Māori Battalion diary - September 1943


Lt-Col Reta Keiha relinquished his command of the Maori Battalion. He returned to New Zealand with the Whakatipu furlough draft, this being the balance of those who missed the Ruapehu draft in June.[1] His replacement was Lt-Col Monty Fairbrother.

On 8 September the Italians surrendered to the Allies. To harden the troops for the approaching Winter Campaign in Italy the Second New Zealand Division conducted a 100-mile (161-km) march from Maadi to Alexandria. While some of the Tenth Reinforcements joined the Battalion for the march, the majority of this reinforcement shifted from Mena and remained at Maadi Camp.  The Division covered the 100 miles in six days marching in stages at night and resting during the day.[2]

At the end of the month the Battalion’s C Company suffered 11 casualties from accidental shelling during night manoeuvres.

Back in New Zealand the general election was held (24 September) and Sir Apirana Ngata lost his seat, ending a 38-year parliamentary career.

The Battalion began the month with its full strength of officers ― 35 plus the doctor, padre, YMCA driver of Te Rau Aroha canteen truck and four junior officers. The latter seven were attached to the unit. 

  • Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel: Reta Keiha (CO)
  • Major: Russell Young (Bn 2IC), Chris Sorrensen
  • Captains: Peta Awatere, Jim Henare, Reg Mariu, Jim Matehaere, Jack Reedy (adjutant), Tutu Wirepa, Syd Jackson, Matt Swainson
  • Temporary Captains: Harry Lambert, Peter Ornberg, Monty Wikiriwhi, Ted Hayward
  • Lieutenants: George Katene, Wally Wordley, George McDonald, Rangi Tutaki
  • Second Lieutenants: John (HM) Tawhai,  Henry Northcroft, Aubrey Balzer, Jackie Pile, Pango Munro, Moana Raureti, Lou Paul, Kingi (Hoppy) Hetet, Wi Anaru, Riki Smith, George Tamahori, Boy Tomoana, Steve Urlich, Hoani Lawson, Harry Mackey, Everard Jackson
  • Attached: Capt. Cam D’Arcy (RMO), Capt Rev Wi Huata (padre), Mr Charlie Bennett (YMCA).  Temporary Second Lieutenants: Wally Jones, Nepia Mahuika, Wi Reedy, Monty Searancke


  • 1 Sept, Wed 0515 hrs reveille. 0545 hrs sick parade. 0800 hrs breakfast. Eight 3-tonners left Bn HQ for Puttick camp to pick up reinforcements. 0900 hrs A Coy left Battalion lines for Maadi range to carry out firing practices. Court of enquiry was held at Battalion HQ. 2/Lt George Tamahori presided. “Whakatipu” detachment paraded at Battalion HQ and were lectured by the CO before proceeding to Puttick Camp where they will get their final instructions before embarking. 1045 hrs 2/Lts Wi Reedy - C Coy, Monty Searancke - D Coy, Wally Jones - A Coy, Nepia Mahuika - Anti-Tank Platoon and 115 ORs arrived from Mena and were posted to their respective Coys. 1500 hrs Battalion baseball team played 26 Battalion team and lost. 1700 hrs A Coy supplied Brigade guard. Issue of one bottle of beer per man made this day. 2000-2200 hrs 26 Battalion concert party entertained the boys at “El Djem” Amphitheatre. Weather: Fine, sunny and very warm.
  • 2 Sept, Thurs 0600-0800 hrs C Coy played D Coy at cricket. 0700 hrs “Whakatipu” detachment embussed and were conveyed to Mena. 1030 hrs reinforcements - 20 ORs marched in to Battalion. 1130 hrs conference of all Coy 2 i/cs was held at Bn HQ. B Coy took over Brigade guard at 1700 hrs. Weather: Fine, sunny and warm. T/Capt Ted Hayward, 2/Lt Hoani Lawson and 2/Lt Harry Mackey were posted to the Maori Training Depot at Puttick Camp but remained attached to the Battalion.
  • 3 Sept, Fri Battalion route march 0900 – 1230 hrs. 0900 hrs identification parade was held on Battalion parade ground. 1145 hrs 23 ORs were marched out to discharge depot. 1230 pay parade. 1245 hrs lunch. 1330 hrs local leave. 1700 hrs C Coy took over the Brigade guard from B Coy. 1730 hrs tea. 2000 -2200 hrs ENSA review “Passers By” entertain troops in El Djem. Weather: Fine, sunny and warm.
