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To Greece


page v


THIS volume deals with the formation of 2 NZEF, with the movements and experiences of its brigade groups before they assembled in Egypt, and finally with the operations of the New Zealand Division in Greece. The central theme has always been the history of the fighting units, but it has often been necessary to explain and discuss Government policy, the decisions of the senior commanders and the problems of Commonwealth co-operation. For the vital issues of this period of the war were often political as well as strategic.

Every effort has been made by the War History Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs to collect the necessary information. Many records were destroyed in Greece or, as sometimes happened, were taken off only to be lost or destroyed during the campaign in Crete. Reports were afterwards prepared in Egypt but they could not always be exact or complete. Many who fought in Greece had been killed or made prisoners of war in Crete; others who could have explained certain vague statements were later killed in North Africa. To establish the facts and to check the conclusions, the manuscript, or parts of it, has been read by many participants in the campaign, but it is possible that due attention has not been given to certain incidents. Nor was it always possible for me to record the names of those who took a prominent part in several important actions. At Kalamata, for example, the men who advanced along the waterfront were assembled in the dark and under the command of any natural leader who happened to be available. Twelve hours later the majority of them were prisoners of war. An apology is therefore offered to those whose work would otherwise have been described with more accuracy and in greater detail.

The officers and men who answered questions and checked sections of this narrative are so numerous that I cannot name them all. I am, however, very grateful for the most generous manner in which they assisted me. I wish, particularly, to acknowledge the help I have received from Lieutenant-General Lord Freyberg, the late Major-General Sir Howard Kippenberger, Major-General Sir Harold Barrowclough, Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Puttick and page vi Major-Generals Sir Keith Stewart, Sir William Gentry, and C. E. Weir.

I must also acknowledge how much I owe to the patience and co-operation of the Editor-in-Chief, Brigadier M. C. Fairbrother, and his staff, in particular to the assistance given to me by Mr I. McL. Wards, whose narrative was the basis for the Greek section of this volume.

Chapters 15 owe much to the researches of Mr W. A. Glue, who also prepared this volume for publication. The majority of the German documents quoted in the text were translated by Mr W. D. Dawson. Mr A. E. Monaghan, when Archivist, answered numerous letters, searched his files for papers and, by examining each personal card in Base Records, prepared the final list of casualties. His successor, Mr R. L. Kay, has been equally helpful and considerate, and I am also grateful to Mrs W. G. Woodward for her index.

I am also indebted to Mr A. D. McIntosh of the Department of External Affairs, Wellington; to Mr D. G. Esplin and Dr Angus Ross of the University of Otago; and to the Cartographic Branch of the Lands and Survey Department.

Overseas there are many to whom thanks must be expressed for their always willing assistance. In Australia there is Mr Gavin Long, the Australian Official Historian. In Britain there are Major-General I. S. O. Playfair, Brigadier H. B. Latham and Professor Sir James Butler of the Historical Section of the Cabinet Office; Lieutenant-Colonel E. E. Rich, who prepared for the War Office the narrative on the campaign in Greece; and the officers who supplied information about the action at Kalamata: Lieutenant-Colonel Basil Carey, 3 Royal Tank Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel H. Geddes, Royal Army Service Corps, and Major G. A. F. Kennard, Shropshire Yeomanry.