The first days of the month the Battalion re-enter Cassino township and then are quickly withdrawn. On the 19th they are at Colle Belvedere, a steep rocky ridge in the area which had a great view of the monastery and the ruined town. They are to hold part of the left flank, protect the Cairo-Telle road and provide support to any patrols. They lived amongst the dead and under constant shelling and fire. Unit transport drivers had the worst of it, transporting food under keen German observation “…at a distance of no more than two air miles”.
- Temporary Lieutenant Colonel: Russell Young (CO)
- Majors: Peta Awatere, Jim Matehaere, Chris Sorenson
- Temporary Major: James Henare
- Captains: Rangi Logan, SF Jackson, Harry Lambert, Peter Ornberg, Rangi Tutaki, HM Mitchell
- Temporary Captain: WDP Wordley
- Lieutenants: JH Aperahama, WP Anaru, WH Prescott
- 2/Lieutenants: Moana Raureti, Peter Robson, Monty Searancke, Clarence Balzer, JR Tomoana, Joseph Carr, Ivon Harris, Te Whareriri Rogers, John Baker, Wi Pewhairangi Reedy, Nepia Mahuika, Riki Smith, Aylmer Kenny, Henry Harper Takarangi
- Attached: Capt Cam D’Arcy (RMO), Capt (Rev) WT Huata (Padre), R Paniora, Mr DR Perry (YMCA), Capt TF Miller (NZMC) Second Lieutenants: Sam Paniora, Te Rauwhiro Tibble, John Ransfield
- 1 April, Sat Reveille 0700 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0900 hrs Concert party await transport to convey them to Caserta to hold a concert party for the benefit of the patients in 2 General Hospital. 0910 hrs Col McIlroy 21 Battalion visits the Battalion to go over the plans of the routes into Cassino with the CO. 1030 hrs Concert party embussed on 3 x 3 Tonners leave for Caserta under the command of the Padre. 1145 hrs IO returns from a visit to 21 Battalion re the positions to be taken over by 21 Battalion and also visits Brigade on the way back. Traces of Stonks routes etc brought back by him. 1230 hrs Reinforcements arrive in from Advance Base. These include ex Officers of the Eleventh Reinforcements – Sgts Rollo, Matchitt, Hogan, Park, Rickett, Hubbard and Moffat. CO, RMO with Capts Ornberg and Jackson left for Caserta per the CO’s car. During the night the IO had visited the 25 Battalion on the Pasquale route after having called in at the 6 Brigade HQ. The purpose of the visit to select a good road into Cassino for the relief in view of the fact that highway 6 at the present time is very dangerous due to heavy shelling at times. 1800 hrs Concert party return from Caserta after having put up a good show, quiet night spent after the return of the party. 2300 hrs IO has a conference with the CO re the move and the decision made to visit 21 Battalion now in the process of a changeover with 25 Battalion and also visit to 24 Battalion Rear and 22 Motor Battalion to fix final details for the relief. IO returns at 0330 hrs. Decision made to use the highway 6 route in for the change.
- 2 April, Sun Reveille 0600 hrs. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0830 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. During the morning all Coys prepare for the move forward to Cassino tonight. Flamethrowers allocated to C and D Coys for the forward areas. Officers from the Grenadier Battalion of the Guards Brigade arrive with their NCOs and attach themselves to their corresponding Coys, purpose to accompany 28 Battalion Coys into their positions and gain an idea of the arrangements of the relief for future reference for their own relief of 28 Battalion. 1300 hrs CO calls all Officers and Grenadier Officers for a conference and all details of the relief discussed and finalised. 28 Battalion to relieve 24 Battalion completely as follows: A Coy 28 Battalion to relieve B Coy 24 Battalion. B Coy 28 Battalion to relieve D Coy 24 Battalion. C Coy 28 Battalion to relieve A Coy 24 Battalion and D Coy 28 Battalion to relieve Support Coy 24 Battalion. B (24) Coy situated at 878208. D (24) Coy situated at 875213. A (24) and Support (24) Coys holding forward positions in Cassino route in: Mignano via highway 6 to turn off at German Cemetery at 892198 thence along track to cemetery at B Coy HQ. Troops debus from RMT there and move per foot to Cassino per highway 6. 1700 hrs 30 RMT arrive at Battalion HQ and go to Coy areas for the move. Big hot meal for the troops and all get issued with 24 hrs rations. Coys afterwards prepare to move. 1930 hrs Coys emboss and set off at intervals of half hours in order to pass check post at the German cemetery at times as below: Battalion HQ 2000 hrs, C Coy at 2030 hrs, A Coy 2100 hrs, D Coy at 2130 hrs and B Coy at 2200 hrs. 2100 hrs CO, IO and Adj. 3 Grenadier Battalion arrive at the Crypt 24 Battalion HQ. 2230 hrs The first Platoon of C Coy arrive in at Crypt and pass almost straight on under Platoon guides to forward positions. Other Platoons also arrive hard on the heels of the first Platoon having come across in column of Platoons and go out to forward positions immediately. No casualties suffered on the way in. 2300 hrs The first Platoon of D Coy arrives and also do the same. Other Platoons also follow in quick time. No casualties suffered. 2320 hrs Maj Aiken reports that left Coy all okay and change effected but with the assistance of artillery Stonks to cover movement. 2340 hrs CO rings C Coy and receives word that Coy all okay. Capt Jackson enquires re the position of the flamethrowers and reports that one flamethrower operator has suffered slight wounds. Capt Logan to arrange for 4 more flamethrowers to come up tomorrow night. 2345 hrs Capt Pratt (Support Coy 24 Battalion) reports 2 casualties caused by Spandu fire. Word received later that one of the casualties was 2/Lt Hau Platoon Commander in D Coy. 2400 hrs CO rings Capt Ornberg and Battalion informed of slight hold up by Spandu and rifle fire. Forward right section and Platoon held up. 0015 hrs Word received that a further casualty sustained by D Coy 28 Battalion. Target 34 called for to cover forward movements. 0040 hrs Sgt Worrall and party leave to go back to Rapido Bridge for rations and Sigs equipment.
