March 1944


The Māori Battalion are used again by the Division in the third battle of Cassino. After the harrowing losses at the railway station, the Battalion is down 169 men in operational strength.[1] Reinforcements arrive throughout the month. From forward positions the troops watch the bombing of the Cassino Township on the 15th and their orders are to clear it. Craters, piles of rubble, snipers and explosives amplify the intimacy and intensity of battle. The damp, cold and decomposing bodies makes life amongst the rubble very uncomfortable.

  • Temporary Lieutenant Colonel: Russell Young (CO)
  • Temporary Major: James Henare, Jim Matehaere
  • Captains: JC Reedy, Rangi Logan, SF Jackson
  • Temporary Captains: Harry Lambert, Peter Ornberg, Rangi Tutaki
  • Lieutenants: JH Aperahama
  • 2/Lieutenants: Clarence Balzer, Moana Raureti, LP Anaru, JR Tomoana, SR Urlich, JS Baker, BG Christy, WE Jones, N Mahuika, M Searancke, J Berghan, Riki Smith, J Waititi, WT Te Anga, W Reedy, H Falwasser, WSL McRae, LT Crapp, P Robson
  • Attached: Capt Cam D’Arcy (RMO), Capt (Rev) WT Huata (Padre), Mr DR Perry (YMCA), Lt WH Prescott (S NZ Inf (QM), Second Lieutenants: AT Bennett, TJ Ngapo, HH Takarangi


  • 1 March, Wed Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 1000 hrs New 5 Infantry Brigade Commander Col JT Burrows arrived at Battalion HQ on a visit to the unit. 1100 hrs IO visited Brigade HQ to collect material for a lecture on the topography of this country from Cassino to Rome. 1200 hrs More reinforcements arrived in from Advance Base. 3 Officers and 16 Other Ranks. Officers as follows: - 2/Lts Bennett; Takarangi and Ngapo. Maj Henare still conducting his court on the case of 2/Lt Te Anga and Pte Mitai. Routine for the Day: Rifle inspection and to be followed by a route march during the morning and afternoon in the direction of the Mignano along rly line. 1400 hrs Another 48 hrs rations taken forward to Battalion personnel holding houses in forward area. 1500 hrs IO lectures on topography to all Officers in the Battalion and the lecture was held at A Coy house. Bad weather and bad ground conditions still holding up the Operation. Weather: Rain practically all day. Cloudy and overcast. Visibility nil. By night rain fairly consistent and heavy.
  • 2 March, Thurs Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. RO’s issued today. 1000 hrs CO visited NZ Corps and did not return till 1200 hrs. 0900 hrs Maj Henare completing summary of evidence. Accused still under surveillance. Maj Matehaere and Capt JC Reedy visited 2 General Hospital in Caserta, returning at 1900 hrs. 1200-1400 hrs Coy 2 i/c’s and other Officers purchased goods from Officer Mobile store stationed temporarily in rear 5 Brigade HQ. 1500 hrs Officers lecture held in A Coys house. The following subjects were given by the following Officers: - German Infantry Regiment by 2/Lt W Reedy. Street fighting by 2/Lt B Christy and German Panzer Gren Regiment by 2/Lt McRae. Each lecture taking 20 minutes. CO also spoke on each of these subjects. 1200 hrs Sigs Officer 2/Lt Robson P returned from Officers rest home in Naples and took over the Battalion Sigs. 1600 – 1800 hrs Heavy shelling of general area Battalion by enemy Spandu guns. No casualties although one A/Tk personnel was buried in his trench. Enemy also shelled A and D Coys area crossroads but suffered no casualties. Word was received that GOC NZ Division Maj Gen Kippenberger had lost or probably both legs as a result of stepping on a mine on Trocchio feature. Routine for the day: Coy inspection and Infantry drill by Platoons. Conditions of ground still bad. Placing of newly arrived Officers as follows: - 2/Lt AT Bennett to B Coy. 2/Lt H Takarangi to Anti-Tank Platoon and 2/Lt TJ Ngapo to return to Advance Base as C Coy is already full. 2300 hrs Ring from 4 Field Regiment re conversion of trucks and wild shooting by 4 members of the Battalion Adj and the IO investigated and Coys were instructed to hold a check parade. Meanwhile RSM, Provost and Capt Wordley search for the missing truck. One member of the party was found asleep, as he was drunk. The remainder however were later identified. Weather: Still raining during the day. Slight break by mid-day. By night fine. However prospects of rain yet evident.
  • 3 March, Fri Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 1300 hrs Reinforcements marched in from advance base. Route marches carried out by all Coys. 1300-1600 hrs Fairly heavy shelling of general area Battalion HQ. C Coy shelled heavily resulting in three slight casualties. C Coy then decided to move to a new area by night. Coy HQ established at 909150 and the whole Coy moved in after dark. 1400 hrs Rations again taken forward to Battalion personnel holding houses forward of Trocchio feature. Weather: Slight rain during the day and night, conditions still the same.  
  • 4 March, Sat Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0900 hrs IO and RSM left for LOB camp to contact OC LOB Camp and 2/Lt Carr re the misbehavior of certain Battalion personnel. Brigade IO also contacted re a new area for Battalion B Echelon. New site visited at rear Division and was found to contain mines. Area not suitable for B echelon. 1400 hrs All Officers again attend 20 minute lecture in A Coy building. Talks as follows: - River Crossing by 2/Lt Smith. Lessons from Operations by 2/Lt Baker and Dress and Discipline by 2/Lt Tomoana. 1800 hrs CO left for NZ CCS per own staff car to visit Maj Gen Kippenberger in conjunction with other Brigade Officers. Changes in Command: - Brigadier Parkinson formerly 6 Brigade Commander took over Command 2 NZ Division. Lt-Col Bonifant (Commander NZ Division Calvary) took over Command 6 Brigade. Lt-Col McDuff (Commander MMG Battalion) took over Command 25 Battalion. Weather: Still raining periodically. Clear and fine for short spells. Heavy fall of rain at night making conditions worse.