  • 4 Sept, Sat 0600 hrs Coy parade. 0615–0645 hrs Battalion parade was taken by 2 i/c – Maj Russell Young, the CO being indisposed. 0900 hrs CO and 2 i/c attend conference at Brigade HQ. 0700 – 1200 hrs B Coy on No. 1 Maadi range. Breakfast in the field. 1245 hrs lunch. 1700 hrs D Coy took over Brigade guard from C Coy.  1730 hrs tea. 2000–2330 hrs officers entertained at dance in Maadi Town. Weather: fine, sunny and warm during the day, but cold in the latter stages of the night. AFG 1098 issued to all Coys, one siren, one trench rattle. One extra blanket issued to all ranks. Cigarette issue – 50 per man.
  • 5 Sept, Sun 0830 hrs church parade conducted by Rev Wi Huata. Coys marched on independently. 1000 hrs visit by a party from Mena to practice for concert. 1200 hrs Battalion check parade, all ranks on parade. 1130 hrs leave. Weather: fine and sunny.
  • 6 Sept, Mon 0515 hrs reveille. 0545 hrs sick parade. 0800 hrs breakfast. 1245 hrs lunch. 1800 hrs tea. 0730 hrs CO and staff left with Brigade Group for TEWT over Bir Gindali – Red sea route. Returned 1730 hrs. C Coy had range practice all day. Meals in the field. 1900 hrs officers’ conference in officers’ mess. Weather: fine and sunny with northeasterly breeze blowing all day.
  • 7 Sept, Tues 1000 hrs issue of bivouacs. Two ORs to a bivouac, officer one each. 1130 – 1230 hrs Battalion paraded for lecture on security by Division IO. 1245 hrs lunch. 1800 hrs tea. Weather: fine and sunny.
  • 8 Sept, Wed 0600 hrs Coy parade and inspection. 0615 – 0645 hrs Battalion parade. 0900 – 1230 hrs Battalion route march. Route:  over the desert to Tura and return. 1600 hrs Beer issue of one bottle per man. D Coy on the range from 0900 – 1230 hrs. Officers conference at Battalion HQ, 1400 hrs, details of coming manoeuvers. 2000-2130 hrs American concert party entertained the troops at El Djem. Weather: Fine and sunny.
  • 9 Sept, Thurs 0600 hrs Coy parade and roll call. 0630 hrs markers report to RSM on Brigade parade ground. 0645 – 0715 hrs Battalion parade and checking of rolls. Sick Parade was from 0900 hrs today. 1130 hrs Pay Parade. CO orderly room. Packing and marking of all kit bags ready to be taken to base kit store. 1030 – 1200 hrs R/T exercise using codex codes etc. 1330 hrs local leave. Weather: fine and sunny with north-easterly breeze.
  • 10 Sept, Fri 0715 hrs six 3-tonners reported to HQ and A Coy load kitbags for Base kit store. 0800 hrs breakfast. 0845 hrs trucks left for Base kit store and returned to pick up kitbags belonging to Battalion HQ, A, B, C and D Coys and at 0900 hrs delivered same to stores. 1030 hrs return was made to Brigade HQ re number of coloured flags required by this unit. Division Cipher Officer paid unit I Section a visit, re codex machines.  Lt Rangi Tutaki took over as adjutant, and Capt. Jack Reedy was posted to HQ Coy as 2 i/c Coy. Lt-Col. Monty Fairbrother, our next CO, marched into Battalion with his batman. Weather: fine and sunny.
  • 11 Sept, Sat Battalion parade 0630 – 0700 hrs. 1000 hrs CO called a conference of all officers. Discussion on Brigade 4-day exercise, formations etc. 1130 hrs ammunition (practice) was issued by RSM to companies, 50 rounds per rifleman. Two-gallon containers (water cans) were issued to companies to make up their quotas. 1145 hrs details about election in New Zealand were released by Polling Officer (Capt. Jim Henare) for the information of all ranks in this unit. C Coy took over Brigade guard from B Coy. 1330 hrs local leave. Weather: fine and sunny. The nights are getting rather cold in the latter stages.
