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Headquarters: a brief outline of the activities of headquarters of the third division and the 8th and 14th Brigades during their service in the Pacific

Chapter Three — 14th Brigade Headquarters

page 70

Chapter Three
14th Brigade Headquarters

The 14th Brigade Headquarters was formed towards the end of December 1941 at Trentham Military Camp. Because of the urgency of the Japanese threat to the South Pacific and the pressing needs of the defence system of Fiji, preparations at Trentham were short and brisk, and a few days after formation headquarters embarked on the Rangatira at Auckland and proceeded to Lautoka on the west coast of the main island of Fiji, On arrival on 6 January personnel disembarked and proceeded to Namaka, where they set up camp.

The original brigade staff was as follows (officers' ranks are shown as they were at that time):—
Brigade commanderBrigadier L. Potter, DSO, NZSC
Brigade majorMajor J. M. Reidy.
Staff captainCaptain P. L. Bennett, DSO, MC.
Intelligence officerSecond-Lieutenant P. Parata.
Transport officerSecond-Lieutenant G. F. McEvedy, MC.
Signals officerSecond-Lieutenant C. G. Murray.
Supply officerSecond-Lieutenant D. J. S. Moginie.
Ordnance officerSecond-Lieutenant T. H. Beauchamp.

Brigadier Potter was appointed commander of the western area of Fiji and the task of the 14th Brigade Group was the defence of this area, in which the principal object of military importance was the Nandi aerodrome. As brigade headquarters was the administrative headquarters of all the New Zealand units and the Fiji Defence Force in the area, its function was considerably wider in scope than that of an ordinary infantry brigade headquaters and the staff and personnel were kept very busy. Captain Hill of the Fijian Defence Force was seconded to brigade headquarters as liaison officer between his own force and the brigade, and the relation between the two headquarters page 71was a happy one. In the first few months of 1942 a Japanese attack on Fiji appeared imminent and there were many' stand-to's.' Every effort was made, under difficult conditions of supply, to complete the defences of the great aerodrome at Nandi in time to ward off the expected Japanese assault. The threat to Fiji, however, was removed by the defeats inflicted on the Japanese by the American Navy at the battle of the Coral Sea and at Midway Island, and the defences of Nandi were never actually tested in battle.

Apart from the personnel of brigade headquarters proper, the headquarters in the western area included K section signals. The section remained with brigade headquarters throughout the whole period of the brigade's existence. It would be fitting to place on record here an appreciation of both the splendid work of the section and the sterling qualities of its members. Throughout its long life K section performed prodigies of labour, but everything was done so quietly and efficiently that the section's splendid performances were often unheralded and unsung, though they were never unappreciated. Surmounting the heart-breaking difficulties occasioned by equipment unsuited to tropical climates, and carrying out long hours of duty in hot and oppressive 'dungeons' underground, the section performed its tedious and ungrateful tasks with pleasantness and success, and unfailingly preserved its competence and composure. The men themselves were extremely well liked and it would be true to say that they were not so much attached to brigade headquarters as part of it.

Brigade headquarters remained at Namaka for some two months until it moved at the end of February to a camp at Votua Levu, a distance of three miles away. Apart from this headquarters at Votua Levu, an elaborate battle headquarters and communications centre was established underground at Black Rock. This site was hewn out of the living rock and it was designed for use as an operational headquarters in the event of a Japanese attack.

The first few weeks spent at Namaka Camp were personnel's first experience of tropical conditions and it could not be said that they were pleasant ones. As it was midsummer the heat was most oppressive. In addition, for the first ten days, no mosquito nets were available, and the fantastically prolific mosquitoes of the western area made the most of unrivalled opportunity of page 72sampling good New Zealand blood. With the onset of twilight they came in their millions and sleep was made impossible by their unceasing buzzing and agonising stings. Desperate measures were taken to combat the myriads of these 'dive bombers.' Some personnel spent most of the night under showers, while others wore their respirators anti-gas. A certain wellknown member of the headquarters spent the whole of one night in the middle of the football field on the principle that the mosquitoes would not pursue him to the wide open spaces. It is regretted that the force of this attractive logic carried no weight with the insects themselves! However, after the mosquito nets had been procured and personnel had settled down, the sojourn in Fiji was not without its lighter moments. One of the more colourful incidents of those days was the trip to the races at Mba which was enjoyed by all, despite the moans of a wellknown punter from brigade headquarters who lamented the smallness of the dividends compared with the 'hatfuls' of Ellerslie and Epsom!

