22battalion crest

22nd Battalion 2NZEF

"Vrai et Fort"

Photographs of Lincoln Reeves THOMAS 40447

Lin THOMAS (40447) joined the 22nd Battalion in Maadi Camp, Cairo, on 13 May 1941 as part of the 5th Reinforcements, after the Battalion's losses in Greece and Crete. Lin had enlisted on 7 January 1941 in Wellington, he was 24 and married to Iris. Lin was a keen rugby player, featuring in the 22nd Battalion's rugby team and also the 2 NZEF forces team. In these he teams he helped to win the Freyberg Cup at Forli in 1944 (arguably the 22nd Battalion still hold the Cup) and the team that beat the "Rest of Egypt" team a combined all other forces team.

These photos have been kindly provided by his family. Lin has recorded names and places on the back of some photos but the date, location and people in others are a best guess.

Training at Trentham

A new recruit in January 1941 (probably at Trentham Camp)
In full kit with web and rifle with fixed baynot.
In full gas mask and dress
On manoeuvres probably in the NZ bush

At Trentham. 61 I.T.U. SPC Coy.

All the men have signed the photo. I think the pattern of names mostly reflect their position in the photo. Lin Thomas is middle of middle row. The commissioned officer would be 2/LT SETON flanked by SGT IHAKA on left. It appears Seton signed in the wrong place. In my estimation the men were, from left to right:
Back row: 40310 WILSON, Walter; 40504 SMITH, Leonard James; 40852 BUNNY, Richmond Ashby; 6662 WALL, William Frederick; 40309 WISEMAN, Robert Henry; 40467 MEADE, Leonard George; 38710 CAMERON, Hugh Stuart
Middle row: 40276 CONNELL, Robert Ian; 40299 NORTH, Albert Neilson; 40521 TAIT, Francis Brown; 40447 THOMAS Lincoln Reeves; 40266 SMITH, Harry Fergus; 40297 MOSS, Joseph Stanley; 40358 McLEOD, Herbert James.
Front row: 40322 ROWE, Horace George; 40489 KNAPP, Thomas Helmar; 40361 L/C ASHCROFT, Clifford Walker; 35636 SGT IHAKA, Stanley William; 34159 2/LT SETON, John George; 40103 CPL BUNNY, Henry Oliver; 40363 LEE, Gordon Wilfred; 40273 WORKMAN, Raymond.

Note also that 11 of these men later joined the 22nd Battalion (Ashcroft, Bunny, Bunny, Cameron, Connell, Ihaka, Moss, North, Tait, Thomas, Wilson).

At Trentham. No. 71 C. Coy. I.T.U. 5th Reinf..

And then Overseas

The 5th Reinforcements boarded HMT 25 (the Mauretania) at Wellington and then sailed for the Middle East on 7 April 1941. They went via Columbo where the ship took on supplies and where a group of men were able to have a ship's magazine printed. Lin Thomas kept a copy of the Magazine of HM Transport No. 25, which is reproduced here.

"5th reinforcements Troop Ship. Mauretania in front (large one) Amsterdam. Taken from Smith and Smiths roof."
Mauretania at dock in New York. She was converted from trans-atlantic liner to a troop carrier in Sydney and painted grey., losing her Cunard colours.
The all-important meal card - it has been unfolded many times and is now tissue-thin.

Magazine of His Majesty's Transport No. 25

You can enlarge each page of the magazine by clicking on the image here. Or you can download the whole magazine as a PDF here.

Cairo and Maadi Camp

Lin Thomas arrived in Cairo on 13 May. He marched into Maadi Camp and into the 22 Battalion on 17 June 1941 as part of a large group of reinforcements that brought the Battalion back up to full strength after the losses in Greece and Crete.

From then on life was a mix of training at Maadi Camp, free time in Cairo, sport (cricket and rugby) and frantic travel, digging and battles across North Africa. Later the Battalion moved on to Italy where Lin's exploits in rugby became well publicised.

"Some of the local lads"
"Taken as the sun went down. Rough as sacks eh! Notice the locket still around my neck. I'll say."
A group of colonial troops just arrived with their luggage. They may be South African.
"Down at the beach. Am doing my hair".
"Picking oranges."
"Finished picking. That's my jersey that I've filled. Am full myself too. Ha."
Lin and others "At Maadi LOB" (left out of battle).
"Always holding Cyril up (don't tell Merle)."
"At the foot of the scroll of the Sphinx."

"I have a few of these so thought you would like some. I'll drop the two twins a few so they won't think I have forgotten them. . . . Don't worry about me because we are fit and well. Dinky Di. So Long darling, Keep smiling. Love Lin."

