The Home Front Volume I
CHAPTER 12 — Defence by the People
Defence by the People
ON 20 May 1940, amid the rising agitation, the government announced that the Territorials and the National Military Reserve would be trained more intensively. The latter would supplement Territorial fortress troops in defence of ports, while the Territorials themselves, 16 000 just before the war but depleted by enlistment into the Expeditionary Force, would be increased, though the numbers intended were not stated. The rate of training quickened, beginning with officers and NCOs who attended district schools of instruction while living at home,1 and tented camps were rapidly prepared or extended, notably at Waiouru but also at Ngaruawahia and at several racecourses, where Territorials would train for three months in warmer weather. On 3 October, Jones, Minister of Defence, gave figures: by the end of March 1941 the Territorials, numbering 25 985, would have had three months’ training in camp, so with 9572 men in additional units and 8491 in the National Military Reserve, there would be a ‘splendid Defence Force’ of just over 44 000;2 on 3 April 1941 he claimed that this objective was nearing achievement.3
This was orderly expansion and, in view of the equipment required, all that could be managed while sending substantial reinforcements overseas.4 During 1940–1, fighting was in North Africa, Greece, Crete and Syria; Britain, not New Zealand, was threatened with invasion. But in the mood of mid-1940 the home defence programme then sketched by the government seemed insufficient and too slow. The general imprecise clamour for conscription included home defence, while the practical do-it-yourself traditions of many New Zealanders suggested immediate and active steps.
In England a few days after the invasion of the Low Countries on 10 May, a Home Guard was called for and sprang up literally page 451 overnight, with a quarter million volunteers in 24 hours, little previous planning, much zeal and a good deal of chaos at the start. Obviously there was no comparable urgency in New Zealand, but with France falling so fast, with invasion lowering at Britain, and Churchill saying that we would fight on, if necessary from the Dominions beyond the sea, attack suddenly seemed not impossible. Also it was soon clear that German victories had increased Japan’s inclination towards the Axis; Japan was finding reasons for moving south, pressing against those valuable and vulnerable ex-colonies, French Indo–China and the Netherlands East Indies, and talking of her proper destiny in South-East Asia and the South Seas.
Pressure grew for a citizen army to defend hearth and home, for a rural militia to guard the coast. Writers to newspapers, singly and in batches, wanted to prepare for an emergency.5 Ex-Territorials and returned soldiers, farmers whose production responsibilities held them to the land, deer-stalkers and rifle clubs6 urged home defence much on the lines that were eventually taken: fit men of 18–55 years not eligible for overseas or Territorial service, unpaid, trained in weekends and evenings by returned men, armed and organised by the government, ready to repel any invasion, but probably deterring any such attempt by their very preparedness.
Some even proposed forces almost independent of the government. In Canterbury during May, a colonel offered to raise 1000 men as a special military reserve and to counter Fifth Column work7 and in June the Canterbury Territorial Association devised a scheme for training Class III men (those with no soldiering experience) without calling on the permanent staff.8 At least one local organisation, the New Plymouth National Service Corps, was formed ‘with the approval of the Government’ to raise a body of fit men available for any emergency or to further the war effort, with activities ranging from military drill and route marching to fund raising and gardening for soldiers’ wives, until it should be absorbed into any wider government scheme.9 Earlier, in March 1940, a local home defence impulse at Tirau and Matamata, mainly among RSA members who page 452 began enrolments and training, had met assurances that the government would provide adequately against any possible enemy action; Tirau’s desire to assist was greatly appreciated but the acceptance of all such offers would involve training, arming and equipping the greater portion of men between 17 and 60, some 500 000 in all, which was neither necessary nor practical; they would render most service by joining the Territorials or the National Military Reserve.10
Prominent in agitation was the Auckland Farmers’ Union. Although assured in June by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence11 that there were adequate plans for any possible hostility and that the government would increase its forces, if necessary, within the framework of the armed services, this body led the Dominion Farmers’ Union Conference to send a deputation to the Prime Minister on 17 July, offering the services of the Union to the Defence Department. Local Farmers’ Union branches, they proposed, would appoint officers and NCOs of experience, and consider methods of defending stretches of coast, guarding bridges, roads and so on. They recognised that it must be under military control, not be an independent Farmers’ Union force, which would not be favoured by the public.12 It was, commented the Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail of 19 July, a splendid gesture by patriotic citizens with no suggestion of usurping the powers or duties of military authority.
Clearly, all this energy had to be directed into government-run channels. Already, one grass-roots defence movement had been accepted. On 4 July, when an Opposition member complained that hundreds of mounted men offering themselves for local defence had been refused, D. G. McMillan replied that they could not pick their own jobs; no government could run a war with ‘Portuguese armies’, letting every Tom, Dick and Harry form himself into a group and decide what he would do.13 But on 16 July the government, recognising the fervour to be up and doing, called for nine independent regional mounted rifle squadrons to assist the Territorials in hilly country, especially as snipers and mounted scouts. The training required was 40 days a year, which could be done mainly at weekends, and they need not attend camps like Territorials. At the end of August Army officers, on tour to select leaders and make arrangements, reported over-many volunteers in some districts.14
On 18 July the Prime Minister told the Farmers’ Union deputation that the matter was in hand, that a committee was meeting page 453 that very evening to discuss how such abilities and zeal could be used.15 This committee, headed by National Service Department chiefs, decided that to satisfy the widespread desire to serve the country and to avoid setting up independent overlapping groups, there should be a voluntary, government-run, locally organised, non-military force, reasonably trained and fit, to do anything from coast-watching while at their daily work to assisting the police or serving with the Army in emergency. Organisation and scope of training were also outlined. These proposals went to War Cabinet on 23 July.16 Major-General Duigan,17 Chief of the General Staff, had explained to the committee on 18 July that the Army was fully occupied. Besides the Expeditionary Force it was training the Territorial Force, which at war establishment would number 29 000; also the nine new squadrons of mounted rifles and 5000 men in the National Reserve, guarding ports.18 Army headquarters on 31 July made it clear to the National Service Department that it expected only very limited assistance from the proposed body, and could do very little for it.
No uniforms, arms or ammunition would be issued unless or until any unit was taken over by the Army, and meanwhile, though the Army might train a few instructors and lend a few Territorial NCOs, the use of arms and range practice was opposed. ‘While the Army may and probably will be able to make considerable use of the organisation in an emergency, it is felt that any suggestion that it is wholly or principally a military organisation should be studiously avoided…. The Army has its hands full and further burdens are undesirable at the present time’.19
On 28 July the Minister of Defence broadcast that a new home defence force would be produced soon. It was outlined to the RSA, which was asked to nominate suitable men as district and area leaders.20 War Cabinet finally approved the Home Guard on 2 August 1940, and on 17 August the Emergency Reserve Corps Regulations were gazetted, linking three organisations under the National Service Department, with Semple its Minister. The Women’s War Service Auxiliary was to carry on;21 local authorities were required to prepare page 454 emergency precautions schemes to cope with natural disasters or with war, tasks which many had already done, or at least started, under earlier direction from the Department of Internal Affairs; the Home Guard was a new creation.
The Home Guard was to be a semi-military body, with a Dominion commander, three Military District commanders, and 16 area officers appointed by the government from those nominated by the RSA. Local authorities would organise details and foster growth through committees—existing EPS committees, it was thought, could be utilised, linking the two organisations; leaders below area commanders would be chosen by these committees. Individual units would be based on communities rather than geographical boundaries, with schools and public halls as the usual meeting places. The Home Guard would be voluntary, unpaid, open to all males over 16 not already in the armed forces, and it would work in the evenings and at weekends. It would give physical and military training based on Army manuals, and would provide pickets, patrols and sentries as needed. It would be trained to co-operate with the armed forces and in emergency could by proclamation be incorporated into these forces. Ultimately rifles and ammunition would be issued for training, and there would be uniforms, but at present there were only armbands and no rifles. Robert Semple, the Minister, and his lieutenant, David Wilson,22 with the newly appointed Dominion commander, Major-General Robert Young,23 would tour the country to meet local authorities and explain details.24
Generally newspapers approved, often with a better-late-than-never note; they also expressed wariness of overlapping by Home Guard and Emergency Precautions Services, and hoped that arms and military supervision would appear quickly—‘a weekly course of physical culture is not an essential contribution to national defence’, remarked the Southland Times on 19 August. There was widespread feeling that the energetic Semple had much to explain. Semple spoke of giving 300 000 men excluded from other military duty a useful part in defence, especially those in rural areas, over 46 years of age, who page 455 were wanting an immediate outlet for their feelings and energy— ‘frothing to do some hard useful work without thought of payment’—wanting only the satisfaction of making themselves ready to defend their country, of practising with their mates. They could train in their own communities, meeting once a week, with about 30 men making a unit, four units a company, and four companies a group. ‘Getting fit’ was the keynote of the idea, said Semple, and in fact physical exercises were the only activities that could be started at once without equipment and with minimum organisation. But succeeding stages were also indicated, leading through semaphore, signalling, rifle drill, patrol and picket work and camping out at night, to company drill, entrenchments, field exercises and the blocking and clearing of roads. ‘Ultimately’ there would be rifles and ammunition; the government would issue armbands, and units ‘might provide themselves with clothes or suits of one type for special occasions.’ He also mentioned the checking of rumours and taking the oath of allegiance.25
Objectives were set before local authorities rather more succinctly. The Mayor of Timaru, candidly aiming to clear up misapprehension, published much of a circular he had received from the Director of National Service which set forth the Home Guard’s purposes as: (1) to have the available manpower organised to deal with any national emergency such as earthquake, flood, invasion, air raid or attack, in conjunction with the EPS organisations; (2) to have a reasonably trained and fully organised body of men immediately available and ready to support the armed forces; (3) to provide an outlet for the latent energy and urge to do something physical and tangible in the war effort; (4) to exercise effective government control, and to avoid the growth of sporadic and irresponsible organisations; (5) to exercise an effective and wholesome restraint upon the starting or spreading of rumours or canards.26
By the time Semple and Wilson had made their tour and the enrolment forms were ready in late September, the mood of excitement was beginning to ebb. The crisis in Britain was steadying, with invasion seeming less imminent. London, having withstood the massive daylight raids of August to mid-September, was solidly enduring its nightly bombings, and reports of RAF raids on Germany territory matched in exaggeration those of Luftwaffe losses. Although page 456 Japan on 27 September had signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy, newspapers treated this quietly and there was no immediate widespread apprehension.
Pressure for the Home Guard had come largely from country areas, and generally early recruiting there was more enthusiastic than in the towns.27 Farmers were aware of their open lonely coasts, and they did not have the comfortable sight, familiar in cities, of soldiers in uniform; the urge to defend their own acres was strong, and they felt that they themselves must come forward before they could expect men on wages to do so. Some, sensitive about the sneer that farms were ‘funk-holes’, welcomed the chance to be active in defence as well as in production. Enthusiasm depended a good deal on local leadership and varied widely; for instance, a Taranaki officer marvelled why Patea with a population of 1500 could parade 320 men, while Hawera, population 5 000, could muster only 180.28
Cities were slower. By mid-October Wellington leaders were complaining of apathy, and their complaints continued for several months.29 At Auckland, despite vigorous advertising30 the Mayor spoke of poor response and inexplicable apathy when only 1400 had enrolled by 12 December. ‘Response by Dunedin men has been disappointing in the extreme’ reported the Otago Daily Times on 24 January; some keen units had been formed, but there were only 1200 enlistments from a population of 80 000. When, on a wet March night at a Hamilton suburb only 40 men, many already enrolled, turned up to form a unit, the Mayor spoke disgustedly of ‘a bomb or two’ being needed to waken people in the town to their obligations.31
Lack of accident insurance was an objection made frequently, and, although scornfully dismissed by Semple,32 this was amended by a new enrolment form early in November.33 Another source of doubt was the rumour that the Home Guard might be used for strike- page 457 breaking. The suggestion came from the Communist party, and Semple complained of a subversive document distributed all over the country by persons sneaking about like thieves in the night34 but it had more effect than most communist utterances.35 For instance, the Christchurch enlistment sub-committee discussed workers having such fears and criticised the government for not making clear the objects of the Home Guard, thus weakening confidence; so did the Manawatu Trades Council, and the Mayor of Palmerston North remarked that the regulations spoke of its military use in an emergency but left the government to decide what was an emergency.36
Certainly the opening clauses of the Regulations were wide: ‘For the purpose of assisting in preparation and operation of plans for securing the public safety, the defence of New Zealand and the prosecution of any war in which His Majesty may be engaged, and of plans for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community….’ The final clause also, which provided for calling up the Home Guard, or any section of it, as part of the Army, when considered necessary by the Governor-General against enemy action or the threat of it, could be viewed askance by the doubtful. Further, a formidable new Regulation (1940/259) on 30 September had given the Attorney-General power, in the interests of public safety, the war effort, or maintaining essential industries, to have anyone dismissed from employment or a union, not only for acts done but also for acts anticipated. With this in the immediate background, the possibility of Massey-like37 handling of strikes could well seem far from remote.
