hrs Slight trouble by HQ Coy Anti-Tank personnel re the procuring of wine from local inhabitants, however Major Awatere and 2/Lts Urlich and Raureti smooth the trouble over. Weather: Drizzling and overcast all day, very uncomfortable for the troops and there is slush everywhere.
- 13 Dec, Mon Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0900 hrs The Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer left for Brigade HQ to get news from there and went on to 23 Battalion area Sfasciata ridge with Brigade Commander and 21 Battalion Commander. Intention is to move 28 Battalion into line to relieve 23 Battalion but Lt-Col Romans expressed desire to remain in present area. 21 Battalion to move down to Bailey bridge area while 23 and 28 Battalions remain in present locations with 28 Battalion in reserve. 1230 hrs Lunch supplied by 23 Battalion. 1430 hrs Party returns. 21 and 28 Battalion Commanders recce possible lying up area for 21 Battalion. The Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer 28 Battalion was then held up till 1630 hrs due to heavy shell fire on Hell-Fire corner. 1000 hrs Battalion warned to prepare to move but order was again cancelled at 1300 hrs from 23 Battalion forward HQ by Commanding Officer 28 Battalion. 1300 hrs Confirmation service held at main Division Bishop of Southwark. Party of _____ from Battalion travelled per 3-3 tonners and 15 cwt, including officers: Capt SA Jackson and Lt G McDonald. Seventieth Brigade ( Fifth British Division) passed through road HQ and D Coy en route to front to take positions right of the NZ Division. Aerial activity very slight due to unfavourable weather conditions. No attack by the Luftwaffe, again a very quiet day for the Battalion. 1930 hrs Party of 30 Other Ranks moved to Hell-Fire corner and came under command of Sapper Officer assisting in the construction and maintenance of the road- they are under possible shell fire by German 88 mm. Weather: Overcast during most of the day. Westerly breeze and very cold.
- 14 Dec, Tues Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 1000 hrs Brigade Commander’s conference at Brigade HQ re the stack tonight by 21 and 23 Battalions and Fifth Brigade. 25 Battalion on left and 1 Coy Northhamptons on right- another Orsogna Assault. The Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer proceeded to Brigade to attend the conference. The Commanding Officer then proceeded later to 21 Battalion old area forward of Brigade area with the Brigade Commander and 21 Battalion Commander and viewed the ground. 1230 hrs Both the Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer returned to Battalion. Capt Matehaere and Lt Aperehama arrived in from Bari (advance base) after having stayed overnight at Rear Second NZ Division HQs. Capt Matehaere returns to former position as Coy Commander D Coy. Aperehama Officer Commanding Mortar Platoon. 0900 2i/c accompanied by the Padre proceeded to recce 21 Battalion area evacuated for a possible B Echelon area. During the day Anti-Tank Platoon practised on speed tests dismantling the 6 pdrs and reassembling and they far exceeded the time laid down by the Brigade. Another quiet day was spent by the Battalion as there was no aerial activity of any sort. 1300 hrs 2/Lt Christy moved down to the 25 Battalion area to take over command of the 4.2ʰ dets of mortars. Ambulance jeep to be used with 23 Battalion HQ but returned to the unit. 1700 hrs Small party of fatigues by HQ Coy under Command of 2/Lt Urlich proceeded to Castel-Frentano to repair the tiles in the road in the middle of the town. 2200 hrs 2 dets, 1 mile of wire and 4 telephones were forwarded to 2/Lt Christy at own request so as to be able to assist the attack tonight. Party left at 1045 pm. 1730 hrs Pictures (NZ YMCA) was shown in the Battalion area. “Boom Town” and it was a very good show. All Battalion personnel were present. 1400 hrs The Commanding Officer’s conference with all Coy Commanders re the situation mainly and the attack tonight. Attack carried out during the night and it was a very successful job though the casualties were heavy. 23 Battalion 150 casualties and 21 Battalion 80 MG Platoon (Lt Hutchinson) revert under Command MMG Coy and was utilised for the attack. Weather: Overcast all day with slight rain in the evening.
- 15 Dec, Wed Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. Progress of Orsogna battle was followed on the 22 set and 38 set intercept by wireless. 0830 The Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer went forward to Brigade to get the full details of the action and it was then learnt that the 23 Battalion was rather smacked and the decision made then to send in the 28 Battalion to relieve them. Battalion was warned per phone to prepare to move and the Coys set to and packed up. 0930 hrs The Commanding Officer and the Intelligence Officer returned from Brigade and a conference of all Coy Commanders called. Programme:- Big hot meal to be prepared for lunch. Coy Commanders to move forward to the Ford 281039 with the Commanding Officer and then forward to the 23 Battalion area to recce Coy areas. Battalion to leave at 1430 hrs, to be in heavy battle order and are to march all the way. Order of march: Battalion HQ, A, B, C, D and HQ Coy. HQ Coy role – no Anti-Tank or carriers to be used but personnel to be utilised as stretcher bearers and ammunition carriers. B Echelon to remain in present area. 1230 hrs Hot meal was served the Coys immediately after prepared for move. 1300 hrs The Commanding Officer moved onto Brigade HQ and learnt that due to the success of the Tanks having exploited down from 23 Battalion area road Orsogna 230020, decision was made then not to relieve but to exploit with Tanks to bend in rod overlooking Orsogna. Plan to attack at 0200 hrs with Tank support. Coy Commanders called for immediately and plan for attack explained by the Commanding Officer. 1430 Troops moved per RMT vehicles to Bailey Bridge 280025. 1630 hrs Intelligence Officer guided the Coys to the Ford and led them up to 23 Battalion area 263034. 1530 hrs The Commanding Officer and Coy Commanders moved up to 23 Battalion HQ an awaited the arrival of the troops. A and D Coys moved down per RMT and debussed at Shell Alley and moved to Ford and onto Battalion assembly area by 23 Battalion HQ. 1900 hrs B and C Coys arrived at 23 Battalion HQ where they rested for a while. Plan was then given to B and C Coy Commanders that they were to go forward of the Tanks (harbouring area cemetery 240028) and give protection to the Tanks. A and D Coys to lie up and more or less wait in reserve and are to be prepared for morning assault on bend Orsogna with Tank support. 1930 hrs B and C Coys moved forward to take up positions 300 yards in front of Tanks. Coy bdys : B Coy left of Rly to the edge of escarpment 239029 to 242028. C Coy along Rly and contact 25 Battalion and 23 Battalion lone 239029 to 243035. 2000 hrs Both forward Coys finally settled in with the lines of Command also laid in. 2100 hrs Battalion HQ moved forward and established at 24750325 in little house down reverse slope. RAP also established 200 yards north of Battalion HQ on Sfasciata Ridge 248035. 2200 hrs A and D Coys moved up and went into position respectively as in areas 245032 above and forward of Battalion HQ. A Coy took 6 Prisoners of War identification 6 Kompanie 146 65 Division. 2130 hrs The Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer with FOO Maj Robertson Fourth Field Artillery, went up to Eighteenth Squadron HQ and contacted Commanding Officer and plan for attack laid on for tomorrow morning. 1 Squadron to go up left of road followed by D Coy at 400 yards interval, then 1 Squadron to move up right of road followed by A Coy at 300 yards interval. Time of starting 0700 hrs. The Tanks and the two Coys would leapfrog through. B and C Coys made arrangements with FOO to give observed shooting if possible. 2300 hrs The Commanding Officer called a conference with Coy Commanders and explained details for the attack. 2359 hrs Settled in and very quiet. For the evening meal hard rations, which were carried by the men. Casualties for the day: 4 Anti-Tank personnel- Sergeant Richard, Corporal Tukaki, Sergeant Tinirau and Private Hepi J, who dies later at the ADS. Weather: Overcast and quite chilly – misty during the evening.
