9321 Robert Leslie MCGAFFIN
Born in Hastings, NZ on 30/08/1902. He embarked with the 27th Machine Gun Battalion and served in Greece and Crete. Returned to NZ and was Commanding Officer of 3 Army Tank Battalion in March 1942. Returned to the Middle East as a promoted Lieutenant Colonel in February 1943 and was made Commanding Officer of 27th Machine Gun Battalion . Latter in April 1943 he became Commanding Officer of the 19th Armoured Battalion were he gained his DSO. Finally in September 1944 he was made Colonel and Commanding Officer of NZ Advance Base (Italy) before returning to NZ in October 1944. Medals awarded were the Distinguished Service Order, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star with 8th Army clasp, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, NZ war Service Medal, Efficiency Decoration and NZ Territorial Service Medal. The citation for the DSO “Lieutenant Colonel McGaffin commanded a regiment of tanks in support of infantry during the attack on Cassino which began on 15 March 1944. Both infantry Brigadiers with whom he co-operated were impressed by his outstanding ability as an armoured commander during these operations. He commanded his unit from positions with his forward tanks under intense fire or elsewhere exactly as the situation demanded, and for some hours within the town from a tank so badly damaged as to be useless as a fighting vehicle. His presence with his advanced troops during a critical period of the operation was an inspiration to them; and major credit for the excellent work of his unit must be attributed to his personal skill and intrepidity.” He died in Auckland 08/05/1989.
The use of coloured backing to the rank insignia on a NZ uniform is unusual. These types of rank insignia are more common on British uniforms. The red colour signifies Infantry.