Semple, as a Minister, did not speak openly of possible attack by Japan, though this was a theme favoured by less public advocates of enlistment such as trade union speakers, not reported in the papers, and factory workers were puzzled by the apparent conflict between page 458 these speeches38 and Semple’s utterances such as: ‘we can meet the external danger only if we are organised; and we can look after the internal traitor too, if we are organised’39 or ‘I do not want to create a panic … I say definitely that this country is in danger. … It would not do if everyone was permitted to yell out what had happened. That might lead to panic. We cannot tell the people all that we know as it might be used against us. Every country has its Fifth Column and we have it here in New Zealand also.’40 Indeed, Semple’s fervour against the Fifth Column, and his tendency to see all pacifists and Communists as active agents of it, contributed both to alarm and to reluctance. Thus the Oamaru branch of the Labour party protested against his ‘outrageous utterances’, saying that while the term ‘Fifth Column’ remained vague, such incitements to summary violent actions were too like those a Fascist leader might give his storm troopers, and introduced trends quite foreign to democratic justice.41 That the Farmers’ Union praised Semple’s efforts in the Home Guard, while pointing out that its formation was first proposed by itself,42 did not increase working class faith in either Semple or the Home Guard. Some, particularly older men, found it hard to forget that Semple and other leaders now urging everyone to defend the country had opposed the last war, in gaol.43
Many forces combatted apathy. Trade union organisers and employers tackled the workers;44 in the Public Service every controlling officer was asked to act as a recruiting agent;45 there were Home Guard parades and route marches through suburbs; local government officials spoke for it on every possible occasion. The government refrained as much as possible from talk of attack by Japan,46 yet even Fraser in October 1940 spoke of the tide of war rolling up near New Zealand’s own shores,47 and Major-General Young on page 459 27 November said that whereas in the last war New Zealand did not have to worry about defence, now a power in the East had said that the British were going to lose the war and was backing the enemy.48 In February 1941 War Cabinet member Gordon Coates spoke of Japan, armed to the teeth with the latest weapons, coming into the fray.49 Plainly, if unofficially, the idea was about that Japan was the enemy likely to invade the beaches.
Truth attributed apathy to lack of information or training. Appeals about the urgency of the war situation were not enough, men wanted to know that they would learn something useful in modern mechanised warfare, not merely spend evenings at physical jerks and army drill, plus an occasional route march. It spoke of the British being trained to move without being seen, in street fighting, road-block making, of smoke-bombs made from cow-dung and anti-tank bombs from bottles, and called for publicity on what the Home Guard was actually doing.50
This of course bore on the first difficulty. What could the Home Guard do, starting from scratch, with no immediate help from the Army? Despite a general instruction for co-operation, the Army declared itself unable to lend rifles, etc, or to provide instruction until about the end of March 1941.51 Early parades were often a nightmare to those responsible. With no equipment and few qualified instructors it was hard to keep the rank and file from standing about feeling bored and futile.52 Each unit had to work out its own salvation, using emergent leadership, acquiring instructors from the Territorials and the National Reserve, often with NCOs learning at mid-week classes what they taught their men in the weekend. Those who had rifles brought them to meetings for teaching purposes; some zealous units acquired poles of rifle weight for arms drill, while stoutly denying ‘broomstick army’ rumours.53
In December 1940 the Physical Welfare Branch of Internal Affairs began training Home Guard leaders in non-military, recreation-type exercises,54 but even this took time to spread. For instance, at the end of February the commander of the Wellington area remarked that arrangements were nearly complete for physical training on page 460 modern lines. However, by the end of April in three large districts (Auckland, central North Island and Wellington) there were only 400 trained instructors.55
In November the tasks in which the Home Guard would assist the Army had been listed56 and on 2 December Semple announced them. It would watch stretches of coast not covered by fortress troops or by independent squadrons, and prepare sketch maps of coastal areas not included in the Army mapping plan;57 oppose enemy landings until the Army arrived; construct movable obstacles to delay the enemy; under Army direction, assist with demolition work and with permanent obstacles; provide guards for internment camps and for any vital points handed over by the Army (which on 14 February decided that docks, oil tanks, radio and cable stations should forthwith be in Home Guard care and in emergency, railway tunnels and bridges).58 In January and February 1941 the Army made its first real contribution to Home Guard training, admitting unit commanders to week-long courses in Army schools on such topics as rifle drill, section leading, map-work, reconnaissance reports, camouflage and siting of trenches.59
By December 1940 newspapers were peppered with modest but persistent reports of Home Guard units, in centres both large and small, though there were still complaints of apathy. The Dominion total rose from 16 667 men on 20 November to 37 701 on 7 December60 to 65 927 on 31 January, 86 508 on 28 February and 98 656 on 31 March.61
|20 Nov 1940||7 Dec 1940||31 Jan 1941||28 Feb 1941||31 Mar 1941|
|Auckland||800||3 500||7 500||8 625||9 384|
|Morrinsville||1 400||2 139||3 082||3 968||4 457|
|Rotorua||650||1 249||3 093||4 458||5 085|
|Whangarei||1 147||2 350||3 750||4 603||5 505|
|Hamilton||642||2 113||5 039||6 501||7 827|
|Wellington||1 004||1 662||2 585||3 468||3 841|
|page 461 20 Nov 1940||7 Dec 1940||31 Jan 1941||28 Feb 1941||31 Mar 1941|
|Wanganui||407||1 050||2 351||3 114||4 010|
|Palmerston North||550||1 689||3 330||5 354||6 287|
|Napier||1 434||2 321||3 652||4 936||5 654|
|Gisborne||313||877||1 914||2 580||3 042|
|Masterton||155||306||1 029||2 100||2 539|
|New Plymouth||580||1 660||2 100||2 543||2 619|
|Hawera||514||1 715||2 244||2 425||2 568|
|Stratford||260||527||1 087||1 666||1 729|
|Nelson||232||427||1 453||2 028||2 220|
|Greymouth||250||785||1 247||1 798||1 852|
|Blenheim||223||459||1 000||1 163||1 250|
|Christchurch||1 500||2 700||3 539||4 517||5 508|
|Timaru||400||1 500||2 400||3 022||3 263|
|Ashburton||236||950||1 400||1 469||1 638|
|Rangiora||600||700||1 075||1 618||1 832|
|Dunedin||450||1 200||2 000||3 459||4 147|
|Oamaru||500||1 150||1 750||2 021||2 185|
|Alexandra||974||1 166||1 426||1 873||1 992|
|Invercargill||750||2 200||3 325||4 112||4 325|
|Gore||690||1 084||2 167||2 547||3 331|
|16 667||37 701||65 927||86 508||98 656|
A proposal in February 1941 by the Stratford Borough Council that it should be compulsory to join the Home Guard drew only modest support,63 though it was also advanced by the Auckland Farmers’ Union and the NZRSA.64 Semple declared that there was no need for conscription65 but the Minister of National Service could direct anyone to join the Home Guard and by an amendment in March such direction automatically made such a person a member.66 It became usual for armed forces appeal boards, in granting exemptions or postponements of service, to direct these men to join the Home Guard, if not the Territorials.
Of course enrolment numbers were no indication of attendance at parades, and on a dirty night less than half the proper number might turn up.67 This was one of the weaknesses discussed in some newspaper letters;68 straggling attendances and too few parades meant that some units after training for several months had learnt little but the fringes of elementary parade drill; without uniforms and page 462 weapons they could not feel genuine. If the Home Guard really was a useful cog in the defence machine the Army would take some interest in it. There was need for guidance, by visiting officers or by an official syllabus, in successive steps of training. Home Guard committees were not representative of active guardsmen.
Other critics said that too much time was given to squad drill, not enough to practical improvisation. There should be on-the-beach training, with each unit practising on the area it would defend. Many units had men whom quarrying, road contracting, and other jobs had made expert with explosives, who could teach the use of gelignite, fuses and detonators as needed in road-blocks work; others skilled in fencing could devise barbed wire obstacles. Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys and Tom Wintringham’s New Ways of War would be more useful than infantry manuals. ‘The circumstances which would demand the service of the Home Guard would also demand improvising all along the line…. those shaping the Home Guard seem to be relying on squad drill and rifle exercises. Could futility go further?’69 But squad drill also had its defenders, who held that it was the basis of discipline, without which a body of men might become a rabble.70 Actually there was much improvisation and use of civilian skills, varying from place to place according to the people concerned; some districts were noticeably keener and more ingenious than others.
Engineering sections practised knots and lashings and trestle-bridge building, earthworks and obstacles, map and compass reading. Signals sections devised lamps, using camera tripods and reflectors from car and motor-cycle headlights, even treacle tins, and their hill-top blinkings roused a number of spy-scares; in May, Napier and Mohaka units exchanged messages over 31 miles, which was reckoned a long hop.71 There was a lack of large-scale maps showing details relevant to military purposes, for the Lands and Survey Department’s mile/ inch series was just beginning. But county engineers, surveyors and draughtsmen mapped some areas very creditably.72 The lack of training manuals was met by some Hawke’s Bay Territorial officers who in April 1941, with the approval of Home Guard headquarters, produced The New Zealand Home Guard Manual, which outlined training from squad drill to tank hunting, and included instructions page 463 for the use of automatic weapons that the Guard was yet very far from possessing.73
Civilians skilled with explosives showed how to use gelignite and detonators for blowing trees across roads and for making other obstacles. They made grenades from jam tins filled with metal scraps and a central core of gelignite, or from lengths of iron piping segmented by filing and turning on a lathe and filled with explosive. They made booby traps of many sorts, often igniting fuses with .22 cartridges, the bullets being removed and the caps being struck by assorted springs such as from rat traps. ‘Molotov cocktails’, bottles filled with equal parts of tar, kerosene and petrol, with a wick soaked in kerosene at the neck, were thrown at rocks, etc, representing tanks, and were very popular.74 The Waverley unit that practised throwing with smooth stones the weight of Mills bombs from a nearby river was praised by a headquarters officer.75 Waipukurau men adapted shotgun cartridges to fire heavy lead slugs with accuracy over a limited range and demonstrated on the carcases of sheep.76
Training in tactics could be attempted with little equipment if there was plenty of zest and imagination. Though some town areas were very lively in field training,77 country areas obviously could come at it more readily. The comparable street fighting was not attempted: it would hold up traffic, alarm people, and no one was experienced in it. So, for instance, Taranaki units at a weekend had a route march plus field work combining instruction with actual procedure and covering more in ‘one full day than in six evening parades’; manoeuvred, with lupin-covered hats, in sandhills; worked through blackberry patches and swamp to attack occupied positions.78 The Sheffield company ambushed a tank with Molotov cocktails, were out-flanked by an armoured column, and after lunch with other units rounded up the ‘parachutists’ of Glentunnel in hill country, ‘a “soldiers battle” in which the rank and file displayed particular enthusiasm and initiative.’79page 464
A sense of reality emerges from some of the reports, as for example the problem posed to 60 company and platoon commanders and NCOs of a Taranaki battalion attending a two-day course at Pihama:
An invasion barge carrying a tank and 18 infantrymen—a laggard from a larger enemy force attempting a landing on the black sands at Opunake—comes churning into the cove at Papakaka, where the Puneheu Stream once entered the sea.
A quarter of an hour before it touches the shingle it is sighted, and a platoon of the Home Guard armed with rifles and gelignite, is ordered to prevent the landing or annihilate the invading unit as it leaves the water.