A similar view of the Citadel today, from what is now the carpark.
A dahabiya on the Nile. These were wind-powered tourist cruise boats that traversed the Nile before Thomas Cook replaced them with steamers. But if you have the time you can still travel by dahabiya today.

Scenes in the desert

"Almyer, Mich and I. Feel as rough as we look. Somewhere in the d- - - desert."
"Just look at that wog.Nearly undressed. (That's me)""
A cricket team in the desert.
"On the chase after Jerry. We look it don't we?" Standing around a Benghazi Burner trying to keep warm.
"Halfway up the Hill to our Section Post in Syria. Achar from the Hutt and I carrying our water tins." (Note the Shell logo on the tin).


B. Row L. to R.
(The Alamein Box was a type of defensive position adopted by the British in the early phases of the North African campaign. It was remembered by the troops for the large amount of digging with picks into hard, stony ground, but also often needing compressors and jack-hammers to dig the trenches deep enough to provide shelter from the artillery.)

Sport at Maadi - 1943

Lin Thomas was a keen sportsman, excelling at rugby and cricket. He joined the Maadi Sporting Club (it still exists) with membership valid to 21 July 1945, long after Lin had left Egypt for Italy. If fact the war was over in early May 1945. Sport played a large part in the life of the Battalion in early 1943. The Battle of El Alamein was over and the Battalion was withdrawn from the chase across the desert to re-equip and retrain at Maadi Camp. The Battalion was supplied with its own transport and became the 22 (Motor) Battalion. The War Diary notes a number of sporting fixtures. On 20 February 1943 the Diary records "The Battalion supplied five members for the NZEF team which left today to play the rest of EGYPT at ALEXANDRIA on 21st February. The match was won by 2 NZEF by 10 points to 3." Lin Thomas played in that match.

Lin's membership ticket for the Maadi Sporting Club.
"After cricket at Maadi Club, The Clubhouse in rear and bowling green. Tennis courts on the left. Cricket ground on right."
Thomas - 68 runs
Thomas - 48
Thomas - 39 and 5 wickets for 13 runs
"For the losers - Thomas 3 for 28 and Kenny 2 for 25"

Lin Thomas at OCTU in Aldershot in August 1944

Junior officers showing good leadership in the field were selected to attend the Officer Cadet Training Unit at Aldershot. Lin attended the 191st course in August 1944. In his photo collection is a snapshot of a pub in London that presumably was taken during his leave from Aldershot and two formal photos of the membes of the course.

A pub, presumably in London. The street sign reads "Circus St.... Oxford ..." but Circus St no longer exists. The large sign on the building reads "Taylor, Walker's Prize Beers". Taylor, Walker was an East-End brewer whose beers were sold mostly in London.

B Coy, 161st (R.M.C.) O.C.T.U., Aldershot, August, 1944.

2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Officer Cadets.
B Coy, 161st (R.M.C.) O.C.T.U., Aldershot, August, 1944.
(Lin Thomas is front row 2nd from right)

Lin Thomas and Rugby

Lin was a keen rugby player, as were many of the men in the 22nd Battalion. He had joined the Onslow team in Wellington just before the war, as had others in the Battalion.

22nd Team

The Battalion team had already adopted Onslow colours before Lin arrived. During their time in North Africa and later in Italy the Battalion fielded a strong team including All Blacks and other players who would later become All Blacks. The men of the Battalion were noted for several important victories, including the inaugrual Harper-Lock Shield in 1943 and the game in Forli (Italy) in 1944 when the Battalion beat the Divisional Ammunition to win the Freyberg Cup. Battalion men featured in the NZ Division side that beat the "Rest of Egypt" 10-3 (the opposition was the best of all the combined services in Egypt including English, Austalian and seven from South Africa). Lin Thomas featured in all of these matches. He had a few photos of these and other events.

22nd Team

"Lincoln (Hawkes Bay) at back. & Kirschberg (Wgton) in front." Lin is centre kneeling. Mick Kenny back 2nd from left.

5 Wellington players: From left - Thomas; Kenny; Wales; Donoghue; Kirschberg.

"What a rough crowd!" [Sacrilege - a round ball!]

"Army vs Air Force" 50-3. Not sure where or when this was taken, but a young Mick Kenny is in the back row 3rd from right. The crowd are all in civilian jackets, ties and hats so may be NZ before departure overseas.

Lin Thomas in caricature

As James Hall of the NZEF Times saw Lin Thomas and other personalities - 8 March 1943.

Winning the Brigade Rugby

In late 1942 through to early 1943 there was a keenly fought competition throughout the 4th Brigade, of which the NZ Division was a part. The competition was won by 22nd Battalion with a perfect score of 4 wins from 4 games, scoring 34 points for and only 6 (all penaltiy goals) against.

