Maori Battalion diary - October 1943

October 1943

On October 17th the Maori Battalion left Egypt to take up an operational role in Italy. They were part of the 22,000-strong Second New Zealand Division which, with a newly joined armoured brigade, reinforcements and General Hospital, was to renew its association with the British Eighth Army. [1]

Arriving in Italy on October 22, the Battalion set up base at Taranto. They continue to train and ready for a new environment that included dealing with the closeness of Italian civilians to the front line.

  • Temporary Lieutenant Colonel: Monty Claude Fairbrother (CO)
  • Major: Russell Young (Bn 2IC), Chris Sorenson
    Captains: Peta Awatere, JC (James) HenareJack Reedy, Tutu Wirepa, SF (Syd) Jackson, MP (Matt) Swainson, Kereti Mariu
  • Temporary Captains: Harry Lambert, Peter Ornberg, Monty Wikiriwhi
  • Lieutenants: George Katene, Walter Wordley, George McDonald, George Tawhai, Henry Northcroft, Clarence Balzer, John Pile, Pango Munro, Moana Raureti, Lu Paul, Kingi Hetet, Wi Anaru, Riki Smith, George Tamahori, Boy Tomoana, Stephen Urlich
  • Attached: Capt. Cam D’Arcy (RMO) , Capt. (Rev) WT Huata (Padre), Mr Charles Bennet (YMCA) . Temporary Second Lieutenants: WE (Wally) JonesNepia Mahuika, Monty Searancke. Second Lieutenants: Benjamin Christy, TC Baker. Lt WH Prescott (QM)


  • 1 Oct, Fri 0630 hrs Reveille. 0730 hrs Breakfast. Low lying mist – visibility very poor – not more than 50 yards. Exercise completed for 5 Brigade – 4 Armed Brigade push through and conduct a live shoot practice on area south of present Brigade. Area on the rocky plains around Pt 96 (47198591) – Pt 89 (46958549) and to the Black Hills in Sq 467852. All Battalion personnel of rank Sgts and above attend this practice. On conclusion of shooting practice the GOC Lt Gen Freyberg addresses all the Sgts and Officers of Fourth and Fifth Brigades on Pt. 89 (46958549). A quick review of the action in which the2nd NZ Division participated was made by the General and also the lessons learnt. He spoke also on the trend of modern warfare. He also mentioned the future and promised hard fighting ahead. He wished the Division better luck on its next attempt at fighting on the European front. After the address the 5th Brigade convoy of Officers and Sgts moved back to Burg el Arab via the “J” track. Meanwhile the Battalion under command of Capt. Awatere had moved back with the remainder of the 5th Brigade to Burg el Arab. 0900 hrs Battalion under Capt Awatere move back to Burg el Arab departure point – area in vicinity of Pt 118 (47958680). 1400 hrs Battalion arrive back at camp – Padre Huata conducts a short memorial service for those accidentally killed during the exercise. Troops then conveyed by 3 tonners to showers. 1800 hrs Tea. Following Officers march in from Maori Training Depot – transport per ASC trucks. Officers as follows: Capt KP Mariu ex Hospital. 2/Lt KT Hetet ex Know your Enemy Course, Helwan. 2/Lt M Raureti. Ex ME Intelligence Course, Helwan. Capt Mariu placed temporarily with B Coy – later to take appointment as OC Carriers. 2 Lt Hetet rejoins A/Tk platoon. 2/Lt Raureti resume duties as Battalion IO. Meteorological: Fine, hot and sunny day. Strong northwesterly wind- consequently camp area very dusty and one swirl of dust. Little abatement during the night.
  •  2 Oct, Sat Routine as per RO NO 102 – last issue 27 Sept 43. 0630 hrs Reveille. 0730 hrs Breakfast. 0800 hrs Sick parade. For major portion of the day whole Battalion being issued with 1 leather jerkin, 1 pair of leather gloves, 2 pairs of socks, 1 battle dress, 2 singlet’s, 2 underpants, 1 scarf, 1 pair of braces, Antimalarial tablets (Atabrine), 16 each of Antimalarial ointment and 50 Capstan cigarettes per man. Patriotic parcels also issued to every man in the Battalion – these were much appreciated. Quality of feeding in whole Battalion excellent: rations very sufficient and wholesome. 2 new jeeps arrive in the Battalion and allocated as below: 1 to the CO and 1 to the Intelligence section. Throughout the day TAB and Typhus injections carried out in whole Battalion. CO and 2 i/c's Capt Wirepa and  Capt Jackson visit Alexandria, the latter to visit their brother in hospital 2/Lt Jackson. 100 hrs IO and I Sgt attend Brigade Intelligence Conference – Divisions exercises criticised from Intelligence point of view. 1200 hrs Pay on a minimum basis of 1 pound per man during the afternoon. Picks and shovels being issued to Battalion. Bivouacs in old condition exchanged for new ones. Ammo being issued to Coys. 1900 hrs Battalion HQ mount a picquet on the Ammo dump. All NZ identifications and badges removed (see order Appendix B (3) – p.69). Meteorological: Fine and hot in the morning. Fairly stron northwesterly wind – very dusty in the area. Two very slight showers in the afternoon.
