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Journey Towards Christmas

Chapter 4 — Picnic Before A Thunderstorm

page 51

Chapter 4
Picnic Before A Thunderstorm

DURING our first six hours on Greek soil we attracted very little attention. We arrived at the port of Piraeus on 18 March on one of those hot, pale afternoons that put a circle of primrose light round the horizon. On the rim of the circle we could see the Acropolis, but not very clearly.

After we had landed and stood for some while in three ranks we were told to fall out and stay within call. Greek labourers looked up from the huge trench they were digging near the wharf and accepted cigarettes. Only one person took any real notice of us and he was the proprietor of the little wineshop at the dock gates. He responded to our presence by doubling the price of his wines and spirits. And that was all that happened. We were disappointed, for we had expected to be made a fuss of.

We were disappointed, too, in what we could see of Piraeus, and a third disappointment was the long wait at the docks. After the excitement of the past week and our dash through the MediterraneanPerth had made the trip in just over twenty-four hours—it was felt as an anti-climax. Ten-ton diesel lorries had taken away one load of men, and here we were sitting on our gear on the wharf, hot and uncomfortable in pith helmets and battledress, waiting for their return.

A diversion was caused when the Araybank, very high in the water, sidled into the space lately vacated by the Perth, presenting the men ashore with a side like a red cliff, from the summit of which the drivers in charge of vehicles peered down excitedly, shouting abuse to their friends and being taunted in return with comparisons between the Perth's quick journey and the eight days it had taken the Araybank to cross.

At last, after we had waited six hours, the ten-tonners came back and we climbed aboard. As we rumbled through Athens the shadows were bunching at the street corners and at every corner there was a crowd of people, their faces turned up to us, their eyes bright. Here was the welcome we had been waiting for. They page 52 neither cheered nor called out to us, but as each lorry went past they threw flowers and there was a burst of clapping as though we were beloved actors.

It was embarrassing but it was pleasant. It was pleasant to read, or to imagine we read, love and trust in those Greek faces, pale in the half-light—flower-like faces of children, old men's faces out of the Old Testament, women's faces that Bellini might have painted, and the many other faces equally Greek but not as clearly distinguished in that moment of sentiment: the fruitshop faces (‘Yes, we have no bananas.’) and the café and dining-room faces (‘You lika da steak and da oyst, no?’) and the blue-black jowls and greasy coiffeurs and sweating foreheads of the Levant: ‘I show you the good time, my friend!’

We did not start singing until we had left Athens behind and were rushing through the leafy darkness towards Kephissia, eight miles north-east of Athens, with the cold, sweet air tasting in our throats like the aftermath of peppermints.

When we reached the camp we came down to earth with a bang. Most of the tents were only half-pitched and there was nothing to eat. Our advanced party—not his fault—had gone to the wrong camp.

We were up early the next morning—almost before the wet, white mist had cleared from the pine trees. Those of us who were not on duty (thirty lorries were employed in carting supplies and ammunition from Piraeus to various dumps near Athens) were away as soon as breakfast was finished.

Everything was a delight and a wonder—strange and yet not altogether strange, for this, too, was our heritage. Grimm was a German and Hans Andersen lived in Denmark, so half our babyhood, including Christmas trees and Santa Claus, came from Europe. The castles we saw were of the kind that Grimm's ogres emerged from; the cottages were no different from the one Hansel and Gretel lived in; the tailors sat cross-legged in their shops as they had done since fairy tales were first told; the huts of the charcoal burners and woodcutters were exactly as we had known them in childhood and the forests were the forests of our first memories.

Soon after we arrived at Kephissia everyone was given a 500-drachma note worth rather less than a pound. Such a quantity of notes had never before been seen in the neighbouring cafés and page 53 wineshops and within a few hours the whole district was swept clean of change. Messengers had to be sent to Athens to relieve the situation.

During the afternoon and evening we became acquainted with the delicious wines of the country: mavrodaphne and the ordinary crassi, as well as with Metaxa brandy, the not-so-delicious ouzo (we had known it as zibbib in Egypt and as arrack in Palestine), and a noisome liquid that tasted of turpentine and pine needles and made everyone who took too much of it allergic to fir trees for about a year afterwards.