NOTE: Entry 0700 hrs- This account does not correspond with Main HQ Fifth NZ Infantry Brigade Sitrep for 17 December which shows that the tanks reached a point within a few hundred yards of the town. It is also worthy of note that Twentieth NZ Armed Regiment claimed the Infantry support was poor. Tanks and Infantry lost touch.
- 16 Dec, Thurs All quiet on the front. 0130 hrs 6 Prisoners of War taken mainly by A Coy and were identified as 7 Coy 146 Regiment 165 Division and 4 Coy Marsch Battalion 26 Pz Division. 0200 hrs Peace of the night was shattered by an urgent request for stonk by D Coy 21 Battalion. Word was received that enemy tanks were counter attacking from Arielli direction. Stonks called for over phone to Brigade and when it did come it fell short, however it was effective. Lt-Col McKurgow Commanding Officer of the 20 Armed Regiment at cemetery, informed us of the enemy movements, thus all preparations were made to meet the thrust form Arielli. However no necessity for moving our Tanks as the Stonk knocked the enemy Tanks back. Positions at that time were B and C Coys in original positions while A Coy was dug in on the reverse bank approx. 300 yards forward of Battalion HQ. They also contacted 25 Battalion Coy on Pascucci Ridge. D Coy also dug in on reverse banks on flanks of Battalion HQ. During the emergency D Coy moved forward to the right of C Coy and A Coy was warned to prepare to go forward and assist either flank. After the excitement which lasted for at least 1 hour all quiet again. 0630 hrs Tanks with A and D Coys prepare for the assault. 0700 hrs Tanks as prearranged plan moved forward down road towards Orsogna but progressed no more than 50 to 100 yards when they were pinned down by Anti-Tank fire. During previous evening Tanks had proceeded unopposed to the outskirts of the village itself but on this occasion progress limited and things brought to a standstill. Apparently enemy had moved Anti-Tank guns up during the night. 8 Tanks were knocked out by Anti-Tank fire and their policy was to let all 8 Tanks pass them, then picked off the last and then dealt with the others in turn. A and D Coys attempted to clear all Anti-Tank guns but being so well camouflaged and sited they presented great difficulties to our infantry. Counter Barrages of mortar and shelling by the enemy made things worse. As no progress was made the Coys were ordered to return to former positions this being effected about 1200 hrs. B and C Coys remained in their positions until last light when B Coy was ordered to draw in close to Battalion HQ and to take up positions along the Pascucci Ridge track north of the cemetery, C Coy to contact B Coy on left. Intense shelling during the day causing few casualties. For the remainder of the day Coys were merely holding the line. At last light 23 Battalion withdrew completely from the line and D Coy took over right flank making contact with 21 Battalion in the right. Thus by last light line was held by 28 Battalion (as per sketches in appendix attached). 25 Battalion Coy extreme left on Pascucci Ridge. B Coy to the road and across and C Coy along Rly to D Coy on the extreme right. Battalion HQ moved back to new area and established at 255035. A Coy fell back into reserve role and took up HQ in RAP building. RAP established in same building as Battalion HQ. All quiet with only spasmodic shelling by the enemy.
- 17 Dec, Fri 0145 hrs 21 Battalion calls urgently for Stonk “John” and again at 0147 hrs for “Joseph.” 0300 hrs All quietened down, till 0304 21 Battalion again calls for “Joseph.” D Coy right forward platoon under 2/Lt Smith reported that shells were falling short and D Coy Commander suggested that a rise of another 200 yards would remedy it. However correction was made through 21 Battalion. Purpose of Stonk was that Infantry was heard milling around both 28 Battalion right flank and 21 Battalion front. 0520 hrs Request by D Coy for 2 more 38 sets arranged with Sig Officer. Patrols from A, B and C Coys out overnight (as per patrol report appendix “E” (missing) attached). 0600 hrs Meal brought up per mules to Battalion HQ. Coys still on 25 hrs rations as it is too dangerous and too much labour in bringing up meals twice a day. Hot meal was brought up to the Coys in the evening and was served in Coy areas. For remainder of the day Coys remained under cover and in trenches as shelling was very consistent and causing many casualties, mainly in B and C Coy areas. Stretcher bearers called for quite frequently and they rendered good service. 20 Armed Regiment established their HQ with our own at Battalion HQ and function conjointly. 1800 hrs The Commanding Officer calls Coy Commanders in and makes arrangements for tonight’s programme. C Coy to send out 1 Platoon in full fighting order to 241036 and remain there the next day as standing patrol. D Coy also to send one out to 243040. Both Platoons to take mines and to lay them on the road for possible Tank interference. Fairly quiet night from now on until 0300 hrs when enemy activity fairly evident once more. NB: For subsequent entries to the end of the month refer to “Daily I. Log” Appendix G.