  • 3 Oct, Sun Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. 0830 hrs Battalion parade – Coys fall in for Church Parade, service taken by Capt Huata. 1100 hrs CO’s orderly room – one case only- Cpl RJ Haenga on drunkenness charge- severely reprimanded. Advance party (Maj Sorenson and Sgt Maurice HQ Coy) left to join 23 Battalion Advance party. Battalion resting after Battalion Church Parade. Roman Catholic Parade at Brigade HQ for Holy Mass. 1430 hrs Swimming parade – 15 x 3 tonners made available for the transport of personnel to the beach. Return at 1630 hrs. 1730 hrs Maj Ormond and Capt Pohio arrive in for the night from MTD Maadi. Coys play football in the evening. Meteorological: Fine sunny day. Slight westerly breeze – no dust: one slight short downpour during midday.
  • 4 Oct, Mon Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1800 hrs. Lecture by RMO to HQ Coy and Battalion HQ at 1015 hrs on Malaria and preventative measures. Lecture again repeated to remainder of Battalion at 1115 hrs. Purpose of all injections also outlined. Maj Ormond and Capt Pohio return to Maadi at 1800 hrs. 0830 hrs CO’s orderly room – 7 cases taken all incurring losses of regimental necessities. 1300 hrs CO’s conference with Coy Commanders – purpose being a check on the Battalion organisation. Further conference at 1900 hrs. 1130 hrs RSM conduct Projector Infantry Anti-tank gun lessons with instructor NCO's. Practice shots fired. Mobile cinema show in the Battalion area “Panama Lady and Melody in Spring.” New Officer marched in to Battalion. Lt WH Prescott – detailed as stand in to the QM. Coy football scrambles in the evening. Capt Reedy recces a range practice area in preparation for Wednesday’s shooting. Coys carry out bayonet training in the morning. Lice inspection throughout Battalion. Meteorological: Fairly sunny day – fairly strong cool breeze – no dust in the area.
  • 5 Oct, Tues Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. Sick Parade 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1800 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0830 hrs Full Battalion muster parade- in drill order. Morning prayers by Capt Huata. March past by Platoon’s. Salute taken by Col Fairbrother. Coys carry out rifle and foot drill in the morning. A demonstration also put over showing the correct manner of packing and carrying all personal gear for the coming move. 1600 hrs Another Battalion muster parade for the purposes of hearing a security lecture but had to be dismissed due to non-arrival of lecturer. 1730 hrs 2 10th reinforcements Officers march in from MTD Maadi, 2/Lt JS Baker and 2/Lt BG Christy and attached to C and HQ Coy respectively. Sgt Hona and escort party who had been on duty at Tripoli on the Bidois Case for the last three months march into Battalion. 2/Lt W Mohi was IC party from Maadi. 1830 hrs Battalion muster parade again for the purpose of an identification re old case in Cairo – death of 4th Brigade trooper. 1400 hrs CO and Capt Reedy recce an area for Coy. Shooting area decided on approx. 4 miles from Battalion area east of Bahig station 485913. 1630 hrs Capt Wikiriwhi and all B Coy Officers move out to recce area and prepare exercise for tomorrow. 2 more new jeeps arrive in Battalion – Number now total 5. Allocation as follows: 1 to CO, 1 to HQ Coy, 1 to Sigs Platoon, 1 to A/T. Platoon and 1 to IO. 6 Coy HQ signs received from Brigade Workshops. Meteorological: Fine weather still prevails. Cool sea breeze. No dust.
  • 6 Oct, Wed Routine as per RO NO 104. Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. Sick Parade 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1800 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0700 hrs Capt Reedy and party to move out to range and lay tins for shooting practice on a 1500 yards front. 0800 hrs B Coy move out to range area per MTs and on arrival prepare for and carry out a 3 phase attack. Much ammo expended (purpose of whole Battalion exercise to expend portion of ammo not transportable on move and also to accustom troops to training with live ammunition). 0815 hrs A Coy move out to area and take position on right and carry out identical shooting practice. 1100 hrs C and D Coys carry out same exercises. 1330 hrs HQ Coy and Battalion HQ carry out same exercise. Bren carriers and A/Tk also employed – A/Tk shooting own range along J track. Ammo expended by all Coys as follows: Ball ammo 65000. “2” Mortar 500. “3” Mortar 200. TSMG 3500. 6 pdrs 300. PIAT 15. 1730 hrs 2/Lt W Mohi returns to Maadi. 1 Bag of maps returned to Brigade War Diary (original copy) dispatched September issue. 1900 hrs CO’s conference with Coy commanders – subjects discussed: Brigades parade tomorrow, substantiation of NCO’s ranks, Division of Battalion into 3 parties for move, mail arrive in from NZ. Meteorological: Fine and sunny: strong northerly blowing consequently area very dusty. Cool night.
