Ben Tucker

Also known as
Ben Pene Taka
Date of death
22 August 1977

World War 2

Serial No
Address on enlistment
Lower Waiawa, New Zealand
Next of kin
Mr T. Tucker (father), Lower Waiawa, New Zealand

Comments (1)

PROFILE ON BEN TAKABy his grandson Joshua Taka 2009My grandfather's name was Ben Pene Taka. He was born on the 25th of July 1918 in a little coastal village named Omaramutu, located on the east coast of the North Island. Te Tairawhiti just outside of Opotiki. Sadly my grandfather passed away on the 22nd August 1977 – 19yrs before I was born in 1996. His tribe was Whakatohea he lived at a marae around lower Waiawa. Granddad had one brother: Jack three sisters: Puhi, Grace Hiki who are now also deceased. He entered Papakura Army Camp on the 15th of May 1940. I can only imagine that it would have been a sad time to leave his parents, family, Marae. My Grandfather was enlisted with the 28th Maori REFTS regiment as Private Ben Tucker, possibly because the officer mispelt his surname under the registered number 26067. On November 8th 1940 he disembarked for England entered Egypt on the 12th of December 1940. The battalion went into action in Greece for the 1st time on the 15th of April 1941 against the invasion of the German Wehrmacht, where they were evacuated then were involved in a brief bitter defense of Crete. Granddad was recorded safe on the 18th May 1941 in Crete then reported safe in Egypt on the 10th June 1941. Following this they had a brief spell in Libya Syria before joining the 8th Army long campaign in the deserts of North Africa that culminated in the battle of El Alamein. They pursued the German Field-Marshall Erwin Rommel of the Africa Corps until it was driven out of North Africa. Rommel was admired by the Maori because he fought 'fairly squarely'. It was said Rommel described the Maori Battalion as some of the greatest fighters he had ever seen. Granddad was wounded on October 23rd 1942 where he sustained leg injuries from machine gun fire. He was shipped out of Egypt on the December 9th 1942 arrived in Wellington on January 9th 1943 and eventually, he was medically discharged from the Army on August 31st 1943. Granddad served 386 days in NZ 793 days overseas. My grandmother promised my father Granddad’s army medals but they have all mysteriously gone missing. He earned the 1939-1945 Star, the Africa Star, the 8th Army Clasp, the War medal 1939-1945 the NZ War Service Medal. Granddad Ben Pene Taka was one of many who served in 28th Maori Battalion, who from all accounts were renowned not only for their dash flair for their unorthodox ways but also for their contribution in manpower to the outcome of World War II. It’s too late for me to ask granddad, but I've written this to record and capture the special Spirit of my granddad’s generation, of both Maori Pakeha.  In ending, as one of many of Koro Ben's mokopunas, thank you for the opportunity to remember him in this way, and no doubt others will add to this in Granddad's memory.