  • 12 Sept, Sun routine and church parades. 1030 -1130 hrs I Sgt attends IO conference at Brigade HQ. Discussion of work and procedure for the pending Brigade exercise and for future operations. 1100 hrs Battalion 2 i/c in conference with Coy 2 i/c’s, dealing with admin in relation to the coming exercise and also final arrangements for disposal of gear and equipment when the Battalion moves out of Maadi on 19 Sept. 1300 hrs lunch. 1500 hrs CO called a conference of all Battalion officers and attached supporting arms to a discussion of the final details of the move and formation of a gun line east of Bir Gindali. During the morning and most of the afternoon the Coys took the opportunity of packing up and loading the cook trucks, in general, getting things “jacked up” for the move tomorrow morning. 1700 hrs D Coy took over Brigade guard from C Coy. 1500 hrs Cook trucks reported to various Coys and CQMS for loading up of equipment and supplies. Battalion prepares to move out with 5 Infantry Brigade in desert exercise in area east of Bir Gindali. Lt-Col. Reta Keiha marched out to 1 NZ General Hospital. Maj Jones with batman and driver marched in and attached for Brigade exercise (marched in from 4 Indian Division).
  • 13 Sept, Mon 0515 Reveille. 0545 Sick Parade. 0800 hrs Breakfast. 0900 hrs men were packing personnel gear and equipment on their respective Coy trucks. 0930-1030 hrs Battalion forms up in two columns with the head resting on Russell Terrace opposite Brigade guard tent. 1030 hrs Head of columns start to move off with the CO’s car leading. Battalion rests on road opposite 27 MG lines waiting for the tail of 21 Battalion to pass them. 1000 hrs Battalion moves off again as rear Battalion, in Brigade order of march. Route – along Wadi Tith to Command Group. CO, Signals Officer and I Sgt leave Battalion and move forward to travel with Tac HQ 5 Brigade. Lunch (Dry Rations) for Battalion along Wadi Tith at 1225 hrs. Brigade TacHQ arrived at prepared area for forming a gun line and after a quick appreciation by the Brigadier, Battalion COs make a quick recce of their allotted areas. 1610 hrs Battalion orders. Gp in conference with CO who details respective Coys to area allotted Battalion. Battalion role was to defend the rear of the Brigade. Battery of field guns (12) took up positions running east to west along our area. 2000 hrs Lt-Col. Fairbrother and I Sgt attend a conference at Brigade HQ. Comments by Brigadier on day’s exercise and also details for the following days exercise. 2100 hrs CO called a conference of all Coy Commanders, OC supporting arms, when he gave out details for the next exercise. For this exercise 28 Battalion will be the advance guard instead of 23 Battalion who drops back to the second group while 21 Battalion brings up the rear of Brigade Gp. Patrols were sent out by each Coy to a distance of about 2.4 km west of FDLS, at 2100 hrs and they reported back at 2400 hrs.
  • 14 Sept, Tues 0530 reveille. 0600 hrs breakfast. Haversack lunch was prepared and issued to each man. 0710 hrs 28 Battalion carriers moved off and at 0730 hrs fanned out with one section on road and one each on either side scouting to a distance of a 900 m making a total distance covered by carrier screen of vanguard 2000 yards followed at a distance of 2.4kms by the remaining body of the vanguard comprising of C and A Coy. Capt Henare and one platoon of his Coy with attached supporting arms followed again two miles further back by main body of vanguard consisting of remainder of 28 Battalion headed by the Orders Gp with the Brigadier travelling in his own car directly behind Col Fairbrother’s car. Due to a low lying mist the advance of the main body was slightly delayed but by 0745 hrs visibility had again cleared resulting in a very warm day with a fairly consistent breeze blowing. 0800 hrs DR from Capt. Henare reported “Auckland” clear. 0830 hrs column halts. On receipt of message from 2/Lt Dan Urlich, OC carrier screen, that he was coming under light shell fire which was not sufficient to impede progress. Shelling from north to northeast.  Battalion moved off slowly as carriers pushed forward but at 0900 hrs whole column halted as a DR brought back a message from Carrier Officer that they had run into heavy shelling and were awaiting further orders. The “Enemy” resistance appears to be coming from around point 487 and from the pimples southwest of it, right of road.  The CO moved forward slightly and made a quick recce of area and ordered a gun line with carrier screen put down to cover preparation for Battalion attack by infantrymen.  Gun line was formed. 1000 hrs Battalion Orders Gp was called up.  The CO details Battalion to debus and the Coys to move forward on foot and disperse in Wadi.  