Episode 11 – The Engineers

Episode Eleven:

In this episode we hear stories from Engineers of the  New Zealand Army who served in Italy. The Engineers performed a myriad of important tasks that kept the Army moving forward, from building bridges over rivers and canals were previous bridges had been blown by the retreating Germans; to mine laying and mine clearing; to building construction, road repair and vehicle maintenance. In this bumper sized episode you’ll hear the memories of several Engineers who were there.

Featuring:
Ted Gatfield (7 Mechanical Equipment Company, Headquarters, NZ Engineers)
Tom McClennan (7th Field Engineers)
Eric Bullen (2nd NZ Divisional Engineers)
Ted Lees (Field Engineers)
Stan Wall (Field Engineers)
Pat Green (24 Battalion)

Duration:  2 hours 21 minutes  53 seconds
Narration provided by Dave Homewood
Recordings and Editing by Dave Homewood
Produced by Dave Homewood

 

Courage And Valour Extra – Kay de Lautour


In this Courage And Valour “Extra” episode Dave Homewood has a brief chat with artist Kay de Latour, who is the daughter of Italian Campaign veteran Eric de Latour. She lives very near to Cassino in Italy where her father fought, and she’s very involved with keeping the memory of the war veterans there alive through her art, her Legato exhibitions, her tour guiding around the battle sites, and as Chairman of the Monte Cassino Foundation. Click the player below to listen to the interview, or feel free to hit the download button to keep a copy.

KayEric

 

Left: Kay de Lautour with her father Eric de Lautour, who served in 25 Battalion in North Africa before transferring to 18th Armoured Regiment as a Signals Driver in Italy.

 

 

 

Here are her websites:

The Legato Exhibition

Kay’s Art Page

 

Episode 10 – Life In The Poor Bloody Infantry

In this episode of Courage And Valour, the veterans of the New Zealand Infantry Battalions talk frankly about the life of an infantry soldier in the front lines, and behind the lines, in WWII, both in Egypt and in Italy. This is a collection of memories, reminiscences and anecdotes from those men who were there at the sharp end. The detailed accounts after all these years are astounding, and the openness about life back then very refreshing.

In this episode, in order of appearance, we hear:
– Pat Green (24 Battalion, Mortar Platoon)
– Ted ‘Bluey’ Homewood (21 Battalion)
– Don Adams (21 Battalion)
– Colin Murray (24 Battalion)
– Norm Harris (24 Battalion)
– Charlie Honeycombe (21 Battalion)
– Te Puhi Patara (28 Maori Battalion)
– Bob O’Brien (24 Battalion)
– Harry Hopping (24 Battalion)
– Nolan Raihania (28 Maori Battalion)
– Aubrey Balzer (28 Maori Battalion)
and
– Ted Waters (21 Battalion)

Listeners will note I chose not to add any bridging narration for this episode, because I felt it didn’t need it and it simply flows like one long conversation. Plus all the participants are known voices from previous episodes. For those wondering who is telling which story, here’s a handy guide

00:01:31 – Pat – Getting into a Battalion

00:01.56 – Bluey – A day in the life of infantrymen at Maadi

00:05.03 – Don – Route marches and showers at Maadi, and leave into Cairo

00:06.19 – Bluey – Army teaching him self respect and more

00:07.00 – Colin – The Division being self sustaining

00:08.02 – Norm – Cook trucks

00:08.18 – Colin – Food

00:08.49 – Charlie – Don’t eat German food

00:09.08 – Pat – Rations, cooking, stealing spuds

00:15.44 – Te Puhi – Food and wine

00:16.59 – Bluey – Old gear and bad tanks

00:20.07 – Norm – Trucks valued more highly then men

00:20.23 – Bob – One bloke letting him down

00:21.27 – Colin – Let down by a guy too

00:23.39 – Pat – Shorty’s fear, and joking in the front line

00:27.35 – Colin and Bob – Fear, and moving forward against the enemy, short rounds

00:29.53 – Colin – Friendly fire

00:32.16 – Colin & Harry – Daytime attacks

00:32.38 – Pat – Getting chased across a big field by mortars

00:34.13 – Nolan – 12 Reinforcements baptism of fire

00:35.08 – Norm – Dealing with death and losses

00:35.51 – Aubrey – He and his brother Clarence wounded, and Mac killed

00:47.50 – Colin – Firepower of an infantry platoon

00:49.24 – Pat – Make up of Company structure

00:53.53 – Charlie – Seven man section

00:54.56 – Bluey – The big bed

00:55.49 – Norm – Sleep and pickets

00:56.30 – Pat – Left Out of Battle (LOB)

