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19 Battalion and Armoured Regiment


page vii


’Tis the Cause makes all.


Proudly taking its place among the units which composed the 2nd New Zealand Division, 19 New Zealand Battalion and Armoured Regiment served overseas in Greece, Crete, Egypt and Italy. It was one of the first units to leave the Dominion, and it did not return home until the Axis powers had been defeated.

The final downfall of the Axis by the massed endeavour of the Allies has changed the face of the world. Great men, names which will be remembered and honoured for their inspiration and leadership, emerged from among the millions engaged in the struggle. On the home front and on the battlefield, groups and units united in common cause laid the foundation for future history. In the Middle East and Central Mediterranean theatres 2 NZ Division shared the actions and the honours with other equally famous formations in the Allied armies. The 19th Battalion, fighting first as infantry, then in tanks as an armoured regiment, served with distinction in both roles.

This book is a chronicle of some of the doings of the 19th and its members from 3 October 1939, when the unit was formed, until the end of 1945, when it was disbanded. Historians of the future will view the work of this generation through the perspective of the years, and set the values of their day against the events of the past to point the lesson. True, the unit played its full part in the events of those great days, but such an objective history is beyond the scope of a book of this kind, which is but a written record for those who served in the unit and for those who knew them.

It cannot hope to cover comprehensively the full range of the wartime experiences of even one individual soldier; much less can it attempt to set down everything of note that happened to the 19th in six years of service. The author page viii has tried to give, in chronological order, a fair cross-section of events of importance, incidents of general interest, and anecdotes which those who were in the unit at the time will have taken part in, witnessed, or heard about—and it is hoped will now ‘remember with advantages’.

The reader who is able to do this will be indebted to many people: to the faithful scribes at Unit Headquarters who on active service kept up to date, despite every distraction, the unit war diary; to the staff of the War History Branch of the Internal Affairs Department, whose work on campaign narratives was made available and who offered helpful criticism and experienced advice; to the archivists who have so expertly co-ordinated the official files that searching is now both simple and rewarding; to the many 19th men who from their own private sources have added detail and colour to the broad official canvas; to those who have read, checked, and corrected the several drafts on which this narrative was based.

To all these the author gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness and tenders his thanks.