by lieutenant-general lord freyberg, vc, gcmg, kgb, kbe, dso
It is truly a pleasure and an honour for me to write the foreword to this history of a fine and efficient unit, the Divisional Petrol Company of the New Zealand Army Service Corps.
The Company went overseas with the First Echelon of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in January 1940 and for the first year of the war served in Egypt and the Western Desert, carrying troops, ammunition and supplies ‘up the Blue’, building petrol dumps and training for the active role that lay ahead. One Section went with the Second Echelon to England, but joined the rest of the Company in Egypt in time to leave with them for Greece. Here the Company ably played its part in carrying the troops forward over mountain roads to their front-line positions, supplying them with petrol and ammunition, and in evacuating them to the beaches in the hazardous withdrawals that followed. In Crete the Company fought as infantry and carried out an unaccustomed role with distinction. At Galatas its men were in the thick of the battle; they suffered heavy casualties and many were left behind at Sfakia as prisoners of war.page vi
In North Africa the Company again fulfilled its specialist role of supplying the Division with petrol, oil and lubricants for its transport, and it was largely through the untiring efforts of its drivers that the Division was able to carry out the long desert moves that took it from Alamein to Tunis.
I feel that our greatest contribution to New Zealand's war effort was made in the North African campaigns, a class of warfare for which New Zealanders were ideally suited. Their initiative and technical skill were well demonstrated in the Company's workshops, where its mechanics worked wonders to keep their vehicles moving. New Zealand drivers, in their turn, seemed able almost by instinct to find their way about the trackless desert, nor were they daunted in Italy by muddy tracks or mountain roads.
Throughout the war the New Zealand Army Service Corps, of which this unit was an important part, never failed us. I hope this story of the Petrol Company's endeavours will be widely read.