I: The Third Division Emerges
I: The Third Division Emerges
ON its return to New Zealand the Fiji force was given the mobile role of army reserve, ready to operate in any part of the Dominion as required by the tactical situation but with particular attention to the Bay of Plenty, Auckland, and North Auckland districts and their vulnerable beaches. Headquarters closed in Fiji on 8 August, and the temporary headquarters which had been established by Potter in Quay Street, Auckland, to tide over the transition period, moved to Orford's House, Manurewa, which had been vacated by an American command. The two brigade headquarters were established at Papakura Camp, the 8th afterwards moving to Opaheke, with their battalions and services scattered widely over the surrounding countryside. The 29th Battalion was at Papakura, moving later to Hunua Falls, the 30th went to Karaka North, the 34th to Hilldene (Manurewa), the 35th to Paerata, the 36th took over buildings on the Avondale Racecourse, and the 37th went to Pukekohe. Some of these camps, temporarily erected to house American units while they trained for the Pacific campaign, were as bleak as the weather and ill-equipped, but all ranks went on leave, most of them suffering from colds and influenza induced by the sudden change from tropical heat to bitter spring wind and rain, against which battle dress and heavy woollens by day and five blankets and a greatcoat at night gave inadequate protection.
Although units were much below strength, commanders committed to paper their tactical plans for immediate movement and action, but it was generally assumed that the force would be built up to a full-strength division for service in the Pacific, in accordance with conversations between Admiral King and Mr. Nash in Washington earlier in the year in which it was stated that New Zealand troops, relieved from Fiji, could be trained for amphibious operations with United States forces if the essential equipment was provided. Such an assumption was also confirmation of General Puttick's conclusions, presented to the Minister of Defence page 72 on 3 August, that ‘the best course to pursue in furthering the security of New Zealand is to participate to the fullest in offensive operations against the Japanese and at the same time leave nothing undone which may serve to strengthen the forces for home defence’; but reorganisation for any immediate action to implement this conclusion was slow and involved, and further provoked by indecision regarding the use of the force.
Major-General H. E. Barrowclough, DSO, MC, was appointed to command 3 Division on 12 August and arrived that day to begin the exacting and prolonged task of reorganisation. He had commanded 6 Brigade of 2 Division from its formation in May 1940, and had taken it through the ill-fated campaign in Greece and later through bitter fighting at Sidi Rezegh in North Africa. When the Japanese drive in the Pacific threatened to reach striking distance of New Zealand, the need for war-experienced senior officers became urgent, and he was recalled on the assumption that he would take command of the forces then in Fiji. However, before he reached the Dominion, the Pacific situation had become critical and Mead had already been appointed. Barrowclough was therefore given command of 1 Division, with headquarters at Whangarei, where he remained until he took over 3 Division. His immediate task was beset by difficulties and recurring problems. The precise role of the division in the Pacific and its size were as ill-defined as its title, and its history, in the early months of reorganisation, was shrouded in ambiguity. The title ‘3 Division’ had been in use since 14 May 1942 after the appearance of Mead's operational order No. 3 in Fiji, and that date, for record purposes and convenience, was taken as the day on which the force achieved the status of a division, but throughout the whole course of its existence the force was never officially gazetted ‘3 Division’ but remained legally ‘Pacific Section, 2 NZEF’, the designation it was given on 25 February 1942 when the original title ‘8 Brigade Group’ was amended. The letters ‘IP’, indicating the theatre in which the division operated, were added on 10 November when Barrowclough's appointment from ’Commander 3 NZ Division’ was altered to ‘General Officer Commanding 2 NZEF in Pacific’.
In making its decision to employ a division in the Pacific theatre, the New Zealand Government considered at the time that such a risk in sending men out of the country was justified. Great quantities of war materials, including tanks and aircraft, had reached the country; her home defences were therefore stronger and better equipped than ever before, and the situation beyond her shores was more secure because of the increased strength of the United States navy and island garrisons as far north as New page 73 Caledonia. Five days before Barrowclough's appointment, American forces landed on Guadalcanal, Tulagi and Gavutu, and although the Allied planners in London and Washington could not possibly be aware of the fact, Japanese orders for an attack on Fiji, New Caledonia, and Samoa had been cancelled in July, following the failure to capture Port Moresby and crushing losses of ships and aircraft in the Coral Sea and Midway naval battles. Political motives also contributed to the despatch of New Zealand forces to the Pacific theatre. The original intention of the American a command in asking for a New Zealand force was to use it for the relief of 1 Marine Division engaged in the Southern Solomons, but as the struggle for Guadalcanal developed critically by continued Japanese attempts to break the Americans on the Matanikau River line, any relief by other than American forces was not welcomed until the island was permanently secured. This was one of several contributing factors affecting the prolonged reorganisation of the division.