- 3 April, Mon 0100 hrs D Coy completely in the forward positions now and Coy pass through. CO rings Capt Ornberg and casualties ascertained. Total D Coy- 3 Wounded: 2/Lt Hau wound in shoulder, Pte M Bobbette slight concussion, and Pte H Apea wounds in the face and legs. 0110 hrs Report given by 24 Battalion Adj over the 22 set change over complete. 24 Battalion prepare to leave for the other side and only awaiting the arrival of the RSBs from their forward Coys. 0130 hrs CO and Adj. 24 Battalion leave to go out to the rear. LO advised over the 22 Set that total casualties for the change over were 3, all suffered by D Coy and by C Coy. 0135 hrs “Miller” received from Brigade denoting that 5 Brigade now in command 0145 hrs. 21 Battalion advised over the 22 set of the progress and Maj Henare who has arrived there to contact the 21 Battalion from his Coy area answers the 22 set. Battalion advised by him that both Coys A and B had a good change over and no casualties. 0230 hrs Pte N Apes brought in from the forward areas. Fairly quiet night now with very little mortaring and shelling. 0300 hrs 24 Battalion Sgt with 2/Lt Hau and Pte Apes evacuated by jeep. 0615 hrs Capt Ornberg rings and informs Battalion that he had made contact with the left flank of Maj Hawkesby’s patrol 0545 hrs 2 Coy line now fixed and okay. 0845 hrs IO checks on patrol report by Wells 11 Platoon Commander – approx. 0200 hrs 11 Platoon engaged enemy on right flank, enemy driven off. Approx strength 6. 1000 hrs Conversations with the Brigade re the new appearance of smoke last night as requested by CO. Apparently the CRA did not know of the arrangements and that the guns were at fault. Arrangements then made for smoke screen to be laid down then between 8 and 9 pm and for Coys to observe. Idea to work up a sufficient smoke cover for night change over 6/7 April. Weather: Fine and sunny. Slight breeze but warm. 1100 hrs Very quiet and only slight mortaring and shelling. 1115 hrs Request from 6 pdrs for permission to shoot on any targets in front of fields. This request was not granted. 1210 hrs Target 21 called for over 22 set and stonk was delivered in 10 mins. 22 Coy reported that stonk was very effective. 1300 hrs Sgt Worrall reported that C Coy 14 Platoon has taken 8 prisoners of war (not verified). 1500 hrs Brigade rings and enquires about the prisoners and IO explained the mistake that C Coy 14 Platoon saw 8 Germans and killed one. 1530 hrs CO rings Brigade re the request by 6 pdrs for shoot and that permission was not granted because troops were not quite settled. 1700 hrs Several calls from Brigade re arrangements for smoke to be laid from 2100 to 2200 hrs. Bolton on request by 1 Coy 22 Battalion to be fired at 2030 to 2040 hrs. 1715 hrs Brigade informs us re intercept message by Cassino defenders to rear saying that they were being attacked from one place. Assumption new troops occupying the town. Brigade asks especially if possible to collect a prisoner of war for identification. 1815 hrs IO gives return of 22 Coys fighting strength to LO. 1830 hrs Call to Brigade for target 4 as movement seen in the area. 2115 hrs Maj Awatere Battalion 2i/c with C, D and Battalion carrying parties arrived and also 4 flamethrower personnel. C Coy suffered 2 casualties as a result of smoke canisters falling in the area. 2230 hrs C Coy sent back pay book and papers of dead German for identification and there were sent back to Division. Weather: Warm and fine.
- 4 April, Tues 0020 hrs OC 2 Coy 22 Battalion reports enemy working party heard in vicinity of Hotel DeRoses. Casey called for. Exactly three mins after Casey was delivered the OC 2 Coy advised that stonk was very effective. 0800 hrs Forward troops reported that shells loaded with propaganda leaflets are dropping right in enemy lines. 1000 hrs Own guns in action on enemy occupied houses area target 33. 1030 hrs CO rings through to all Coys re the general position last night. As from tonight on smoke will be fired at 2030 hrs. D Coy also reports to CO that small party of enemy tried to infiltrate through 21 Battalion left flank and D Coy right. 1310 hrs Brigade rings through that: - Battalion to be relieved on the night 5/6. Battalion to move off to Isernia at 1000 hrs 6 April 44. Brigade also notifies us that all arrangements with Guards Brigade finalised. In view of change over arrangements also made for smoke cover. 1320 hrs Brigade rings through to 21 Battalion to silence on MG post at 856199 (or 854198?). 1330 hrs Brigade informs Battalion that 240’s to shoot on the following targets: - (1) Hotel DeRoses (target 2). (2) Target 21. (3) Target 1. This target 1 is the Barons Palace. 1405 hrs Stonks and shoots by 240’s delivered and there was a slight retaliation by the enemy. 1500 hrs Further calls from 22 Coy and own 14 Platoon asking for the shelling to cease or to be lifted. 1515 hrs Brigade asked to stop the stonk and shift over to Barons Palace. 1540 hrs CO calls BM over the wireless set re the position of the guns. 1545 hrs D Coy reported one casualty from own stonk, Pte WA King. 1630 hrs D Coy reported 17 Germans (RAP party) under Red Cross flag proceeding down hill to Hotel DeRoses with stretcher cases and walking wounded. 1840 hrs C Coy call for 21 Battalion that movement seen and Brigade duly notified. 1900 hrs C Coy reported stonk on target 21 very effective. 1930 hrs Reports to Brigade as follows: - (1) Stretcher party of 18 proceeding to Continental under Red Cross flag. (2) Stretcher party of 12 proceeding from Hotel Continental to Pt. 165 under Red Cross flag. (3) Apparently ammunition dump in Castle Hill on fire as smoke and burning ammunition could be heard. All this was confirmed by 22 Coy. 2031 hrs Brigade rings asking for the Battalion to keep a sharp look out on Pt. 193 as there is probably something amiss. 2045 hrs Carrying party arrived. D Coy with 40 gallons of water and Battalion HQ with rations. 2230 hrs IO of the Guards Brigade arrived and went into details of the change over that is to take place night 5/6 April 44. Weather: Fine and sunny. Increased cloudiness by midday. Visibility fair but by noon improved.
