5th Infantry Brigade (New Zealand)
|5th Infantry Brigade|
|Branch||New Zealand Military Forces|
|Part of||2nd New Zealand Division|
Keith Lindsay Stewart
The 5th Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade formation of the New Zealand Military Forces, active during World War II as part of the 2nd New Zealand Division. It saw service during the Battle of Greece, the Battle of Crete, the North African Campaign and the Italian Campaign before being disbanded in late 1945.
Shortly after the outbreak of the war, the New Zealand government authorised the formation of a 'Special Force', what would later be designed the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force, of 6,600 men for service overseas. After consultation with the British government, it was decided that New Zealand's primary contribution to the war effort would be in the form of an infantry division. The 5th Infantry Brigade was the second of the three echelons of the 2nd New Zealand Division. Commanded by Brigadier James Hargest, the brigade consisted of three infantry battalions, these being the 21st (with men drawn from the Auckland Military District), the 22nd (Central Military District), and the 23rd (South Island Military District).
The brigade left for the Middle East in May 1940 but while en route to Aden, the news of the invasion of Holland and Belgium prompted the diversion of the troop convoy to England by way of Cape Town. It arrived in mid-June and formed part of the country's defences.
The start of the Greece campaign marked the division's first offensive operations as a complete formation. Sent to Greece alongside the Australian 6th Division and a British armoured brigade in order to support the Greeks in their defence against an expected invasion by the Germans, the New Zealanders manned the Aliakmon Line, with the 5th Brigade remaining in reserve in Athens until it moved to Olympus Pass, its designated defensive position.
- McClymont, W. G. (1959). To Greece. Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45. Wellington, New Zealand: War History Branch. OCLC 4373298.
- Pugsley, Christopher (2014). A Bloody Road Home: World War Two and New Zealand's Heroic Second Division. Auckland, New Zealand: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-143-57189-6.