On Saturday these men were given rifle instruction and a talk by the county engineer on field sketching and reports, followed by practical work on a piece of coast. Sunday included a lecture on field craft, on taking cover from fire and on selecting positions for firing and for advance; another lecture on obstacles, road blocks and wiring, again by the engineer; it wound up with the landing problems set forth above.80 On this occasion a women’s committee was thanked for providing tea; one hopes that other women were thanked for milking the cows.
Various devices were used to give almost unarmed men a sense of battle. Sometimes an aeroplane would ‘bomb’ their trucks, or fly over ground on which they were taking cover. In an attack on golf-links near Christchurch, watched by Major-General Young, paper packets of flour were thrown as grenades and machine-gun sounds were contrived from tin rattles ‘in which the turning of a ratchet made an effective noise.’81
Rifles, though promised often, were slow to appear apart from those owned by an élite minority. In January 1941 some elderly rifles were issued for training purposes, though not certified fit for firing.82 A few weeks later the Prime Minister appealed for the loan of .303 rifles, promising to make good all deterioration or loss, but the response was slight: more than two weeks later only 30 had been handed in throughout the Auckland police district from Wellsford to Huntly, only two from Auckland city.83 At the end of April an impressment order was gazetted, requiring all rifles or parts thereof to be handed in immediately, but this did not produce a flood, and shortage of rifles remained a sore point till well into 1942.
The more that guardsmen took to the hills, dug trenches or worked with wire, the more they wanted uniforms and boots. With the page 465 Depression not far behind, many had few serviceable old clothes, and costs of clothing and footwear were rising. They were promised the old style uniforms of the Territorials when these could be replaced with battledress, but the Territorials were constantly being increased, and all through 1941 the promises moved on. Meanwhile a few units acquired makeshift uniforms: those of the Otorohanga area decided as early as November 1940 to have grey shirts and trousers and glengarry caps;84 those of Lower Hutt acquired 400 khaki boiler suits, at 15s each;85 One Tree Hill men appeared in drill blouses and trousers with glengarry caps, cost £1.86
The importance of maintaining communications in a war emergency produced, during 1941, several special Home Guard groups. In the Post and Telegraph Department, linesmen, technicians, exchange operators, telegraphists and other experts covered the whole country in a many-branched organisation totalling nearly 2000 at full strength. In the Railways about 600 men were set to maintain lines, signals, telephones and electricity for electric engines, and at the last to deny resources to the enemy. Both these groups did some ordinary Home Guard training, especially in the use of weapons, and their officers attended Army schools.87 Within the carrying industry, a Home Guard motor transport organisation, spread over the country in 32 companies, was prepared to carry supplies, ammunition and petrol for the Army in a crisis. Each full company comprised 79 three-ton lorries, 4 cars, 8 motor-cycles and 155 men.88 Petrol was stored all over the country, sealed in the spare tanks of retailers, tanks which because of petrol restrictions were not in trade use. From 11 February 1941 each of 1821 petrol stations had its guards, totalling 5548 in March 1943. They were usually older and less fit men, with the owner or manager in charge, under instructions from the Oil Fuel Controller.89 Thus there were during 1941, outside the would-be fighting men, more than 7000 Guardsmen who had special tasks, linked with their normal work. Another such group was the Traffic Control Corps. Early in 1941, mindful of the tragic errors in France, the EPS organised emergency traffic police who would keep country roads clear if needed for military traffic, and control any civilian evacuation. The Transport Department’s 61 traffic inspectors were the nucleus of this group, which numbered 2000 when Japan entered the war. It was then transferred to the Home page 466 Guard, and by March 1943 its members would total nearly 4500. Its head was the Oil Fuel Controller, also in charge of the petrol guards, and these two groups were further linked at roadside level.90
Expenses of transport, hire of halls and so on were at first necessarily and reluctantly borne by local bodies, assisted by sums raised through street appeals, entertainments and raffles. In mid-March 1941 the government, pressed by these bodies, announced that it would pay administration costs down to and including area commands, plus a capitation grant of 2s a man up to 31 December and thereafter 1s a quarter for each man attending 80 per cent of parades.91 It was, of course, not enough, but it was felt by many that local fundraising efforts were part of the total community activity.
Despite enthusiasm and makeshift, as months passed dissatisfaction grew. Hill-scrambling was all very well in summer, but unit commanders wondered how to cope with winter evening parades without losing interest and men. Government apathy and lack of Army interest, it was said, were killing the Home Guard. Newspaper letters92 continued to call for equipment and positive direction, for a co-ordinated Dominion-wide training programme, instead of units doing various things, largely reflecting the views of their immediate officers, some seeing the Home Guard as a guerrilla force of freelance nuisances to the invader, others regarding it as an emergency reserve for the regular forces and therefore needing elementary orthodox training. Closer co-operation with the Army and maintenance by the government was urged by the Southland Times on 29 April and by the NZRSA on 30 May, while several local bodies and Home Guard committees made similar suggestions.93 In mid-June a deputation of mayors from all the cities and big towns, asking Nash, as Acting Prime Minister, for a clear statement, said that if the Guard were indeed a front line of defence, as it had so often been told, it should be under military control.94 Nash replied that Sir Guy Williams,95 a home defence expert from Britain touring the country as military adviser to the government, would soon report; a comprehensive plan and more equipment would emerge shortly, and meanwhile 50 000 pairs of Home Guard boots were to be ordered.96 From Auckland pressure came strongly. The New Zealand page 467 Herald on 1 July said that New Zealand was in the Gilbertian situation of having two separate land defence forces with War Cabinet as the only formal link between them and pointed out several administrative anomalies. Auckland city’s Home Guard committee pressed for information on government intentions concerning training and equipment: there had been many promises but so far they had only armbands, and expenditure on the Home Guard in Auckland from its inception to the end of May totalled £686.97 This was backed by a Herald editorial and letters next day, which Semple angrily described as ‘based on political prejudice and hate rather than on logical reasoning, tolerance and patience’.98 On 23 July Goosman repeated these criticisms in the House.99
Already during April and May War Cabinet, the National Service Department and Army had been considering what to do with the unwieldy Home Guard, now nominally more than 100 000 strong and of widely ranging ages and fitness. At the end of July, assisted by Williams’s reports,100 the Home Guard was transferred to Army control, with changes as slight as possible to existing machinery: the four District Commanders became District Directors with the rank of Colonel, the Area Commanders became Group Directors, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and a few clerical assistants were appointed to each of the 28 Group headquarters. But elsewhere it was considered important to preserve the voluntary spirit, and at battalion level permanent administrative and training staff would not be needed until there was equipment to handle and keep account of. The capitation grant was increased from 4s to 15s a year, though local fund-raising was still encouraged; those taking special courses of instruction would receive Territorial pay.
It was now established101 that the Home Guard’s task was to provide static defence of localities, of vulnerable and key points such as beaches, bridges, defiles and centres of communication, and to give timely warning of enemy movement. Its value lay not with individual action but in proper co-ordination with the superior military forces. The Home Guardsman was defined as a part-time infantry soldier, armed with rifle, machine-gun and bombs, who having no government transport or supply must fight and feed near his own home, his chief asset being close knowledge of the neighbourhood. His task would be to impose loss and delay, defending localities with temporary road blocks, covered with small arms fire, with a page 468 reserve inside the locality ready to counter-attack; to acquire and deliver news of the enemy; to continue to harass an occupying force, under cover of darkness.102 A high standard of weapon training was to be aimed at, with physical training for reasonable fitness, foot and arms drill enough for pride of bearing and reasonably precise movement; knowledge of the district (assisted by sand tables and models), proficiency in observation, patrolling, message sending; general development of night sense, doing operational tasks in darkness and getting away from drill hall training as much as possible.103
The force would have no fixed number, but be in two divisions. Division I, approximately 50 000, fit for combat duty, would be trained and equipped as quickly as possible; Division II, reasonably fit, would be a reserve for Division I, and have as much training as possible with the equipment available; the less fit would be politely invited to transfer to the EPS.104
Little of this, however, reached the schools and local halls where a few men continued to turn up regularly and the majority much less regularly. Changes to the existing machinery were so slight that on 1 October Broadfoot was asking in the House why, since the announcement on 31 July that the Home Guard was to be taken over by the Army and put into two Divisions, Home Guardsmen had received no explanation of the arrangement, and when would the reorganisation of the Guard as a separate entity within the Army be complete? Fraser replied that preparatory work was under way, reorganisation, being wrapped up with the whole defence plan, proceeding as fast as circumstances would permit.105
On 28 October an article in the New Zealand Herald said that compulsory parades seemed the only means towards efficiency; attendances were often so poor that there was widespread discouragement and despondency. These Cinderellas of the defence forces had trained almost blindfold, uncertain of their part in an emergency, ‘sparsely equipped and uniformed with promises’, so that ‘it was a common statement among officers that every time an official promise was made another half-dozen men failed to parade with their units’. The three-month-old announcement of transfer to Army control had roused hopes but progress in removing the long-standing complaints was slow, and parade attendances were the fundamental difficulty. Special courses had been held at district Army schools, page 469 improving officers and NCOs, but they often had to resume elementary training because so many members had missed so much; for instance, one platoon commander had one of his 36 men at one parade and none at the next. Also, the idea of the Home Guard as a guerrilla force had been replaced by the idea of static defence, close to homes. This seemed a condition more suitable to closely settled Britain than to New Zealand, with its widely separated towns, and was a further cause of uneasiness.106
Within two days Army Order 261/1941 was issued to the press, and summaries appeared.107 ‘Not a moment too soon’ hailed the New Zealand Herald’s editorial, claiming that the Home Guard now had a definite place. But next day that paper printed a letter signed ‘Guardsman’ saying that this order had been read to all of them at least four weeks ago, but ‘from that day to this the Home Guard might have been in another world for all the interest taken in it by the army authorities’. So much had been said and promised, so little done, small wonder that attendances were poor. ‘Please do not take this as an indictment against the army authorities. The Home Guard was created in a wild burst of patriotic fervour by a political drummer boy, who having achieved a roll strength of 100 000, magnanimously hands this army over to the defence authorities with a sigh of relief at having wormed himself out of the very embarrassing position of having an army without an objective’.108 Minus the almost Semple-like invective, this criticism was more or less echoed a few weeks later by Lieutenant-Colonel W. Bell, Group Director at Invercargill, who said that the Home Guard had started with a flourish of trumpets and large enrolments, but the numbers at parades had since fallen and he could not blame the older men for losing enthusiasm when so many younger ones were doing nothing; there should be conscription.109
At the start of November, papers reported both activity and dissatisfaction from Home Guard units. Thus Timaru’s battalion was zealously contriving to obtain sandbags needed for trench and field fortifications;110 the Onehunga battalion held a mock battle near Mangere airfield, with flour bag bombs from an aircraft;111 the Kaikohe platoon’s smouldering dissatisfaction over lack of organisation and equipment broke out in a decision to attend no more parades page 470 till the authorities placed the Home Guard on a satisfactory footing.112 Then, about the middle of the month, reports of the arrival of rifles and other equipment, including Lewis and Thomson machine-guns, began to appear.113
However, it was not until the following month that the policy was really spelled out. Fraser on 11 December 1941 stated: The task of the Home Guard is defensive and I cannot overstate its importance. In the initial stages of an emergency it is intended that forward static positions will be held by Territorial and National Reserve units, with the Home Guard available to reinforce them if necessary, but as the gravity of the situation increases the Home Guard will take over this duty from the Territorials and the National Reserve who will then be withdrawn from their positions in readiness to meet the main thrust of the enemy. This plan is intended to provide the widest distribution of forces to meet an initial attack and at the same time to permit the concentration of the more highly trained and mobile units to deal with enemy concentrations wherever they may be found.114
In mid-December thousands of Territorials and National Military Reserve men were hurried into camps and fortress areas, their uniforms and equipment further delaying promised issues to the Home Guard. The unpaid, part-time defenders of hearth and home were not conspicuously called to duty. But on 31 December War Cabinet, by authorising the payment of mobilised Home Guardsmen, provided machinery for using them as required on regular defence work, a milestone on the road to recognition by the Army that for many had value far above 7s a day. Further, at the beginning of February, Army district officers were directed to use Home Guard volunteers where necessary to supplement Territorial forces. Without pay, they could do beach patrols, etc, on shifts of 24 hours or less, at weekends, which would not interfere with their normal work. They could also serve paid shifts of 24 hours or more, again mainly at weekends, coast watching, guarding vital points, relieving Territorial troops going on leave, or helping them with defence works. They could also be mobilised for a week or longer on such tasks, or to occupy positions if other home troops were not available.115
Although the Public Works Department and contractors with machinery were used as much as possible on defence construction, at the start much urgent spade work, wiring, etc, was needed on beaches and places chosen for defence. In the early months of 1942 page 471 the Home Guard did a good deal of defence navvying, with the result that works were completed quickly and regular troops could concentrate on their training, while the Home Guard itself benefited from close association with serving units. Procedure differed from place to place, with little attendant publicity. At the end of January, groups of Canterbury Home Guardsmen in turn began going into camp for a week, and were photographed shouldering shovels, winding barbed wire and preparing brushwork for revetments.116 Similar work was mentioned at Dunedin, where a Home Guardsman devised a concertina style of wiring that produced a very tangled coil;117 the Defence Minister referred to weekend patrols by Home Guardsmen attached to Wellington fortress troops;118 at Auckland on 27 March the Mayor called for Home Guard volunteers needed for both fulltime and part-time duty; inland units worked on road blocks and dragged huge logs into position ready for dropping across roads.119 In short, the Home Guard helped to make possible landing beaches prickly with barbed wire and gun posts and to make strategic roads quickly defensible.
