William Carson was the son of Alexander John and Mabel Alice Carson and husband of Marie Patricia Carson, of Remuera, Auckland.
All Black in 1938
Captain John Rutherfurd has written the following tribute to William Carson. 'Bill Carson was a very special friend of mine. We entered camp together in February 1940. He was a double New Zealand representative - All Black and cricket. He had a very distinguished military career, especially in Crete. He was highly respected and very popular.'
Major Carson was wounded on 29 July 1944 at San Michele, south of Florence. He was evacuated but died as a result of his wounds and sickness in October. Carson was taking the newly-appointed commander of F Troop forward to the Observation Post when a shell struck the scout car and killed Lieutenant Graves and Gunner I.H. Henry. (Murphy, W. (1966), p. 623-4)
In W.E. Murphy's account of 2nd Divisional Artillery he records that Bill Carson was a stalwart of the New Zealand Artillery from the earliest days. His actions in Crete are particularly notable.
Lieutenant Carson had charge of a thirty man patrol from Reserve Motor Transport at Galatas. In the area around Cemetery Hill, Wheat Hill and Pink Hill Carson was particularly active with his patrol. On 22 May an incident occurred when Carson and his patrol were moving round to Wheat Hill to counter-attack the enemy. 'There was a beautiful opening for Carson, and I was waiting for him to line his men up before giving him the order to charge, when a most infernal uproar broke out across the valley. Over an open space in the trees near Galatos came running, bounding and yelling like Red Indians, about a hundred Greeks and villagers including women and children, led by Michael Forrester twenty yards ahead. It was too much for the Germans. They turned and ran without hesitation, and we went back to our original positions.'
As the days went by and more pressure was brought to bear Carson's patrol faced increasingly difficult situations. On 25 May for example in trying to hold Pink Hill his patrol moved forward to help stiffen the line. An attack by thirty Stukas weakened the right flank and Carson took his patrol and they stayed in spite of attacks of increasing intensity. The message that 18 Battalion had withdrawn did not reach them because the runner sent to warn them of the retirement was killed on the way. This action at Wheat Hill (in co-operation with Captain Nolan's two platoons of gunners) meant that most of the troops involved were able to make their way back safely through Galatas.
Re-grouping after this fighting Lieutenant-Colonel Gray formed up the survivors of his battalion on the eastern edge of the village. They were joined by other soldiers and instructed to clear the village with bayonets in spite of the fact that the Germans seemed to have machine guns and mortars everywhere. William Carson is reported to have had a broad grin and to have committed himself to the ongoing battle (Davin, D. (1953), p. 312).
Initials W.M. given for next of kin, his wife, on the Nominal Roll.
Maj W. N. Carson, MC, m.i.d.; born NZ 16 Jul 1916; warehouseman; died of wounds 8 Oct 1944. (Source: Davin, D.M. Crete. p.162.)
'F Troop had joined the KDGs on 19 March. On the 22nd it engaged Italians dug in near the Roman Wall and encouraged 43 of them to surrender next day. Moving with C Squadron on the 23rd, the troop supported Free French troops attacking enemy in the hills to the right of NZ Corps. With A Squadron on the 24th the troop engaged many targets at ranges of 3400-5000 yards, but had much trouble clearing crests in very broken country. F Troop did not take part in the barrage on the 26th, but was well forward in the pursuit on 27 March. Then, next day, came the action at Wadi Werteba mentioned in the citation for Captain Carson's MC, in which 700-odd Italians were captured. F Troop did not pass through Gabes on the 29th. The KDGs by-passed the town and, after two or three more fleeting engagements, camped quite near the 4th Field.
By the time F Troop rejoined the regiment on the 30th, it had fired, in the course of its detached role, 1574 rounds of HE and 14 of smoke, using 1454 normal charges and 134 supercharges.' (Source: Murphy, W.E. 2nd New Zealand Divisional Artillery. p. 486.) AWMM