Here the Brigadier details 28 Battalion to attack and capture Point 487 by a frontal attack and supported artillery concentration, MMGs, Carriers and Mortar fire. Battalion made hurried preparations and at 1100 hrs Battalion was formed up on start line. 1115 hrs Battalion advance in open air with D and C forward while B and A brought up the rear. 1130 hrs artillery concentration opened up while D and C were attacking Point 487 and area west of it to a distance of 900 m. B and A Coys moved over and attacked features southeast of Point 487 with added concentration of artillery and mortar fire. Though the going was stiff and difficult all the Coys had completed their tasks by 1230 hrs. Battalion moved off feature and moved down to meet transport north of road where lunch was had. 1430 hrs CO conference with O Gp but there was little information to give. 1530 hrs Command GP leaves and arrives at 21 Battalion HQ in time to meet the Brigadier who gave the Battalion command their orders to form a gun line (21 and 28 Battalion only) across the Wadi from Point 341 to escarpment. Meanwhile the Battalion was moving down the Wadi led by the Adjutant. Battalion O Gp met CO and made a quick recce of the area. 1930 hrs Battalion had settled down and consolidated. 1945 hrs CO leaves for Brigadiers conference at Brigade HQ.  2100 – 2400 hrs each rifle Coy sent out a recce patrol and their reports were phoned to Brigade HQ by I Sgt at 0400 hrs 25/9/43.
  • 15 Sept, Wed 0530 “stand to.” 0600 hrs carrier screen went out a distance of 1800 m from FDLs and stayed there until they were recalled by Battalion, late in the evening. 0730 hrs breakfast. Brigade command Gp left to make a recce of area known as “Gisborne” which was the features north, south and west of cross road. It was decided to make it a Brigade affair so each Battalion was detailed its objective. Battalion command made a quick recce of their allotted objectives. 1230 lunch. 1330 hrs Brigade order GP conference at Brigade HQ. 1500 hrs Battalion conference at Battalion HQ (CO, Coy Commanders and OC Supporting Arms). The CO laid down details for the Battalions part in the Brigade exercise tonight. 1700 hrs tea. 1820 hrs all rifle Coys and supporting arms moved onto right of road in Wadi immediately south of Battalion HQ and waited for the rest of 5 Brigade to pass through. 1900 hrs advance party consisting of I Section and Provost Section moved out to mark the route to the debussing point and lay the start line. Battalion reached debussing point at 2115 hrs, debussed and moved out in axis of Advance with B Coy left forward, A Coy on right forward, while C Coy was on the right rear protecting the Battalions right flank. D Coy was held in reserve, 900 mbehind. Battalion HQ was in between C and D Coys. At approx. 1400 m from the debussing point the CO ordered the Battalion to halt and rest. The time then was 2200 hrs. Zero for the Battalion was 2334 hrs. At about 2315 hrs the Battalion moved forward to the start line, and at 2334 started to advance. A and B Coys each had two platoons forward in extended order and one in reserve. By 0115 hrs objectives had been taken. Battalion success signal of Red over Green verey lights repeated were fired by the Adjutant on Battalion reaching its objective for the night. Sentries were posted and the men bedded down for the night.
  • 16 Sept, Thurs 0730 hrs Battalion O Gp conference. Breakfast. 0830-0900 hrs Brigade exploited ground forward of objectives captured last evening. 28 Battalion exploited as far east as Points 294 and 295. This was carried out with live artillery concentrations, mortars and the troops used live ammunition too. 0900 hrs Brigade exercise ceased. Troop carrying transport came up and picked up B Echelon personnel and moved forward to lift the rest of the Battalion (fighting troops). Battalion formed up on each side of crossroads. 1000 hrs Battalion moved off en route to Maadi taking the same route as when they went out. 1215 hrs lunch halt. Cooks boiled up and the men partook of a light lunch. 1300 hrs Battalion moved off again and made good progress arriving at Maadi camp at 1315 hrs where the Coys took up their old positions and the RMT vehicles reported back to their HQ. 1800 hrs tea. Weather: Fine, sunny with northeasterly breeze.
  • 17 Sept, Fri 0515 hrs reveille. 0715 hrs 2i/c’s conference in Sergeants Mess, dealing with the details of the coming move to Burg el Arab and the cleaning of the area before leaving. 0800 hrs breakfast. 0830 hrs typhus inoculation parade. 1100 hrs conference of all officers of 5 Brigade. Pay Parade. 1245 hrs lunch. 1330 hrs local leave (no 2). 1500 hrs movement order dealing with move of Battalion to Burg el Arab issued to all Coy Commanders. 1800 hrs tea. Special routine for tomorrow issued from Battalion HQ. Weather: very warm during the day but cooled off towards the evening.