An article in the Listener in January, ‘Hawke’s Bay has an Army’, described things not exclusive to Hawke’s Bay, The Home Guard had been the starved younger child of the military forces, working without almost everything that it officially needed. It had survived being a hopeless idea, survived the stage of wooden rifles, survived being funny, being derided by a nation which still ‘did not fully realise that this is a shooting war.’ Few Home Guardsmen had uniforms and most of the lucky ones would not wear them until all were so provided, but some could make themselves invisible in homemade camouflage. Not all had rifles or shotguns but they had a fine collection of extemporised weapons, ranging from knives to homemade bombs. Some units had reconditioned machine-guns souvenired from the last war and partly remodelled by the Army armourers, and most had enough Tommy-guns to learn the use of them. They had their home-made bombs120 and were experimenting with mortars to throw them. They had Molotov cocktails to hurl at tanks, trip wires and rat traps would ignite the charges of booby traps. A signalling system, with improvised gear, covered the province. Some units could bridge streams in less than half an hour, using oil drums soldered watertight, with boards and timber for bracing. In small page 472 units, ingenuity had achieved much that would be impossible for a big organisation.121
Army connections were strengthened by increased intake to Army schools of instruction, where Home Guardsmen took courses lasting for a week to a month, and would thereafter instruct their units on regular Army lines. By 31 March 1942, a total of 2118 officers and 2431 other ranks had been through such courses.122
There was not a great rush of recruits to the Home Guard.123 When, on 22 January 1942, enrolment in the EPS became compulsory for men 18 to 65 years inclusive not in the forces or in the Home Guard, the majority, possibly through misunderstanding, chose the less demanding EPS. This was probably no immediate disadvantage, for until more weapons appeared thronging recruits would have multiplied frustration. Existing numbers were thinned by successive ballots, taking the younger and stronger men, who often found that their Home Guard training hastened Army promotion. On the other hand, in February, when some of the National Reserve began to droop after being in camp for about six weeks, the more vigorous were transferred to the Territorials, while the less fit went to the Home Guard along with those of service age and fitness whom Manpower committees, for public interest or because of hardship, sent back to their civilian jobs.124 A survey of age groups in March 1942 showed that 48 per cent of the Home Guard were less than 35 years old, 35 per cent were of 36 to 50 and 17 per cent were more than 50 years old.125
Early 1942 saw a sharp increase in those earning capitation grants, that is, attending at least 75 per cent of parades. In the September quarter of 1941 they totalled 50 531, and were down to 48 343 in December, the busy farming season. They rose to 63 344 in March 1942, when the nominal roll was 110 000, and to 70 772 in the June quarter.126 Differing figures were given for March in the report of 22 June 1942 signed by the Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant-General Puttick,127 which stated that the roll strength of the Guard at the end of March was 96 000, of whom 62 890 had earned capitation grants in the past three months. The conflict of these March figures is less surprising when the many sub-divisions in the page 473 Home Guard are remembered, along with the variety of its record-keeping methods; nor is the difference, 454, in the effective number very significant.
In April 1942 it was decided that Home Guard numbers must be increased by compulsion. All civilian men between 35 and 50 years had to enrol despite already being in the EPS. There were certain exceptions: police, firemen, seamen, key members of EPS, doctors, chemists, Maoris, magistrates, judges, ministers of religion, also those disabled, blind, in hospital or in prison. Manpower officers then eliminated those whose commitment to essential work would make them poor Guardsmen, and the rest were interviewed by local selection committees, representing Home Guard, EPS, and Manpower, who transferred suitable men from EPS to the Home Guard. Division I, those over 18 years, physically fit, and in fighting units, plus youths 16 to 18 years, would have 24 hours training a month; Division II, those with non-operational roles such as petrol guard and traffic control, would train for eight hours a month. Absence from parades without leave could lead to prosecution in civil courts, with fines of up to £25, or three months in prison.128 These steps produced 29 555 recruits.129
Boots were now coming more quickly, 46 550 pairs by mid-February, 77 228 by the end of May,130 though still not enough to go round: thus, at Foxton in February, 65 pairs were received for more than 100 men, and in November a Pongaroa man lamented that his company had received 12 pairs in all.131
Uniforms at last appeared, the Prime Minister stating early in March 1942 that 11 260 had been issued,132 and this number had risen to 43 782 by the end of May.133 Some were ex-Territorial service uniforms cleaned and repaired, some were battle-dress style, new, but of woollen cloth not worsted.134
By mid-February the Home Guard had received 12 106 Army rifles, plus 66 heavy and 34 light machine-guns, 800 Thompson sub-machine-guns and 2.5 million rounds of small arms ammunition,135 though only a limited amount of this could be used for practice shooting. By May, 24 500 American .300 rifles had arrived and there was a re-shuffle. In the areas furthest from mobilised troops, such as Southland, Nelson, Coromandel and Hawke’s Bay, all .303 page 474 rifles were withdrawn and redistributed to Home Guard units more likely to be operating alongside the Territorials, the more remote districts then receiving the American rifles. Thus with the 16 000 either self-owned or impressed, plus those from American and the Army, the Home Guard mustered 52 648 rifles by the end of May.136
After Singapore there was, especially in northern districts, some anxiety to avoid a similar situation of military inadequacy and over-optimism. Some worried about the Army, and, though Army shortcomings were less visible to the public than were those of the Home Guard, military silence led, wrote General Puttick, ‘to the obvious deficiencies in the equipment of the Home Guard being accepted by the public as an indication of the state of the Army as a whole’, which was far from being the case.137 In February and March, a few public bodies voiced concern: the Rotorua, Mt Eden and Takapuna borough councils and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce urged that the Home Guard should be strengthened, having first choice of the men compulsorily enrolling for EPS, that it should be fully militarised, and its equipment improved by local manufacturing.138
These ideas reached fullest and most forceful expression in the ‘Awake New Zealand’ campaign emanating from Major T. H. Melrose, commander of Hamilton’s Home Guard.139 This movement sought to kindle a widespread awareness of danger and the fighting spirit to meet it. It urged self-help and self-defence, without waiting for official steps, impatiently regarded as red tape. It thought that there was too much emphasis on EPS measures, it called for compulsory Home Guard membership and for Home Guard weapons, weapons for every man, to be improvised and produced by resourceful, handy men in every foundry and workshop.140 The movement spread rapidly, its ideas also infecting other organisations: for instance, the Auckland Farmers’ Union offered its services to the government to assist with the organisation of the Home Guard, the cultivation of an offensive spirit and the collection of scrap metal for local manufacture into grenades.141
In many centres, money was given for Home Guard weapons and equipment and handymen were called on to devise and produce weapons. Already there were home-made grenades;142 other devices page 475 were now produced, notably trench mortars, originating in an Otahuhu workshop.143 The Army, however, was wary of most such improvisations, preferring local production of approved weapons144 such as mortars made in the Hutt railway workshop. The Army’s coolness to some proposals was probably judicious; as, for instance, land-mines claimed to be simple and safe in construction, deadly in action and capable of being made by the thousand and laid out in a few hours on beaches and in vital areas.145
However, if the ‘Awake’ campaigners could not get very far with weapons, they usefully provided other equipment such as camping gear, ground sheets, steel helmets and haversacks.146 At Whangarei, for instance, the campaign began on 1 May and closed four months later, having raised £705, of which £452 was spent on Home Guard equipment, including 400 ground sheets.147
New urgency now beset Home Guardsmen as they defended and counter-attacked beaches and hills, rehearsed the blocking of roads and gorges, laid dummy mines and built emergency bridges. At Easter 1942 for instance many battalions, as at Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and the Hutt, spent days preparing and defending posts and road blocks, inventing and destroying paratroops and beach invaders.148 In both town and country, during weekends and some evenings, men practised handling their weapons, practised moving under cover, moving by night, on manoeuvres of defence and attack; they learnt their districts thoroughly by going over them again and again; some prepared maps that showed roads, trees, buildings, creeks, swamps and firm ground. As before, enthusiasm and effectiveness varied from unit to unit, depending on local leadership. Those who combined determination and energy with military imagination and skill in handling people achieved much, both in extracting the maximum from authority and in building up efficiency, co-operation and ésprit de corps. There were many pitfalls for Home Guard commanders, from reluctance in paper work to the adoption of an imagined ‘military’ authority.149
Despite shortage of petrol and pressure of work, keenness was conspicuous among farmers, perhaps from the sense of threat to their page 476 own homes and acres, heightened by neighbourly regard and district pride: a Home Guard drop-out was more conspicuous in the country than in the comparative anonymity of towns. Transport included horses and bicycles, while money for petrol for shared cars and other minor expenses was still raised by such community efforts as dances and euchre-evenings.150 Rural companies often mustered 30 strong out of a roll of 40, over a radius of 10 miles; each had its own area to defend, and knew it closely. They concentrated on guerrilla tactics, using ‘British commando methods plus a few that are home-made— and pretty tough.’151
There were some special commando units, the so-called guide platoons. In December, Army command considered that rugged terrains, often within striking distance of cities, and the rugged men available—farmers, musterers, deer cullers, bushmen and timber workers—favoured secret commando groups which in an invasion would retire to hide-outs in bush and hills, emerging to harass the enemy rear. After March, when weapons became available, more than 100 such units each of about 17 men were developed. They were specially devoted to night work and commando methods (to account for their long spells in bush and bivouac training it was given out that they were training to guide troops through unknown and difficult country, and to be scouts and snipers). Their carefully constructed lairs, equipped with radio, explosives, ammunition and hard rations for a month, were left quite alone, while the men, to mislead the curious, worked from dummy headquarters and caches.152
Other Army-nurtured specialists, 344 in number, were in the Bomb Disposal Group, formed in April 1942. They had training at Trentham and received much information about enemy bombs. The only live bombs available were those dropped on several occasions by the RNZAF, but they had more work (in conjunction with the Navy) dealing with enemy and British mines which drifted on to the west coasts of both islands, the Coromandel Peninsula and the Bay of Islands. One such mine was bravely handled: it came ashore at New Plymouth near the railway shed and hospital, in a fairly heavy sea and could not be destroyed on the spot. Two men of the local bomb section attached a rope to it, swam with the rope to a launch and towed the mine to an empty beach.153
Such groups knew they had specific tasks, as had the less adventurous technical communications sections, and the guardians of petrol stocks and of vital points. The ordinary infantryman’s belief page 477 in his own usefulness was less certain. For some, both in the community and in the Home Guard, there was a strong sense of unreality, of playing at soldiers, scepticism that this semi-amateur effort would be effective in the face of trained, well-equipped, hard-driving attackers. Others, including the old soldiers, knew that a sense of unreality could persist into the midst of action. Nevertheless, it was better to prepare to do what one could than to wait inactive; the fighting attitude of mind was more robust, less fearful, than one of empty-handed default. Fathers as they farewelled sons going overseas knew that if the young men could not stop the Japanese, the old ones would not let the home places, the women and the children go without a fight.