  • 5 March, Sun Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0900 hrs CO holds Orderly room. 4 cases being dealt with. Charged for conversion and shooting were 4 C Coy personnel. 0910 hrs During the morning, starting with Battalion HQ, Padre Huata conducts short service and later moved onto other Coys. 1030 hrs CO left per own staff car for LOB Camp to deal with many cases of misbehavior. 1130 hrs Rations again taken forward to personnel holding houses forward of Trocchio feature. 1330 hrs Commencing with Battalion HQ showers again at the NZ 4th Field Hygiene at Mignano. Transport was supplied by TO for the purpose of taking troops to the showers. A Coy, C Coy and parts of HQ go through showers in the afternoon. 1600 hrs Representatives from USA Division arrived to contact Battalion Padre re the matter of a possible concert party. However the matter was taken in hand. 1630 hrs Army issue of cigarettes, matches and tobacco was made available to all ranks. Weather: Conditions still the same. Rain falling periodically with slight breaks. Ground very wet and damp for troops in bivvys.
  • 6 March, Mon Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0900 hrs CO’s Orderly room and the 4 C Coy personnel found guilty of shooting and conversion were committed to the local gaol. 1100 hrs CO visited Brigade. Fairly heavy shelling at the time. Returned at 1300 hrs. 1300 hrs Battalion Officers attended a lecture by the 4th Field Hygiene re malaria. Lecture held at Rear Division area. 1430 hrs Remainder of the Battalion HQ with D Coy left for the showers at Mignano per Battalion transport. 1330 hrs Shelling of Battalion area by the enemy. No casualties. 1500 hrs 2/Lts Crapp and Te Anga left for LOB Camp per Battalion transport. Officer of the 354th Lt A/A Regiment (USA Division) visited Battalion to finalise concert by the Battalion. Padre Huata with Capts Logan and Tutaki then left for the 354th A/A Regiment area accompanied by Lt Schubert to make arrangements there. 1600 hrs IO visited Brigade to get the dope on the situation. Visibility today fair as fairly stiff breeze had set in. Hills remarkably clear thus giving both sides the opportunity to see. 1830 hrs Pictures in D Coy area. Judy Garland in “Miss Lily Mars.” This was well patronised by many allied troops. Weather: First fine day. Visibility very good. Cold wind blowing.
  • 7 March, Tues Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0900 hrs Capt Logan addresses the Concert party and this was followed by a rehearsal under the leadership of the Padre. Party by this time had increased to about 50. 1330 hrs Party embussed on three 3 tonners and proceeded to the 354th A/A Regiment, there to entertain the USA Troops. Pathe films took moving pictures of the concert. The CO accompanied by the Brigade Commander, Brigadier Burrows, left for the A/A Regiment lines also and the CO addressed the gathering prior to commencing. Deep interest was shown by the American troops. 1330 hrs IO made a recce of the new Battalion bivvy area below Main Division and he also visited 23 B echelon. 1130 hrs CO calls a conference with C and D Coy commanders. Matter of attack again discussed and all points revised. 1400 hrs IO receives 1000 yards if 6 inch tape through 23 Battalion B echelon. 1700 hrs Concert party returns to camp. Weather: Signs of the rain again evident. Morning dull and cold. Snow on the hills fairly thick. Cold wind blowing.
  • 8 March, Wed Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0900 hrs Pay issued to troops in Lires. 1200 hrs Capt Wordley left for tactical course and also for Bari. Course: - Sub Unit Commanders Course (Infantry) lasting till 1 April 1944. Course at Benevento. 1100 hrs CO, IO and 2/Lt Anaru B Coy Commander recced new area for B Coy and possible Battalion area and caused quite a commotion as the area is very visible to the enemy. Fortunately no shelling of the area. 1600 hrs B Coy established in new area. Very good drainage and good bivvy area. 1900 hrs Capts Logan and Tutaki again visit the 354th Regiment on a goodwill visit. Weather: Very fine and sunny day. Ground drying up rapidly.
  • 9 March, Thurs Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0930 hrs Court of enquiry held in I Section room. Matter of missing personnel in the Cassino battle. Total missing personnel: 39. Brigade informed of B Coys move to 925165. Weather: Quite a quiet day spent by all. Fine and dry. Weather improving all the time.
  • 10 March, Fri Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. Very quiet indeed. 1000 hrs CO left per jeep for Brigade and then onto 26th Battalion and did not return till 1630 hrs. 1400 hrs Heavy shelling of Battalion HQ area and crossroads around A and D Coys areas. One casualty suffered (L/Cpl Smith) of the A/A Platoon by shrapnel from an air burst. He was immediately attended by the Unit RAP and was evacuated to hospital. 1700 hrs CO’s conference. Move forward tonight quite probable. The 2 Coys concerned are to move per Unit transport at 2030 hrs. Battalion HQ to move up at 1930 hrs. General outline of show tomorrow: Bombing commences at 0830 hrs till 1200 hrs, when the artillery will take over. Attack to be made by the 6 Brigade and the Battalion 2 Coys to establish at rly station when taken by 6 Brigade. 1930 hrs IO and 2 I Section personnel left for forward per own jeep. Battalion Sigs also moved forward. 1945 hrs Arrived in area and arranged with advance party for housing Coys. 2145 hrs D Coy arrived and settled in new area with their HQ established in Battalion house reference Map 883194. 2200 hrs Word was received that Operations cancelled. D Coy remained in forward position and the remainder returned to present Battalion B echelon. Weather: Fine and overcast. Conditions favourable for Operations.
