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4th and 6th Reserve Mechanical Transport Companies


page v


black and white photograph of coat of arms

windsor castle

by lieutenant-general the rt hon lord freyberg vc, gcmg, kcb, kbe, dso

I AM glad to have the honour of writing this foreword to the history of these two fine units, because in doing so I am able to pay a tribute to their work in the Middle East and Italy.

The 4th Reserve Motor Transport Company went overseas with the First Echelon, and was in fact one of the first units of the New Zealand Division to take the field in Lord Wavell's victorious campaign in the Western Desert in 1940. Later they took part in the disastrous Greek campaign. When Greece was lost, in common with all technical units, they lost their vehicles and heavy equipment. In Crete they fought as infantry. When Crete was evacuated they were re-equipped at El Maadi, and from then on they fought through the North African and Italian campaigns. The 4th RMT continued right to the finish, and took a leading role in the advance that captured Trieste.

The 6th Reserve Motor Transport Company was formed before the Libyan campaign in 1941, and fought through the Western Desert campaigns, and in the battles in Italy, up to the period of the fighting near Rimini in 1944, when owing to manpower shortage this unit was disbanded.

page vi

I AM inclined to think that the New Zealand Division's greatest contribution to the Allied war effort was in the North African campaigns during 1941–2–3. Fighting in the Western Desert was essentially a war of movement. Mobility played a decisive part. New Zealanders were ideal men for this class of warfare. They found their way by night as well as day across the unmapped featureless desert with accuracy and skill and, as it were, almost by instinct.

In this volume is the story. It tells us how these two units were formed and of their work in training and in battle.

It is a tale that should be recorded. It deals with our triumphs and disasters. It is a fine story of two of the most efficient operational units in the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

I hope that this book will have the circulation that it deserves, and that military students will study it and get from its pages the numberless lessons that are to be gathered.

black and white photograph of signature

Deputy Constable and Lieutenant Governor

Windsor Castle