    18 Sept, Sat RO’s No 98 was amended and the following routine substituted. 0545 Reveille. 0615 Sick Parade. 0655 Battalion parade (markers reported to RSM 0645 hrs). 0800 hrs breakfast. 0845 hrs polling. Maori electorates booth opens. HQ, A, B, C, D Coys and Battalion HQ voted with their respective Coys. 1000 hrs Adjutant in conference with I Sgt, Sigs Sgt, Provost Sgt and Orderly Room Sgt finalising the details re Battalion HQ. Capt Henare was the officer in charge of polling booth and was helped by four junior officers. Ordinance gear on loan to Battalion was collected and returned to depot. 0900–1100 hrs A, B and D Coys out on route march. 67409 Pte Parekura Ferris was accidentally killed last night when he fell off the train (Cairo – Helwan). Weather: fine and sunny, nights rather cold.
  • 19 Sept, Sun reveille and breakfast as per ROs No 99. 0800 hrs Battalion formed up in hollow square formation for Church of England service, conducted by Rev Huata. Holy Communion service immediately afterwards in YMCA tent. 0900 hrs Roman Catholic personnel marched down to Shafto’s cinema under Capt Jim Matehaere, for their service. 0930–1200 hrs packing up of equipment and cleaning of arms. Ordinance equipment on loan, such as chairs and crockery etc were returned to ordinance depot. Officers Base kit and office equipment, not required on the move, were also returned to base for safekeeping. 1245 hrs lunch. 1300 hrs RMT (28 three-tonners) reported back to Battalion and were allocated to different sub-units as per special order from Battalion. 1350 hrs Battalion embussed and began to form up. 1430 hrs column moves off following rear of 21 Battalion Gp on first leg of its journey to Burg el Arab. 1620 hrs reached debussing point, K16 peg from Cairo. After debussing the marching troops, the RMT returned immediately back to Maadi. 1700 hrs Battalion enjoyed a hot meal before starting on the first leg of their 100-mile (161-km) route march to Burg el Arab. 1740 hrs Battalion formed up by Coys on the right of the road with Battalion HQ leading followed by A, B, C, D and HQ Coys. Marching Transport Gp left for next staging area with Lt George Katene in charge. 1800 hrs Brigade moves off with 180 m interval between units. 2230 hrs Brigade reached staging area to find a hot cup of tea waiting. Bivouacs were erected and the men turned in for a well earned sleep after marching 19 km. Battalion was now opposite Kilo Peg 36 on the Cairo-Alex Rd. Weather: Fine and sunny.
  • 20 Sept, Mon 0730 hrs reveille. 0800 hrs sick parade. 0830 hrs breakfast. 1000 hrs CO’s orderly room. 1230 hrs lunch. During the morning Coys carried out rifle and weapon inspection after which the men’s feet were thoroughly examined. 1630 hrs tea. 1730 hrs marching transport formed up and at 1745 hrs moved off to next staging area which was opposite K59 from Cairo. Marched just over 24 km tonight. Men arrived at staging area 2315 hrs, had a cup of tea and bedded down for the night. Maj Young, Capt. Harry Lambert and Lt Wi Anaru left for Maadi to hold a court of enquiry into the accidental death of 67409 Pte Ferris.
  • 21 Sept, Tues 0730 hrs reveille. 0800 hrs sick parade. 0830 hrs breakfast. After inspections Coys carried out arms inspection and foot inspection. The medical people were kept very busy treating blistered feet. 1230 hrs lunch. 1330 hrs Cpl Ruru of the QM staff arrived in Battalion HQ with beer issue – one bottle per man at 4 piastres each. 1630 tea. 1750 Battalion formed up with head on the road. 1800 hrs Brigade Gp sets off marching with the 28 Battalion leading, reaching destination near half-way house at 2215 hrs. Supper was waiting and also one bottle of beer plus 20 cigarettes per man were issued to each man. Weather: fine and sunny.