00:58.23 – Nolan – LOB through Purple Death

01:01.05 – Te Puhi – Freyberg and the “Wave out and they’ll wave back” story

01:02.19 – Charlie – German flame throwers at Orsogna

01:02.44 – Colin – Coming out of the lines for a rest

01:06.59 – Pat – Coming out to rest, washing, hitting the Sgt with a tomato

01:08.51 – Pat – Coming out of the line, MP argument

01:11.53 – Pat – Christmas Dinner at Forli

01:14.13 – Te Puhi – Rests and leave

01:15.20 – Don – Leave at NZ Club

01:16.47 – Colin & Harry – Kiwi Club, and Colin’s haircut

01:19.09 – Don – Kiwi Concert Party

01:19.57 – Colin & Harry – Leave and rest

01:20.50 – Don – Italian opera

01:21.16 – Pat – Getting into Venice

01:26.42 – Ted – Leave in Venice

01:28.01 – Don – Dome on St Peter’s Cathedral

01:29.06 – Colin & Harry – Religion and Padres

01:31.47 – Colin – Village sewerage, and the currency

01:32.37 – Colin – Italian civilians and their primitive lifestyle

01:35.52 – Don – Italian people

01:36.17 – Norm – Italian people

01:37.00 – Colin – Italian women

01:37.40 – Aubrey – Italians

01:38.53 – Norm and Pat – Coming in as a replacement

01:40.21 – Norm, Pat & Colin – Fred Haar

01:44.55 – Pat – Tracker Jones and his stint in a British Glasshouse

01:51.53 – Colin & Harry – Singing and music, and bond between comrades

01:54.00 – Pat – Singing

01:54.59 – Colin & Norm – Looting

01:56.24 – Don – Looting and rackets

01:57.01 – Te Puhi – Racket

01:58.42 – Ted – Stolen car racket

02:00.08 – Colin & Harry – Looting and rackets

02:08.09 – Pat – 2nd Lt Sammy Reidpath taking the surrender of German Regt, and collecting Lugers

02:10.49 – Pat – Rimini hall with starry ceiling, bomb on Freyberg’s HQ,  and mortar shelling the cemetery

02:18.09 – Pat – Visiting cemeteries

02:21.59 – Bluey – We got all the shit, but we loved it

END

Episode 9 – Trieste and War’s End

This episode covers the New Zealand Infantrymen of the 2nd NZ Division who had been sitting for months at the Senio River. We follow their story as they break out north in the spring offensive, rolling north up through the top of Italy all the way to Trieste, where the war ended. But the kiwis found themselves facing another very potential enemy in that city, the Communist forces of Yugoslavia.

In this episode you’ll hear:
Ray Moncur – Divisional Signals
Ted Waters – 21 Battalion
Nolan Raihania – 28 Battalion
Te Puhi Patara  – 28 Battalion
Morris Johnstone  – 27 Battalion
Harry Shirley  – 21 Battalion
Gordon Briggs  – 23 Battalion
Norrie Miller  – 22 Battalion
Ted “Bluey” Homewood  – 21 Battalion
Pat Green – 24 Battalion
Haddon Donald – 22 Battalion
Aubrey Balzer – 28 Battalion
and
Norm Harris  – 24 Battalion

Episode 8 – The Adriatic

Following the victory in taking the vital city of Florence from the Germans, the New Zealand Division rested and re-equipped at Impoli for a short period. They also took on reinforcements here. Then when ready again for action the Div moved back east across the Appenines to rejoin the fight. Now they were formed into the Canadian Corps, with their first task being to support the Allied moves to take Rimini.

Between September and December 1944 the New Zealand Infantry were a spearhead in moving the Allied lines forward through Rimini, onto Forli and then taking the city of Faenza. But winter arrived and the Allies could go no further than the southern banks of the Senio river. The Germans were poised on the northern banks, and from December through till the last day of March 1945 a stalemate of sorts ensued. This did not mean the work stopped, and the kiwi infantry carried out daily and nightly patrols, manned listening posts and lobbed mortar and artillery shells across the river at the enemy.  The enemy did the same back.

In this episode we hear from men who were there, in that cold, bleak landscape risking it all.

