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25 Battalion


page v


black and white photograph of coat of arms

windsor castle

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

I feel honoured to be asked to write a foreword to the history of 25 Battalion. Perhaps the highlight of its active service was the Second Libyan Campaign of November-December 1941, in which the battalion in its first attack fought magnificently, losing more men killed in a single action than any other battalion of 2 New Zealand Division throughout the whole war. In fact some two-thirds of those who took part in this attack became casualties. The battalion's commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel McNaught, was himself wounded three times before he was evacuated, but the battalion to a man behaved superbly.

Twenty-fifth Battalion went overseas with the Third Echelon in August 1940 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel ‘Tim’ Wilder, who took it successfully through a difficult rearguard action at Molos in Greece and relinquished command on being promoted Brigadier in September 1941. Colonel McNaught succeeded him; when he was wounded he handed over command to Major Burton, who served the battalion well throughout the rest of the Libyan battle. Lieutenant-Colonel George commanded it in Syria and at El Mreir, where he was taken prisoner when German tanks overran the battalion on the morning of 22 July 1942. Ian Bonifant took it through the break-out battle at Alamein and on to Tripoli; Tom Morten commanded it in Tunisia and at Orsogna; Major Norman and page vi Lieutenant-Colonel MacDuff led it at Cassino, where its men fought particularly well on 15 March 1944 to capture Castle Hill. After Sora Colonel Norman returned to take command, and he led the battalion with distinction for almost a year until he was wounded on 23 April 1945, just before the Division reached the River Po. His successor, Lieutenant-Colonel Barnett, was the battalion's tenth and last Commanding Officer.

In all these battles 25 Battalion fought with distinction. Many of its officers and men won honour on the battlefield.

The publication of this history gives me an opportunity to pay tribute to a fine unit. I hope many New Zealanders will read this history of an excellent Infantry Battalion.

black and white photograph of signature

Deputy Constable and Lieutenant Governor

Windsor Castle
24 May 1960