  • 22 Sept, Wed 0730 reveille. 0800 hrs Sick Parade. 0830 hrs breakfast. 0930 hrs rifle inspection after which the men’s feet were inspected. 1200 hrs lunch. Resting all day. 1630 hrs tea. 1715 hrs marching transport formed up with head of column on the road and at 1730 hrs moved off to next staging area with Brigade transport. 1750 hrs Battalion formed up on the right of the road and at 1800 hrs moves off in rear of Brigade. Covered 24 km and arrived at leaguer area at 2315 hrs opposite 104 Kilo peg from Cairo. Had supper and bedded down for the night. CO held conference at 1600 hrs returns of emergency rations, field dressings and identity discs required by the Coys was to be rendered to the Battalion HQ by 1300 hrs. Also a return of 2-gallon containers held by Coys, and the number they require so that each man has one. Return of netting required by the Coys (mosquito proof). Weather: fine, sunny and warm.
  • 23 Sept, Thurs 0730 hrs Reveille. 0800 hrs petrol returns forwarded to Battalion HQ. Sick Parade, big muster mostly with blistered feet. 0830 hrs Breakfast. 0930 hrs arms inspection and cleaning. 1000 hrs YMCA supply morning tea. 1200 hrs lunch. 1300 hrs returns of deficiency in water cans, identity discs, mosquito nets, field dressings, iron rations to Battalion HQ. 1530 hrs Battalion began to strike bivvys pack up and load transport. 1630 hrs tea. Cpl Ruru arrived from Burg el Arab with beer issue – one bottle per man. 1700 hrs marching transport began to form up with CO’s car in lead resting on the road. 1745 hrs marching transport moved. 1750 hrs Battalion formed up on right of road. 1800hrs Battalion marching personnel move off. 2400 hrs Battalion arrives at leaguer having travelled 24 km. Bed down opposite Kilo 12 from Alexandria.
  • 24 Sept, Fri 0730 reveille. 0745 hrs HQ Coy had breakfast and parade at 0830 hrs for typhus 2 injections followed by Battalion HQ, D Coy, C Coy, B Coy and A Coy at 1130 hrs. 1200 hrs Lunch. 1600 hrs CO’s conference. 1530 hrs striking of bivvys, packing up and loading of trucks. 1630 hrs tea. 1730 hrs marching transport group form up with the head of the column on the road. 1745 hrs marching transport group moved off to join the Brigade group. 2030 hrs Battalion, marching just ahead of the ADS and artillery group, arrived in the bivvy area, and after supper the men turned in for a well earned rest having covered 21 km during the night. Capt Tutu Wirepa marched in from a course and 2/Lt Kingi (Hoppy) Hetet marched out to attend No 37 Course “Know Your Enemy” at the NZ Intelligence Training School.
  • 25 Sept, Sat 0730 hrs reveille. Battalion had the use of the showers near Kilo 154. Sick Parade was held after each Coy came back from the showers. 1215 lunch. The Route march is finished. 1530 hrs RMT report to Battalion HQ and were allocated Coys. 1700 hrs tea. 1755 hrs all the cook trucks with Lt Katene as i/c party moved off to Battalion area in Burg el Arab. 1830 hrs Coys embuss and transport line up on the right of the road with the CO in his jeep leading, followed by the Battalion office truck, Battalion blanket truck, RAP 3 tonner, HQ Coy, A, B, C, and D Coys. 2020 –2215 hrs Battalion arrives at new area at Burg el Arab.
  • 26 Sept, Sun 0730 hrs eveille. 0830 hrs Breakfast. 0900 hrs Coy parade inspection. 0930 hrs Battalion parades for Church of England service which was conducted by Rev Huata.  Roman Catholic service in the YMCA hut at the same time. 1115 hrs Battalion muster parade and a general talk by Lt-Col. Fairbrother on possible future operations and behaviour. All Coys collected and handed peak hats in to Battalion HQ. 1330 hrs all available men left by transport for a swim down at the beach. 1800 hrs Tea. Maps of the area were received from the Brigade I section. A new extra pair of boots were issued to each OR.
  • 27 Sept, Mon 0630 hrs reveille. 0730 hrs breakfast. 0800 hrs sick parade. 0830 – 0930 hrs demonstration to all Coys by the Sgt.  Armourer on the point and peculiarities of the new TSMG. 1230 hrs lunch. 1330 hrs pay parade. 1600 hrs beer issue.