In March, when the issue of guns and gear had but lately got under way amid organisational hitches, when the news was very bad and the ‘Awake’ movement was seething out from the Waikato, Sidney Holland after touring this area spoke of the Home Guard’s ‘very considerable discontent and apprehension’ that they were not being properly treated or used to the best advantage, and asked for a full committee of inquiry. The Prime Minister, agreeing to this, said that Home Guard affairs had the anxious attention of War Cabinet, which had instructed the Army that its training and issue of equipment should be as speedy as circumstances would permit; difficulties were being overcome, and much creditable uneasiness came from not knowing fully what was being done.154
The Auckland Star commented that recognition at this late date of the need for inquiry into the training, organisation and employment of the Home Guard would be an unpleasant shock to many. The press had repeatedly drawn attention to the Cinderella of the forces and how ‘the patriotic enthusiasm which infused its ranks upon its formation was allowed to ooze away through a sieve of broken promises’ of equipment, military clothing and adequately trained command, criticism which was rebuked as giving information to the enemy. The Star doubted that the inquiry would now achieve much. The equipping of the Home Guard had progressed so quickly in the last few weeks that enthusiasm had rekindled, and ‘if the committee is in the mood for it, it will have no difficulty in providing a report well camouflaged in whitewash’. Perhaps the most important avenue for inquiry at the moment would be the fitness of many of the leaders for their jobs: there were so many tales of page 478 one company receiving splendid training while its next door neighbour had done only ‘parade ground stuff’.155
The military affairs committee of the War Council, W. Perry of the RSA, Major-General Andrew Russell156 and two members of Parliament, L. G. Lowry157 and E. T. Tirikatene,158 inquired diligently into Home Guard complaints and circumstances. Their suggestions, plus the comments of Lieutenant-General Puttick and the Army Department were tabled in the House on 14 October 1942.159 By this time many grievances had been eased. Since May, compulsory recruitment had filled in the ranks, and the majority were no longer empty-handed or in civilian garb. Battalions in the areas immediately essential for defence had been given priority: here the majority had rifles, and others formed sections with machine-guns, tommy-guns and mortars. The Home Guard’s total strength in October 1942 was 109 226; 75 000 uniforms had been issued, and 83 127 pairs of boots, with more coming. Ammunition was still short, especially for the American rifles of which 40 000 now had been imported.160 Home Guard units had to construct their own rifle ranges on approved sites, as heavy demands from the Services fully occupied the government work force. Proposals that the Guard should be permitted to make its own wireless sets and improvise weapons were not approved. Variety in wireless sets might imperil security it was said, and Army headquarters had to approve all specifications in advance. Several hundred sets had been ordered and the Army would give training in signals work. Puttick commented that many improvised weapons were inefficient and dangerous to the users; skilled men and explosives would be better used in regular production of approved types. Payment for attendance at parades was not favoured, and there was only a small increase for out-of-pocket expenses.161
Though no marked change resulted from the inquiry at this stage, it is probable that its existence had already helped to give Home Guard requirements some priority amid the heavy competition of 1942. But while the condition of the Home Guard was improving, page 479 its raison d’être was fading. On the day that the Parliamentary report was published, the headlines told of six Japanese warships sunk in the Solomons in the latest naval clash. There were thousands of Americans in New Zealand, and the 3rd Division was leaving to seek the enemy overseas. The accent was shifting from organisation for defence to organisation for production; men from the home defence forces were being released to industry in thousands; and although there were many recent recruits in the Home Guard, many of its veterans felt that they had learned all it could teach them. There were complaints from farmers that 24 hours’ training per month was misdirected effort;162 in October miners were exempted,163 and in November wharf workers.164 At the beginning of December, at the same time that lighting restrictions were eased and fire watching ceased, training was reduced to eight hours a month for the busy season. Ironically, at about the same time, the first prosecutions for non-attendance came through the courts.165
Training was restored to 16 hours a month in March. The Guard’s organisation was now at its best, uniforms plentiful, equipment mounting. In all, but excluding 4430 dubiously fit, it numbered 119 153.166 Its belief in itself had grown with official recognition, and long association of members in common endeavour had bred feelings of community and enterprise. A conspicuous example was presented in the Hutt where, partly by voluntary work over the period of reduced training, the local battalion had built 20 huts, each about 50 feet by 20 feet, for eating and sleeping accommodation in the rear of its battle station, so that when longer training resumed there could be comfortable weekends on duty. A mounted troop had also built a large hut, plus horse lines and a chaff house. It was anticipated that the huts would have a ‘useful post-war purpose’, and the battalion had also, through specialists in its ranks, built several bridges on farms.167
Companion to the Home Guard and in some respects its rival was the Emergency Precautions Scheme (EPS) for coping with civilian needs in air raids or invasion. Its roots had been growing slowly page 481 for several years.169 The Hawke’s Bay earthquake of 1931 had shown the need for local organisation to be ready for acute local disaster, and during the mid-Thirties fear of air attack with bombs and poison gas was so widespread that even New Zealand did not seem quite immune, though only minor attacks were ever contemplated. In August 1935 an Emergency Precautions Committee of the New Zealand Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence was formed, representing the departments of Internal Affairs, Police and Defence. By July 1936 it thought that its three main problems were earthquakes, air raids and gas defence, that the Army should train a selected core of civilians in gas decontamination and that the St John Ambulance and Red Cross should be asked to help with casualties; but it had done very little when in 1937 the starveling Committee of Imperial Defence became the starveling Organisation for National Security,170 with Emergency Precautions again a sub-committee. In June 1937 it widened its membership with representatives of the Air, Census and Statistics and Labour departments; modest anti-gas preparations began, with Army instructors and 1000 cheap respirators; general work and control, with £1,000 a year voted to it, was through Internal Affairs, which would prepare a handbook to guide local authorities.171
In 1938 anti-gas plans grew a little firmer: training was to start in the four main centres, gradually extending to towns of 9000 to 10 000, with about 20 men to a class—six police, six municipal staff, four firemen and four first-aid experts—and 1500 civilian gas masks were to be stored at the three main Army depots.172
In 1939, when the emergency precautions booklet was at last distributed to local authorities by Internal Affairs, enemy action was included among the hazards.173 Municipal departments formed the framework, plus some government departments such as Police, Post and Telegraph, and some extra sections. Each area would have a controller and committee of supply, to provide, commandeer and distribute food, clothes, bedding. The controller and committee of works and public utilities would deal with water, electricity and gas supplies, sewer repairs, street clearing and demolition, the general labour needs of other sections, and anti-gas training by instructors page 482 from the Army classes.174 There would also be controllers and committees of transport, fire-fighting, communications, law and order, public health and medical services, harbour areas, accommodation and evacuation, finance and records, and publicity and information. A central committee of these controllers with the mayor as chairman would be responsible for general policy, finance and dealings with outside bodies including government. Taumarunui’s scheme was established in outline at one public meeting;175 31 local authorities combined to prepare the scheme for Auckland’s metropolitan area.176
In the general alarm of May–June 1940, many towns pressed on with their arrangements. Parry177 told the House on 21 June that local authorities were forming or had formed adequate organisations to cope with any local emergencies that might arise, and he gave Auckland honourable mention for the co-operation of its numerous authorities.178 The Auckland Star remarked that their elaborate plans were so safely guarded that ordinary citizens did not know what to do or whom to obey in a calamity.179 Actually, a booklet was distributed early in July to 80 000 Auckland homes outlining the EPS organisation and telling the householder what to do about fires, sanitation, first-aid and so on; air-raid shelters and evacuation schemes were declared unnecessary.180 Whangarei also announced that its scheme would be printed,181 but such publications were not usual at this stage, when EPS planners were unwilling to be publicly precise about details they could not foresee. But of 309 local authorities, 120 had drawn up schemes, at least in outline, when in August 1940 the Emergency Reserve Corps Regulations made these compulsory and Internal Affairs handed the matter over to the National Service Department.182page 483
An enlistment drive then started. Men outside the range of military call-up, and women also, were urged to join: here there would be opportunities matching every ability to assist the war effort. There was great uncertainty about what to do and how to do it, and much depended on the energy and tact of central civic figures. Meanwhile, manpower needs multiplied, outstripping enlistments, and there were repeated complaints of tardiness, apathy and the need for fit men as well as veterans. The rival claims of the Home Guard also lessened recruitment.
In January 1941, with awareness of German raiders high after shipping losses and the shelling of Nauru Island in December, the National Service Department called an EPS conference from 18 major towns. It accepted that the likely form of attack would be a hit-and-run bombardment from the sea, or a carrier-borne air raid,183 and this shaped all preparations during the next 10 months. It decided on more rehearsals, and discussed such problems as warning signals, air-raid shelters, anti-gas measures, protection of hospital patients and school children, reduction and control of lighting, evacuation, auxiliary fire brigades, emergency communications and water supplies, protection of vital points and relations with the Home Guard.184 At the start, for most non-technical volunteers the two most obvious activities were fire-fighting and first-aid; there was also elementary drill so that groups would move in orderly fashion both on the job and on parade. But one thing led rapidly to another, committees developed families of sub-committees and inter-committee relations, and there were more jobs than people. Talk of compulsion, however, did not get very far.185
The chief links between the numerous repair services and the public were the wardens, familiar figures in all accounts of Britain’s Air Raid Precautions (ARP). They were selected by the central body from the volunteers, as reliable active men who would know their areas thoroughly and be competent to report damage accurately, so that the appropriate service could be quickly sent. Central control systems were set up for receiving such reports from district wardens and arranging for repair. Should telephones be disrupted, messages would be sent by car, motor-cycle, bicycle or on foot, with due precautions against the intrusion of unauthorised persons.186 Boy Scouts were often ‘runners’ but many young women also proved agile. Towns were divided and mapped in blocks or districts, each page 484 with its chief warden and deputy warden and a clearly marked warden’s post, often at a school. These blocks were sub-divided into sections (about 20 in Auckland), each under a team warden or subwarden. All wardens would have powers similar to those of special constables. While remote inland towns would need merely a skeleton service that could be expanded quickly, in vulnerable places like Auckland or Wellington the aim was to have one warden to about 50 people.187
Wardens needed, above all, detailed knowledge of their areas: of the people, with their special abilities or infirmities, and possessions which might be valuable to the organisation;188 the streets and short cuts; the water mains and fire hydrants and telephones. They would see that injured people were taken to the nearest first-aid post, give information needed by the fire-fighting or works sections, and ensure that damaged shops were protected from looting and that unexploded bombs were cordoned off.
The Works Section, concentrated in several depots, would be sent, through headquarters, to do rescue and demolition work, to clear streets, repair electricity, gas and water supplies and maintain sanitation. Municipal departments were the core of the various branches of the Works Section, but these were thickened with skilled volunteers such as plumbers and electricians in the waterworks and electrical branches.
