Captured at 'Calamity Bay', Greece

Lieutenant William Herewini describes the Māori Battalion Reinforcement Company's last hours in Greece before they were captured by the Germans on 29 April 1941:

We remained on the beach where we could see one of the destroyers quite plainly. Embarkation commenced but was restricted to about 600 sick and wounded. 2 Lt Hokianga I understand was given then an opportunity of boarding the last boat but he sent one of his own platoon boys in his place. The latter was apparently a bundle of nerves. Later that night word came down the column that all ranks were to surrender. We all experienced a rather sinking feeling. We thought of escaping to the hills but after a brief conference decided to remain and face the music with our troops. Of the officers, there were Henry K. Ngata, George R. Bennett, Henry Hokianga, Tenga Rangi, Jim Wiremu and myself. Our decision to stay was made in view of the fact that we were uncertain of the fate of the boys were they left to their own devices with the Germans. The NCO's and other ranks were told they could make for the hills if they liked but nearly all chose to stay with us. Standard of morale and discipline was high right up to the time the destroyer departed without us, then for a little while there was a slight wavering but very soon morale was high again as we all adopted the attitude ‘To Hell with the Jerries anyhow.’

At 0530 hrs we became prisoners of war and were herded together like a lot of cattle - it was a pathetic sight. Officers and men felt closer together however and we all felt we were one big family together with our NZ pakeha friends. It wasn't long before Kalamata became known as ‘Calamity Bay’.

From J.F. Cody's official history, 28 (Maori) Battalion (Wellington, 1956), p. 76.

Submitted by mbadmin on Tue, 28/07/2009 - 15:34

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