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19 Battalion and Armoured Regiment


page v

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by lieutenant-general lord freyberg,
vc, gcmg, kcb, kbe, dso

The publication of these unit histories gives me an opportunity of paying a well-earned tribute to the officers and men of the 2 NZEF for their great services in the Middle East and Italy.

You will find in this book a record of one of our most battleworthy infantry battalions, which later changed over to be an armoured regiment, and as such carried out its exacting role with skill and efficiency.

The 19th Battalion were fortunate in many ways, and particularly in the officers who were appointed to lead the battalion in action. Colonel Varnham organised and trained them in the early days in Egypt, and his work stood the test of time and battle. Colonel Blackburn commanded the battalion in Greece and Crete. Colonel Hartnell at Ed Duda, Minqar Qaim and at Ruweisat.

When the 19th Battalion became an armoured regiment, they came to Italy and fought right through the Italian campaign under Colonels McGaffin, Parata and Everist.

During the war they took their full share in our ‘triumphs’ and ‘disasters’. They fought a brilliant action at Servia Pass in Greece, and in Crete in the defence of Galatas and the counter-attack at 42nd Street. Later in the page vi Western Desert they formed the corridor at Tobruk, and took part in the brilliant attack at Minqar Qaim and the disaster at Ruweisat. They fought from the first battle in April 1941 in Greece, and finished in the final campaign which led to the capture of Trieste and final victory on the 2nd May 1945.

This is a wonderful story. I hope it will be widely read, so that New Zealand people will learn of the deeds of heroism of this great unit.

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Deputy Constable and Lieutenant Governor

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