258 Gunners Lane Linton Military Camp Palmerston North

The story

258 Gunners Lane LMC Palmerston North, aerial view 2018

Reason for the name

This street was named as a tribute to all machine gunners. In WW1 the machine gun was a vitally important weapon of trench warfare and in both World Wars NZ raised separate specialist machine gun units. Most streets within NZDF Camps and Bases are named in honour of prominent people, battles, campaigns, ships, aircraft and places creating a rich history of our military service.

The machine gun, which so came to dominate and even to personify the battlefields of World War One, was a fairly primitive device when general war began in August 1914.  Machine guns of all armies were largely of the heavy variety and decidedly ill-suited to portability for use by rapidly advancing infantry troops.  Each weighed somewhere in the 30kg-60kg range - often without their mountings, carriages and supplies.

Machine guns inflicted appalling casualties on both war fronts in World War One. Men who went over-the-top in trenches stood little chance when the enemy opened up with their machine guns. Machine guns were one of the main killers in the war and accounted for many thousands of deaths.

The 27th Machine-Gun Battalion was a unit of the 2nd New Zealand Division during the Second World War. It served in the Greek Campaign, Western Desert Campaign, Tunisian Campaign, Italian Campaign and after the war took part in the Occupation of Japan. It was one of two New Zealand formations that served overseas longer than any other unit in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. The battalion was also one of the New Zealand units that supplied men for the Long Range Desert Group.

Author: The Poppy Places Trust

Machine guns were important weapons during the First World War, capable of rapidly discharging large numbers of rounds at advancing enemy forces. In 1914 and 1915, each infantry battalion and mounted rifles regiment included a two-gun ‘Machine Gun Section’. The January 1916 reorganisation created a stand-alone New Zealand Machine Gun Corps, a well-equipped body which had a company attached to each infantry brigade and the mounted rifles brigade. Henceforth ‘machine gunners’ have a distinct and separate identity in the records.

A section of the Machine Gun Corps moved to France in April 1916, with a company attached to each of the three (later four) New Zealand infantry brigades. The three Western Front companies were formed into a New Zealand Machine-Gun Battalion in June 1918. New Zealand machine-gun squadrons were also attached to the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and the Australian Light Horse Brigade in Sinai and Palestine.

The Vickers machine gun or Vickers gun is a name primarily used to refer to the water-cooled .303 British (7.7 mm) machine gun produced by Vickers Limited, originally for the British Army. The machine gun typically required a six to eight-man team to operate: one fired, one fed the ammunition, the rest helped to carry the weapon, its ammunition, and spare parts.[10] It was in service from before the First World War until the 1960s, with air-cooled versions of it on many Allied World War I fighter aircraft.

The weapon had a reputation for great solidity and reliability. Ian V. Hogg, in Weapons & War Machines, describes an action that took place in August 1916, during which the British 100th Company of the Machine Gun Corps fired their ten Vickers guns continuously for twelve hours. Using 100 barrels, they fired a million rounds without a failure. "It was this absolute fool proof reliability which endeared the Vickers to every British soldier who ever fired one. The Vickers machine gun was based on the successful Maxim gun of the late 19th century. After purchasing the Maxim company outright in 1896, Vickers took the design of the Maxim gun and improved it, inverting the mechanism as well as reducing its weight by lightening and simplifying the action and using high strength alloys for certain components. A muzzle booster was also added.

The British Army formally adopted the Vickers gun as its standard machine gun under the name Gun, Machine, Mark I, Vickers, .303-inch on 26 November 1912. There were still great shortages when the First World War began, and the British Expeditionary Force was still equipped with Maxims when sent to France in 1914. Vickers was, in fact, threatened with prosecution for war profiteering, due to the exorbitant price it was demanding for each gun.[citation needed] As a result, the price was slashed. As the war progressed, and numbers increased, it became the British Army's primary machine gun, and served on all fronts during the conflict. When the Lewis Gun was adopted as a light machine gun and issued to infantry units, the Vickers guns were redefined as heavy machine guns, withdrawn from infantry units, and grouped in the hands of the new Machine Gun Corps (when heavier 0.5 in/12.7 mm calibre machine guns appeared, the tripod-mounted, rifle-calibre machine guns like the Vickers became medium machine guns). After the First World War, the Machine Gun Corps (MGC) was disbanded and the Vickers returned to infantry units. Before the Second World War, there were plans to replace the Vickers gun; one of the contenders was the 7.92×57mm Mauser Besa machine gun (a Czech design), which eventually became the British Army's standard tank-mounted machine gun. However, the Vickers remained in service with the British Army until 30 March 1968. Its last operational use was in the Radfan during the Aden Emergency. Its successor in UK service is the L7 GPMG.

