To my father

479061 Corporal J.E. Gordon, 1912–44

‘Am now, at long last a member of 2 NZ Div. in 11 Pl. B Coy. 23 Bn.’

Personal diary, 17 June 1944

You see that fellow with the grin, one eye on the girls,

The other on the pub, his uniform shabby already?

Well, don’t let him hear us, but he’s the Unknown Soldier,

They just let him out, they say he lives forever.

They put him away with flowers and flags and forget him,

But he always comes when they want him. He does the fighting.

Douglas Stewart, Sonnets to The Unknown Soldier, 1941


First and foremost, I want to acknowledge 2 New Zealand Division. This book is not just about ‘the Div’; its members wrote it. Without so many good writers within the ranks, A Job to Do would never have gone beyond being an interesting idea.

Sadly, nearly all of the contributors have died. In most cases the publishing rights have passed to their families, whom I sincerely thank for granting permission so that their father’s or grandfather’s words could be appreciated again. They include the descendants of Bill Allison, Mark Batistich, Nelson Bray, J.T. Burrows, Sir Geoffrey Cox, Dan Davin, James Hargest, Sir James Henare, Garfield Johnson, Pat Kane, Ted Lewis, Peter McIntyre, John Male, E.G. Webber and Guthrie Wilson. Their generosity and support allow us to share both life and sacrifice within the Div. Unfortunately I was unable to contact quite a few families. I certainly tried. Please feel free to contact me through the publisher.

The other major source is the NZEF Times. I am very grateful to the New Zealand Defence Force for allowing the inclusion of a marvellous range of material from the Division’s weekly newspaper.

Work on A Job to Do began well over a decade ago and has finally emerged, thanks to Exisle and their New Zealand publisher, Ian Watt.

In researching and compiling the book – words, cartoons, sketches and photos – I want to acknowledge the assistance of several institutions and their always helpful staff: the National Library, the Alexander Turnbull Library, the Hocken Collections – Te Uare o Hakena, the Research Collection of Dunedin Public Libraries, Invercargill City Libraries and Southland District Council Libraries.

I must make special mention of the continuing support and encouragement of my sister, Fay, and editor and friend, Anna Rogers, who always believed that, one day, an anthology about and by the Div would emerge.

Military Terms and Abbreviations

AB64 – a soldier’s pay book: ‘showing his level of indebtedness to the Government’.

ACV – armoured command vehicle.

ADC – aide-de-camp: to a general.

ADS – advanced dressing station.

APR – awaiting passage return: to New Zealand.

ASC – Army Service Corps. Motto: ‘To the troops, arms.’

ATS – Auxiliary Territorial Service.

AWL, AWOL – absent without leave.

B Echelon – reserve section of a unit: ‘lotus eaters’.

Bgd – brigade.

Bn – battalion.

Brassard – Red Cross armband worn by stretcher bearers and medics.

BSM – artillery battery sergeant major: WOI, warrant officer class 1.

CB – confined to barracks: punishment.

CCS – casualty clearing station.

CO – commanding officer: usually of a battalion.

CRA – Commander Royal Artillery.

CRE – Commander Royal Engineers.

CSM – company sergeant-major: WOII, warrant officer class 2.

DCM – Distinguished Conduct Medal: for courage and leadership in action – warrant officers and other ranks.

Demob – release from military service.

Div. Cav. – New Zealand Divisional Cavalry: black berets in light armoured vehicles and tanks.

DR, Don-R, Don Arc – despatch rider.

DSO – Distinguished Service Order: for courage and leadership in action – officers only.

ED – Efficiency Decoration or excused duties: usually the latter.

Enfilade – an attack from the flank on the front of an advance.

ENSA – Entertainment National Service Association – British: ‘every night something awful’.

EPIP – large tent: ‘Desert Igloo’, ‘Egyptian Patent Indian-Pattern’ or, earliest probable intercept point.

ERS – Education Rehabilitation Service.

FDL – forward (or foremost) defended locality.

Field Security – the organisation that controlled civilian and military security behind Allied lines.

Fire-step – defence position in a deep trench.

FPC – Field Punishment Centre: ‘rock college’ or ‘budgie cage’.

G1, GSO 1 – general staff officer, Grade 1, normally at division HQ.

GMC – Heavy American truck.

GOC – general officer commanding: as in General Freyberg.

IC – in charge: 2IC ‘nearly in charge’.

IO – Intelligence Officer

K Rations – standard ration for United States troops.

KD – khaki drill.

King’s Regs – the standard reference book on military law and discipline.

LAD – light aid detachment: vehicle repair and recovery unit – ‘military AA’.

LCV – light carrying vehicle: unarmoured.

LO – liaison officer.

LOB – left out of battle: ‘footslogger’s prayer’.

LRDG – Long Range Desert Group: the bearded, Arabian-headdress-wearing, behind-the-desert-line navigators, route-finders and insurgents.

M&V – British rations: tinned meat and vegetables. ‘Good.’

MAC – motor ambulance convoy.

MC – Military Cross: for courage and leadership under fire – officers.

MDS – main dressing station.

MG – machine gun: 27 (MG) Battalion.

mid – mentioned in despatches to the high command for gallant or meritorious action in the face of the enemy. As with the VC, it could be awarded posthumously.

MM – Military Medal: for courage and leadership in action – warrant officers, sergeants and other ranks.

MO – medical officer.

Mr – honorific for a lieutenant; other officers are addressed by their military title.

NAAFI – Navy Army and Air Force Institute: British military canteen service.

Nebelwerfer – German multi-barrelled rocket launcher – ‘eight-barrelled monster’: its projectiles made a hideous screaming noise. Hence, ‘Moaning Minnie’ or ‘The Andrews Sisters’.

OCTU – Officer Cadet Training Unit.

OP, O-Pip – observation post.

Panzer – German armoured corps: tanks.

POW, PW – prisoner of war.

Portee or porté – a truck carrying an unfixed gun (usually an anti-tank weapon) that can be quickly unloaded and also fired from the portee.

Provost – military police and traffic control.

Pte – private soldier.

QM – quartermaster or ‘quarter bloke’.

RAP – regimental aid post. This was usually at battalion HQ and the first stop for wounded from the line; then MDS, then CCS.

RSM – regimental sergeant major: WOI; warrant officer class 1.

RTU – returned to unit.

S mine – ‘Bouncing Betty’: when triggered it lifted 0.9m into the air, then exploded and propelled lethal shrapnel in all directions.

Sangar – rock or sandbag defence above ground.

Schmeisser – German light machine gun: Sten gun equivalent.

Slit trench, slittie – small trench.

Spandau – German medium machine gun.

Stonk – concentrated artillery barrage on a specific target.

Tracer – illuminated bullet to show the line of fire, also used to show advancing infantry the boundary of an advance.

TSM – artillery troop sergeant major: WOII: warrant officer class 2.

Tuis – members of the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service who staffed the New Zealand clubs from Cairo to Venice to London.

WD – War Department: issue, property.



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