New Zealanders In The Italian Campaign

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Dave Homewood, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. Dave Homewood

    Dave Homewood Member

    Hi everyone, for a few years now I have had the amazing pleasure of meeting and interviewing New Zealand veterans who served in the bloody Italian Campaign from 1943-1945, in World War Two. It has become obvious to me that very few kiwis these days, particularly younger kiwis, have any idea of what went on in Italy during the campaign, and many seem unaware that there was even New Zealand involvement. So I have been working behind the scenes to create a podcast series to detail the campaign from the New Zealand perspective, through the voices of New Zealanders who were there.

    This is not yet ready for release and may well be still some way off, but I have decided to create a Facebook page to accompany the series to help raise some awareness and provide a place for kiwis to tell their stories, or the stories of their fathers, grandfathers, etc who were there. I hope that you'll all take a look at the page, perhaps Like it and hopefully join in with me in remembering these men and women who fought the Nazis and Fascists for our freedom.

    The new page is found here:
  2. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Well done David for your admirable and I am sure, very rewarding work.

    Best wishes

  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The Kiwi's fought long and hard before the winter line in 1943 - and again with two of the main Cassino Battles where my old regiment of 16/5th Lancers fought with the 28th Maori Battalion at the Cassino Station - then immediately

    they were cast as an assault Division for the Liri Valley until someone pointed out that they were exhausted and needed more rest than fighting and thus the 1st Canadian Division took their place for the Hitler line Battles - we met up with them

    again at the Gothic Line and beyond until the end - they did very well on every occasion...

  5. Dave Homewood

    Dave Homewood Member

    Thanks for the replies gentlemen, I especially appreciate the feedback from veterans such as yourselves Ron and Tom. Cheers!

    Already the Facebook page in just a few short hours of existence has generated 41 members, so that's a really great start. I hope it can only go on well from here.

    I have just posted up some official NZ Army war correspondent reports from the Sangro River crossing and battles surrounding that. I hope they might generate some discussion or at least enlighten a few readers about what was happening in that first battle the kiwis faced in Italy.

    I went onto Google Earth recently and looked up the area of this river crossing. Google is a very handy tool for doing this - helping to augment my understanding derived from the stories I am told, and old black and white photos from the time.
  6. andy007

    andy007 Senior Member

    Awesome idea Dave, I have liked the page and wait with anticipation to listen to the series :)

    I was friendly with the late Reg Hermans who served with the Engineers, first in North Africa then in Italy. He was badly wounded by friendly fire during the fighting for Sangro and spent at least the next 18 months bed ridden in hospital. I know he sat down and recorded his experiences with NZ Historian Megan Hutching a few years ago.
  7. Dave Homewood

    Dave Homewood Member

    Thanks Andy. I am glad that you're enthusiastic about this too.
  8. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    I run battlefield studies to Monte Cassino for both civilian groups and the military. If any of your people on Facebook are wanting the photograph of a headstone in the CWGC cemetery or a name on the Cassino Memorial, do get in touch.

    I am more than happy to send them by email to NZ.


  9. Dave Homewood

    Dave Homewood Member

    Thanks Frank.
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    This week is the 70th anniversary of the battles by the NZ Division for the town of Orsorgna - one of the names that is often overlooked.
  11. Dave Homewood

    Dave Homewood Member

    Yes indeed. I have been posting some official NZEF news reports about the crossing of the Sangro and the struggle towards Orsogna on the page the past few days.
  12. Dave Homewood

    Dave Homewood Member

    I'm pleased to say the Facebook page is doing rather well already with 104 members in such a short space of time, and some great feedback too.
  13. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member

    I am curious about the school curriculum in New Zealand. How much time is devoted to WW2?

    In Canada, specifically in the province of Ontario, WW2 receives a two week period covering about ten lessons in grade ten.
    (That is the very reason that the current generation knows so little about the sacrifices made on their behalf by the ultimate generation.)
  14. Dave Homewood

    Dave Homewood Member

    I really have no idea what it's like right now, it's been a long time since I was at school and I don't have kids. However I have heard that it's not much compared to when I was at school, though there must be a certain amount taught because FAR more kids now attend ANZAC Day than ever before. When I was 14 in 1985 I went to my first ANZAC Day and I was one of three kids at the Dawn Service. Now they get hundreds of kids and teens at the Dawn Service and I'd guess well over a thousand to the later civic service here in Cambridge. This has happened nationwide too.

    In my day we did have a reasonably detailed phase in the fourth form Social Studies curriculum that covered the history of WWII. I also learned about WWII from other places like old war films on TV, Commando Comics and those classic 1950's paperbacks from the local book exchange, from making Tamiya model kitsets, and perhaps most rewardingly from two veterans I knew - the guy at the model shop who loved to tell war stories every time we went in there - his own stories and stories of his mates; and my mate's Dad who had been in WWII too and occasionally told us a few stories.

    These days most kiwi kids don't get any of these things. Modern TV is full of crappy reality shows and you never see the inspiring old classics like Dambusters and Ice Cold In Alex on TV. The internet has made most second hand book exchanges a thing of the past. I really don't think kids can afford the model prices now, and instead they have Xbox. And the veterans are now so thin on the ground you're lucky to ever meet one and get him talking.

    One ray of hope is apparently from next year a new curriculum is to be introduced to NZ schools (not sure at what age level) where kids will be taught about WWI, due to the Centenary. I hope that there is some WWII history in that too. I don't think I learned anything about WWI at school at all. I don't recall it anyway. Maybe a bit about Gallipoli in passing but most of that i got from TV.

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