Brigade headquarters also formed cricket and football teams which played a number of matches with enthusiasm, though in the interests of historical accuracy it must be stated that these teams never won a game. However, the football team looked very effective in light blue jerseys and white shorts though the radiance of these colours was somewhat dimmed after about two minutes' play in Namaka mud. On one occasion the cricket team played Commissioner Snow's team of Fijians. The bowling of these stalwart and engaging natives was so fearsome a variety that by comparison the bodyline deliveries of Larwood faded into comparative insignificance. The Fijians won.

It was in Fiji that brigade headquarter's hat patch was chosen. This consisted of a red circle on a blue square as background. According to subsequent reports this was the insignia of Imperial Japanese Headquarters, and whether its choice for 14th Brigade Headquarters was the result of official inadvertance, or alternatively was intended to be an act of the most gallant defiance was never definitely decided!

While in Fiji a number of staff changes took place. During the stay at Namaka Major Reidy transferred to the 37th Battalion as second-in-command of the unit, and Major S. A. McNamara, DCM, took over as brigade major. At Votua Levu the brigade transport officer, Second-Lieutenant McEvedy, trans-page 73ferred to the 30th Battalion at Momi and was succeeded by Lieutenant A. Stark. Another staff change at Votua Levu was the appointment of Lieutenant W. E. Crawford as brigade intelligence officer in succession to Second-Lieutenant Parata. Lieutenant Crawford later transferred to the Fijian Commando Force and was succeeded for a short period by Lieutenant R. E. Johnston, NZSC. On the latter's departure for the Middle East while the brigade was in New Zealand Second-Lieutenant (later Captain) G. C. C. Sandston, from the 35th Battalion, was appointed brigade intelligence officer. Other staff changes in Fiji were the appointment of Captain N. W. Steele as medium machine gun officer vice Lieutenant J. S. Albon, and in May the appointment of Lieutenant A. G. Lowry to the same post vice Captain Steele. Second-Lieutenant K. G. Wyness succeeded Second-Lieutenant Moginie as supply officer in May. During the period at Votua Levu Major W. A. Bryden was appointed staff officer, artillery, and was seconded to brigade headquarters.

In June 1942 American forces under command of Lieutenant-General Kreuger began to arrive at Lautoka to take over the defences of the western area. A detachment of officers and other ranks from this force came to live at brigade headquarters and Jearnt the layout of the defence and administrative system. On 2 July 1942 brigade headquarters left Votua Levu by motor transport for Suva and on arrival there embarked on the President Coolidge. After a pleasant trip to New Zealand in the former luxury liner, personnel disembarked at Auckland and proceeded to camp at Papakura. After arrival at camp they went on 14 days' disembarkation leave. Upon return from leave the staff and office personnel were engaged in the administration of the brigade, which settled down in camps in the area adjoining the Papakura district, while the remainder of the brigade headquarters personnel engaged in camp duties at Papakura.

In September the establishment of brigade headquarters was altered. The post of brigade MMG officer was abolished and liaison officers, seconded to headquarters from the three battalions, were introduced. Lieutenant H. N. Robieson came to brigade headquarters from the 30th Battalion, Lieutenant J. R. Crawford from the 35th Battalion, and Lieutenant F. A. Gunn from the 37th Battalion. Some months later, at Te Aroha, Lieutenant D. S. George succeeded Lieutenant Crawford as liaison page 74officer for the 35th Battalion. At Papakura the brigade defence platoon was formed under Lieutenant (later Major) N. E. G. Felton. The primary role of this platoon was the defence of brigade headquarters in operations and it remained an integral part of the headquarters until the brigade was disbanded some two years later.

Early in October the brigade moved camp to the Te Aroha-Matamata district and brigade headquarters was encamped in the Te Aroha showgrounds. The period spent at this camp was a very pleasant one and personnel much enjoyed the hospitality of the town of Te Aroha. A few weeks after arrival the Kaimai exercise was held in the Kaimai Ranges. This exercise was designed to give experience in jungle warfare and proved very realistic, as the bush was extremely thick and difficult and it rained most of the time. Other valuable training during the Te Aroha period was a brigade exercise at Mangaiti, a night manoeuvre at Te Poi, and a message battle near Morrinsville. There were several changes of staff during the period in New Zealand. The brigade major, Major McNamara, was promoted to lieutenant-colonel and appointed commanding officer of the 30th Battalion. He was succeeded for a short period by Major C. W. H. Ronaldson and then by Major G. W. Waddell, who acted as brigade major throughout the stay in New Caledonia and for the Vella operation. In New Zealand the original staff captain (later Lieutenant-Colonel) P. L. Bennett, DSO, MC, transferred to divisional headquarters as DAQMG and was succeeded by the assistant staff captain, Captain A. E. Muir. At Papakura Camp Second-Lieutenant (later Captain) K. D. Page took over the brigade transport office and remained in this post until the brigade was disbanded. Also while at Papakura Lieutenant T. R. Murphy, second-in-command of K section signals, left brigade headquarters; while at Te Aroha the brigade signals officer, Captain C. G. Murray, relinquished command of K section to Lieutenant E. G. Harris. In October Captain G. E. Kayll came to brigade headquarters as brigade supply officer.