  • 11 March, Sat Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0845 hrs IO, 2/Lt B Christy and 2 Other Ranks left per jeep to Naples on a visit to an American Depot to see some captures German pill boxes. Division IO and Brigade IO with staff also left for Naples for the same purpose. 1000 hrs 8 Italians reported to Battalion for the purpose of an identification parade. Two of them who could speak perfect English acted as interpreters. 1100 hrs Identification parade held in C Coy lines. 1400 hrs Route march for Coys for 2 hours along rly line to Mignano. No move tonight to forward areas. By evening conditions went from bad to worse. By midnight heavy rain fell therefore Operations cancelled. 1100 hrs Reinforcements arrived in from Advance base. 2/Lt Rogers being the only Officer. Weather: Fine during the day. Ground quite dry but rain fell in the afternoon, spoilt the question of Operations.  
  • 12 March, Sun Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 1000 hrs CO, IO and RMO visited D Coy in forward area. All Platoons also seen and they seem to be quite happy to live in houses. 1130 hrs Party called into Brigade en route back to camp. CO confers with the Brigade Commander. All quiet in the Coy lines. Nothing doing now that bad weather has set in again and snow commencing to fall. 1300 hrs Brigade staff (Brigade Commander, Brigade Maj and LO) visited the CO and had informed him of his DSO decoration. Battalion Officers toasts to CO on his decoration. 1330 hrs CO and RMO left per staff car for the 5 MDS. The Padre visited CCS to see Lt/Cpl Smythe and reports that his condition is very serious. 1400 hrs YMCA issues delivered to D Coy during the afternoon. Ambulance jeep sent to D Coy for stretcher bearer duties. Rations again taken forward to Battalion HQ and C Coy personnel. PP personnel 14 in all employed on road repairing in Battalion HQ area. 2200 hrs Gen Parkinson rings CO congratulating him on his DSO. 1000 hrs Capt SF Jackson returned to LOB camp. Weather: Slight rain in the morning clearing up at midday. Very cold wind blowing off the hills. Conditions improved by night.
  • 13 March, Mon Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. Visibility very good. Area forward of Battalion HQ ringed off by white tape to prevent through traffic. All movements down to a minimum. German recce planes flying overhead during the morning, taking advantage of the lovely day. Tremendous A/A went up but no hits were scored. Own bombers very busy too. First ideal day for 2 weeks or more. 0900 hrs CO and Padre visited B Coy. Enemy shelling of corner with 88’s. 1030 hrs 2 more enemy recce planes flying overhead. A, C and HQ Coys do route march in the afternoon along the rly to Mignano. 1800 hrs CO off to Division HQ, Cipher message received from Main Corp – message of congratulations to the CO on his decoration. Weather: Very fine and a beautiful day and perfect for flying. Nice and warm – cool soft breeze.
  • 14 March, Tues Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. Coy resting in areas. Doing nothing at all. Weather although overcast improved by midday and fine by the afternoon. CO and Maj Henare visited Division HQ. 0900 hrs CO holds Orderly room – one case only taken. Showers functioning all day at Battalion HQ. Slight air raid by the enemy in the morning on Cassino area. Instructions re PP centre at Battalion HQ published (refer to appendix attached). Steel helmets worn by all troops from 1000 hrs today in accordance with Division instructions (see appendix attached). 1000 hrs Remainder of carrier personnel go through the showers. Cigarette issue to all ranks. 50 Cigs and 2 boxes of matches per man. 1430 hrs December war diary duplicate sent through to Brigade. 1915 hrs Word received to prepare to move forward as there is a likelihood of a show tomorrow. General out line of move as follows: Part of Battalion HQ to move forward at 2030 hrs followed by C Coy. On unit transport. A Coy 1 Platoon to follow on with A/A Platoon and remainder of Battalion HQ at 2200 hrs. 2030 hrs IO with I section personnel left per jeep followed by C Coy on 4 three tonners. Prior to this C Coys PP personnel were released and sent back to their Coy to prepare to move forward with the remainder of the Coy. 2015 hrs LO Capt Marsden arrives at Battalion HQ to give final instructions re the show tomorrow. 2100 hrs C Coy, RAP and IO arrives in the new areas and established HQ at 883194. 2315 hrs Remainder of the Battalion HQ with A/A Platoon and 1 Platoon A Coy arrives in new areas. Battalion dispositions as follows: - Battalion HQ at 883194, D Coy 883194. C Coy with 1 Platoon A Coy at 884199. A Coys 1 Platoon under 2/Lt Christy. 1830 hrs CO with Majs Matehaere, Henare and Reedy visited 21 Battalion. 2330 hrs Battalion settled in new area. Moon starting to rise thus giving the drivers better visibility. Apart from light enemy mortaring and own artillery shelling, very quiet night spent by all. Weather: Bright and sunny. Hot towards midday with slight haze. Continuous heat till early afternoon when sharp breeze sprang up. Night dark and clear sky. Fairly warm.