- 5 April, Wed 0030 hrs Contacted Brigade informing of Guards Officers and their intention to meet the right Coy of 23 Battalion at crossroads. 22 Battalion supplied guides for Officers. 0115 hrs A whole lot of details passed over to the Officers of the Guards Brigade. 0130 hrs D Coy reported that tank heard in area Hotel Continental and stonk was asked for. Stonk too a long time to come over and repeat was asked for. 0500 hrs Enemy now very active at this time. A large fire was seen burning in front of C Coys 13 Platoon area. 2/Lt J Carr wounded also Cpl Bishop of D Coy. 0600 hrs At this time all casualties were evacuated and the stretcher party remained at rear Battalion for the night. 1100 hrs LO on 22 set to IO and Maj Hockley of 22 Battalion called to set to receive messages from Brigade re his relief and if necessary support of 23 Battalion. Sgt Worrall interpreting conversation with LO including points in our own relief tonight. 1115 hrs CO talks over the 18 set to Adj trying up all details re relief. 1200 hrs CO rings Coys re the timings of the change over – also sketches to be made and passed over to corresponding members. 1500 hrs Capt Tutaki in command with the Battalion re the relief. 1515 hrs Brigade also in contact re the wireless equipment ie 22 set etc. 1800 hrs Brigade again rings re the change over and Brigadier advised to meet us at rear Battalion HQ. 2045 hrs More smoke requested and to spread out. CO Guards due to arrive. 2130 hrs CO and Adj in conference with Officers of the Coldstream Guards. 11 Platoon Coldstream Guards changed over with 13 Platoon Coy HQ. 2200 hrs Call to Brigade to drop more smoke to cover movements of forward troops. 2230 hrs D Coy calls once more for smoke to be laid. Change over commenced but had to wait a while to allow the smoke to thicken as the enemy is only 40 to 50 yards away. More smoke was called for at various times and directed onto 35, 34, and 33. At last the guns put down a decent smoke and the change over was carried out in safety. At this time a fair scrap was going on in the 21 Battalion area and this demanded alertness both in our own troops and the relieving party. 2415 hrs 21 Battalion mortars under – orders from Brigade also put down smoke forward of Battalion area. 0010 hrs Change over completed without incident and D Coy with Battalion HQ moved out. The whole of the Battalion proceeded down highway 6 moving to the cemetery area where they all embussed on RMT and moved straight back to area Mignano. On the way out, D Coy suffered two casualties from MG fire which came over from the rly station area. Weather: Slight breeze blowing and probable rain. By night wind had increased but no rain yet.
- 6 April, Thurs 1400 hrs Battalion HQ established at 144305 Isernia 1. 100.000. For the remainder of the day the Battalion settled in. Location of the camp ideal for a rest area. Being sheltered with trees and very dry.
- 7 April, Fri 0700 hrs Reveille. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0900 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. Settling mainly during the day. Showers were provided by Unit Mobile showers. Coys were instructed to clear at least 10 feet round the tents in case of fire as the place was littered with leaves. 2000 hrs Pictures through the courtesy of the YMCA held in the Battalion lines and starting from tonight pictures will be held every night. Weather: Very fine and sunny. Advantage was also taken of the fine weather for washing clothes.
- 8 April, Sat 0700 hrs Reveille. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0900 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0630 hrs 20 C Coy personnel proceeded on leave to Naples. C Coy having the cleanest lines in Mignano was given the opportunity of having the first leave. 1430 hrs IO and party of 20 personnel proceeded to Alfie to see the ENSA show which was being held there. For the rest of the day the Battalion was resting as much as possible.
- 9 April, Sun 0700 hrs Reveille. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0900 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1630 hrs. 0800 hrs A Coy off to Naples on leave per Unit transport. 0930 hrs Battalion church parade conducted by the Battalion Padre Capt Huata, this was followed by Holy Communion. Fairly easy day for the Battalion. 1030 hrs Padre Huata conducts Divine service at Main Division. Concert party that is to go to Bari was being prepared. 4 days rations issued to all concert party personnel and movement order obtained from Brigade. Own transport used for the transportation.
- 10 April, Mon 0700 hrs Reveille. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0900 hrs. Lunch 1230 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. 0130 hrs Padre and concert party left for Bari per Unit transport. 0800 hrs D Coy on leave and transport was allotted as follows: - 1 – 3 tonner to Naples under 2/Lt Smith. 1 – 3 tonner to Pompei under 2/Lt C Smith and 1 – 15 Cwt to Caserta under 2/Lt B Tomoana. 0830 hrs Starting from today syllabus will be as (see appendix B attached). 1200 hrs IO with 20 Battalion personnel left for Quatroventi to see the ENSA show that was being held there. Party returned at 1615 hrs. 1500 hrs CO hold Orderly room and several cases taken. 1730 hrs CO and Coy Commanders attended dinner at 23 Battalion. 2030 hrs Pictures held in the Battalion lines and a full sized screen being used. Lt Prescott left for Benevento on an Admin course. 0900 hrs CO visited the Brigade and conferred with the Brigade Commander re the move forward to the line. Weather: Rain overnight and made the ground very soggy. However, by morning the ground had dried up. By midday bright sunshine.