Delays in reaching a decision regarding the size of the force and the role it was to play in the Pacific campaign apparently stemmed from confusion over the expressed views of King and Ghormley, and were aggravated by manpower problems which had then begun to affect the supply of Grade I men for the three services as well as men for production at home. Although King agreed in June that New Zealand forces should take part in amphibious operations when the time came for offensive action then being planned, Ghormley, who had moved his headquarters from Auckland to Noumea, apparently had expressed other views. During discussions with Puttick at the end of July, he suggested that New Zealand might provide forces to follow up United States amphibious troops and hold captured areas, in order to release specially trained and equipped American forces for further operations, the size of the New Zealand force to depend on the scope and locality in which it would be engaged.
Four alternative forces were proposed by Ghormley to meet any emergency—Force A, built round one infantry brigade with attached anti-aircraft and coast defence artillery; Force B, the same with the addition of two heavy coast defence batteries; Force C, built round two infantry brigades; and Force D, increased to three infantry brigades, each with additional coast defence and anti-aircraft artillery. Any of these forces, the size of which was to be determined by the Government, was to be ready for embarkation at any time after 25 August, and the proposal was obviously based on the American belief that the battle for Guadalcanal would end sooner than it did, as all future negotiations hinged on its success.page 74
Puttick communicated Ghormley's proposals to War Cabinet on 31 July and recommended the adoption of Force Das a target for reorganisation, using 3 Division as a basis and adding the necessary units and services from existing New Zealand formations, the bulk of them to come from Army Reserve Brigade. At the same time he recommended the reduction of the age limit for service overseas from 21 to 20 years.
Although the original intention, as interpreted by Ghormley, seems to have been the employment of the division in a garrison role, other ideas were seemingly held by the planners in Washington, for on 8 July Commodore Parry, while undertaking a mission there on his return to England, had cabled the result of conversations he had with the Navy staff which indicated that, in addition to a request for garrison troops, America would also require others for amphibious operations. Approval of an offensive role was confirmed by War Cabinet's minute of 11 August appointing Barrowclough ‘to take charge of the division that is to be formed and trained for offensive operations’, but this contained no formal decisions regarding the size of the force. The gravity of the situation in the Solomons at this time interrupted Fraser's mission to the United States, to which he had been invited by Roosevelt. His party included the Right Hon. J. G. Coates, Mr. Carl Berendsen and Mr. A. D. McIntosh, of the Prime Minister's Department, Mr. B. C. Ashwin, of the Treasury Department, Brigadier K. L. Stewart, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, and Mr. Patrick Hurley, United States Minister in New Zealand. They reached Noumea and conferred with Ghormley a few hours after he had been advised of the outcome of the first naval battle off Guadalcanal on 9 August and the crippling loss of four cruisers. Ghormley was extremely agitated by these losses, which so gravely reduced his limited strength in heavier ships. He was so apprehensive of the future in the Pacific that Fraser and his party temporarily delayed their journey to the United States and returned immediately to Wellington, where the Prime Minister called a secret session of Parliament.