  • 15 March, Wed Quiet morning with a bright sunshine. 0600 hrs Breakfast arrives per 15 Cwt. Trucks plus 24 hrs rations for Battalion HQ personnel. 0730 hrs IO gives details of the attack to the Sigs personnel while the CO speaks to the Battalion HQ personnel on the same subject. 0645 hrs Lt Hutchinson arrives at Battalion HQ to discuss his role in this operation. Plan of attack given by the CO and for fuller details refer to Operation Order. 0745 hrs Battalion HQ with C and D Coys all packed up and ready to move forward at a moments call. All awaiting the big show. 0810 hrs Own artillery shelling the slopes of Cassino and an occasional shot in the town. 0830 hrs First wave of 30 Med bombers passed overhead and dropped their bombs in the Cassino town. No A/A went up at all. Very good results observed. Smoke from the bombs added to the artillery shells and made a very good screen and troops were able to move about. 0845 hrs Second wave of bombers, 24 in all, also dropped their bombs in Cassino. The second 12 of the 24 bombers however mistook the 6 Brigade HQ for Cassino and dropped their bombs killing 15 of the 6 Brigade HQ personnel. This however discouraged the men and after all their eyes were watching the bombers in case they dropped more short of the mark. 0900 hrs Third wave of 24 Liberators again plaster Cassino and did great damage. 0925 hrs 20 fighter bombers heading out over enemy lines, probably supplying an umbrella. A/A went up for the first time and from well behind Cassino Monastery. Fourth wave of 23 Fortresses dropped their loads both in the enemy and own lines. Luckily no casualties suffered by us. 0945 hrs Fifth wave of 34 Fortresses this time dropped their load right in Cassino town and started several small fires. 0950 hrs Sixth wave of 31 Liberators drops their load in the Cassino town and M. Cassino. Up to now the town is but a mass of rubble with no sign of life whatsoever. 1000 hrs Seventh and Eighth wave of 35 fortresses and 39 liberators again plaster the town and the Monastery. The smoke of the bombs growing intense every minute and Cassino could hardly be seen. 1015 hrs Ninth wave of 12 Boston’s and 12 Marauders carried out their loads further up the valley and there dropped them probably on some gun line or Adolph Hitler line. 1017 hrs Tenth wave of 37 Liberators again plaster Cassino and this time heavy A/A met them, as they swung round to come back. Fighter cover still being maintained by lightning fighter bombers (P 40s). 1037 hrs Eleventh wave of 40 Liberators again plaster Cassino after having dropped some of their bombs on the Artillery lines. 1100 hrs Twelfth wave of 43 Fortresses with fighter cover again plaster Cassino. 1115 hrs Thirteenth wave of 40 Liberators drop their loads right in Cassino and area rly Station. 1200 hrs artillery opens up with full force on Cassino town and slopes of hill. Again another two waves of 36 Boston’s bomb rly station and Cassino. Even well behind Cassino got its share of the bombing. 1215 hrs Fighter bombers then took over the job of straffing and dive bombing, added to the artillery barrage bombing by bombers. Cassino should fall without resistance. 1230 hrs LO Capt Marsden arrives at Battalion HQ to bring in more serial photographs of the Cassino sector. Air Offensive still strong. Many direct hits were scored by the dive bombers. 1330 hrs Slight shelling and mortaring of the area bridge by the enemy. Own artillery still firing with full force. 1345 hrs Still no word of moving up received yet. 6 Brigade probably meeting stiff opposition. Everybody watching the shelling and dive bombing. 1915 hrs Word sent through to C and D Coy Commanders to prepare to move forward. 1930 hrs C and D Coys with A/A Platoon as mine sweepers left for the forward area led by the IO. At this time the night has turned quite black and a slight drizzle commenced. The artillery still keeping up its good work. 2000 hrs IO reports over the phone that they have arrived in the new area and all settled down. Location of the Platoons as follows: - 17 Platoon under 2/Lt McRae at 872198. 16 Platoon under 2/Lt Smith at 874196 and 18 Platoon under 2/Lt Falwasser at 878193. 2100 hrs IO and Provost reported back to Battalion HQ at 883194. 2200 hrs Rain at this time had increased and the night very dark. However being comfortably stationed in houses, things were not so bad. Weather: Bright, sunny and warm. Visibility very good. By mid-day haze had set in and with all the smoke provided a good screen. By night rain and increasing by 2200 hrs. Quiet night for the Battalion.
  • 16 March, Thurs Morning dull but improved by 0700 hrs. Breakfast cooked in Coy areas and had at 0730 hrs. Own artillery still shelling the slopes of the M. Cassino and the Monastery itself. The enemy also mortars the area where engineers have been working since early morning on the bridge. 0800 hrs Artillery lays smoke screen on the slopes of M. Cassino and in the bridge area. 1130 hrs Enemy shelling rear of Battalion HQ in an attempt to hit some of the American tank busters that had been firing on the houses in Cassino. This apparently annoyed him. 1140 hrs 2 enemy fighters shoot down one of our bombers on their way back from a job. 4 of the crew were seen to bail out and 1 in enemy lines. 1220 hrs Brigade Commander, Brigadier Burrows, arrives at Battalion to see the CO. 1245 hrs Brigade Maj rings CO re a possibility of sending out a patrol to test enemy strength in areas rly Station. This patrol is to leave in the daytime as smoke laid down afforded good cover. The CO confers with the IO, Adj and CO D Coy and plans were finalised. 1600 hrs Patrol of 1 Officer and 12 Other Ranks (2/Lt Smith and 12 Other Ranks from 16 Platoon) moved down the Rd to rly line in single file zig zagging and sweeping all the way down. For further details see Patrol report attached. Casualties suffered, including engineers, 3. 1630 hrs Engineer Officer was brought down by jeep to RAP (splinter in leg). 1655 hrs 27 enemy planes (Pockewolfe) were observed coming straight for Trocchio feature at a very low altitude. They then burned to highway 6 dropping their bombs in C Coy and Battalion HQ area. One casualty suffered by C Coy (shrapnel in the knee). 1800 hrs Hot tea was brought up from B echelon per 15 cwt. plus 24 hrs rations. 2000 hrs Hot meal plus another 24 hrs hard rations taken forward for the Sigs and A/A Platoon in forward area. Night dark and probably rain before long. Artillery fire heavy on Cassino and Monastery and roads leading out of Cassino. 2015 hrs CO rings BM and enquires re the information about the Indians taking point 435. 2037 hrs CO visited 23 Battalion, as they are very handy to the Battalion. 2037 hrs Sentries posted outside Battalion HQ. First three sentries being provided by the 23 Battalion mortars and the remainder by D Coy. 2200 hrs All is quiet except for own artillery firing and slight enemy mortaring. Weather: Ideal weather for serial activity. Warm with slight cool breeze. Visibility good. Cloudy and overcast towards 1600 hrs and by night rain threatening.
