The following statements and letters are sourced from: The Government of New Zealand, The Manahi Victoria Cross Committee, Te Arawa Confederation of Tribes, Lance Sergeant Haane Manahi: Award of the Victoria Cross: Informal submission of the Government of New Zealand, the Manahi Victoria Cross Committee, and Te Arawa Confederation of Tribes.
Letter written by Major-General W.B. (Sandy) Thomas to Charles Bennett DSO in support of the efforts to procure a Victoria Cross for Lance-Sergeant Haane Manahi.
Mr Charles Bennet DSO
I vividly recall the night of April 19/20, 1943 and the battle of Takrouna. On that night, my CO having been wounded, I was commanding 23(NZ) Battalion, or what was left of it after unusually fierce fighting. We had penetrated the German defences on the flank of the main feature but our position was extremely precarious because of the steady enemy fire from high up on that feature. When the fire abated we became aware that the Maori's had captured the feature - and were shouting their triumph down to us. The lift to our morale was enormous and with the flank danger removed we were able to re-organise and consolidate our position. I cannot stress too much how great that particular action by the Maori's meant to my Battalion.
After the battle I climbed the main feature and learnt that Sgt Manahi had commanded the small group who had seized the heights. When I saw the steep nature of the ground, the mass of enemy dug-outs and weapons I realised what an absolute epic the battle must have been: One could only look at the remnants of enemy dead - and the challenge of their seemingly impregnable position - with awe at the courage of Manahi and his few men. I was aware then, as I am now, that it must have needed the very highest order of personal bravery to have assaulted that final pinnacle, and that Sgt Manahi must have had a sense of duty away above the normal. I have been in many battles now but I have never in my experience seen or heard of an action more worthy of a Victoria Cross than Sgt Manahi's assault on the pinnacle of Takrouna.
I was delighted when Brigadier Kippenberger told me he had recommended Manahi for a VC - and with many of my Battalion disapointed [sic] when it failed to materialise. I now gladly add my support for a re-consideration - Sgt Manahi deserves a Victoria Cross for valour.
(Signed Maj-Gen W.B. Thomas CB DSO MC ED)
Document written by Lieutenant Ronald A. Shaw in support of the ongoing efforts to award a Victoria Cross to Lance-Sergeant Haane Manahi.
20 January 1993
To Whom it May Concern:
I, Ronald Alfred Shaw of Mount Maunganui, Retired, solemnly and sincerely declare that:-
- As a lieutenant in the Second World War, I was assigned by Major-General Sir Howard Kippenberger to lead a platoon of seventeen men to support and relieve members of the 28 Maori Bn. who were defending the ledge on Takrouna.
- Takrouna is a bald outcrop of limestone rock which rises sharply some 600 feet from the desert floor. The top of the rock is divided into three sections - viz. the village, the pinnacle and the ledge.
- The near sheer rock face of Takrouna was scaled by my platoon from the southern end. It was necessary for my platoon to climb in single file while ascending the rock face. Below the ledge there was a twenty foot high wooden ladder which allowed access on to the ledge.
- On stepping on to the ledge, I was confronted with a fierce battle that was in progress between Maori soldiers and the enemy. I witnessed the enemy lob hand grenades into a house which I later ascertained contained Maori wounded.
- The fighting was taking place at very close quarters and the Maori soldiers were preventing the enemy from approaching the ledge from the track - at the bottom of the pinnacle - that runs between the ledge and the village of Takrouna.
- It was some time before all the men in my platoon were able to scale the ladder; but once accomplished, we assisted the Maori soldiers in containing the enemy. The enemy were shot at, bayoneted, and there were several instances where the enemy themselves elected to jump over the cliff-face rather than be shot or bayoneted.
- Under no circumstances were there any instances where the Maori soldiers were physically throwing the enemy over the cliff-face as has been suggested in the official history of the battle in question. The Maori soldiers fought within the bounds of military practice and training and there were no untoward instances of military misconduct whatsoever.
- The battle from the time I arrived on the ledge lasted no more than ten minutes at the very most. It would be fair comment to say that my platoon had very little part in the battle as the Maori soldiers appeared to have the situation well under control when we arrived on the ledge.
- The battle ended with the enemy retreating back to the village. No prisoners were taken and none of the enemy surrendered.
- I did not know who Manahi was at the time of the battle. He was obviously in charge as he introduced himself to me after the battle - and when order was finally restored on the ledge. I then took over command at this point and Sgt. Manahi showed me over the ledge and the area known as the pinnacle. Manahi then retired with his men, left the ledge at Takrouna and went down the cliff face for a rest.
- While I am able to recall the battle clearly, I am unable to pinpoint the exact time and date that it took place - other than to say it was in the afternoon.
- I was extremely impressed with the Maori soldiers' fighting ability, particularly as they were overwhelmingly outnumbered by the enemy. They were a credit both to their Battalion and to the New Zealand forces in the North African campaign.
Their conduct at all times during the battle can only be classed as exemplary. They contained the enemy, not only brilliantly but also valiantly while under tremendous pressure. I was very proud of them and very proud to be associated with them.
And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the Oaths and Declaration Act 1957.
Declared at Mount Maunganui this 20th Day of January, 1993.
(Signed: R.A. Shaw, 25368 2nd NZ E)
(Signed John P. McNeile, JP - Justice of the Peace, 20th January 1993)
Letter written by Brigadier Jack Connelly DSO ED BSc to Sir Charles Bennett DSO in support of the ongoing efforts to procure a Victoria Cross for Lance-Sergeant Haane Manahi.