- 18 Dec, Sat 0312 hrs Company calls for MARCUS (Modified.). 0335 hrs C Company again calls for MARCUS. 0530 hrs Breakfast delivered to Battalion HQ and HQ Company per mules. 0745 hrs D Company patrols of Officer 2 Lieutenant Pomona and 6 Other Ranks leaves Start Line 249039. 0825 hrs C Company patrol of 3 Other Ranks leave Start Point 243035. 0900 hrs Brigade Commander talks to Commanding Officer over telephone. 0908 hrs Captain Matahaere reports per phone results of patrol. 0910 hrs C Company reports in result of patrol. 0930-1030 hrs Commanding Officer in communication with Company Commanders per phone advising them to rest as much as possible 1000 hrs Heavy shelling of Battalion HQ area by enemy (air bursts and heavy mortaring) 1100 hrs Commanding Officer in communication with Brigade. DWR reports to Battalion from Brigade with despatches. 2 Italian civilians are brought in under escort from D Company having walked over from enemy lines. 1105 hrs Commanding Officer talks to 2nd in command Ordering Anti Tank guns to be brought forward tonight. 1115 hrs Mortars open up on enemy positions. 1150 hrs Commanding Officer arranges with B Company (25 Battalion) to pick up Ammunition from dump on Fascuccio Ridge. 1205 hrs Commanding Officer in telephone Communication with Brigade. 1430 hrs Brigade Commanders ring Commanding Officer for plan of advance tonight. Advance in conjunction with 21 Battalion - shallow only and to go across Rly and road to shallow wadi. 1500 hrs C Company pin points enemy mortar and in conjunction with FOO. 60 roads were put down on the area. Apparently damaged as no shelling came from the area afterwards. Commanding Officer confers with all Company Commanders over tele phone re-patrols for night 18/19 December. DETAILS: D Company 1 platoon - 242040, C Company 1 Platoon - 241036, 21 Battalion 1 platoon - 246045. 0800 -1100 hrs Burial party under Major Awatere including RSM and Padre moved out to bury our dead from attack night 7/8 December (2 Lieutenant Paul, Private Thompson, Foster, Te Haate, Balzer, Rikihana, and Ria.) Commanding Officer talks to Brigade Commander over phone. Artillery FOO in conjunction with Captain Wirepa observing from C Company each out and put down ‘stonk’ on observed enemy gun positions. 2300 hrs Silent Show- occupy posts as outpost fight way in if possible but not to a stand still. Platoon to take grenades or mines block track on right as soon as possible. CSMs to report back (Kaika and Parata) to Ammunition Dump at 1000 hrs for instruction in priming and laying mines. Intercom 38 set back to Company - extra Battery for Company and Platoon sets in addition to wire laid by Platoons. Approximate advance : 300 yards. Supporting arms (Anti/Tank) 5 to B Company and 3 to C Company tonight - hauling carriers by bulldozer. Orsogna to be bombed by medium bombers. Df tasks to be laid on. 1830 hrs Mine carrying party under RSM and consisting of 8 Bren Carrier personnel (4 to each Company) left to pick up mines from the Battalion dump (C250034) and are to be laid across tracks in North West corner square 2403. 1645 hrs CDF asks received from Brigade by phone and plotted out onto maps. 1950 hrs Intelligence Officer and Intelligence Corporal left to inform the Companies of the tasks and arrangements for tonights Pln offensive. 2045 hrs BM informs Commanding Officer that air assault on Orsogna postponed for 24 hours. All Companies informed by Sergeant to that effect. 2050 hrs Captain Mariu Officer in Command carriers reports to Battalion HQ that 7 Anti/Tank guns have been hauled up by his carriers as far as Battalion HQ. One gun slipped over the bank and had to be left until daylight. 2240 hrs Major Young arrives at Battalion HQ with first mule team carrying Mortar ammunition. Spasmodic shelling during first half of day and night. Heavy mortaring and shelling of forward areas all day. 2250 hrs Lost contact by wireless and phone with C Company. 2300 hrs 1 Platoon from D Company set out to establish outpost at 243040. No contact with C Company Patrol. 2325 hrs Captain Matehaere reported that patrol was well on its way. 2330 hrs Lieutenant McDonald (Signals Officer) still trying to make contact with C Company by 38 set. Phone call from Commanding Officer. 21 Battalion inquiring on progress of platoon - D Company platoon well- C Company out of touch. 2345 hrs Intelligence Officer returns from Companies. Captain Matehaere reported man slightly wounded in foot (accidentally). 2349 hrs Captain Matehaere reports that platoon making good progress- 2 signals received from them so far- no sign of enemy yet. C Company still out of touch, also B Company. 2347 hrs Intelligence Officer 21 Battalion reports their patrol now at 251046. 2359 hrs Captain Matehaere reports 17 platoon has reached their objective and are now consolidating.
- 19 Dec, Sun 0004 hrs 21 Battalion informed. 0007 hrs I Sec 5th Infantry Brigade informed. 0012 hrs Still no reports from C Company - out of communication still. 0025 hrs Phone message received from 2/Lieutenant Balzer to send up all available Anti/Tank personnel with camouflage nets to D Company. Written message forwarded per runner to Major Awatere. 0035 hrs Duty Officer 5 Brigade HQ (asked for an x bearing on enemy guns firing onto 21 Battalion area 265034- bearing of shelling from this spot 330 degrees.) Have asked Captain Matehaere to report. 0040 hrs Captain Matehaere reported that 17 Platoon being heavily mortared and also considerable Spandau fire. 0042 hrs Line to D Company Out. 0100 hrs 21 Battalion informed of trouble to outpost Platoon. 21 Battalion reports that platoon has run into opposition- located 4 enemy- tried to stalk them but run into Spandau fire. Calling down Magpie. 0119 hrs Captain Matehaere reports per 38 set that 17 platoon is withdrawing - 4 wounded so far- more expected. 0125 hrs ‘Magpie’ delivered. 0129 hrs D Company reports that Magpie is falling short. 0135 hrs Wireless and line communication to D Company out of order. 0145 hrs C Company line out of order. 0154 hrs Contacted Company by wireless. 0155 hrs Adjudicate contacts Captain Matehaere by 38 set and Captain Matehaere reports the following:- 2/Lieutenant Searancke missing and 4 Other Ranks wounded. Wounded arrived at Company HQ. 0215 hrs Adjudicate informs 21 Battalion of casualties and reported on what the patrol found regarding enemy held positions along track. 0229 hrs Adjudicate also informed the Duty Officer (Brigade HQ) that both our patrols have pulled right back to the FDLs. 21 Battalion also informed. 0230 hrs Contact with C Company out. 0252 hrs 21 Battalion patrol withdrawing. Report from D Company states that a scrap is in progress in front of Company front. Enemy attacking. 0300 hrs 21 Battalion called for ‘Raven’. 0305 hrs D Company called for ‘Cromwell’. 0308 hrs Adjudicate asks Brigade to hold ‘Cromwell’ to enable 21 Battalion Patrol to return to their Forward Lines. 0311 hrs ‘Cromwell’ set to go. D Company informed. 0314 hrs “Raven” delivered. 0322 hrs “Cromwell” delivered. 0330 hrs D Company reports that 2/Lieutenant Searancke is now back with the Company, not wounded but still no sign of Isaacs. 0340 hrs A Company line out of order. 0410 hrs 2/Lieutenant Searancke reported by phone what actually happened when he reached his objective. 0505 hrs Brigade Ord Officer informed us of 21 Battalion’s patrol-enemy Str and dispositions. 0510 hrs 21 Battalion informed of our casualties etc. They also informed us of their patrol casualties (1 died of wounds, 2 wounded, 2 wounded and missing including patrol commander 2/Lieutenant McGregor. 0545 hrs Major Young Battalion 2nd in command left for B Echelon. 0600 hrs Battalion HQ store-man arrives with breakfast. 0700- 0830 hrs Rather quiet. Commanding Officer leaves to visit Company areas. 0845 hrs Enemy mortar conc- 2 mortar personnel wounded. 0900 hrs FOO orders artillery to silence enemy mortar. 1010 hrs FOO orders another concentration with 2/Lieutenant Munro observing from forward FDL. (cemetary area). 1000 hrs Brigadier Stewart (4 Army Brigade) arrives at Battalion HQ. 1100 hrs C Company brings down concentration on enemy OP. Change over now of FOOs. Report by 2/Lieutenant Searnacke (as told over phone)
Moved with forward section reached road, fired upon by one MG post, located a short distance to the right on road. Replied with own LMG fire from section and threw hand grenades with no apparent effect observed. Enemy MG appears to have a good field of view and fire along road to left and over area to approximately 100 yards this side of road. Platoon returned to own FDLs, stayed for approximately 30 minutes to observe. Well defined ridge just on other side of road falling away on the other side - unable to state depth. Enemy force- Strength unknown, probably Platoon come forward by left depression approximately 300 yards away. I moved back before then. Enemy came right up to own FDLs. Casualties:- 3 Other Ranks wounded (Evacuated) 1 Other Rank accidentally wounded (evacuated). 1 missing wounded believed killed- Private D Isaacs.