  • 17 March, Fri Dawn broke and the prospects of a lovely day evident. Clear sky and a cone of smoke being laid by artillery – Division Calvary and 27 MMGs. 0700 hrs Breakfast consisting of hard rations cooked in Platoon areas. 0730 hrs NZ Intelligence Summaries No 52 and 53 sent out to all Coy Commanders for information. Battalion Sitreps also sent out to Brigade. 0630 hrs 26 Battalion with A Squadron 19 Regiment reformed during the night and continued the attack on the rly station. Artillery lays barrage for the Infantry and meanwhile the tanks could be seen moving up slowly towards the station. 2 of them were seen burning in the rly area. CO and Battalion personnel observes an A/Tk gun firing from one of the buildings and he informs the EM per phone of same. This was duly engaged by the artillery with good results. 26 Battalion Infantry could be seen moving up towards the rly station and Hummock beyond. Little SA fire was heard. They then went through to the Hummock and there dug in. It was here that they were seen to take 6 Prisoners of War. While this was on, enemy fighter bombers bombed their own troops on the Hummock.  1130 hrs Free issue of YMCA goods. 20 Cigarettes and one cake of chocolate was issued to all ranks. Artillery at this stage were falling short on the knoll already taken by the 26 Battalion and the CO rings Brigade and informed them of it. 1200 hrs The enemy shelling and mortaring area reference map G 867207 and forward of Battalion HQ area. 1215 hrs 36 Bombers heading northeast beyond M. Cassino. 1300 hrs Word received from forward RAP to send out ambulance jeep to pick up Division Calvary casualty. He was brought out and evacuated to 5 Field Ambulance. 1430 hrs Word was again received to send down jeep to collect Sgt Heke of the Sigs who was stationed in the forward area. He was seriously wounded in the head by shrapnel and he was also evacuated to ADS. Capt Hoggans, Brigade IO, arrives at Battalion to give details of the 26 Battalion attack. 1500 hrs Enemy and own artillery laying smoke. Fighter cover being maintained by spitfires. 1600 hrs A/A opens up on 2 Enemy fighters and then the spitfires gave chase but to no avail. Indians still holding onto Pt. 435 but had to lose Nair bend G851211. 1630 hrs Enemy Pockewolfe swoops down low over Battalion HQ probably on a recce. The pilot could be seen looking down at the boys and they opened up with small arms. Hot tea was again brought forward with another 24 hrs Rations. 1615 hrs Message from the GOC NZ Division received (see appendix attached). 1900 hrs All listened in to BBC news and NZ troops were highly spoken of Gen Freyberg was also mentioned and with his history attached to it. 1930 hrs Artillery fire HF on Cassino slopes and forward of Hummock. 2030 hrs IO and Provost returned from forward area after having fed the A/A and Sigs Platoon. 1945 hrs Two bulldozers moved down highway 6 on their way to fix up some of the demolitions. 2035 hrs Fairly quiet as own artillery has stopped firing. Slight enemy mortaring. Weather: Fine and hot. Visibility good. Overcast by night.
  • 18 March, Sat Very misty and foggy in the morning, clearing up at 0900 hrs. 0750 hrs 5 enemy recce planes fly low over the area- engaged by A/A from forward troops only. One plane flew over to 5 Brigade area and succeeded in getting away. 0830 hrs Approx 20 enemy planes again over the area flying very high when the spitfires engaged them and chased them off. 0900 hrs Another 20 enemy planes diving in out of the sun bombed highway six and area Le Pastinelle. 1030 hrs Word from Brigade re a possible move forward by the 28 Battalion. Brigade Commander and Battalion IO left for 6 Brigade to look at the general plan of attack. 1045 hrs Brigadier rings through from 23 Battalion for the CO to RV at crossroads at turn off by C Coy and to proceed from there with him to 6 Brigade. 1045 hrs Warning order issued by the CO to prepare for a possible move forward. IO rings up B echelon for 1 Platoon of B Coy to prepare and move down to A Coy HQ and with 2 Platoons of A Coy stand by and await the transport which will take them to forward Battalion HQ on being sent for. Transport also to be notified. 1100 hrs IO moved down per jeep to B Coy and A Coy and arranged for reserves to be held at A Coy. 1200 hrs Another dive bombing attack by 20 bombers (fockewolfs) in Cassino area. The spitfires arrived in time and drove them away. 1230 hrs Direct hit by enemy shell on 2 portees and 2 A/Tk. guns. 1 jeep also hit and three personnel of the A/Tk. IO returned from A and B Coys. 20 stretcher bearers also being prepared by HQ Coy OC. 1500 hrs CO returns from a conference at 6 Brigade and held a prepatory meeting of D, C and HQ Coy MMGs and RMO Officers. The scheme now is for the Battalion to clear out certain pockets of resistance in the Cassino town instead of going forward to previous objective (jockey). 1530 hrs CO left for Brigade to finalise matters re the assault on the strong point. A and B Coys were notified that they were not needed in the assault. 1550 hrs 40 Aircraft drop supplies to the Indians holding Pt. 435 (reference map). 1630 hrs CO returned from 7 ROM Brigade and went into details of the attack. 1730 hrs 20 Enemy planes again flow over and this time intense A/A went up and this forced them to drop their bombs in Cassino town. 1830 hrs Hot meal again brought up from B echelon plus another 24 hrs hard rations for troops moving in to the attack. For remaining personnel in rear Battalion HQ hot meal to be brought up tomorrow night. 