- 11 April, Tues 0700 hrs Reveille. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0900 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. Routine as per appendix B attached. 0930 hrs CO in conference with all Coy Commanders re the future move of the Battalion. For further details see (appendix C attached). Discussion was also made on the standard of the drill within the Battalion. 1400 hrs Pay issued to all ranks. 2030 hrs Pictures again held in the Battalion area.
- 12 April, Wed 0700 hrs Reveille. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0900 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. 0900 hrs Battalion 2i/c carried out an inspection of the Battalion lines and found Battalion HQ area very untidy. 0850 hrs Battalion HQ on route march along Isernia Rd. 1430 hrs Capt D’Arcy RMO leaves Unit to take up his duties in No 2 General Hospital and Capt Miller takes over his position. 1600 hrs Unit YMCA installs lighting plant and several lights were ran out to Coys. 1700 hrs Tea. First hail storm experienced in this part of Italy and it lasted for half an hour. 1730 hrs Conference held in the I Section room. All Battalion HQ NCOs were present and the IO stressed the point of tidiness and cleanliness within the Battalion lines. The question of leave was also brought out. 1800 hrs Drill for 3 Ptes was dismissed.
- 13 April, Thurs 0700 hrs Reveille. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0900 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. Routine for the day: - 0845 – 0945 hrs Squads and arms drill, Coy Platoons and Section Groups. 1000 hrs Showers for D Coy. 1100 hrs Showers for A Coy. 1000 – 1200 hrs Route march for Battalion HQ, HQ and C Coys. 1315 – 1445 hrs Showers for HQ Coy. 1445 – 1600 hrs Showers for Battalion HQ. 1500 – 1630 hrs HQ Coy squad and arms drill. C and B Coys on leave per own transport. 1400 hrs CO’s conference. Details re Furlough given out, also possible date of moving into the lines. 1500 hrs 5 NZ Infantry Brigade Band arrives at Battalion HQ and entertains the Boys for one hour. Syllabus cancelled during the afternoon. Hot tea was supplied by the YMCA. 1730 hrs Officers tea held in Battalion HQ and given by the CO as he was to leave for Egypt tomorrow. Maj A Awatere takes over command of the Battalion as from 2400 hrs tonight. 2030 hrs Pictures once more in the Battalion lines featuring “Remember the Day” and attended by a large gathering. 2300 hrs Concert party that left for Bari 3 days ago returned to the Battalion. 1800 hrs CB parade held on Battalion parade ground. Parade lasting till 2100 hrs. Weather: Fine and sunny but by midday overcast and rain imminent. By 1830 hrs Slight drizzle and increased by midnight.
- 14 April, Fri 0700 -0730 hrs P and RT. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0900 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. 0900 – 1200 hrs Inter section and Platoon competition on drilling. 1045 hrs Battalion muster parade and pay was issued to all those going out on leave tomorrow. Part of C Coy and HQ Coy on leave. 2230 hrs Pictures once more in the Battalion lines. Weather: Fine, sunny and warm.
- 15 April, Sat 0400 hrs Maj A Awatere and 2 Provosts leave Battalion HQ to make a recce of area Battalion is taking over from Res Battalion of 28 Brigade vicinity Belvedere Section. Maj Sorenson 2i/c Battalion in Maj Awatere’s absence. During the morning Maj. Sorenson finalised arrangements for the running of a “Race Meeting” by the Battalion tomorrow. Battalion HQ on leave to Pompei and Caserta. 1245 hrs Maj Sorenson and the Battalion IO 2/Lt Tomoana attend Staff Capt’s conference at Brigade HQ re allocation of the Battalion B echelon at new location. 1330 hrs 2/Lt Smith and I Sgt laying out race track for race meeting tomorrow. 1330 – 1500 hrs RMO and staff inoculating all Battalion personnel requiring such, with the exception of Battalion HQ who were on leave to Pompei and Caserta. Various Officers on leave to Naples. Maj Matehaere left for Bari on leave. During the day a party from the 14 LT AA Regiment made a recce of the Battalion area with the intentions of taking over when we move out. Weather Sunny and Warm.
- 16 April, Sun Breakfast 0800 hrs. 0830 hrs CO (Maj Awatere), Padre and two jeep loads from C Coy left for Naples to bury Sgt Turei who had died of wounds inflicted by an inhabitant of the country while he was on leave. During the morning Officials of the “Race Meeting” prepared the ground and finalised arrangements for the show this afternoon. 1215 hrs Lunch. 1300 hrs 20 reinforcements mostly ex wounded personnel arrive in.
- 17 April, Mon 0700 hrs Reveille. Breakfast 0800 hrs. RAP 0900 hrs. Lunch 1200 hrs. Tea 1700 hrs. Apart from the Church parade conducted by the Unit Padre at 0930 hrs the day was free to all ranks. One three tonner form each of D Coy, C Coy and Battalion HQ left for Naples to transport the personnel on leave. Acting CO, Maj Awatere, working out a Battalion Operation Order for the coming move. 0900 – 1600 hrs Maj Awatere and IO left per jeep to make further recce of the rout to Hove Dump with the object of locating suitable meal halts while en route to new area on night 19/20 April 44. 2000 hrs Capt Logan OC HQ Coy puts on a demonstration of Platoon strength of enemy method using trip flares and LMGs. All available Battalion personnel were watching the display which went off very well indeed. Weather: Dull but fine, with cold southerly wind.
