This article appeared in the April 1984 The Battalion Remembers booklet.
The Transport Platoon
After a while these men seemed to take on a special character, or perhaps it was that the men who stayed with transport were already rather special types. They drove their vehicles and were generally responsible for the maintenance of them. They were literally drivers-in-charge. They spent days and nights and often longer periods away from their immediate friends and therefore acquired an independence not always associated with ordinary infantry men. Though many of them had served as riflemen some of them had had experience with motors before and although the army didn't always recognise such experience as a qualification, the practicalities of the situation usually meant that sooner or later the men who could do the job, were given the job to do.
As ever, the Maori is adaptable. Forty and fifty years ago not many of us knew much about cars or trucks, but practical experience and sensible teachers soon rectified that. And daring in an army driver can be just as important as the same attribute in an infantryman.
There is a story I like to tell about the economic use of vocabulary, but the story is equally illustrative of adaptability. Somewhere in the desert my driver and I came upon two tommy soldiers contemplating their immobilised truck. They had the bonnet up and were waiting to be rescued. When I asked the driver what the matter was he replied (arms akimbo, feet astride and glaring at the engine), "The F - - -en f - - - ers F - - - ed."
At this distance in time, I can't remember what the trouble was nor the name of my driver, but I do remember the words, the accent and the fact that the Maori driver was able to get the truck going in next to no time.
Though heat and dust and soft sand, and eerie nights and scorching daytime haze; bellied down in knee-deep mud, driven snow, slithering along rock tracks or skidding across icy bitumen - all this to the accompaniment of spandau, nibble-wurfer or 88 or all three.
Men of the Transport Platoon you did us proud as did your back-up boys of the RMT. We conclude with a story from the memory of one of most popular NCO's.
An Escapade with the Transport Platoon
One day, when we were in Syria, Whai Tako and I along with George Taia, Darkey Hapi and QM Corporal Ruka were ordered to NZ Div. Headquarters to pick up stores. On our way back to Battalion Whai and I were following George and Darky's truck when to our amazement their vehicle did a half-roll and then righted itself. All the stores were tipped out on the road and Corporal Ruka who had been sitting on top of a pile of boots landed among them. No one was hurt; but why the sudden roll. We asked Darky. This was his explanation. It seems that the locking nut had come off the steering column and Darky not realizing this; had reached across to help steer. He asked George to give him the wheel and George did just that. He picked the steering wheel up and deposited it in Darky's lap.
"Take the bloody thing." he said.
With a few nervous guffaws we reloaded the truck, fixed the nut and returned to base.
Wheels are so necessary in any war for without transport survival is at risk.
To all our comrades, fellow drivers, particularly, Arohanui