Bill Wakeling, 19th (Armoured) Regt, 4th Armoured Brigade | 2NZEF (WWII)
Date: [ca 4 Aug 1944] By: Kaye, George Frederick, 1914-2004
Caption on file print reads: ‘This NZ Sherman tank was knocked out by the German Tiger [tank], which was destroyed in turn by a ‘stonk’ from the guns of NZ Div Arty.’ Photograph taken circa 4 August 1944 by George Frederick Kaye.
Bill Wakeling was born on the 20th of August 1922 in Wanganui, where he grew up and spent the first eighteen years of his life. His father had a small block near the town; a leased a further 60-acres further out; milking cows and rearing pigs. ‘We were milking 60 cows and raising 200 pigs.
’‘Families were tighter in those days. All you’re spare time was spent helping out… I think we were fortunate, being on a little farm. There was so much to occupy our time.’
His Father also held down a full-time job in the city, setting up petrol bowsers for Wright Stevensons and their Challenge Benzine outlets. Later, he set up his petrol and tyre business. He then bought a farm in the Waitotara Valley north-west of the city, and Bill moved there too to work on it. During the Depression years, when business was down, the large family garden on the farm helped out a lot.
“Things were pretty tight.”
When Bill left school, he initially took a wholesale grocery job and thought he might pursue the trade.
Later, after going into the Army, on final leave before going overseas, he purchased a run nearby his family farm, which he farmed himself after the war. ‘Other than my Army life, I was up there all my life, nearly. 60 years.’
“I knew I was coming back (from the War). Optimist eh. All of us over there thought we were coming back…”
At Maadi Camp just out of Cairo, Assigned to the 19th Armoured Regiment, Bill became part of NZ 4th Armoured Brigade, that had recently converted from infantry as 19th Battalion. He served through the Italian campaign.