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6th Field Regiment, NZA, leaves for War

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With the Regiment now formed, training ensued and various members were transferred out to other Regiments while others were transferred in to the 6th Field. The first three weeks were spent in individual training of specialists and Gunners, after which troops started on a programme of collective training. Each troop occupied positions in the surrounding country working as a complete troop. During the third and fourth weeks of training, an epidemic of influenza ran through the camp with the result that the unit was gradually reduced to about half its strength.

The Regiment carried out range practices with rifles and lewis machine guns at the Penrose rifle range on the following dates: 29th Battery 24th June 1940, 30th Battery 25th June 1940, RHQ 26th June 1940. On Saturday July 6th the Regiment held a practice ceremonial parade on the camp parade ground. This was the first time that the Regiment paraded as a unit other than for the daily parades at the commencement of the day's work. The Regiment proceeded on final leave on August 1st and 2nd. The period of leave granted was 12 days and the Regiment reassembled on the 12th and 13th of August 1940.

Our first range practice with live shell took place on Thursday and Friday August 15th and 16th at Whatawhata. The "O Parties" of each battery moved to Claudelands Racecourse on the night preceding the Battery Shoots and the remainder of each Battery moved up the following morning. The 29th Battery shot on the 15th and the 30th Battery on the 16th. For the first live shell practice the results were quite good.

The Regiment made its first public appearance in the civic farewell parade for the 3rd Echelon on 17th August 1940. The journey to Auckland was made by train. On arrival at the Auckland Railway Station the Regiment formed up on the road and marched via Stanley Street and the Domain drive to the Domain cricket ground. After the farewell speeches the whole parade marched down Queen St to the Queens Wharf for lunch and returned to camp in the afternoon.

3rd Echelon parades through Auckland City
Third Echelon parading through Auckland City (Auckland Star photo)
Click the image to enlarge it.

On Monday 19th August 1940 the Regiment took part in a ceremonial parade and was reviewed by His Excellency the Governor General. All units from Papakura Camp took part, and the parade took the form of an inspection and march past. The following Monday, the Regiment paraded in conjunction with the other units from Papakura Camp at 10.30am for a ceremonial parade reviewed by Major-General Duigan.

In the afternoon at 2.30 the Regiment entrained for Wellington. Several stops were made along the route and an enthusiastic reception given by the local people. The train reached Wellington at 6.30am and went straight to the wharf where the Regiment embarked onto the troopship, the Mauretania. By 8am the troops were all settled down in their cabins. By midday the other troops had embarked and at 1.15 the transports pulled out into the stream. At 3.30pm the Governor General made a trip round the transports in a small steamer. The convoy set sail at 8.15 and picked up the South Island boat in Cook Strait. Escorted by HMS Achilles the whole convoy then set forth on its journey. The ships in the convoy were

HMS Achilles
HMT Mauretania
HMT Empress of Japan
HMT Orcades.

Four days out from New Zealand we were joined by HMAS Perth and said farewell to HMS Achilles. All troops lined the rails of the transports and cheered as the Achilles dropped slowly behind the convoy. On the following morning we were joined by the HMAS Canberra and HMT Aquitania carrying the Australian troops. The convoy passed through Bass Strait and continued across the Australian Bight. The weather was good. A heavy swell running upset a few of the troops but no heavy weather was encountered.

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