27th Machine Gun Battalion.
The 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force of World War Two was small compared to other Allied armies, but it became an integral part of the British Commonwealth Forces that came together to defeat the Axis Powers. On completion the 2nd NZ Division was 18,000 strong with three Infantry Brigades plus artillery and other support and service elements. Until February 1945 the three brigades were supported by an attached company from 27th Machine Gun Battalion (27th (MG) Btn) . The 27th (MG) Btn served in the Greek Campaign, Western Desert Campaign, Tunisian Campaign, Italian Campaign and after the war took part in the Occupation of Japan. It was one of two New Zealand formations that served overseas longer than any other unit in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. The battalion was also one of the New Zealand units that supplied men for the Long Range Desert Group.
Battle Dress Uniform
The Battle Dress uniform was developed in England during the 1930’s as a result of the experiences gained in WW1. By 1937, the final patterns had been trialed and in October 1938 new battle dress uniforms were being issued to British Army units. In October 1939 the first samples of Battle Dress uniforms arrived in New Zealand. In late 1939 large scale manufacture of Battle Dress uniforms was started in New Zealand by firms such as Cathie & Sons Ltd of Christchurch and A. Levy Ltd of Wellington and were latter joined by other companies spread throughout New Zealand. While there were some significant changes to the battle dress uniform in the United Kingdom during WW2 (introduction of the austerity pattern in 1940), in New Zealand the style battle dress uniform remained the 37 pattern. There were however a number of minor changes made to the uniform, such as in March 1942 a tab and button was introduced to replace the hook and eye used to close the throat of the BD blouse.
This particular Battle Dress Blouse was worn by a kiwi who served in the Pacific, Italy (where he was wounded) and at the end of World War Two, with the occupation troops in Japan.
411999 George Thomas GRAY.
Born 04/06/1921. Enlisted 15/12/1941. Served overseas in the Pacific 27/12/1942 to 17/07/1944 and Italy and Japan 05/01/1945 to 08/09/1946. Served in Guadalcanal as part of 29th Battalion. Embarked for Italy 27/02/1945 and posted to 27th Battalion 13/03/1945. Wounded 16/04/1945. On the 15-16 April 1945 the 27th took part in the attack across the Sillaro. The Battalions casualties for the day were one killed and six wounded but it had captured three German tanks and destroyed a fourth. Promoted to temporary Lance Sergeant. Transferred to J Force 02/01/1946. Promoted Temporary Sergeant 28/10/1945 and Sergeant 01/02/1946. Entered Japan 20/03/1946. Served in the 27th Battalion, 9th Brigade as part of the British, Commonwealth Occupation Force. Returned to NZ 08/09/1946 and discharged 22/10/1946. Issued 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, NZ War Service Medal and NZ Service Medal 1946-49. Eligible for NZ Operational Service Medal and NZ Defence Service Medal with Regular clasp. Died 30/04/2003.
Sources of information: Men at Arms 486 “The NZ Expeditionary Force in World War II” by W STACK & B O’SULLIVAN.
“NZ Army – Uniforms and clothing 1910-1945” by B & M O’SULLIVAN