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Ralph Cullen

  • Service number
    801916 AWMM
  • Also known as
    Rau or Ralph Public - Martin Brett - Other relative - 13 July 2022 - Family cemetery - Te Puke Totara
  • Armed force / branch
    Army AWMM
  • Last rank
  • War

Identity

  • Title
    Mr Public - Martin Brett - Other relative - 13 July 2022 - Family cemetery - Te Puke Totara
  • Forenames
    • Ralph AWMM
    • Te Rauaroha Public - Martin Brett - Other relative - 13 July 2022 - Family cemetery - Te Puke Totara
  • Surname
    Cullen AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    Rau or Ralph Public - Martin Brett - Other relative - 13 July 2022 - Family cemetery - Te Puke Totara
  • Service number
    801916 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
    • Iwi Māori AWMM
    • Ngati Whatua Orakei Public - Martin Brett - Other relative - 13 July 2022 - Family cemetery - Te Puke Totara
  • Hapū
    Nga Oh, Nga Taou, Te Uringutu Public - Martin Brett - Other relative - 13 July 2022 - Family cemetery - Te Puke Totara
  • Waka
    Mahuhu ki Te Rangi Public - Martin Brett - Other relative - 13 July 2022 - Family cemetery - Te Puke Totara
  • Rohe
    Orakei, Tamaki Makaurau Public - Martin Brett - Other relative - 13 July 2022 - Family cemetery - Te Puke Totara
  • Religion
    Anglican Public - Martin Brett - Other relative - 13 July 2022 - Family cemetery - Te Puke Totara

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    5 January 1920 AWMM New Zealand AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    Unknown AWMM 45 Wellington Street, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    Mrs J. Cullen (wife), 55 Symonds Street, Auckland, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Unknown AWMM Married AWMM

Service

Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    Military Medal (MM) AWMM
    21 June 1945 AWMM
    During the attack on Casa La Morte on the night of 14/15 December 1944, L/Sgt. Cullen was in command of a platoon and had to lead his platoon through heavily-mined ground to his objective which was a strongly-held enemy strongpoint. Before the objective was reached, he found the country difficult to negotiate owing to canals behind minefields. Without hesitation he led twelve men from the flank and began a determined assault which brought down enemy defensive fire among the platoon. The enemy opened fire, pinning him and his men. Realising that the enemy fire was too severe, he changed his tactics by attacking frontally, thus evading casualties. He led his men with dash and determination, resulting in the capture of the objective and the killing of many of the enemy. After capture, the objective was found to be a key point to the defences, and to contain many pandaus. By his outstanding initiative and dash, L/Sgt. Cullen Inspired his men to gain the objective without serious casualties. Throughout this action and subsequent actions, he has shown leadership of the highest order. (L.G. 21/6/1945 (i)) The National Archives. Recommendation for Award for Cullen, Ralph. (Ref. WO 373/12/664). Military Medal. 21 June 1945 AWMM

Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
    WW2 Unknown AWMM Carpenter/Civilian AWMM
    AWMM
  • Occupation before enlistment
  • Age on enlistment

Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Sergeant R. Cullen, MM; Paeroa; born NZ 5 Jan 1920; carpenter; four times wounded. (Source: Cody, J.F. 28 Maori Battalion. p.436.)

    'The changeover was completed with some care and in extreme silence for, according to the guides, ‘Jerry was very trigger happy and at the slightest sound they would know all about it.’ It was a matter of crawling to the most forward casas and, as the ground was very muddy, some of the Maoris soon got careless and began to walk. A stream of tracer about waist-high decided for them that perhaps crawling was the better method. In the morning the Maoris found themselves disposed around a road junction a little more than a mile from the outskirts of Faenza. Two roads and the railway line from Faenza met there and a third road went north-west to Celle village. Houses were scattered around the junction which, for tactical purposes, was christened ‘Ruatoria’.

    C, A and B Companies in that order straddled the roads and railway into Faenza, with D Company in reserve. Enemy-occupied houses were only 150 yards away. The nearest, the Casa Celetta, was hedged in with tall olives and poplars so that only the roof could be seen.

    It was decided to take a closer look at Casa Celetta that evening and Sergeant Cullen (8 Platoon) took out a fighting patrol of eleven other ranks with him.

    They found that the place was a real hornets' nest. Three well-hidden tanks were behind the building. The patrol was detected and a battle royal ensued in the darkness while the patrol withdrew with four wounded. The medium and heavy mortars were turned on to the locality and the tanks were heard moving back towards Faenza, whereupon Cullen returned with his patrol and killed six Germans who were still in the house. The men were preparing to settle in the casa when tell-tale rumblings indicated that the tanks had returned. Shells belting into the house confirmed the indications and again the patrol withdrew, this time with four more wounded. Sergeant R. Cullen, MM; Paeroa; born NZ 5 Jan 1920; carpenter; four times wounded.; Italy II - The battalion was disposed in the vicinity of a road junction— which became known to the Maoris as ‘Ruatoria’—a little more than a mile from the outskirts of Faenza. Two roads and a railway led into the town and a third road north-westward to the hamlet of Celle. Houses occupied by the enemy were only 150 yards away. Sergeant Cullen took a patrol of 11 men of 8 Platoon to investigate one of these houses, and discovered ‘a real hornets' nest. Three well-hidden tanks were behind the building. The patrol was detected and a battle royal ensued in the darkness while the patrol withdrew with four wounded. The medium and heavy mortars were turned on to the locality and the tanks were heard moving back towards Faenza, whereupon Cullen returned with his patrol and killed six Germans who were still in the house.’ The Maoris were preparing to settle in when the tanks returned and shelled the house. Again the patrol withdrew, this time with four more wounded.' (Source: Cody, J.F. 28 Maori Battalion. p. 436.; Kay, R. Italy Volume II : From Cassino to Trieste. p. 305.) AWMM
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Death

About death

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  • Death
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference

Memorials

Memorial

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  • Memorial name

Roll of Honour

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Sources

Sources

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  • External links
  • References
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1945). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 11 (Embarkations from 1st April, 1943 to 30th June, 1943). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      WW2 11: WW2 31 AWMM
    • Cody, J. (1956). 28 (Maori) Battalion. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      pp.436, 440. AWMM
    • Kay, R. (1967). Italy. Volume 2. From Cassino to Trieste. Dept. of Internal Affairs, Historical Publications Branch, Wellington, N.Z. AWMM
      p.305. AWMM
    • Ko te Reo Huringa Tau o te Ope Maori Tuarua, i noho ki Remuera, Ohaeawai, 1942-43: The Anniversary Magazine of the Second Maori Battalion, Remuera, Ohaeawai 1942-1943. Patrick Smyth Papers, MS-2002-147, Auckland War Memorial Museum. AWMM
    • Nominal Roll of Members of the 2nd Maori Battalion, 26th January 1943. Part of the 2nd Maori Battalion Anniversary Magazine. (MS-2002-147). Auckland War Memorial Museum. AWMM

Contributors

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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
13 July 2022Martin BrettChristchurch, NZOther relative

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