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Italy Volume II : From Cassino to Trieste


page xi


SINCE the end of the Second World War another generation of New Zealanders has reached adulthood without any personal recollection of the events of 1939–45. For the sons and daughters of most of the men who served with the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force the names of battles such as Thermopylae, Maleme, Galatas, Sidi Rezegh, Minqar Qaim, Ruweisat, El Mreir, Alamein, Medenine, Tebaga Gap, Takrouna, Orsogna, Cassino, Sora, Monte Lignano, Florence, Rimini, and of the many rivers in the great Po valley, may mean little beyond the impressions formed by their fathers' reminiscences and photograph albums. Even the memories of the veterans of these battles grow dim, and details of places and incidents become blurred and confused.

The author of this volume, the last of eight volumes covering the campaigns of the New Zealand Division in the Middle East and Italy, has endeavoured to give a clear, concise and complete account of the Division's progress during the year between the disbandment of the New Zealand Corps, after its unavailing attempt to capture Cassino, and the conclusion of hostilities in Europe. Originally it was intended that Professor N. C. Phillips, the author of Italy, Volume I: The Sangro to Cassino, should write this volume, but unfortunately he was unable to do so because of the demands upon his time and energy as Professor of History at the University of Canterbury.

Many years of most careful and detailed research have gone into the compilation of the 22 volumes of official narrative which form the basis of this history. These were written by Mr Ronald Walker (Sora and Florence), Mr Alexander Protheroe (Monte Lignano, and from the start of the offensive on the Adriatic coast to the Savio River), and myself (from the Savio until the departure of the last New Zealanders from Italy). The relevant German military documents were translated by the late Mr W. D. Dawson.

As one who served in the Middle East but not in Italy, I have had to overcome the lack of first-hand knowledge of the campaign and the country in which it was fought by studying the private diaries, letters and personal accounts of the men who were there. Of these many indispensable sources of information undoubtedly the most helpful has been the diary kept faithfully every day by Major Brian Moss, who was accidentally killed in 1955. Valuable assistance also has been given by Major-General Sir William Gentry and Brigadier page xii F. M. H. Hanson, who have painstakingly checked drafts of the narrative.

Finally I acknowledge my debt to the staff of the War History Branch, with whom I have been closely associated since the war. I am grateful to the Editor-in-Chief (Brigadier M. C. Fairbrother) and the Sub-Editor (Mr W. A. Glue) for their advice and tolerance, to Miss Elsie Janes for patiently typing my manuscript, and to Mrs M. Fogarty for the preparation of the index. I am also indebted to the Cartographic Branch of the Lands and Survey Department for the maps.

February 1967