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John Tainui

Headstone, Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Libya (photo B. Coutts, 2009) - This image may be subject to copyright

Headstone, Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Libya (photo B. Coutts, 2009) - This image may be subject to …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    John AWMM
  • Surname
    Tainui AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    7625 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    13 October 1917 AWMM AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    Unknown AWMM Little River, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    Mrs A.H. Tainui (wife), Little River, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Unknown AWMM Married AWMM


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
  • Armed force / branch
    Army AWMM
  • Service number
    7625 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    • Military Medal (MM) AWMM
      4 November 1941 AWMM
      At Petras Pass on 16 April 1941 when the enemy attacked, Cpl. Tainui went out to meet the forward elements in front of his position, and it is known that he accounted for three of the enemy scouts. Later, when another part of his company were in difficulties, he secured permission to go to their assistance and did so without regard for his personal safety. (London Gazette 4/11/1941) The National Archives. Recommendation for Award for Tainui, John. (Ref. WO 373/27/359). Military Medal. 4 November 1941 AWMM
    • War Medal 1939-1945 AWMM
    • New Zealand War Service Medal AWMM

Training and Enlistment

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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
    Killed on Active Service, Cause of Death AWMM

Last known rank

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Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Son of Jack and Molly Tainui, of Little River, Canterbury, New Zealand; husband of Acacia Haromi Tainui, of Little River

    Sergeant J. Tainui, MM; born NZ 13 Oct 1917; labourer; killed in action 15 Dec 1941. (Source: Cody, J.F. 28 Maori Battalion. p.59.)

    D Company's first close contact with the enemy is described by Major Dyer:

    When the enemy were seen advancing on the mountain face opposite us I sent Jack Tainui, my best scout, and another down to the bottom of the gorge to observe the enemy as it was possible to cross the river by leaping from rock to rock. As the enemy, Austrian mountain troops I think, started to cross, he picked them off at close range. I believe he shot three. He told me that one man was only wounded and started to crawl away. He raised his rifle to finish him off and then found that he could not do it. He withdrew in front of the enemy, and in the middle of the main action which followed immediately, he reported to me and then with a grin said he was going down (a matter of about thirty yards) to give the boys a hand as they seemed to be having a tough time.

    Warned by the firing on its right, D Company was peering into the mist and the enemy was concentrating on the flat where Battalion Headquarters had originally been established. Suddenly, Private Harold in 16 Platoon took careful aim and fired. An enemy scout who had reached the road fell on his back. Harold turned to his mate, ‘Old Horse’ Martin,22 and said shakily, ‘Old Horse, I've killed him.’ Sergeant J. Tainui, MM; born NZ 13 Oct 1917; labourer; killed in action 15 Dec 1941.; To Greece - The Germans then appeared to edge still farther westwards seeking for a gap in the sector held by D Company. To prevent that unit being outflanked, 11 Platoon B Company (Second-Lieutenant Pene) had been placed beyond it opposite the village of Skotina, but with the successive westward moves of the enemy Lieutenant-Colonel Dittmer strengthened the flank with 13 Platoon C Company (Second-Lieutenant Reedy). The enemy's approach was carefully observed by three scouts who were sent out as soon as the Germans appeared in front of D Company. One of them, Corporal Tainui, dealt with three Germans and reported that a large number were collecting in the gorge. Sergeant J. Tainui, MM; born NZ 13 Oct 1917; labourer; killed in action 15 Dec 1941.
    ' (Source: Cody, J.F. 28 Maori Battalion. pp. 59.; McClymont, W.G. To Greece. p. 265.) AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
    15 December 1941 AWMM
    Age 22 AWMM
    Western DesertNorth Africa AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Acroma, Libya AWMM 6. A. 8. AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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