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6758 Private Gustav (Gus) George Suhr, 22nd (Wellington) Battalion.

Gustav (Gus) George Suhr was born on 16th January 1915 in Tariki[i] a small dairy community in Taranaki. Gus was
the third of six children born to Victoria and Gustave George Nicholas Metor Suhr. Gustave was a sailor from Hamburg, Germany who jumped ship at New Plymouth in the 1900’s marrying Victoria (Mary) Roguski in 1910.

Gustave was interred on Somes/Motu Island towards the end of 1918[ii] leaving Victoria to look after their six children. Gustave deserted Victoria about 1921/22 leaving Victoria to bring up the family. To assist his mother Gus left school in
1923 at age 12.[iii] Gus did an apprenticeship at a butchery and then went to work for the New Zealand Railways.

On 1st September 1939 New Zealand declared war on German with the start of World War One. Gus was among the
first to volunteer. The 14th September 1939[iv] papers note that he was a single man working as a surfaceman for the
New Zealand Railways. Gus was living at Heao, north of Stratford, servicing the line that ran from Taumaranui to Stratford. Gus lists his mother, Mrs V Suhr, New Plymouth, as his next of kin and dependant.

Gus was not selected in the First Echelon, 2nd NZEF as he was considered working in an
essential industry. Gus was ‘forceful’[v] to ensure selection in the Second Echelon and
entered camp on the 12th January 1940. 6758 Private Suhr, 22nd Battalion left
New Zealand on 1st May 1940 with the 2nd Echelon. The 2nd Echelon originally heading
for Egypt was diverted to England with Italy’s entry into WW2. The 2nd Echelon provided
additional military forces in England to defend the country against a possible invasion
by Axis Forces.

As invasion threats eased the 2nd Echelon was shipped to Egypt with Private Suhr’s
military papers noting arrivial in Egypt on 5th March 1941. After a short period to
acclimatise Private Suhr, 22nd Battalion along with other units if the NZ Division were
shipped to Greece as part of Operation Lustre. The Lustre Operation was an attempt
to support the Greek Forces under attack by German and Italian Armies. By May 1941
Operation Lustre had been lost and Allied forces were withdrawn many arriving on the
Island of Crete. Private Suhr was noted as reported ‘safe in Crete’ on 18th May 1941.
On 20th May 1941 German Forces launched an airborne invasion of the island. The
Battle of Crete was over by 1st June 1941 with the majority of   Allied Forces either
captured or evacuated to Egypt.
Private Suhr was one of those evacuated reported ‘safe in Egypt’ on 10th June 1941but the campaign had taken it’s toll and Private Suhr was admitted to the 4th Field Ambulance and transferred to the 2nd NZ General Hospital in Cairo. Private
Suhr was a Bren gunner and the ‘constant firing at German Paratroopers’[vi] aggravated an ear issue.

In Cairo Private Suhr was assessed as having a perforated ear drum as a result of infection as a child but greatly
aggravated by service and would likely be aggravated by continued  active service. Private Suhr was regarded as medically grade III and recommendations were  made he be returned to New Zealand. Private Suhr left Egypt on the Maunganui arriving in New Zealand on 2nd October 1941. Private Suhr was discharged as medically unfit on 7th November 1941.

Gus returned to New Plymouth and to work with the New Zealand Railways he married on 26th April 1943 Edna Christina Coombe. The family moved around the Lower North Island with various railway positions moving to, Opapa and
Wangeahu before moving to Kaiwharawhara in the late 1940's The family moved to
Porirua in the late 1950's. The family lived in a railway house , 13 Chews Place,
Porirua East.

1st January 1970 Gus, a Railway Foreman was killed in a railway shunting accident
in Wellington and is buried in the old Porirua Cemetery[vii]. The family moved out
to Cluny Road, Plimmerton where Edna Cristina Suhr  died on 12th March 1992
and is buried with Gus.

Reference
Oral History – Suhr family
Ancestry.com – Suhr
NZDF Archives

Photos
Parachutists landing on Galatas, Crete – 2oth May 1941 Peter McIntyre: Archives NZ R2204005
6758 Private Gustav (Gus) George Suhr (Suhr family)
Gus and Edna’s grave old Porirua Cemetery (Melanie Macdonald)

[i] NZDF Archives: 6758 Private Gustave George Suhr
[ii] News of the Day, 29 June 1918, NZ Times
[iii] Suhr family oral history
[iv] NZDF Archives: 6758 Private Gustave George Suhr
[v] Suhr family oral history
[vi] Suhr family oral history
[vii] NZ BDM
 
Parachutists landing on Galatas, Crete - 20th May 1941