In order of appearance we hear:

– Gordon Briggs (23 Battalion)
– Ned Nolan (22 Battalion)
– Nolan Raihania (28 (Maori) Battalion)
– Te Puhi Patara (28 (Maori) Battalion)
– Don Adams (21 Battalion)
– Harry Shirley (21 Battalion)
– Ted Waters (21 Battalion)
– Ted “Bluey” Homewood  (21 Battalion)
– Harry Hopping (24 Battalion)
– Brynn Hughes (22 Battalion)
– Fred Preece (28 (Maori) Battalion)
– Charlie Honeycombe (21 Battalion)
and
-Norm Harris (24 Battalion)

Thanks to the Te Awamutu Returned and Service Association, Richard Carstens, Harima Fraser, and the 28 (Maori) Battalion Association for their assistance in making this episode

Wounded at El Alamein

In this Courage And Valour “Extra” we hear the vivid memories of 24 Battalion soldier Pat Green recalling not only his first battle but his first wound in battle too, in the first battle of El Alamein in September 1942. This story is pieced together from several memories that came out over several recordings, but show how strong they remain in Pat’s memory more than 70 years later.

WARNING: Strong Adult Themes Within This Episode, Parental Guidance Strongly Advised

The Rubicon

The Rubicon is an important river in Italian history, and during the Italian Campaign the 2nd New Zealand Division found themselves in battle to cross the Rubicon, on their way north towards Florence. In this mini-episode we hear from two 21 Battalion mates, Ted “Bluey” Homewood and Charlie Honeycombe, remembering the battles around that area. Duration 7 minutes 19 seconds

WARNING: Adult Themes Within This Episode, Parental Guidance Advised

Episode 7 – Towards Florence

In this episode we hear from a reinforcement joining the fight, and we follow the New Zealand infantry as they move northwards up through Italy towards the important city of Florence. They encounter the formidable Paula Line, a series of defences around Florence that included the stronghold villages of San Michele and La Romola.

Featuring in order of their first appearance in this episode:

Norm Harris (24 Battalion)
Brynn Hughes  (22 Battalion)
Clem Hollies (21 Battalion)
Colin Murray (24 Battalion)
Alan Ambury  (24 Battalion)
Harry Hopping (24 Battalion)
Pat Green (24 Battalion)
Jack Cummins (22 Battalion)
Ted “Bluey” Homewood (21 Battalion)

Episode 6 – After Cassino

In this episode we continue with the story of the New Zealand infantrymen after they were moved out of Cassino township, following the battle and stalemate they’d endured there.

Following a brief respite to recover, they were moved into the mountains to the Belvedere-Terelle line, where they were to push the Germans out of the area around the village of Terelle.

Following intensive fighting there, they pushed the Nazis back and moved down the slopes toward the Liri Valley fighting their way through several small villages before finally taking Sora. Here the Division rested before the next phase of battle.

This period of the campaign is interesting in that very few veterans spoken with in the making of this series had much memory of the mountain warfare and the eventual move into Sora.  Compared with the ever vivid recall of the fight in Cassino township before this period, much of the memories have faded for many of the veterans. So this episode features the stories just five infantrymen, however I am sure you’ll agree they tell some great stories about this period of the campaign.

Featuring in order of their first appearance in this episode:

Harry Hopping (24 Battalion)
Clem Hollies (21 Battalion)
Colin Murray (24 Battalion)
Pat Green (24 Battalion)
Fred Blank (24 Battalion)

 

Episode 5 – Cassino Part Two

In this episode pick up the story continuing on from episode four, joining the kiwi veterans again just following the massive bombing and artillery barrage that flattened the ancient town of Cassino in March 1944.

When the dust settled and night fell the infantry of the 2nd New Zealand division was ordered to move up into the rubble that had been the town, with the aim of flushing out and driving out the remaining German occupiers.

However the bombing and artillery has not killed all the Germans as expected, they have survived in caves and now occupy fortified bunkers, ready to defend the strategic position. Snipers, mortar men and gunners look down from the German positions onto the levelled town, and can see every movement.

The New Zealand infantrymen can only move by night, and not very far. A stalemate begins, with the kiwis living for weeks in cellars, ruins and crypts, hiding from view. Food and ammunition is brought up to them by hand by carrying parties at night, and the wounded removed the same way.

The kiwi tanks cannot move in the rubble and German firepower soon overwhelms most of them. Allied artillery give the Germans constant reason to keep their heads down but the enemy still manages to hold their ground.

Cassino becomes a hell on earth for men of the 2nd New Zealand Division.

