Interview with Colin McLeod
Interview with Colin McLeod, born in Auckland in 1921. Talks about his family background including his immigrant grandparents and his engineer father. Comments on growing up in Karori in the late 1920s and 1930s, riding in trams, attending Wellington College, and socialising through Presbyterian Bible class. Recalls sailing to Lyttleton on an interisland ferry when he heard that war had been declared (he was a student at the Canterbury Engineering School). Refers to working in the Public Works Department after graduation designing coastal defence works, but being released to the army after the Battle of the Coral Sea. Comments on the presence of American servicemen in Wellington, and on news reports about battles in North Africa.
Refers to undertaking officer training at Trentham in 1943, return to the Feilding camp for several months after he was commissioned, but being decommissioned before being sent overseas in January 1944 in the eleventh reinforcements. Talks about joining the New Zealand Division and being shipped to Bari in Italy in April 1944 where he joined the 5th Field Park Company at Caserta south of Cassino. Mentions assignment to the 6th Field Company, being made a sergeant in a section of men who had already seen action. Talks about moving to Mignano and Venafro and then further north to Montaquila, in areas where Germans still controlled the hilltops. Discusses the advance north after the Germans withdrew and his platoon being with a cavalry division when they liberated the town of Avezzano. Refers to a rest period for the New Zealand Division in the Sora area where they held swimming sports in an industrial water tank. Discusses moving north to Rome, Siena and Florence, advancing during the day. Describes the types of jobs the Engineers did and the fact that they were not often in forward defence localities. Discusses their work with lines of communication, checking around demolitions, and repairing roads, culverts and bridges. Comments on the role of bulldozers, Bailey bridges and Kiwi ingenuity. Talks about awareness of mines and types of anti-personnel mines. Discusses close encounters with Germans at night when out on jobs. Refers to the informality of the New Zealand Engineers compared with their British counterparts. Comments on how the sappers made themselves comfortable and could carry all their personal gear in their transport instead of having to leave things behind as the infantry did. Mentions they were sometimes issued rations by the units they were working with as well as by their sapper company. Describes a day in the life of a sapper in north Italy, personal hygiene, food, and the Benghazi burners the sappers made to cook their food and heat water. Comments on their contact with local Italians, picking up some conversational Italian and having their laundry done by local women. Explains how the sappers got information on the broader picture of the war.
Mentions assignment to Company Headquarters under Fred Hanson, promotion to Second Lieutenant again and working as a liaison officer checking and reporting on tasks such as bridge sites. Comments on the challenges of getting the armour across the flat Po valley, which had many streams and channels, using a minimal amount of bridging material. Refers to the development of low-level bridges. Discusses the assault on the Senio which began with a massive bombing attack, the advance to Trieste, and tensions with Tito's partisans. Recalls they all slept rather than celebrated when VE Day arrived because of exhaustion. Talks about a trip with Fred Hanson in his car through Austria and to Munich, other trips with friends in Italy, and a leave trip to England. Mentions he was assigned to the 5th Engineer Company to go to Japan, and sailing in March 1946. Talks about passing through the ruins of Hiroshima, being a maintenance engineer in western Japan, and being impressed by Japanese technology. Refers to arriving home in September 1946 and getting married. Comments on readjusting to civilian life and returning to the Public Works Department.
Interviewer(s) - Liz Catherall
Arrangement: Tape numbers - OHC-016711 - OHC-016719
Quantity: 9 C60 cassette(s). 1 transcript(s) (edited transcript). 9 Electronic document(s) (edited transcript). 1 interview(s) over 4 days. 8.26 Hours and minutes Duration.
Physical Description: Word processing documents - Microsoft word
Finding Aids: Abstract Available - transcript(s) available edited transcripts, OHA-5981 OHDL-000264.
Printout (A4) of a scanned image of a black and white photograph of Colin McLeod in uniform; 2 recent colour photographs of Colin McLeod
Search dates: 1921 - 1939 - 2003 - 1946
Alternative form available: Both printed and digital versions of the transcript are available
Use/Reproduction: Public use may require the written permission of the donor Copyright: Copyright is held by Liz Catherall
Access restrictions: No access restrictions
There are 11 items in total.
Format: 9 C60 cassette(s), 1 transcript(s) (edited transcript), 9 Electronic document(s) (edited transcript), 1 interview(s) over 4 days, 8.26 Hours and minutes Duration, Oral histories, Electronic records (Digital records), Electronic documents, Word processing documents - Microsoft word, Illustration: Printout (A4) of a scanned image of a black and white photograph of Colin McLeod in uniform; 2 recent colour photographs of Colin McLeodSee original record
Copyright: All rights reserved