D-Day

Page 7 – New Zealanders at sea

New Zealanders in the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy

Getting these guys on the beach, that was all that mattered.

Jack Ingham DSC, lieutenant, LCI (L) and LCI (L) 110, RN

By 1944 more than 4700 New Zealanders were based in the United Kingdom and were serving in Royal Navy ships. They had joined the navy through a number of recruiting schemes. The most common, Scheme B, was for ordinary seaman aged between 20 and 30 years.

The scheme also recruited volunteers for specific tasks such as telegraphy and radar operation. These recruits of the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve were enlisted for 'Hostilities Only’ and were made available to the Royal Navy after a short period of training in New Zealand.

There were no Royal New Zealand Navy ships at the Normandy landings, but the Monowai and Aorangi, both from the New Zealand Merchant Navy, took their place in the D-Day armada. The Monowai was fitted out as a troopship, and after the invasion it continued transporting reinforcements to France. Aorangi was a depot ship for the dozens of tugs that towed the artificial Mulberry harbours across the Channel, and it later helped to get casualties back to England.

In the month after the landings 10 young New Zealanders were killed when their destroyer, HMS Isis, was sunk by a mine while on an anti-submarine patrol off Normandy.