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The Māori Battalion with the 2NZEF recorded a Christmas programme from the Middle East on 15 October 1942. 

This is part of the hymn “Au, e Ihu” sung for the occasion by members of the Māori Battalion.

Au, e Ihu, tirohia
Arohaina iho rā
Whakaaetia ake āu
Ki tōu uma piri ai
I te wā e awhi ai
Ēnei ngaru kino nei
I te wā e keri ai
Enei āwhā kaha mai
Āmine

Sound file from Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. (16941).  Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright.

Bill Te Anga (Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto) speaks in a recorded public broadcast from North Africa, 24 September 1941.

Site Administrators note: there is static throughout the recording.

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. (12877).  Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright.

Image reference:
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: Detail of PA.000038

Further information and copies of this image may be obtained from Te Papa through its Collections Online website.

Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any reuse of this image.

 

Tiwi (Eruera Te Whiti) Love (Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Te Whiti) speaks in a recorded public broadcast from North Africa, 24 September 1941.

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. (12875/6).  Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright.

Image reference:
Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: 1/2-036961-F
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

Lt Henare Toka of Ngati Whatua speaks in a recorded public broadcast from North Africa, 24 September 1941.

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. (12874).  Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright.

Image shows Captain Chaplin Kahi Harawira of Ngapuhi (left) and Lt Henare Toka of Ngati Whatua (right) at an Officers dinner in Beirut, May 1942.  Image from Sydney (Bully) Jackson collection. Courtesy of Gary Jackson.  No reproduction without permission.  See full image here.

Lt Rangi Logan (Ngāti Kahungunu) speaks in a recorded public broadcast from North Africa, 24 September 1941.

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. (12871).  Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright.


Image reference:
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: Detail of PA.000038

Further information and copies of this image may be obtained from Te Papa through its Collections Online website.

Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any reuse of this image.

Captain Whetu Werohia (Ngāi Te Rangi) speaks in a recorded public broadcast from North Africa, 24 September 1941.

Site administrators notes:  The soundfile is in te reo Māori.

Transcript

Ka horo, kahore.
Ka horo te pa, kahore.
Tenei ano te ngarara kopae ara te takawheta nei, kei te oreore tana hiku.
Kei te komekome ana nga ngutu ki te karanga hoa mona, e Kupe, ko te ope taua.Ka whakarongo ake au ki te tangi a te manu e karanga mai e
Ka mate, ka mate, ka ora, ka ora
Ka mate, ka mate, ka ora, ka ora
Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru nana koe i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra
Upane, kaupane, upane, kaupane whiti te ra!
Te iwi, te motu, tena koutou. Aotearoa, Te Waipounamu me Wharekauri me nga motu o Te Moananui a Kiwa kia ora ano koutou i raro i te manaakitanga a te Runga Rawa. 

Tena koutou e tangi mai na, e kakahu mai na, e te kakahu o aitua mo ratou me o matou hoa kua hinga atu nei i te marae o te pakanga.  Tangihia mai ra i kona e tangihia atu nei hoki e matou i konei. Na koutou i tangi mai, na matou hoki i tangi atu.  No reira te iwi, i hinganga rangatira, te hinga ki a Tu, ka pa hinga tera whare, na tona whare ano a ia hei tangi.

Me huri ake inaianei aku korero mo matou e noho atu nei i konei.   Ko te ope tuatahi, tuarua, tuatoru, kua hui ki te wahi kotahi.  Ko te ope tuawha kei te puni hoia te unga mai i kona.  Kei te ako te whakatu waewae me te mau a te pu.  Ka nui te ora o te tamariki e noho atu nei. Kei te hikaka te whakaaro o te tamariki inaianei kia piri ratou ki te hoariri.  Tae mai ana te ihi me te wehi kia matou ki o ratou kaumatua, i te wana o te whiu o te waewae o te tamariki.  No reira te iwi, ahakoa ra to matou toa, kaua hei tukuna ma etahi wahanga anake o tatou o te kainga na hei hoe i te waka.  Me mutu ake te ahuatanga o enei korero i konei.  Ka huri atu au ki taku iwi ki a Ngai Te Rangi. 