The medical services, with hospital board direction plus help and advice from doctors, selected first-aid posts and advanced dressing stations in densely populated areas, the latter often in schools, industrial buildings or public halls, to which the injured would be brought from outlying first-aid posts. Wellington for instance had 21 advanced dressing stations,189 and Dunedin, from Port Chalmers to Mosgiel, had eight, surrounded by 36 smaller first-aid posts.190 Where possible, a doctor or trained nurse would be at these stations, otherwise both they and the first-aid posts were run by the Red Cross and the St John Ambulance Brigade, which for months past had been training volunteers. All these places were largely equipped by neighbouring households which arranged to lend, for practice and for emergency, beds and other furniture, bedding, towels, buckets, torches, bowls, hot-water bottles and various utensils. Medical supplies provided by hospital boards, and dressings and bandages prepared by EPS medical workers, were stored in locked cupboards at page 485 page 486 the posts.191 Thus at an Auckland rehearsal, the Birkenhead primary school was converted into an advanced dressing station, with 20 beds and an improvised theatre, the class-rooms being used as wards to receive victims from the first-aid posts of Bayswater and Northcote.192 Generally, a good deal of practised improvisation was needed to adapt for medical purposes rooms ordinarily used for teaching or for meetings but sometimes permanent readiness was possible. Thus, again at Auckland, two old railway carriages in the Railway yards were converted into first-aid posts, one placed near the locomotive sheds, one near the passenger platforms, half of each being used as a waiting room, while the other half was fitted up with stretchers and first-aid needs.193
There was, in all these arrangements, great variation in zeal and efficiency. By chance or through personalities preparedness could catch on in a district, and be fed by its own growth, or it could wither in a climate of ‘leave-it-to-others’ or ‘it-can’t-happen-here.’ For example, by February 1941, at the Waverley Town Hall the women of Waverley and Waitotara had organised an emergency hospital of 26 beds which could be in running order within a few hours. There was a full staff of ex-nurses, VADs and domestics, plus a Home Guard motor unit of 12 ambulance-lorries, with trained Red Cross drivers. The ladies, assisted by Home Guard handymen with sanitation and hot water improvements, had practically completed their arrangements before asking the blessing of the Patea Hospital Board.194
Without publicity, the Health Department and hospital boards all over the country inspected buildings and earmarked many as possible emergency hospitals. On 17 December 1941, Nordmeyer, Minister of Health, explained that in extreme emergency 21 000 additional beds could be provided. Reserves of equipment and supplies were accumulated and stored. Medical teams were allocated, some mobile; former nurses were listed, along with the 3000 voluntary aids, who after gaining Red Cross and St John certificates had done 60 hours’ hospital training. The 42 hospital boards were arranged in 10 groups, each under the senior officer of its largest member, so that there would be ready assistance between them.195
For some duties, notably fire fighting and police work, there was special selection and training. In the main centres, several hundred page 487 active men of suitable background volunteered or were drafted from the general EPS body or the Home Guard for police training, to control traffic and prevent pillage or panic.196 Christchurch traffic control men, smart in peaked caps and white raincoats, appeared on public duty early in December.197 Ten days later, Auckland’s EPS urgently appealed for 650 men needed for police and traffic work between Helensville and Howick.198 In July 1942, the Wellington Superintendent of Police stated that the Auckland Law and Order unit had 830 men, while his had 550. Of these, 30 in the identification section were specially trained for work with the dead; the rest, in emergency, would clear pedestrians and traffic from damaged areas, and put cordons around unexploded bombs or places where valuable property was exposed or where fire brigades or ambulances were working.199
As fire would be the main danger almost all EPS workers were taught how to deal with incendiary bombs and small fires, while selected men were trained and equipped to cope with large fires, all under the control of the regular experts.200 In each town the fire controller was the local brigade superintendent, and he appointed to each warden’s district fire wardens and fire patrols. These worked in their own cars, in pairs, wearing armbands and equipped with wooden shovels, rakes, dry sand, bucket-pumps and hoses, choppers and lanterns. They went to lectures at the central fire station, were shown how to use their equipment, and visited each house in their area giving advice and in particular telling people to make sure that there was no rubbish between the ceiling and roof.201
During March 1941 the government established the Emergency Fire Service as a special branch of the Emergency Reserve Corps. Its Dominion Controller was the Inspector of Fire Brigades, and the four District Controllers, the brigade superintendents of the main cities, were in charge of training and organisation. Its members were as permanent as possible, men with families or fit single men reserved from overseas service, and it was an alternative to Territorial service. They had uniforms, boots and steel helmets, Territorial pay and accident insurance, and after 56 hours of training (four one-hour drills weekly, plus a two-hour Saturday parade) had an hour’s drill page 488 each week and six two-hour parades a year, with fines for absence.202 They were equipped with trailer pumps, delivering 400 gallons of water a minute, towed by cars. These pumps, copies of the British ARP model, were, except for the motors, made in New Zealand; they would, it was claimed, do the same work as big fire engines but were much cheaper to make.203 At the start about 2000 EFS men were required, the quota for Dunedin being 220, for Christchurch 275, and for Auckland and Wellington 450 each.204 Later, quotas at Auckland and Wellington were increased, as these were the anticipated sites for any major raid, in which the water supply would probably be broken down, demanding many men to relay it for some distance.
A year later, Wellington (including the Hutt area) had a trained EFS of 485 men, alongside its 100 permanent fire brigadesmen, and about 1000 in the fire sections of the EPS, but still more were wanted.205 The EFS men did not wait for enemy action but turned out if needed for normal fires, for it was extremely important to prevent the loss of buildings and material irreplaceable during the war.206 The Wellington control room, covering both permanent and auxiliary groups, when fully manned needed a staff of 34; extras could very quickly be summoned from a roster of 60 volunteer women, who held rehearsals three nights a week.207 Besides all this, volunteer works’ fire brigades were organised by management at large industrial concerns, such as freezing works and railway shops.
What were the duties of citizens not active members of Home Guard or EPS? They darkened their windows according to the lighting restrictions,208 and they prepared to deal with incendiary bombs.209 City councils provided dry sand cheaply, but citizens had to collect it, and they were in no hurry to do so.210 People were told that in daylight raids on cities they could shelter under modern concrete buildings or in basements; in the suburbs and at night they should stay at home. Trenches in the garden were their own responsibility; by the end of 1941 very few had them. Late in June the National Service Department issued 400 000 copies of a householder circular (printed in red, on good quality paper, to be hung in a conspicuous page 489 place) giving instructions about cutting off gas, guarding fires, firefighting methods, incendiary bombs, sanitary arrangements, emergency food and first-aid equipment.
During 1941 many towns, large and small, held rehearsals involveing all branches of their emergency precautions services. Often a circling aeroplane or two gave a touch of realism, and sometimes, especially in the small towns, the Home Guard took part. Thus at Kaiapoi211 on 19 April, some Home Guardsmen attacked from the north side of the river; a circling aircraft had made the bridge ‘unsafe’, but defenders crossed from the south on a temporary bridge; signallers semaphored messages and installed a telephone system from the scene of action to headquarters. Meanwhile the fire services, both regular and auxiliary, were busy with ‘incendiary bombs’, fires and rescue work, the St John Ambulance Brigade gave first-aid to the injured and trucked them to the main dressing station at a hall. Traffic was controlled, and a loudspeaker announced proceedings.212 At Taumarunui’s213 first try-out in November, railway engines whistled for a mock air raid. Fires were reported and put out, dangerous walls were demolished and a burst water main was repaired. The Women’s War Service Auxiliary (WWSA) and cyclists of the Athletic Club, and Post Office staff, carried messages, Boy Scouts were fire spotters and Girl Guides were patients. The St John Ambulance with its cadets and nursing division was busy at temporary hospitals in the parish hall and domain grandstand, with injured brought in by Red Cross transport.214
Usually cities rehearsed one or two branches at a time—say, communications or works or medical services—and often only for certain areas, not the whole city. For instance, during September in the Wellington suburb of Karori, wardens, fire patrols, communications and first-aid sections performed,215 while the suburb of Ngaio practised repairing the damage of an air raid at night.216 At Auckland’s railway yards in November aircraft dropped smoke bombs, fire services put out real and imaginary fires and the traffic section dispersed engines and rolling stock while assuming that the signalling system was damaged; on the same day, seven city first-aid posts and the advanced dressing station at Seddon Memorial Technical College page 490 held a ‘realistic’ rehearsal.217 At Pukekohe218 on 4 December the Home Guard played enemy raiders, lighting two real fires in the town, and a large number of children, ‘refugees from Auckland’, were billeted.219
Like all voluntary associations, EPS was plagued by non-attendance. There were the faithful and the not-so-faithful. Lack of conviction about the necessity of it all, boredom, interest in other things, disagreements between members, all tended to make impressive lists of workers into paper tigers. Too many, it was felt, would not know their tasks thoroughly in the real thing, but if irritated by pressure they could disappear or resign. So on 12 November, to tauten such slackness, new regulations decreed that for those who had already signed on, service with the EPS must continue until discharge was granted, though no others were obliged to join, and it was not made clear how controlling officers were to assert their authority if challenged. The obvious unfairness of keeping the willing horse in the shafts, while less public-spirited persons played games, was noticed by cartoonist Minhinnick,220 by editorials and newspaper letters,221 while the Director of National Service maintained that the EPS was still voluntary.222
In June 1941, A. J. Baker,223 of Wellington’s works section, had written a memorandum on things as they stood, which indicates some of the details of just one section of a city EPS. There were then 786 wardens, ‘nowhere near enough’; Newtown had only eight, Miramar seven; some were good, some bad. They had been trained in fire fighting, bandaging and live wire handling, had made a survey of fire hydrants, and were going from house to house to find the aged, crippled, etc, thinking of possible evacuation. Under city authorities, the organisation of fire patrols and their telephone communications to fire headquarters, and the wardens’ communications to headquarters, was moving satisfactorily. Existing city organisation should suffice for repairs to roads, drains, water, gas and electricity supplies. There was as yet no gas decontamination unit. The demolition squad had not begun training; it was very short of volunteers, though master builders and contractors had offered their trucks, gear and workmen, and the city engineer was preparing working models and shoring diagrams. As for shelters, a competent committee was page 491 surveying basements and ground floors, while the city engineer would prefer, in Wellington, to use natural features rather than community trenches. There was no regular system of control or compulsion, people often coming to a few parades then dropping out.224
During the latter half of 1941 membership of the EPS of Wellington, second to Auckland on the danger list, expanded thus:
|At 8 May 1941225||At 24 July226||At 25 Nov227|
|Communications||617||852 + 69 Boy Scouts||1 022 + 83 Boy Scouts|
|Harbour control||592||59 + 41 Boy Scouts||588 + 16 Boy Scouts|
|Headquarters||117||125 + 6 Boy Scouts||202 + 6 Boy Scouts|
|Medical||247||552||981 + 94 Boy Scouts|
|Advanced dressing stations||40 + 40 Boy Scouts|
|Works||1 536||2 049||1 415|
|Wardens||786||1 301||2 118|
|Works fire patrol||702|
|Works fire brigade||130|
|NZ Railways unit||574 (a new section)|
|5 366||7 554||10 381|
The difficulty of getting a city EPS organisation off the ground was set forth by the Christchurch Press on 11 June 1941:
The Press concluded that responsibility for ending the ‘fantastic muddle’ rested squarely with the government, which alone had full page 493 power and information. Let the government appoint to each area an organiser with powers of compulsion.229
The possibility of gas attack was not dismissed. In Britain gas masks were prominent during the first two months of the war, they were carried about in the bad days of June 1940 and again in the bleak months of April–May 1941.230 In New Zealand by June 1940 some 287 persons had had Army-based instruction on gases. The government view was that gas attack while not impossible was improbable; hence there would be no gas masks for the public, who could get away from this unlikely danger. Those who must fight fires and rescue the injured should have masks and protective clothing, and there should be modest decontamination centres.231 Accordingly, the government ordered 6500 masks for the main cities, most of which would go to Auckland and Wellington, the quota for Christchurch being only 600.232 Anti-gas classes continued, while Army instructors, dentists, scientists of the DSIR and of Otago and Canterbury universities worked to devise masks and protective clothing and to provide gas samples.233 Thus, in October 1941, on a parents’ day the anti-gas squad of Otago Boys’ High School, in masks and full anti-gas rig, showed how to tend a victim of mustard gas and decontaminate the area.234 At Auckland in November it was reported that 18 more members of the WWSA field unit had passed examinations in anti-gas methods, while several members of the original class had had further training and could now give lectures.235
Auckland acquired three decontamination units;236 Christchurch relied on a mobile gas-testing unit and decontamination squads;237 Wellington, reluctant to spend money on a doubtful need, bought some gas masks and protective clothing but merely planned a decontamination centre.238
Bombardment from the sea or a carrier-borne raid with incendiary bombs was the attack expected. Some small coastal towns like Patea page 494 prepared for wholesale retreat inland, with transport and a receiving place allotted to each family,239 but generally plans were for the relief of badly hit small areas. As a first step, local schools or public halls would be rest centres, providing shelter and food, and from them accommodation arrangements would take the homeless to billets (preferably with friends) in undamaged suburbs, as near as possible to the breadwinner’s work-place, though children with their mothers, and old people, might be sent off to friends in the country. Private arrangements would serve wherever possible; there was no enthusiasm for the large-scale placing of children with strangers, as was necessary in England.
