Friday, April 24, 2015

Stubborn Cassino

I have a great Grandfather called Noema Taunoa who served in World War II.He died at the age of 84,1 month before I was born.He served in the 28th Maori Battalion where he stayed till the end of the war.

He was born July 27th 1920 he had 3 brothers who also went to war now I am going to tell you a story

Once more we moved out at night for a rest,delaying our departure by roughly checking the regularity of the fixed spandau (german machine gun) burst flying over the top of us,along the mad mile. Our reports back to our battalion helped the 5th Brigade intelligence to appreciate the stubborn situation and resistance in cassino. For safety sake, again we moved in to cassino just before day-break to occupy and hold remnants of houses which partly escaped the bombing. Again, through consistent metal flying around, a few of 16,17 & 18 platoons of D. Company converged on the nearest cover at hand, just one room left at ground level while all around it, and the stories above, were demolished by bombs. We did not have to wait long when the dreaded 88 on a jerry tank opened up on the facing the enemy. There was swift scatter for very scant cover as the mentioned wall began to expose the blue sky, leaving only Tilly Whaanga,brother Cleo and myself in the middle of the room. In ny case,unaccustomed lips tried to shape words, so reminiscent of most puny mortals when trapped, and searchers for spiritual aid whether they qualify or not. yet, at the mercy of only one more shell, which would have wiped out about 25 of us, the tank stopped and moved away and again mere man would call it a co-incidence,but not so in my case. I hurriedly made the boys disperse and report back to their own place platoons, while I made my boys look for better cover and dig in. I even helped my batman (Joe Taunoa) to enemy. I felt a tug on my back and asked my batman to investigate and so he took  out my mess-tin and there clean through even my bully-beef tin and biscuits inside the mess-tin was a hole made by a sniper. We doubled our efforts and were about to jump into our trench to safety when I again felt a tug, but this time in front of me. To my amazement and relief, in one of the front pouches of my web was a hand-grenade in two pieces. I wasn't going  to give that sniper satisfaction as I dived under cover because I may not be so lucky the third time. After pulling out some time later I would retell the incident to the other officers but thev would not believe it until I showed them the evidence and even then how did I really survive that hand grenade.