Article Story of Lance Sergeant Haane Manahi ,28th Maori Battalion

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4 Māori soldiers vs 300 Italian and German troops
The story of Lance Sergeant Haane Manahi of the 28th Maori Battalion.
During the Battle of Takrouna in Tunisia in April 1943, Lance Sergeant Haane Manahi of Te Arawa led a small band of 3 Māori soldiers up a 300-m-high rocky outcrop. Under mortar and machine-gun fire, they captured a stronghold held by more than 300 Italian and German troops, at times resorting to fierce hand-to-hand combat. The act was described by Lieutenant General Sir Brian Horrocks as ‘the most gallant feat of arms I witnessed in the course of the war’.
Manahi's Distinguished Conduct Medal citation:
"On the night of 19–20 April 1943 during the attack upon the Takrouna feature, Tunisia, Lance Sergeant Manahi was in command of a section. The objective of his platoon was the pinnacle, a platform of rock right on top of the feature. By morning the platoon was reduced in strength to ten by heavy mortar and small-arms fire and were pinned to the ground a short way up the feature. The platoon continued towards their objective, Lance Sergeant Manahi leading a party of three up the western side. During this advance, they encountered heavy machine-gun fire from posts on the slope and extensive sniping from the enemy actually on the pinnacle. In order to reach their objective, he and his party had to climb some 500 feet under heavy fire, the last 50 feet being almost sheer. He personally led the party after silencing several machine-gun posts and by climbing hand-over-fist they eventually reached the pinnacle. After a brief fight some sixty enemies, including an artillery observation officer, surrendered. They were then joined by the remainder of the platoon and the pinnacle was captured.
The area was subjected to intense mortar fire from a considerable enemy force still holding Takrouna Village and the northern and western slopes of the feature and later to heavy and continuous shelling. The Platoon Sergeant was killed and other casualties reduced the party holding the pinnacle to Lance Sergeant Manahi and two Privates. An artillery observation officer who had arrived ordered him to withdraw but he and his men remained and held the feature. This action was confirmed by Brigade Headquarters as soon as communications were established. Late morning found the party short of ammunition, rations and water. Lance Sergeant Manahi himself returned to his Battalion at the foot of the feature and brought back supplies and reinforcements, the whole time being under fire. During the afternoon the enemy counter-attacked in force, some of them gaining a foothold. In the face of grenades and small-arms fire he personally led his men against the attackers. Fierce hand-to-hand fighting ensued but eventually, the attackers were driven off. Shortly after this, the party was relieved.
The following morning urgent and immediate reinforcements were required as the enemy had once more gained a foothold and Lance Sergeant Manahi led one of two parties which attacked and drove back the enemy despite concentrated mortar and heavy machine-gun fire. All that day the feature was heavily shelled, mortared and subjected to continual machine-gun fire from in and about Takrouna. Late in the afternoon of 21 April, Lance Sergeant Manahi on his own initiative took two men and moved around the north-western side of the feature. In that area were several enemies machine-gun and mortar posts and two 25-pounder guns operated by the enemy. With cool determination Lance Sergeant Manahi led his party against them, stalking one post after another always under the shell and machine-gun fire. By his skill and daring, he compelled the surrender of the enemy in that area.
This courageous action undoubtedly led to the ultimate collapse of the enemy defence and the capture of the whole Takrouna feature with over 300 prisoners, two 25-pounder guns, several mortars and seventy-two machine guns. On the night of 21–22 April, Lance Sergeant Manahi remained on the feature assisting in the evacuation of the dead and wounded and refused to return to his Battalion until this task was completed. During that time the area was being heavily and continually shelled.
Throughout the action, Lance Sergeant Manahi showed the highest qualities of an infantry soldier. He made a supreme contribution to the capture and holding of a feature vital to the success of the operation."
While a field-marshal and three generals recommended Manahi for the Victoria Cross (VC), this recommendation was changed, and a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) was awarded instead. It is not known who made this decision, or why.
Manahi survived the war, but was killed in a car crash on the evening of 29 March 1986.




Haane Manahi.jpg
 

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