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Harold Ralph Betridge

'Anzac Conquerors'. Life magazine cover, 24 February 1941. Foremost (second from left) is Lieutanant Gibson Alexander Burns 3101; to his left is Private Maurice O'Shea 2977 (in the centre) with Private Harold Ralph Betridge to the of him (holding his rifle). Blow, Alan Isbister, 'Letter to wife, 1941'. MS-2007-4, Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. Image may be subject to copyright restrictions.

'Anzac Conquerors'. Life magazine cover, 24 February 1941. Foremost (second from left) is Lieutanant …


  • Title
  • Forenames
    Harold Ralph AWMM
  • Surname
    Betridge AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
  • Service number
    WWII 2979 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    2 October 1910 AWMM New Zealand AWMM
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    WW2 Pre 2 October 1939 AWMM Whangapara, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    WW2 Mr A. Betridge (brother), Whangapara, Great Barrier Island, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Pre 5 January 1940 AWMM Single AWMM


Wars and conflicts

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  • War
  • Campaign
    Western Desert AWMM
  • Armed force / branch
    Army AWMM
  • Service number
    WWII 2979 AWMM
  • Military service
  • Promotions/ Postings/ Transfers

Military decorations

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Training and Enlistment

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  • Military training
  • Branch Trade Proficiency
  • Enlistment
    WW2 2 October 1939 AWMM
    Age 18 AWMM
    Bushman/Civilian 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
    • Height, Unknown Period AWMM
      5 feet 7.5 inches AWMM
    • Hospital Diseases , Wounds, WWII AWMM
      Admitted to 4 Field Ambulance Hospital 16/5/40; discharged 22/5/40. AWMM
    • Hospital Diseases , Wounds, WWII AWMM
      Wounded 23 May 1941 AWMM

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Harold was one of the 432 men involved in the 'Furlough Draft' incident. They arrived back in New Zealand after having seen active service for the past three years. They maintained that they should not have to go back to war, rather others who had not seen active service should be required to serve first, so they went AWOL. Further information about the incident can be found McLeod, J. (1986)

    "On February 24, 1941, New Zealand soldiers from the Machine Gun Company in the 18 Infantry Battalion were made world famous by appearing on the cover of Life magazine as 'Anzac Conquerors'. The soldiers were photographed in Egypt by the famous Margaret Bourke-White and showcased to the world as an example of the heroic men fighting for the Allied Powers. As historian Ron Palenski has noted, the caption assumed that the New Zealanders were fighting with their Australian cousins as 'shock troops' in Libya, though only the Australians were in Libya at the time. The New Zealanders in the picture were recognisable for the well-known Lemon-Squeezer hat clearly seen on the foremost soldier. Catering to an American audience the caption also likened the 'insubordinate, hard-fighting' Anzacs to Texans who were known for their toughness and fighting prowess.

    18 Battalion itself was formed in September 1939, and fought in Greece and Crete as infantry soldiers before being re-organised as a tank unit - re-designated as the 18th Armoured Regiment - in October 1942. In Greece, they were part of the untested New Zealand forces that were soundly defeated by the well-organised Germans in April 1941 and had to be evacuated from the country. They were to suffer defeat again in May 1941 and evacuated from the island of Crete after German paratroopers succeeded in taking the island. Losing friends and comrades in large numbers, life was tough for troops on the back-foot and constantly adapting to different conditions and styles of warfare. Nevertheless the 18th Armoured Regiment went on to fight with distinction at the famous battles at El Alamein (Eqypt), and at Orsogna and Cassino (Italy). Not originally named in Life magazine, two of the soldiers on the cover photograph have now been identified, while another could well be a Parnell soldier. In the front right is Private Harold Ralph Betridge of Great Barrier Island. To the left of him is Private Maurice Carran O'Shea of Remuera, and on the far left of the photograph is possibly Private Guilford Charles "Happy" Thorne of Parnell. The latter two were photographed together here by the Auckland Star newspaper on their return to New Zealand in 1943." - Millar, Dan . Anzac Conquerors: world famous in the Second World War . Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira. First published: 19 June 2017. Updated: 24 August 2017. AWMM
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About death

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  • Death
    9 June 1975 AWMM
    Age 65 AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
    Area 11, Block A, Lot No. 534, Hillsborough Cemetery, Hillsborough, Auckland AWMM
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference



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  • Memorial name

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DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
22 August 2019AlbyUnited KingdomOther

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