- 18 April, Tues The following OCTU nominees were interviewed by Lt-Col McIlroy acting in place of Brigadier Stewart at Brigade HQ at 0900 hrs this morning: S/Sgt TS King, Sgt G Sutherland, Sgt J Davis and Sgt EG Maurice. Routine. Breakfast 0800 hrs. 0930 hrs Battalion muster Parade in drill order – also talk to Battalion by CO Maj Awatere on coming role of the Battalion. 1030 hrs Cos Orderly room routine. 1100 hrs Battalion conference in IO tent re operations for coming move and relief of 24 Hampshs (see appendix D). Return of all weapons to RSM by 1200 hrs. 1200 hrs Lunch. 1300 hrs Brigade operation order received from Brigade HQ also air covers covering Belvedere area received from I Section Brigade. 1500 hrs Acting BM Capt Cairns arrives at Battalion to finalise arrangements with the CO re the proposed move. Showers in the afternoon. Maj Sorenson left the Battalion this morning for Bari on his way back to NZ on furlough. A party from the Battalion visited 23 Battalion on an invitation to attend a donkey race meeting which was held there. Weather: Fine and sunny. By midday overcast and at 1400 hrs rain commenced.
- 19 April, Wed Arrangements for reveille as per Coy routine. Packing up of all gear at 0900 hrs and also cleaning up of the areas. 0930 hrs Message received from Brigade advising of the alteration in the route for the convoy to Portella this evening. For details see Operation Order No. 1 18/4/44. The Battalion moved out from the present area in groups and times as laid down in the above order (OO No. 1). 1745 hrs The Battalion rested for a short period near Ceppagua where a hot meal was served. 2000 hrs A road side halt for a few mins at St Pietro. The Battalion was slightly ahead of schedule. 2000 hrs Battalion moved on again passing the control post at that time. The journey along Highway 6 and the “Mad Mile” was uneventful and Cevaro was made in good time passing it at 2045 hrs but from there to our debussing area progress was slow due to heavy traffic and the steep and narrow road allied with a fairly dark night. Battalion eventually arrived at debussing Pt. G893243 at 0015 hrs and were met by guides from 2/4 Hamps. 0020 hrs Battalion OGP leave in three jeeps for the Hos 2/4 Hamps on the Belvedere Sector. Meanwhile the troops had debussed and with the guides from 2/4 Hamps started on the march to the lying up area at G855265 – one guide to each Coy. 0330 hrs Troops arrive at lying up area where they made themselves as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. B I (cooks, QMs etc.) moved up Inferno Wadi to Hove Dump where all cooking equipment was unloaded and all 3 tonners returned to B Echelon by the north route ie via Vallerotonda, Acquafondata, Casale and Pozzilli to Montaquila.
- 20 April, Thurs Troops rest at lying up area all day. OGP both by night and day make a recce and familiarise themselves with corresponding positions as held by 2/4 Hamps. 2030 hrs The troops in Coy lots and headed by their respective guides begin the long chain up the Belvedere feature passing Brigade HQ G850269, en route and then onto their respective Coy areas. 0130 hrs “Epsom” (Change over completed successfully). For the remainder of the month this diary will take the form of entries as written in the Intelligence Log during the period under Operation ------------ Tasks of the various Coys are as laid down in Maj Awatere’s Operational Instructions 1 and 2. 2200 hrs The Brigadier and the BM both ring Maj Awatere from Brigade HQs re progress of change over, assured that everything happening was going according to plan. 2245 hrs Epsom from B Coy. 2315 hrs Epsom from A Coy. 2338 hrs Epsom from C Coy. 2330 hrs Mortar crew reports Epsom successfully. 2345 hrs D Coy under 2/Lt R Smith reports to Battalion HQ having gone slightly astray during the long climb up the mountainside. 2350 hrs Battalion HQ reports in and settles down.
- 21 April, Fri 0015 hrs D Coy reports two Platoons in position. 0030 hrs 2 Shells hit Battalion HQs house but no casualties. 0100 hrs 2 more shells land quite close to Battalion HQ. 0130 hrs D Coy reports Epsom successfully. “Epsom” is the code word used for the completion of relief with 2/4 Hamps, 28 Brigade 4 Battalion Division. 0800 hrs IO phones through to 5 Brigade the Battalion HQ and Coy map locations. 1000 hrs Brigadier Stewart, Commander 5 Brigade, arrives at Battalion HQ (842273) on a routine visit. 1030 hrs Brigadier moves out to D Coy area where he and Maj Matehaere make a quick recce of our immediate front. 1100 -1200 hrs Maj Awatere talks to all Coy Commanders per telephone –routine inquires etc and the state and condition of the various areas. 1250 hrs Inquires from Battalion LO Capt Marsden, number of mules required by the Battalion tonight, to be advised later. 1251 hrs Dr from Brigade arrives at Battalion HQ. A quiet day so far only spasmodic shelling and mortaring. 1300 hrs 2/Lt Robson, Sigs Officer, who has been temporarily in control of our Jeep Head returns to Battalion HQ and 2/Lt Tibble, C Coy, takes over Jeep Head duties. 1500 – 1540 hrs Heavy shelling and mortaring of Battalion Sector, especially around Battalion HQ and Pt 708. 1545 hrs CO and IO leave to make a recce of a new area for Battalion HQ and to visit A and C Coy areas. 1600 hrs 8 Shells burst around Jeep Head. 1630 hrs Counter mortaring by Battalion mortars located slightly forward of Jeep Head. 1745 hrs 6 more shells around Pt. 704. 1830 hrs CO and IO return to Battalion HQ from recce. 1845 hrs Capt Jackson, OC C Coy, and his three Platoon Commanders arrive at Battalion HQ and receive further instructions from the CO about the position they are to occupy tonight. 1930 hrs CO and C Coy Officers leave to make a recce of C Coys new area. 2000 hrs CO returns. Capt Jackson and Lt Mahuika recce forward Platoon area at present held by one Platoon from Beds and Harts, the latter is to stay overnight in the area at Platoon HQ. 2007 hrs CO in telephone communication with BM on routine matters and also arrangements for neutralizing enemy working party on suspected gun positions in area approximately 837265. 