For a little while we listened to the fruity baritones and thrilling tenors of the Greek police. (Afterwards they had to listen to us.) They wore olive-green uniforms and they seemed to be the only men of an age and condition to be called up who were not in the forward areas. They sang beautifully but with rather too much emotion, their voices reminding one of massed violas anguished among whipped cream. (Our own singing, later in the evening, was even more emotional and not nearly as good.) Their favourite chorus went to the tune of the Woodpecker's Song but the only word we could distinguish was Mussolini.1 It sounded tremendously gay and gallant and defiant: it expressed the very essence of the Greek Evzones. The whole of Greece was singing it at that time, and it was still being sung more seldom, more sombrely, no less gallantly, sometimes by a group of Greek soldiers struggling home, sometimes by a single small boy, at the end of April. Doubtless the Fascist guards heard it whistled in the streets of Athens long after we had gone.

We scoff at you, Mussolini,
You and your cowardly conscripts.
Very soon you will be advancing rapidly
Backwards, until upon Rome itself
The Greek flag will be flying.

But how hopeful it sounded then! Hopeful for us and hopeful for the Greek people; hopeful for everyone who knew nothing at all about what was going on. Possibly there never had been a more hopeful convoy than the one that pulled out from Kephissia camp for northern Greece at six in the morning on 22 March 1941.

Soon we were passing through Athens, old and shabby and page 54 graceful, birthplace of half we were fighting for. The city was not wholly strange to some of us, for on the day after our arrival at Kephissia, as the Major had discovered on ordering a check parade, over sixty drivers had absented themselves from camp. With Athens behind us we came into a country of rounded hills, soft as green velvet and knotted all over with little holm-oaks: it was like tapestry. From between two of these hills, winging its way towards the convoy, came a large, black bird about the size of a young gobbler. This was too much for A Section's anti-aircraft gun crew and they started dusting it with tracer bullets as with a kind of monstrous red pepper. Two minutes later they were under arrest.

On through Thebes—pretty and full of colour as a cottage garden —through Levadhia, through Atalante, and by this time the headlamps and bonnets of the lorries were bedecked with flowers and the cabs were full of flowers too. We must have resembled a convoy of sacrificial bulls. At every halt the people came to us with wine, cakes, and eggs. ‘Kalimera, New Zealand!’ they cried—all the rosy-cheeked children and handsome young women and shepherds and old men.

As the shadows became larger—shadows as big as sheep stations cast by tremendous hills—the halts occurred more often and it was dark when we arrived at Kamena Voula, our halting place for the night. If it had been daylight we could have looked across the water to the island of Euboea. We had covered 150 miles in a long day full of incident.

The next day we moved off at first light and travelled through fairy-tale country—pocket-handkerchief fields, patchwork-quilt farms, little laughing streams rushing from openings in the hills as from school, with, behind them and above them, terrific, towering, gold and green and purple mountains, like sleeping heroes, like sleeping gods, with huge lazy limbs sprawled carelessly everywhere and muscles like bits of the Elgin Marbles blotting out a quarter of the sky. We refuelled at Larissa railhead, camping for the night ten miles north of the town.

That night we were not so tired and some of us went to a small, tumbledown village and drank rough red wine in a little dark wineshop where Greek soldiers were singing their defiant woodpecker song. Our battledress and the badness of the wine were the only things that would have surprised Homer had he come strolling in.

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Off again early the next morning and on till we reached the foot of the Olympus Pass. Then a long, winding crawl to the summit and a crawl down the other side at twelve miles an hour. Those of us who were not driving gazed wonderingly at the calm and unutterably lovely outline of the great mountain, whose top, so the ancients had said, reached Heaven, on whose grassy slopes centaurs had browsed and galloped, in whose shadowed or sunlit folds the old gods had lived human and irritable lives, feasting, quarrelling, and making love. Those of us who were driving, though, looked only at the road. Hundreds of feet below, a sheer drop from the road's edge—you could have spat down at them—were the tops of pine trees. Small and tender as asparagus tips they looked, but as menacing as massed spears.

We made camp beside the Larissa-Katerine road, a few miles west of Katerine. Our area was a tongue of land looped off from the surrounding woods and meadows by a bubbling, rock-filled stream, which could be crossed only by a narrow stone bridge. We parked our lorries beneath tall beeches. Behind us were soft hills mossy with fruit trees and old farms and browsing sheep. Beyond them was the mountain.

We had arrived at our destination and it was a lovely place.

During the next few days we were very busy. A Section supplied a guard for ammunition at Katerine railhead, the clearing of which was the first transport job we were given. Ammunition was delivered to New Zealand units in and around Gannokhora, a village two or three miles north of Katerine, and between 26 and 30 March our lorries plied between railhead and neighbouring dumps, meeting the trains as they arrived. At that time the New Zealand Division was preparing a line that ran inland from a point on the coast fourteen miles beyond Katerine and south of the mouth of the Aliakmon River. This was part of the Aliakmon line. Farther north was a fortress line manned by Greeks—the Metaxas line.

