My name is Arthur Wihiri Midwood (Ngāti Pikiao) and I am 93 years old and live in Rotorua. I am currently one of the Vice Presidents for the 28th Māori Battalion Association National Executive Committee and, the Patron for the Te Arawa Returned Services League of the Rotorua RSA. I am the last surviving thirty-niner of the original members of the 28th Māori Battalion.
At the age of 22 years I joined the NZ Armed Forces on 26 January 1940, having been examined on 16 November 1939. We embarked for overseas service 1 May 1940 on the Aquitania and we travelled to Scotland, where we disembarked 16 June 1940. We travelled by train to England where we spent 8 months in the south England. On the 4th March 1941 the NZ Battalions left England for the Maadi Camp in Egypt. Later that month (25 March 1941) we embarked for Greece and Crete.
As part of the allied forces defending Crete during the German invasion I recall the sensation of large numbers of German paratroopers descending, without knowing whether they would land in front or behind us and the difficulties this created.
During this battle I suffered a penetrating bullet wound to the right side of my chest. I was grateful to receive a field dressing from the medical officer, but after that I was "on my own". I strongly recall the sense of having to look after myself, with my right arm completely useless. I also recall purchasing a bottle of water from one of the local Cretan villagers. After walking from Suda Bay, across the mountains, I reached Sfakia, the evacuation beach where there were other soldiers trying to escape. We were constantly under fire, particularly from Stuka bombers. One projectile hit an olive tree I was sheltering under, and a burning piece of metal landed on my leg, making me think that I had been shot again. I recall the extreme difficulty of the evacuation, getting on the boat with only one arm, with the attack from the air continuing. I remained lying on the deck of the boat until we reached Egypt the following day, where I spent several months convalescing.
Another stressful event that I recall was in the African desert when I was in a slip trench with two comrades. A grenade landed at the back of the slip trench and exploded killing my two comrades, but with no injuries to me, although I was sitting between the two men who were killed.
Also on the campaign in Africa, I was wounded in the right forearm by shrapnel from a shell, and also in the back of my left thigh on the same day.
I remember the elation of returning home with the 28 Māori Battalion after the Second World War, but at the same time carrying the traumatic memories of my war experiences till this day. Public - Lorraine M - Researcher - 29 August 2015 - http://www.28maoribattalion.org.nz/memory/memories-nz-crete-veteran-arthur-midwood