On 10 August, the day before Barrowclough's appointment by Cabinet, Ghormley's headquarters had been informed that New Zealand was planning to provide a division of approximately 20,000 men, as requested, and that it would be available from 25 August, which would have been impossible as the last units of 3 Division did not return from Fiji until 14 August and the force was not sufficiently trained for such immediate despatch. However, any urgent need for it was discouraged by the fluctuating battle situation on Guadalcanal. Meanwhile, Army Headquarters page 75 decided to proceed with the preparation of a force designated Kiwi A (a code name for the purposes of reorganisation), which was really Ghormley's Force A strengthened by artillery. It was to be built round units of 14 Brigade and to consist of:
Divisional headquarters on a reduced scale
One infantry brigade, with an anti-tank battery of 12 guns
One field regiment of sixteen 25-pounder guns
One heavy anti-aircraft regiment of sixteen 3.7-inch guns
One light anti-aircraft regiment of thirty-six 40-millimeter guns
One heavy battery of four 6-inch guns
Two companies of engineers
Signals, supply, and medical units and a small base organisation
This formation was given urgent priority, but the commander was also to proceed with the organisation of a force known as Kiwi C (based on Ghormley's Force C) consisting of 13,500 all ranks and made up of:
Two infantry brigades, each with an anti-tank battery of twelve guns
One field regiment of twenty-four 25-pounder guns
One heavy anti-aircraft regiment of twenty-four 3.7-inch guns
One light anti-aircraft regiment of forty-eight 40-millimetre guns
One heavy regiment of four 6- inch or eight 155-millimetre guns
Three companies of engineers
Signals, supply, and medical units and a base organisation
Negotiations concerning the composition of these forces were in progress before Barrowclough's appointment and continued long afterwards. No New Zealand commander, faced with the responsibility of taking combat troops overseas, was ever so harassed by proposals, uncertainty, and indecision, all of which, despite his initiative and capacity for detailed planning, hindered him from reorganising his division and training to that desired state of efficiency required for an unusual campaign such as island warfare in the tropics. No details of the precise character of the operations were available to him, which was no fault of the New Zealand Army authorities, for even by 7 September the South Pacific commander had not received permission from the Dominion to use the Division. This was revealed when a signal from New Zealand requesting a supply of anti-malarial drugs brought a reply from Ghormley that he had not yet obtained the permission of the New Zealand Government to use its troops, nor did he intend to use them in a forward area while the situation there remained critical. Later, however, South Pacific Headquarters did indicate that the New Zealand force would not be required to carry out opposed landings, but that its role most probably would be to garrison small islands and take part in land attacks on large islands page 76 or the mainland and that, in such operations, the possibility of heavy counter-attacks required full-scale supporting weapons and a high percentage of anti-aircraft and coast defence guns.
This question of artillery support was one of the most pressing problems which exercised the attention of the commander during the reorganisation period, and his views on its tactical significance were set out in a long letter to Army Headquarters. His idea of combat teams outlined in his letter was fully developed in training the division:
‘For a long time I have been teaching that success in modern war against a resolute and well-equipped enemy can be achieved only by a much closer co-ordination between infantry and artillery (and tanks if you can get them). I think, and I have long been teaching, that it is altogether wrong to consider the tactical handling of infantry as such in any unit larger than a platoon. I submit it is unsound to contemplate the employment of a company of infantry. One should command a mixed team of infantry, mortars, and guns. In battle a company command should never be a mere command of infantry. He should command a mixed team—a “combat team” as it is sometimes called… One of the mistakes of our British system is the tendency to over-centralise our artillery, tanks, and aircraft. Few battalion commanders and still fewer company commanders have any real idea of how to command a mixed force.’
In the original reorganisation plan only one field regiment was contemplated, but at the same time an anti-aircraft brigade, as part of the division, was to be formed and trained. Barrowclough's comments during exchanges of correspondence concerning the formation of Force A—which he considered unbalanced because anti-aircraft and coast defence guns required adequate ground protection—and Force C brought about changes, though Army did not agree the Force A was unbalanced.
‘From the outset’, he wrote, ‘even with Force C, I am limited to one field regiment of 25-pounder guns. The normal allocation of 25-pounders is on the scale of one field regiment to an infantry brigade, and I submit that until the precise task is known Force A should be mobilised and got ready in New Zealand with a full field regiment and Force C with two such regiments. Should the task, when it is known, call for less, field artillery guns can be left behind. The 25-pounde seems to be the one piece of equipment in which we outstandingly surpass our enemies, and I submit that neither Force A nor Force C can be considered adequately equipped if it has less than the usual scale of these guns.’