D Company: Crossed road prepared to dig in. Fire on all round. 4 MGs definitely identified appeared to be heavily held by Infantry. No Mortar fire. Casualties:- 1 Officer and 1 Other Rank missing wounded believed killed. 3 wounded (evacuated).
- 19 December, Sunday cont. 1200 hrs Change over in FOOs. Fairly heavy shelling and mortaring on Company areas. Artillery Mortar Tasks :- B1 234025- 2/Lieutenant Munro’s fire. E1 238039 - Captain Wirepa’s fire. E2 236035- Captain Wirepa’s fire. 1345 hrs Heavy shelling in area around 249034- counter battery by our guns. 1420 hrs Brigade Intelligence Officer arrived with Air Photos etc- tasks for Med given- situation given. 1435 hrs Brigadier arrived and conferred with the Commanding Officer. Changes in Personnel. 2/Lieutenant Hetet took over command 14 platoon C Company while Sergeant Ngata returned to HQ Carrier Platoon. 1600 hrs 2 Snipers sent out to Companies:- Lieutenant Corporal Shaw to C Company and Private Smythe to D Company. Heavy shelling of C, A, and B Companies. D, B, C called for Artillery tasks E1 and B1 and concs were put down. 1615 hrs T Waitere of D Company wounded was brought into RAP. 2 Carriers (D Company boys) also slightly wounded in very fierce barrage when being carried down to RAP. 1700 hrs Commanding Officers conference with Company Commanders at Battalion HQ on programme for the night as follows:- NO patrolling other than standing patrols. Mines to be laid in Tank approaches to all Company areas- mines requested-. A Company nil as Company is in reserve and 2 Platoons out in gap between C and B Companies. B.30, C.30 and 10 at Company total 40. D.8 only. Strategy now is to hold bridge- head here while thrust is being made on the Coast. Tanks to be withdrawn from area as it caused too much shelling of the troops. One troop will be retained in Battalion HQ to be a reserve. 1 troop further of Anti/Tank guns would be brought up and 12 guns would be placed in position giving thus with the mines a good Anti/Tank defence. Carriers will be retained as mobile reserve. Aerial bombardment of Orsogna will be carried out tomorrow. 1800 hrs Hot meal bought up per mules again. 1830 hrs Enemy aircraft bombed Division Artillery causing quite a disturbance. 1920 hrs C Company reported enemy movement down road parallel to 23 gri. and Parrot ordered on it. 2000 hrs Major Young visited Battalion HQ for general orders and returned to signal centre at 2030 hrs. 2130 hrs BM reported 18 armoured regiment moving back to Division Sector from direction Arielli between 0600 hrs and 0700 hrs 20 December.
- 20 December, Monday 0120 hrs DT cipher message received giving password. Very quiet night. Enemy fire spasmodic Artillery. Division Artillery fire harassing fire all night. 0630 hrs Breakfast arrives per mule team. 0700 hrs Shelling again in Company areas A, B, and C Company casualties. Two wounded (B Company Corporal Tamehana and Private Bluett). 2000 hrs Company tank approached mined by Company and A/A personnel. RSM in charge of party. 0700 hrs 18 Armoured regiment passed through. Kitty bombers and vicious staffing carried out over Orsogna. 2000 hrs YMCA issue of 2 bars of chocolate per man. Company HQ situated at the following:- A Company: 249033, B Company:- 246029, C Company:- 243033, D Company 249038. During the day B, C, D Company Commanders pin pointed targets for the Artillery STONKS and were very successful. Quite a lovely day for Artillery mortaring and shelling. Kitty Bombers at 1100 hrs bombed and straffed Orsogna village. 1510 hrs Phone call from Intelligence Officer. 24 Battalion informing 28 Battalion that they are sending a harassing patrol to the entrance to the village. Start time 2200 hrs Return approx 0100 hrs (3 hrs duration). 1515 hrs Commanding Officer and Adjudicate laying out route for fighting patrols(2). 1545 hrs Brigade Intelligence Officer visited Battalion HQ with current situation. 1600 hrs Second in Command arrives with parcels and etc for the men. Lines to Companies duplicated, forward exchange also. Major Shaw OC Anti/Tank regiment recced in conjunction with Major Awatere. Anti/Tank positions 3 guns were coming up. 1645 hrs Commanding Officer details patrol by phone- small fighting patrols. A Company 1 Sergeant and 5 Other Ranks to 235028 cross roads to identify enemy holding positions . B Company 1 NCO or Officer and 7 other ranks to 239033. 1700 hrs Intelligence Officer returns from forward reconnaissance. Commanding Officer in conference with BM on phone re establishment of FOO and forward OP. Troop of Staghounds arrived and leaguered in area just forward of Battalion HQ. 1800 hrs Commanding Officer confers with Signal Officer re duplication of lines and establishment of forward exchange and Tactical HQ. 1900 hrs 5 Division Patrol plans received from Brigade. 2000 hrs 3 Anti/Tank guns arrived and went straight into position forward of MMG area by Bell House. Fighting patrols left. 2100 hrs FOO. 66 Medical Battery arrived from 21 Battalion and were informed to report tomorrow morning at 0600 hrs and will be guided forward. 2230 hrs Patrols returned without casualties and gave very interesting information of the Enemy lines. Forward exchange established and new Company line laid out.
- 21 Dec, Tues Very quiet night up to 0100 hrs. 0137 hrs FOO. 66th Medical Battery arrives ready to go forward to OP. No activity in Battalion front after 0145 hrs. No shelling, steady light mist - surface soil sticky. 0530 hrs Very heavy shelling and mortaring. 0600 hrs Tanks from 20 Regiment less one squadron moved back out of the area. 0605 hrs Breakfast arrives. 0650 hrs Intelligence Officer and Corporal left to man forward OP. 0815 hrs Phone call from 24 Battalion informing 28 Battalion of results of harassing patrol. 0845 hrs Commanding Officer makes a recce of the forward Companies. 1015 hrs Brigade Commander visited Battalion HQ. 1030 hrs Commanding Officer 28 Battalion and Commanding Officer 20 Regiment in conference with the Brigade Commander. 1100 hrs Message from Brigade:- 28 Battalion (Artillery STONK 1400 hrs “Murder” 2300220 North of Orsogna (med)) (Artillery STONK 1448 hrs 23850374) 21 Battalion STONKS 1806 hrs 24300460, 1815 hrs 2470470. Air Sp: “Flash” 1117 hrs Reports considerable MT movement North end and East of Casonar, Vacri, Guilliano. Report: 1125 hrs from Intelligence Officer at Forward OP 250041. MR 248045 MG nest 500 yards from OP. All Companies informed of Artillery Concentrations. 1500 hrs Major Young arrives at Battalion HQ. 1600-1700 hrs Heavy shelling by enemy long range guns on whole of Battalion area resulting in 7 casualties:- 2 killed and 5 wounded. Total casualties to 1700 hrs :- 2 killed 8 wounded. 1700 hrs Tea was brought up per mules. HQ 20 Regiment with 2 Tanks moved back to the rear. STONKS list comprised - therefore new list made out and Companies notified. 2200 hrs A Company attempting to carry out the dead, ran into heavy mortaring and shelling, were unsuccessful in attempt. “CROW” called for and passed through 5 Brigade.
