The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Part 3.—The End
Part 3.—The End.
Education—Christmas dinner—The Prince of Wales—Demobilization commences, December 26th—1st and 2nd combine as "A" Battalion, and 3rd and 4th as "B" Battalion, January 15th—Absorbed into the 1st and 2nd Brigade Groups, February 4th, 1919.
The Brigade now settled down to an easy time of training and recreation. Plans for the defence of the Cologne bridgehead were got out at once, and all ranks were instructed and practised in their duties in this respect in case the unexpected should happen. Morning parades were held for the purpose of maintaining and improving smartness and efficiency, the afternoons being devoted to sports and other amusements. Regular trips to neighbouring places of interest, such as the cities of Cologne and Bonn, were arranged, as were frequent river-outings on the beautiful Rhine. It must be recorded that there were many unauthorized shoots over the forests owned by local barons and by the ex-Kaiser; but only in this mild way did our men "spoil the Egyptians." For evening entertainment there was the choice of the Y.M.C.A. "sing-song," the Divisional cinema, the innumerable city picture shows and music-halls, and the grand opera magnificently staged and beautifully rendered in German. At the earliest moment the educational scheme was put on a proper working basis. The compulsory section comprised either two subjects in general education, or agriculture, or engineering; and, in addition, attendance was expected at lectures on economics and hygiene on alternate afternoons. The troops, however, were hardly in the frame of mind for this new form of training. Their fighting-days over, they longed for the conclusion of the whole matter; and while some entered upon their studies with eagerness, to the majority the return of school-days was but a weariness and vexation of spirit.
General Hart returned from leave and resumed command of the Brigade on December 29th.
Owing to the shortage of supplies caused by transport difficulties, the usual Christmas dinner was postponed till New Year's Eve, when the various units held a double celebration. The menu of the 4th Battalion, here reproduced, will serve to indicate the nature of these festivities.page 479 page 480
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales visited the Brigade on January 18th. After being shown round the Brigade area he attended a rifle meeting, took part in a competition, and at its conclusion presented the prizes.
The end was now rapidly approaching. Demobilization had begun on December 26th, when the first draft of our men left for England, en route for New Zealand. By the end of January, drafts from the Division were leaving at the rate of 1,000 men per week; and a further 40 men per day were being despatched to England on leave, on completion of which they reported to the Depots and did not return to Germany. On January 15th the battalions of the Brigade were organized on a two-company basis, and then the 1st and 2nd were combined to form what was known as "A" Battalion, under the command of Lieut.-Col. R. C. Allen, and the 3rd and 4th were similarly amalgamated into "B" Battalion, commanded by Lieut.-Col. Jardine. The last act came on February 4th, 1919, when "A" Battalion was absorbed into the 1st Brigade Group, and "B" Battalion into the 2nd Brigade Group, and the New Zealand Rifle Brigade ceased to exist.page break page break page break page break