Te iwi, nga hapu, tena koutou.  Ka nui te aroha atu ki a koutou.  E hoki ana ano te whakaaro, he aha rawa i takitahi rawa ai aku karangatanga maha i tae mai nei ki te hapai te rakau a o ratou tupuna.  No reira, he uri katoa koutou no Tamapahore.  Te tangata nana i takatakahi katoa te moana mai o Tikirau i Nga Kuri a Wharei, huri atu ki Waikato.  No reira te iwi, awhinatia mai ra te reo o tenei rautahi e paho atu nei i tenei whenua ake.  Kia ora koutou.  E Patu, mea atu ki to whaea ka nui te ora o to koro, na ki to tipuna hoki.  Tena koutou katoa.

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. (12872/3).  Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright.


Image reference:
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: Detail of PA.000038

Further information and copies of this image may be obtained from Te Papa through its Collections Online website.

Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa must be obtained before any reuse of this image.

Matehaere Huriwai bids farewell.  Matehaere, also known as Paenoa, was from Tikitiki on the East Coast.  He served with C Company and embarked with the Main Body

This very short recording was made after the official farewell ceremony to volunteers from the Tairawhiti region at Gisborne on 27 March 1940. At that point the men were  boarding their buses.

(Site administrator's note: there is a lot of static throughout the audio).

Transcript

Radio announcer: What’s your name?
Huriwai: Huriwai
Radio announcer: Just say goodbye to anybody you’d like to, we’re on the air, 2ZM here.
Huriwai:  Aah, tae atu nei [ki] ngā tāngata o Tikitiki. Kia ora koutou and good luck to you all.

 

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. (D10852).  Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright.

Photograph from Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust

A New Zealand soldier describes Sollum a day after the Māori Battalion’s capture of the barracks.  He recounts the event including a Māori Battalion soldier’s keenness to rejoin the fray after being injured. He describes the environment, the German cemetery guarded by New Zealand soldiers, German and Italian prisoners of war and the continuing shell fire from German forces.

