Maori Battalion Diary - March 1941


The Battalion had set sail from England for Egypt back in January. At the beginning of March they reached Port Tewfik near the entrance to the Suez Canal. Most of the month was spent adjusting to the new environment and getting fit enough to cope with the hotter climatic conditions. The Main Body was soon joined by the Fourth Reinforcements and in the last week of March a 700-strong Battalion embarked for Greece.


  • 1 Mar: The mornings training comprises SAT, boat stations, rifle exercises and a route march. In the afternoon the boat sports championships were decided.
  • 2 Mar: 1000 hrs church parade in officers’ lounge. Immediately after service a presentation by 28 Bn was made to OC Convoy Vice-admiral Sir Richard Hill as well as Master of J23. Actual presentation made by Capt. Rangi Royal, other speakers being Lt-Col George Dittmer and Capt. Alf Scott. Replies were made by both guests.
  • 3 Mar: Morning spent packing. 1515 hrs dropped anchor at Port Tewfik (Suez). Immediately after GOC Maj-Gen Freyberg and Brig Hargest came on board. There was no disembarkation on the day. There was an air raid alarm at night but with no incident.
  • 4 Mar: 1400 hrs disembarked. 1700 hrs train left for Helwan. 2300 hrs arrived Helwan railway station.
  • 5 Mar: 0100 hrs arrived camp site, Sunstroke Plain, after route march from station. 
  • 6 Mar: Route march of approximately 7 miles (11 km) in morning. Under companies in afternoon. 50% leave till 2230 hrs.
  • 7 Mar: Usual route march in morning. Struck camp after lunch and shifted to new camp site in Helwan with rest of 5 Brigade. Marched in at 1600 hrs. Local leave in evening.
  • 8 Mar: Route march of approximately 7 miles (11 km) in morning. 1300-0130 hrs leave for 70%.
  • 9 Mar: 0900 hrs church parade followed by route march under companies. Leave for 50% 1300-2230 hrs including special trip to Pyramids of Giza. Reinforcements arrived in afternoon and Battalion made up to higher establishment.
  • 10 Mar: In morning Battalion carried out 10-mile (16-km) route march. Companies training in afternoon. 1400 hrs meeting of unit commanders at Brigade.
  • 11 Mar: In morning 10-mile (16-km) route march. Companies training in afternoon. In evening Battalion took part in Brigade exercise. Object to practise night assembly and night advance in formation.
  • 12 Mar: Kit inspection in morning. The remainder of the day was spent making good deficiencies and packing base kit.
  • 13 Mar: Route march of approximately 8 miles (13 km) during morning. In afternoon companies specialise in trench digging. 
  • 14 Mar: 1000 hrs Sandstorm prevents rifle range shooting from being held. Most of day spent indoors packing base kit.
  • 15 Mar: Packing and making good deficiencies in morning. 1300-0130 hrs leave.
  • 16 Mar: 0830 hrs church parade. Still packing and making good deficiencies. Local leave afternoon & evening.
  • 17 Mar: Road party (118 men) under Major George Bertrand left Helwan for Amiriya (near Alexandria). This was the advance party of the Battalion’s move by road and rail to Amiriya to carry out Divisional exercises. See the secret notes on the move. Battalion carried out route march with full equipment. Burial of Pte Ihaia (Ike) Kingi (HQ Coy) at Cairo. This man died in hospital of cerebral meningitis. 
  • 18 Mar: Battalion moved by rail from Helwan to Amiriya. 1000 hrs left Helwan. 2130 hrs arrived Amiriya railway station. Marched 3 miles (5 km) to camp site which was reached at  2330 hrs.
  • 19 Mar: 0500 hrs Battalion transport left for marshalling yards. The morning was spent airing clothes and settling in. In afternoon a 2-hour route march.
  • 20 Mar: In morning route march under companies. Coy training in afternoon.
  • 21 Mar: Training as on previous day.
  • 22 Mar: Route march and coy training.
  • 23 Mar: 0900 hrs church parade followed by a reshuffling of company billeting areas.
  • 24 Mar: Field maneuvers in the morning by Battalion as a whole. Company training in the afternoon. Preparations for move made at night.  
  • 25 Mar: 0500 hrs reveille. 0715 hrs Battalion moved off by foot to Abdel Kedzr railway station – a march of 1 mile (1.6 km). 0850 hrs train departed for Alexandria. 0950 hrs arrived, train pulling in right alongside ship Cameronia of Anchor Line – a ship of approximately 17,000 tons. OC Ship Lt-Col Hope of the Royal Scots. All of 5 Brigade, including Brigadier Hargest, travelled on same ship. 1815 hrs ship weighed anchor.
  • 26 Mar: Spent a fairly easy day at sea. There was only one other troopship in convoy.
  • 27 Mar: 0800 hrs first sighted land. 1230 hrs berthed at Piraeus. This unit disembarked at 1330 hrs and carried out a route march of approximately 9 miles (14 km) through Athens to camp site at Hymettus. 1830 hrs arrived at camp and bivouacked for the night.
  • 28 Mar: Morning spent settling in. Leave granted 65% afternoon, 35% evening.
  • 29 Mar: 0730 hrs Battalion route marched to Rouf railway station which we reached at 1130 hrs. 1300 hrs train departed.
  • 30 Mar: 1130 hrs train arrived Katerini railway station. Marched a short distance to village and billeted in empty houses.
  • 31 Mar: Most of morning spent settling in. In the afternoon training was carried out under company arrangement.


Archives New Zealand = Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
28 NZ (Māori) Battalion Diary, WAII 1 1664, DA 68/1/16

Submitted by mbadmin on

Comments (0)