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

112 — General Freyberg to the Prime Minister

General Freyberg to the Prime Minister

8 December 1941

Further to my telegram of 7 December, the following are some details of the regrettable loss of senior officers during the campaign. page 85 Brigadier Hargest and Lieutenant-Colonel K. W. Fraser1 were captured and Major A. N. Grigg, MP,2 was killed near Bardia while the 5th Brigade were under the 4th Indian Division. General Rommel in his turning movement came into Bardia for supplies. On the way back his column attacked 5th Brigade Headquarters three times, eventually overrunning them. Forty-seven were killed and the remainder taken prisoner.

Lieutenant-Colonel John Allen, MP,3 was killed instantly by machine-gun fire from a German strongpoint while going round his battalion on Sidi Rezegh spur. Lieutenant-Colonels G. Dittmer, H. K. Kippenberger, and J. R. Page4 were wounded and were in the Main Dressing Station in the battle area. The intention was to evacuate everyone to Tobruk as soon as possible as convoys on the Line of Communication were liable to attack by AFVs. The Main Dressing Station was unfortunately captured the day before the corridor was opened. I am very glad to report, however, that Dittmer and Kippenberger and about sixty others have since escaped and are safe. Page is still missing. It is still hoped the hospital will be recaptured.

Brigadier Miles was wounded and captured on 1 December when Divisional Headquarters was attacked. On the same day Lieutenant-Colonel T. H. E. Oakes5 died from wounds and Lieutenant-Colonel C. Shuttleworth6 went missing.

1 Lieutenant-Colonel K. W. Fraser, OBE, ED; CO 5th NZ Field Regiment, 1 May 1940–27 Nov 1941; prisoner of war, Sidi Azeiz, 27 Nov 1941.

2 Major A. N. Grigg, MC; Member of Parliament, 1938–41; killed in action, 27 Nov 1941.

3 Lieutenant-Colonel J. M. Allen; Member of Parliament, 1938–41; CO 21st NZ Battalion, 17 May – 28 Nov 1941; killed in action, 28 Nov 1941.

4 Brigadier J. R. Page, DSO; CO 26th NZ Battalion, 15 May 1940–27 Nov 1941; wounded, Sidi Rezegh, 27 Nov 1941; held various staff appointments in New Zealand, 1942–47; Military Secretary, 1947–49; Commandant, Northern Military District, 1950-.

5 Lieutenant-Colonel T. H. E. Oakes, MC; Royal Artillery (retd.); CO 7th NZ Anti-Tank Regiment, 14 May – 30 Nov 1941; killed in action, 30 Nov 1941.

6 Lieutenant-Colonel C. Shuttleworth, DSO; CO 24th NZ Battalion, 23 Jan 1940 – 30 Nov 1941; prisoner of war, 30 Nov 1941; died in United Kingdom, 15 May 1945.