From an interview between Maiki Parkinson (Jules Vern Parkinson, 67603) and Megan Hutching.
Maiki Parkinson, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, recounts coming under attack from Rommel's troops on the El Alamein line.
The Germans put up flares. All the front was lit up with reds and greens. It was beautiful. One had gone up, and just before it went out someone was silhouetted in the flare. It was our Bren gunner, Nugget Tukaki. Bang! Down he went. We went up. Christ! It was one of our fellas. How he came to be in front of us, we don't know. It was a pure accident. It wasn't intentional; he shouldn't have been there.
The next minute there was a flash of bloody 88-millimetre. The Germans had much better weapons than us. The 88-millimetre gun was the most feared gun in the desert. We charged two of these guns. We went in yelling, with bayonets. They must have taken off, because when we got there, there was nobody there. We did what we could to try to disable the guns, then we went on and down a depression. I couldn't believe it. All of Rommel's trucks were laagered there, but most of them were our captured trucks. There were Fords and Chevs. We had to wreck them by putting bullets through the radiators and blowing the tyres out. It was quite traumatic, wrecking your own trucks.
We wrecked as many vehicles as we could and it was getting light then, so we climbed up on the escarpment and set off back to where we thought our lines were. The next minute a tank and an armoured car appeared. I thought, This is it. A joker said, 'Dig in.' So we dug in. I don't know what the hell we were going to do there, but we'd do anything to get down below the ground. We were like moles. We didn't know what was going to happen. Anyhow, they must have had a conference back at Div headquarters and next minute we could hear shells coming over. All our artillery opened up. It was the first time I'd ever seen smoke shells. What a sight they were, screaming overhead, these white things. They landed amongst us and covered us in smoke. We could see which way the shells were coming and we headed for that, going like the hammers of hell. We were stumbling along, dragging other fellas, carrying other fellas. A German shell landed amongst us and hit one of our boys and took his thigh off. It was the first time I'd seen blood spurting out. We tried putting on a tourniquet, but we had no stretcher so we used the straps from our rifles and carried him out. The shells were landing around us. We came to a big hollow and we were coming down the side when we looked up. Twenty four Stukas were coming over. They wheeled around and we thought, we're going to get caught, but they weren't going for us, they were going for the tanks that were corning up behind. We got to our lines and they put us behind the other fellas and said, 'Have a rest, boys.' We slept that night.
Jerome (Maiki or Jules) Parkinson (1924-2006), interviewed by Megan Hutching, 23 March 2004, for the Second World War oral history project - North Africa
From the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library Oral History Centre, OHInt-0798-12. All rights reserved. Permission of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage must be obtained before any re-use of this sound file.
Image: Maiki Parkinson.