2015 hrs Capt Jackson returns and arranges by phone for his section Commanders to report to Battalion HQ and make a recce of their new positions by night. 2100 hrs 4 more shells burst around Jeep Head causing a break in the line. 2130 hrs Maj Matehaere rings Battalion re mules for packing supplies. IO informs him that arrangements have already been made to that effect. 2115 hrs BM rings CO and finalises arrangements for bringing 2 6 pdr guns from B 2 (area Montaquila H099027) with crews complete and 2 Officers (2/ Lts Takarangi and Kenny) to Hove Dump and for the Officers to report to Battalion tonight. BM to arrange all details with B echelon. 2200 hrs Rations for Battalion HQ and Coys arrive by jeep trains. 4. 2 relief crew consisting of Sgt Rangitauira and three Other Ranks arrive to take over mortars from Br crew. These heavy mortars are brigaded. 2300 hrs Mules pack in supplies to D Coy. More hostile shelling in Battalion HQ area. 2315 hrs Capt Ornberg reports to Battalion by telephone that B Coy’s patrols have contacted troops on their right (32 A Tank Bty). Info passed onto Brigade HQs.
- 22 April, Sat 0630 hrs 2/Lt Takarangi reported to Battalion from B 2 having left his A/Tk guns at the Brigade car park (G845266). 0830 hrs 2/Lt Kenny, the other A/Tk Officer, also reports to Battalion. 0825 hrs Heavy shelling of area around jeep head and Pts 704 and 718. 0940 hrs Light shelling of area continues. 1020 hrs Capt Wordley, A Coy, reports enemy air bursts over his Coy area. 1100 hrs Sgt Ngata, C Coy, takes over the duties of RSM whilst WOI McRae is on six day’s leave in Bari. 1115 hrs CO leaves to visit Brigade HQs and to recce 6 pdr targets for tonight. Spasmodic shelling of area continues. 1200 hrs IO arranges for change over of Coys as follows: - C Coy is to take over from B Coy Beds and Herts with Coy HQs at G842273. D Coy is to go into C Coy old area. Battalion HQ is to move down to an area nearer Brigade HQs. 1340 hrs DR from Brigade arrives at Battalion HQ with dispatches. Capt Marsden informs the IO that we could have 6 mules from mule depot when required. 1400 hrs More shells around Battalion HQ. 1600 hrs Six mules arrive at Battalion HQ. 1603 hrs Maj Awatere signs receipts for equipment and trench stores that the Beds and Herts are handing over (including the exchange of bivvys). 1630 hrs Maj Awatere ties up arrangements for the relief of our D Coy by C Coy 21 Battalion, Beds and Herts by our C Coy, 2/Lt Mahuika taking up forward positions with 15 Platoon. A Coy to move up and take over positions previously held by our C Coy. 1645 hrs Lt-Col McIlroy, 21 Battalion, visit Battalion HQ. 1655 hrs CO instructs Capt Wordley to move A Coy into C Coys old position. 1700 hrs Battalion HQ moves back from present area 842273 to 84502749 and is now established only 80 yards from Brigade HQs. Heavy shelling and mortaring around jeep head. IO visits Brigade HQ. Weather fine. 2000 hrs CO with 2/Lts Takarangi and Kenny make a recce of our FDLs paying special attention to area now held by 15 Platoon C Coy, with the idea of locating suitable places where 6 pdr A/Tk could be installed so as to shoot up enemy strong points and weapon pits, fire from which has been annoying our L of Cs through Cairo village. 1830 hrs Two direct hits on ammunition bump and on house occupied by our 3” mortar crew. 1900 hrs Mortar ammunition dump continued to burn and explode. Enemy maintains shelling and mortaring of jeep head. C Coy completes relief of 2 Coy Beds and Herts successfully. Relief of D Coy by C Coy 21 Battalion completed by 0300 hrs without incident.
- 23 April, Sun A very quiet morning. 0900 hrs DR from Brigade arrives with Official mail. Brigadier Stewart passes through on his rounds of the forward Battalions. 1000 hrs Brigadier Stewart informs Maj Awatere that the tanks will now do the job he had intended doing with his Battalion A/Tk guns but to proceed with the plans as previously arranged ie to sight A/Tk guns in suitable positions. Spasmodic shelling of area. Own planes, mostly spitfires, roaming the sky at will. 1400 hrs Lts Kenny and Takarangi report to Battalion HQ and with the CO move up to C Coys area for a recce. 1500 hrs Conference by CO with Coy Commanders and support group Officers at C Coys HQ – finalising arrangements for shooting up enemy strong points in square 8326. 1700 hrs Artillery harassing open up on enemy points in square 8326. Two tanks move up from Top Jeep head (845270) to near Pt 660 (840322672). One tank covered by fire from the second opened up fire on the Cave at 837265 firing twelve rounds of HE and AP and under cover of smoke withdrew. No enemy movement was noticed. Shoot supported by Artillery harassing fire. An air cover was supplied by spitfires. 2000 hrs 2/Lt Searanke, Mortar Officer, informed Battalion that one of his 3” Mortar had been rendered u/s by enemy shelling. Maj Awatere rang from C Coy HQs reporting on the excellent shooting of the Cave by the tanks, which were manned by personnel from 18 Armd. Regiment. He also informed Battalion that he was going around the fields as soon as it was dark. 2040 hrs Maj Henare rang Battalion from BI (Hove Dump) informing us of arrangements he had made for bringing up the support and equipment Battalion had asked for earlier in the day. Equipment asked for were: - 700 Sand bags, 2 camouflage nets for Battalion HQ and 200 pairs of Patrol boots and sand shoes. Informed that they will be coming up by jeep train tonight. 2100 hrs IO leaves for Brigade to take Sitreps and to get the latest Sitrep of our flanking formations. Slight shelling of Jeep Head area. 2150 hrs 2 incendiary shells from the direction of Belmonte land on the road at Jeep Head killing two support mules, wounding 2 Brigade HQ personnel and starting a couple of fires. 2200 hrs Another shell from the same direction again strikes Jeep Head and sets alight SAA and Mortar bombs. Shell suspected to be of the 75 Calibre type. 2400 hrs CO returns to Battalion from Brigade HQs.