  • 7 Oct, Thurs Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. Sick Parade 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1800 hrs. 0830 hrs Battalion parade – Coys in column. March in order A, B, C, D, HQ and Battalion HQ to Brigade parade 0915 hrs. Address by Brigadier Stewart more in the nature of a farewell to the Middle East and the 5th Brigade Band played the Brigade march “Kippenberger.” March past and salute taken by Brigadier Stewart. 1230 hrs Pay parade- majority of Battalion only drawing 50 PT. 2 i/c Capt Swainson and pay Sgt auditing Battalion regimental funds. D Coy play an ADS team and were beaten: 15 -6. Remainder of Battalion play local Coy games. 1200 hrs RSM take remainder of the ammo etc in 3 ton truck to 4 BDD Alexandria: 17000 SA/acronym> Ball, 15 Spigot Bombs – 15 Boxes 68 hand grenades – 2 boxes enemy A/Tk. shells and 11 boxes sticky. 1300 hrs Visit by Camp Commandant to CO re the death of one Native on the A/Tk range yesterday. Killed by two bullets in stomach. Court of Inquiry consisting of Capt Awatere, Lt Katene and 2/Lt R Smith, set up to investigate into the case. 1500 hrs Party consisting of CO, Camp Adj, court as above, all A/Tk personnel involved, A/Tk Officers Capt Lambert, 2/Lt Balzer and 2/Lt Hetet, IO and I Sgt proceed to the scene of the accident. Intelligence section draw sketch map of the area while remainder of the party inspect the area. All return to Camp at 1730 hrs. Meteorological: Fine and sunny, very calm day – no dust. Slight northwesterly.
  • 8 Oct, Fri Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. Sick Parade 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1800 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0915 hrs Battalion parade: Dress Battle order and FS Caps. 0930 hrs Security lecture by S/Ldr. A force to whole Battalion on Prisoners of War and escapes. 1030 hrs All Coys route march across country to beach. Swimming indulged in until 1530 hrs. Return per same route. Court party and A/Tk personnel again proceed to accident area for further investigations. Four 3 tonners (reconditioned) arrive from NZ OFP, also 2 Indian MC's. 1100 hrs 24 Books on Prisoners of War and Escapes (general theme security) issued by Brigade. Security section – 6 each of 4 series. Capt Matehaere OC D Coy evacuated to ADS. Capt Ornberg take over Coy. 1200 hrs 14 Officers and Sgts attend a lecture at Brigade HQ on escape devices: Issues received also. 1330 hrs Dental Parade – 40 All ranks receive attention at 1 NZ Dental Mobile Unit. 1700 hrs Lt Wordley arrive back from Maadi. 2 mine detectors and 3 sniper rifle received and assigned to A/A Platoon. Sudden increase in RAP attendance from 28 to 65 – majority football injuries. Meteorological: Fine and Sunny – Slight northwesterly breeze- no dust.
  • 9 Oct, Sat Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. Sick Parade 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1800 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0830 hrs Battalion parade: Coys formed up in mass. Church parade by Capt Huata. 0900 hrs Coys route march again to the beach via Main rd. Arrive at beach approx. 1100 hrs. Lunch at beach 1200 hrs. Return to camp over desert route at 1500 hrs. 2/Lt Christy and 2/Lt Raureti appointed Gas Officers – preparation made for Gas chamber test on Monday. 300 Lachrymatory Capsule procured from 6 AOD Alexandria. Gas ten erected near YMCA tent. 1100 hrs Dental parade again – 40 all ranks receive attention at the 1 NZ Mobile Unit. 1200 hrs 5 new jeeps arrive in Battalion. Court of inquiry still being conducted. Sgt Husband SIB from Amiriya arrive at 1700 hrs to make investigations. Capt Awatere and I Sgt proceed to the area once more. 0800 hrs First flight of move consisting of: Capt Lambert and Jeep and CO’s car leave for Alexandria. RAP attendance still in the vicinity of 60. Meteorological: Fine and sunny. Slight northwesterly breeze – no dust.
  • 10 Oct, Sun Routine as per RO 105. Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. Sick Parade 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1800 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0830 hrs Battalion parade – Coys formed up in hollow square and Church service conducted by Padre Huata. 0930 hrs Holy Communion service in YMCA tent – 80 communicants. 1100 hrs CO’s conference with Coy Commanders. Subjects discussed: Arrangements for move to Amiriya Transit Camp, Lessons from Division exercise and criticisms. 1300 hrs Issue of 1 free bottle of beer per man paid for by Regiment funds. 1400 hrs 5 3 tonners loaded with ammo and parked ready for move. 1500 hrs CO’s further conference re the move: discussions as below: Battalion to move up in 3 different groups to be named A, B, C and embark on ships 1, 2 and 3 respectively. Each group was to be made up of 1/3 of each Coy: this system was a precautionary measure to guard against a whole Coy being endangered in the event of an air attack. Party Commanders laid down ad Maj Young, Capt Awatere and Capt Henare. Arrangements for accommodation at Amiriya Transit Camp also discussed. Nominal rolls of groups completed at 2000 hrs. 1900 hrs Song service conducted in the YMCA tent by Padre Huata. RAP attendance still high – 55 cases mainly due to the 2 days route march and football. Meteorological: Fine day. Very windy. Strong gusty westerly win consequently area very dusty – blinding dust at times. Worst day in Camp to date. No abatement during day. Strongest heat wave in Cairo for 20 Years reported.
