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The 35th Battalion

Chapter Fifteen — Sports

page 119

Chapter Fifteen

It is greatly regretted that the notes on sports are confined to mere results, which are not a full record. With the battalion disinter-grating under manpower direction, and the sudden departure of the balance of our old members in a reinforcement for the Second Division, it has been impossible to gather sufficient material from which to work.


Early in the historical narrative, the grand gala sports day, held on the Nandi cricket ground was mentioned. After a week's preparation the grounds were complete with circular track, jumping pits and so on. So many entries had been received for handicap events that it was necessary to run off the preliminaries on the Friday afternoon preceeding the main sports day. On the Saturday a large crowd of spectators, including local inhabitants and New Zealand soldiers, witnessed some thrilling finishes. Programmes had been printed and no doubt many of the original members of the battalion still possess these as souvenirs of the occasion. At the conclusion of this successful day, Brigadier Potter presented the prises, and the Kava Bowl, which was awarded to the company which aggregated the highest points.

Following are the results:—

  • 100 Yards Handicap: (Final): First, McDonald, S. A. (D Coy.), 4 yards. Second, Woods, H. R., (Bren), 9 yards. Third, Hayward, R. J., (D Coy.), 5 yards.
  • 220 Yards Handicap: First, Sheerin, P. J. (D Coy.), 8 yards. Second, Kelaey, C. J., (HQ Coy.), 14 Eards. Third, Wynyard, J. D., (D Coy.), 8 yards.page 120
  • 440 Yards Handicap: First, Bridge, T. E. C., (C Coy.), 30 yards. Second, Hayward, R. J., (D Coy.), 15 yards. Third, Dean, R. L., (A Coy.). 35 yards.
  • 880 Yards Handicap: First, Bates, L. J., (D Coy.), 35 yards. Second, Smith, E. A., {A Coy.), 40 yards. Third, Thompson, K. H. L., {C Coy.), 10 yards.
  • 1 Mile Handicap: First, Murton, D., {B Coy.), 100 yards. Second, Bates, L. J., (D Coy.), 100 yards. Third, Thompson, K. H. L., (C Coy.), 20 yards.
  • 100 Yards Open: First, Schubert, N., Bombardier, (37 Bty.). Second, Wishart, P. W., Lieutenant, (37 Bn.). Third, Walker. G. P., Private, (Brig. HQ).
  • 880 Yards Open: First, Crossman, H. R., Sergeant, (37 Bn.). Second, Smith E. A. F., La nee-Corp oral, (37 Bn.). Third, Feisst, O. R., Lsmce-Corporal, (35 Bn, Bren).
  • 1 Mile Relay: First, C Company. Second, D Company, Third, B company.
  • 880 Yards Open Relay: First, 37 Battalion. Second, 35 Battalion. Third, Namaka Administration HQ.
  • Long Jump: First, Kelsey, C. J., (HQ Coy.). Second, Jackson, R. A., (D Coy.). Third, Clinch, A., (B Coy.).
  • Putting Shot: First, Kelsey, C. J., (HQ Coy.). Second, Silvester, G., (A Coy.). Third, Neate, W. J., (D Coy.).
  • High Jump: First, Kelsey, C. J., (HQ Coy.). Second, Silvester, G. (A Coy.), Third, Clinch, A., (B Coy.).
  • Cycle Race: First, Shaw. Second, Manuel. Third, Turner.
  • Officers' Dash: First, Lieutenant Brinkman, A. Second, Major McNamara, S.
  • Points for Kata Bowl: First, D Coy., 30 points. Second, HQ Coy. 18 points. Third, C Coy., 12 points. Fourth, A coy., 10 points.

Many sports days were held, mainly on a company basis. The next battalion day was held in Nepoui Valley. After much levelling and grass-cutting a presentable Kiwi stadium emerged. A large flat area had been chosen and the stadium was complete with grandstand and totalisator. On the day of the battalion sports the 37th Battalion Pipe Band entertained the spectators with selections. The Kava Bowl was again won by D company with 26 points, A and HQ companies being placed equal second with 23 points each. Following are some results: 100 Yards Championship: Hocking, Sheerin, Carey. 10.6 Seconds.