Transcript

I have just motored back across the desert from the little battered town of upper Sollum.  It is the place which the Māoris took this morning in their first battle in this new fight in Libya.  Sollum is actually in Egypt.  It was the old Egyptian frontier town in peace time and I passed the battered stone boundary sign which showed Egypt on one side and Libya on the other as I drove down the road over which the Maoris had advanced.  But although it’s Egyptian it has been in German hands since last April when the Nazi’s rushed through Libya at the time our backs were turned in Greece.  It was a cold dusty morning bleak as the worst of winter days somewhere, say on the plains of Southland.  The desert strangely enough looked this morning rather like the area between the Bluff and Invercargill as we drove over it.  For here it is tufted with a low scrub that is like tussock and the wind cut through us just as only some of those winds on the Bluff road can cut.  We drove in convoy the trucks in one long line, the men gripping their tommy guns and rifles and staring out the side at every vehicle in the skyline.  This desert war is like a war at sea.  Any dock that looms in the horizon could be an enemy craft.  But then we saw the ragged shape of Fort Capuzzo ahead of us and we jolted rapidly towards it.  In the shattered courtyard of the fort, smashed by three great battles that have been fought here there were New Zealandsoldiers this time instead of German, or British or Italian.  They wore their grey uniform jerseys or their battle dress and they stood around in real New Zealand fashion drinking tea at the cook shop lorries.  Or they slept in their trenches in the fort outskirts, or they poked around among the hulks of the German, Italian and British tanks which lie around the fort walls.  At one corner at the road junction the Germans had made a cemetery.  There are neat rows there of wooden crosses all with black edges and on them are the words “Fallen for the Fatherland”.  Here there were a couple of New Zealand Privates on guard and they stared at the swastikas and tried to pick out the ornate German lettering.  A group of elderly Italians in uniform, prisoners from a labour corps who had been working on a road nearby stared miserably from the roadside.  I went on along the tarmac road towards the barracks at Sollum.  At the roadside the tanks were moving back after their action.  Their cooplas were open the grimy faces of the commanders stared out tensely in the direction of Halfaya Pass, the enemy still lay there.  Every two or three minutes a shell would slither over and burst near the road so we gave the truck all she had till we could get into the shelter of the first building.  Here the Battalion Doctor was bandaging up the arm of a big Māori private.  The private kept saying “I think it’s alright eh.  You let me go back to my cobber’s; I don’t want to come out with the job half done.”   But the job is already done.  Across the open space between this first aid post and the shattered barrack walls the Māoris were filing back already leading in lines of German prisoners.  There were Italians too, some in dark green uniforms.  The Germans were dressed in a hideous pale khaki with jack boots and a silly cap like the one the ATS girls used to wear in England.  I looked at the faces of these men.  They had almost all the hard, brutalised expression of the real Nazi type.  We learnt later this was a special unit made up of men who had volunteered for service in Africa, sort of imitation Nazi foreign legion.  Over the last open space where the shells were bursting I ran towards the barracks that the Māoris had captured and were now holding in the face of enemy fire.  They put in their attack before dawn.  In the cold black night they’d bumped over the desert in their lorries till they got to their meeting place with the tanks.  And they formed up alongside the great shapes of these dark tanks looming up in there in the starlight.  They started off over the open slope towards the barracks.  The Germans hearing the tanks suddenly realising the attack opened fire with machine guns and anti-tank guns and mortars.  The attack went steadily on.  Māori soldiers, grenades or rifles with fixed bayonets in their hands worked through the strongholds in the barracks, around them clearing out each point taking prisoners pressing home their attack here and there until at full light now the key points in the town were theirs.  I crawled up behind a wall where two Māoris lay trying to spot a sniper in the buildings below.  Ahead of us stretched one of the most magnificent views you could see, it was the blue Mediterranean and then, just inland the great sweep of the 300 foot escarpment.  The desert here is a tableland that stops short about half a mile from the coast and then drops down one sheer cliff at which the only route is Halfaya Pass. 

Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. (sa-u-1203-sc). 

Photograph from Alexander Turnbull Library, see larger image here.
Title: Sollum barracks at top of escarpment above Sollum Bay, Egypt, during WWII
Reference: DA-8889
Photographer: W Timmins
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

Te Aitanga a Māhaki leader Henare Ruru farewells troops from the dias in Peel Street, Gisborne on 27 March 1940.  His speech is followed by a performance of the First World War song Te Ope Tuatahi that was composed by Sir Apirana Ngata. 

(Site administrator's note: there is some static and background noise throughout the audio).

Transcript

Henare Ruru: Deputy Mayor, Colonel, tēnā koutou.  Residents of Gisborne and the surrounding county, oh...

Announcer: He wasn’t speaking into the other microphone.

Henare Ruru: First, I will confess to you, my English is limited.  I’m here this afternoon to fill in the gap, also, for the speaker Sir Āpirana Ngata, he’s away, he had to be called to Wellington.  And I’m here to do my best to speak to you.

Residents of Gisborne and the surrounding district, it’s gratifying to see such a crowd, standing around, members of the Second Echelon and the Māori Battalion.  Its the only, part of our duty as a stay home Battalion to muster and say “haere ra” to these boys.  A gathering such as this, sufficient for these boys to realise the job they’re going to tackle is important.  They themselves is [are] important and the contract they’re going to attack is a very important one.  By our presence here this afternoon, they would realise that – tēnā koutou. (Kia ora)