At the end of 1942 the Third Division proceeded overseas again to New Caledonia. Brigade headquarters embarked on the West Point at Auckland immediately after Christmas and arrived in Nouméa harbour just before New Year. Here personnel transferred to a Dutch ship, the Weltevreden, and proceeded up page 75the coast of New Caledonia to Nepoui where they disembarked and spent the night. On the following day the long dusty trip to Taom was made by motor transport, and upon arrival brigade headquarters was introduced to a camp along the banks of the Taom River which was to be its home for seven months. The area was particularly pleasant, with plenty of trees and many good bathing pools in the river. In addition the area was comparatively free from mosquitoes and to those who had suffered and scratched in Fiji this was the greatest boon of all. At Taom the personnel of brigade headquarters were introduced for the first time to the American B ration. The quality of these rations, in particular the tinned fruit, vegetables and jams, was very good, but the actual bulk was much less than the troops had been accustomed to in New Zealand. The result was that capacious New Zealand stomachs reacted violently against the apparently frugal diet, and some personnel harboured dark suspicions that they were being systematically starved. Not all the soothing assurances in the world from the medical officers that the ration was actually higher in calorific value than the previous ration type could compensate husky New Zealanders for, their daily 'binder' of mountains of meat, vegetables and steamed pudding. Censoring officers had a harrowing time wading through fiery denunciations of the food situation from pens steeped in venom and urged on by the pangs of hunger. However, with the plentiful and speedy addition to the larder of flour and that 'nutritious component of the daily ration,' cheese, personnel were saved from emaciation!

Brigade headquarters was originally situated on the pleasantly wooded flats by the river, but when the rains came in February the river developed into a roaring torrent and one dark and stormy night it began to lip the river bank so menacingly that headquarters moved hurriedly, and with more haste than dignity, to higher ground. Here, with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, 14th Brigade Headquarters stayed for the remainder of the time at Taom.

During the period spent at Taom the defence platoon was detached for defence duties at Gomen, and while there had the opportunity of carrying out extensive training in jungle warfare under Lieutenant E. G. Taylor (who had succeeded Captain Felton), and this training stood the platoon in good stead later page 76on in the Solomons. The period spent at Taom was a particularly busy one, both from an administrative and a training point of view, and the headquarters staff worked very long hours. Brigade headquarters was the military administrative headquarters for the whole of New Caledonia north of Poya and apart from anything else, this included the administration of two large concentrations of military units, one at Taom and the other at Nepoui. In addition, a number of brigade exercises and moves were carried out, and much was done in the way of large scale entertainments for the troops such as race meetings, boxing matches, sports meetings and swimming sports. All these functions were run from brigade headquarters, so that the life of the staff was a very busy and interesting one. The seven months spent in New Caledonia at this time was a valuable preparatory period before going into action in the Solomons. Not only was much unit training in jungle warfare carried out, but all the numerous brigade exercises and social functions served the invaluable purpose of welding together the brigade and divisional units, and enabling officers and men to meet each other and become thoroughly acquainted.

Several changes of staff took place at Taom. In April Captain G. C. C. Sandston succeeded Captain Muir as staff captain and remained in this position until the brigade was disbanded. Lieutenant (later Captain) W. G. Caughey succeeded Captain Sandston as intelligence officer and remained in this post until the close of the life of the brigade. Captain L. E. Adams replaced Lieutenant Robieson as liaison officer for the 30th Battalion and, upon Captain Adams's subsequent appointment as liaison officer for 14th Brigade at divisional headquarters, he was succeeded by Captain (later Major) G. H. Biss. Upon Captain Biss's return to New Zealand on a staff course Captain (later Major) D. M. Young was appointed to the post. At the same period Lieutenant D. G. Graham was appointed liaison officer for the 35th Battalion and Lieutenant (later Captain) R. A. Stokes liaison officer for the 37th Battalion. In June Lieutenant R. H. C. Crawley was appointed second-in-command of K section signals and remained in this post throughout the operations in the Solomons. While at Taom, too, Lieutenant A. A. Congalton arrived as brigade educational officer, a position which he retained until the brigade was disbanded.

