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20 Battalion and Armoured Regiment


page vii

Black and white picture of an army emblem

windsor castle


By Lieutenant-General the Lord Freyberg,
vc, gcmg, kcb, kbe, dso

I feel it is an honour as well as being a great pleasure to write a foreword to the History of this fine infantry battalion. The 20th Battalion was raised, trained, and commanded by Colonel, later General Sir Howard, Kippenberger; it came away from New Zealand with the First Echelon and went to Egypt, where it saw continuous active service from 1940 right through the war to the capture of Trieste in 1945. It took part in the campaign in Greece, and later in the disastrous battles to save the island of Crete.

Under the command of Colonel Burrows, the Battalion fought valiantly to recapture the Maleme airfield, in the dour fighting for Galatas, and in the counter-attack at 42nd Street, in each case with great distinction.

Its next campaign, after Crete, was fought in Libya in ‘Operation crusader’ when the Division marched to attack the Panzer Army and by its actions undoubtedly saved Tobruk. The Battalion fought at Menastir, Bir Chleta, and Belhamed, where it met disaster. After the Libyan campaign the Division moved to Syria. When Rommel captured Tobruk in June 1942, the New Zealand Division was moved back quickly to the Western Desert and took part in the heavy fighting right back to the Alamein line, including the disastrous Battle of Ruweisat.

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At this stage the Battalion went back to Cairo, to be converted to an Armoured Regiment.

When the Division moved to Italy we took with us our Armoured Brigade, and in Italy 20 Regiment fought right through to the finish of the war, at Trieste, in May 1945.

It is of interest to note that this Battalion turned out many first-class senior officers: men of the calibre of Jim Burrows, Fountaine, Fairbrother, and of course Charlie Upham. This was undoubtedly due to the inspiration of their original commander. Colonels McKergow, Ferguson, Purcell, and Robinson commanded the Armoured Regiment with distinction.

The Battalion had the distinction of winning three VCs–- Charlie Upham, VC, in Crete, Bar at Ruweisat, and Hinton at Kalamata.

This is the story of a fine unit, and I hope it will be widely read by many people, not only in New Zealand but also in the Old Country.

Black and white picture of a signature

Deputy Constable and Lieutenant Governor

Windsor Castle
7 November 1956