27 (Machine Gun) Battalion
By Lieutenant-General the Lord Freyberg, vc, gcmg, kcb, kbe, dso
I feel it an honour to be asked to write a foreword to the War History of this excellent Battalion, which had a most distinguished record. It was engaged in every battle in which the Division fought, and shared with the Divisional Cavalry the record of serving overseas longer than any other unit in the 2 NZEF.
The 27th (Machine Gun) Battalion was one of the first units of the New Zealand Division to go into action in the Greek Campaign in April 1941. It was a grim experience. Right from the start we were in a very hazardous position, and it was due in no small measure to the fighting qualities of the Division that we were able to fight the rearguard actions that started at Vevi and Mt Olympus and continued back for three hundred miles to the beaches in the Peloponnese.
Then followed Crete, where the Battalion fought at Maleme and Galatas. It also served with great distinction in the battles in the Western Desert, including the 1941 offensive in Cyrenaica, at Minqar Qaim, and later shared in the disasters at Ruweisat and El Mreir, and finally contributed in active roles in winning the victory at Alamein and the campaign in Tunisia.
In Italy a company of the 27th Battalion was the first New Zealand unit to go into position across the Sangro River, and during the fighting from the Sangro to the Senio the Battalion was continually in the forefront of the advance and fired nearly nine million rounds of ammunition.page vi
For the last campaign the 27th Battalion was converted into Infantry early in 1945. Its first major engagement as an Infantry Battalion was the crossing of the Sillaro River. The Battalion fought a gallant action at the Gaiana Canal, and continued in a key position till the finish of the war, and particularly in the advance which led to the capture and occupation of Trieste. Subsequently it served with the New Zealand occupation forces in Japan.
The 27th (Machine Gun) Battalion was fortunate in having as its first commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Inglis, who had served with distinction as a machine-gun officer in the First World War. Later it was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonels Gwilliam, Robbie, White, McGaffin, MacDuff, Hutchens, Steele, Sanders, and in Japan by Titchener, an original member of the unit who had risen from being a private soldier to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
I hope many New Zealanders will read this history of an excellent battalion.