When we were not working we were enjoying ourselves among our new surroundings. We went for long walks; we washed our bodies and our clothes in the icy stream and every evening we feasted on new-laid eggs and fresh bread, in payment for which page 56 the country people accepted empty petrol tins. There was leave to Katerine, but on our arrival the Major had held a sort of quarter sessions to deal with the accumulated charges of a fortnight, as a result of which many were confined to barracks—what a phrase to use when we were living in the very shadow of Olympus in a wood crazy with birds! It was spring, too, and the mountain's snowcaps glinted like silver in the spring sunlight, which flowed over the foothills and slanted in bright bars between the tree-trunks. Drifting mauve and white clouds blundered against the snowcaps and descended on us in fine rain, making the stream chuckle fiercely among the boulders.

On one of the clear days an enemy observation plane flew over. It hung in the air, small and silvery and innocent-looking, and we gazed up at it with intense interest and some awe. ‘Don't look up, boys,’ yelled Second-Lieutenant S. F. Toogood.2 ‘He'll see the whites of your eyes.’ Happy laughter drowned the tiny buzzing noise, but after we had laughed ourselves out—and it took quite a time—the buzzing could be heard still: a tiny waspish whisper: ‘I can see the whites of your eyes.’3

The enemy went away and there was nothing sinister any longer under the mountain in the clear sunshine. Spirits were high at that time; the whole green spring was only a breath away and the note was hope. Ours was the Woodpecker's attitude towards the war and we never doubted that it was shared by Generals Papagos and Wilson.4 Probably they whistled that gay tune (or felt like whistling it) at their conferences.

We had no newspapers and no wireless sets, and when Yugoslavia signed a protocol to the Berlin-Rome-Tokio pact on 25 March it is probable that only a dozen men in the company knew what had happened. A few days later a small group of our drivers was accosted by a Greek priest in a great state of excitement. Speaking page 57 in Greek and pointing to a Greek newspaper, he put it into our heads that Mussolini had been assassinated and that the whole of Italy was aflame. The drivers lost no time in passing on the good news. What he had been trying to tell them, perhaps, was that the Government of Yugoslavia had been overthrown and that General Simovitch, who had replaced the pro-Nazi Prince Paul, had pledged his country to neutrality.

When we heard the news we began to talk about leave in Athens.

On 2 April the company was ordered to unload its second-line holding of ammunition at Kilo 9 on the Larissa-Katerine road and report to Headquarters 81st Base Sub-area at Larissa.5 The whole company, with the exception of Workshops, which stayed where it was, moved the next day, pitching camp among smooth green hills a few miles from Larissa. That evening the Major was told that his transport would be needed for an indefinite period, and during the next five days and nights we carted ammunition, petrol, and rations from Larissa railhead to supply dumps near Servia, between forty and fifty miles north of Larissa, and to others still farther north on the far side of the Aliakmon River. These were for a mixed British, Australian, and New Zealand force—the Amyntaion detachment—that had been organised to fight a delaying action in the event of a German thrust from Yugoslavia.

We were employed in this manner when Germany invaded Greece and Yugoslavia on 6 April and swept away the last vestige of that agreeable feeling that we were guests at a Grecian picnic. We were ordered to carry arms at all times and to be on the alert for paratroops and fifth columnists. Everyone began to listen to and repeat page 58 alarming rumours: three New Zealand machine-gunners had not been heard of since a party of men dressed as Greek soldiers had lured them into a dark wood with promises of bread and eggs: two RASC drivers had died in agony after accepting a gift of cognac from a Greek shepherd. Probably neither of these stories—and there were scores like them—had any foundation, but can you wonder that the charming old gentleman who peddled tobacco leaves in our area became suddenly a sinister figure? That behind the tinkle of sheep bells we heard the clink of Lugers? We saw a party of Greek soldiers trooping silently against the skyline, purposeful, mysterious, a led mule in the midst of them, and we wondered….

We were still excited and eager—more so than ever—but the Woodpecker was glancing uneasily behind him, which was what the Germans had hoped he would be doing. André Maurois records that Jean Cocteau said to him after the disaster at Sedan: ‘All you see now on the roads of France are nuns winding on their puttees’.