  • 28 Sept, Tues 0645 hrs reveille. 0730 hrs breakfast. 0830 hrs cleaning and inspection of arms. TSMG issued to all Battalion drivers. 0845 hrs CO and I Sgt leave to attend a conference at Division HQ. 0930 hrs GOC in conference with all officers from Lt-Col and above. 1045 hrs 5 Brigade O Group conference around sand table at Division HQ dealing with the coming Brigade exercises. 1200 hrs CO and party return to Battalion. 1300 hrs Battalion O Group conference in Battalion Orderly Room re final arrangements for the move to the Brigade exercise area this afternoon. 1345 hrs CO and I Sgt leave Battalion to rendezvous with Brigadier and party at Point 93 and arrived there at 1630 hrs. Brigadier Stewart then releases the rough outline for the operation known as “Technique 11” for night 29/30 see Secret Orders for 2 NZ Division Exercise after which the CO made a quick recce of the route approaching the forming up area. His party then returned to the Battalion position in the assembly area. Meanwhile the Battalion had tea, packed up, embussed, and formed up waiting on the start line. 1800 hrs 5 Brigade moved off with 28 Battalion passing the starting point 1800 hrs and following A and B tracks, until the assembly area south and west of Point 82 (48278842) was reached at 1130 hrs, where it was met by Capt Peta Awatere and guides who had gone forward to recce the area. The Coys were led onto their respective positions with A and B forward facing south, while C and D were immediately behind and HQ Coy was in the rear. Battalion HQ was situated between A and B Coys at MR 48078830. All non-essential transport moved out of the area went back along the axis to the Brigade transport area under the Brigade TO. The men then settled down for the night. Brigade HQ was located at 48218778. On 28 Sept. HQ 5 Brigade war diary gives this as 48248849. Main Brigade HQ moved to 48218778 at 2040 hrs on 19 Sept.
  • 29 Sept, Wed 0630 hrs reveille. 0730 hrs breakfast, after which the CO and I Sgt. made a quick recce of route A to Point 93 to find out if it was suitable for heavy transport and returned via track B to brigade HQ where the CO was in conference with the Brigadier. 1030 hrs CO returns to Battalion HQ. 1100 hrs CO in conference with Coy Commanders and OC Supporting Arms to whom he gave the known details of operation “Technique 11 ” for the coming night. He then took the Coy Commanders on a quick recce of the approaches and the area around the forming up Point. 1230 lunch. 1330 hrs I Sgt attends IO conference at Brigade HQ. 1400 hrs CO reports to Brigade HQ for Brigade O Group conference which was held at 1430 hrs. Operation Orders were issued and tying up of final details with the armour and artillery, after which the Brigadier gave the Battalion Commanders their final instructions. 1830 hrs CO calls up all Officers and Sgts and explains to them the situation in relation to the coming nights operations. 1800 hrs tea. 1900 hrs I Sgt and party leave Battalion HQ in one 15 <acronym title="hundredweight">cwt</acronym> to mark and set up lights on the debussing area sq. 481879. 1915 hrs Capt Awatere and party move out to mark and light Point 93 and forming up area. 2015 hrs Battalion on transport move off on to B track led by the TO in the order C, D, B, A Coys and supporting arms followed by the A Echelon vehicles. 2115 hrs Battalion arrives at debussing area, debuss, form up and march off on a bearing of 208 degrees for 2 km till they reached the center light of <acronym title="forming up area">FUP</acronym> at 48088783 in the following order – C, B, D and A Coys all in column of route. Supporting arms and essential vehicles under the TO - 2/Lt Jackie Pile had meanwhile moved along B track which was lit by Division provost, until opposite Point 93 when they turned west and moved along lighted track reaching Pt. 48088783 at 2200 hrs just as Battalion was moving off on a bearing of 209 degrees making for the Brigade start line in sq. 877480 (see trace). Battalion reached start line at 2250 hrs, formed up and waited for zero. The Battalion formation was as follows: D Coy on left with 2 Platoons forward (16 and 17) with 18 Platoon in reserve. The company frontage was 365 m. C Coy also with a frontage of 365 m was on the right forward, with 13 and 15 Platoons forward and 14 Platoon in reserve. B Coy was to mop up on right in rear of C Coy, while A Coy was held in reserve. Battalion HQ was located between A and B Coy. Battalion frontage for the night was 750 m. On the left of D Coy was 21 Battalion and on the right of C Coy was one Coy from 23 Battalion. Zero: 2330 hrs. A Coy also had the responsibility of clearing Point 94 in sq. 875478. Brigade was responsible for the