Captain Hayward of the Bren Carriers

This article appeared in the April 1992 NZ 28 Maori Battalion Reunion booklet. 

Captain Edward Vere Teraiti (Ted) Hayward, ARMY NO: 39065

Born 11th September 1916 - Died 27th January 1992

Ted was born at Rotorua, one of eleven children of the marriage between Elizabeth Raureti and Cecil Howard Hayward. Ted's mother, the eldest daughter of Paerau Mokonuiarangi - a chief of Te Arawa was one of the first Maori registered nurses in New Zealand. His father, of English descent, became the well known owner of a tourist launch service on Rotorua's lakes. Ted attended the local Primary School and Rotorua High School After leaving school he spent 3 years training to become a dairy farmer on a property owned by a Mr Singleton at Paengaroa near Te Puke. However, after this period he returned to Rotorua where he joined Maori Affairs, working as a survey Chairman up until the outbreak of World War II.

HAYWARD HAPPENINGS

This is an account of some of the things and people, and places with which and with whom Ted was associated. My source has been Cody's 28 (Maori) Battalion, and to some extent my own memory. However, what is recorded here is only a small part of Ted's considerable service with our Battalion.

HAYWARD OF THE BREN CARRIERS

While the Battalion was sheltering at Marathon the carrier platoon had spent the daylight hours hidden in olive groves and passed the time shooting at every plane that came within range, nothing was brought down, but not for want of trying. On the night of 25-26 April the carrier platoon in the company of a squadron of the Divisional Cavalry was sent to a job on the Corinth Canal as protection to anti-aircraft guns, There soon after daylight on the 26th the carriers were in hull-down positions overlooking the Canal near Corinth. Most of the crews were enjoying a much-needed rest after an all night drive when a yell, "They're coming down in parachutes," sent the carriers into action. In Corporal Hayward's words, ''By this time the parachutes were coming down in droves and gradually encircling us. At the same time we were being continually and systematically strafed by ME 110's laying down a curtain of fire across the only gap that still remained as a possible escape route towards the hills."

WE MAKE OUR ESCAPE

The sight of the Divisional Cavalry armoured cars already half-way to the hills decided Hayward to make a break through the gap while there was still time. Three or four other carriers followed and after charging through vineyards and over stone walls got safely away. By this time two carriers had lost their tracks and it was decided to push the others over a cliff and make to an embarkation beach. The party met a group of dismounted Divisional Cavalry men who had a map and a compass and a course was set for Navplion on the Gulf of Argos, some 35 miles distant. They were there by dark and joined the tail of a column being taken aboard destroyers - and missed embarkation by a hundred yards or so. There was to be another embarkation the following night at T Beach 15 miles down the coast, and the Maoris, now about a dozen, set off again. They waited all night, but no ships came for the 1500 or so men waiting under the olive trees. By this time the Maoris had met Major Harford of the Divisional Cavalry, who told them the Germans had already passed them on the main road. Hayward continues: "I asked Major Harford what was intended and he said that he understood that the British officer in command had decided to surrender. I asked him if he intended to surrender also, After a short discussion it was decided that as many as wished, should make a dash for the beach and try to get off in the small boats we had previously noticed."

WE TAKE TO THE WATER

In the scramble that followed Corporal Hayward found himself in an 18ft boat with Lance Corporal Hakaraia, Major Harford and ten others of his squadron rowing hard for open sea. They waited till dark in the lee of a small island offshore, then rowed across the gulf and down the coast until late afternoon, when they decided to risk landing on a point where there were a few houses. There they obtained half a goat, 4 gallons of water and some cheese, also the information that the Germans were rapidly taking over the country. The goat was grilled over an open fire, and after a meal and a rest they resolved to row to Crete or North Africa if they missed the island.

A ROWING MARATHON

For rations they had what was left of the goat, and cheese, the water, some biscuits and their emergency ration issue, There was only one pair of oars, but by half hourly changes, and by rowing day and night they made another island off Crete four days later. A larger Greek caique loaded with refugees was sheltering there, waiting for dark to make the last dash to Crete, and after some parleying the skipper agreed to take some aboard, and tow the others at a price of a pound ahead. The sea which had been calm until then got up, and the chances of making the last 30 miles would have been slim if they had decided to row; so heavily laden was their craft that they had less than a foot of freeboard.

When Hayward and Hakaraia did actually reach the Battalion they were not recognised. They hadn't shaved for more than a week, and in any case everyone supposed that they were prisoners of war. Hayward and Hakaraia were closely followed by Privates Epiha and De La Croix whose adventures were much the same except that they rowed all the way, and landed on the beach where the Battalion was holding a bathing parade. These four were the only members of the Carrier Platoon to reach Crete.

SKIRMISHING - PRE-ALAMEIN

Lieutenant Hayward advanced with his carrier force for nearly four miles and accounted for seven strong-points en route. He eventually found himself among transport, which was shot up, but as he could neither locate friendly troops nor raise anybody on the air, he decided to return and join the tanks of ‘B' Squadron, 50 Royal Tank Regiment which were under Brigade command. On the way back he met Captain Keiha and Lieutenant Marsden with a number of wounded, but with no clear picture of the Battalion situation, two carriers were loaded with wounded, one was damaged on a mine and the rest joined the tanks.

SUMMING UP

Haywards carriers were conspicuously busy for the whole of the North Africa Campaign though mobility tended to be more difficult as they moved westward. They played a vital role at 'Hikurangi', and Point 209 where two carrier Sergeants were decorated for their aggressive support of the hard pressed infantry. After the cessation of hostilities in North Africa Ted Hayward went home to New Zealand on furlough. When he returned he was appointed Laison Officer at Brigade H.Q. for a while. He ended his service with the Battalion as Company Commander of B Company. Altogether a long and meritorious soldiering career.

COMMENT

In the matter of decorations this chronicler has always considered it incomprehensible that Ted Hayward was never decorated. We can only suppose it was because much of his work was performed well away from the focus of the action, and most importantly he was not one to blow his own trumpet.

After returning from Italy in 1945 Ted married Marguerite Helen (Peggy) King, an Army nurse who had served throughout the war in the Middle East, North Africa and Italy. The couple met in Senigallia, Italy after Ted was admitted to hospital following a jeep accident.

Ted and Peggy settled initially in Rotorua where Ted took up a position as Rehabilitation Officer. In 1949-1950 after the birth of three boys, the family moved to Maketu where they spent a year on a Maori Affairs farm. They then took up a ballotted dairy farm in Welcome Bay, Tauranga, where their youngest child was born, and where the family continued farming until 1964. After selling out, the family moved to Rotorua where Ted worked at the R.S.A. before taking up a position with the Maori Trust Office until the retirement age of 60 years. Peggy returned to nursing in Rotorua in 1964, finally retiring herself at the age of 69 years, in 1977.

Ted was a keen golfer and served on the Executive Board for the Springfield Golf Club, Rotorua R.S.A (Ted was made a life member on the 23rd March 1985) and the Te Arawa Maori Trust Board. It is to be hoped that Ted's family will gather as much information on their father as is possible, before first hand sources tend to disappear.

Submitted by mbadmin on Mon, 29/06/2009 - 10:54

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