The 27th Machine-Gun Battalion was raised at Burnham, in New Zealand, on 3 October 1939. With an authorised strength of around 700 personnel and equipped with Vickers machine guns, the battalion consisted of four machine gun companies, designated No. 1 to No. 4, underneath a headquarters company which fulfilled various specialist functions including administration, signals, transport, and anti-aircraft defence. Under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Lindsay Merritt Inglis, the battalion undertook training in New Zealand before being shipped to Egypt in January 1941.

Further training was undertaken at Maadi Camp, after which the 27th was one of the first units of the 2nd New Zealand Division to go into action in the Greek Campaign in April 1941. It took part in all the battles during the 300-mile (480 km) withdrawal to the Peloponnese, including the rear guard actions in the Battle of Vevi and the Battle of Mount Olympus. The battalion, together with the rest of the division, was withdrawn to Crete and took part in the battle of Crete during the German invasion, fighting at Maleme and Galatas.

After Crete, the battalion served in the Western Desert Campaign, in Operation Crusader in 1941 and the Second Battle of El Alamein, and the pursuit of the Axis forces to Tunisia where it took part in the Tunisian Campaign. Notable was the flanking manoeuvre around the Mareth Line. The battalion was also one of the New Zealand units that supplied men for the Long Range Desert Group.

The battalion was next in action during the Italian Campaign during which its Vickers machine guns fired nearly nine million rounds of ammunition. It was one of the first New Zealand units to cross the Sangro River and early in 1945, was converted to an Infantry battalion and fought in the crossing of the Sillaro River and at the Gaiana Canal, ending the war with the capture of Trieste. The battalion's casualties during the war amounted to 182 killed, 508 wounded and 257 captured. Members of the battalion received the following decorations: three Distinguished Service Orders, eight Military Crosses and one Bar, and 26 Military Medals. One officer was also appointed to the Order of the British Empire.

In the post war period, the battalion was then transferred to the Far East, where it was converted to an infantry unit and served with the New Zealand occupation forces in Japan. On 7 August 1947, the 27th Battalion changed its name to 3rd Battalion, New Zealand Regiment. It was disbanded in 1948 following its return to New Zealand.

Another widely used machine gun was the Bren gun. Usually called simply the Bren, they are a series of light machine guns (LMG) made by Britain in the 1930s and used in various roles until 1992. While best known for its role as the British and Commonwealth forces' primary infantry LMG in World War II, it was also used in the Korean War and saw service throughout the latter half of the 20th century, including the 1982 Falklands War. Although fitted with a bipod, it could also be mounted on a tripod or vehicle-mounted.


Armistice Day 2020 Principal Group5

Photo shows L to R

Stephan Parson Principal Sponsor of Poppy Places Palmerston North 
Warrant Officer Class 1 Ray Kareko Brigade Sergeant Major 1st (NZ) Brigade 
Colonel Stefan Michie DSD, Commander 1st (NZ) Brigade Colonel (Rtd) 
Colonel (Rtd) Terry McBeth Chair NZ Poppy Places Trust 
His Worship the Mayor of Palmerston North Grant Smith 
Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd) Joe Hollander late RNZE 





Armistice Day Service
& Poppy Places Launch
Elwood Room, Palmerston North Conference & Function Centre
11.50am Wednesday 11 November, 2020
Mayor Grant Smith (5 mins)

Kia ora tātou– thanks Joe [Hollander – MC] and welcome to another round of the Poppy Places project in Palmerston North on this the 101st anniversary of Armistice Day.

The Poppy is of course our most distinctive symbol of courage and sacrifice, and this nationwide community Poppy Places remembrance project now sees 31 Palmerston North city streets and sites of significance tagged with the poppy symbol acknowledging their wartime and military service connections, along with an additional 11 streets at Linton Military Camp.

The success of this WW100 project has been achieved due to a concerted and coordinated effort, and I want to commend everyone for their commitment and cooperation in seeing it continue.

Before going any further, let me acknowledge Members of the NZ Defence Force and the PNRSA who are here today:

  • WO1 Ray Kareko
  • the Chair of the Poppy Places Trust Terry McBeth and his fellow Trustees;
  • Wiremu & Trieste Te Awe Awe from Rangitāne;
  • Members of the Palmerston North Defence Heritage Advisory Group;
  • Also, welcome to those who have come across from the Armistice Day Service at the Te Marae o Hine cenotaph.

Last year with the unveiling of Poppy Places signs for Awapuni Racecourse and the Palmerston North Showgrounds now CET Arena – we were able to say that Palmerston North became the first city in the nation to complete its Poppy Places installations.

Awapuni Racecourse was one of the country’s largest WWI military training camps, as well as being the home of the NZ Medical Corps.

The PN Showgrounds was used as an army Remount Depot and provided transitional accommodation for soldiers.

