Robert Vincent Leonard Hattaway was the first born child and son of Vincent and Mereana (nee Tangata) Hattaway.
Len was born in Te Kuiti on 14 January 1905 and grew up with his siblings, Marion, Emmee, Kathleen, Alfred and Barbara and he attended the local school. Len worked on family farms and did a motor mechanic apprenticeship taking on work throughout Auckland and the Far North.
Len had three children with Iris McQuinland, Kathleen, Leonard (Bill) and Jean. Len later moved to Otahuhu in Auckland.
Len enlisted and in January 1940 went to Papakura Military Training Camp with the 21 Battalion. On the first of May the 21 Battalion left Papakura train station for Wellington and they embarked on the Empress of Japan.
The 21 Battalion disembarked in Ireland and caught the train for the South of England (19th June ) to Aldershot 5 miles from their Military Camp at Mytchett. Len was transport driver throughout his war service.
The 21 Battalion soldiers went into training and preparation to defend the coastline around Dover. However, with the equinoctial gales and winter approaching, the threat of invasion lessened.
With the English winter (December) Len spend some time in Camberley hospital with influenza, an epidemic that hit the men in the battalion.
In January 1941 the 21 Battalion left Camberley and caught a train to Wales and at Newport embarked on the Duchess of Bedford. The ship went to Belfast departing with 21 other Troop ships for a 7 week voyage to Egypt.
They disembarked at Port Tewfik in the Suez ( March 1941) and traveled 26 miles south of Cairo by train to Helwan. A troop train took them to Amiriya transit camp just outside of Alexandria where they boarded the Greek ship Ionia and in convey they sailed to Greece and berthed at Piraeus. From there another train took them to a camp at Mount Hymeltus on the outskirts of Athens.
In April the 21 Battalion move to Kamatero Village and then left for a 300 miles journey by train to Katerine Platamon north of Larissa to defend the Platamon tunnel area. But the enemy force was too strong and Allies had to withdraw their defence in the north as the enemy stormed through Greece. The Allies fought hard and on the 25th April the 21 Battalion evacuated Greece and boarded Glengyle for Suda Bay in Crete.
In Suda Bay the men moved to Maleme and made ready for the enemy. The German invasion arrived on 20th May from the air with planes, detonating bombs and dropping paratroops, over powering the troops on Crete. The 21 Battalion evacuated on assault landing craft and lifeboats on board the Phoebe arriving at Alexandria. (June 1st 1941) at Amirya camp.
They traveled by train to Helwan. Len spent sometime at NZ General Hospital after being wounded in Crete. In July his battalion moved to the Suez canal area in preparation for the desert training and in August moved to the Western Desert to work on reserve defensive positions in a corridor near El Alamein. The 21 Battalion became part of the Eight Army with the fighting against Rommel in the Western Desert.
In November 1942 the Eighth Army defeated Rommel in the decisive Second Battle of El Alamein. The 21 Battalion after fighting campaigns in El Almein, Libya, Syria and Egypt and on the Western Desert the men from the second Echelon, battle weary were sent back to New Zealand on furlough on the 15th June 1943.
Len lost his cousins Fredrick Hattaway killed in action in Greece 1941 and Ian Hattaway killed in action in the Western Desert 1942.
Len's brother Alfred, was taken prisoner of war in North Italy.
Lens father died two months after Lens return from war. Public - joy - Direct descendant - 25 February 2018 - Military source and family documents/photos