Monday, July 25, 2005

Breaking news: Somebody doesn't hate us

On the 4th March 1942 the New Zealand government - having been left hanging in the breeze by Churchill - formally requested US assistance in the defence of New Zealand from the Japanese.

On the 10th March 1942 the orders were cut for a Marine Divison to be moved to New Zealand (Paekakariki).

The US did not attach any provisos to this substantial deployment. This move was of no strategic value to the US.

When the Japanese fleet moved to invade Port Morsbey the US Navy enaged in a battle (Coral Sea) they had every expectation of losing. As it was they were badly hurt but succeded in turning back the Japanese fleet.

This battle also did little to help the US strategic position but it did turn back the Japanese expasion at sea and provide protection to New Zealand and Australia.

After only six weeks training at Paekakariki (including the infamous march to Foxton and back) the Marines landed in Guadalcannal and engaged in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war facing and defeating a determined and confident enemy.

For many American Marines, sailors and soldiers New Zealand was the last friendly country. Many came here and never got home again.

A plaque on the Wellington forshore from the first Marine Divison comemorates their stay here and the battles they fought in the Pacific in defence of the region and the freedom of others. It incudes the words "If you need a friend you have one".

Posted by Murray

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