Featuring in order of their first appearance in this episode:
Norm Harris (24 Battalion)
Pat Green (24 Battalion)
Ted “Bluey” Homewood (21 Battalion)
Colin Murray (24 Battalion)
Charlie Honeycombe (21 Battalion)
Clem Hollies (21 Battalion)
Galvan Garmonsway (24 Battalion)
Harry Hopping (24 Battalion)
Bob Sanders (23 Battalion)
Ray Moncur (Divisional Signals)
Jack Cummins (22 Battalion)
Bob O’Brien (24 Battalion)
Gordon Briggs (23 Battalion)

See photos relating to this episode by clicking here

http://www.newzealandersatwar.com/Extra_Episode_5.html

New Narrator For The Series

Sadly our professional narrator Jason McQuaters has had to pull out of the Courage And Valour project due to work and family pressures not allowing him the time he’d have liked to commit to the series. So from Episode 5 onwards I will be taking up the narration myself. This will make it easier to put shows together as I can chop and change narration much more easily if something new comes up, etc. But sadly I’m not a trained radio professional like Jason so the quality won’t be so smooth. I apologise in advance. I hope however you’ll all near with me and continue to listen to the series regardless because it’s not about Jason or me at the end of the day, the important voices are the WWII veterans in the series who make Courage And Valour so special.

I want to thank Jason for his hard work on the series up till now.  I wouldn’t have felt confident enough to launch the series to the public without you. Cheers mate!

Dave Homewood

Episode 4 – Cassino Part One

In Episode Four of Courage And Valour, we hear from veterans of the 2nd NZ Division who fought in the campaign at Cassino. This town was considered the gateway to Rome, if the Allies could take it they would open up the road (Route 6) and the railway link all the way to Italy’s capital city. The Allies needed to capture Cassino, the Germans needed to hold it.

Capturing Cassino however was never going to be an easy task. The landscape in which the town sits at the base of the mountains and with a narrow passage through to the Liri Valley had always presented a very strong defence against attackers in past centuries. It also had the vantage point of the Benedictine monastery on top of Monte Cassino, from where defenders could see virtually anything happening in the approaches to the town below for miles.

The Germans also strengthened the town and positions around the hillsides with concrete and steel structures to create strongpoints for their machine-guns and mortars. And around the town they had broken river stop-banks and flooded the pastures to ensure tanks and vehicles approaching could only use the roads, which of course the German artillery had “taped” firmly in their sights. Furthermore any attack on the town by the Allies would involve crossing the Rapido River  so the Germans had destroyed the bridges to make this more difficult.

In January 1944 the US Fifth Army (actually made up of troops from the USA, Britain, France and the French colonies in Africa) attempted to take the town, but had failed and were badly mauled.

So General Alexander and his staff brought across the 2nd New Zealand Division and the Fourth Indian Division form the Adriatic battlegrounds. These two divisions plus some British armoured, artillery and other units were formed into the New Zealand Corps, led once again by General Bernard Freyberg (he’d led a NZ Corps previously for a short time in the final stages of the North African campaign). Now it was the turn of the Kiwis and Indians to have crack at taking the town. The NZ Corps was attached to the US Fifth Army for this operation.

In this episode we hear about the move from the Orsogna Front to Piedemonte Alife where the NZ Corps formed and prepared. We hear how they moved into the lines at Cassino into areas already secured by the US, French and British troops. We hear about the initial patrolling and the capture of the first prisoner by a New Zealander in Cassino. And we hear about the bombing of the monestary and then the fateful attempt in February 1944 to take the Cassino Railway Station. And when this attack failed we hear of the wait for good weather so they can have another crack at it. And before the second attempt in March 1944, the town of Cassino is obliterated by the biggest strategic bombing raid of all time.

Featuring in order of their first appearance in this episode:
Morris Pratt (6th Field Comp, NZ Engineers)
Harry Hopping (24 Battalion)
John Bell (27 Machine Gun Battalion)
Jack Cummins (22 Battalion)
Pat Green (24 Battalion)
Galvan Garmonsway (24 Battalion)
Fred Blank (24 Battalion)
Norm Harris (24 Battalion)
Charlie Honeycombe (21 Battalion)
Ted “Bluey” Homewood (21 Battalion)
Colin Murray (24 Battalion)
Tom McClennan (7th Field Comp, NZ Engineers)
Aubrey Balzer (28 Maori Battalion)
Gordon Briggs (23 Battalion)
Bob O’Brien (24 Battalion)

See photos relating to this episode by clicking here
http://www.newzealandersatwar.com/Extra_Episode_4.html

Episode 3 – Castel Frentano And Orsogna

In this third episode in the Courage And Valour series we hear from veterans of the New Zealand Infantry remembering their part in the battles to take the German regional headquarters and the nearby village of Castel Frentano, and their attempt to also capture the stronghold village of Orsogna.

As well as battling the Germans, these kiwi troops had to also contend with weather they’d never struck before, battling the cold, the mud, the rain and the heavy snowfalls. This campaign lasted from November 1943 through to late January 1944.

Featuring in order of this episode:
Colin Murray (24 Battalion)
Harry Hopping (24 Battalion)
Galvan Garmonsway (24 Battalion)
Pat Green (24 Battalion)
Gordon Briggs (23 Battalion)
Fred Blank (24 Battalion)
Maurie Hodgson (26 Battalion)
Ted “Bluey” Homewood (21 Battalion)
Jack Cummins (22 Battalion)
Norm Harris (24 Battalion)

Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes 9 seconds
Narration provided by Jason McQuarters
Recordings and Editing by Dave Homewood
Produced by Dave Homewood

For extra information relating to this episode please go here:
http://www.newzealandersatwar.com/Extra_Episode_3.html

Italy Veterans At The Courage And Valour Launch

On Wednesday the 25th of June 2014 the “Courage And Valour: New Zealanders In The Italian Campaign” series and website had it’s official public launch at the Te Awamutu RSA. This happened during the annual Kings Empire Veterans mid-winter dinner, and there were over 70 people present, most of whom were NZ war veterans and their wives or family members.

I had the opportunity to project the website up onto a screen and show the veterans through the website. I also played some of the audio from the second episode, which was received extremely enthusiastically.

There were seven veterans present who’d served in Italy. They were Colin Murray, Harry Hopping, Galvan Garmonsway and Fred Blank who’d all served in 24 Battalion; Brynn Hughes who’s been with 25 Battalion; George Falconer who was with the New Zealand Field Artillery; and Alan Peart DFC who’d flown Spitfires in the Sicily and Italy campaigns.

I took the opportunity to get the Italy veterans together for a few photos. I had met six of these gents before and all of them have been interviewed and will appear in the series, in fact five of them are already in the first couple of episodes. I had not met George before and was most pleased to make his acquaintance. I very much hope to get back to Te Awamutu and interview him very soon.

Here are a couple of the photos.

P1090624

The seven Italy veterans. Standing, left to right are Colin Murray, Harry Hopping and Alan Peart DFC. Sitting, left to right, are Fred Blank, Galvan Garmonsway, George Falconer and Brynn Hughes.

P1090626

The 24 Battalion veterans, Colin, Harry, Fred and Galvan.

Great Publicity for the Courage And Valour Series

We had an excellent plug for the Courage And Valour series and website from Jim Sullivan’s “Sounds Historical” show (Radio New Zealand National) on the 8th of June 2014. And following on from that, the site has had some more publicity through the local Cambridge Edition newspaper today (18th of June 2014). Thanks to editor Viv Posselt for the support for the Courage And Valour project.

Here is the link to Jim Sullivan’s “Sounds Historical” show where Courage And Valour got a mention (in both hours) Sounds Historical 8th June 2014

And here is the article from the Cambridge Edition newspaper, which you can sign up to online and read here Cambridge Edition (Click the picture to make it larger to read)

Cambridge_Edition_18-6-2014

A Productive Week

I am pleased to say I had a productive week last week in regards to the Courage And Valour Series.

On Friday the 6th of June I visited and interviewed Don Adams and then Ted Waters in Auckland. Both men were in 21 Battalion in Italy.

Ten on Monday the 9th I interviewed Charlie Beresford who was an RNZAF pilot in WWII. He flew Royal Air Force Vickers Wellington bombers from North Africa attacking the Axis targets in Sicily and Italy. Then he later converted to Consolidated B-24 Liberators, flying from Foggia in Italy.

On Wednesday the 11th of June I visited Mona Corlett in Hamilton, and interviewed her about her years as a nurse in Italy, mostly with No. 1 General Hospital. And that afternoon I returned once again to record more from 24 Battalion veteran Pat Green.

All in all a good week with some excellent memories recorded.

The Veterans – Part Two

One of the veterans I had the opportunity to meet and interview was Alan Ambury. He was living in Te Awamutu at the time when I interviewed him but I was most interested to find he was actually from my home town of Cambridge originally.