On the night of 8-9 April—the night before the Germans occupied Salonika—we returned to the old area at Katerine, travelling without lights and with only the slanting rain showing ahead. We had been told to pick up our second-line holding of ammunition and bring it south. The Germans were driving swiftly through Yugoslavia and Macedonia and the New Zealand Division had been ordered back to the Olympus line—not really a line at all but a series of fortified positions running from the north-west corner of Greece, near Florina, to Mount Olympus.

The roads were so greasy that they might have been smeared with lard and it was so dark in the pass that the spare drivers had to stand on the running-board and give directions. Many of us had already taken out our windscreens in spite of the cold.

The next day we took our second-line holding to an area near Dolikhe, just south of the pass on the Larissa-Katerine road. Here we unloaded and stood by to assist with the withdrawal of part of the 6th Brigade from positions forward of Katerine to a reserve position north of Dolikhe. This job was done on the 10th and on the same day we sent a convoy to Gannokhora to salvage engineers' stores.

Meanwhile the Wehrmacht was winning battles. The Greeks, who in comparison with the Germans were fighting only with the weapons of the spirit, had been overwhelmed quickly in their fortress posi- page 59 tions near the frontier, and now the British, with too few troops to meet the attack in their hastily-prepared northern line, were withdrawing south to a shorter one. By the 11th the Amyntaion detachment, which for one had not withdrawn but had advanced, was fighting a delaying action against motorised troops and armour south-east of Florina near the Yugoslav and Albanian borders. It was outnumbered and could be expected to hold only for a little while.

We, of course, knew little or nothing of what was going on. As we saw it the deluded Germans were being allowed to hurl themselves against our impregnable positions at Servia and Olympus. Accordingly we tackled our salvage jobs with the comfortable feeling of making everything snug and shipshape enjoyed by the yachtsman as he heaves to—by Crusoe while securing his flocks.

On 11 April—by which time all New Zealand troops had withdrawn from the positions forward of Olympus with the exception of the Divisional Cavalry, one troop of the 5th Field Regiment, and a section of engineers—the Major, Captain Moon, and Second-Lieutenant Toogood took a convoy to Sphendami, nine miles north of Katerine, to salvage stores left behind by the 6th Brigade. While these were being loaded the Major received a message from the Divisional Cavalry asking him to supply transport for carting road metal. Some lorries had started for home already but the rest were put to work at once and by late evening the worst parts of the Cavalry's withdrawal route had been repaired. The lorries then went home—all, that is, except three. These, led by Major McGuire and Captain Moon and accompanied by a machine-gun party composed of A Section's ack-ack crew, set out for Aiginion, a village some seven miles north of Sphendami, where there were valuable stores that would have to be abandoned to the enemy unless they could be gathered up within a few hours. By the light of burning supply stacks the officers and drivers collected what was most valuable and by eleven o'clock that night the lorries were loaded to capacity. They headed southwards with fires bobbing behind them in the windy darkness.

The NZASC was functioning well at this time but the panzer divisions were also functioning well. There was a lot to take away and not much time. Colonel Crump, Commander NZASC, must have experienced all the sensations of a man who hurries down page 60 crowded streets with armfuls of Christmas shopping and has valuable parcels flung at him from all sides. The hour for destroying instead of salvaging was in sight.

For us it arrived on Easter Sunday, 13 April. That morning Captain Sampson took a convoy to Amyntaion near the Florina gap to pick up petrol from a dump in that neighbourhood. Unaware of the exact position of the dump he led the convoy right into Amyntaion just as a barrage was feeling its way towards that doomed village. It came marching down the hillsides by the Florina gap; it crossed Lake Petron and entered Amyntaion. Little time was lost in stopping and turning but shells were landing among the houses as the last lorries gathered speed. Early that evening—it was late afternoon when our lorries arrived—the Germans were to drive in great strength down the centre of the Veve Pass near Lake Petron and force a withdrawal.

The petrol was discovered about six miles down the Amyntaion-Servia road and as soon as the lorries were loaded our drivers turned their attention to the ration section of the dump. They were shown where the luxuries were stacked and told to help themselves. It was their first experience of what was to be known later as an ‘open slather’ and many of them were pink with excitement as they scrambled among the stacks, breaking open cases of tinned fruit, tinned vegetables, pickles, jam, tobacco, cigarettes. You just helped yourself. It was a childhood dream come true and for a quarter of an hour they behaved like greedy small boys. They stuffed their blouses with tins and threw cases on top of the loads of petrol.

