New Zealand in WW2
New Zealand had a major role in two of the four battles for the liberation of Cassino, its contribution ought to be remembered and passed on to the future generations.
Out of 343 New Zealanders killed in actions were included a a disproportionate number of 28 (Maori) Battalion. In an early attack on the railway in the town, Maori suffered 130 casualties out of the 200 who set out.New Zealand forces, including the Maori Battalion were heavily involved in two of the battles in February and March of 1944. The battles to take Cassino were some of the most brutal and costly involving New Zealand forces in World War II with the loss of nearly 350 men and over 600 wounded. The Allies needed to break through at Cassino on their way to Rome, but the strategic nature of the place with its hills and imposing abbey high above the town made this extremely difficult.
New Zealand's casualties at Cassino from February 1 to April 10, 1944, total of 1695; 343 killed, 1211 wounded and 42 prisoners of war, the highest percentage pro capite in WW2 in the Commonwealth.
New Zealand Quick Facts and Figures:
- The population of New Zealand in 1940 was about 1,600,000.
- About 140,000 New Zealand men and women served, 104,000 in 2NZEF, the rest in the British or New Zealand naval or air forces.
- Approximately 12,000 New Zealanders (0.73% of the940 population) lost their lives in WW2, a much higher percentage than either Australia, (0.57%) Canada, (0.40%) and the UK (0.57%).
- Post-war calculations indicated that New Zealand's ratio of killed per million of population (at 6684) was the highest in the Commonwealth (with Britain at 5123 and Australia, 3232).