When WWII came along he left the farm and joined the Army. He spent a considerable time in Auckland as an officer with the anti-aircraft defence units right in the heart of the city. Luckily he never had to fire his guns in anger there.

He was sent to Italy in 1944 and had not been there very long when, while approaching San Michele,  he was hit by a mortar shell, and sadly he lost both his legs.

He actually became the oldest New Zealander to be a double leg amputee. When he passed away nearly two years ago in July 2012, he was aged 97. At the time when I met him a few months before he was still living at home by himself, so a remarkable man. Not many 97 -year-olds manage that sort of independence and particularly those who’ve lost both legs.

His memories will appear in a future episode of Courage And Valour.

The Veterans – Part One

I am going to make a series of posts here on the Production Log about the mazing veterans I have met and interviewed in the course of making this series. The veterans are the heart and soul of the series and each and every one of them that I have had the privilege to interview so far has left a lasting memory and impression with me. It is absolutely true what they say about the veterans of World War Two being “The Greatest Generation”.

The first group of veterans I met in the making of this series were Colin Murray, Norm Harris, Bob O’Brien and Peter Brown, all of Te Awamutu. We met up at the Te Awamutu RSA and I interviewed each of them while the others listened on, in one of the most amazing days I have had.

The first to talk was Norm Harris. He’d been a member of 24 Battalion. He was one of those likeable types that you instantly warm to, a twinkle in his eye and a friendly manner. He had a great way of putting things as he spoke, and it was easy to see he’d seen some terrible things in the war, and he was a little shy and retiring in talking about himself, but I was very pleased to get his story recorded. Sadly Norm is no longer with us.

Next came Colin Murray. Now here is a man who’s become a valued friend since this first meeting in April 2009. Another 24 Battalion man, Colin is very interested in history and his enthusiasm for what I was doing has always been a huge inspiration. Once he got talking on the subject of his time in Italy I was almost overwhelmed with all the great stories and information. He has a sharp and detailed memory and he’s a great character. He has just returned last week from a trip to Italy to revisit Cassino, and he had a very good time there. You’ll hear a great deal from Colin in the Courage and Valour series, his stories have provided a backbone to the series almost.

Bob O’Brien was a true hero. He joined the Army shortly after the outbreak of war and in 1941 he was selected to join New Zealand’s first special forces unit of WWII, the New Zealand Special Company. This small elite unit trained in Australia in guerilla tactics, and had invasion come to New Zealand they would have been in the forefront of New Zealand’s defence. However in 1943 he was sent to Egypt to join the 2nd Division, and he also ended up in 24 Battalion. He served with Colin Murray and Norm Harris, they were all friends then in wartime and right up to when I met them in 2010. Amazing. In fact Bob and Colin had gone to school together, and actually Bob and Colin had also gone to school with Pat Green, another veteran who served in 24 Battalion with them, and who also features in the series! It’s a small world isn’t it?

Bob O’Brien was an officer and he led the Anti-Tank Platoon in 24 Battalion. He performed to the highest order at Cassino and was awarded the Military Medal for his work. Later at San Michele he was badly wounded when his jeep ran over a mine. What a thrill it was to meet Bob and record his memories of the war.

The last interviewee was Peter Brown. Unlike the other three men, he’d served in the Royal New Zealand Artillery. He’d done a stint defending Fiji earlier in the war before he was posted to the 2nd Division. Peter served in every major NZ battle in the North African campaign, and was wounded in each. He was actually talking to Major General Bernard Freyberg when the general was wounded in the neck, and famously insisted he stayed with his troops and continued to give orders from a stretcher in a foxhole.

Peter continued on to Italy and again was heavily engaged in the campaign. When many others who’d been fighting as long as he were being sent home, he was retained to lead men as a Senior NCO. His stories of Italy will be in the series too.

Sadly now only Colin remains with us from those four very interesting gentlemen. It’s sad that Norm, Bob and Peter are not around to see the series come to fruition. But I know one thing, I’ll never forget that day I had with them all, which was what set me on the long quest for more stories and the eventual results, Courage And Valour.

The Site Is Open!

Brilliant, after more than four years of hard work trying to pull together this project I am so pleased that at around 2.00am this morning I was able to announce to the world that the Courage And Valour website is up and running, and the first two episodes are available to download.

A HUGE thanks to my good mate Grant McHerron who has helped me with all the technical side of getting the website onto the server and getting the blog and episode pages set up. Grant has been fantastic, working with me to all hours of the morning over several nights to get all aspects of the site just right.

