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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume II

308 — The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

page 278

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

9 December 1943

The following is the summary of operations of the 2nd New Zealand Division in Italy referred to in my immediately preceding telegram:

The 2nd New Zealand Division arrived in Italy from Egypt during the latter half of October and Divisional Headquarters was established at Taranto. For a month the Division collected its vehicles and tanks, concentrated, and put the finishing touches to its training in the heel area. On 20 November the 6th New Zealand Infantry Brigade came into the line on the left of 5th Corps near Perano, while remaining under the command of Eighth Army, and sent patrols over the Sangro River the following day. The 5th New Zealand Infantry Brigade took up positions on the left of the 6th Brigade on 21 November. By 27 November crossings over the river had been reconnoitred in preparation for the main Eighth Army attack which took place that night.

The Division, under the direct command of General Montgomery, attacked on the axis Perano-Orsogna, and the latter town was captured on 3 December. Fierce fighting took place in this area for the next two days, the Germans mounting a particularly heavy counterattack supported by tanks on 5 December, forcing the forward troops back from Orsogna. On 7 December New Zealand troops again attacked from the line of the road Orsogna-Ortona and started well. As yet there is no information as to the movements of the 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade.