National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Capt Mariu 28 Battalion, Killed in Action

Captain Kereti Mariu of 28th (Maori) Battalion saw action in Greece, Crete, the Western Desert and finally Italy during World War II.

The battalion fought their first action at Orsogna, Italy in December 1943. Less than a month later, on 9th January 1944, Mariu was tragically killed in action while working as the Signals Officer for the Battalion HQ.

In a letter to Kereti’s wife (Arapera), Lieutenant Colonel Young (Commanding Officer 28 Battalion), wrote “On the night of 9 January he was on a visit to an outpost when he was caught by enemy machine gun fire. We were less than a mile from the Italian town of Orsogna, on the 8th Army front. At least you can be assured that death must have been instantaneous and that he suffered no last minute agonies … Please accept, on behalf of the whole Maori Battalion, and of myself, our heartfelt condolences at your loss. No man could have died better, nor for a better cause.”

Kereti Pau Mariu, died aged 27 and is buried in the Sangro River War Cemetery (Italy), Grave IX. E. 27. His medals are on display in the National Army Museum Medal Repository.