page 77

In August 1943 instructions were received that the 14th Brigade Group would proceed north into the forward area of the South Pacific Command—that is, into the Solomon Islands. Immediate preparations were made by the brigade for the move and brigade headquarters had a very busy time arranging for the move of the brigade group and also carrying out its own preparations for the move, such as crating equipment. It was at this stage that the Bren carrier platoons of the three battalions were disbanded and a brigade carrier platoon formed. This platoon became part of brigade headquarters and was commanded throughout its existence by Captain J. F. B. Stronach. The brigade group which moved north was practically a self contained force, with its own units of engineers, ASC, workshops and so on. This trend was reflected in the composition of brigade headquarters itself, which had representatives of many services attached to it, and at this stage numbered nearly 200 strong. This was the highest figure ever reached in the life of the headquarters, the composition of which was as follows:—-Brigade headquarters, defence platoon, K section signals, carrier platoon, provost section, ordnance warrant-officer, armourer sergeants, and postal personnel.

After making the long dusty trip to Nouméa by motor transport, brigade headquarters embarked with the rest of the brigade group and set sail for the Solomons on 18 August. Upon arrival at Guadalcanal, camp was set up in a mahogany grove by a small stream. This camp was situated near Point Cruz and showed many signs of the previous furious engagements between the Americans and the Japanese. The great mahogany trees were riddled with metal from former shell fire and many were in a dying or dangerous condition, with branches continually falling. There were numerous dugouts in and around the camp, and many grim relics of previous combats. Personnel taking shelter from air raids in old fox-holes found it cold comfort to discover a skull leering at them out of the darkness! Malarial precautions were introduced, as the brigade was now in the malarial belt, and personnel had to wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers during the hours of darkness and also to take a daily dose of the suppressive drug—atabrin.

Early in September instructions were received that the 14th Brigade Group would go into action, and that it had been given page 78the task of completing the occupation of the island of Vella Lavella which was still partly in the hands of the Japanese. This island lay at the north of the New Georgia Group and the successful completion of its occupation would finally cut off some 5,000 Japanese on Kolombangara and some 400 on Gizo, both of which islands lay to the south of Vella, and in particular would enable radar stations to be established in localities giving a clear air line for the early detection of hostile aircraft coming from New Britain and Bougainville.

On 13 September an advanced reconnaissance group including members of brigade headquarters left for Vella Lavella, while the brigade busied itself completing preparations for the move; brigade headquarters once again performing its dual role of arranging the move of the brigade group and packing its own equipment. Advanced brigade headquarters left on 17 September for Vella with the first echelon of the brigade, which comprised the 35th and 37th Battalion combat teams. Rear brigade headquarters and the 30th Battalion combat team followed on 24 September.

The Japanese, who were estimated to number some 700, were situated in the northern part of Vella and the brigade commander decided to send the 35th Battalion combat team up the western side, and the 37th Battalion combat team up the eastern side, of the island to catch the Nips in a pincer movement. The progress of the combat teams up the coasts was done in a series of 'amphibious leaps.' There were no roads whatever, and the only communication was by small barges which operated from the naval boat pool at Biloa on the south eastern tip of the island. Combat teams estabished a firm base at a suitable spot and then probed forward from that position. As the situation became clearer they moved forward by boat to get closer to the enemy. During the action, advanced brigade headquarters was situated at Matusoroto on the west coast, and rear brigade headquarters at Joroveto on the east coast. Advanced brigade headquarters was the operational headquarters and the principal function of rear brigade headquarters was the coordination and dispatch of supplies and personnel as required by both combat teams. Owing to the terrain, which was heavily broken country with thick jungle interlaced with mangrove swamps, the carrier platoon could not use its carriers but proved most useful as an independent platoon page 79under the hand of the brigade commander. The defence platoon was also used much in the same capacity and the actual local defence of advanced brigade headquarters was carried out by a force of provost and transport personnel who were not required for their normal duties under the existing conditions. On one occasion advanced brigade headquarters was subjected to a dive-bombing attack by four Japanese aircraft which appeared suddenly out of the blue. The quick reaction, however, of antiaircraft personnel saved the day as they opened fire immediately and deflected the aircraft sufficiently for the Jap bombs to drop harmlessly alongside brigade headquarters and not on it.

The action of the brigade group proceeded rapidly and 11 days after they were first contacted by the 35th Battalion combat team in the Timbala area on 28 September the Nips were hemmed in on a narrow strip of coast with the two combat teams on either side of them. Realizing their position was hopeless the Japanese endeavoured, under the cover of darkness, to escape by boat from Vella to Bougainville. In the process of this they were engaged by units of the American fleet, and watchers on the shore had a grandstand view of the naval battle which ensued.