The commander also stressed the restricted mobility of such heavy pieces as 3.7-inch howitzers and 155-millimetre guns because, in possible engagements in areas removed from the site of static defence guns, they could not possibly take the place of 25-pounders, and they could be moved only with difficulty.page 77
Because of the unusual composition of the force, the first of its kind New Zealand ever assembled, and its ultimate role, artillery remained a problem and eventually produced an organisation unique in the history of British arms. The division needed to be sufficiently strong to fight with or without the Americans (though it never did), and the necessity for static coast defence and anti-aircraft units, as well as support for infantry, required its artillery to be stronger and quite unlike the normal requirements of a divisional formation in the field. Two staffs were therefore evolved for its efficient operation—one for field and anti-tank units and another for coast defence and anti-aircraft. Each had its brigade major, staff captain and liaison officers, sharing a common intelligence officer, and this system worked satisfactorily in New Caledonia, where a regiment of 6-inch guns assisted with the defence of Noumea Harbour and two anti-aircraft regiments defended several aerodromes. When the division moved north into the Solomons and the static units were disbanded and absorbed into other formations, the staff was proportionately reduced to the normal organisation.
The lengthy and complicated task of reorganisation no doubt provoked quite understandable impatience on the part of those most intimately concerned with it. Although in June orders had been issued that all available A grade men from ballots and garrison units were to be posted to divisions in order to have sufficient ready to meet the needs for overseas service, Army Headquarters, in calling for men for 3 Division, did not wish to weaken unduly the home defences by drawing off too many key personnel until the situation in the Solomons removed any threat of attack. There were delays, also, in hearing appeals of men balloted for overseas service and in medical boardings, and there was the provocative question of leave, made worse when many of the men taking the leave due to them after service in Fiji displayed no great haste in returning to their units.
Leave in New Zealand, approved by Army Headquarters, was arranged on a basis of seven days for every two months of service, with one-way travelling time and a free rail warrant, which meant that men from the southern districts stationed in the Auckland area spent almost a fornight away from their units. Bereavement and confinement leave were also allowed up to seven and fourteen days respectively. This embarrassed the transport services (at that time hampered by coal strikes) as much as any training programme and produced a routine order from the 14 Brigade Commander in which he said: ‘Our primary duty is preparation for war and leave cannot be allowed to prevent the army from attaining a proper standard of training. Training is not only an individual concern; page 78 it necessitates the presence of whole units and formations in the field together.’ During his inspection of both brigades, Barrowclough also emphasised that the war would not be won by staying in New Zealand and that sooner or later someone had to go overseas. In an attempt to reconcile to the best possible extent the conflict between a desire for leave, the need for training, and the difficulties of transport. Army Headquarters called a conference of all divisional and district commanders and, although War Cabinet approved its recommendations for certain modifications, leave was still generously granted.
Concentration on defence works by all ranks in Fiji had left little time for advanced training, and most of the units were unfamiliar with battle exercises on a large scale or the latest developments in jungle tactics, these last evolved from information reaching the training manuals from those who had been in contact with the Japanese. This was revealed when Barrowclough reported that ‘not one of the commanding officers was able to describe to me a single large-scale battalion exercise completely carried through’. For these reasons a six weeks’ programme of concentrated training was devised and on 1 September the South Pacific command informed that the force could not be ready for overseas operations before the middle of October. As the men returned from leave and reinforcements arrived to build up old and new units, brigades embarked on tactical exercises and battalions on manœuvres, both by day and night, rain or shine.
All these were made as practical and interesting as possible and involved all branches of training so that, in the event of any sudden move, some reasonable state of preparedness would be attained. Engineers staged field days instructing the infantry in the art of bridging streams and in demolition; aircraft flew over the training areas trailing drogues as targets to accustom the men in anti-aircraft defence; lectures were given on malaria and other tropical diseases by former officials from the Solomons, and particular attention was paid to jungle warfare. Tactical exercises without troops concerned the senior officers, who were no longer required to find men daily for digging and wiring and excavating, as they had done in Fiji. A field regiment and anti-tank batteries were reorganised from the existing units from Fiji and took part in combined attack and defence schemes, but elements of coast and anti-aircraft artillery formations, these last beginning at the recruit stage, were concentrated in camps at Judgeford and Pahautanui in the Wellington area under Colonel V. A. Young, RA, who was responsible for their organisation and training until they were ready to be absorbed into the division under the new CRA, page 79 Brigadier C. S. J. Duff, DSO.1 When these units finally emerged from the cocoon of reorganisation, they moved north via Rotorua, holding, calibration shoots on the way, and joined the division in the Waikato.
