4477 Driver Milton Francis Mexted – Petrol Company, 2nd Division 2nd NZEF 

Milton James Mexted was born in Tawa on the 22nd April 1907 the youngest in the family of eight born to Eliza and
Stephen William Mexted, Tawa Flat[i].

Milton was raised in Tawa following older sibling and starting, in 1912, at the Tawa Flat School. Secondary School was the Wellington Technical College where he enrolled in the College Cadets.  On leaving college Milton first went farming on his father’s farm at Pauatahanui. On 4th March 1931 Milton Francis Mexted married Lucy Maude Owen. Lucy was the eldest daughter of Mr H A Owen, Tawa. [ii]

Milton and Lucy moved to a house in Tawa Flat and had one son Milton Owen Milton. Milton and Lucy are listed as living
in Tawa Flat in the 1938 Electoral Roll with Milton listed as a farmer.  Milton snr left farming in 1938/39 and went to work
for the Wellington Harbour Board as a clerk. Milton was not only experienced with horse and motor vehicles but ‘held a licence to drive a lorry, tractor etc[iii].

New Zealand declared war on German on 3rd September 1939, the first men to enlist in Army Service Corp (ASC) were
men from the Territorial 2nd Composite Company, NZASC who were on a weekend
training course[iv]. It is likely that Milton also served in the Territorial 2nd Composite
as Milton was quick to enlist being ‘attested’ on 14th September 1939.[v] Milton was
given time to settle affairs at home entering Trentham Military Camp on 3rd October
1939. 4477 Private Mexted is listed as a married man of Tawa Flat but gives his mother
Mrs E Mexted as his next of kin. Private Mexted. initially was posted to the
Light Aid Detachment (LAD), Army Service Corp then not doubt because of his driving
skills on 18th October 1939 to the Reserve Mechanical Transport (RMT) finally in on
1st December 1939 to the Division Petrol Company.  Private Mexted was given two
weeks leave over  Christmas but in the New Year on 6th January 1940 he sailed with
the 1st Echelon, 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2nd NZEF) for Egypt.

                                                                4477 Private Milton Francis Mexted c1940 

Private Milton arrived in Egypt on 13th February 1940 and his file notes that on
18th March 1940 he was marched out for Trade Tests. On 20th March 1940 he was
marched back in and it is probable at this he became 4477 Driver Mexted.

The Petrol Company began to train for Desert Warfare getting use to desert driving
and also the conditions. In June 1940 Italy declared war but there was little activity in
Egypt with some Italian bombing raids and incursions into Italian territory by Allied forces. The Petrol Company maintained supply lines to support the New Zealand Division. It was not until December 1940 that the war in the desert was opened
in earnest with a co-ordinated attack on Italian positions as the Italians retreated  ‘ the Petrol Company joined in the pursuit, all hands working non-stop to supply the fighting troops with food, munitions, petrol; rum, tobacco and mail.
Their backloads were prisoners of war and salvage.[vi] By February 1941 the Italian had been pushed back and the threat
to Egypt and the Suez Canal was over. In Greece however the threat of German force supporting the Italians attacking Greek forces was recognised. The 2nd New Zealand Division was one of the elements of Lustre Force. Driver Mexted was one of the drivers of the Petrol Company sent to Greece.

The Greece campaign ended with the Allied forces pushed out of Greece being evacuated, without their vehicles to the Island of Crete. Driver Mexted was reported safe on Crete 18th April 1941. The Petrol Company and other elements of
the Army Service Corps were organised to fight as infantry and sent to ‘Pink Hill’ part of the defence network on high ground of Prison Valley in the Galatas area. On 20th April the German’s   aerial assault on Crete began. Initially the Petrol Company held their positions but as German forces were built up pressure was exerted on the forces in the Galatas Area.
‘On 25 May, Petrol Company's sixth consecutive day of fighting, the enemy began his expected heavy push against the whole Galatas line. He had spent the previous night getting his artillery, mortars and machine guns into position, ample cover being available in the numerous gullies and olive groves, and on the reverse sides of hills. During the morning
strong parties of enemy infantry took up positions under cover opposite 18 Battalion, and one column 1500 strong was observed about noon moving forward in threes, ready to deploy. From that time mortaring and air attacks along the
whole line became intense.[vii]

There is some confusion as to where and when Driver Mexted was wounded but
he was initially reported as Missing when the NZ Division was evacuated from
Crete, this was dated as 25th April 1941[viii] this is later amended to Driver
Mexted dying of wounds while as a German POW,  25th April 1941.

The Evening Post carried a simple memoriam when it was finally confirmed[ix]
                       MEXTED Milton Francis, Drv  4477
                       Previous reported missing in Crete, now reported died of wounds.
                       Dearly beloved husband of Lucy and loving daddy of little Milton,
                       Tawa Flat, Wellington

Driver Mexted was buried in the Galatas area, later exhumed and reburied in the
Suda Bay War Cemetery after the war.

Older brother James Wilfred (Wilf) served in the NZ Field Artillery in WW1

NZ BDM Online
Paperspast Online
NZDF Archives
2nd Division, Petrol Company: Official War History
Lest Tawa Forgets
Electoral Rolls 1928 – 1938

4477  Driver Milton Francis Mexted c1940   - Auckland Cenotaph
4477  Driver Milton Francis Mexted's grave - MZ Wargraves Project
German airborne assault Galatas Area; Official War Artist Peter McIntyre

[i] NZ BDM Online
[ii] Marriages Mexted-Owen, 18th April 1931, Evening Post
[iii] Lest Tawa Forget : Milton Francis Mexted
[iv] The Petrol Company – The birth of a unit
[v] NZDF Archives :
[vi] The Petrol Company – Desert
[vii] The Petrol Company – Crete
[viii] NZDF Archives
[ix] Roll of Honour, 13th December 1941, Evening Post  

German airborne dropping in the Galatas area of Crete 1941