At the successful conclusion of the action the brigade units took up defensive positions around the coast of Vella Lavella, and advanced brigade headquarters rejoined rear brigade headquarters at Joroveto. Here a pleasant camp was built on a wooded slope looking across the sea to the distant island of Kolombangara. On this site brigade headquarters remained until February in the following year when the Nissan operation was undertaken. The personnel of brigade headquarters were now seasoned campaigners and were able to establish themselves comfortably in a new camp in a very short time. From long experience they had learnt to manufacture and acquire those little amenities for their tents and immediate surroundings which help to make life tolerable in lonely tropical outposts. Anything at all which could be fashioned into shelves, cupboards, or whatnots was grist to their mill and ration boxes and odd bits of timber which a more fortunately placed carpenter would have spurned with contumely were pounced on with glee and made into most acceptable and useful articles of furniture.

After the Vella operation several staff changes took place. Major Waddell was succeeded as brigade major by Major L. E. page 80Pithie, who had formerly been liaison officer in New Caledonia between the 14th Brigade and divisional headquarters, and later divisional intelligence officer. Lieutenant Harris relinquished command of K section signals to Captain R. F. Hanna, who remained with brigade headquarters until the departure of the section in the closing days of the brigade's life. Captain Kayll was succeeded as brigade supply officer by Captain (later Major) J. F. B. Wilson.

In January 1944 instructions were received that the 14th Brigade would shortly take part in the seizing of the Green (Nissan) Island Group, and headquarters, in common with the rest of the brigade, had a very busy period preparing for the move. Nearly all headquarters personnel except for a small rear party went forward in the first echelon, which left Vella Lavella for the Green Islands on 14 February, In the landing at Nissan advanced brigade headquarters was with the 35th and 37th Battalions on the Tangalan or eastern side of the island, and rear brigade headquarters on the Pokonian or western side with the 30th Battalion. The carrier platoon, in the initial instance, and part of K section signals were with advanced headquarters, while the defence platoon and the remainder of K section were with rear headquarters. Both the defence platoon and the carrier platoon saw action at Nissan. On 17 February the defence platoon, which was placed under command of the 30th Battalion to assist with the clearing of Sirot Island, encountered an enemy force of some twenty Japanese on that island, and a sharp engagement ensued. Sixteen Nips were killed and the remainder fled. The defence platoon casualties were five killed and three wounded. For bravery in action at Sirot Corporal P. A. Davidson received an immediate award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Lieutenant E. G. Taylor was subsequently mentioned in despatches.

The citation to Corporal Davidson's award reads:—

At Sirot on 17 February 1944 Corporal Davidson was a member of the 14th Bde Def Platoon which was part of a force carrying out a reconnaissance of the island. While patrolling towards the north-western coast the platoon made contact with a party of 16 of the enemy, who suddenly opened fire with grenades and a machine gun at a range of 30 yards. With complete disregard for his own safety Corporal Davidson page break
8th Brigade Headquarters and attached officers on the Treasuries. Rear row, left to right: Lieutenant G. F. Smith, Lieutenant J. L. Hewland, Captain J. Neville, Lieutenant D. G. Hayter, Lieutenant G. O'Hara, Lieutenant D. T. Fitness, Second-Lieutenant Korte, Lieutenant A. S. Rogers, Captain A. E. Allison. Front row: Captain R. St.J. Keenan, Captain T. R. Edgerley, Captain K. E. Louden, Major G. H. Biss, Brigadier L. G. Goss (officer commanding allied forces, Treasuries), Captain L. B. Collins, Captain N. L. Fitzpatrick, Captain R. S. Lawrence, Captain O. G. Davey Right: Sergeant W. A. Cowan, DCM, who took preinvasion patrols on to Mono Island in October. Below: A glimpse of Blanche Harbour and some of the 8th Brigade's yachts which were made by some of the men during their leisure hours

8th Brigade Headquarters and attached officers on the Treasuries. Rear row, left to right: Lieutenant G. F. Smith, Lieutenant J. L. Hewland, Captain J. Neville, Lieutenant D. G. Hayter, Lieutenant G. O'Hara, Lieutenant D. T. Fitness, Second-Lieutenant Korte, Lieutenant A. S. Rogers, Captain A. E. Allison. Front row: Captain R. St.J. Keenan, Captain T. R. Edgerley, Captain K. E. Louden, Major G. H. Biss, Brigadier L. G. Goss (officer commanding allied forces, Treasuries), Captain L. B. Collins, Captain N. L. Fitzpatrick, Captain R. S. Lawrence, Captain O. G. Davey
Right: Sergeant W. A. Cowan, DCM, who took preinvasion patrols on to Mono Island in October. Below: A glimpse of Blanche Harbour and some of the 8th Brigade's yachts which were made by some of the men during their leisure hours

page break
The Governor-General, Marshal of the Air Force Sir Cyril Newall, receiving a gift of fruit from the natives of Mono Island during his tour of the New Zealand areas in the Solomons