In order to avoid any confusion and unnecessary duplication in training, organisation and equipment, which arose because of the idea that attention could be given to Force C after Force A had left the country, Barrowclough on 1 September asked for a definite ruling from Army Headquarters, at the same time expressing the opinion that reorganisation would be effected more smoothly if the force was considered as a division less one brigade. Some idea of the difficulties being faced at this time, when no definite answer was possible, are indicated in a paragraph from Army's reply to the commander:
‘I do not intend to bore you with the difficulties with which Army Headquarters and districts have to contend to produce personnel for your division, but I would ask you to accept them as very real…. Unfortunately a good deal of patience and restraint will require to be exercised by us all in many matters connected with this force.’
Among those marched out were the medically unfit or lower than Grade I, men with more than three dependent children, incorrigibles, men over or under age, all half-caste or full-blood Maoris, and from quarter- to half-caste Maoris if they so desired. A high percentage of those marched out as unfit were men sent forward as reinforcements.
1 Brig C. S. J. Duff, DSO m. i. d.; Wellington; born NZ 19 Nov 1898; Regular soldier; commanded 34 NZ A-Tk Bty, 1939–40; 7 A-Tk Regt, 1940–41; 4 Fd Regt, 1941–42; CRA 3 NZ Div, Aug 1942-Aug 1944; NZLO Melbourne, 1947-48.
|GOC||Maj-Gen H. E. Barrowclough, DSO and bar, MC|
|GSO 1||Lt-Col J. I. Brooke|
|GSO 2||Maj S. S. H. Berkeley|
|GSO 3 (Operations)||Capt R. F. Wakefield|
|GSO 3 (Intelligence)||Capt J. Rutherford|
|AA and QMG||Col W. Murphy, MC|
|DAQMG||Maj P. L. Bennett, MC|
|DAAG||Maj S. F. Marshall|
|Chief Legal Officer||Maj D. A. Solomon|
|Commander Royal Artillery||Col C. S. J. Duff, DSO|
|Brigade Major (field)||Maj N. W. M. Hawkins|
|Staff Captain (field)||Capt O. J. Cooke|
|Brigade Major (A/A and coast)||Maj C. D. B. Campling|
|Staff Captain (A/A and coast)||Capt J. A. Crawley|
|Commander||Lt-Col B. Wicksteed|
|150 Battery||Maj H. C. F. Peterson|
|151 Battery||Maj J. G. Warrington|
|152 Battery||Maj G. L. Falck|
1 No attempt has been made in this volume to give a complete and acurate record of changes of unit commanders. Because of sickness, age, and other factors there were frequent changes, particularly in the battalions. Commanders are named only at specified dates such as this, though a change of command may have followed shortly afterwards.
Boarding a Landing Craft (Mechanised), Noumea.
Gunners pulling a Bofors gun ashore at Mele Beach, Efate
Troops board the USS Transport President Hayes, Noumea
|Commander||Lt-Col H. W. D. Blake|
|12 Battery||Maj R. V. M. Wylde-Brown|
|35 Battery||Maj A. G. Coulam|
|37 Battery||Capt D. O. Watson|
|Commander||Lt-Col W. S. McKinnon|
|202 Battery||Maj E. M. Luxford|
|203 Battery||Maj H. G. St. V. Beechey|
|204 Battery||Capt B. S. Cole|
|Commander||Lt-Col F. M. Yendell|
|207 Battery||Capt H. L. G. Macindoe|
|208 Battery||Capt B. L. Burns|
|209 Battery||Capt G. H. Turner|
|214 Battery||Capt G. F. T. Hall|
|Commander||Maj L. J. Fahey|
|53 Anti-Tank Battery||Capt L. D. Lovelock|
|54 Anti-Tank Battery||Capt R. M. Foreman|
|Commander Royal Engineers||Lt-Col A. Murray|
|20 Field Company||Maj W. G. McKay|
|23 Field Company||Capt A. H. Johnston|
|37 Field Park||Capt S. E. Anderson|
|Chief Signals Officer||Lt-Col D. McN. Burns|
|Artillery Signals||Capt G. W. Heatherwick|
|No. 1 Company||Capt K. H. Wilson|
|Headquarters Company||Capt R. M. South|
|J Section (8 Brigade)||Lt G. M. Parkhouse|
|K Section (14 Brigade)||Lt C. G. Murray|
|Commander||Lt-Col F. G. M. Jenkins, DCM|
|Senior Supply Officer||Maj A. Craig|
|4 ASC Company||Capt R. Gapes|
|16 ASC Company||Capt A. M. Lamont|
|10 Reserve Mechanical Transport Company||Capt L. M. G. Grieves|