Members of the Second Echelon and the Māori Battalion.  Today you stand at Peel Street, a section of the British army.  You are on active service, New Zealanders, New Zealand small in number.  But they are attached to the British army, they are attached to the Navy, they are attached to the Air Force, they are attached to the land force, they are attached to the Eastern and Western front.  You here standing in Lowe Street are part of that army.  Now boys, you’re going to do your job - we stay-homers have a mind with you. You’re trained for the job, you’re trained how to act as a soldier, you’re trained, your knowledge is trained and knowledge should be required as a soldier.  But there are some aspects [that] belongs to you, and that is these: one is courage, one is determination – it’s in you, you’re born with it, grown with it.   You wasn't teached with these two actions, belongs to you.  And we’re proud that you’re leaving us to perform a duty laid down by those ‘Big heads’ a few years ago.  England expects everyman will do his duty; you’re going to perform on that duty.  That’s the duty that you’re going to perform today.  You’re moving the youth and act on that duty.  You’re going to act upon it.  You shall do so because of the courage of every New Zealander, Māori and Pākehā, its in you, born with you.  You are told right throughout New Zealand what the New Zealanders did in 1914 and 18.  Today we know it’s a credit to us to New Zealanders Māori and Pākehā.  Those boys returned decorated with a name called Anzac.  Anzac was gained by deeds and by results in action.  They were honoured and decorated with that name and you [are] asked today to equal that and you can.  One of the points that you can is this, when you get over there, get hold of that naughty little boy Hitler, give him a jolly good hiding.  When you achieve that, we shall gain our liberty, our freedom and peace.  You'll do it for us we know you would. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I think I’ve shouted enough.  You know the balance of our minds, that is this: Tamariki Māori mā, haere, kia māia, kia toa.  I akongia koutou ki te hōiatanga, i akongia koutou ki te tāwhai ngā waewae, ki te titiro ngā kanohi, ki te whātoro ngā ringaringa.  Ko te māia, ko te toa kai roto i a koutou i heke iho i o koutou tipuna. Kāore tēnā e taea te ako ki a koutou, kei roto tonu hoki i a koutou.  Ko te hōiatanga, ko te ahatanga, ko te ‘left right left right’ ka akongia koutou.  Kia ora koutou, haere.  Whakatipungia he ingoa mo tātou, mo o koutou whakatipuranga, a muri ake nei.  

God speed and a safe return.  Good luck to you.

Taku pao kia koutou, taku pao kia koutou, kai ngā tamariki wāhine nei.

(Words for supporting song: Te ope tuatahi)

E te ope tuatahi
No Aotearoa
No Te Waipounamu
No nga tai e wha
Ko koutou ena
E nga rau e rima
Ko te Hokowhitu toa
A Tumatauenga
I hinga ki Ihipa
Ki Karipori ra ia
E ngau nei te aroha
Me te mamae

E te ope tuarua
No Mahaki rawa
Na Hauiti koe
Na Porourangi
I haere ai Henare
Me to Wiwi
I patu ki te pakanga
Ki Paranihi ra ia
Ko wai he morehu
Hei kawe korero
Ki te iwi e
E taukuri nei

E te ope tuaiwa
No Te Arawa
No Te Tairawhiti
No Kahungunu
E haere ana ‘hau
Ki runga o Wiwi
Ki reira ‘hau nei
E tangi ai
Me mihi kau atu
I te nuku o te whenua
Hei konei ra e
E te tau pumau



Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. (D10852).  Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright.

Photograph from the personal collection of Matire (Tum) Glover (granddaughter of Henare Ruru) and trustee on the Nga Taonga a Nga Tama Toa Trust.

Song words for Te Ope Tuatahi from James Cowan, The Maoris in the Great War, Maori Regimental Committee, 1926, p.179

John Palmer of D Company was  part of a ten-man section  belonging to 17 Platoon left behind in dense bush near the foot of the steep Mavroneri Gorge (Greece) in 1941.  After a brief frantic fight with German forces the order to withdraw was passed along Battalion lines.  It was a dark wet and windy night and word never reached  the section to which John Palmer belonged.

In the final part of this three part interview John talks about their plans to head for the coast and make their way to Turkey.  He recalls the large German convoy they had to avoid, the Germans operatic singing, potato patches, avoiding being shot and then ultimately being captured and interment as a prisoner of war.