2000 hrs CO conference and plans finalised for the assault. Troops busy attending to their weapons and ammunition. White tape also prepared for the start line which is to be laid by I Section personnel. Slight enemy mortaring of area rly station and bridge. 2045 hrs Troops already packed laid down for a sleep and have on as much reat as possible. 2330 hrs All were on the move. D Coy leading followed by C Coy. At this time shelling and mortaring of highway 6 had somewhat quieted, though the bridge was still under consistent shelling. The Coys proceeded down highway 6 into Cassino and stopped at the RAP for approx. half an hour and then moved into position. Snipers were fairly active at this stage but fortunately caused no casualties. 0115 hrs Battalion settled in new positions with nothing to report as yet. Apart from the spasmodic shelling and LMG fire fairly quiet. Weather: Fine and sunny through heavy smoke making visibility difficult. 1700 hrs CO in conference with Coy Commanders re the attack for tonight general plan given out as follows: - 28 Battalion to clean up pockets of resistance in the western part of the town and thus assist the moving forward of 6 Brigade. 28 Battalion to move from present area via highway 6 past present 26 Battalion HQ at (859208 1.100,000 Cassino) to start line at 857209 from where the assault is to be made on a bearing of 280 degrees. D Coy to be the assaulting Coy with C Coy in reserve. On success D Coy to occupy the right flank and C Coy left with 26 Battalion on extreme left and 25 Battalion on right. CO and IO to go forward to 26 Battalion HQ to select a Battalion HQ for 28 Battalion and also to recce the start line etc. Coys to march across in order of D Coy followed by C Coy. D Coy Commander to pick up his plans en route via RAP Rd. and meeting Highway 6 at 873205. 1930 hrs CO and IO proceeded per jeep to last bridge 865207 thence by foot to 26 Battalion HQ at 859208. Battalion HQ selected in same house as 26 Battalion HQ but down in the basement where one room was not occupied. 2100 hrs Coys arrived and went straight to start line 200 yards on. 2130 hrs 28 Battalion with D Coy forward and C Coy in reserve commenced the attack.
  • 19 March, Sun During the night there had been slight activity both on the enemy and own front. D Coy moving forward to reach objective was meeting with stiff opposition both from mortars and sniping. 0700 hrs 1 Platoon got through to objective but the other two were held up until smoke was put down to enable them to move forward. They encountered heavy mortar and MG fixed line fire. 14 casualties including Commander Maj Matehaere. 0800 hrs Heavy fighting still in progress but little by little the Platoons moved forward. Enemy shells land near Battalion HQ house and later received a direct hit. Apart from a nasty jolt no casualties suffered in Battalion HQ. 0915 hrs Approx. half of the objective was captured and 8 Prisoners of War taken and many more killed. At present the attacking men were being held up by 2 enemy tanks which are being dealt with by our own armour. 30 casualties passed through RAP including several enemy wounded. 1210 hrs D Coy HQ at G854290. 15 men pushed onto the foot of Monastery Hill and in doing so put the enemy between these men and the remainder of the Coy. 2010 Battalion advises Brigade that 23 Battalion have arrived in area to give support. 2200 hrs The enemy at this stage is showing determination to push boys off the part of the objective that they have won. Weather: Fine and overcast.
  • 20 March, Mon Throughout the night heavy fighting continued. 0025 hrs Enemy reinforced apparently to same strength as before. Believed enemy had infiltrated along sunken Rd where there is continuous firing. Owing to many obstacles own tanks were unable to get closer than 200 yards to enemy strong points but later succeeded in clearing these enemy posts. The Battalion has had heavy shelling and mortaring resulting in severe casualties. 1356 hrs Enemy infiltrated through on the Battalion right flank and the Battalion was prepared to meet this advance of the enemy. 1437 hrs Enemy snipers very active but caused very little casualties. A constant stream of wounded both Indians and own troops were subjected to sniping though the red cross flag was well displayed. The enemy was also seen to use the red cross flag both taking wounded out and bringing in supplies on stretchers. At one stage the men reported that the enemy has brought forward a mortar on a stretcher covered over with a blanket, thus taking advantage of the red cross flag. 1500 hrs No hostile shelling while CB was being fired but started again at noon after only this time with more intensity. 1530 hrs Both 23 and 28 Battalions unable to move forward due to the intensity of the mortaring and shelling. Severe casualties suffered by 23 Battalion and own casualties slight. 1600 hrs Several enemy dive bombers dive Rapido Bridge but the intense A/A drove them off and brought down two. 1600 hrs Message received from the Brigade Commander for 23 and 28 Battalions to push forward to western edge of the town. Owing to the stiff opposition this order was carefully considered. 1800 hrs Brigade Commander with the CO of the 21 Battalion arrived at Cassino to confer with Commanders of 23 and 28 Battalion and also the CO of the 19 Armd Regiment. Plans were given for the assault by the 23 and 28 Battalions. 21 Battalion likely to move into Cassino tonight and help in the assault.