  • 11 Oct, Mon Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Tea 1800 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0800 hrs Typhus injections for all personnel outstanding in 3rd Typhus injections. 0900 hrs Gas test for whole Battalion in order A –B – C – D and Battalion HQ. Lachrymatory gases used only. Test completed by 1130 hrs. 0930 hrs Advance party for Amiriya Camp consisting of 2/Lt Hetet and 3 ORs leave. Battalion spend remainder of day packing and preparing for move to Amiriya. Battalion divided into three groups – with approx strength of 220 each. 1400 hrs All camp accommodation stores returned to Camp QM – forms, tables, Soyer stoves, brooms etc. 1800 hrs 30 RMT trucks for the transport of the groups arrive and are sent out to their various groups. One 3 tonner per group assigned to cartage of baggage. 1700 hrs Group check parades. Personnel sorted out and ready for move tomorrow. Meteorological: Windstorm abated slightly. Still warm and fine.
  • 12 Oct, Tues Reveille 0530 hrs. Breakfast 0630 hrs. Packing completed by 0700 hrs. Checks by groups in own areas 0730 hrs. All embussed by 0800 hrs and convoy move off. Order of march: A, B and C groups. Group guides meet own groups at Filed Bakery Transit Camp. Battalion now broken up and groups come under command of Group Commanders. CO to be the OC Troops Ship 2. Capt Tutaki to be ships Adj Group A: OC – Maj Young, 2i/c – Capt Reedy, Adj – Lt Wordley. Group B: OC – Capt Awatere, 2i/c – Capt. Jackson, Adj – Nil. Group C: OC – Capt Henare, 2i/c – Capt Wikiriwhi, Adj – 2/Lt Raureti. Subsequent entries until Friday 22 Oct are C Group entries. 
    0915 hrs Groups arrive in new area. C group check parade immediately – rolls corrected. Ration state forwarded. 1100 hrs Morning tea served to troops. 1230 hrs Lunch – dry rations. Afternoon spent settling in. 1330 hrs Check parade. 1700 hrs Check by Platoons. 1800 hrs Tea. 1830 hrs Beer ration from NAAFI procured by Group. Issue 1 bottle per man. 2000 hrs ENSA concert party show in C camp area. Majority of Coys attend. 2215 hrs Lights out. Meteorological: Very fine and sunny and cool during the day, no dust and cool night. Topographical: Area much better than Burg el Arab. Location of area on top of high knoll. No loose dusty sand as at Burg el Arab. Solid gritty surface. Area open to breeze.
  • 13 Oct, Wed Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1730 hrs. 0830 hrs Coy Parade with all arms. Inspection of all weapons. Short service conducted by Padre Huata. After parade lines cleaned and beer bottles returned. 1230 hrs Lunch. 1330 hrs Coy parade and check. Coy march to showers and return at 1500 hrs. 1500 hrs Issue of 50 cigarettes “Vs” and 2 boxes of matches. Pay parade – minimum basis of 50 PT per man in Egyptian currency. 1900 hrs Mobile cinema show in group area. Coy truck utilised to convey officers and Other Ranks to Amiriya Theatre. Meteorological: Fine and sunny. Southeasterly breeze – very slight dust, cool night.
  • 14 Oct, Thurs Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0915 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1730 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0830 hrs Coy parade – inspection of all arms. Short service by Padre Huata. Cleaning of area after parade. 1300 hrs A, B, C Coy Platoon groups move per 3 ASC trucks to beach – opposite Kilo 18 Alexandria and return at 1500 hrs. 1415 hrs Battalion HQ, HQ and D Coy Platoons groups move to beach as the previous Coys. Shuttle service by trucks enable whole Coy to be transported. 1430 hrs 23 Battalion sports: team of 8 men entered. 1700 hrs Beer issue of 1 bottle per man: Battalion issue from Burg el Arab, 1 1/2 bottle of Stella in all: NAAFI issue also obtained but held in reserve for tomorrow. 1900 hrs Mobile pictures in A Coy area. “Seven Sinners” – Majority of personnel attend. Pictures in Amiriya also patronised. Meteorological: Very fine and sunny. Cool southwesterly breeze. Cool evening.
  • 15 Oct, Fri Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0915 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1730 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0830 hrs Coy parade and inspection of arms. 0900 hrs Battalion HQ, HQ and D Coys proceed to beach as yesterday. 1015 hrs A, B, C Coys proceed to beach – all return for lunch. 1330 hrs Pay in BMA currency issued to troops – no limit. 1400 hrs Beer issue 1 1/2 bottles of Stella issued to men. Battalion issue. 1800 hrs Egyptian currency collected in various denominations for change to BMA currency. 1900 hrs Sandals return collected: all deficiencies to be made good for voyage. 1930 hrs Concert party (local effort) 23 and 28 Battalion show in area under the leadership of Padre Harper and Padre Huata. Very good attendance and good show. Meteorological: Fine and sunny. Cool southwest breeze. Cool in the evening.
