Silo number three
Eric Batchelor: The Waimate Warrior
The third mural on the silos shows Eric Batchelor of Waimate, who was one of the allies’ greatest soldiers in WWII. Nicknamed 'the ferret' and the 'Waimate warrior’, Eric was twice awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery, and was the only New Zealand soldier of just nine British Commonwealth soldiers to receive the DCM and bar. Eric was loved by the locals for his humility, and his community spirit.
Eric Batchelor DCM & Bar (August 29, 1920 – July 10, 2010) was a New Zealand soldier who was twice awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous bravery in Italy during World War II. He was the only New Zealand soldier of just nine British Commonwealth soldiers during the World War II to receive the DCM and bar. He was also Mentioned in Despatches, and fought at El Alamein in Egypt.
Eric Batchelor was born at Waimate and educated at Waimate Main School. He joined 5th Reinforcements in 1941. He later served with 23 NZ Battalion in North Africa and Italy. He also took part in the battles of Monte Cassino. He was twice wounded.
Batchelor's first DCM was awarded for gallantry, while in command of a forward platoon, during a fierce close quarter fight in a small house behind German lines at San Donato, on 21 July 1944, in the advance to Florence. He was awarded his second DCM for gallantry, while serving as a platoon sergeant in a forward company, during an assault on Celle, south-west of Faenza in Italy, on 14 December 1944. He was demobilised in 1946.
Batchelor's ability to work quickly and quietly through the black of night earned him the nickname 'the ferret' and the 'Waimate warrior'.
Batchelor returned home to Waimate where he later ran a taxi business then a delicatessen and after that a wine shop.
Batchelor died in Waimate in New Zealand on July 10, 2010.
A biography titled 'The Ferret' was published in 2017 about Batchelor's tales from the war.