  • 220 Yards Championship: Hocking, Sheerin, Carey. 23 Seconds.
  • 440 Yards Championship: Ormsby, Jackson, Warburton. 55 Seconds.
  • 880 Yards Championship: Ormsby, Armour, Blok. 2.12 Minutes.
  • Mile Championship: Murton, Bates, Thompson, 4.45 Minutes.
  • Hop, Step and Jump: Kitchen, Burns, Mitchell. 38 feet 10 inches.
  • Broad Jump: Mitchell, Ormsby, Nicholson. 18 feet 6 inches.
  • High Jump: Charman, Kitchen, Johnson. 5 feet 4 inches.
  • Shot Putt: Johnson, Smith, Cotterall. 30 feet 11 inches.
  • Relay: HQ, D, A Companies.
  • 100 Yards Handicap: Orr, Stewart, Singleton. 11 Seconds.
  • 220 Yards Handicap: Thompson, Hookham, Donaldson. 23 3-5 Seconds.
  • 440 Yards Handicap: McCormick, Taylor, Wells. 57 3-5 Seconds.
  • 880 Yards Handicap: Smith, Crossman, O'Connor. 2.12 Minutes.page 121
  • 220 Yards Visitors: Lee, Stewart, Edwards. 24 3-5 Seconds.
  • 100 Yards Sergeants: Gourlie, Dowdell, Allingham. 11 Seconds.
  • 75 Yards Officers: Edwards, Avery, Bennett. 71/2 Seconds.
  • Hop, Step and Jump Open: Edwards, Stewart, Hendren. 36 feet 4 inches.
  • Throwing Cricket Ball: Wills, Armour, Avery. 100 Yards 1 foot.

This was the last field sports day held. Our activities in the forward areas were limited to such pastimes as tennaquoits owing to the lack of suitable grounds.


Despite the concrete-like surfaces of the playing fields of Fiji, rugby was always followed with interest. Injuries were seldom serious but practically every player suffered abrasions. These often turned septic and this caused a number of good players to withdraw from playing the game. On the ground at Namaka Camp many thrilling battles were watched by large crowds. During the week days company contests were held. Unfortunately no records or results are available from the Fijian days.

On the return to New Zealand in July 1942, the rugby fans turned out in full strength. This time the grounds were more to our liking. Each Wednesday afternoon company games were played, while on Saturdays inter-unit competitions were held. Once again it is regretted that no results are available other than the result of a match at Te Aroha. This was between our battalion and the 37th Battalion. Te Aroha residents filled Rugby Park to witness this match, the gate proceeds being given to the National Patriotic Fund Board. The result was a win for the 37th Battalion after a closely contested game.

In Necal, at Nepoui Valley, the flat area lent itself to sports and before long two fine fields were constructed. The main field was complete with two grandstands. The most thrilling battle witnessed on this ground was when the 37th Battalion played the 2,9th Battalion in the semi-final of the Barrowclough Cup. The result was 11-6 in favour of the 37th Battalion.

page 122

In the Barrowclough Cup competition the battalion was eliminat' ed after a hard match with a fine team from the 30th Battalion. This match was played on 3 July, the result being: 30 Battalion 11 points: 35 Battalion nil.

When the unit returned to Necal after its tour of the forward area, rugby started off again. An organised competition was unfortunately impossible, and the units finally became too depleted to put a team on the field. The unit had its wins and losses, and it is unfortunate that a chronicle of results cannot be given.


