HMLS Kia Ora

HMLS <em>Kia Ora</em>

Soldiers use a sheet and palm leaves to camouflage HMLS Kia Ora from enemy aircraft at Deir el Belah, May 1917.

Kia Ora was a British Mk I (Female) tank, which served in Palestine with E Battalion, Heavy Branch, Machine Gun Corps (re-designated as a separate Tank Corps in July 1917). It was supposedly given the name 'Kia Ora' by an officer of the Auckland Mounted Rifles who was on board the ship that transported the tank from England to Egypt in December 1916. The prefix 'HMLS' stood for 'His Majesty's Land Ship'.

The Mk I Tank was the first of its kind accepted into frontline service by the British Army and had made its combat debut on the Western Front at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in September 1916 (in which the New Zealand Division also took part). The Mk I came in two versions, one armed with two six pounder guns and the other armed just with machine guns. To differentiate between these two types the six pounder version was designated 'male' while its machine gun armed counterpart was referred to as 'female'.

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