  • 16 Oct, Sat Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0915 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1730 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0830 hrs Coy parade and inspection of weapons – short service by Padre Huata. 0900 hrs Coy route march for 1 1/2 hrs. 0730 hrs Coy advance party consisting of L/Cpl Iopata and Pte Edwards leave for ship with Coys picks and stores. 1000 hrs periodicals and magazines issued for troops for the voyage. 1300 hrs A, B, C Coys proceed to beach to swim as per yesterday. 1415 hrs Battalion HQ, HQ and D Coys Platoons proceed to the beach. Return 1700 hrs. Egyptian money changed into BMA currency – total £128. Issue of PT shoes to 89 personnel. Atabrine tablets to complete 16 per man issued. 1800 hrs Orders for move given by Major Ross OC group 4. 1900 hrs OC’s conference with all Officers re the move. 1930 hrs ENSA concert party show at B area. Meteorological: Fine and sunny: Westerly breeze blowing all day.
  • 17 Oct, Sun Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0700 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1100 hrs. 0730 hrs All tents struck and stacked away by Camp HQ. Areas cleaned and tidied. 1000 hrs Camp stores – table’s forms etc stacked by Coy cookhouse. Troops packed up and ready to move. 1100 hrs Lunch (dry rations). 1130 hrs All cookhouse stacked and ready for transport. 1250 hrs 2nd flight consisting of 28 Battalion, C Group, and 23 Battalion. Group move off in 13 10 tonners – basis 30 per truck. Route to Quay 21 Gate 12 Alexandria docks via Amiriya, Salt Lake Railway Rd. 1330 hrs Arrive docks and await transport out per ferry to ship. 1600 hrs Whole of group four embark on a ferry and transported to Ship C E 1176 (Letitia). 1700 hrs Commenced to embark on board ship – NZ Troops. Groups 3, 4 and 6 Col. Bonifant OC NZ Troops. Brigadier Inglis also on board. 1800 hrs Men settling in on D3 deck – space very confined and crammed. 2000 hrs men’s and Officers mess. Further details in RO’s and Ships standing orders (see appendix C). Meteorological: Very fine and sunny. Cool westerly breeze.
  • 18 Oct, Mon Routine as per ships RO’s. 0630 hrs Troops up and about early, general sorting out of areas and equipment. 0700 hrs Breakfast and further cleaning of decks. 0930 hrs First boat station parade. Troops sorted out and allocated Stations 1 and 2. 0700 hrs Ship move out of port. Farewell to Egypt. 0800 hrs Letitia join convoy of 18 Ships escorted by 6 Destroyers. Balloons all flying. 1200 hrs Lunch. 1330 hrs Tug of War contests on Starboard and Promenade decks. D3 (Maori Coy) success against 2 teams qualifying for finals to be contested tomorrow. 1545 hrs Padre Huata stage a concert mainly for the benefit of the Ships Captain on Hatch 7 below the bridge. 1700 hrs Tea for men. 2 Atabrine tablets taken. 1900 hrs Quiz contests conducted all over the ship. Maori team defeated. Blackout precautions very rigid. Convoy identified so far as: Letitia (carrying C Group), Llangibby Castle (carrying A Group), Egra (carrying Advance 2 Echelon). Stratheden, Tamarua and Carnavon Castle. Meteorological: Very fine. Westerly Breeze. Mediterranean very blue and calm.
  • 19 Oct, Tues Routine as per Ships RO’s. 0630 Reveille and general clean up of decks. Ship Routine. 1000 hrs Boat stations. Church service conducted by Padre Huata on Hatch 4 after boat stations. 1200 hrs Convoy passing Tobruk and hugging coast: 2 Spitfires provide aerial cover. 1400 hrs PT carried out on Starboard Pro end deck. 1500 hrs Tug of War finals: Maori team eliminated by 23 Battalion in 2 straight pulls. 1500 hrs Cigarettes issue on basis of 100 per man, Egyptian brand costing 5/-. Regiment funds pay for one packet of 20. 2000 hrs Quiz session again held. Evening service held by Padre Huata. RAP attendance. Meteorological: Very fine and sunny weather. Westerly breeze. Fairly heavy short squall and lightning lasting 1/2 an hour in evening.
  • 20 Oct, Wed Routine as per Ships RO’s. 1000 hrs Boat stations. Short service conducted by Padre Huata. 1400 hrs Concert party under Padre Huata again show on Hatch 7 at the OC Ship’s request. Very good performance. 1500 hrs Inter unit Tug of War contests – Maori qualify for Semi Finals to be pulled tomorrow. No PT as deck was occupied by Tug of War teams. 2000 hrs Song service on D3 Mess deck. Quiz sessions again held. Meteorological: Very fine and sunny. Calm sea throughout.