- 24 April, Mon 0021 hrs Capt Jackson rang Battalion reporting that 15 Platoon reports considerable enemy movement around cave and that it had been going on for about an hour. A very quiet morning with only slight shelling. 0700 hrs 16 Enemy planes bomb the Cassino area. 0915 hrs Brigade IO rings through inquiring after the night’s activities. 0930 hrs IO checks up with Capt Jackson the actual details of what happened on 15 Platoon front. Brigade was notified that 2/Lt Mahuika had heard between 2200 and 0015 hrs considerable digging and movement around the cave and forward of his fields. Quiet all day. 1500 hrs IO leaves to recce B Coys area and returns at 2315 hrs bringing back maps of this area and forward from Brigade.
- 25 April, Tues 0300 hrs Spasmodic shelling of area around Pt 718. IO rang with the information that the Support Group from B 2 would not be arriving as the L of C was being continually shelled by the enemy. 1000 hrs Brigadier Stewart and Capt Marsden arrived at Battalion HQ, and suggested that the CO look into the matter of sending out patrols towards Pt. 708 to determine the enemies FDLs. 1100 hrs IO leaves for Brigade to get further details for tonight’s patrol. 1130 hrs Brigade IO, Capt Abbott, calls into Battalion HQ on his way back from the forward Battalions. 1145 hrs Own 3” Mortars put over a stonk and enemy replies with a few airbursts but no casualties. 1300 hrs CO and IO leave to recce a route and support for the patrols to Pt 708 tonight. 1500 hrs CO returns to Battalion HQ and phones through to A Coy for Capt Wordley and his three Platoon Commanders to report to Battalion HQ for a conference at 1900 hrs this evening. IO continues onto B Coy HQs to finalise details with Capt Ornberg for B Coy is to supply both recce patrols for tonight. 1900 hrs CO in conference with Capt Wordley and his Platoon Commanders, the object being to supply supporting and covering fire to the patrol should they run into trouble and to fire tracers to guide them to and from their objectives. The CO instructed them to tactically sight 4 LMGs along road near Pt 660 and to cover enemy fire coming from Pt. 708. Tracers to be fired periodically from same position and in southwest direction towards Pt 708. Tracers to be fired until patrols reported back to own lines. For further details see Appendix C and for Patrol reports see Appendix C also. 2200 hrs IO returns to Battalion HQ and reported that patrols were well on the way.
- 26 April, Wed 0015 hrs Lt Aperehama with Support Group from HQ Coy report into Battalion HQ and settle in area between Battalion HQ and D Coy area. 0320 hrs No word yet to hand re progress of patrols. 0330 hrs Contacted B Coy and was informed that Sgt Hubbard had returned safely and his information was passed onto Brigade by phone. No word still of second patrol. 0615 hrs “A” Patrol report to B Coy HQs and information gained forwarded onto Brigade HQs by phone. 0900 hrs Capt Marsden, Battalion LO, rang inquiring for further information from patrols but was informed that all information had been passed on by telephone and written reports were already dispatched to Brigade by runner. 1000 hrs Capt Ornberg, OC B Coy, rang Battalion HQ and reported that the RAF Unit protecting L of C from Caira Village were reclaiming the cave he was using as his HQs. Informed not to move out until he received word from his HQs. IO rang the Battalion and reported Capt Ornberg complaint and was informed that our B Coy was not to move until Brigade ordered them to. 1300 hrs Support Group gathered around and the CO had a little talk with them and explained the situation on our immediate front and the role they were to play in the Battalions present role. Their chief role will be confined mostly to night standing patrols and as long as possible will be reserved from taking active part should any fighting have to be done. 1730 hrs Sgt Anderson with 20 men from Support Group leave Battalion HQ for C Coy HQs where they come under Command C Coy – remainder of the Support Group remain where they are for the present. 2000 hrs Hostile stonking of Jeep Head area but no casualties. 2100 hrs Sitreps and BBC news received from Brigade. All things considered it has been a quiet day.
