28th Māori Battalion - Robert "Bom" Gillies

battalion-company-map

The last surviving member of the 28th (Maori) Battalion. He enlisted in 1943 at the age of 17 (after giving a false birthdate) and served in Italy, surviving the gruelling Battle of Monte Cassino.  Bom recalls some of his memories from WWII.

By New Zealand Government, Office of the Governor-General - CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=113835615

The 28th Māori Battalion was part of the 2nd New Zealand Division, the fighting arm of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF) during the Second World War (1939-45). A frontline infantry unit made up entirely of volunteers, the Battalion usually contained 700-750 men, divided into five companies.

Sir Robert Nairn Gillies KNZM (born 14 February 1925), commonly known as Bom Gillies, is a former New Zealand soldier who served with B Company, 28th (Māori) Battalion, during World War II. He is the last surviving member of the Māori Battalion, and was knighted on 31 December 2021.

Born in Rotorua on 14 February 1925, Gillies is of Māori descent, affiliating to Ngāti Whakaue and Ngāti Kahungunu. Aged 17, he enlisted in the army, giving a false date of birth. In 1943, he left as a private in the 10th Reinforcements, 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, landing in North Africa at the end of the Western Desert campaign. He then fought in the Italian campaign, sustaining injuries at Orsogna. After receiving, he continued serving with the Māori Battalion until the end of the war, including at the Battle of Monte Cassino.

In his later years, Gillies has represented the Māori Battalion at many local, national and international commemorations. He attended the ceremonies in Italy marking the 70th and 75th anniversaries of the Battle of Monte Cassino in 2014 and 2019, and led the celebration on the 75th anniversary of the return of B Company to Rotorua in 2021. Gillies has been a trustee of the 28th Māori Battalion B Company History Trust since 2013, and been active in the Te Arawa Returned Services Association.


References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bom_Gillies#:~:text=Sir%20Robert%20Nairn%20Gillies%20KNZM,knighted%20on%2031%20December%202021.
Bathgate, Benn (31 December 2021). "Last survivor of the 28th Māori Battalion knighted". Stuff. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
"New Year Honours 2022 – citations for Knights Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2021. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
"Bom Gillies". 28th Māori Battalion. New Zealand Government. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
Mane, Marena (31 December 2021). "Last Māori Battalion soldier accepts knighthood in honour of comrades". Retrieved 2 January 2022.
Wright, Kereama (12 October 2019). "A Knight of the Italian Republic honours the 28th Māori Battalion". Te Ao Māori News. Retrieved 2 January 2021.
"New Year honours list 2022". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2021. Retrieved 2 January 2022.

1
×
Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

WAIATA O TE RA - NGA WHAKAMOEMITI
WAIATA O TE RA - Tangi a te ruru
 

Comments 1

Guest
Guest - Kate on Monday, 15 January 2024 11:35

I'm trying to find out how to talk to sir Robert gillies, he served with my uncle Walter Tumaru, who died in cassino in 1944, just wondering if he remembered him

I'm trying to find out how to talk to sir Robert gillies, he served with my uncle Walter Tumaru, who died in cassino in 1944, just wondering if he remembered him
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Thursday, 25 April 2024

Captcha Image