Often, in the days that lay ahead, we were to be wet and cold, sick and sorry, tired and frightened—never hungry. Empty and half-empty tins of peas and beans and pears and raspberries were to mark the passage of our convoys. It is probably fair to say that from the day of the first ‘open slather’ until the day we left Greece most of us over-ate.

After our drivers had taken all they could cram into the lorries they were told to destroy what was left. It was forbidden to use fire so they spiked the petrol tins and poured kerosene over the food. While they were doing this they were ordered away by British officers who wanted the area for their guns.

The drive back to Dolikhe was unpleasant. There was mud page 61 everywhere and the road was jammed by British armour. It was snowing too. The petrol was dumped south of the Portas Pass for the 6th Australian Division and the 4th Brigade, and it was well after midnight before our drivers got home.

They slept uneasily—‘cramm'd with distressful bread’.

After a week of rain and snow and cold winds Easter Sunday dawned bright and clear, promising fine weather. By midday our sodden hillside was drying out well. If the rain held off, we prophesied, the RAF would be able to knock hell out of the German columns.

After a big lunch of tinned meat, pickles, and fruit salad—in every section the cook's lorry was well stocked now—a convoy left to pick up the 26th Battalion at its reserve position a few miles north of our area and take it by way of Servia to a debussing point west of the nearby Portas Pass. From there the infantry would march eight miles to occupy a part of the line overlooking the village of Rymnion and the Aliakmon River.

By this time the battle for Portas Pass had begun. The Luftwaffe had opened it that morning with bombers and fighters. The Divisional Cavalry, in its position forward of Olympus, was also in action.

Those of us who stayed in camp hung out our blankets to dry in the bright sunshine, washed our clothes, kicked footballs. It was a lovely afternoon and the sunshine was spilling over the foothills by the Olympus Pass like golden syrup. At afternoon-tea time there came a hollow coughing from below the nearest of these hills, and a number of white puffs, like dabs of cotton wool, appeared on a level with the hilltops. Then we saw a flight of black Stukas come falling out of the sky. None of us had seen Stukas in action before and for a moment we wondered if they had been shot down. Then we saw black mushrooms of smoke materialising around the Bofors emplacements. After they had dropped their bombs the Stukas climbed back into the sky. Then the Messerschmitts came, diving and climbing among the woolly puffs with tremendous energy. They were followed by more Stukas, which stood on their yellow noses and fell like plummets towards the gun emplacements. A single woolly puff appeared high above them and the guns were silent. After a while the Stukas and Messerschmitts turned north page 62 and disappeared over the mountains. The smoke drifted away from where the guns had been and presently there was nothing to show, in all that sunny afternoon, that a raid had occurred.

Chattering like monkeys, the drivers came down from their vantage points. A Section's cooks went back to their interrupted task of cornering and killing a large porker that had been driven into a gully. Washing was resumed and the footballs were brought out again. It was still a lovely day. There was a sound—you could hear if you listened carefully—that suggested that other and larger footballs were being punted about beyond the mountains: Pomp! Pomp! Pomp! Pomp! Anti-aircraft guns were in action.

The drivers who had been with the 26th Battalion returned to camp. They had been dive-bombed but without damage or casualties.

Easter Monday was another lovely day.

A convoy set out to collect ammunition from a field supply depot south of Servia for delivery to Australians on the Servia front. It was not an easy trip. The earth was still ours but the Germans had already conquered the skies and there was no safety any more. Schools of Dorniers in the kind of formations you see in an aquarium swam sedately over the mountains and dropped their loads on bridges and gun positions. Slim Messerschmitts, like furious wasps, flew along the valleys and above the roads, stabbing spitefully at traffic blocks and convoys. These were our particular enemies—these and the bright-nosed, crooked-winged, black-spatted Stukas, with their swinish squeals, their mad zest, their Gadarene plunge.

The traffic was thick on the roads and it was difficult to keep any distance between the lorries. The spare driver rode behind the cab and watched the skies. As soon as he saw aircraft he banged hard on the roof. The lorry jerked to a stop and both drivers tumbled into the ditch or ran into the waist-high crops and lay quiet and quaking. As soon as the aircraft had passed the lorries moved on. The idea was to save your life without holding up the traffic more than you could help.

After one heavy raid Wally Mosen6 was the first to get to his feet and the first to return to his lorry. A fighter-bomber, following page 63 in the wake of the main wave, came up the valley strafing and Wally, who was one of the most popular drivers in B Section, was killed by an explosive bullet.

