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Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Cassino
The beautifully rebuilt Abbey of Monte Cassino over looking the Commonwealth War Graves cemetary with 4360 graves and where 456 Kiwi sons lie..
May i take the liberty of quoting a few paragraphs from a superbly informative and written book entitled "One More River" by Mr Gordon Slatter. Published in 1995 by David Ling Publishing Ltd, Auckland and is about then 26 Battalion infantry private Gordon Slatters experiences in the final campaign of the 2nd New Zealand Division in Italy. Mr Slatter from Christchurch on return from Italy during 1945 went on to become a secondary school teacher in Christchurch and remained doing so until his retirement.
In the last chapter of his book he depicks his heartfelt solo return to trace his 1944/45 footsteps in Italy while he turns 50 years old during the year 1970.
The paragraphs quoted below are reflecting moments when he finally arrives at the Cassino town military cemeteries from the chapter which is titled "Fifty Years Old" -
The three military cemteries were located well outside the town, one each for the British, the Poles and the massive German one.I had an argument with an Italian in a local shop who said there were no New Zealanders in the British cemetery. Perhaps he thought I was talking about Dutch troops. Undaunted, I set off on the long walk and on entering the gate of the Cimitero Militare Inglesi I was appalled at the sheer size of it, overwhelmed, completely shattered..It was the saddest but also the most beautiful cemetery I had ever seen, located in that lovely country overlooked by the unforgiving monastery.The names of famous regiments were inscribed on columns,the Gordon Highlanders, London Irish Rifles, The Sherwood Foresters, Grenadier Guards, to name a few. There crossed kukris on the Gurkha's graves, a star of David on a South African one, there were three complete rows of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, a marble shrine, a pool, flowers beautiful in bloom.
In the New Zealand section, New Zealand being the small community that it is, there were so many names that i knew.. Two men who had played for the NZ Allblacks, George Hart and Jack Harris, but what affected me the most.. were all those magnificent Maori names.. I jotted only a few down in my diary.. Perenara, Heke, Rikiriki, Hapeta, Herewini, Te Kura, Takurua, Wiremu, Te Whata, Maaka, Taurere, Kaire, Paurini, Rakau.. I went to each and every 28 Battalion soldier's headstone and read the name and rank aloud while tears were streaming down my face. It was more than just watching the Maori's marching down the strada into the line, it was more than just hearing their regular Bren guns on our flank, it was more than just the harmony of their voices in an Army concert. I could not put it into words.. Perhaps it was something of a guilt complex.. I was a European and had some reason however tenuous, for being involved in a European war but they were Polynesian, all volunteers, and their Turangawaewae was far away in the South Pacific. Perhaps it was something of a guilt complex for having invaded Aotearoa and turning it into New Zealand, some would say a good idea gone wrong.
2nd New Zealand Division 28th (Maori) Battalion members who were killed in action or died if wounds and remain buried or missing and are comemorated in Italy between 30th of January- 18th of May 1944
CASERTA WAR CEMETARY
Peni, Pvt. Lewis Ruatiki, 802137. 13 February 1944. Age 30.
Rameka, Pvt. William Pat, 802137. 20th April 1944. Age 35.
Raroa, Pvt. Barko, 802154. 13th February 1944. Age 30.
Heke, Pvt. Albert, 801961. 18th February 1944. Age 23.
Herewini, Pvt. Edward, 68041. 18th February 1944. Age 23.
Maaka, Pvt. Ephram, 801812. 18th February 1944. Age 28.
Wiremu, Pvt. Wipere, 801287. 18th February 1944. Age 26.
CASSINO WAR CEMETARY
Asher, 2nd Lt. George, 62846. 18th February 1944. Age 29.
Aspinall, Pvt. Louis, 67312. 20th March 1944. Age 29.
Brass, Pvt. Barney, 67610. 18th February 1944. Age 24.
Dinsdale, Pvt. John, 802579. 18th February 1944. 39
Haddon, Sgt. Rukutai, 65168. 18th March 1944. Age 32.
Haimona, Pvt. Peter aka Simon, 801758. 18th March 1944. Age 37.
Hapeta, Pvt. Charlie, 801953. 18th February 1944. Age 24.
Heke, Pvt. Albert, 802587. 18th February 1944. Age 23.
Heke, Sgt. James, M M, 65471. 17th March 1944. Age 34.
Kaire, Pvt. Komene, 801397. 22nd March 1944. Age 37.
Kereti, Pvt. Patrick, 65189. 18th February 1944. Age 25.
Koha, Pvt. Leonard, 800869. 18th February 1944. Age 21.
Leefe, L Cpl. Roroa, 802425. 18th February 1944. Age 25.
Matthews, Pvt. George, 802317. 19th March 1944. Age 21.
Mendes, Pvt. Samuel, 39382. 18th February 1944. Age 29.
Mohi, Pvt. James, 802069. 22nd March 1944. Age 24.
McCauley, Pvt. Peeti, 802602. 18th February 1944. Age 23.
Ngarimu, L Sgt. Harold Ruha, M M, 65430. 27th March 1944. Age 26.
Paurini, Pvt. Tama, 802127, 19th March 1944. Age 24.
Perenara, Pvt. William, 65475. 18th February 1944. Age 27.
Potatu, Sgt. John, 25987, 28th March 1944. Age 38.
Puke, Pvt. Donald, 802150, 7th March 1944. Age 22.
Rakau, Cpl. Thomas Himiona, 65458. 19th March 1944. Age 32.
Reid, L Cpl. John Kahaki, 67453. 24th February 1944. Age 26.
Rikiriki, Pvt. Riohi, 67581. 18th February 1944. Age 38.
Rogers, Pvt. Rostrevor, 65200. 22nd March 1944.
Simon, Pvt. George, 802195. 18th February 1944.
Smythe, L Cpl. Graham, 801850. 11th March 1944.
Strongman, Sgt. Roy Kenneth, 65537. 18th February 1944.
Takurua, Lt. George, 65266. 18th February 1944. Age 30.
Tama, Pvt. Ruka, 16814. 22nd (Motor) Batt. 20th April 1944. Age 25.
Taurere, Pvt. Hopepa, 68515. 18th February 1944. Age 26.
Te Keena, Cpl. Matekino, 65463. 19th March 1944. Age 25.
Te Kuru, Pvt. Huinui, 802632. 18th February 1944. Age 18.
Te Whata, Pvt. James, 802845. 18th February 1944. Age 22.
Topi, Pvt. Colin Maurice, 285028. 19th March 1944. Age 25.
Tuiri, Pvt. Pompey, 805698. 18th February 1944. Age 29.
Tumara, Pvt. Walter Ratana, 439910. 22nd March 1944. Age 22.
Warren, Pvt. George, 68034. 18th February 1944. Age 22.
NAPLES WAR CEMETARY
McClutchie, Pvt. Bill, 802978. 2nd April 1944. Age 23.
SALERNO WAR CEMETARY
Turei, Sgt. Rauaroha Tangaroapeau, 67401. 15th April 1944. Age 36.