Raymond Eltringham's retrospective (1998) accounts of his army career:
On 28 August 1940 he sailed with the third echelon on the Mauretania to Bombay, India and transferred to the Ormonde to Port Tewfik where he arrived on 29 September. He trained at Maadi Camp in Egypt and sailed for Greece in mid March 1941 on board the Comliebank.
He was involved in action at Servia Pass, Elasson and Molos after which they retreated through Athens to Rafina and were taken off the beaches by navy to L.C.A. Ship Glengyle. They sailed to Alexandria on 27 April and arrived on or about 1 May.
This was followed by training at Almaza (20 May 1941) and further training at Mahfooz (below Helwan). He transferred to 48 Battery and moved up to Baggush in October and into Lybia on 17-18 November.
At Belhamed on 1 December he 'got out of a very sticky situation' and ended up in Tobruk. On 8 December he rejoined his regiment at Baggush and returned to base.
His next posting in Syria was to Aleppo with guns on the Turkish border.
Then on to Baalbek, moved to Laboue, 20 miles from Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley.
By 14 June 1942 the Division was urgently recalled to the desert (1000 miles). It took 5 days to Matruh. They saw action at Mingarquim and 'a mad breakout through enemy lines. Made a stand at Kaponga Box - part of the El Alamein defensive line'
20 September he was taken out of the line - his first break since June. Taken back to Swordfish area, to train with 9th Armoured Brigade.
By 19 October he was back in the line near the coast. On 23 October 1942 at 9.40 pm 'The Show Opens, with 480 guns'
4 November 1942 Breakthrough and pursuit bogged down by rain until 8 November. Air attack on 11 November.
Advanced to Nofilia in December and stayed there for Christmas dinner - one bottle of beer was allowed by Monty - a football field was cleared and a few games were played before moving on in the first week in January 1943.
23 January 1943 After a few short sharp actions they arrived in Tripoli - where the Division paraded on the Castel Benito Dome before Winston Churchill. This was the very first Divisional parade and as it turned out, the only one ever held.
2 March 1943 On the Move again - to medenine - some activity here on 6 and 7 March. Then on to Tabaga Gap then Gabes - the first French town and civilians
28-31 March 1943 Some Air activity and several brushes with the enemy. More action in April as we rolled on to Enfidaville where a savage battle was against a very determined enemy entrenched on Takrouna Hilltop and the surrounding area. Things were quiet after 8 and 9 May. The whole of North Africa was officially surrendered on 13 May 1943. A couple of days later the treck back to Maadi began. They arrived there 1820 miles later on 1 June 1943. Leave to New Zealand was talked about. Being single I managed to quality for the second group - reaching home on 12 February 1944. Travelled on the Scythia to Bombay and then the Mariposa to Wellington. Three months leave and discharged. Four years after marching into Papakura Camp in May 1940.
Casualties of 6 Field Regiment- from Greece to Tripoli - killed, wounded and prisoners of war - approximately 388. I have no further record.
Positions held by Gunner Eltringham - 30 Battery - Greech - driver for Battery Major - radio truck.
48 Battery North Africa - about two years on water truck - sometimes as Battery M.V. fitter - last few months driving cooks.
Newspaper clippings provided by Eltringham: Pleasant 'Ormonde' Days - Word or two of Commendation for the so called 'mutiny ship' Ormonde at Bombay. We P.B.I. from Trentham Camp, were among the last to embark on the Mauretania at Wellington, and all the posh cabin accommodation had been appropriated (allocated?) to the Field Artillery boys under Steve Weir. Fair enough: first come, best served. We footsloggers were bundled below in double tiered wooden bunks and packed pretty tight at that. OK. Wasn't there a war on?. We expected a few hardships, and a lot more to come but the more frustrating thing on Mauretania was wherever we wanted to go we were confronted with a sentry with a red and navy pugaree, saying we were out of bounds!. Worse still to meet up with Steve Weir himself, demanding in a deep booming voice "Where do you think you're going, soldier?"
We doubled smartly, and retraced our steps. Maybe this is slightly exaggerated, maybe not - we had our moments as well: I still remember the flavour of that Chinese beer "E.W.O." - brewed from bamboo shoots, we swore. Anyway to Bombay, to disembark from Mauretania, to Ormonde, where below decks appeared to have been struck by a ruddy typhoon and evacuated at a moment's notice. Leave for the afternoon was uppermost - we'd clean up later. Next morning, a gigantic spring cleaning. This done, our Company decided unanimously this was streets ahead of our accommodation on the previous, much larger, transport. We slept over a large mess-table in hammocks, surprisingly most comfy after a bit. We even had a well tuned piano!. The first meal abroad was foul, as described, and eaten by nobody. Finally, the convoy sailed, without our ugly duckling - that was the first we learned of some sort of mutiny, and the bridge being picketed. The claim was we were overleaded, insufficient life rafts, vile food. None of us infantry was involved in the affair as far as I know, but similar to strike situations of today, we were in the same ship, and whether we sympathised or not, we were definitely included in the uprising. Personally, my days on Ormonde were most pleasant as our chaps were completely left to their own devices, roaming the ship at will.'. 'Bombay Bloomers on Ormond. BOMBAY 3rd Echelon, 2NZAF - 15 September 1940: very hot and humid on 17 September all up at 0415 hours. At 0715 our Company moves from Mauretania onto a ferry ship alongside and five hours and two miles later we reach a wharf having eaten our iron rations during the trip. Temperature - 110 degrees F. Sit on wharf for three hours, then march to Ormonde near the gangway passing piles of offal sides of beef black and filthy and beasts apparently slaughtered on the spot. The ship is filthy from British troops just disembarked: Trestle tables for both eating and sleeping, blocked toilets, etc. Breakfast: boiled eggs - meat, inside, ugh! - dislike chicken served that way! Noon meal, bread, butter, jam, for tea get plate of stewed meat that bubbles, not from heat but maggots, and the smell!. Demonstrations. When convoy gets under way for Egypt, Artillery Unit, Div. Sigs, and some others of our 6 Brigade storm the bridge and prevent Ormonde sailing. Gunboat circles us, guns trained on us! Supplies of fresh meat eventually arrive and officers join with all in helping thoroughly "clean house". Ormonde had normal troop-capacity of 1400. We were 2,300! Sailing next morning 0700 hours we join convoy 1500 hours. EPILOGUE: 18 months serving with my Battalion, then - severe dysentry and posted to Bludgers Hill (2NZEF HQ) on administration side. Among files I see the OC Troops report on "The Bombay Incident". I tell you our OC Troops (Steve Weir) did his damnedest for us in all ways. His instructions to officers were to bog in, maintain discipline but also make quarters and food at least liveable for the men, without recriminations. Reading between the lines, he himself was perhaps the most concerned man on board at this Army SNAFU. In retrospect, bad as Ormonde was, there'd be much worse in days to come - but then we were toughened, seasoned, expecting real hardships.' AWMM