After delivering their loads the drivers headed for home, very thankful to have got rid of their ammunition. A fork in the road was now under German observation and it was being shelled, but the lorries rushed through at wide intervals and all got safely past.

The convoy was machine-gunned again and Jim Nichols7 and Dave Forbes8 were wounded—Jim in the forehead and Dave badly in the thigh. Both were on the same B Section lorry.

It was sundown by the time the company area was reached and everyone was very tired and shaken. It was a new area, those of us who had stayed at home having moved four miles down the road in the afternoon. We, too, had something to talk about. No sooner had we settled in than half a dozen bombers, flying close and fast like wild geese, had appeared from the east. They were quite low and there was a clicking of rifle bolts as we got ready to engage them. As soon as they were within range the rifles began to crack, sounding under the beat of engines like snapping twigs. We were too excited to feel afraid, and when the first bomb started to whistle down one or two of us had our rifles pointed straight up in the air and were almost over-balancing. The bombs came striding across the paddock, punching great brown holes in the soft ground, but the only casualties were two sheep.

That evening we told stories of our escapes and gathered in the last sunshine to examine a lorry that had been towed in with bullet holes in cab and windscreen.

In A Section's ack-ack truck, Percy Sanders and Jim Stanley9 were loading Bren magazines. The floor of the truck was littered with shell cases.

‘They stuck to their guns all day,’ the drivers were saying. ‘Percy worked the Bren and old Jim fired the Boys anti-tank rifle from the shoulder. They reckon he's black and blue.’

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Presently shadows covered everything—the bomb craters, the two dead sheep, the faithful Bedfords—and everyone who was not on picket duty turned in. We had a feeling that we should be wise to lay in a supply of sleep.

page break
black and white photograph of soldiers at docks

Arrival in Greece, Piraeus

page break
black and white photograph of sitting soldiers

New Zealand infantry in Athens

black and white photograph of Greek houses

Katerine, a typical village

1 Jim Henderson, in Gunner Inglorious, suggests the following translation:

2 Maj S. F. Toogood, m.i.d.; theatre manager; Wellington; born Wellington, 4 Apr 1916; Ammunition officer 2 NZ Division Sep 1941-Feb 1946.

3 The chief appointments on 2 March were: Company headquarters, Maj McGuire, Capt R. C. Gibson (posted 22 Jan 41), WO II W. L. Dillon (appointed CSM 10 Nov 40); A Section, Capt Moon, 2 Lt S. F. Toogood (attached 28 Feb 41); B Section, Capt Sampson; C Section, Capt Torbet, 2 Lt Fenton; Workshops, Lt Aitken.

The following had left us: Lt Roberts (appointed OC Base Training Depot, NZASC, Dec 40), Lt Radford (posted to HQ Command NZASC, 16 Dec 40), WO II Colton (posted to OCTU, 10 Nov 40).

4 Commanders-in-Chief of the Greek and British forces respectively.

5 Second-line holding of Divisional Ammunition Company of three sections each carrying ammunition for an infantry brigade and for one-third of divisional troops units: 5400 rounds of 25-pounder ammunition for 72 guns,* 2304 rounds of 2-pounder anti-tank ammunition for 48 guns, 18,000 rounds of .55 anti-tank ammunition for 360 rifles, 390,000 rounds of .303 ammunition for 1360 light machine guns, 42,000 rounds of .303 ammunition for 28 medium machine guns, 7000 rounds of .5 ammunition for 28 heavy machine guns, 320,000 rounds of .303 ammunition for 8000 rifles, 8400 rounds of .38 ammunition for 1400 pistols, 1296 bombs (HE and smoke) for 18 three-inch mortars, 5184 bombs (HE and smoke) for 108 two-inch mortars, 1620 grenades, 1800 rounds for 300 signal pistols, five tons of miscellaneous explosives, and 1000 active and 1000 dummy anti-tank mines. Total loads: 57 3-ton, 12 30-cwt.

* Scale per weapon: 53 rounds HE, 17 smoke, 5 AP.


6 Dvr W. V. Mosen; lorry driver; born Raetihi, 6 May 1916; killed in action 14 Apr 1941.

7 Dvr J. Nichols; labourer; Matamata; born Auckland, 12 Jan 1912; wounded and p.w., Apr 1941.

8 Dvr D. C. Forbes; general store-keeper; Hamilton; born Scotland, 20 Jan 1904; wounded and p.w., Apr 1941.

9 Dvr F. J. Stanley; motor mechanic; born NZ, 27 Dec 1908; wounded Dec 1941.