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The Gunners: an intimate record of units of the 3rd New Zealand Divisional Artillery in the Pacific from 1940 until 1945


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It would be rank heresy to start anything military without a plan, bé it good or bad. But the New Zealand Artillery in the Pacific in the World War of 1939-1945 started from such small beginnings, expanded gently, then really burgeoned for a time, only to end in a rather flat 'pop.' The gunners conducted their unorthodox affairs spread through so many hole-and-corner islands that to evolve a plan for this unofficial history has not been easy. It was clear from the outset that no one teller-of-tales could tell the tale for all. In the end each unit provided its own scribe, and the tales which have been produced have been linked into this history, which is not a story so much as a collection of them. In this instance the historian is not a writer so much as a 'stringer of other men's pearls,' natural and cultured, large and small. If the string gives you pleasure and revives a flagging memory, then it has served its purpose.

We began in 1939 with the first few stalwarts of the Royal New Zealand Artillery who went to Fiji; we expanded until we had guns and gunners in Fiji, Fanning Island, Tonga, Norfolk, New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, Vella Lavella, Treasury Islands and Nissan, and we ended in 1944 with the disbandment of the Third New Zealand Division and the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Pacific. It has not been possible in this volume to follow the fortunes of those who were seconded to and did worthy service with units of the Fiji and Tongan Defence Forces and attached units, or who served in Fanning Island, but we have tried to record the life story of all units which finally merged in the artillery of the Third Division NZEFIP.

To cover even this in one volume has made it necessary to jettison that wealth of intimate domestic detail which supplies the light and shade of unit life, and we give you, only the bold outline pattern from which you may build your own tapestry and into its grey background of oppressive monotony, its black patches of frustration, weave the scarlet slash of occasional excitement, the brighter spots of home-made entertainment and domestic fun. These are the things we would have you remember, for the monotony you will never forget.