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Bardia to Enfidaville

2 NZ Division after the Surrender

2 NZ Division after the Surrender

Prisoners began to stream in from about 10 a.m. on 13 May, including many from 90 Light Division. The guns of 4 and 6 Field Regiments were in action until midday, but did not fire, and the war just faded away.

For 2 NZ Division the ‘fading away’ was perhaps somewhat more marked than with other formations. Since about 22 April it had become apparent that the Division would not be in at the kill, but was to operate in a minor way while others participated in the rapid and spectacular victory. Moreover, the majority of men in the Division were not even in action on the day of surrender, and knew little of what was happening from hour to hour. There was no exhilaration, no excitement, no cheering, and it can only be said that the campaign came to an end very quietly. No written cease-fire order was issued.

There was, of course, also the fact that the troops were tired—not just the tiredness of a few nights without sleep, but the gradual insidious tiredness that comes from weeks and months of movement and strain and fighting, sustained only with the urge to keep on with a job that had to be done. It is little wonder that when the page 369 task was finished the reaction was equally great. After all, the Division had not been out of the theatre of war since arriving in the Western Desert from Syria towards the end of June 1942, ten months and more previously, and even if one were to disregard the several crises of those summer months of 1942, the mere length of time was enough to leave its mark.

So 13 May was something of an anti-climax, and the Division had to wait for two years before sharing in a final overwhelming victory.