- 22 December, Wednesday Fairly heavy shelling in various areas during the evening and on our own Artillery firing periodical Stonks. Signal message for A Company 2230- Flares 1 red- Mortar call for, 2 reds- Artillery. Identifications made by Captain Henare. 0518 hrs Heavy shelling of Battalion HQ- calibre of shells unknown, possibly 105 mm - shelling lasted 5 minutes. 0800 hrs Breakfast per mules. 0900 hrs Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer left per jeep for Brigade HQ to attend conference. Spasmodic shelling only during morning otherwise very quiet. 1130 hrs Brigade Sitrep and mail arrives at Battalion HQ. 1200 hrs Kitty Bombers straffe Orsogna. 1230 hrs Lunch. 1300 hrs Med bombers also has a crack at Orsogna. Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer return from Brigade HQ bringing Air Photos of the area. 1430 hrs 2nd in Command arrives at Battalion HQ. 1520 hrs Captain Wirepa reports that mortaring fire is coming from around point 337 (square 2303) and the CO rang Brigade calling for a Stonk “CROW”. 1700 hrs Spasmodic shelling. 1715 hrs Tea. 1800 hrs Commanding Officer in conference with Company Commanders at Battalion HQ re the proposed attack for tomorrow night. 28 copies each of Lanciano-Chieti arrives at Battalion from Brigade HQ. 2030 hrs 4 Pins from D and companies 26 Battalion arrived at Battalion under command Major [?] to take over positions at present held by D Company. 2045 hrs D Company guides leads the relief up to the positions. 2100 hrs 4 large shells fell in Battalion HQ area. 2130 hrs Intelligence Officer phones 21 Battalion informing them of our patrols for tonight. 2140 hrs Major Awatere details 1 Officer and 2 Other Ranks to do flash spotting in conjunction with 66th Battery FOO. 2230 hrs Major Molynes [?] 26 Battalion returns to Battalion after having affected relief of D company positions and had settled his men in. 2230 hrs C Company provided 2 patrols- recce under Lieutenant Baker and Mahuika.
- 23 Dec, Thurs 0000 hrs C Company Commander sent in first patrol report. 0235 hrs C Company Commander sent in second report. 0630 hrs Breakfast brought up by mules. 0800 hrs Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer leave to attend Commanding Officers Conference at Brigade HQ. 0930 hrs Major Sorenson calls for Artillery targets E1 and B2 as heavy mortaring is coming from that area. 1130 hrs Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer return from Brigade bringing Artillery traces for Artillery programme in Sp of 5 Brigade tonight. 1230 hrs Lunch. Major Young Battalion 2nd in Command is in command of Battalion tonight for attack and he was also in conference with Commanding Officer tying up various arraignments within the Battalion and with flanking units. 1510 hrs Brigade Commander arrives at Battalion HQ and holds conference with Commanding Officer (Major Young) and Major Phillips SP Tank Squadron. Very busy at Battalion with preparation for the attack. 1300 hrs Signals Officer Lieutenant MacDonald killed due to mine explosion and also Private Andrews of HQ Company wounded. 1430 hrs Commanding Officer in conference with 2nd in Command and Intelligence Officer. 1530 hrs Commanding Officer phones all Company Commanders to report to present Battalion HQ area for Officer Group conference. 1700 hrs [Site editor note: diary damaged and text is unreadable up to 2100]. Line communication with Brigade established. 2100 hrs -0400 hrs All quiet - periodical mortaring and shelling only.
- 24 Dec, Fri 0400 hrs Barrage starts. C Company pulled into house to shelter from Artillery barrage. 0430 hrs The barrage lifted and B Company and A Company moved into position. 0435 hrs The Companies advanced under barrage. Lines of Communication cut. 0450 hrs A Company reported everything OK. 0452 hrs D Company reported moving up to Start Line. 0500 hrs A Company reported that they are resting about 500 yards away. 0501 hrs Tanks commenced to move up. Sappers under command of an Officer to sweep up mined road under protection of 2nd Lieutenant Hetet and 20 Other Ranks moved to the road and commenced to work. 0503 hrs A Company again advanced and reported little opposition. No sign of B Company. 0509 hrs Still no sign of B Company. 0515 hrs SA Spandau possibly ours very active now on B Companies front. 0516 hrs a Company reported that they have gone beyond house and all well. 0518 hrs Tanks moving up slowly on the tail of the Infantry and are now turning onto road. 0521 hrs D Company reported at Signals centre now. 0528 hrs A Company resting again and are being fired on by Mgs. 0529 hrs Inquiry by D Company re positions of A Company - replied 300 yards beyond cemetery. 0531 hrs Contact with B Company being sought. No word from B Company or A Company re their position. 0534 hrs No casualties in A Company yet and Mg fire died down. Inquiry again as to B Company position. 0540 hrs Tanks reach cemetery. Remarks: Very little counter battery on cemetery during period on Start Line. 0545 hrs Tanks contact sappers now past cemetery. 0546 hrs D Company at cemetery. 0552 hrs A Company 500 yards beyond cemetery. 0553 hrs D Company enroute to FDLs - going well. 0609 hrs A Company good progress. 0612 hrs D Company contacts A Company 26 Battalion who have taken Prisoners of War. 0616 hrs Tanks about 600 yards to go to turnoff - sappers OK. 2 Prisoners of War taken by C Company on road identified as 5k 146 Regiment. 0617 hrs Contact made with B Company for a while. Operator and two others separated from Company Commander. 0625 hrs D Company reported having seen some of B Companies men. 0635 hrs Tanks and A Company now out of contact. 0645 hrs D Company 300 yards short of objective and still with 26 Battalion. 26 Battalion digging in and D Company asks for permission whether to carry on to objective. 0650 hrs Commanding Officer Major Young gives Captain Matehaere permission to dig in if he thinks it is advisable and to tie up with 26 Battalion on right on B Company on left. 0652 hrs D Company digs in and Brigade HQ advised. 0705 hrs Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer leave to visit forward Companies. 0708 hrs A Company calls for stretcher bearers and Captain Henare advises that Company is held up 300 yards past three story house. 0710 hrs Runner (Private Grant) from B Company reports B Company to Battalion HQ that they have struck tough opposition- also a call for stretcher bearers. Artillery (E) shelling and mortar fire and LMG. 0720 hrs A Company advises a number of casualties and reports 200 yards from objective crossroads. Asks for RSB and their Company Sergeant Major. 26 Battalion asks for information and reports that they are held up in Wadi by Heavy MG fire. D Company pushes on. 0725 hrs Sapper Officer reports back to Battalion that Tanks are veering right over Rly. 0728 hrs MG platoon gets permission to open fire. 0720 hrs 26 Battalion reports that they are going off the Air for half an hour. 0730 hrs 1 prisoner of War taken by Bren carriers. 0740 hrs Intercept from 21 Battalion - still advancing, Anti/Tank gun Knocked Out. Wireless Communication with A Company very faint. 0753 hrs Asks for Sun-ray (Major Young). (D 234033). 