The battalion was lucky in having the nucleus of the Papakura Army Team which won the Drummond Cup, defeating the Navy, Air Force and Auckland. Thus when the unit was formed and sent to Fiji inter-company games were soon organised and even if head-quarters company were strong enough to play 'the rest' we enjoyed our football. Our most serious rivals were the Engineers whom we managed to beat twice at the area office grounds, but our greatest surprise was when we were beaten at Lautoka by the Indian team, to the score of 6-0. These dusky lads were very fast and wily and play ed good soccer, some even playing in bare feet. Players who represented the Battalion were: Orr, J., Scott, J., Mills, S., Thompson, K., Lees, J., Gilchrist, J., Grant, C., Robinson, E., Stevens, N., Beever, J., Roberts, S.

When the battalion moved back to New Zealand we continued our soccer at Paerata with Saturday games arranged against units at Papakura by the Divisional Sports Committee. Summer came and footballs were put away until we arrived in Necal. In Nepoui Valley a regular competition was arranged by the area office, and with the proper grounds marked out and jungle boots provided competition became very keen. Most units in the area had two teams play ing. This was the brightest period in the battalion's history as far as playing gear and players was concerned, and as far as can be remembered the unit senior team was unbeaten. Even the 30th Battalion was sent back with a loss of three goals to one. The battalion's senior and junior teams were: Foggo, J., Gilchrist, J., Scott, J., Orr, J., Lees, J., Thompson, K., Mills, S., Grant, C., Loveridge, McInnes, McNabb, Hare, Beever, Hamilton and Carson. Grey, Pears, Vessey, Miller, Camplin, Kinnis, Neely, Cormack, Scott, Loveridge, Johnston.

page 123

On our return to Necal we tried to build up a team again, but with men sick and being manpowered we found we had to teach men, who were keen to get fit, the rudiments of the game. Never-theless, we were grateful for the games against other units in Tene Valley at that time.


Naturally with the hot weather in Fiji, cricket was very popular with the men and regular inter-company games were played in sports periods and weekends. Enough gear was supplied by the National Patriotic Fund Board for all games and though no inter-battalion matches were played, we were twice the guests of Mr. P. A. Snow, the Nandi District Commissioner. We lost both these matches on a very fast, matted concrete wicket to the fast bowling of the Fijians and the sound captainship of Mr. Snow. Personalities of the battalion teams included: Bonsall, Learning, Smith, Boyd, Mills, Stokes, Boland, Peach, Evans, Warner, Stevens and Budd.

Back in New Zealand again we found ourselves in the open spaces at Te Aroha and with the approach of summer the bat and ball appeared after the day's training. The men seemed quite content to spend the long evenings at cricket, and Saturday and Sunday games were sometimes organised. Then came the golden era of sports in New Caledonia. Each company had a wicket, but headquarters company cut out a wicket and kept a good surface with the aid of a 'home made' roller. This was the main wicket for inter-unit games. All companies were strong and some good matches were played. HQ company showed its keenness by arrranging regular matches with other units in the valley and are pleased to remember the hospitality shown on return matches with the anti-tank, artillery and engineers at Nepoui. The climax of the season was reached when a game with the 37th Battalion was arranged. After trials, over several afternoons, the following players were selected to travel to Taom for the match: Avery, Buckland, Buick, Budd, Cotterall, Evans, Farrell, Hare, Hill, McCormack, and Mills (Captain). This was the most exciting game in the unit's history. The 37th Battalion batted first and made 223 for 8 wickets declared. Scores were:—

page 124
Whitelaw, c. Hill, b. Mills 39
Smith, c. Budd, b. Mills 32
Miller, lbw. b. Cotterall 17
Brown, b. Hill 3
Cook, c. Evans, b. Hare 16
Sugden, c. Avery, b. McCormack 19
Dean, b. Mills 42
Smith, not out 32
Elems, b. Mills 0
Hadler, not out 20
Extras 20
Total 223

The unit replied with 241 and passed the 37th Battalion total with five minutes to spare. Scores were:—

Buckland, c. Dean, b. Bulman 30
Buiek, lbw. b. Smith, 19
Avery, run out 55
Cotterall, c. Hadler, b. Smith 42
Mills, c. Hadler, b. Smith 35
McCormack, c. Bulman, b. Sugden 14
Evans, c. Whitelaw, b. Sugden 2
Hare, c. Elems, b. Sugden 0
Budd. c. Hadler, b. Smith 20
Farrell, not out 6
Hill lbw., b. Cook 0
Extras 18
Total 241

Then came the move north and on our return to Necal we took up cricket for relaxation, but it wasn't long before we were on our way to greener fields and the chapter of army cricket was closed to many.