In 1941 Wellington240 planned, if the homeless could not be accommodated in their own suburbs, to distribute them more widely, and use halls selected in all districts. Plans were prepared, and materials calculated, for camps, each housing 500, to be built hastily on 11 park areas, for larger and longer use. If these were not enough, assistance from outside boroughs would be sought. Given the materials and labour, said the city engineer, these camps could be rushed up in three weeks, for people who in the first emergency might have been removed far from their work places, thereby further disrupting civil life.241 These plans were on paper only, even in 1942, but in some homely details more concrete preparations were made; thus, from the waste metal collection, the city engineer picked 14 old-style washing coppers, and advertised for more. These were reconditioned and made ready for fitting on to oil drum bases, for use in emergency camps or rest centres.242
Christchurch, with about 135 000 people in its urban area, made paper plans to accommodate 12 000 evacuees in five camps in outlying districts with existing buildings adapted by an assembly of carpenters and listed materials somehow mustered at the sites.243Dunedin (about 82 000) modestly expected that only small areas would be damaged, and that people could simply be shifted to other parts of the city. Forms were filled in, and billets in zones regarded as safe were listed. Billets scattered as widely as possible would provide ample selection, and it was thought that they would not be needed for more than a few days.244page 495
Auckland,245 the most likely target, obviously had the most difficult evacuation problems, such as the possibility of the North Shore being cut off or of a civilian exodus interfering with troop movements. In mid-1940 it was thought best to stay at home. In December 1940 there were no plans for advance evacuation; military authorities would say whether any sections were to be moved and transport would then be arranged ‘if the situation permits’.246
Schools posed special problems. Most of them, as State institutions, were outside the range of EPS organisation in general. Educational authorities therefore had to make arrangements for them. Most such authorities were reluctant to disturb young minds with shelters and trenches in school grounds; they also dreaded lost playing space, more rules and more mud. On the other hand there was professional responsibility and there were anxious parents.
In January 1941, a national EPS conference debated the merits of sand-bagged windows and trenches and shelters, deciding that only schools in vulnerable areas, ie in the main centres and seaport towns, and especially those near aerodromes, wharves, transport or industrial targets, need consider such measures. In these areas EPS organisation should include a special protection of school children committee (three or four local headmasters plus a representative of the Education Board), to decide what should be done at each school, ‘with a view not only to giving some means of protection to the children, but also to giving confidence to parents that reasonable measures are being taken.’247
These committees duly surveyed vulnerable schools, noting brick that might crumple, basements that might protect, and nearby natural cover that might harbour children who could not get to their own homes quickly. Thus at Wellington and Lower Hutt248 many schools were advised to seek cover in handy gullies, scrubby hillsides, or parks; in a good many cases slit trenches were suggested, or surface trenches of sandbags, often in front of existing banks or walls. Before any such shelters could be built, schools must consult the local EPS authorities, who would make recommendations to the Education Department which, if it approved, would arrange for payment.249 page 496 At some Auckland schools, trenches recommended by the protection committee at this stage were refused by higher authority.250
During the first term of 1941 it was announced that though need for trenches was not expected, the Education Department was preparing suitable plans; evacuating school-children, apart from any general movement of an area, was not favoured; the Department recommended drills for speedy exit and dispersal and also, for senior pupils, training in first-aid and fire fighting.251 Again, on 26 June, a departmental circular told all education boards and secondary schools, both public and private, that headmasters should be wardens or sub-wardens in the EPS, maintaining close contact with general local arrangements; that the chief function of the committees for the protection of school children was returning children to their homes as quickly as possible. For the present, shelter trenches or other such measures were dismissed.252
This policy was based on current British reports that till lately no child in London had been injured by a bomb during school hours; children should get home if there was enough warning, and if not, lie under their desks.253 Besides being effective, quick dispersal to homes was welcome because it was not alarming, being merely an extension of normal fire and earthquake drills, and it did not clutter school grounds.
So during 1941 schools organised quick home-going. In June Dunedin was satisfied that children could be seen to their homes within 30 minutes of an alarm sounding, those from more distant streets going to temporary billets nearby,254 while Christchurch arranged for cyclists to depart very rapidly.255 The Auckland Star, on 16 August at the Dominion Road school (530 pupils), photographed children flattened under desks by an air-raid warning, and at a further signal running in orderly fashion to the football field and its planned slit trench. Port Chevalier school, following London models and in expectation of five minutes’ warning, aimed to get children, with teachers in charge, away and into houses within five minutes of the school where they would stay until collected by parents or could safely return to school. Only if there were no warning and bombs were actually falling would children shelter under desks or preferably take cover wherever possible outside.256 Quick homing page 497 routines were soon adopted all over the country, causing mothers to remark, ‘If you can get home in five minutes during an air-raid warning, why not all the time.’257
The blackout of coastal areas concerned more people than did any other EPS arrangement in 1941, for it was not limited to volunteers. The shelling of Nauru Island late in December 1940 suggested to both the government and public that coastal towns might be surprised by a sudden salvo. For instance, the Waitara Borough Council called government attention to its exposed position and suggested a blackout, while at Napier the lights of the Marine Parade were shaded on the seaward side.258
The Prime Minister said that there was no need for alarm, only for precautions that would reduce to a minimum the guide to enemy navigation and gunnery provided by the lights of coastal towns,259 In mid-February 1941 were gazetted the first of a series of lighting restrictions that progressively dimmed streets, shops and offices, houses, vehicles and public buildings. These restrictions came into force early in March, and were, it was firmly stated, not temporary experiments, but for the duration, and they carried substantial penalties.260 The National Service Department appointed a Dominion Lighting Controller, F. T. M. Kissel,261 already Controller of Electricity, and a technical committee at Wellington to advise and correlate the work of local authorities. At each centre the Department appointed a lighting controller, a man already holding a responsible electrical job, who with the local EPS executive selected other qualified men as a committee, to obtain locally the reduction of lights required. Wardens appointed in the general EPS arrangements would patrol their areas, advising people of their duties and their errors and, where necessary, ordering compliance. Lighting restrictions became and remained the wardens’ main concern.
The immediate aim was not a blackout but reduced lighting: to obscure all seaward lights and to prevent sky glow, from concentrated lighting, that might assist a raider either in checking its navigation or in selecting a target. Advertising signs and flood lights were disconnected, shop-window and verandah lights shrouded. Street page 498 lights were reduced in strength, and those visible from the sea were occasionally extinguished but more often painted or enclosed in lighttrap canisters, which dimmed them so much that some city councillors and others urged turning them off altogether.262 The Lighting Controller of Wellington explained that their glimmer was ‘worthwhile’ as a guide along the streets and psychologically. It had been proposed to cut off all street lighting at one or two in the morning, but protests came in immediately, for a surprising number of people moved about Wellington in the early morning to and from work.263 When Oamaru switched off half its street lights and screened the rest, the Assistant Dominion Lighting Controller said that it was a good effort but over-done, too dark; the lights should be reduced in strength but not in numbers.264
All shop and house lights had to be screened, though only those showing to seaward had to be completely hidden, so there was much buying of dark blinds and curtains. Some people at once bought heavy permanent curtains, but at the start most made shift with inexpensive materials, waiting to see what would prove necessary. Thick paper, cardboard, plywood and dark paint were much used, especially for fan-lights and awkwardly placed windows. In many small suburban shops ordinary pendant lamps were shrouded with opaque shades or coloured tissue paper.265 Wellington’s Lighting Controller gave homely advice, such as painting round the edges of windows; fastening cloth to laths which could be hooked over windows at night; attaching pieces of cardboard to battens at top and bottom to fit neatly into a window, and adding several thicknesses of brown paper to the window side of lamp shades.266 A woman told how she had made moveable covers for seven casements, costing in all less than £1.267 There were advertisements: ‘Be prepared’, urged a quarter-page advertisement in the Dominion: ‘Screen all glare from home, office, shop, factory and warehouse windows… for only 1/- per sq yard.’ Sisalkraft, a paper and fibre compound used throughout Britain, came in widths of 36, 48 and 60 inches. Diagrams showed it attached to tension rollers controlled by cords, screening factory sky-lights or, with rollers and tapes, covering the widest windows.268 ‘Temporary methods are no solution to the blackout problem. Solve it now with Black-out Felt….Inexpensive, easy to install and above all, it is a permanent insurance against page 499 the escape of light glare. Priced from Is a yard. Directions given with purchase’,269 or: ‘Subdue your indoor lights with 11-inch Dark Green Empire Shades, cone-shaped in heavy parchment, with dark green outside, cream lined…5s 6d’.270 Other advertisements added white road paint for steps, kerbs and paths to their blackout material.271
Sky glow, from light reflected off pavements and walls, proved stubborn and shopkeepers, reluctant to lose all window displays at sunset, used lights of blue, green or orange, deep friezes of opaque paper or paint, or heavily veiled lights. By degrees the light permitted was lessened, and pressure about restrictions increased. Shops were further dimmed in mid-March272 and by regulations at the end of May no one light in a window could be of more than 60 watts, with a total of five watts per lineal foot of window frontage, all lights being shielded, while light from doorways had to be dimmed or screened.273 By mid-June the window wattage had been cut by half, to 25 watts per 10 lineal feet.274
Clearly it would be too expensive to cover all the windows of large buildings, nor would there be enough material to go round. Those concerned were advised (as were householders) to black out the rooms needed for essential work and turn off other lights. There were special difficulties with large windows of buildings used at night, such as Wellington’s Central Library and the Technical College. Most coverings also excluded fresh air, so that rooms with 30 to 40 students soon became foul.275 Wellington’s university had to pay £50 for one large library window facing the harbour.276 Factories with skylights had very difficult problems. Deep conical metal shades, it was held, gave good illumination directly beneath them, without spreading light around, while floors and machinery reflected little. But such devices must have added to the weariness of overtime or shift work. Manufacturers, recoiling from the large expense of total blackout, tended to do what seemed reasonable and wait for further direction.277
Many people accepted the blackout readily, impressed by the idea of raiders over the horizon and feeling perhaps some sense of danger page 500 and importance, of sharing in the trials of England, while the gradual stiffening of restrictions made them easier to take. And who should grumble about blackout while our boys were fighting and dying in Greece and Crete? Some, however, felt that life was being pointlessly disrupted.278 The New Zealand Herald published articles explaining that ‘light camouflage’ was more confusing to the enemy, while the blackout was inefficient and contradictory: an aircraft navigator could locate Auckland by the wave emanations from any one of its four broadcasting stations, be ‘guided in perhaps by sweet music or a dissertation on the Nazis by Mr Semple’; no worthwhile sea-captain needed to steer by sky glow which was created in any case by the search-light beam covering the harbour entrance. And were the lights marking the harbour entrance to be put out only when bombardment began? Meanwhile women were prisoners in their homes.279 Similar doubts were expressed by writers to the Press, who added, ‘A raider would also wait until break of day, so that it could spot the fall of shot. Why waste time and brown paper on the kitchen windows?’280 A Woman’s Weekly editorial remarked on the stuffiness of living rooms with windows closed on a warm evening, on the depressing effect of dark paper shades over lights, on the dark borders round windows that lessened light in daytime so that ‘in many houses it seems the household has gone into mourning’, while the unexplained inconsistency of public lights and private dimness induced a sense of mental blackout also.281 The irritation of some householders, harassed by dutiful wardens while street and other public lamps were still showing, was voiced by one who wrote: ‘There are now men who go about in the evenings threatening to report those householders who have not pulled down their blinds … some people can never resist an opportunity to give orders.’ He attacked absurd beliefs in sky glow and dismissed the claim that street lights could be switched off at the first broadside by saying that after the first broadside cities were, in the RAF phrase, self-illuminating targets.282 Other sceptics talked about the flood-lighting effect of a full moon. An irate warden replied that in Paris lights were used in patterns to guide bombers.283