The Governor-General, Marshal of the Air Force Sir Cyril Newall, receiving a gift of fruit from the natives of Mono Island during his tour of the New Zealand areas in the Solomons

The intelligence section and orderly room staff at Bouloupari. Rear row, left to right: Sergeant W. A. Cowan, DCM, Lance-Corporals B. C. McKenzie, N. F. Gilkison, Corporal M. M. Sheedy, Corporal K. Bradley. Front row: Corporal A. E. Rendle, Sergeant F. R. Orwin, Sergeant A. E. Chamberlain, BEM, Lieutenant J. L. Berry and Private D. Hodgkinson

The intelligence section and orderly room staff at Bouloupari. Rear row, left to right: Sergeant W. A. Cowan, DCM, Lance-Corporals B. C. McKenzie, N. F. Gilkison, Corporal M. M. Sheedy, Corporal K. Bradley. Front row: Corporal A. E. Rendle, Sergeant F. R. Orwin, Sergeant A. E. Chamberlain, BEM, Lieutenant J. L. Berry and Private D. Hodgkinson

page 81rushed the position, killed seven of the enemy and put the gun out of action. The remainder of the force were thus enabled to go forward and destroy the remaining enemy without further loss to themselves. Corporal Davidson himself continued to assist with great gallantry in the mopping up. The conduct of Corporal Davidson throughout the operation was an inspiration to his comrades and is deserving of the highest praise.

The carrier platoon was brought back from Tangalan side of the island to the Pokonian area and placed under command of the 30th Battalion to assist with the clearing of the southern end of the island. On 20 February, at Tanaheran, the platoon encountered a force of over 60 Japanese and under the leadership of Captain Stronach took steps in locating and pinning down the enemy. Subsequently the Japanese were attacked by the medium machine gun personnel, Valentine tanks and part of D company of the 30th Battalion. The final assault was led by Major A. B. Bullen, of the 30th Battalion, who received the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry.

After the Green Islands had been cleared of the enemy brigade Headquarters set up camp at South Point. A lot of work had to be done making roads to the camp and clearing away the jungle, but when the work was finished the camp was undoubtedly the finest ever occupied by headquarters. It was situated among palm and pandanus trees on the edge of a beach of golden sand, and looked across the sea towards the distant island of Buka, which on clear days could be seen etched faintly against the horizon. Bathing on the reef could be had in plenty, and fish was occasionally procured by the expedient of dropping a grenade into a passing shoal (pace Izaak Walton!).

While at Nissan the brigade supply officer, Captain (later Major) J. F. B. Wilson, was appointed officer commanding the 29th Motor Transport Company, Army Service Corps, and was succeeded at brigade headquarters by Captain J. Sykes. In March Lieutenant R. H. C. Crawley, second-in-command of K section signals, left headquarters for a tour of duty at base. In April the first manpower draft of personnel for essential industry in New Zealand left Nissan, and with it went a number of original members of brigade headquarters. Some weeks later brigade headquarters itself left the Green Islands on the USS Mintaka page 82and returned to base at Bourail in New Caledonia. Here a pleasant camp, which had been formerly the headquarters of the Base Training Depot, was occupied in Téné Valley, and personnel enjoyed the many cinemas and sporting facilities which were available. In July 1944 a number of honours and awards were announced, the following members of brigade headquarters receiving distinctions:—

Distinguished Service Order—

Brigadier L. Potter, NZSC, Commander 14th Brigade.

Member of the Order of the British Empire

Lieutenant (Temporary Captain) G. C. C. Sandston, staff captain, 14th Brigade.

Mentioned in Despatches

Brigadier L. Potter, DSO, NZSC; Major J. F. B. Wilson, NZASC; Lieutenant E. G. Taylor. Early in 1945 Sergeant G. P. Walker, orderly room sergeant, 14th Brigade Headquarters, was also mentioned in despatches.

The citations to the awards of the DSO to Brigadier Potter and the MBE to Captain Sandston were as follows:—

Brigadier L. Potter.

81777 Brigadier Leslie Potter of the 14th NZ Inf Bde has given distinguished service in the field. Brigadier Potter commanded 14th NZ Brigade in the operation at Vella Lavella in September and October 1943 and also the attack and seizure of the Green (Nissan) Island Group. In both operations his sound appreciation of the tactical problems involved and the plans he made for the deployment of his troops contributed largely to the success which attended our arms. In the operations at Vella Lavella the boldness of his initial plan and speed with which he executed it, left the enemy little time to organise his defensive positions and materially lessened the number of our casualties. In both operations he showed marked qualities of leadership. He was throughout in the closest possible touch with his troops and directed their movement with marked success.