In WWII the Showgrounds was where in 1940, the famous 28th Māori Battalion was raised, and from where they departed to serve with the utmost distinction in Greece, Crete, North Africa and Italy.

Along with the installation of additional wayfinding signs to direct people towards these sites, 2019’s completion of the WW100 project brought Palmerston North’s Poppy Places total to 31.

But that was not the end of City involvement with Poppy Places. 
Last year at this gathering, Linton Military Camp also received the first 11 of its 35 Poppy Places signs.

While technically, Linton Camp is within the Palmerston North City boundary, its special nature as a dedicated Defence Force base, and the number of significant streets and sites there, makes it entirely appropriate for the Camp to be the focus of its own separate project through until 2023.

The first 11:
Anzac Avenue, Barraclough (Bara-cliff) Rd, Dittmer Rd, Forsyth Rd, Morrison Ave, Poananga (Po-ana-nga) Ave,  Powells Ave, Puttick Drive, Stewart Rd, Weir Terrace and Wilders Rd

In this, the 175th anniversary marking the foundation of the NZ Army, there are six new signs for: 
42nd St, Dieppe (Jeppe) Place, Gunners Lane, Malacca (muh-la-kah) Grove, Soldiers Lane and Taiping (Tai-ping) Terrace – and we’ll hear more about their significance and the stories behind them in greater depth shortly.

Now that we’re embarked on this new phase of the Poppy Places project, let me congratulate all those who have been involved with it from its inception, including Joe [Hollander] who helped maintain its momentum.

Steve Parsons who first brought the Poppy Places Trust and its WW100 signage project to Council attention in 2014, and became instrumental in advancing the process, with our first seven Poppy Places signs inaugurated on Armistice Day 2015.

Evan Greensides formerly of the PN City Library Heritage Team, and now senior archivist at Feilding's Archives Central, who carried out the initial research into the city’s military heritage.

Thanks are also due to the City Council signage teams who incorporated the Poppy symbols on our street signs to highlight the significance of these names and places and keep their remembrance fresh for future generations.

The City Council will continue to promote Palmerston North’s unique Defence heritage connections and status as NZ’s Defence Force Capital, and there’ll be the announcement of more Linton Camp sites during subsequent Armistice Day remembrances.

This will ensure that Poppy Places remains a part of our City Armistice Day anniversaries for several years to come.

Along with the NZ Army turning 175, 2020 marks another significant military anniversary, and I’ll just take this opportunity, as the son of a Kay-Force veteran, to promote a talk this evening that commemorates 70 years since the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950.

The presentation by Dr Ian McGibbon, ONZM, who is a former Chief Historian at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, will look at the origins and course of the war, outline New Zealand’s involvement, and include reflections of a visit he made to South Korea and the Demilitarized Zone in 2019.

That is on in the Globe Theatre just along Main St this evening between 5.30pm and 7pm.

Next year, when we mark Armistice Day and launch more Poppy Places at Linton Camp, we will be 11 months into celebrating Palmerston North’s 150th jubilee.

150 years since the humble North Island settlement of ‘Palmerston’ was officially redesignated by the NZ Post Office as ‘Palmerston North’.


We are looking forward to involvement by the Defence Force and the Defence Heritage Advisory Group in our year-long festivities, which will - Covid willing -include a Charter Parade in April, as well as our traditional public Anzac Day services.

2021 represents a huge year in the history of Palmerston North, and we are wanting to celebrate the Sesquicentennial - this 150th anniversary - as widely and with the involvement of as many people, groups and sectors as possible, and you’ll be able to learn more about it on the City Council website – or talk to me during todays refreshments.

Thank you.

No reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.


42nd Street: Named for a street in Chania, Crete, where ANZAC units formed a rear guard to protect the rest of the Commonwealth forces that were being pushed south by the Germans.

Dieppe Place: Named after the Dieppe Raid, or Battle of Dieppe, where Allied troops invaded the German-occupied French port town on 19 August,1942. New Zealand forces were based in the Dieppe Barracks in Singapore, until 1989.

Gunners Lane: Named as a tribute to all gunners - Infantry Battalion and Mounted Rifles. 1NZ Machine Gun (known as Auckland Company), 2nd NZMG, (known as Canterbury Company), 3rd NZMG (known as Otago Company), 4th NZMG (known as Wellington Company). 1st NZMG SQN, 2nd NZMG SQN and NZMG Corps Reserve Depot.

Malacca Grove: Named for the Commonwealth Forces and New Zealand camp in Terendak, Malaya.

Soldiers Lane: In remembrance of all who have served as part of the New Zealand Defence Force.

Taiping Terrace: Named for the original Commonwealth Forces and New Zealand camp near the town of Ipoh, in Perak Province, northern Malaya.

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 'New Zealand Machine Gunners at Colincamps, 1918', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/new-zealand-machine-gunners-colincamps-1918, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 16-Jun-2017