Capt P. J. Brennan, MC; Opunake; born New Plymouth, 12 Nov 1918; OC H Sec Sigs Feb-Jun 1942, F Sec Jul 1942, E Sec Dec 1942-Mar 1943, R Sec Mar-Jun 1943, K Sec Jun 1943-Jul 1944. (Source: Borman, C.A. Divisional Signals. p.190,.)
'The task of reaching the battalion in the town had been particularly difficult and hazardous because the route along which the cable was laid, Highway 6, was under direct observation from the heights above Cassino, and the enemy put down a continuous and concentrated fire along the whole route. As the ground on both sides of Highway 6 was sodden and impassable to wheeled vehicles, Captain Brennan and his small party of linemen were forced to follow the road. When they reached the bridge across the Rapido the shelling was so heavy that Brennan instructed his men to take what cover they could find while he crossed the river and reconnoitred the rest of the route. With complete disregard for his own safety, he sought out the best route for the line, made his way back to the bridge and led his party forward to Tactical Headquarters 28 Battalion.
Having terminated the line there, tested it and found it disconnected, the party returned along the route to find the breaks and repair them. To do so they had to stand on open and exposed ground under continuous fire, and it was while they were thus employed that the first casualty occurred, Signalman Spring being wounded by a shell splinter. One of his companions, Signalman Miln, immediately went for medical assistance, and having brought it, went on with his work of repairing the cable. He had worked his way back into the town when he was himself severely wounded by shell splinters, as a result of which he lost an arm.
Next morning Brennan continued his efforts to restore the circuit, but was forced to take cover with his line party. In the afternoon the attempt was resumed and the last half mile of the line in the town completely relaid. When the party reached Tactical Headquarters 28 Battalion, communication was established with Headquarters 5 Brigade, but it lasted for exactly a minute and a half before a shell or mortar bomb tore a gap in the cable somewhere along the circuit. Still more attempts were made to restore the line that night but without success, and finally the Brigade Commander told Brennan to abandon the task.
These sustained efforts to get this line through to the Maoris were vitally important because of the difficulties being experienced at the time with wireless communications. Of the sets with the battalion, including the No. 22 terminal set working back to Headquarters 5 Brigade, those that had not been damaged in the fighting were being operated from cellars and other cover in an area subjected to some of the fiercest fire ever experienced by the brigade, with the result that there was insufficient head room for their vertical rod aerials. This caused the sets' signal strengths to fall off to a level which would have been barely sufficient to provide a stable circuit even under the most favourable conditions. In an attempt to help improve wireless working conditions in the battalion area, Brennan went forward again into Cassino, where he supervised the operation of some of the sets. Altogether he made three trips into the town by day and three by night, on each occasion along a route raked by heavy fire.
For these hardy though ineffectual attempts to carry line communication to the Maoris, and for Brennan's efforts to improve wireless communications, three immediate awards for gallantry were made, Brennan receiving the MC and Signalmen Miln and Spring the MM.' (Source: Borman, C.A. Divisional Signals. p. 435.) AWMM