0759 hrs A Company calls for “DOVE” relayed to Brigade by 22 set. 0801 hrs Brigade advises that “DOVE” is given. A Company reports very heavy small arms fire. 0804 hrs Artillery Stonk “DOVE” is now here thick and heavy with mortar and MGs. 0805 hrs Adjudicate calls up 24 Battalion asking for mortar concentration on AB (prearranged targets) 232019, 230020, 228021. 0810 hrs MGs still hammering away at “DOVE”. Consistence call for S.B. parties sent forward. A Company CSM evacuated. 0817 hrs A company reports stonk “DOVE” very effective. Calls for stonk “DOVE” again considerable movement in enemy area. 0822 hrs A Company across road at 233025. Major Young returns from A Company. 0830 hrs Captain Henare asks for smoke forward of objective to enable his men to dig in. 24 Battalion sends down smoke screen. 0840 hrs Runner reports in from B Company. 11 Platoon at 23400265. 0845 hrs Major Young talks to General about situation. Prisoners taken 8 Company 146 2 5 Company 146. 0900 hrs Total Prisoners of War taken 6 all from 146 Battalion 65 Division. Commanding Officer phones BM. reports on situation. Captain Matehaere reports that our Tanks are on the road near his HQ. Major Phillips reports A Company not quite on objective. Prisoners of War sent out carrying wounded. 0908 hrs Artillery shelling around Battalion HQ (243029). 0910 hrs Intelligence Officer returns from Forward Company areas. Captain Henare signals A Company moving forward to cover tanks on sunken road. 0920 hrs Runner from A Companies right flank Platoon reported to Battalion HQ that his own Platoon and B Companies Platoon are together are in the one house. Also that two Tanks were blown up by mines just in front of their HQ beyond the turn off to the right across the Rly. Checked with sapper Officer and he reports that 1 Tanks tracks blown off by mines. D Company reports 6 casualties and all evacuated. Contact with Tanks lost for over half an hour now. D Company has also contacted 26 Battalion and B Company and have all tied up. 0930-0950 hrs Fairly light shelling and urgent request for stretcher bearers from all Companies. 1015 hrs Captain Lambert reported to Battalion with the information that D Company is dug in and is in Sp by three tanks hulled down and that the rest of B Company and A Company are all digging in. 1045 hrs Total Prisoners of War -14 (1 wounded, 9 walking wounded and 4 at rear Battalion.) 1047 hrs Major Young in contact with Major Sorenson Officer in Command of B Company over 38 set. 1051 hrs Lines of communication established with Brigade HQ. 1105 hrs Line communication established with A Company and Major Young talks with Captain Henare. A Company is still 100 yards short of the objective while D and B Company are 300 yards short. 1150 hrs Priority call for Brigade re casualties- informed as above. 1200 hrs 21 Battalion Sitrep 1030 hrs:- attacked and taken point 331 248089. 1216 hrs A Company calls for “DOVE” thickened suspected enemy attack. 1223 hrs Major Young rings 24 Battalion for mortar SP and MG Platoon att also for Sp. 1225 hrs “DOVE” comes over smartly. 1226 hrs Everything opens up on “DOVE”. Weather: Visibility very poor- drizzling and very misty. Stonk “DOVE” with attached MG Support and helped by mortars from 24 Battalion very effective indeed. 1245 hrs B Company strength reported by 2nd Lieutenant Northcroft; No.11 Platoon - 11 men, 10 Platoon- 16 men, 12 Platoon 23 men. No.12 Platoon 2 killed, 5 wounded. No.10 Platoon 2 killed, 1 wounded. No 11 Platoon 1 killed, 11 wounded. 1310 hrs 26 Battalion dispositions received by phone. B Company 242046, D Company 243040, C Company 24410136, A Company 238033 with two troops Tanks support right flank on first objective. 1300 hrs Major Sorenson reports back to Battalion (wounded in the shoulder with shrapnel. 1330 hrs 2nd Lieutenant Northcroft reports to Battalion HQ suffering from a shell blast. 1336 hrs A Company calls for “DOVE” as enemy counter-attacking. Adjudicate calls for MMG and mortar support. 1330 hrs 2/Lieutenant Munro reports back to Battalion HQ wounded. 1430 hrs Company Commander A Company 26 Battalion arrives at Battalion HQ on his way back to Tactical HQ, called in to tie up with D Company- also reported exact position of his two platoons. 2 more Prisoners of War taken from 8 Company 146 Battalion total 16 Prisoners. Casualties to date 1450 hrs 24 December 1943; A Company 12, B Company 22- 4 Officers wounded, C Company 8- 7 Other Ranks killed, D Company 2?, HQ 3. Total 47 approximately. Battalion Forward Lines at:- Battalion HQ 243029, 237034. 1500 hrs Major Young ties up with Brigade and Tank Commander position for the night. Screen to be put out to cover disabled Tanks at crossroads 23150230. 1515 hrs Intelligence Officer informs Brigade of approximate Forward Lines. 1530 hrs Brigade rings up to check up on dispositions. Rum issue arrives and sent out to Companies. 1600 hrs D Company calls for stonk “STARLING” as Enemy armoured cars are heard moving about in enemy area. 1610 D Company reports stonk “STARLING” perfect. 1623 hrs Rather quiet now and 21 Battalion calls for “SWAN”. 1628 hrs 2 Prisoners of War brought in to Battalion HQ from 5 Company 146 65 Division. Company Body:- 234022 Rt 233026, B Company relieved by C Company. Left Flank 233026 Rt 234027. D Company Left Flank 234028 Rt flank 237027. 1700 hrs Captain Henare reports back to Battalion HQ re situation on his front. Heavy mortaring and MG fire. Casualties A Company to date:- 6 killed 15 wounded. 1730 hrs Captain Wirepa receives orders from Major Young to take his reserve Platoon forward and relieves B Company who so far have suffered heavily in losing its Officer in Command and two platoon Commanders (all walking wounded). Sergeant took over Command B Company as from 1300 hrs today. RSM does very good work evacuating the wounded and carrying ammunition forward- good organisation. Weather: Still sultry. Mortaring as usual. 1900 hrs Tea arrives per mules. 1930 hrs Intelligence Officer ties up definitely with Brigade Intelligence Officer about 28 Battalion dispositions. 2000 hrs Orders from Brigade received re changes in command and relief of certain Battalions (see message attached). 2045 hrs Major Young Orders C Company to contact D Company right flank on left flank and also to put out on 1 section screen Tanks. 2200 hrs Captain Wikiriwhi reports B Company back in former position. 2215 hrs Brigade advises by 22 set that 20 Regiment has called down for “DOVE” and “STARLING”. Enemy appears to be attempting to scuttle Tanks. 2025 hrs “DOVE” and “STARLING” arrive. 2230 hrs Officer in Command 20 Armoured Regiment reports that enemy Infantry moving out from Eastern edge of village Orsogna, and firing on Tanks FOO arrives at Battalion with equipment and No. 19 wireless set. 3 inch mortars attached to Companies and Anti/Tank guns dragged into position by carriers. 2235 hrs C Company reports MMG fire falling short and they were advised. 2300 hrs Officer in Command Tanks reports having to leave disabled tanks unguarded- enemy appeared to be infiltrating. Commanding Officer orders 2nd Lieutenant Baker to meet Hart of the Tanks at 235026. 2315 hrs Lieutenant Hart reports that he is in the area. Weather: Night dark but no rain. Linesmen having trouble with lines.
