This article appeared in the April 1984 The Battalion Remembers booklet.
Lt. Col. Tiwi Love, MID
Tiwi Love was the first Commander of D. Company at Palmerston North.
He was a big man, not tall, of average height, but otherwise big, broad of beam, solid and compact; but he also had an engaging smile; in fact a many of happy disposition. Very early days at Palmerston North, the troops called him "The Bull". The moment you heard him speak, you knew why. He roared.
My first happy memory of him was of the night of the WO's and SGT's Mess dinner shortly before we left for overseas. Guests at that dinner were Lt. Col. Dittmer and several of the Senior Officers among whom was the Bull. As soon as he saw me, he came up to me and said, "Logan, I hear you are the best eater in this mess." "Quite possibly Sir," I replied. "Well", he said, "I am the best in our Mess, so we will sit together and find out who is the best in both messes." Having got ourselves seated, he continued, "We will start at the top of the menu and go right through." I agreed and we duly got under way. I very soon found out that he did not mean one of every course of an 8 course dinner, but every line of the menu commencing with the aperitifs, the Hors d'Ouvres at the top, right through to the coffee and port at the bottom. To cut a long story short, he beat me by one line.
Tiwi had a batman who had an unusual name, Viking [or Wi King] Rota. He was a Rarotongan in his middle thirties I would think. On his face was a look of resignation, of perpetual long-suffering. That, no doubt, was because the Bull kept him on the move from early morning to late at night. From Reveille on, it was Rota-a-a this and Rota-a-a that. It eventually came to a head during the evening meal one day. Our Company Headquarters was in a huge cave under the Baggush escarpment, and the Bull was harassing Rota as usual. He wanted the salt, he wanted his tea, the sugar etc. etc. He wasn't pushing Rota or being difficult; but he did keep him on the move. In the end, Rota stopped in his tracks, and in a very pained voice said, "Sir, I resign." "Resign what?" asked the Bull. "Resign as your batman, Sir," was Rota's reply. "Nonsense! You don't resign as batman. I can sack you, but I like you too much. Get me some more tea." As far as I know, that was the one and only effort Rota made to get away from the tenuous bonds that held him to the Bull. I don't think he would have been happy away from him at any rate.
During that dawn attack on the Sollum barracks on the escarpment overlooking the Port and cluster of buildings that was Sollum. The Bull was responsible for another amusing incident. I did not see this incident myself as I was over the edge of the escarpment with Boy Tomoana, Bob Ropiha, Guv. Matthews, Jack Tainui and others, just before it happened. Please remember that Bull was only of average height, and heavily built, a bull-like figure, with a bull-like voice, and a round ferocious face when he was so inclined, and he was so inclined this particular morning. The German forces at Hellfire had opened up on us with their big guns and everything else they had, and were pounding the area; so the situation was pretty hot. In the breaking daylight, the Bull saw the silhouetted figures of German soldiers manning a mortar on the edge of the escarpment about 200 yards ahead of him. With his feet astride, and waving his 38 revolver in the direction of the mortar, he roared, "There's a mortar" (right arm raised aloft and dropped between his legs, at the same time sagging at the knees). "It's only a mortar-r-r" (again the waving arm and sagging knees). "Get the bastard". This time the arm stays up and in the direction of the target. "Get him your bloody self," piped up a voice from near his feet. Looking down, he saw the figure of little Wehipeihana, company Sigs, lying prone behind a small rock that was more like a large stone. "Is that you Basin?" roared the Bull, bending down the better to see him in the half light. "Yes, sir". replied Basin. "Get away from that stone, that's my stone," again roared the Bull. "Go find your own bloody stone", answered Basin as he continued to huddle behind the all too inadequate cover.
Well, the battle moved on, and after a moment of indecision, the "Bull" moved on also, and the mortar crew were eliminated. A brief incident put aside while he got on with the battle, but remembered and relished by the men of D. Company to this day, and as long as there remains one of us to tell the tale.
I have one final episode to recount concerning "The Bull". When the Battalion arrived at Sunstroke Plain, Helwan, the CO, Lt. Col. Dittmer carried on with his avowed intention that the Battalion should become as fit and as hardened as it was possible to make it. So the orders were for route marches and plenty of them.
This particular story starts with the Bull leading his Headquarters Company on a route march along one of the roads criss-crossing the desert.
This story was told to me by Ben (Ehae) Ropata, CSM of the Company, and a cousin of Tiwi's. It was the custom in our Battalion for the Company Commander to call up either his CSM or the leading Platoon Commander, or both to make the march easier for all of them. In this instance, it was Ben Ropata, a big man who was well-known in Wellington Rugby circles before the War as the Player/Coach of the Marist senior A team, and respected as a very tough forward. They had been marching for some time, as Ben recounted the story, and the heat was getting to them all when a voice piped up back in the Company column. "Captain Love?" "Whaaat" roared the Bull. "F------yer." came the voice from the ranks. The Bull stopped as if he had run into a stone wall. Charging out to the side of the column, and turning on the marching men, he again roared "Headquarters Company, Haaalt." The Company halted. "Who said that? (significant pause) Step out the man who said that." No one moved. "We will not move till the culprit owns up". Still no one moved. Pacing up and down the halted column, glaring at the men, he turned to Ben Ropata, "Sergeant-Major find that man." It could only happen in the Maori Battalion, and being a cousin seemed to give Ben that license that would not be tolerated anywhere else. His reply came back. "Find him your bloody self. He was talking to you, not to me". The poor old Bull was flabbergasted. As he stood silent, thinking, no doubt, of some suitable rejoinder; suddenly there was a movement. Joe Broughton of the Sigs Platoon marching just behind the Bull stepped forward.
"You, Broughton?" he roared eyeball to eyeball with Broughton. "Yes, Sir. You said step out the man who said that; so here I am, ready to take my punishment." "You're lying, Broughton," he roared. Now everyone knew it could not have been Broughton who had been marching the whole time just a few paces behind him, whereas the voice came from well back in the column. Moreover, Broughton had a soft high-pitched voice; not at all like the voice that had started it all off. "Don't lie to me Broughton," he yelled once again. "No Sir. You said step out the culprit so here I am." "You're lying, Broughton," said the Bull. He paced backwards and forwards along the column, glaring at the men, finally coming to a halt in front of Broughton. "Get back into line." Broughton stepped back. Glaring once more at the column of black sweaty faces, blank and non-committal, he let out one more bellow, "Headquarters Company ... Quick Maaarch," and once more they were on there on way, having just experienced perhaps the most unusual happening to every occur in the annals of N.Z and Maori War History, and perhaps any War History.
To the people of New Zealand, and to the Maori people in particular, he was a very special person.