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Full Name
Joe Atkins
Rank Last Held
Private
Forename(s)
Joe
Surname
Atkins
Also Known As
Joe Atkins Hamilton
War
World War II, 1939-1945
Serial No.
39642
Gender
Male
First Known Rank
Private
Occupation before Enlistment
Labourer
Next of Kin
Mr T. Atkins (father), Tikitiki, East Coast, New Zealand
Marital Status
Single
Enlistment Address
C/o J. Morgan, Eureka, Hamilton, New Zealand
Military District
Matamata
Body on Embarkation
Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF), 2nd Echelon
Embarkation Unit
28 (Maori) Battalion
Nominal Roll Number
WW2 2
Page on Nominal Roll
WW2 11
Campaigns
Western Desert
Last Unit Served
28 (Maori) Battalion
Place of Death
Western Desert, near Gazala
Date of Death
15 December 1941
Age at Death
28
Year of Death
1941
Cause of Death
Killed in action
Memorial Name
  • Alamein Memorial, El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt
  • Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 2 Hall of Memories
Memorial Reference
Column 102
Biographical Notes
  • Joe Atkins was the son of Tom and Maferoa Atkins of Tiki Tiki
  • The circumstances leading up to the death of Private Atkins are outlined in The Story of the Maori Battalion by Wira Gardiner. "On 10 December 1941, the Maori [Battalion] were on the move westwards past Menastir, the scene of their recent triumph, and on toward Gazala. 5 Brigade was to move west towards Gazala but not get involved in serious fighting. Seventeen miles west of Tobruk, the battalions were given their tasks. 23 Battalion was to move down the main coastal road. The Maori were to move along a track on the escarpment overlooking the coast road. 22 Battalion moved further south.
  • The 28 (Maori) Battalion's first objective was Sidi Mgherreb, 'a slight rise dominated by a little hill hardly more than a pimple on the desert'. It was a very strong position, protected by a minefield on its left flank and by a line of 26 anti-tank guns, interlaced with machine guns and mortars on its right." Using simple if unorthodox tacts the battalion was successful and took over 1000 prisoners.
  • Two days later and 12 km further west the 28 Battalion was in action again, this time the objective was Point 181. The assault (as recorded by Cody in 28 (Maori) Battalion) was a replica of the first. "Colonel Dyer placed Captain Royal in charge with orders to consolidate while he returned to his headquarters back on the first objective. Royal in turn instructed A Company and 17 Platoon to consolidate while he went forward with B. Company to exploit in case there were more enemy about. They found a field ambulance, medical stores, a food truck, a car and several motor cycles.
  • The Arawas had taken time off to sample the Italian hot coffee in the food truck when the approach of daylight disclosed still more enemy in trenches close by. They did not offer much opposition and the Maoris took over their weapon pits. B Company's adventures were not yet over for at first light another enemy group was seen about 400 yards away, apparently standing around waiting to surrender. The Maoris were proceeding to oblige them when the enemy suddenly turned and manned some guns behing them, whereupon B Company's men dived for the cover they had just left.
  • By the greatest of good fortune a Vickers crew had arrived by this time and came immediately into action cleaning up the enemy gun crews, breaking up an incipient counter-attack, and ensuring that the guns remained unmanned. Captain Royal and Lieutenant D. Stewart were wounded by the same mortar shell and Lieutenant F.T. Bennett took command." The following day the fighting continued around Points 154, 152 and 181. A good map of the Battalion's position and progress during these days of the advance to Gazala can be seen on p. 164 of the Official History of the 28 Battalion. It seems likely that Private Atkins was one of those killed by a shell about two hours before the attack on Point 154 on 15 December. Lieutenant H. Te K. Green and seven others were killed at the same time.
Further References
Sources Used

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