- 25 December, Saturday, Christmas Day 0100 hrs Slight trouble re the picketing of disabled Tanks. Quiet night spent little shelling and mortaring by enemy. Absolutely the quietest morning we have spent since we arrived in the area. 0700 hrs Major Young makes a tour of all Company areas- found them comfortable, well dug in and in good spirit. 0800 hrs 28 Battalion comes under control 6 Brigade. The weather though still overcast has cleared up considerably. 0815 hrs Breakfast:- coffee and biscuits. 0900 hrs BM 5 Brigade rings through to Major Young. 0920 hrs Captain Matehaere asks for counter Mortar Fire around area point 225033. 0945 hrs Mortar and MG fire support is called for per Officer 24 Battalion but Mortars fall short. 1000 hrs Brigade DR arrives with dispatches and returns to Brigade HQ with Sitreps 24 and 25 December. 1030 hrs Mortars trying to range onto enemy mortar post that is annoying D Company- unsuccessful. 1050 hrs Brigade Commander visits Battalion HQ with LO Captain Marsden. 1100 Adjudicate arranges with Artillery Stonk to wipe it out. 1130 hrs Artillery sends over smoke shell to range. 1145 hrs Captain Matehaere calls for “STARLING” large number of troops moving about forward of his Company area - while one of our own Tanks moved round on D Companies flank to protect it. 1155 hrs “STARLING” with MG support from 24 Battalion. Lasted for about 5 minutes and was very successful. 1230 hrs Lunch (dry). 1300 hrs D Company reports C Company under heavy mortar fire. C Company out of touch either by line or by wireless. 1425 hrs Adjudicate rings 6 Brigade and informs them of our present fighting strength and casualties:-
A Company 54
B Company 57
C Company 67
D Company 56
Battalion HQ 58
HQ Company 94
Total 386 men: Casualties:- Killed in Action 10, wounded 44 including 4 Officers, unaccounted for 7. 1430 hrs C Company still out of touch- still heavy shelling in area. 1500 hrs Harassing Fire by MGs falling in our own area. 1615 hrs Heavy Barrage by enemy on 25 Battalion front- first decent counter barrage by enemy. 1620 hrs Confirmation of location of barrages from 26 Battalion and being beyond 25 Battalion. Light mortar around RAP area. 1625 hrs Arrangements for the finding off the 22 stretcher Bs. 1705 hrs Line Communication to all Companies which were destroyed about 2 hours ago have now been repaired. 1745 hrs Major Young confers with Major Awatere and Captain Lambert re siting of more Anti/Tank guns. 1800 hrs Tea arrived and was very good indeed for a front line. 1830 hrs Major Young arranges for a screen to protect disabled Tanks, 1 from A Company and 1 from C Company. 1900 hrs Major Young phones 26 Battalion and informs them of the enemy in str forward of their area by mortars hidden in the town. 2015 hrs Major Young talks to Brigade Commander re picketing of disabled tanks. 2045 hrs Major Young talks to Major Purcell about disabled Tanks forward of Forward Lines. 2103 hrs Captain Henare rings up for carrier to report to church to carry out stretcher cases- one of the tanks screen section wounded and evacuated. 2145 hrs A Company calls for “DOVE” reports considerable enemy movement on Company front. 1 Spandau firing intermittently.
26 Dec, Sun 0245 hrs Contacted 6 Parachute Brigade which took over from the 24 Battalion at 1800 hrs. 0315 hrs Shelling of Battalion HQ area - light probably mortar. During the whole night very quiet except for a few stray shells. 0330 hrs All contact with Companies out. 0345 hrs Brigade line out but contacted through 26 Battalion as theirs was still OK. 237045 26 Battalion Patrol. 0620 hrs 6 Brigade Intelligence Officer Captain Carson rang up making enquiries re the situation last night and gave them information on other Battalion activities. 25 Battalion NTR- 26 Battalion passed through 25 Battalion D Company and reached 237045 and recede road 20 wide metalled and passable to Motor transport. 0645 hrs Brigadier Parkinson rang through and made enquires re the situation last night. 0700 hrs Correction re “DOVE” made. Only MMGs Platoon used in the stonk. Situation also received from Brigade Intelligence Officer. Intelligence Officer and RSM left to make rounds of the forward Companies. 0800 hrs Breakfast arrives - welcome addition to fare- Ozone oysters supplied by YMCA (Mr Perry). 0900 hrs Intermittent shelling of area. 0940 hrs Brigadier Parkinson visits Battlion HQ with Captain Marsden. Casualties: 2 wounded (1 A Company and 1 D Company.) 1007 hrs Brigadier Parkinson leaves after conference with Major Young. 1010 hrs Intelligence Sergeant and 1 Other Rank from 24 Battalion arrives at Battalion HQ to make a recce of dispositions of Companies and a most suitable route to bring up their Battalion. Major Young informs us that we are to be relieved tomorrow night by 24 Battalion 6th NZ Infantry Brigade. Para Battalion (6 British) using mortars on targets A B C. 1030 hrs Observation of the Para mortars requested. 1130 hrs Attempts by mortars to range onto targets Orsogna area. 1230 hrs 6 Brigade Signals Officer arrives with DR. and trace given of Battalion dispositions.1300 hrs Commanding Officer arranges for 3 inch mortar shoot on enemy mortar position in house and asks Captain Henare to observe. 1333 hrs Sitrep received from 6 Brigade. Enemy spasmodically shelling the whole Battalion area. 1345 hrs Att Troops of MMG on harassing fire. 1415 hrs Enemy air bursts falling around the area. Major Young in contact with the Commanding Officer. Para Battalion 2 Para Brigade by phone and tied up arrangements for observing their mortar fire on target A B C in that area. 1425 hrs Commanding Officer gets into line communication with A C and D Companies and arranged for the mortar to be observed. 1430 hrs Signal Operator having a little difficulty in tuning into 6 Para Battalion on the 38 set. 1500 hrs Captain Mariu reported one linesman unaccounted for. 1512 hrs Commanding Officer arranges for 4.2 inch mortars to fire with Captain Henare observing from forward lines. 1545 hrs Adjudicate rings up A C and D Companies re mortar shoot by Para Battalion. 1600 hrs Sergeant Worall operating from A Company rang through C Company and Major Young rang 4.2 inch mortars re their shoot. Major Young also arranges with A and C Companies to discontinue their screen around Tanks but to post standing patrol as usual. MG Officer asks permission from Commanding Officer for harassing fire starting from 1700 hrs. 1615 hrs Intelligence Officer returned after contacting 26 and 25 Battalions on our right flank. Division Intelligence Summary received. 1700 hrs Shelling around Battalion HQ. A Company out of touch by line communication - considerable interference on the air- possible result of enemy efforts. 1800 hrs Hot meals per mules and also rum issue as authorised by Corps Commander for Christmas Day. Captain Culbert reports from OP. 1945 hrs Phone call from 6 Brigade advising that Artillery and MG will give the “DOVE” flashlight an occasional once over during the night. 2020 hrs Mostly mortar and shell fire around Battalion HQ. 2220 hrs Battalion contacts the 6 Para Brigade after which a fairly quiet night was spent.
