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

149 — General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

page 115

General Freyberg to the Minister of Defence

11 July 1942

I regret to report that Brigadier Gray, temporarily commanding 4th Infantry Brigade, was killed in action on 5 July, also his Brigade Major, Bassett.1 Gray was the last of the original unit commanders and is a great loss. He fought most gallantly in Greece and Crete and commanded the Brigade Group with distinction. Bassett was one of our most promising young staff officers. Burrows is now commanding the Brigade.2

I have just received a short report from Inglis giving the above information and reporting a successful night attack by the 5th Brigade Group. His estimate of casualties, which must be taken as approximate, is 250 killed and 1000 wounded. The Division continues to do well and morale is high. There is no doubt that the part played by the Division in these operations has been most important in the defence of Egypt.

1 Major B. I. Bassett; 23rd NZ Battalion; Brigade Major 4th Infantry Brigade, Aug 1941 – Jan 1942, 1 Jun – 5 Jul 1942; killed in action, 5 Jul 1942.

2 Brigadier J. T. Burrows, DSO, ED; CO 20th NZ Battalion, 8 Dec 1941–27 Jun 1942; commanded 4th Infantry Brigade, 27–29 Jun 1942, 5 Jul – 15 Aug 1942; commanded 20th Battalion and Armoured Regiment, 1942–43; commanded 5th and 6th Brigades in Italy, 1944; Rector, Waitaki Boys' High School, 1945–49; Commandant, Papakura Military Camp, Mar 1950–.