|ADMS||Col J. M. Twhigg, DSO|
|7 Field Ambulance||Lt-Col S. Hunter|
|22 Field Ambulance||Lt-Col W. F. Shirer|
|4 General Hospital||Lt-Col A. A. Tennent|
|ADDS||Lt-Col O. E. L. Rout|
|Base Dental Hospital||Maj J. C. M. Simmers|
|10 Mobile Dental Section||Maj A. I. McCowan|
|DADOS||Maj M. S. Myers|
|Senior Mechanical Engineer (Armament)||Maj J. W. Evers|
|Senior Mechanical Engineer (MT)||Maj G. C. Simmiss|
|8 Infantry Brigade:|
|Commander||Brig R. A. Row|
|Brigade Major||Maj J. M. Reidy|
|Staff Captain||Capt I. H. MacArthur|
|29 Battalion||Lt-Col A. J. Moore|
|34 Battalion||Lt-Col R. J. Eyre|
|36 Battalion||Lt-Col J. W. Barry|
|14 Infantry Brigade:|
|Commander||Brig L. Potter|
|Brigade Major||Maj C. W. H. Ronaldson|
|Staff Captain||Capt A. E. Muir|
|30 Battallion||Lt-Col S. A. McNamara, DCM|
|35 Battalion||Lt-Col C. F. Seaward|
|37 Battalion||Lt-Col A. H. L. Sugden|
|Officer in Charge of Administration and Base Commandant||Col W. W. Dove, MC|
|DAG 2 Echelon||Capt G. W. Foote|
|Staff Captain||Lt H. N. Johnson|
|Base Reception Depot||Capt A. R. Stowell|
|Pay||Capt W. P. McGowan|
|Records||Lt E. R. Newman|
|Postal||2 Lt F. W. Purton|
Many of the base units were not formed or were in process of formation and were completed only after long delay. Changes of appointment were frequent through the formative months, and many of the above appointments were altered by the end of the year.
Because of the unsuitability of some of the camps, and with a view to more comprehensive training and the use of troops for large-scale tactical exercises, a change of area was proposed, first to Warkworth, but finally to the Waikato. The division, however, seemed fated to periods of disintegration. New Zealand was page 83 asked to provide more garrisons for the Pacific, and this meant the withdrawal of units from 3 Division. On 7 October 36 Battalion, with supporting artillery—field, coast, and anti-aircraft—was detached for duty on pine-clad Norfolk Island to relieve Australian troops there, and later in the month the 34th was despatched to Queen Salote's island kingdom of Tonga to replace an American unit. Both battalions rejoined the division later in New Caledonia. They were replaced in 8 Brigade by 1 Scottish Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel K. B. McKenzie-Muirson, MC,1 and 1 Ruahine Battalion, under Lieutenant-Colonel C. N. Devery, DCM,2 from 4 Division, though these two units did not join the division until it sailed for New Caledonia.
On 16 October, as the division was settling itself into the Waikato district, its role was to some extent clarified by a request from Ghormley's headquarters for a force equal to Force C to move to New Caledonia to replace American units committed to the battle, which was still undecided on Guadalcanal. The following day a cable despatched to Nash in Washington indicated its size: ‘War Cabinet have agreed to Ghormley's request for a New Zealand force of approximately two brigades to proceed to New Caledonia as soon as transport can be arranged.’ This was Force C of 13,500 all ranks, but a larger force, built round Force D, of three brigades, with increased artillery and services, was still evidently contemplated for the Pacific, as the following sentence appeared in a message from Puttick to the commander of the South Pacific area on 13 October: ‘Owing to manpower difficulties I cannot give estimated time when Kiwi D will be ready.’ Approval for the remaining third brigade was given by War Cabinet on 28 November, but it was not to be formed until after the division was concentrated overseas. Inclusion of an armoured regiment of 60 tanks and 900 all ranks was also approved by Cabinet on 5 November, and preparations for its assembly from units of 2 Army Tank Battalion began at Waiouru, but the main body did not go north until the division was on Guadalcanal the following year.