- 27 Dec, Mon Very quiet overnight - slight mortaring of rear areas- big shell burst on B Company’s house, forward areas very quiet. 0530 hrs Intelligence Officer and RSM makes the usual rounds of the Company areas. 0600 hrs Major Young makes the rounds of the Companies. 0615 hrs 6 Brigade rings Intelligence Officer and informed that current rumour of enemy has pulled out Orsogna and that 6 Para Battalion is sending out a Patrol to see whether Jerry is still there or not. Information Passed through to Companies. 0530 hrs Burning Ammunition dump seen on road to Orsogna and is being investigated by 6 Para Battalion. 0900 hrs First elements of Battalion HQ returns to B Echelon carrying out the surplus gear. 1000 hrs Transport arraignments made with the Staff Captain re tpt to B Echelon and arrangements were made as follows:- 12 RMT vehicles to be at head of Shell Alley at 2000 hrs and 12 at 2100 hrs. 1030 hrs Commanding Officers conference with Major Awatere and Captain Ormberg re the move back and arrangements we made as follows:- Order of March for relief: A C D B Companies and Battalion HQ. Personnel to march to ford and then to Shell Alley where Transport would be available. Carriers to carry blankets and spare equipment and to be taken of by HQ Company. Hot tea only would be made available to troops enroute to ford by former 21 Battalion HQ. RAP to move back to area as soon as 24 Battalion RAP relieves them. 1100 hrs Arrangements made finally re transport. 24 Battalion Adjudicate rings re position of supporting arms. Shelling around Battalion HQ area. 1200 hrs Commanding Officer 24 Battalion and Intelligence Officer arrives at Battalion HQ during afternoon to familiarise themselves with the situation. Company Commanders and supporting arms Commanders arrive and were shown the various positions behind the line. 1600 hrs. Major Young and Commanding Officer 24 Battalion left to go forward but Major Young received a splinter in the leg so recce cancelled till dark. Company Commanders had to wait till dark and the Intelligence Officer took them out. First sign of relief as Companies inline appear along Maori ridge apparently observed by enemy as shelling was very thick and heavy then. However they arrived with no casualties and everything was set to go. 1700 hrs B Company 24 Battalion taken forward and relieved A Company. C Company 24 Battalion taken forward and C Company was relieved. 1800 hrs D Company 24 Battalion arrives and relives D Company 28 Battalion. Relief completed by 2000 hrs and the Companies commenced to pull out in order of relieving commencing with A Company. All reserve ammunition to be left behind and the 24 Battalion will take over everything. B Company pulled out first as they were in reserve. 1 carrier each allotted to Companies for carting of surplus stuff and to be stationed at 26 Battalion rear HQ. Companies having been relieved proceeded down to Shell Alley corner by 6 Brigade HQ where RMT transport arranged by Staff Captain 5 Brigade picked them up and moved off per Company blocks per Lanciano road to Battalion area. 24 vehicles being used in the transportation of troops. By 2330 hrs all Companies were back in their original positions though 21 Battalion occupied A Company area. However they managed to find another place. Battalion HQ returned to same house and the rest of the Battalion were confined in a small area. Carriers and HQ (A) Echelon remained in 26 Battalion HQ Rear area for the night and returned early in the morning. Number 1 Platoon MMGs remained with 26 Battalion. 2400 hrs All Companies settled in and rested.
- 28 Dec, Tues Location Castel-Frentano. 0730 hrs Reveille. 0830 hrs Breakfast. 1230 hrs Lunch. 1630 hrs Tea. Companies enjoyed complete rest also general clean up of arms. Returns for war-like equipment. Deficiencies of clothes were forwarded by Companies to Quarter Master. Re-equipment of troops on a large scale. Brigade Commander visited Battalion and informed Major Young that he is to take over Command of the 28 Battalion. Weather: Cold wet day. Very uncomfortable fortunately troops back from line. Though lack of housing accommodation troops slept in their bivvys.
- 29 Dec, Wed 0730 hrs Reveille. 0830 hrs Breakfast. 1230 hrs Lunch. 1630 hrs Tea. Another rest day for the Battalion - no programme set down apart from tidying up of equipment. Most of the Companies celebrated Christmas Dinner. 2 barrels of mutton birds sent from NZ also many patriotic parcels from NZ. Issue of parcels and two bottles of beer was made available to the boys. (Christmas Cheers). 1500 hrs Commanding Officers Conference with Company Commanders and programme made for future days. Companies to have showers. General discipline enforced due to remarks by Brigade Commander. Particulars about Promotions: Major Young to Lieutenant Colonel Commanding Officer 28 Battalion, Major Awatere to 2nd in Command, Captain Reedy to Officer in Command HQ Company, Captain Mariu in Command of Signals. Roman Catholic parade attended Mass at Castel- Frentano church. 2 vehicles made available. 1530 hrs 70 reinforcements arrived including 3 Officers. Weather: Wet, very cold. Northerly wind blowing right off the hills.
- 30 Dec, Thurs RO No 1 issued. 0730 hrs Reveille. 0830 hrs Breakfast. 1230 hrs Lunch. 1630 hrs Tea. Aerial activity today. Bombing and straffing by both British and Enemy planes. 0930 hrs Commanding Officers conference and a question of reinforcements brought out, particularly Officers. 1645 hrs Church Parade conducted by the Reverend Huata and the Battalion was addressed by the new Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Young. Weather: Fine day at last although conditions very cold. Overcast in the morning but cleared up in the evening.
- 31 Dec, Fri 0730 hrs Reveille. 0830 hrs Breakfast. 1230 hrs Lunch. 1630 hrs Tea. Battalion resting again- very cold day and conditions uncomfortable for the troops. 0930 hrs Commanding Officer confers with Company Commanders on Agenda supplied by Brigade HQ re the lessons learnt, previous actions. 1330 hrs Commanding Officer Company Commanders and Adjudicate left for Brigade HQ where Agenda agin brought out. CRA and CRE also present. Conference lasted till 1630 hrs. Many lessons brought in discussions. Very little aerial activity today. On the NZ Division front all quiet - actions confined to standing patrols. Pictures by the YMCA cancelled due to adverse weather. Weather: Rain practically all day. Occasional breaks in the weather- by evening raining fairly heavy. 2000 hrs First fall of snow experienced. Continuous throughout night.
- NEW YEARS DAY 1 January 1944, Saturday Reveille and breakfast disorganised due to fall of snow overnight. 0900 hrs Conditions very adverse. Bivvys snowed under making movements in the line very difficult. Typical English weather and the majority of the troops were very unfortunate in having to sleep in their bivvys. Intelligence Officer conference cancelled. 0930 hrs Roman Catholics mass in Castel-Frentano cancelled due to adverse weather. 1300 hrs Brigade Commander visits Battalion HQ. All Companies including Battalion HQ cleared 100 yards each of snow off the road. 1500 hrs Job completed. Apart from this the Battalion spent a very uncomfortable day.
Archives New Zealand – Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
28 (Maori) Battalion war diary, R23517744, A DQZ 18886, WAII 11666, DA 68/1/48
[?] denotes text in original diary indecipherable