Now that the site is online and live I can build on things from here. Each month I hope to add a new episode to the archive, with around 20 episodes in total currently planned and several in various stages of editing right now. So keep following the Courage And Valour project on Facebook and here on the Production Log. This is only the beginning! Woohoo!!

Courage And Valour: The Inspiration

The project had stalled and was put on hold.  There looked to be little hope of getting it back on track. Then in late 2012 I discovered an absolutely superb podcast from the Imperial War Museum, called “Voices of the First World War”. In this they have taken a collection of old recordings with veterans of WWI and they have compiled them into wonderful documentaries on the various aspects of that war. You can find that here http://www.1914.org/podcasts/

The more I listened to that series the more I realised I could – and should – do a similar thing with my Italy veteran recordings. They could be edited into a chronology of the campaign, telling the story through the eyes of the veterans themselves. I was wholly inspired once more.

By that time I was very experienced in interviewing WWII veterans, and in editing stories together. I was also already a podcaster, having started my series The Wings Over New Zealand Show in which I interview and record stories with people from across the spectrum of New Zealand aviation.

I knew the technology behind putting audio shows out via the internet, and I felt this would be a wonderful way to get these stories out to people around the world, and particularly to younger listeners who need to hear about what their grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s generations actually did in Italy between 1943 and 1945.

So since then I have been recording more interviews, and editing the shows together. In March 2014 a huge step forward came when I secured the services of professional radio presenter Jason McQuarters to do the narration, for which I am very grateful (mainly because people won’t have to listen to me doing the narration). So finally the finishing touches could be made to the first couple of episodes.

A few friends then had preview listens and the feedback has been most complimentary and promising – and heartening indeed. So now at last the series can go online.

It’s now May 2014 and I’m in the process of getting the website up online that will support the series with information, photos and the likes, and of course the site will provide a home for the audio episodes, from where you can download and listen to them.

This is hugely exciting. Four years in the making and we’re nearly ready to launch. Over time I will continue to release episodes, hopefully month by month, till there are around 20 shows completing the series.

I really hope to continue recording more interviews with Italy veterans as the series progresses and anything that is too late to fit into the episodes but is worth broadcasting will go up in the “Extras” section. So if you happen to know any living Kiwi veterans who served in the Italian campaign that might be able to be interviewed – whether they were Army, Navy, Air Force, Merchant Navy, Fleet Air Arm or whatever – I’d love to hear about them please.

I will also add updates on the production through this blog; so when I have any news it will be posted here and on the Facebook page. You can follow my Facebook page that accompanies the Courage And Valour series at https://www.facebook.com/NewZealandersAtWar

Episode 2 – Into Italy, Into Battle

Episode Two:
In this episode we hear veterans talking about the New Zealand Division’s preparations in Egypt, for the impending invasion of Italy, and then their arrival on Italian soil.

They tell of the further training near Taranto and Bari and then moving up to the front line, where the 2nd NZ Division went into action, crossing the freezing and dangerously swollen Sangro River into enemy territory, and taking their objectives including the village of Marabella.

Featuring: 
Fred Blank (24 Battalion)
Jack Cumming (22 Battalion)
Galvan Garmonsway (24 Battalion)
Pat Green (24 Battalion)
Norm Harris (24 Battalion)
Ted ‘Bluey’ Homewood (21 Battalion)
Harry Hopping (24 Battalion)
Colin Murray (24 Battalion)
Bob O’Brien (24 Battalion)

Duration: 56 minutes 39 seconds
Narration provided by Jason McQuarters
Recordings and Editing by Dave Homewood
Produced by Dave Homewood

For some photos relating to this episode please click here:
http://www.newzealandersatwar.com/Extra_Episode_2.html

Episode 1 – Joining the Army and Training In New Zealand

Episode One:

In this first episode we hear veterans of the New Zealand Army remembering the days when they first joined up, and their training at home, their garrison duties and courses undertaken, and all that went into preparing them for war later in Italy

Featuring:
Jack Cumming (22 Battalion)
Pat Green (24 Battalion)
Norm Harris (24 Battalion)
Ted ‘Bluey’ Homewood  (21 Battalion)
Harry Hopping (24 Battalion)
Brynn Hughes (26 Battalion)
Tom McLennan  (7th Field Comp, NZ Engineers)
Colin Murray (24 Battalion)
Bob O’Brien (24 Battalion)
Neil Scott  (6th Field Ambulance)

Duration: 58 minutes 33 seconds
Narration provided by Jason McQuarters
Recordings and Editing by Dave Homewood
Produced by Dave Homewood

For extra information relating to this episode please go here:
http://www.newzealandersatwar.com/Extra_Army_Camps.html

NB: Air Force and Navy Training will be covered in later episodes

Courage And Valour: An Introduction

 

From the Series Producer Dave Homewood

Hi everyone, and welcome to Courage and Valour: New Zealanders in the Italian Campaign.  I’m Dave Homewood, the series creator and producer. I’d like to give you an introduction to the Courage and Valour series, before you start listening.