laying of the start line. At zero the Artillery (4 and 5 Field Regiments) opened up and the show was on. The two forward Coys D and C, moved forward at the rate of 90 m in two minutes, but they had not gone very far when shells falling short forced them to the ground and it was during this stage that a very unfortunate accident happened, as short shelling caused casualties amongst the forward elements of C Coy, resulting in three being killed outright and wounding seven, one of whom died the next morning. The names of the unfortunate are: - Killed, 802289 Pte Dudu Wanoa, 62665 Pte Kelly Grey, 802208 Pte Raurau Taare, and 802214 Pte George Taiapa who died of wounds the following morning. Wounded: 65534 2/Lt Everard Jackson, 67452 2/Lt Wi Reedy, 802188 Pte Ngata Ruru, 802063 Pte Whare Mills, 802286 Pte Pera Walker, 67461 Sgt Frank Tibble, and Pte Eru Tuhoro, though wounded remained with unit, while the rest of the wounded were evacuated to ADS. The artillery opening line ran from 48078766 to 48008770. 13 minutes from Zero the barrage lifted and the infantry attack continued. 28 Battalion in keeping the right direction, bofor guns continually fired tracers along the Battalion body and after safely negotiating the mine field; the first objective was taken by 0040 hrs. The leading Coys paused for 15 minutes, regrouped and continued the attack for another 3 km finally reaching the objective at 0215 hrs. [Entry at foot of page 22 “reached the objective at 0215 hrs,” this is recorded in HG 5 NZ Infantry Brigade War Diary (52/1/45) as  0130hrs.] The two forward Coys D and C consolidated. D from west of Point 116, 47888731 to 47828734 and C Coy from 47828734 to 47848738, B Coy from 47848740 to 47878744 and A Coy from 47878744 to west of Point 94, 47888751. Each Coy had an approximate frontage of 650 m with D Coy facing south to southwest, whilst B, C and A Coys were facing west and northwest. Battalion HQ was located at 47888742. The supporting arms under Capt Harry Lambert and the 2/Lt Pile reached Battalion HQ at 0330 hrs and were sited and in position by first light. The cook trucks also arrived with the supporting arms. Due to the soft and shifting sand, these vehicles had great difficulties in reaching Battalion HQ.
  • 30 Sept, Thurs At first light the CO in his jeep made another quick recce of the Battalion dispositions and later along with the CRA went over thoroughly the scene of the previous nights action in which C Coy lost so many casualties. As soon as the phone was laid to the Brigade at approx. 0230 hrs Battalion locations and dispositions were phoned through. 0830 hrs breakfast, then the men settled down for a well earned rest. During the morning the CO made arrangements for the dead to be buried in the Alamein War Cemetery. 1230 hrs lunch. By 1530 hrs the Battalion had embussed and formed up. Battalion Command Group moved forward to rendevous with Brigade O Group at Point 118 in sq. 867479. On arrival the Brigade gave out details for the night’s exercise which was the forming of a gun line around the 4 Armoured Brigade who had poured through the bridgehead made by the Battalions that morning. The gun line to be formed by three Battalions. The Brigadier then made a quick recce of the Battalion areas with their respective Command Groups. The CO 28 Battalion then returned to Point 118 in time to pick up the head of the Battalion which had moved forward along “J” track in rear of 21 Battalion and in the charge of 2i/c Maj Young. The CO then led the Battalion back onto the area allotted them which ran from 474408659 to 47348671 to 47878675. Battalion was laid out with D Coy on the left, C Coy on its right with B Coy next to C and A Coy on the right flank. Each Coy having an approx. frontage of 550 m and all facing southwest. Two 6-pdr guns were allotted to each Coys area. Battalion HQ was located at 47438871. The gun line was down and in position by 1945 hrs. By 2100 hrs line communications with Brigade had been established and dispositions and location was phoned through to Brigade HQ. Sentries were posted and the men settled down for the night, which was to mark the end of the Brigade exercise.


Archives New Zealand – Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
28 (Maori) Battalion War Diary, WAII 1 1666 DA 68/1/45

[1] The furlough scheme allowed men of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Echelons married on embarkation to have three clear months of leave on full pay in New Zealand; not less than 35% and not more than 65% of all single men of the first three Echelons were to have similar leave. The Maori Battalion was part of the 2nd Echelon.

[2] Nga Tama Toa, p. 292.

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