Father was a private in the 23rd battalion 2ndNZEF

   Re: G. B. 1940
October 4, 2011

From: Al
Date: 4/10/2011 5:54:15 PM
Subject: G. B. 1940
Dear Mac,

I am in the process of writing the story of my father's war time trials and tribulations. He was a good story teller and as a kid I listened with interest but didn't really take it in. Before he died in 1980 he tried to get me to write it all down but I guess I thought he would live forever. Now I am left with little fragments of memory (and not terribly accurate) and brief notes in a Bible.

Some facts can be found on line for the average soldier but in my father's case he took a different path for some of the time. He was a private in the 23rd battalion 2ndNZEF and while training in Britain became involved in an elite sniper group LRDG until he was reinstalled in his unit just before being dispatched to the middle East on January 4th 1941.

Some time before this date he was on board a ship bound for Archangelsk only to be turned back at Murmansk.

My question is would you have any knowledge of naval or merchant shipping movements from Great Britain to Archangelsk in the Winter of 1940 (probably November or December) ? Would he have been a spotter? How did they get picked for this job? And why from the army?

Thank you in advance

Al Mannering


Wartime Memories Project - New Zealand Army
23rd Battalion 2nd NZEF


    The 23rd (Canterbury-Otago) Battalion was formed in November 1939 as part if the 2nd New Zealand Division. It was knows as "23 Canto" or  Cant-Otago". Training was undertaken at Burnham and the Battalion left New Zealand on the 1st of May 1940. They saw action in Greece, Crete, North Africa, and Italy.

  My father Eric William Sutherland (He was a Corporal with the 23rd Battalion 2nd NZEF) was wounded and captured in Greece in April 1941. He spent time in Stalag 8B then was shipped to Stalag 383.

    He passed away 30 years ago and we have only 2 pictures taken while he was at Stalag 383. In the top picture dad is back row 2nd from the left and in the bottom picture he is back row right hand side. We are trying to identify any others in the photographs.

    Bob Sutherland

SEE THIS URL:  http://lrdg.hegewisch.net/lrdg.HTML For some details about the Long Range Desert Group.

Russian convoys did not start till 1941, and I can find no details about any merchant ship sailing to Archangel from Britain in 1940. I am not saying there were not any, but I did not find them.

I suspect your Father might have been involved as a Defensively-Equipped-Merchant-Ship (DEMS gunner), both
Navy and Army personnel manned the gun carried by merchant ships and the AA armament, Often they were volunteers.
I cannot see him used in a sniper capacity aboard a ship to Russia.

Best wishes.

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