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The 36th Battalion: a record of service of the 36th Battalion with the Third Division in the Pacific

Chapter Three — Avondale

page 22

Chapter Three

After an all-too short but welcome leave, the battalion returned to camp again. This time we were diverted from Papakura to Avondale, in the suburbs of Auckland. By 3 September the last of the leave parties had marched in, and we were settling down to life in 'six-man' huts. It was bitterly cold at nights and in spite of five blankets and greatcoats on top of them, we still couldn't get warm. But Avondale had its compensations. Every opportunity for leave was made full use of—together with unofficial leave, as was revealed by the crowded 6.25 tram from Auckland City each morning. These happy days looked as though they would be curtailed when a battalion advanced party left to erect a camp at Hunua. Before they had completed it, however, our fate had been decided, and they returned, having handed it over to the 29th Battalion. So we were left in peace for another three weeks in Avondale.

For the many strangers to Auckland in the battalion, the route marches, opening up new vistas of the lovely Queen City from Mount Albert and the Waitakeres, were really worth while. Refresher training was carried out in the racecourse environs and also at Glen Eden and Blockhouse Bay. C and B companies carried out a three days' exercise, attacking from Glen Eden over Mount Atkinson down to the Manukau Harbour, and tales are told of the wet nights in which boat-sheds and empty week-end baches were used as shelter.

We were sorry to see so many of our cobbers leave us at this time. They had given of their best, most of them had passed the forty mark, and in many cases they had families dependent on them. page 23Reinforcement drafts arrived to fill up our ranks. A large number had already had a taste of garrison duty, having served on Great Barrier Island; others came from the south, and so established a friendly North-South Island rivalry which has existed ever since.

Once again the camp resounded to the hammering of crates and packing was soon well under way. We had brought a tremendous amount of junk and odds and ends, including the 'Ross Trailer,' with us from Fiji, but little had we realised how useful they were to prove. When we arrived at our new island home, every pipe, sheet of tin or drum, in the hands of the resourceful New Zealander, meant added comfort. On 18 September Colonel Barry and the intelligence officer left for Wellington, where they received their orders and embarked for Norfolk Island. The battalion was soon to follow, and on 7 October the advanced party comprising A company and the carrier platoon, together with other units of what was to be known as 'N Force', embarked on the transports.