Edward Te Whiti Love
Lt. Col. Eruera (Edward) Te Whiti o Rongoimai Love’s parents moved from their sheep station, Homebush, on Arapawa Island to Petone in 1911, and established the family home, Taumata, at Korokoro. He attended Petone West School and joined the cadets aged 11, moving to the Territorial Force in 1922. By May 1926 he had reached the rank of second lieutenant. He studied law at Victoria University College in 1924 and 1925, and became an interpreter with the Native Land Court.
He rowed with the Petone Rowing Club and played in the local Maori cricket XI, but it was in rugby that he excelled. He played for the Petone team, then for Wellington. He was a member of the 1925 and 1926 Maori All Black teams, the second of which toured France, Britain, Canada, Australia and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
On the outbreak of the Second World War, Love, already a company commander in the Territorial Force,
was seconded to Army Headquarters to assist in forming the 28th (Maori) Battalion. He then served briefly
as commander of D Company before being appointed to the command of the Headquarters Company. Eruera embarked with the battalion on the Aquitania for England in May 1940. By March 1941 the battalion was in Egypt.
The Maori Battalion moved to Greece in late March 1941, and took up defensive positions against the invading Germans at Olympus Pass. Forced to withdraw with the rest of the Allied force, the battalion was evacuated to Crete. The New Zealand Division’s task on the island included defending Maleme airfield.
After evacuating to Alexandria, Egypt, the Maori Battalion was moved to El Alamein. On 23 November 1941 the battalion was in action again, its task the capture of Sollum, near the strategic Halfaya Pass. Colonel George Dittmer was wounded in this action, at Sollum, and command devolved to Love.
Early in July 1942 the New Zealand Division was ordered to attack Ruweisat Ridge, an important strategic feature dominating the desert near El Alamein. The attack took place on 11 July and developed into a siege. Just after dusk Love and his adjutant drove up to see how his men were faring; his vehicle attracted enemy fire and he was mortally wounded, dying later that night on 12 July; he was only 37. He is buried in El Alamein War cemetery.
Extract from 28Bn Homestead.com
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Text in italics supplied by Cenotaph Online, Auckland War Memorial Museum