36 Survey Battery NZ Artillery

This common service dress is badged to a fairly un-common unit within the NZ Artillery.

This captain belonged to the 36th Survey Battery of the NZ Artillery.36th-survey-sd-sideIn the photo above the colours are a bit dark, they are the traditional artillery colours of red and blue.

The 36th Survey Battery was a sound-ranging unit whose job was to pinpoint enemy guns so that the artillery could neutralise them. They did this from observation posts 2000 yards back from the enemy using recently-introduced sound ranging microphones set in drums. The microphones had a wire grid that was wired back to the equipment at headquarters. When the enemy guns fired, the observation post would press a button to start the unit recording sounds going through the grid. Shell waves and gun waves were recorded on the Headquarters machine. Allowance had to be made for the difference in meteorological air pressure and temperature. Strength (11 May 1944): 13 Officers, 259 Other Ranks.

36 NZ Survey Battery left New Zealand in February 1941 arriving in Maadi Camp, Egypt in March. For the next eighteen months, the Battery had a non-Divisional role, carrying out surveying duties in far flung localities. At various times the Battery had personnel in Egypt, Transjordan, Cyprus, Safaga (on the Red Sea coast of Upper Egypt), Aden and Syria. In December 1942 the Battery became a unit of 2 NZ Divisional Artillery, boosted in numbers by the addition of 1 Survey Troop. The composition of the Battery was then:

Battery Headquarters
X Troop Survey
R Troop Sound-Ranging
S Troop Flash-Spotting

Except for R Troop, which was completing its training, the Battery joined the Division’s conquest of Libya and the advance to Tunis (Dec 42 – May 43), playing its full part in the advance across North Africa.

Following the success in North Africa, the Battery returned to Maadi with the Division and prepared for the Italian campaign. When the Battery moved to Italy in November 1943, its strength was 284 all ranks. During the fighting in the Sangro-Orsogna region, six men from the Battery were wounded. The Battery continued its surveying, flash-spotting and sound-ranging throughout the Italian Campaign losing three dead. When 2 NZ Divisional Artillery was reorganised the Battery was disbanded (along with 14 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment) in September 1944. One hundred and fifteen men went home, 67 were posted to other artillery units as reinforcements, and 25 were formed into 5 Survey Troop which became part of 7 Anti-tank Regiment. The Survey Troop was able to do ordinary surveying and fix bearing pickets but the tasks of flash-spotting and sound-ranging were done by outside survey regiments.

The above is taken from the excellent RNZA website: http://www.riv.co.nz/rnza/index.htm

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