Rugby, being the most popular game, took up all available grounds in Fiji. Undaunted by this, the hockey enthusiasts of the unit search' ed for a field. By the kind permission of the Hindu headmaster of the Nandi school the school grounds were made available to us, but not until much hard labour had been expended. For a whole afternoon a unit truck towed a mower borrowed from the RNZAF. After cane knives had completed the work and lines were marked out, a fairly rough ground resulted. Not enough players were available from each company to permit of a company competition, so teams were picked on each playing day and everyone enjoyed hitting the pill (when the grass didn't hide it). The 37th Battalion was very keen on the game, especially as its commanding officer and second-in-command formed page 125a formidable pair of full backs. A game was soon arranged and the battalion team set forth to play the match on the other team's excellent ground. It was an exciting and tough match. The 37th Battalion had turned out in full force to spur its team to victory, but we made up for the lack of supporters by leaving the field as the victors. The score was 35th, 1; 37th, o. A return match was played on the same ground a few weeks later. On this occasion a rainstorm turned the ground into a mud bath, and much fun was had by both players and spectators. The match resulted in a draw; neither side scored a point.

Back in New Zealand, at Paerata, the rugby ground was allocated to hockey for the first half of a Wednesday afternoon. On Saturdays an inter-unit competition was arranged and the unit again kept its fine record. Although the main Auckland competition had started, the Hockey Association allowed two army teams (from the Fiji forces) to be entered. The competition was started again, several members of the battalion being members of one team which acquitted itself really well, only suffering two defeats. Unfortunately with the brigade's transfer to Te Aroha these teams had to be withdrawn from the main competition. In Necal a fairly good ground was available and every Saturday practices were held, but no competition matches were played. Our old rivals, the 37th Battalion, were too far away for a match to be arranged. On the return to Necal hockey started again, and hope was held of having some keen games on a very good ground. However, with the leave and manpower drafts depleting the ranks, only one game against the 30th Battalion was played. This was more of a friendly game than a match, but the battalion team showed great promise and decisively beat the other team.

Other Results

Below are a few results of sports tournaments and other competitions held in the forward area:—

Battalion winners in Brigade Arts and Crafts Competition:

  • Coconut work: Private Imms. C. E., Second. Private Plummer, T., Third. Model Yachts: Lance-Corporal Dare, J., First. Sergeant Wright, C, Second.
  • Shell work: Corporal Boese, W., First. Private Soper, E., Second. Woodwork: Private Smith, G., Highly Commended. Knives: Private Atwood, G., First.page 126
  • Field day held at Nissan prior to break up of unit:
  • Tennaquoit: Bn. HQ. Swimming: D Company. Tug-o'-war: HQ Company. Canoe race: C Company.

The Falloon Cup was presented to D company which scored the highest total of points in the day's competition. Brigadier L. Potter presented the cup and other prises. The Falloon Cup was a master-piece of arts and crafts work by one of the pioneer section boys. A cigarette tin seemed to predominate.

Harbour swim at Nissan Island: Distance 1 1/2 miles.

  • First: Lance-Sergeant G. Mason, time: 33 minutes 45 seconds. Second: Private Camplin, time: 35 minutes. Third: Private Andrew, time: 37 minutes.

Battalion championship shoot (Nissan Island))

Possible Score: 90

  • First: Lance-Corporal Seymour, E., 81. Second: Major Bell, G. H., and Private Staehurski equal, 78. Fourth: Lance-Corporal Berry, B., 77. Fifth: Sergeant Skinner, D., 76.