As the title suggests, this a series of interviews with New Zealanders who are veterans of the Italian Campaign in World War Two. Their stories have been compiled into an audio podcast that will be released month by month, giving the listener a detailed picture of life at war in Italy, from those who were there and lived through it.

The first recordings for this series began back in April 2010, and it is thanks to my good friend Peter Lee that it all kicked off. Peter was the Deputy Mayor of Waipa District, here in the Waikato region of New Zealand –  an area that takes in Cambridge where I live, and Te Awamutu.

Peter had previously been instrumental in twinning Cambridge with the town of Le Quesnoy in France, where the last battle the New Zealand Division fought in the First World War had taken place. The walled town of Le Quesnoy was spared having a destructive barrage brought upon it, and instead the kiwi soldiers scaled the walls with ladders and took the town off the German occupiers with hand to hand fighting. That had formed a special bond between that town and New Zealand that continues to this day.

In 2010 Peter was now keen to try to twin Waipa’s other major town, Te Awamutu, with a site significant in New Zealand’s World War Two history. He hoped to set up that same sort of special relationship with Cassino, in Italy.

While he worked on that plan he attended a Probus meeting in Te Awamutu where he happened to see a veteran, Mr Colin Murray, speak about his time at Cassino. Peter was enthralled by the stories and he came to me to ask if I’d be interested in filming interviews with Colin and other veterans. I was already filming interviews with WWII veterans at that time and so I jumped at the chance.

Peter and I set about planning to film the Te Awamutu Cassino veterans’ memories and place clips from the interviews online in a proposed website that would raise interest in his town-twinning plans, both here in New Zealand and in Italy.

So we arranged a meeting with Colin Murray at the Te Awamutu RSA (Returned and Services Association clubrooms). Colin had kindly rallied his mates Norm Harris, Bob O’Brien and Peter Brown to also come along.

So I had the amazing pleasure to film interviews with them all that day. We did not just concentrate on Cassino, but covered each of their stories right through their Army careers as best we could, and as much as they dared to tell.

I have to admit that despite being someone who has always had an interest in New Zealand’s WWII history, I quickly realised listening to them talking that I really had very little knowledge at all about New Zealand’s campaign in Italy.

Looking back now this is not really a surprise, because for pretty much most of my lifetime  the popular media has really only concentrated upon and commemorated the kiwis who had fought at Cassino – a three month battle in a two year campaign! – and that even more so the media focuses largely on the efforts of one unit, 28 (Maori) Battalion.

These men I was filming were from 24 Battalion, apart from one who was in the Artillery. So their stories were all new to me.

I soon realised that day that there were many other battalions, brigades, batteries and units also involved from New Zealand and that 28 (Maori) Battalion were just one small part of what the huge 2nd NZ Division did. It’s sad to think that one unit has had far more publicity over the years than all the others combined who experienced and achieved the same thing.

I also learned just how many other major battles the kiwis were involved in throughout the Italian campaign – Cassino was significant indeed but was just part of the whole campaign.

I had a whole new appreciation for this campaign now, and the men who were in it.  Peter Lee felt the same way. I decided that it was worth seeking out more stories from the Italy veterans. I knew that my Great Uncle Ted had fought there, so I went to see him in Whangarei and recorded his recollections. Over time I have also visited veterans in other parts of New Zealand including, Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch, Blenheim, Taupo, Cambridge, Hamilton, another three sessions at Te Awamutu, Putaruru, and wherever I could find veterans willing to talk.

So I have been building up a great archive of stories of New Zealand Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force veterans who served.

The project took a huge knock however in 2011 when Peter became ill and sadly died after a battle with cancer. I continued the filming of interviews where I could but overall plans were put on hold, the twin towns idea seemed to evaporate and I have not heard of it since, and without Peter’s enthusiasm and support, the project to get the stories up online stalled.

To find out how the project was reignited please click to the next page: