Chapter 8, To New Zealand
17th August 1944
“Extremely hot lately. Fruit is plentiful, tomatoes, peas, peaches and grapes just as good as those in NZ! During the advance on Florence we stayed in some luxurious houses with all the trimmings, sleeping on sprung beds and between sheets. A wonderful rest after footslogging it through rough hill country and digging into rock. Bill.”
‘Al Mio Caio John, Fay’
On 3rd October 1944 Feni gives or sends a photo of herself to John with a note on the back. Perhaps he knew he was going to be leaving Naples for the last time.
On 21st November 1944 when he was marched in to advanced base CTBA 2nd NZ General Hospital and was transferred from x(ii) list to X(iv) list NZ Medical Corps (regarded A). On 24th Nov he was admitted to 3 NZGH and X (ii) list of NZMC. By 25th Nov he was marched in to 25 NZ Gen Hospital from advanced base and struck off the x(iv) list NZMC. He marched out of 3NZ Gen Hospital.
From 24th November 1944 John was based at 3NZGH (xii) list NZMC in Bari?. On 25th he marched to 25 NZGH and was struck off (xiv) list NZMC.
He was discharded from 3NZGH on 8th Feb 1945 and struck off X(ii) list of NZMC – Central Mediterranean Force but did not leave Italy or the warfront until July. Perhaps he spent another 5 months on Ischia before returning to New Zealand. In any case John and Feni got engaged.
On 16th July 1945 he returned to NZ ‘’protected personnel’ [Cmb INMHS]. He changed at Taranto for the voyage to ME Middle East. Disembarked at Port Tewfik. On 19th July 1945 travelled to NZ without his fiance. After victory in Europe, and increasingly after VJ Day, troopships brought back to New Zealand not only servicemen and released prisoners of war but the wives, children, and finacées of men in the three services.
With the blackout lifted, with no unnecessary parades or picket duties to annoy them, the men had little to grumble about (except the food and the overcrowding) and even less to do. At sea they played Crown and Anchor and two-up, fell into deep day-dreams of the future, and nursed the children on the boat-decks. In port many of them took the opportunity of having a final fling, but not with the old fierce concentration, and they returned almost with relief to the boredom, the day-dreams, and the babies on the boat-deck. One after another the ships came into home waters. John disembarked on 18th September 1945 in Wellington. He was placed in Area 7 pool (on 9ILWOP) pending discharge in Napier. Overseas leave formally ceased on 19th December 1945 after 4 years and 169 days of service.
John was awarded the following medals:
1939-1945 Star, Africa Star, 8th Army Clasp, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-1945, NZ War Service Medal.
Fay longed to go out to NZ and be with John. A letter to Ruby dated 25th November 1946 from Ischia, tells of her heartache.
The fiancés and brides of soldiers had to wait for soldiers and the injured to be repatriated home and therefore shipping and transport to be available. John too remained hopeful of the day when Feny would be with him but in Bill’s letter to Ruby dated 4th March 1946, he explains that they felt unsettled returning to civilian life. Due to winding up all their affairs up before leaving 4 years ago, they were unable to get their old cottage back and there was now a shortage of housing. He wanted to make sure he and Bill had settled and had accommodation (a home of their own) first. There was also the matter of the official paperwork being arranged and approved. They were living in ‘comfortable quarters close to’ their job at Vidals in Te Mata Road.
10th March 1946
Hope to get two cottages and some land and for us to be in a better position to get married. We live next to our old job…six miles form town. Have a little car and get in every week. Building situation here tough. Thousands of soldiers want houses like us. John.”
5th May 1946
Should be married and settled in our own place by Christmas. Hope to get our land this year and start growing grapes. John.”
When John & Bill returned to Hawkes Bay they worked on a small block of land in Havelock North for TMV (Videls). Eventually they were granted a block of land on the slopes of the Te Mata Hills, Havelock North, which they planted in vines. It soon became a successful commercial vineyard.
Post cards to and from her mother and Aunty are dated 20th and 23rd February 1947 and is addressed to the Hotel International in Venice the first transit camp.
Fay didn’t make it over by Christmas 1946.
1st June 1947 the girls were photographed on the beach at Port Said and appeared in the French Newspaper “La Referme Illustree”.
The girls, a group of about 17 probably originally boarded the ship from Naples about 4 months earlier and stopped at Venice to pick up and drop off soldiers. However they reached Ismailia and Port Aden, Egypt and ended up spending about 3 more months in an army compound (for their protection) due to a shipping shortage for civilians.
Aden was not a particularly nice place. To protect themselves they went everywhere together and entertained themselves privately in the camp. There must have been moments of great adventure as photos show them bathing and sightseeing.
Right: Tina (top), Fay (Rright) arriving in Melbourne.
Whilst in Egypt, they were confined to a camp run and patrolled by English Army as a means of protection from the locals, who by all accounts could be fairly dangerous. There were 17 girls in Nonna’s group and they all stuck together as a form of their own protection. There was a nighttime curfew, but during the day they managed to entertain themselves by sight-seeing and swimming back and forth across the Suez Canal, waiting for their boat to come in. Eventually their boat, the N.Z. Steam Ship Tamaroa arrived and they all sailed to N.Z. via Australia, where prospective fiancées were lined up on the wharf waiting to greet them.
According to John’s army papers, 7th July 1947 ‘Miss Monti, fiancé of John T. Green’ embarked the SS Tamaroa for NZ. On Wednesday 9th July they arrived in Melbourne and appeared in a photograph in the local newspaper.
Left: Tina, Bill, John, Fay.
They arrived in Wellington on Thursday 14th July 1947. Newspaper clippings show the happy couples reuniting.
Fay married John on the morning of 17th July 1947 in St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church in Wellington. Fay wore the beautiful lacewedding dress with headpiece and veil that her father had sent to her from America years before.
They had a wedding cake and a toast as seen in the photos. Bill married Tina that same afternoon. They all drove to Hawkes Bay in a white convertible Morris B sports car. Can you imagine what it must have been like for Nonna, the culture shock. She didn’t speak a word of English let alone understand these kiwi folk, all the cows, sheep, open paddocks and no people.
4th May 1948 Bill writes to Ruby about the birth of their first baby. ‘Tina has a rough time but is recovered now.’
John and Fay had their first child on 20th December 1948. She was named Mary Ann Rosaria, my mother.