12 June 92 [sic]
Dear Sir Charles,
In supporting your recommendation of the award of the VC to Sgt Manahi may I stress two points.
1. The vital importance of Takrouna to the success or failure of the Enfidaville campaign.
It was the dominant feature of the battlefield. From its turretted [sic] summit, almost every square inch of the surrounding countryside could be seen and observed clearly. There is little wonder that the enemy should defend and counterattack this key position with such ferocity and determination.
For Sgt Manahi and his men to attack and capture these heights, not once but twice, was a tremendous achievement.
2. The bravery and dedication of Sgt Manahi and his men in capturing and holding Takrouna against overwhelming odds and such exacting conditions.
On the night of the initial attack, 24 NZ Bn, of which I was C.O., was on the immediate right of 28 Maori Bn with a line of advance up an open valley. We successfully gained our objective some 2000 yards to the N E of Takrouna and were thus able to witness much of the subsequent action there. Even from that distance we were able to assess the enormous physical difficulties, the almost impossible terrain and the stubborn, fanatical resistance of the defenders.
It was an incredible display of initiative, leadership and courage.
There was great jubilation and relief in the valleys and hills below when Takrouna finally fell.
(Signed: Jack Connelly)
A sworn statement from Pte Hinga Grant to support the Victoria Cross quest for Lance-Sergeant Haane Manahi.
65184 Pte GRANT, Hinga of 28 NZ (MAORI) Bn on oath states:-
On the night 19/20 Apr 43 [sic], I was a member of the Section lead by L/Sjt [sic] MANAHI. During the advance upon TAKROUNA our platoon sustained heavy casualties and at first light there were only some ten of us left. We were then pinned to the ground by mortar fire and heavy MG fire coming from the slopes of the feature and the pinnacle.
I was one of a party of four led by L/Sjt MANAHI up the slopes. We were trying to reach the pinnacle. On the way up we were fired on by enemy from posts below and on the pinnacle. L/Sjt MANAHI was always in front of us and personally attacked and captured MG posts. To get onto the pinnacle itself we had to climb up almost sheer rock face and hand over hand. After brief fighting there, the enemy surrendered and we took approximately 60 prisoners. We were there joined by the remainder of the platoon.
After capturing the pinnacle we came under heavy mortar and shellfire and also fire from MGs sited in and about TAKROUNA below us. Towards the end of the morning our party holding the pinnacle had been reduced to three. L/Sjt MANAHI returned to the coy and bought back supplies and a few reinforcements. In going down and up the hill he was under fire the whole time.
In the afternoon further reinforcements arrived, this time from 21 NA Bn. The enemy counter-attacked and some of them gained a foot-hold on the feature. L/Sjt MANAHI led an attack against them. There was fierce hand-to-hand fighting but eventually the enemy withdrew.
All the remainder of that day we were subjected to steady fire. After dark I returned to my unit with L/Sjt MANAHI.
Of the original party from my platoon who attacked the pinnacle on 20 Apr 43 L/Sjt MANAHI and myself were the only ones not causalities.
(Signed) Pte H Grant.
A sworn statement from Lieutenant I.H. Hurst to support the Victoria Cross Quest for Lance-Sergeant Haane Manahi
Lt HIRST, IH on oath states:
On night [sic] 20/21 Apr 43 I was one of a party of two officers and forty-five other ranks who relieved a section of Maoris who had been holding the pinnacle feature above TAKROUNA Village. I was NOT there at the actual relief and the Maoris had returned to their Unit when I arrived. The pinnacle was a flat ledge of rock barely a quarter of an acre in size and covered by native houses with small winding alley-ways in between. About one hundred feet directly below was the village of TAKROUNA. While I was on the feature, the village and the western slope were strongly held by the enemy.
At about 2200 hrs enemy troops fired on us from some of the houses on the pinnacle. It was later found that they had gained a foothold by using a secret and covered approach. Fierce fighting ensued and the position was desperate. Reinforcements were asked for and at about 0800 hrs 21 Apr, L/Sjt [sic] MANAHI in charge of fifteen Maoris arrived. I discussed a plan of attack with him. This included bringing our own Arty (artillery) to bear on the feature. After a concentration during which we took cover, L/Sjt MANAHI personally led four men in an attack on some of the houses. They came under the heaviest Mortar fire we experienced there and also considerable MG fire but the attack was a complete success. The enemy withdrew by the same means as they had used earlier to gain a footing and the entire pinnacle feature was once again in our hands. Following this we were heavily shelled and mortared and fired on by MGs, from in and about TAKROUNA.
Later in the afternoon of 21 Apr L/Sjt MANAHI and one or two of his men, on their own initiative, moved out from cover on the pinnacle and I saw them stalking enemy section posts on the North Western slopes of the TAKROUNA feature. They stalked post after post capturing them in turn. When I saw the number of enemy surrendering I realised they were cracking and took a party down to the village which was captured. But for the action of L/Sjt MANAHI and his men, the capture of the whole feature would have been delayed considerably. During these operations L/Sjt MANAHI and his men were continually under shell fire and small arms fire.
The number of enemy who finally surrendered exceeded three hundred, including eighteen Officers. Two 25 - Prs, several mortars and seventy-two MGs were captured.
(Signed) IH Hurst, Lt.