  • 21 March, Tues 0215 hrs Battalion reported to Brigade that 21 Battalion is meeting with stiff opposition and are under heavy shelling and mortaring. 0420 hrs The advance by 23 Battalion was somewhat held up as the Battalion was engaged in cleaning out enemy strong points prior to the attack by 23 Battalion. 0620 hrs Battalion CO reports to Brigade that he thinks that troops in all places on objectives. 0725 hrs CO notifies Brigade that 21 unable to move forward any further than line approx level with 28 Battalion and to the left. Houses in front strongly defended and no available approach due to rubble. 1715 hrs Battalion CO’s and Commander Tank Squadron came out of Cassino by tank to attend a conference by the Brigade Commander at Main Brigade HQ. Later CO 28 Battalion and Brigade Commander attended a conference at Tac Division HQ. 2200 hrs Unit Commanders returned by tank to Cassino. 2353 hrs Battalion reported to Brigade that enemy had infiltrated through rear of C Coy 21 Battalion. One Other Rank killed. 2100 hrs 21 Battalion continued advance after Battalion having cleaned out enemy pocket of resistance. 21 Battalion advanced and reached area G 855198 on the left of the Battalion. Well forward with 23 and 28 Battalions are tanks of the 19 Armd Regiment. They were successful in knocking out an enemy tank this morning. Only slight shelling, mortaring and sniping during the night. Weather: Fine and clear with a strong wind blowing. Towards noon slightly overcast and probable rain by night.
  • 22 March, Wed Still no change in the situation. Arrangements were made for the CO, IO and RSM to come out tonight to B echelon to have a spell. For the better part of the morning nothing to report apart from the shelling and mortaring of the Bridge across Rapido river. 1400 hrs Adj rings through from forward Battalion for Capt Logan to be prepared to move forward tonight and take over Command of the Battalion. 1430 hrs Slight enemy shelling of B echelon area. No casualties suffered. 1600 hrs Enemy planes over head but owing to the heavy A/A fire they made off. 1930 hrs Capt. Logan with 2/Lt Baker to take over. IO duties left for Cassino. 2000 hrs Capt Logan with 2/Lt Baker arrives at forward Battalion HQ and the change over in Officers commenced. The CO’s driver stationed in B echelon were rung up and told to collect the CO. CO, IO and Sigs Officer returned to B echelon.
  • 23 March, Thurs 0600 hrs Brief lull in the fighting but again continued at 0900 hrs. 1000 hrs Dive bombing attack by enemy fighters on the Rapido bridge. No material damage done and no casualties. 1400 hrs Reinforcements arrived in from Advance base under Maj Sorenson. 1430 hrs Brigade Sigs Master attended a conference at forward Battalion HQ with Lt-Col McIlroy, Maj Orbell and Capt Logan. “Morpork” called for urgently. Capt Logan also rings for all stretcher jeeps. 1400 hrs One casualty, Sgt Rota from D Coy. Slight wound and returned to B echelon. 0130 hrs Enemy working party was heard in area Hotel Continental reference G 851200 and Hotel DeRosa G 855207. D Coy called for Artillery but could not get through to Battalion HQ by line. Wireless was then tried but to no avail. 2330 hrs A Coy after having being relieved by 24 men from HQ Coy under 2/Lt. Carr returned to B echelon. 2330 hrs Capt Ornberg OC D Coy was called for to attend a conference at forward Battalion HQ with Capt Logan acting CO. Plans for mining given out but Capt Ornberg said that it was unnecessary. Plans for the relieving of D Coy by HQ Coy also given out but D Coy decided to stick it out as there were only two more days to go.
  • 24 March, Fri 0545 hrs D Coy wired through to the Battalion that 2 enemy tanks were coming down highway 6 to Hotel Continental. Brigade was then notified by the 22 set. 0900 hrs Troops of tanks that were sheltering behind Battalion HQ house were heavily shelled and one received a direct hit from what appeared to be an A/Tk gun. 3 killed and others wounded. 0600 – 0800 hrs During this time Battalion HQ house was subjected to heavy shelling and sniping from direction of Castle Hill. This made the entrance to Battalion HQ house very uncomfortable. 1600 hrs Very affective fire was brought down by the artillery on the Hotel Continental receiving direct hits. This caused the enemy to throw out smoke grenades and many enemy troops could be seen running out of the building. 1500 hrs Capt. Logan signals for all jeeps and trailers to arrive at forward Battalion HQ at last light for the purpose of bringing out the Coys heavy equipment. 1600 hrs Capt Logan recces area for 6 pdr A/Tk gun. Lt-Col McIlroy also recce position for 6 pdr A/Tk gun. 2000 hrs The body of Cpl Rakau was brought out and buried at the evacuating point (ref 883202 1.25.000 Cassino). RSM McRae returned to B echelon and his duties were taken over by CSM Walters. 2030 hrs Jeeps returned to B echelon with all surplus gear and salvage. During the night Hangman’s Hill was evacuated by the Indians. Fairly quiet during the night except for own artillery fire. Weather: Fine and clear during the morning with stiff breeze blowing. Increased cloudiness by midday.
  • 25 March, Sat 0600-0700 hrs Slight lull in the fighting but enemy sniping still in progress. Many a time Battalion HQ house received direct hit but caused no casualties. 1600 hrs More Stonks called for and Brigadier Weir conducted the shoot himself with American 240 mm guns. Shoot very successful. At this time the smoke over the entire town made visibility, very difficult. Very quiet for the rest of day with nothing to report. 2200 hrs Again the bridge across Rapido is subjected to heavy shelling and mortaring. Slight damage was done but bridge still serviceable. Weather: Overcast with signs of rain. Fairly hot during the day.
