2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery
REINFORCEMENTS had reached Baggush from base camp long before Christmas and units were quickly restored to something approaching their original strengths. This meant many new faces in some units—one in three in the 6th Field and over one in four in the 7th Anti-Tank, for example.1 It meant four new regimental commanders: Glasgow, as mentioned, for the 5th Field, Lieutenant-Colonel Walter2 for the 6th Field, Lieutenant-Colonel Mitchell (formerly second-in-command of the 4th Field) for the 7th Anti-Tank, and Lieutenant-Colonel Carty (formerly of 41 Battery) for the 14th Light Ack-Ack.3 And it meant a new CRA, ‘Steve’ Weir, promoted to brigadier. Among existing regimental commanders there were only two Regulars of the RNZA, Weir of the 6th Field and Duff of the 4th Field, and the former was one rung higher on the gradation list. Both were highly accomplished gunners, but of very different kinds. Weir was a dominant personality whose heart and soul was in field gunnery. He had so far found regimental life ‘all that one could wish for’ (as he wrote in a December letter to his brother); the 6th Field was to him a ‘very happy family’, and he did not at first welcome the wider responsibilities of his new command.
Weir's record was already auspicious. In 1925 the officer commanding the Central Military District had written of him that he had ‘outstanding qualities—a strong personality, a good physique, soldierly appearance, and a very good cadet and Territorial record’. What was at issue was a cadetship to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst and the OC continued, ‘I place him first and strongly recommend his selection as a man well fitted to uphold New Zealand's reputation and to become a valuable officer’. Fortunately for the artillery it was not to Sandhurst that Weir went but to the Royal Military page 298 Academy at Woolwich. Passing out in 1927, he spent a year attached to field, medium and anti-aircraft units of the Royal Artillery before returning to New Zealand. A varied career included special duty at Napier after the 1931 earthquake. In 1933 he became adjutant of the 1st Field Artillery Brigade and in 1936 of the 18th Anti-Aircraft Battery. The outbreak of war forestalled a course at Camberley; but it led to rapid promotion. By July 1941 Weir had already been twice mentioned in despatches. For outstanding service in Greece he was awarded the DSO and in due course, for his contribution to the fighting at Sidi Rezegh, he earned a bar to it. Only 37 years old when he became CRA, even greater honours were in store for Steve Weir.