Captain G. C. C. Sandston.

As staff captain of the 14th NZ Inf Bde over a period of nine months, this officer has displayed outstanding ability and page 83initiative in handling the many complex administrative problems which have arisen both during operations and in static periods. The success of the Bde at Vella Lavella and Green Island has been due in no small measure to his unflagging energy, his thorough grasp of detail and to the help he has at all times given to the brigade units. His work throughout has been of the highest standard and deserves the greatest commendation.

Together with the rest of the brigade, the life of the headquarters began to draw to a close at Téné Valley. Further manpower drafts were taken from the brigade in mid-1944 and left little doubt that the end was in sight. Finally it was announced that brigade staff appointments would cease and for official purposes the headquarters may be regarded as having quietly faded away, together with the brigade itself, in August 1944.

Sometimes headquarters, as opposed to units, do not have personalities, but it would be true to say of 14th Brigade Headquarters that to its members it was a very real entity and there was a spirit of comradeship and friendship abroad which stood the test of many weary months in the tropics. That spirit has survived the disbandment of the headquarters and has lived on as a real force among the former members of the staff and the various departments. In the days to come, those who lived and worked and toiled at 14th Brigade Headquarters will look back upon it with pride and affection and with profound gratitude that it vouchsafed to them the true meaning of friendship in its finest form.