  • 26 March, Sun 0500 hrs Morning was shattered by the heavy enemy shelling, mortaring and sniping. Again Battalion HQ house received a direct hit. 1200 hrs Several enemy dive bombers dive bomb bridge across main Rapido. Fierce Ack Ack fire was put up by the Ack Ack gunners and drove the invaders off. No material damage done or casualties suffered. 1400 hrs Orders from Brigade re the change over was received. Previous to this order re the relief of the Battalion have been given out to the Coy Commanders and plans were all finalised. Day very quiet, only slight enemy mortaring and shelling. 1900 hrs Maj Aked of the 24 Battalion arrived at Battalion and went into conference with Capt Logan. Capt Domberg plus the Coy guides arrived at Battalion HQ to meet the relieving party. 1930 hrs Maj Aked’s Coy arrived and they suffered 6 casualties on the way up. 24 Battalion lost one vehicle with all its personnel and this held up the relief till 2130 hrs. 2130 hrs Relief commenced in the following order: - C Coy, HQ Coy and D. Relief completed without incident. All ammunition handed over to the relieving party except two grenades per man. 2330 hrs One jeep and trailer arrived at Battalion HQ to carry out the heavy equipment and the 22 set. Changeover was completed by this time. Brigade was then informed by Battalion that it is closing down and that we suffered no casualties. 2345 hrs RMT waiting at rear Battalion turn off transported the men back to B echelon arriving at 2400 hrs. Weather: Fine, clear, but overcast towards evening.
  • 27 March, Mon Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1600 hrs. 0900 – 1200 hrs Nothing much done in the early part of the day as the Battalion was resting as much as possible. CO left for Brigade to receive final instructions re the move to a new area. 1300 hrs HQ Coy goes through hot showers provided by the Battalion Pioneer Platoon. 1400 hrs The rest of the Battalion then goes through the hot showers. 1600 hrs Adj, RMO and IO off to Mignano for hot showers at NZ mobile shower unit.
  • 28 March, Tues Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0900 hrs CO visited Brigade and arrangements were made for the Battalion to move back to area Mignano for a short period. Changes in Command: Brigadier Burrows returned to Advance Base as OC. Brigadier Inglis to take over Command 4 Armd. Brigade. Brigadier Stewart to take over Command 5 Infantry Brigade. Brigadier Parkinson to take over Command 6 Brigade. Lt-Gen Freyberg resumes his command as GOC 2 NZ Division. NZ Corp new known as NZ Division and come under Command 8th Army and under 13th Corp. For the remainder of the day the Battalion busy in re-equipping and also deficiencies. Weather: Slight rain in the morning but later cleared in the evening.
  • 29 March, Wed Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0830 hrs Troops busy packing up and preparing for the move back to Mignano area. 0815 hrs CO left for Brigade to receive final instructions as to moving back. 1000 hrs Coy guides left per 15 cwt for new area so as to be able to lead their respective Coys in when they arrived. 1100 hrs Camp was struck, rubbish collected and burnt and all were set for the move. 1200 hrs Lunch. Several enemy fighter bombers were seen to bomb area forward of Trocchio feature, probably the bridge across main Rapido. 1230 hrs Transport for A Coy reported to their area. IO carries out an inspection of Battalion HQ lines. Latrines were sealed and all possible salvage stacked ready to be picked up. 1330 hrs a Coy left for new area along railway line to highway 6 – to the NZ mobile showers and then to the area. 1345 hrs Battalion HQ embussed and formed up in the Battalion area ready to move off at 1400 hrs. 1400 hrs Battalion HQ moved off per route as for A Coy. The remainder of the Battalion followed on immediately. 1435 hrs Battalion arrived in the new area and Coys settled down as comfort able as possible. Probably be 4 days in this area before moving into the line again. Weather: Cold but fine.
  • 30 March, Thurs Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. Very quiet in the morning. Dull sky and probably rain in the afternoon. For the remainder of the morning the Coys busy preparing weapons and equipment for the Battalion parade to be held at 1400 hrs. 1000 hrs CO’s Orderly room. Cases of drunkenness being dealt with also one case of converting WD salvage (see Paragraph 18 ROs attached). 1200 hrs Unidentified plane crashed in area well forward of Battalion. The pilot was seen to bale out. 1320 hrs Coys were formed up and inspected by the Coy Commanders. 1400 hrs Battalion formed up on the parade ground in B Coys area. The CO then addressed the gathering on the stay in the present area and also about trouble makers. The Padre then gave a short prayer in memory of the dead. Holy Communion was then had by the Battalion personnel. 1445 hrs LOB personnel who were stationed in Capus arrived in and joined the Battalion (see appendix attached). 1730 hrs CO and IO left per jeep for Brigade and then onto 22 Battalion. 1830 hrs Battalion personnel left per unit transport for rear Division area to see the pictures. 1830 hrs Padre Huata and Mr Perry (YMCA) returned from Caserta after having arranged for a concert to be held there in the hospital grounds. Weather: Slight drizzle in the afternoon, bright sunny morning.
  • 31 March, Fri Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. HQ Coy personnel engaged in metaling the Rd opposite Battalion area. 1015 hrs Brigade Commander with other unit Officers arrived at Battalion to see a demonstration by 2/Lt Balger on the flame thrower. 1100 hrs B Coy have showers in their area. Hot showers being provided by unit mobile showers. 1130 hrs D Coy followed by A Coy goes through the hot showers. After lunch the remainder of the Battalion went through the showers. 1300 hrs Cos conference held in the Battalion HQ area. Plans for moving into Cassino discussed with Coy Commanders. Maps and serial photographs prepared. 1320 hrs Unit YMCA receives a tent and lighting plant from the NZ YMCA Unit. 1400 hrs IO left for Cassino to recce possible routes for vehicles in preparation for the move forward. 1800 hrs Brigade Commander visits Battalion. Padre also jacks up his concert party for rehearsal. 1900 hrs Officers party held in area B Coy. Brigade Commander with other Battalion Commanders attended and the party lasting till 2300 hrs. Weather: Slight rain still falling.


Archives New Zealand – Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga 
28 (Maori) Battalion war diary, R23517746, A DQZ 18886, WAII 11666, DA 68/1/51


[1] Monty Soutar, Nga Tama Toa, p. 322



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