by lieutenant-general the lord freyberg, vc, gcmg, kcb, kbe, dso
It is a great pleasure to be able to write a foreword to the history of the 22nd Infantry Battalion.
The 22nd Battalion came overseas with the Second Echelon at the time of the overthrow of France. It was shipped to England and took an active part in the Battle of Britain. Towards the end of 1940, when the threat of invasion was past, the 5th New Zealand Brigade came back by sea and arrived in the Middle East early in March 1941, just in time to join up with the rest of the New Zealand Division and take part in the campaign in Greece. This campaign ended quickly, and after evacuation from the beaches near Athens the Battalion was taken to Crete, where it fought right through the short campaign. The Battalion was given the most difficult task of all, to try to hold the Maleme airfield.
After that campaign the Division moved to Syria and stayed there until the middle of June 1942, when it moved back to the Western Desert and took an active part in the defence of Egypt. The 22nd suffered heavy casualties when it was overrun by the 15th Panzer Division at Ruweisat Ridge. It fought page viii again with distinction at Alam Haifa and Alamein. It was then decided to turn the 4th Brigade into an Armoured Brigade, and the 22nd Battalion was converted into a Motor Battalion. It came across to Italy with the rest of the Division and had a long record of fighting in the Italian campaign.
At the end of 1944, with the end of the war in sight, the Division was short of infantry, and the 22nd Battalion was reconverted into an infantry battalion and formed part of the 9th New Zealand Infantry Brigade. It fought with distinction near Rimini, at Faenza, and in the very successful battles that ended the war in Italy, where it attacked and fought from the Senio right through to Trieste. The Battalion then went with J Force to Japan, where it was disbanded.
The Battalion had a series of very capable Commanding Officers, who led it with great dash and skill. Colonel Andrew, VC, brought the Battalion from New Zealand and stayed with it all through 1941. He was succeeded by Colonel John Russell, who was killed at Alam Haifa, Colonels Campbell, Donald and O'Reilly, who commanded the Battalion with distinction.
This excellent history tells a story which should be widely read. I hope it will have the success that it deserves.
Deputy Constable and Lieutenant-Governor,
Windsor Castle7 November 1956