Enroute to Tripoli from the 2nd. battle of El Alamien the 2NZEF were coming into the range of the German Luftwaffe fighters and bombers operating from the Castel-Bonito airfield near Tripoli. So defensive airstrips were required for the Allied Desert Air Force air protection to cover the Allied advance. During early January 1943 the 5 Brigade of the 2NZEF which included the 28th Battalion was asked to help construct such an airstrip near the Hamrait area some 30 miles south-west of the coastal enemy held town of Sirte. The carrier battalions including the Maori carrier platoon were fitted with anti-aircraft guns to assist the Kiwi Division's anti-aircraft 40mm "Bofor" units in an attempt to protect all personnel while helping with the airstrip construction. This was dangerous work as the Maori Battalion alone suffered 14 casualties on the first day.. half of those killed.
This shot is of a German Fiesler F1-156 Storch reconnaissance aircraft one of a number shot down by our anti-aircraft AckAck units and carriers near the Hamraiet airstrip while working their.
This photograph was taken by 28th (Maori) Battalion carrier C.O. Captain E.V. Hayward during January 1943.
Hayward family Rotorua. Denis Clough archive.