Units marched in stages to their new areas, bivouacking by night as part of the training scheme. Morale was good, esprit de corps asserted itself, and few fell by the wayside; if they did they were soon revived by the hospitality which was showered upon them. Reconnaissance parties had previously allotted areas over a vast triangle enclosed by Hamilton, Te Aroha and Tirau, and including Morrinsville, Cambridge, and Matamata. On 6 October, when the move began, Divisional Headquarters was established in buildings of the Claudelands Racecourse; 8 Brigade went to Cambridge and 14 Brigade to Te Aroha Showgrounds, with their units distributed around them. Artillery Headquarters, its units not yet fully assembled, was established at Tirau with its regiments in Okoroire and Matamata; Engineer units were housed on the Te Rapa Racecourse, ASC at Morrinsville, and Signals at Claudelands. Base units were installed at Rugby Park in Hamilton, where new units were still being added to the order of battle.
The Waikato, in the full flood of spring, was lush, warm, and beautiful. In every town and village occupied by troops, residents responded so generously with entertainment, both private and public, that the period spent there remained as warmly in the memory as the thermal springs within easy reach of Te Aroha, Okoroire, and Matamata. As soon as the move was completed, preparations began for large-scale tactical manœugers in the Kaimai Ranges which the commander had in mind when he selected the Waikato as a training area. These manœuvres, afterwards referred to facetiously as the ‘Battle of the Kaimais’, were the first in which the Division as a whole, or as whole as it was ever to be, was engaged, and one of the most valuable because of the lessons learned and not readily forgotten.page 85
In selecting this tract of wooded country Barrowclough had in mind the situation then existing in New Guinea, where the Japanese, after their reverse in the Coral Sea, were attempting to invade Port Moresby overland by crossing the Owen Stanley Ranges from Lae and Salamaua. The locality was ideal as a testing and training ground in jungle warfare for both men and equipment—only the heat and the mosquitoes were missing. Dense, untracked bush clothes hills rising to 2000 feet, through which a trail had been blased as an axis of advance for the two opposing groups. For the purpose of the manœuvre, which lasted from 21 to 27 October, Tauranga became Buna and Matamata represented Port Moresby, with the high country dividing them as the Owen Stanley Ranges.
Row's 8 Brigade, made up of 29 Battalion, 23 Field Company Engineers, 4 Composite Company ASC, 7 Field Ambulance and two home defence units, 1 Auckland and a Home Guard battalion from the Tauranga area, represented a Japanese force advancing through Tauranga; potter's 14 Brigade consisting of 30, 35, and 37 Battalions, 20 Field Company Engineers, 16 Composite Company ASC, and 22 Field Ambulance moved into the ranges from Matamata to meet the enemy. Advanced Headquarters opened at Opal Springs, a bucolic spot near the foothills where trees enclosed a warm water pool, appointed umpires and watched results. The Japanese force was to advance through ‘Buna’, continue into the bush, construct a road and gain contact with the enemy; the defending force, after moving out of ‘Port Moresby’ was to take up a position astride the line of advance (the ‘Kokoda Trail’) and maintain itself there for a week. This exercise was made as realistic as possible, its object being to practise the protection of supply convoys, the movement of infantry patrols through bush, communications, the organisation of medical services and other problems of administration. Air co-operation and air support played an important part. Hostile aircraft, dropping flour bombs, were represented by Hudson bombers escorted by Kittyhawk fighters, with Hawker Hind reconnaissance planes playing for the defenders, all of them coming from aerodromes at Tauranga and Whenuapai during the hours of daylight to engage in mock dive-bombing raids and to reconnoitre the positions of the opposing forces. Propaganda leaflets dropped by the ‘enemy’ in the 14 Brigade area proved to be ‘cheap immoral publications’ in the estimation of the intelligence staff who examined them.
