Monday, 6 April 2015

“The greater part of it I wish to forget”

As mentioned in my previous blog, Len and his unit were withdrawn from mainland Greece and delivered to Crete in late April 1941. Crete was of strategic importance to British higher command as it was close to North Africa and Britain’s precious possession of Egypt, if taken by Germany further pressure would be placed on Egypt. It was imperative that Crete was held. However, prior to April 1941, little had been done to shore up the island’s defences, this was mostly due to the competing priorities for the few resources the British had available. There was little in the way of men and material when the 2NZEF, British, Australian and Greek forces arrived.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Those Olympian Nights! – Battle in the Mountains

This post will focus on the experiences of Len and his unit in Greece. Other than a quick scene setting, I’m not going to focus too much on the bigger strategic and tactical military picture of the Greek Campaign. 
As a result of the declaration of war in 1939, Britain sent a force to support the Greeks against the Italian invasion, ongoing since October 1940, as well as to protect against the possibility of an invasion by Germany. This force included the majority of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF). The Greek Campaign would become a baptism of fire for the 2NZEF.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Syria

Given that Syria is in the news I thought I would write a post about 23rd Battalion's time in Syria. It is a part of New Zealand’s war experience that is relatively unknown. This is most probably because it was very quiet and time was spent manning border posts and conducting desert manoeuvres. Despite this, New Zealand’s presence in Syria was strategically important. It was thought that if Germany was to invade North Africa they would use a two pronged attack with one prong coming across the Mediterranean from Italy and the other through the Caucasus, Turkey, Syria and into Egypt from the East. If this invasion eventuated, elements of 2NZEF, as they were in Greece and Crete, would be the first line of defence.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

In My Father's Footsteps

For my first proper post I thought I would start with this photo of Len and three mates lounging next to a statue in Cairo in August 1941. Not only is this an interesting photo, but the description Len has written on the back adds another dimension, and even twist of mystery to it.


The description on the back reads (as much as I can decipher it):

Ra[o]y, Ned, Charlie & self [undecipherable] on the grass by the Pasha statue. Unfortunately the figure is left out of the snap. During the last war this statue received some attention from our high spirited fathers who one day rode their horses into the square and in real wild west fashion lassoed the figure in the [undecipherable] endeavour to pull it off its base. These sorts of goings on I believe although authentic are in the files of “Unofficial History”

August 1941

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Introduction

I have recently been given the opportunity to scan a whole bunch of photos, letters and ephemera, in the care of my second cousin. The items either belonged, or are connected in some way to my Great-Great Uncle Leonard Alfred Diamond, known as Len to his family. This opportunity doesn't come around very often and it is a unique opportunity that combines three of my great interests; military history, family history, and photography. I thought I better start with an overview of Len’s eventful life. 

Len Diamond aged 12. 
Leonard Alfred Diamond was born in Wellington on 25 July 1911. Len was the youngest of four children, with all of his elder siblings being girls; He was named after his Father, also Leonard Alfred Diamond.[1] Unfortunately Len Jnr’s Mother died in 1913 when he was only two years old.

According to Len Snr’s WWI records he worked as a driver for the Wellington City Council and would have probably had to