  • 21 Oct, Thurs Routine as per Ships RO’s. 0700 hrs First sight of Sicily – convoy heading into Syracuse and then proceed up the coast. 0830 hrs Part of convoy break off and make into Augusta. 5 landing craft join convoy. Mt Etna mainly obscured by thick fog. 1000 hrs Preceding up the coast and keeping close in. 1200 hrs First sight of the Italian mainland – Calabrian Mountains. Convoy head into Capo D’Arme and proceed up the coast to Capo Spartivento. Hugging the coast all the way. Convoy now reduced to 8 Ships. Aerial protection by 3 aircraft. 1000 hrs Boat stations and check up of all mess deck equipment. Church service conducted by the Padre. Xmas cards designed by Officers and printed by the Ship’s printer issued out to the Troops at 6d each – 354 in all. 1400 hrs Tug of War finals. Maori team win by 2 straight pulls from 23 Battalion and 21 Battalion. 1530 Sing Song on No 4 Hatch – all troops. 1800 hrs Farewell Church service in WO's lounge. Sermon taken by Padre Huata. 2 hymns by the Maori. All Padres’ attend. Letters censored and passed into PO by 2100 hrs. Censors 2/Lt Baker and 2/Lt Jones. Quiz finals conducted. Meteorological: Very fine and sunny. Mediterranean typically blue and calm. Northerly breeze.
  • 22 Oct, Fri Routine as per RO’s and Movement Order. 0730 hrs First sight of Taranto – very beautiful scene from aboard ship. 0800 hrs Ships go into line ahead and enter harbor. Col Bonifant OC troops call conference with Group Commanders and details disembarkation (as per appendix – p.60). All troops prepare to go ashore. Order: Advance party – 23 Battalion – 28 Battalion etc. 0930 hrs 28 Battalion disembark per Italian ferry. GOC Lt Gen Freyberg met troops at landing. All heavy packs stacked and left to be transported by transport ASC trucks. Battalion group then march to the Division concentration area Statte Vicinity – distance of 9 kms. 28 Battalion groups meet at landing by Maj. Sorenson. 1030 hrs C Group commence to march. 1200 hrs Light haversack lunch. 1330 hrs Arrive at camp area – no camp set up but fair supply of timber, tins, latrine seats, water cans, rations etc ready in Battalion HQ area for distribution to Coys. 1400 hrs Hot tea supplied by 26 Battalion – brought down to area per track and delivered to various Coy areas. Areas allocated by Sgt Maurice Advance party and Coys settling in. 1500 hrs CO and B Party (Capt Awatere) arrive in from Taranto. Tea served to them also. 1600 hrs Maj Young and a party arrive in from Taranto. CO’s conference called and antimalarial instructions given – 1 pill to be taken. Ointment to be smeared over all exposed portions. Slacks and long sleeved shirts to be worn. Bivouacs to be closed. Precautions to be taken at 1630 hrs daily. 1800 hrs Coy stores and packs still arriving from Taranto. 1900 hrs Tea from 25 Battalion finally arrive per 2 trucks. Battalion HQ and C Coys feed on road adjacent to areas while A, B and D Coys feed in areas. 2000 hrs Troops settling in for the night. Italian vendors plentiful: selling grapes mainly, fancy goods and haircutting also. Italian wine also evident by the sounds of jollity in the lines. Meteorological: Perfect weather aboard ship. Northerly land breeze. Beautiful sunny weather – fairly hot on land. Typical NZ spring weather. Early sunset and very cold at night. Southeasterly breeze by night. Topographical: Area very wooded, principally Olive groves. Surrounding country very hilly out here and there by fairly deep ravines.  Good drainage. Soil flats a very light reddy loam – land in the main of a rocky mountainous nature.
  • 23 Oct, Sat Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0900 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. 0830 hrs Cleaning of areas and final settling in of bivouacs. Timber and water can latrine seats etc. all issued out to Coys. Cook houses erected and area being made habitable in general. 1100 hrs Orderly room tent and CO’s tent erected and Battalion HQ function. 1200 hrs Brigade cigs brings wire to the Orderly room – no connection as yet. 0830 hrs CO attends a conference at Division HQ. 1300 hrs IO and I Sgt. visit Brigade to procure information on war in general. 46 Maps (Italian series) also issued by Brigade. GOC’s Plaster model of Italy and large map of the Italian front collected from 23 Battalion. 1330 hrs 2 i/c collect pay from Division HQ and issue to Coys. Pay Parade in the evening BMA currency at 1 pound per man. 1600 hrs CO attended a conference at Brigade HQ. 1630 hrs Antimalarial precautions observed. 1400 hrs Adj attend BM’s conference at Brigade HQ. Sigs Officer attend a Sigs demonstration at Brigade HQ. Meteorological: Beautiful spring day. Very cold in the morning. Very hot at 1100 hrs. Slight easterly breeze. Chilly at 1630 hrs.