Heavy rain fell soon after the manœuvres began and continued in torrents, adding considerably to the realism of jungle warfare but without its enervating heat. Conditions in the bush rapidly deteriorated and were such that patrols from the two forces which evaded page 86 each other were so exhausted they made no show of resistance when captured but simply asked for food. The 1st Auckland (T) Battalion, less arduously trained than 3 Division, was withdrawn after the first day. No formed roads existed on either side in the immediate neighbourhood of engaged units, so that the task of creating them fell to the engineers, using bulldozers. When the weather halted all traffic except four-wheel-drive vehicles using chains, the roads were corduroyed for miles with trunks of tree ferns. Bren carriers and jeeps soon churned deep tracks through the emerald slopes leading up the bush line, when they replaced the ASC supply columns which were bogged down. In the bush itself, in the 14 Brigade area, a steep four-foot track was cut in steps up the hillside, and here, stripped to the waist and often knee-deep in mud, men of the ASC passed cases of supplies from hand to hand to ration the fatigued and sodden troops in the combat areas. The Kaimai adventure emphasised what was realised later, that much of the Solomons campaign was to be an engineer and supply problem. This test of organisation equally tried the physical efficiency of the individual and the reliability of unit equipment. Signals discovered that the existing wireless sets were useless in the rain-soaked bush, and relied on line communication; engineers, working from six o’clock in the morning until late into the night, soon realised that jungle warfare required a considerable increase in established equipment; the infantry, burdened with full pack and 24 hours rations, emphasised the necessity and value of slashers and waterproof capes; the ASC, using jeeps to transport supplies over the boggy routes, finally resorted to the use of 1000 sandbags for the final individual carrying parties.
At the conclusion of the manoeuvre its shortcomings were ruthlessly exposed at a conference of commanders, during which Barrowclough commented that many of the troops, who were not fully aware of its purpose, seemed to think ‘they were the Tararua Tramping Club making a road and packing in supplies’. Instead of improving occupied positions troops were too concerned with settling in and building shelters to turn the rain; making tracks took precedence over lanes of fire and fire plans; localities were revealed to aircraft by smoke from fires, and little attention had been paid to camouflage. Because of the dismal conditions, commanders were to concerned with the comfort of the men instead of with the ‘enemy’. But the lessons learned were invaluable. Shortages were revealed, and the necessity shown for traffic control and anti-aircraft protection measures in rear areas, as well as an increase in unit equipment or its replacement by better quality articles. Two factors emerged triumphantly—the jeep as a means page 87 of transport under the most desperate conditions and the morale of the men, for sick parades had fallen far below normal during the exercise. Even the medical units found they could use jeeps for the transport of casualties when their ambulances were bogged down in the mud. Though the New Zealand soldier does not play at manoeuvres with any great degree of enthusiasm, requiring rather the presence of the enemy and the stimulus of actual fighting conditions, those troops taking part in the Kaimai exercise achieved a realism which drew praise from a party of American officers who visited the scene of operations and saw them at work.
The division's impending departure for New Caledonia was revealed at the conclusion of the Kaimai manoeuvres, after which leave was granted before the final packing and medical examinations began with their usual bustle. Meanwhile, information was reaching headquarters about the new territory. Brooke1 flew to Guadalcanal, returning with first-hand knowledge of conditions there during the height of the battle and some experience of the heavy bombardment of Henderson airfield by Japanese warships. Dove2 and Rutherford3 brought back a sheaf of information about New Caledonia, to which they had flown on 18 October to select temporary headquarters and reconnoitre the proposed divisional areas. They were followed by an advanced party of 150 all ranks, under Major W. A. Bryden,4 which sailed in the Crescent City and reached Noumea on 2 November. Barrowclough and his principal staff officers arrived there by air five days later to await the assembly of the main body.
1 Col J. I. Brooke, OBE, m. i. d., Legion of Merit (US); Waiouru Military Camp; born Dunedin, 20 Nov 1897; Regular soldier; BM 6 Inf Bde, 1940–41; GSO 1 3 NZ Div, 1942–44; Camp Commandant, Waiouru, 1951–.
2 Brig W. W. Dove, CBE, MC, Legion of Merit (US); Auckland; born Rockhampton, Queensland, 6 Sep 1895; Regular soldier; NZ Rifle Bde 1916–19; Officer i/c Administration and Base Commandant, 2 NZEF IP, 1942–44.