- 27 April, Thurs 0040 hrs Rations arrive per jeeps after what the drivers consider a very trying trip- the roads were wet and greasy and the night was very dark, pitch black, and consequently a few of the supply jeeps slid off the road into the ditches and had to be manhandled out. 0200 hrs General enemy mortar Stonk on Brigade sector especially around Jeep Head mortar positions which were also covered by small arms fire from three sides. 0300 hrs CO calls up all Coys and orders all to stand-to as he suspected enemy action on our immediate front. 0310 hrs CO rings Brigade and is informed that 21 Battalion has called for Stonk “Martlet” which covers its left flank (and our right flank) as the enemy was suspected of approaching from that area. 0315 hrs CO rang 21 Battalion HQs and was assured that although their forward troops were exchanging small arms fire and grenades with the enemy at close range there was as yet no cause for apprehension. 0320 hrs CO rings through to all Coys and explains the situation as it affected 21 Battalion and also orders them to stand-to till first light. 0330-7000 hrs Enemy activity quieted down on our own front with only spasmodic shelling. 0800 hrs Warning Order received from Brigade to the effect that NZ Brigade will commence to relieve Fifth Brigade on night 29/30 April the complete change over to be effected by night 2/3 May. 0800 hrs RSM arrives to check up on ammunition received at Jeep Head. 0900 hrs IO attends to admin matters. 1115 hrs Battalion telephones instructions for B Coy to move back to the lying up area as 2788 RAF Squadron were taking over their area tonight. 1210 hrs 2/Lt Searanke, Mortar Officer, reported that an SP gun was shelling his positions from G864279. 1215 hrs IO rang Brigade and passed on information about hostile SP guns. IO leaves for is daily visit to A, D and C Coys with the “Griff” on the present situation. Latest Brigade sector DF. Tasks received from Brigade HQ. 1700 hrs 3 Hostile shells burst in the vicinity of Battalion HQ but no damage done. BM telephoned re allocations of the TCVs for Battalions to move back to rest area (Montaquila) and the CO has allocated them as follows: - 5 each to A and D Coys, 4 to B Coy, 6 to C Coy, 1 to Mortar Platoon and 1 to Battalion HQ making a total of 22 vehicles. 2115 hrs CO leaves to attend a conference at Brigade HQ scheduled at 2130 hrs. 2140 hrs Rations arrive per jeeps. Our CO Lt-Col RRT Young returns from leave in time to attend conference at Brigade HQ. 2300 hrs Maj Awatere and the CO returns from Brigade and for the next hour the former and the IO acquaint the CO with the current situation as it affected the Battalion during his absence on leave.
- 28 April, Fri 0030 hrs Capt Ornberg informs Battalion by telephone that the relief of B Coy by the RAF squadron had been successfully completed and that B Coy was now settled in at the Brigade lying up area. Maj Awatere instructed them to stand-to in their area during the hours of darkness and to lye up and restrict movement during daylight. 0900 hrs Maj Awatere and the IO in conference and it was decided that the three reserve Coys, A, B and D will be relieved by opposite Coys of 25 NZ Battalion on night 29/30. C Coy to be relieved the following night. 1000 hrs Sitreps and summaries along with an enlarged air cover of the area were received from Brigade. 1245 hrs Maj Norman, acting CO 25 Battalion and his IO arrived at Battalion HQ after a short conference with the IO and Maj Awatere moved on up to C Coy area to make a recce of the Battalion sector. 1600 hrs Party returns and after further discussions over the transfer of equipment and trench stores the 25 Battalion party returned via Brigade HQs. 1530 hrs Maj Awatere calls Battalion “O” Group together and explains the arrangements for the relief and return of fighting troops back to the rest area near Montaquila. 1800 hrs IO attends to Admin details for the coming move. 2145 hrs Rations for all forward troops arrive per jeeps as usual. 2200 hrs One guide per Coy and one each from Battalion HQ and Mortar Platoon leave Battalion HQ per jeep for BI (Hove Dump) where they will rest all day tomorrow and will act as guides for the relieving Battalion tomorrow night. Intermittent shelling of supply lines by enemy.
- 29 April, Sat 0930 hrs NTR to Brigade. Area quiet. IO made the rounds of the Coys while Maj Awatere and Maj Matehaere tie up final details for the relief tonight. 1100 hrs BM rang requesting B Coy to leave their phone in the house at the lying up area when they move out tonight. 1300 hrs Maj Awatere called to Brigade by Brigadier for the finalizing of details for tonight’s change over. 1810 hrs Message received from Brigade allocating Coy area at the lying up area for tonight and tomorrow night – Coys informed. 2200 hrs Capt Jackson rang Battalion asking for the E T A of 25 Battalion but was informed by Maj Awatere that as yet no time can be given as the relieving Battalions are marching all the way up. 2210 hrs 2/Lt Baker rang Battalion from BI reporting that 25 Battalion had debussed and had already started to march to lying up area. 2230 hrs Lt-Col Young returned from Brigade with instructions that A and D Coys are to proceed to lying up area immediately but not to leave that area for embussing Pt. until 25 Battalion hade arrived there from Hove Dump. IO rang all Coys informing them of the above change in arrangements. Very heavy shelling of forward area particularly on 21 Battalions sector. CO and IO leave for Battalion rest area near Montaquila.
- 30 April, Sun A, B and D Coys marched out from lying up area along Tui track to embussing Pt. (see trace) and board TCVs on which they return to Battalion rest area at Montaquila, arriving their at 0700 hrs tired and dusty. Battalion now with only C Coy in the line await final relief which will take place tonight. Slight enemy activity during the day – only spasmodic shelling of Brigade sector. 1600 hrs Battalion is now a counter attack reserve forces to 2 Para Brigade holding sector facing Mount Croce. CO and IO leave Battalion rest area to make a recce of this area and return at 1900 hrs. 2200 hrs Battalion HQ is relieved by 25 Battalion and moves out by jeeps back to Montaquila, only Maj Awatere remaining to watch over final arrangements for the final relief of C Coy. 2359 hrs All quiet – relief not yet affected. Change over completed in May diary.
Archives New Zealand – Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
28 (Maori) Battalion war diary, R23517747, ADQZ 18886 WAII1 1666 / DA 68/1/52