  • 24 Oct, Sun Reveille 0645 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0850 hrs Battalion markers report RSM. 0900 hrs Battalion parade: area flat ground at Junction of Rd. 300 yards north of Battalion HQ 738218. Church service by Padre Huata followed by Holy Communion service – 98 Communicants. 1000 hrs Coys still paying out. 0730 hrs IO visit Brigade re Site Map preparation thereafter for the CO’s lecture to the Battalion on the War situation. 1100 hrs CO addresses all Officers re discipline and administers a general stirring up. 3 Officers admonished for misbehavior in Alexandria. 1130 hrs CO addresses the whole Battalion on the Italian War Front and also gives a pep talk – subjects discussed: Leave: Training: relations with the Italians: prevalence of VD in this part of the country. 1430 hrs CO, 2 i/c, IO and I Sgt make a recce to Trig Belmonte 745247 – recce for Battalion training areas and return to camp at 1630 hrs. Ground very wooded – pines and olive plantations – high ground very rough and rocky and covered with scrub and bush. Inquiry into the fatal accident at Burg el Arab being conducted by Brigade at Division HQ. 1500 hrs Sigs communication established: contact now obtained with all other units. NAAFI stores sold to Coys: Soap: Blades: State express cigarettes: Matches: 1 bottle Tennents beer to Sgts and below. Meteorological: Very cold in the morning. Very fine and sunny during the day. Fairly mild in the evening. Slight easterly breeze.   
  • Oct 25, Mon Reveille 0645 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. Lights 2215 hrs. 0830 hrs Battalion parade – Coys in line. Padre Huata takes short service. CO details to Coy Commanders various routes for 3 hr march. 0900 hrs All Coys move off in order A, B, D, C and HQ for march. 1200 hrs Coys arrive in from march. 1230 hrs Lunch. Coys all supply fatigues to gather firewood to supplement burner benzene. Water situation quite favourable – Battalion supplied thrice daily – water ration out to Coys. 1300 hrs A Coy prepare for sing song tonight and also cart in a heap of wood for the fire. Local leave granted to 15% Coy strengths till 1800 hrs. 1500 hrs 5 Brigade Band entertain at Battalion HQ area for 1/2 an hour. Afternoon tea supplied. 1400 hrs First evidence of trouble with local inhabitants – alleged theft of clippers from Barbershop in Statte. 1700 hrs Tea. CO invites CO’s other units to tea. 1800 hrs Big Battalion sing song conducted by the Padre – area between A and B Coys. Battalion issue of 1 bottle Red Wine to all personnel. Late caroling concrete evidence of presence of wine. Meteorological: Day very fine – promise of rain in the morning but conditions cleared by afternoon. Slight Easterly breeze warm night.
  • 26 Oct, Tues Routine as per RO 107. Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0900 hrs Coys go out immediately to do cross country work employing section formations and compass work. Back in camp by 1200 hrs. 1000 hrs CO and I Sgt prepare a compass night march for the Officers. 1100 hrs IO attend conference at Brigade. 2 more maps of Taranto issued. 1415 hrs Capt. Grant of 23 Battalion lectures to all Officers for 1 hr on patrol work. Very instructive. 1900 hrs All Officers meet at Battalion HQ and commence compass march by Coy syndicates. Exercise terminates at 2200 hrs. Meteorological: Fine and sunny – close evening.
  • 27 Oct, Wed Routine as per RO 108. Reveille 0645 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0830 hrs Coy Parades and inspections. CO’s orderly room – many cases of AWL due to the short duration of leave. Coy Commanders therefore ask for extension of leave from 0900 to 1800 hrs daily. Request granted by CO to take effect as from tomorrow. 0900 hrs Coys move out to area north of Camp ( 5 Brigade training area east of general line 735335 to Belmonte Trig 745246) and conduct Platoon and Section field work: - basic theme to work up to Coy work and finally to Battalion effort. 1200 hrs Coys return. IO and section make a recce to Crispiano via Belmonte. Afternoon free to the troops. C Coy worked on Battalion football ground 1500 yards due west of the camp. 1300 hrs CO’s conference with Coy Commanders. More maps received from Brigade. OCTU candidates interviewed by the CO: WO2 Kohere and Sgt Kaika (C Coy) and Cpl Reid (A Coy). 1800 hrs Platoons carry out night training incorporating the use of compasses, patrol movement and night field craft. Meteorological: Fine and sunny. All prospects of heavy rain in the afternoon – fortunately pass over. Warm night: southeasterly breeze.
  • 28 Oct, Thurs Routine as per RO 109. Reveille 0645 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. Tattoo 2200 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0830 hrs Coy parades and inspection. 0900 hrs Coys collaborate in field craft training on same area. 1200 hrs Coys return from training. Lunch. 1330 hrs HQ Coy break in the new football ground with inter Platoon games – C Coy also play games off. 1000 hrs Padre Huata attend a Conference at Division HQ. CO accompany 3 OCTU candidates to Brigade for interview. 1400 hrs CO and IO recce a march by compass for the Officers – march to be done in the nature of a fighting patrol. 1715 hrs Heavy rain and thunder lasting till 2030 hrs when there was a slight abatement – however thereafter rain continue a 11 night. Meteorological: Fine Morning. Later in the day inclined to be overcast gradually getting worse until at 1715 hrs when heavy rain fell and very severe thunder. First rain experienced in Italy Camp area very subject to wet weather.