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Nominal Roll of 14th Brigade Headquarters
Brigadier Potter, L., DSO Corporal Aitken, A, R.
Lieutenant-Colonel Bennett, P. L., DSO MC Corporal De Venney, A.
Lieutenant-Colonel Aitken Bryden, W. A. Lieutenant-Colonel Donald, R. B.
Lieutenant-Colonel McNamara, S. A., DCM Corporal Ellis, G.
Lieutenant-Colonel Reidy, J. M. Corporal Tillett, M. D.
Lieutenant-Colonel Ronaldson, C. W. H. Corporal Kitson, M. P.
Major Biss, G. H. (sc) Corporal McWilliams, J. B.
Major Felton, N. E. G. Corporal Pragnell, W. W.
Major Pithie, L. E. (sc) Corporal Preston, J. E.
Major Steele, M. W. Corporal Riddiford, H. E.
Major Waddell, G. W. (sc) Corporal Thorburn, G. D.
Major Wilson, J. F. B. Lance-Corporal Bolton, L. F.
Major Young, D. M. Lance-Corporal Nunns, D. A. S.
Captain Adams. L. E. Lance-Corporal Webber, C. A.
Captain Calder, R. W. Private Batts, S. A.
Captain Caughey, W. G. Private Bentlet, J.
Captain Crawford, W. E. Private Bleasel, G. E.
Captain Gunn, F, A. (sc) Private Boyd, R. A.
Captain Hanna, R. F. Private Carrington, G. L.
Captain Johnston, R. E. (NZSC) Private Chambers, G. T.
Captain Kayll, G. E. Private Climo, A. R.
Captain McEvedy, G. F., MC Private Craig, P. R.
Captain Moginie, D. J. S. Private Crispin, R. P.
Captain Muir, A. E. (sc) Private Cumberbeach, H. R.
Captain Murphy, T. R. Private Currie, J. E.
Captain Murray, C. G. Private Davies, C. A.
Captain Page, K. D. Private Demicheli, F. E.
Captain Sandelin, E. G. Private Donaldson, J.
Captain Sandston, G. C. C, MBE Private Dray, E. D.
Captain Stark, A. Private Everard, A. P.
Captain Stokes, R. A. Private Fergus, M. McG.
Captain Sykes, J. Private Fitzgerald, K. P.
Captain Stronach, J. F. B. Private Foley, C. E.
Lieutenant Albon, J. S. Private Gorrie, E. G.
Lieutenant Beauchamp, T. H. Private Greep, T. A.
Lieutenant Congalton, A. A. Private Griffiths, S. W. S.
Lieutenant Crawford, J. R.t Private Habgood, E. G.
Lieutenant Crawley, R. H. C Private Hammond, A. R.
Lieutenant George, D. S. (sc) Private Hansen, A. W.
Lieutenant Graham, D. G. Private Harkins, R. J.
Lieutenant Harris, E, G. Private Harris, L. A.
Lieutenant Jones, H. Private Henaghan, J. J. M.
Lieutenant Lowry, A. G. Private Henderson, T. G.
Lieutenant Murphy J. Private Hendrickson, A. C. G.
Lieutenant Robieson. H. N. Private Hood, K. W.
Lieutenant Taylor, E. G. Private Hooper, R. J.
Lieutenant Wyness, K. G. Private Hurcomb, A. E.
Second-LieutenantParata, P. PrivateHutchinson, C. A.
WOI Walkley, S. S. PrivateHyde, C.H.
WOII WOII Hughes, G. E. PrivateJackson, K. H.
WOII Jackson, L. G. PrivateJamieson, W. G.
WOII Watson, W. PrivateTohnson. S. W.
Staff-SergeantAitken, A. A. PrivateKeane, R. T.
Staff-Sergeant Petrie, P. M. PrivateKerr, C. H.
Staff-Sergeant Thornton, P. B. PrivateKnox, R. B.
Sergeant Adamson, G. A. PrivateKostanich, E. A.
Sergeant Barlow, I. W. PrivateLangford, N.
Sergeant Collins, W. P. PrivateLeathern, E. E.
Sergeant Daniell, M. E. PrivateLewis, C. J.
Sergeant Gillbanks, A. S. PrivateLivingstone, R. A.
Sergeant Hillier, L. S. R. PrivateMacGregor, D. McR.
SergeantKerr, L. T. Sapper Mclntosh, J. R.
Sergeant Lienert, R. C. Private McKay, R. G.
Sergeant Mahoney, P. Driver Mag_uire, C. M.
Sergeant Sweetzer, R. F. Private Mailman, L. I. F.
Sergeant Thompson, A. R. Driver Markland, E. A.
Sergeant Tunmcliffe, M. R. Private Marston, J. A.
Sergeant Walker, G. P. PrivateMills, J. R.
Sergeant Withers, S. C. PrivateMelrose, A. Epage 85
Private Moir, N. A. Private Strong, E. R.
Private Morton, J. McM. PrivateTaylor, T. B.
Private Morton, J. T. PrivateTliomas, A. H.
Private Nichol, H. J. PrivateThomson, W. W.
Private O'Brien, D. P. Sapper Toase, E. A.
Private Osborne, T. W. J. Private Turfrey, E. T.
Private Partridge, G. M. PrivateUnderwood, R. M.
Private Pearson, W. A. Signalman Wardrop, J. T.
Private Pragnell, C. E. Private Wehster, C. G.
Private Riley, V. R. PrivateWells, R. B.
Private Sale, W. B. PrivateWells, S. L.
Private Schischka, L. N. PrivateWhitehouse, S. A.
Private Scott, I. K. J. PrivateWilliams, N. E.
Private Shaw, I. H. PrivateWinter, J. H.
Private Sinclair, R. M. PrivateWotherspoon, G. G. W.
Private Skinner, J. L. Private Wrathall, C. T.
PrivateSmaller, L. C. T. *
Private Smith, A.
Spray, W. E.
Other Ranks of 14th Brigade Defence Platoon
WOII Cross, C. T. Private Joyce, L. G.
WOII Kitching.T. Private King, L. W. (w)
Sergeant Erne, E. T. Private Lamont, W. W.
Sergeant Sillars, W. F. Private Marsh, I. E.
Corporal Davidson, P. A., DCM Private Middleton, C. W.
Corporal Cotterell, M. H. Private Moylan, D. T. P.
Corporal McBeath, A. J. Private Pickering, J. D.
Corporal Petry, C. J. Private Plank, H. W.
Corporal Tayior, A. N. Private Puttick, B.
Lance-Corporal Reid, C Private Riddington, J. H.
PrivateA'Court, A. C. Private Satherley, J. T. M.
Private Adamson, C. R." Private Scholium, A.
Private Atkins, S. E. Private Scott, J. R.
Private Bloxham, L. S. Private Toms, E. W.
Private Boardman, H, L. S. Private Tolich, I. N.
Private Braden, H. Private Turner, N. T.
Private Cassidy, A. V. Private Ward, D. D.
Private Clark, R. A. Private White, N. R.
Private Crane, F. H. F. Private Wood, H. G.
Private Crossan, G. R. Private Wright, G. J.
Private Currie, R. P. Private Walker, L. P.
Private Dackers, G. R. Private Wardrope, A. A.
Private Donaghy, R. J. Private Wasley, S. J.
Private Field, R. Private West, E. W.
Private Freemantle, A. F. Private White, R. P.
Private Giles, N. E. Private Whittaker, S. H.
Private Hanscomhe, H. S. Private Wilson, L. J.
Private Henderson, F. W. (w) Private Wither, S. H.
Private Herrick, J. G. Private Yule, A. G.
Private Herron, W. G. R. (w)
Private Ingoe, L. G. *
Private Johns, T. L. w

* Killed in Action.

Died of Wounds

* Killed in Action.

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