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22nd Battalion 2NZEF
"Vrai et Fort"
The photographs of Charles MERRYLEES
Charles John Orchison MERRYLEES (6754) was one of the "Originals" in the 22nd Battalion. He was originally in 2 Platoon, HQ Company, led by 2Lieutenant Lowry LEEKS. Alos in this platoon was Ian Holms, the first soldier to be killed by enemy action after a stray bomb land ed on the barn they were billeted in near Maidstone Kent ( see Holm's story here).
As with many photo albums, Charles did not add many captions to the photos so it is difficult to determine where many of them were taken. Any information provided with the photos is included as italics text. I have added notes on other photos to provide some more information, in plain text.
Training in New Zealand
This group of photos were taken in New Zealand before departure on 2 May 1940. Some are clearly in New Zealand, others appear to be so from the context, as noted.
The next three photos are almost certainly in Britain.
In Cairo and Maadi Camp
After leaving England at the end of 1940, the Battalion arrived in Egypt and set up camp at Maadi, just out of Cairo. Here they underwent intensive training, interspersed with concerts, tea and beer at the Maadi camp and occasional excursions to Cairo and surroundings. Most men visited the Pyramids and other ancient sites but Charles does not appear to have taken photos of these attractions.
After a short spell of training in Egypt, the Battalion was sent to Greece. The young faces, rocky ground and stunted trees suggest these photos could be from the north of Greece.
In the desert
After the disasters of Greece and Crete the battalion fought with honour in the North African Desert. Charles captured a few photos of life in tents and the aftermath of the battles.
Charles wrote this bet on a scrap of the local Cairo newspaper - he lost his £1. The wording of the bet is "I Charles John Orchison Merrylees do hereby wager £1 (one pound) that Germany is defeated prior to 31st November 1943 and I J.S. Moss do hereby wager that Germany is not defeated prior to 31st November 1943. Signed J. Moss. Witnessed by P. Newson. Pengelly, R.N."
J. S. Moss was Joseph Stanley MOSS 40297 who joined the Battalion after its return from Crete.
Keith Elliot VC
Keith Elliot was in the 22 battalion and won his Victoria Cross at Ruwaiset Ridge, near Elamein. He has autographed two photos for Charles, the first of him receiving the medal from "Monty" and the second in camp carrying his boots.
Now we skip 3 years... or 30
Last updated: 05/07/2018