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Matarehua Wikiriwhi

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Portrait, M. Wikiriwhi awarded the D.S.O. - This image may be subject to copyright
Portrait, M. Wikiriwhi awarded the D.S.O. - This image may b … Read more

Identity

  • Title
  • Forenames
    Matarehua AWMM
  • Surname
    Wikiriwhi AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    Monty AWMM
  • Service number
    • WWII 39282 AWMM
    • WWII 1523 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    4 April 1918 AWMM AWMM
    Rotorua, New Zealand AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    Unknown AWMM Cape Runaway, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    Mrs Tiaria Delamere (sister), Te Piki, Cape Runaway, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Unknown AWMM Single AWMM

Service

Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
    Tunisia AWMM
  • Armed force / branch
    Army AWMM
  • Service number
    • WWII 39282 AWMM
    • WWII 1523 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    • Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) AWMM
      During the attack on Casino railway station on 17 February 1944, Capt. Wikiriwhi commanded the forward company which attained it's objective after particularly fierce fighting and against stiff opposition. Capt. Wikiriwhi was wounded during the attack but insisted on carrying on and only his magnificent handling of the company enabled it to overcome the enemy resistance. He personally led the attack on on several enemy strongpoints and despite heavy casualties among his men he was able, by his own example, his fortitude, coolness and disregard of personal safety, to lead his men to victory. At one stage it seemed that the opposition would prove too strong but Capt. Wikiriwhi quickly appreciated the position and turned the tide by superb tactical handling. He was wounded a second time during this action but refused to allow his men to carry him out owing to the danger to to which they would thereby be exposed. (L.G. 20/7/1944 (I)) AWMM
    • Military Cross (MC) AWMM
      20 July 1944 AWMM
      In the attack on Takrouna village on the night 19/20 April 1943 Lt. Wikiriwhi, intelligence Officer of his unit was personally responsible for the reorganisation of his battalion during an extremely difficult period of the attack. In the course of the attack his unit suffered heavy casualties including his Commanding Officer, Adjutant and the whole of the officers of the two forward companies. Undaunted however, Lt. Wikiriwhi, with a quick grasp of the situation, pushed on with the attack and with cool deliberation, courage, determination and with complete disregard for his own personal safety and despite fierce enemy shell, mortar and machine-gun fire he set about the further task of reorganising the companies, establishing and consolidating them in fixed positions and establishing Battalion Headquarters. First light on 20 April 1943 found the battalion in a difficult situation. There was no communication with Brigade Headquarters, all Company Commanders had been wounded and evacuated and the hard fighting during the night had caused considerable disorganisation. The area had been subjected to heavy mortar and artillery fire. Lt. Wikiriwhi assumed command of the battalion, completed the reorganisation of the companies, and consolidated the ground won. Until relieved at 1400 hours he carried out the triple role of Commanding Officer, Adjutant and Intelligence Officer. Throughout the entire action Lt. Wikiriwhi displayed coolness under fire, and the firmness, initiative and judgement of an experienced soldier. His continual cheerfulness, calm and complete disregard of enemy fire inspired his unit during a very difficult and dangerous period. Only when satisfied that the situation was stabilized and a senior officer available to take over from him did he relax his efforts. He then reported personally to Brigade Headquarters. (L.G. 22/7/1943 (I)) AWMM
    • 1939-1945 Star AWMM
    • Africa Star (8th Army clasp) AWMM
    • Italy Star AWMM
    • Defence Medal AWMM
    • War Medal 1939-1945 with oak leaf 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
    Hospital Diseases , Wounds, WWII AWMM
    Wounded four times AWMM

Last known rank

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Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Capt M. Wikiriwhi, DSO, MC, m.i.d.; Pukekohe; born Rotorua, 4 Apr 1918; shepherd; twice wounded. (Source: Cody, J.F. 28 Maori Battalion. p.47.)

    'The problem for the Divisional Commander to decide was whether to continue the smoke or revert to shelling. It was decided that smoke was more likely to keep down casualties and every available weapon that had smoke shells was ordered to use them. Smoke was, in fact, a two-edged weapon, as the murk enabled the enemy to get in so close that the guns could not fire on them for fear of dropping their shells among the Maoris.
    Infantry the Maoris could deal with while their ammunition lasted, but when two tanks overran sections of 10 and 12 Platoons Captain Wikiriwhi ordered a withdrawal.
    When tank attack came in I was with remnants of my Coy HQ right in the station, i.e. 1st objective. The forward sections must have been overrun by then. They were not more than 5ox [yards] from us and opened up with 75 mm and MG. That was when I gave the order to withdraw.
    More men were hit returning to the start line. Wikiriwhi stopped to rally some who had taken cover from the firing and was seriously wounded. Lieutenant Takurua and two others dragged him to the shelter of the railway embankment and used his pistol lanyard as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. He ordered them to leave him there and get back while they might. Takurua was killed a few minutes later. Those who did get safely back were a pitiful remnant of the two hundred who had gone into the attack—26 Arawas and 40 Ngapuhi. A few more straggled in during the night.
    In high places another method of reducing Cassino was being worked out, for the Indian effort had also failed and the beach-head at Anzio was not secure. Back with the rest of the battalion, the Maori survivors of the attack on the railway station were sleeping the sleep of soldiers after a hard battle. Private Maihi, with two holes drilled through him, reported back at midday, and some hours later Captain Wikiriwhi crawled in to 24 Battalion's FDLs.
    By a fortunate coincidence he had been left in such a position that a piece of board and a discarded gas cape were within his reach. He split the board with an Italian stiletto he had carried since the days in the desert and fashioned a pair of splints to hold a leg shattered with machine-gun bullets so that it was possible to move. When it was dark he crawled up on to the railway line and, using the sleepers as levers, hauled himself back to safety. An MC was added to his Takrouna DSO.' (Source: Cody, J.F. 28 Maori Battalion. p. 362.) 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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  • Your actions leave me proud and your spirit lives on, I set out to follow in your footsteps and regain a direction I had lost.
    Public - Troy - Direct descendant - 26 March 2018

Sources

Sources

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  • External links
  • Documents
    • Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force. (1941). Nominal Roll Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force No. 2 (Embarkations to 30th June, 1940). Wellington, N.Z.: Govt. Printer. AWMM
      WW2 2: WW2 199 AWMM
    • Haigh, J., Polaschek, A. (Eds.). (1993). New Zealand and the Distinguished Service Order. Christchurch, N.Z.: Authors. AWMM
      The citation relating to his action on Takrouna is on page 279 of New Zealand and the Distinguished Service Order by J.Bryant Haigh and A.J. Polaschek. AWMM
    • Cody, J. (1956). 28 (Maori) Battalion. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      pp.47, 90-1, 116, 229, 242, 256, 287, 295, 298, 302-3, 318, 346, 356, 358-9, 362, 428. AWMM
    • Phillips, N.C. (1957). Italy. Volume 1 : The Sangro to Cassino. Wellington, N.Z.: Department of Internal Affairs, War History Branch. AWMM
      pp.232, 237. AWMM
    • Stevens, W.G. (1962). Bardia to Enfidaville. Dept. of Internal Affairs, War History Branch, Wellington, N.Z. AWMM
      pp.280, 317, 329, 330. AWMM
    • Gardiner, W. (2019). Ake ake kia kaha e! : Forever brave! : B Company 28 (Maori) Battalion, 1939-1945. Auckland : Bateman Books. AWMM

Contributors

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DateNameLocationRelationshipContact
26 March 2018TroyNelson, NZDirect descendant