Transcript (edited)

Coming back, the day we climbed to the top of the round mountains, we saw the first two scouts of the German convoy coming through the valley.  We could see them, maybe a couple of miles away I suppose, two black specs.  From that day on for twenty four hours a day, this convoy, German's convoy, because it was the only road through you see, day in and day out.  And ah, where we were, the road was here, the river was here, the hill was here like that you see.  How we wanted to get down, down to the coast, somehow, because we couldn't get down this way.  We split up in pairs to find our own way across the road.  That's right, we'd seen a tree way in the distance and we were to meet there 3 o'clock the next afternoon.  So okay. The corporal and I, we got together.  It was about a hundred yards I suppose from the road.  There was a potato patch down by the road.  I remember both of us crawling through the rows of potatoes till we got on the edge of the road.  This is night time.  And periodically, the convoy stopped, we presume because it was a mountainous trail to let the front lot get to the top you see, and then they'd carry on afterwards.  And every so often the convoy would stop, that's right, and all the lights would go out, the whole convoy.  Someone would blow a whistle, the lights come on and away they went. While we were waiting there were troop carriers, that's right, and the singing you've never, honest mate you've never heard anything like it.  It was semi-classical singing, opera stuff.  And it was beautiful.  The evening was a clear starry night, you know.  We were laying in between the rows of potatoes listening to the singing.  Well that's when the convoy stopped, you see. So we said we'd have to get across the road. The convoy stopped, the lights went out so corporal says, "Here we go."  So we're off across the road.  As soon as we hit the road the whistle went, the lights went on and we tumbled down the other side of the road and there was a paddock or whatever. I forget how far, we ran for our lives and expected to be shot.  Which didn't eventuate.  Anyway, we found an old shed, with fern or whatever, we stayed there the night, we slept there.  The next day we had to get across the river.  So we eventually found a fording place, we got across the river.  Arrived at this tree, six of us did but two didn't arrive.  So we waited and waited and waited, we left a note saying we're off we can't wait for you any longer. The idea then was to make our way down to the coast, steal a boat or whatever and off to Turkey and be interned you see.  That's when we ran into this, they must've been a labour corps, they were fixing up the roads.  The roads had been bombed, you know.  And this officer was there.  Because the Greeks, they were dark like us Maoris and a lot of them wore more or less the same uniform as us. So we decided well the only thing to do was just carry on saying we were Greeks forgetting that we had a New Zealand patch on here.  We walked past and they just looked at us, ignored us except the officer.  And there's something, being in the army, you know, it's automatic you hear this word ‘halt' you just automatically halt.  And he said "Halt, for you the war's over." 

John Palmer, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Tūwharetoa (1918-2011), interviewed by Mathew Devonald.
Family collection.  Courtesy of Hanatia Palmer.

John Palmer of D Company was  part of a ten-man section  belonging to 17 Platoon left behind in dense bush near the foot of the steep Mavroneri Gorge (Greece) in 1941.  After a brief frantic fight with German forces the order to withdraw was passed along Battalion lines.   It was a dark wet and windy night and word  never  reached  the section to which John Palmer belonged.   

In part two of this three part interview John Palmer recalls the ammunition left behind by the Māori Battalion that was taken away by local Greeks.  En-route to Olympus Pass to find the ir  Battalion Serbian soldiers warn that John and crew are heading towards the Germans.  They  decide to  return to their original lines in the Mavroneri Gorge.  They also find a critically injured Māori Battalion soldier who they send to a German sanatorium for medical attention.   