Winning the Harper-Lock Shield in 1943

The Harper Lock Shield was carved by two men in Maadi Camp and presented to the NZ Division as a rugby trophy. The inaugural game was on 28 February 1943, when 22 Battalion beat the Maori Training Depot team by 17-4. The reach the Shield final 22 Battalion had been the winners of the local NZ Brigade Championship. The Maori Training Depot team won the Shield in 1944, perhaps because the 22 Battalion were then in Italy. Later in 1944 22 Battalion went on to win the Freyberg Cup.

After the war the Shield made its way back to New Zealand into the care of the Wellington Rugby Union, where it is still being competed for by local senior teams.

The 22nd Battalion side that won the inaugural Harper-Lock Shield . Lin Thomas is front row 2nd from right. Mick Kenny back row 4 from right.
Others in the team were Paul Donohue (captain), Jack Sullivan, Ron Newland, Tim Fowler and Keith Elliott. The coach was Jock Wells.

The Harper Lock Shield from the 1943 photo, being held by Paul Donoghue (captain).

The Harper Lock Shield today. It has been mounted on a larger board to provide space for recording the winners.

Upper Hutt Leader, Volume IX, Number 43, 6 November 1947

Beating the Combined Services ("Rest of Egypt") in 1943

Concluding the early 1943 rugby season in North Africa was the match between the NZ Division side and "The Rest of Egypt" - made up of a team from the combined services. Five men from the 22 Battalion were in this team. The match was played at Alexandria. The NZ Div side won 10-3.

The NZ Division Team that beat the "Rest of Egypt" 10-3.

Back Row L to R: Baggage man; Brankin Newland; Donoghue; Pye; Rainey; Kenny; Snow; Line umpire.
Centre row: Wales; McHugh; Hart; Parsons (Captain) LTCOL J King (Manager); Whillans; Fowler; Welch; Waddick.
Front row: Kutia; Thomas; Donnolly, Tindill.

Weekly News Auckalnd 26 May 1943

NZEF Times 1 March 1943

Winning the Officers vs Serjeants match 3 March 1943

1st 5/8 'R.A.P.' Thomas: "I got my name because I went to the R.A.P. to get Footy scratches fixed."

Winning the Freyberg Cup in 1944

"Getting ready to go on. I am 3rd from back. Mich is 5th from back."
"Running onto the ground still in the same order."
"A scrum in the second half. Can see me standing deep at First 5/8. (Hands on hips, say you.) Not a bad crowd eh! about 16,000.
"2 NZ Division Ammo and 22 NZ Battalion teams line up on the Forli Stadium, Forli, Italy, in the final game of the Freyberg cup. Photograph taken by George Kaye on the 8th of December, 1944."
Taken by NZEF official photographer George Kaye.(National Library ref DA-07852-F).
"Lin Thomas Capt 22nd team holds Freyberg Cup won at Forli 1944. Gen Freyberg leading cheers for team."
"22 NZ Battalion rugby team drink from the Freyberg Cup after their victory over the 2 NZ Divisional Ammunition team in the Forli Stadium, Forli, Italy, in the final game of the Freyberg cup."
Photograph taken by George Kaye on the 8th of December, 1944. (National Library ref DA-07858-F).
The Freyberg Cup.
The base of the cup showing 22 Battalion's win in 1944. (click on image for detailed version). Notice how battered the Cup is.
The other side of the base showing post-war winners. (Note that 22 Battalion was renamed 2 Battalion in 1947, so arguably 22 Battalion still hold the Cup.)
NZ Free Lance 17 January 1945.

Post-war Touring Team

Towards the end of the war, from mid-1944, there was discussion about taking a rugby team on tour to Britain and South Africa soon after the end of hostilities - as was done in 1918/19. Lin Thomas was obviously interested in this concept.

New Zealand Free Lance 27 December 1944

List of names for England v New Zealand on 17 March 1945. This may be a trial for a team to tour Britain later in the year.

Post-War Rugby

After the war Lin returned to New Zealand and took up rugby again for Onslow and the Wellington Rugby Union. He coached the Onslow side in the early 1950's, leading to their greatest triumph - winning the Jubilee Cup in 1955.

The Onslow team that won the Jubilee Cup in 1955. Coach Lin Thomas middle row on right. Photo by Evening Post.
See extended story about Onslow's 1955 season at "Club Rugby".

Lin was also involved with the Wellington Rugby Union. In his collection are these 3 photos. We are not sure of the date or the occasion or the venue.


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Last updated: 6 November 2022