  • 29 Oct, Fri Routine as per RO 118. Reveille 0645 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. Tattoo 2200 hrs. Lights out 2215 hrs. 0830 hrs All training cancelled due to wet weather. Very heavy rain and thunder all night. Heavy rain again this morning about 0900 hrs and then gradually ease up until finally fine and sunny in the afternoon. 1000 hrs Bivouacs inspected for weatherproofing and returns for new ones taken and submitted to Brigade. 1100 hrs Capt Marsden Battalion LO arrive with information: The first flight due in tonight: Facilities available for the drying of wet blankets at Brigade: water carts temporarily out of action due to being bogged. 1300 hrs Battalion guide report to Brigade to guide in first flight to the area. 1430 hrs CO’s conference with HQ and D Coy Officers re fighting patrol exercise to be carried out tonight. Maj Awatere i/c group and for the exercise 2/Lt Serancke D Coy appointed patrol leader. Orders then given by Maj Awatere. 1500 hrs CO’s conference with the Officers of  A, B, C Coys re patrol. Maj Sorenson i/c party and 2/Lt. Baker C Coy appointed patrol leader. Orders given by Maj Sorenson. 1700 hrs I Section move out per compass to Trig 254 Pt Mass Casselone 755245 and 765242 to act as enemy for the Officers patrols. 1800 hrs Patrols move out to start points and commence exercise at 1830 hrs. Patrol exercise completed y 2200 hrs. 1930 hrs 1st flight arrive consisting of CO’s car, Coy Commanders, PU’s, 1 water cart and 1 x 3 tonner last night. 2030 hrs Bren gun fired in the Battalion area over towards 4 Brigade area and cause quite a commotion. D Coy mount guard over area. Meteorological: Rain in the morning till about 1030 hrs. Then a gradual improvement until by the afternoon conditions fine and sunny. Evening very clear and promise of a fine day tomorrow. Easterly breeze.
  • 30 Oct, Sat Routine as per RO 110. Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. Tattoo 2115 hrs. Lights out 2130 hrs. 0830 hrs Coys out for route march moving independently. Slight rain necessitating the wearing of great coats groundsheets and jerkins. 1000 hrs IO visits Brigade to attend Intelligence conference. 1100 hrs complaint received from 4 Brigade re the shooting off of Bren gun last night and also that Battalion personnel were using caves in their area. Adj and RSM maker personal investigation. 1315 hrs CO’s conference with Coy Commanders re training of Battalion. Training based on the Manual of Battle Drill and Field Craft. Discussions  also on the requirements for Battle Order. Coys free in the afternoon. Football not possible due to the damp ground. 1600 hrs Pay in BMA currency. 1630 hrs Battalion issue 1 bottle of beer per Other Rank and 1 bottle of Canadian whiskey to Sgts and Officers (4 per 1 Bottle). 1830 hrs CO cancels night training syllabus due to wet weather. Original scheme was to send out all Platoons on a fighting patrol exercise as the Officers exercise last night. Evacuations to date since arrival in Taranto: 5 Cases. To date 3 Battalion escaped Prisoners of War interned in Italy have arrived back to visit the Battalion (temporarily stationed in Taranto.) Pte M Houkamo (Wiremu Houkamau) captured at the Alamein break. Pte M Walsh captured at Menassib and Pte Urlich captured at Menassib. 1500 hrs All ammo withdrawn from troops and held by Coys Precautionary measure taken as a result of the shooting last night. Meteorological: Rain again in the morning – continuation from last night. Gradually clearing up during the latter stages of the morning until by the afternoon quite fine. However more rain again at 1700 hrs and onward.
  • 31 Oct, Sun No routine orders issued. Reveille 0630 hrs. Breakfast 0730 hrs. RAP 0800 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. Tattoo 2215 hrs. Lights out 2130 hrs. 0830 hrs Battalion markers. 0900 hrs Battalion church parade in B Coy parade area. Coys formed up in hollow square. Padre Huata conducts service. Holy Communion service immediately afterwards. Roman Catholics parade under 2/Lt Urlich and attended mass at 5 ADS. 1000 hrs After the Church parade CO has conference with the Coy Commanders re the days programme. Cleaning of weapons and drying of clothes in the morning. Capt Lambert Officer i/c first flight arrives in from Bari. Order of move as follows: embarked at Alexandria 19 Oct, Disembarked at Bari commencing Friday 29 Oct. 1330 hrs Football on the Battalion ground: Battalion HQ v Sigs and A/A Platoon (HQ coy win 6 – 3). A/Tk v Mortar – draw. D Coy also play inter platoon games. 1600 hrs P/O (Tiwha) Bennett 73 Fighter Squadron visits the Battalion and stays this night. 1800 hrs Maps of the Lucera area and the Italian series received from Brigade. Coys go out to the manoeuvre area and carry out fighting patrols exercises by Platoons. 2000 hrs Coys return to camp. Adj RSM and the provosts visit Statte and find many AWL cases. Meteorological: Slight rain overnight – fairly fine and cleared by midday. Afternoon fine though sky overcast at times. Evening quite chilly and promise of fine day tomorrow.  


Archives New Zealand – Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
28 (Maori) Battalion War Diary, WAII 1 1666 DA 68/1/46


[1] Nga Tama Toa, p.298

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