Transcript (edited)

And ah at Battalion Headquarters there was these hundreds of cases of 303 ammunition all stacked there, they never had time to take them you see.  And that afternoon some of the local Greeks, farmers or whoever they were,  timber men,  had arrived there, because they 'd  know the fighting had gone.   And ah [ they] asked us if they could have these cases of ammo.   We  said ,   "Yes ,  take them. "  Gidurchi, they used to call the Germans.  " We'll use these later on for the Germans. "  All the, what do you call them. Never mind.   Anyway so they came with all their donkeys and carted all these cases of ammo away.  So right, seeing that we heard the Battalion, they were going to make a stand at the end of the pass, so we climbed right to the top of the range and we were gonna make our way around the top of the range you know right down here, wherever.  Then we run into, that's right, a mob of Serbians, soldiers.  Through sign language and noise and whatever - Gidurchi's they call Germans - they told us there's nobody there it's all Germans, our  mates had gone.  So it had taken us three days to get up to where we were.  We had no food, so we decided to come back.  So we came back to the lines.  We'd found an old man and his grandson and they had a bag of what we used to call M and V, tins of meat and vegetables - army issue you see.  So we flogged these off  them.  And c oming down the hill through the scrub we heard this voice,  that's right, yep, a moaning voice.  So we stopped and in the fern, this  grass, we'd found one of our boys, Maori chap, soldier, he'd been shot through the mouth.  And the bullet was still in the mouth,  and he'd gone all yellow ,  you know.   So we took him down to Battalion Headquarters where there was still a tent and we fed him on all the juice out of the tins, but it wasn't any good.  Luckily across the road and across the river on the other side maybe half a mile away was a sanatorium, see.  So we told him he may as well go down to the road and be captured by the Germans and they'd fix him.  We heard later on, three months later that he was cured. They'd picked him up took him to the san[atorium], fixed him up, you know took the bullet out, whatever,  broken his jaw...  

John Palmer, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Tūwharetoa (1918-2011), interviewed by Mathew Devonald.
Family collection.  Courtesy of Hanatia Palmer.

John Palmer of D Company was  part of a ten-man section  belonging to 17 Platoon left behind in dense bush near the foot of the steep Mavroneri Gorge (Greece) in 1941.  After a brief frantic fight with German forces the order to withdraw was passed along Battalion lines.  It was a dark wet and windy night and word  never  reached  the section to which John Palmer belonged.  

In part one of this three part interview John recounts the moment he and his friends realised they had been left behind. Their main concern was finding food and catching up with the Battalion.

Transcript (edited)

John Palmer: Its something one never forgets, it was as quiet and we heard birds twitting in the trees, you know.  It was just becoming dawn...  All of a sudden we heard a voice behind us, my mate and I. "Have you seen anybody?" ...

We said "No."

"Gee, that's funny".  So he went along to the next trench no that's right went along and there was no one there.  So we got up, had a look right around, and the whole battalion had pulled out.  

Question: And it was just the three of you?

John Palmer: Six of us left behind.  Ha, ha. So we couldn't understand it. Anyway we made our way up to Battalion Headquarters, through the trees. It was foggy, fog whatever, drips of rain.  The tracks up to the top of the range were just goat tracks.  And you could see where the men had slipped off the tracks, slid down the hillside in the dirt.  They'd just taken off all their gear and they'd just left all their packs and everything down below and they climbed back on the track and away they went.  And all we were after was, well naturally wasfood.  We used to have tins of, what did we used to call them , emergency rations - a block of chocolate in a special air to air tight tin.  I think there were enough for a week.  A square for each day you know a special type of chocolate. So anyway we got a half a dozen of those, we robbed the packs, you know.  We got halfway up through the mist and the fog and we heard a voice say "who's that?"  We yelled "it's us, it's us, it's us."  We got up to Battalion Headquarters, another two Māori boys they were machine gunners, no tommy-gunners, that's right.  They were told, that's right, ordered by the sergeant to watch a little gully sort of, one on either side.  It was true because one of them said, they'd shot a whole section that'd come up, the corporal was in the front.  Thats right, they were creeping up this sort of, whatever you call it, a wadi or whatever.  He remembered the corporal saying "gamma, gamma."  Which in German means hurry up.  So he must've heard that.  Otherwise he wouldn't have had a clue about the German word.  So anyway they were all gone. They'd probably picked up all their dead.  So there was eight of us then.  

 

John Palmer, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Tūwharetoa (1918-2011), interviewed by Mathew Devonald.

Family collection.  Courtesy of Hanatia Palmer.