Some did not take the restrictions at face value because of the shortage of electric power. Householders were urged to turn off radiators, water heaters, etc, where possible, and the summer half page 501 hour of daylight saving was extended to ease peak loading and get many workers home in daylight.284 Hydro-electric development had been checked by the war, while the demands of industry were increasing; some power plants used coal and coal supplies were then low.285 Suspicion was not lessened when inland towns, such as Rotorua and towns in the Wairarapa, required by the Controller of Electricity to reduce their consumption of power, cut off advertising lights and reduced street lights;286 Hamilton’s Council voluntarily took these steps.287 Power Board officials and others, explaining that street lighting was a very minor use of electricity, stoutly denied that it was all a plan to save power.288 This suggestion, said the Prime Minister, was ‘simply silly’; possible raider attacks must be kept in mind, and temporary inconvenience was a small price for bringing risks to a minimum.289 He also said that the regulations were inducing the habit of being prepared.290 An Auckland manufacturer, dubious about installing factory blackouts, thought that the real purpose of light restrictions might be to arouse the public from apathy.291 At Christchurch (where in mid-April sky glow was visible 34 miles out to sea292) the Lighting Controller, replying to a suggestion that it would be time enough to take measures when there was real evidence of danger, was realistic. He saw an ‘unbelievable time-lag’ between the issuing of instructions and compliance with them.293
Inconsistency undermined enthusiasm. For instance, wardens in Auckland suburbs early complained that the city centre was relatively undimmed, warning that unless the authorities and leading citizens observed the blackout, the drift against it would be very hard to arrest.294 Returning Aucklanders spoke of brilliant lighting at Wellington and other southern towns, of Australia’s coast being ablaze, with Sydney’s harbour bridge showing miles out to sea.295 Others challenged the government’s insistence on the blackout while it did nothing about air-raid shelters.296page 502
A frequent complaint was that government departments and public concerns, such as railway yards, wharves and aerodromes, which were prime targets, were still brightly lit, while houses and shops were darkened. Officials answered that necessary work was going on at those places, work which would be dangerous or impossible in the dark, that steps to shade these difficult lights were being taken, and that meanwhile they could be instantly extinguished in an emergency.297
It was not merely chagrined householders or shopkeepers who questioned the need for the darkness that was dampening commercial and social life and worrying both motorists and pedestrians. In April the Mayor of Auckland asked Semple whether, now that arrangements were well rehearsed, there could be some relaxation.298 Dunedin’s City Council said bluntly that the blackout was not of its making, that it was only carrying out government instructions.299 An errant Labour member of Parliament, W. E. Barnard, wondered why Napier should be darker than Sydney or Cairo,300 and Napier’s Council pleaded that business was waning, social life ended, and people were leaving the town.301 In July the Press editorially complained that the government had not fully presented the reasons for the blackout, but merely declared that it was to guard against helping a raider identify his landfall and was imposed on the advice of the Services. ‘Unfortunately, the first argument is open to a number of objections and the second, which is weakened by association with it, is a plea for the sort of uncritical trust which no democratic government should expect and no democracy should give.’302 Wellington’s city councillors called on the government to state clearly why the present ineffective system of lighting reduction was necessary. Sydney and Singapore had trials and rehearsals of complete blackouts, with normal lighting in between; the argument about guiding a ship was ridiculous and Gilbertian.303 Government speakers steadfastly replied that its steps had been taken on the advice of Service chiefs.304
The Auckland EPS executive, after conversations with these chiefs on 18 August, declared itself satisfied that the precautions were page 503 necessary. ‘What twelve months ago was a possibility is now a probability,’ said Mayor Allum. At about the same time—that is, after Japan had entered Saigon at the end of July, and the Western powers had applied their trade embargoes—the Press published a statement by Christchurch’s Lighting Controller, E. Hitchcock,305 that Service authorities considered a hit-and-run raid the most likely form of attack, more likely by raider than by aircraft and at night than during the day; invasion was possible but remote. Hitchcock claimed that the restrictions were a prudent middle course between no action and a full blackout; they would not give immunity from attack but would make it slower and more difficult, which was worthwhile. It was for the public to comply with, rather than analyse and assess, the regulations, for lacking the information on which the authorities acted wise and prudent criticism was difficult. Apparent inconsistencies were more often in the understanding or conscience of those who responded or failed to respond; irritation was apt to be vocal, giving a wrong impression of the degree of opposition, while cooperation was quieter.306
As well as producing much debate and some ingenuity, the blackout darkened the interiors of houses: people used weaker lights and heavier shades, especially in halls, while fan-lights covered with cardboard often stayed covered night and day. Friday night shopping was lessened to some extent, but goods that people seriously wanted were bought at other times. The shops which felt the blackout most were the small suburban confectionery and ice cream establishments, reported the New Zealand Herald on 2 April 1941, explaining that normally these were meeting places for young people, ‘but dimmed lights and the general gloom make them much less attractive’. Women were unwilling to go out alone, and some women’s organisations changed their meetings from evenings to afternoons, as did some churches.307 The Auckland Chamber of Commerce pointed out that during the winter women workers would be increaseingly reluctant about jobs which brought them home after dark.308 The Westfield meat works usually employed girls in its cannery but when a second shift, ending at midnight, was established in May 1941, 80 men were engaged.309 Theatre attendances were noticeably higher when the moon was full, and at least one repertory society page 504 fixed its production for a full moon period.310 Torches became regular and prominent equipment. There was no marked increase in crime—crime rates fell heavily during the war and this was noticeable in 1941. Potential criminals were in the Army; wardens were abroad, the police increased their patrols, courts were protective,311 and both bag-snatching and assaults were isolated.312
The Roman Catholic weekly Zealandia hoped that the blackout might restore home life: of late people had lived less in their homes and ceased to entertain themselves, relying on the ‘cinema, the radio, and an utterly excessive indulgence in dancing.’ Also, though educationists had largely abolished homework, for senior pupils homework should be restored. ‘At the least it would have its uses as a discipline and as an approvable interest for the child.’313
The lights of vehicles were not immune from control. From mid-March 1941, carriage blinds on the seaward side of trains near the coast had to be drawn.314 Restrictions on car lights were officially gazetted well before they were applied, to let people become accustomed to the idea. The first order was that parked cars must show parking lights, for in darkened streets they were dangerous to other cars and to pedestrians and cyclists.
Late in June, regulations—and large road signs—divided a broad coastal belt into headlight restriction areas and parking-light areas. In the former, covering most roads, only one head-lamp, on the lefthand or near side and in a steeply dipped position, with a parking or sidelight on the right or off side and a tail-light, were to be used. In the parking light areas, that is, seaward-facing streets within three miles of the coast, no headlights at all would appear—only parking and tail-lights, of seven watts at most; the speed limit was 20 miles an hour and, when parked, cars must be right off the road, with no lights at all. In these parking light areas, cyclists’ headlamps could be no stronger than a car’s parking light, and a red tail-lamp had to be shown. In an emergency, that is a raid or a test, all cars were to use only their parking and rear lights, covered with two layers of newspaper, and they must carry the screening material at all times.315page 505
Meanwhile, trams were acquiring shades to confine light where it was needed by the conductor, and shutter devices to reduce headlight glare on seaward runs.316 Old buggy lamps proved useful and were in keen demand for trams.317
Obviously these restrictions increased driving strain and accident risk, and would have been impossibly difficult to apply if petrol rationing had not already greatly reduced traffic. Drivers of taxis, trams and buses all complained of strain and danger. The Auckland Drivers Union protested, asking for two dipped headlights.318 Nor were Wellington drivers happy, though their streets were not so severely darkened as Auckland’s, and they wanted a 20 mile an hour speed limit throughout the city and suburbs.319 Senior traffic officials agreed: there had been several serious accidents, some fatal, and many minor ones, in which reduced lighting was certainly a factor, ‘the difference between death or months in hospital, and bruises and a fright being a split second and a trifle of luck.’320 The 20-mile speed limit for buses was established and the drivers accepted the lights.321
In emergencies all vehicles, except fire engines, ambulances and cars carrying police or soldiers, might use only their parking and rear lights, dimmed with double newspaper; consequently even those on other EPS business had to drive very slowly. The awkwardness of this was instanced in Wellington when a mechanical mischance at central control left some street lights on during a blackout test. Operators sent to switch them off could not drive with the prescribed lights, and were repeatedly stopped by wardens when they tried a headlight.322
There were not many prosecutions for lighting errors during 1941. Householders whose measures were inadequate or who inadvertently exposed light were not defiant and generally a warden’s warning sufficed. The most numerous offenders were shopkeepers with window lighting in excess of that permitted, and many were told to disconnect the lights until they were properly shielded. In the courts, a few paid costs or small fines and there were warnings of heavier penalties in store; motorists had similiar treatment. A few stubborn or abusive offenders met rather heavier fines and on 5 December page 506 1941 Luxford SM, imposing a £20 fine, said that in future such offenders would go to gaol.323
In the last quarter of 1941 there was less of the ‘what’s it all for?’ attitude, more sober acceptance. Early in October, further regulations sharpened precautions about doorways, and insisted that all lights—such as those left on in shop windows—must be immediately blacked out or switched off in an emergency.324 Without protest, fireworks and bonfires on 5 November were banned (in any case there were very few fireworks available). There was renewed drive in window screening. Thick curtains were too expensive and most blinds inadequate, but heavy tarred paper and black cardboard and sisalkraft had proved themselves.
Auckland’s first trial total blackout on 12 October was preceded by large advertisements warning that enemy attack was probable, and that measures against it must be tested thoroughly; if all windows and doors could not be screened, householders should concentrate on one room and turn off other lights.325 After the trial many people, including shopkeepers, were told that their devices were insufficient, and the authorities thought that many had sat in the dark, gone to bed, or gone out to see the test for themselves in the main streets and on vantage points such as roofs and Mt Eden.326 In the second test, on 9 November, though the majority had complied, a circling plane reported ‘lights all over the place’, a few street lights stayed on, and a few humorists waved torches. The Mayor was disappointed: there would, he said, be no more warnings but instead prosecutions.327
Two letters in the Herald convey domestic attitudes and arrangements. A citizen, ‘Black Mark’, who had gone forth to EPS duties leaving a back room lit, but with dark blinds pressed to the sashes, fan-lights covered with cardboard and all closed, was chagrined to receive a notice about excess light: ‘I do not know how a warden could see the least bit of light without going to the back of the house.’328 With virtuous asperity, ‘Thorough’ answered that he should know that even nigger-brown blinds, plus a deep shade on the light, let through a warm, light-brown glow. ‘He deserves no sympathy. I can sit in my well-lit sitting room and show no glow at all, because I did the job properly in one room as we were plainly told to do. page 507 Also, does “Black Mark” think only front windows count? Of course the wardens inspected the back.’329
On 9 November, Wellington had its first complete blackout; it was generally rated good, though three out of 36 street lighting circuits failed to go off. There were a few ‘idiots’, such as a motor cyclist who roared so fast through the main streets with his lights on that the wardens could not check him, and too many people just switched lights off and sat it out.331
At the start of December Mayor Hislop complained that, despite the alarming news, houses and particularly shops were relaxing their blackout.332 But within three weeks the windows of Wellington’s exposed hillside houses had almost exhausted supplies of blackout materials. One shop alone had in a few days sold five tons of heavy cardboard (2160 sheets to a ton), more than 100 000 yards of builders’ black lining paper, plus gallons of black paint; bulk stocks of black calcimine (a water-mixed powder-paint) were completely sold out.333 On 17 December, with the EPS out in full force, the circling pilot reported that the blackout test was ‘pretty effective’, except for five bright lights about Johnsonville, a few car lights and the red glow of the city rubbish dump burning at Moa Point.334
Air-raid shelters were a vexed problem, for they would be massively expensive and they might not be needed. Local bodies held back: it was for the government to decide whether they should be built and to design and pay for them, as in England, where 90 percent of ARP expenditure was found by Treasury.335 The government, however, was unwilling to embark on large works using labour and materials needed by other sections of the war effort. The firm belief of the Emergency Precautions conference of January 1941336 that any attack would be a hit-and-run air raid or a short naval bombardment precluded heavy expenditure on air-raid shelters. In the larger towns reasonably effective shelter could be provided by EPS arrangements to use tunnels, subways, underground garages and the basements page 508 and lower floors of modern ferro-concrete buildings, with the ground floor windows sand-bagged against shrapnel and blast.337
This did not quite satisfy the War Cabinet which, while approving these conclusions, considered that the ‘question of extending precautions and safety provisions further than those suggested in the report should be examined and further entered into.’338 It did not quite reassure the Mayor of Auckland, who in February asked Semple if large air-raid shelters were still deemed unnecessary.339 Semple replied that there had been no change in policy, and a complete survey by EPS would probably disclose many places suitable as temporary shelters, which were all that would be needed.340 The Mayor of Wellington, while publishing in February the conference conclusions on shelters, emphasised the danger of attack by telling householders that a circular would show them how to dig shelters, 7 feet deep and about 3½ feet wide, well roofed and drained, in their own gardens.341 Experts immediately warned against ‘light-hearted digging into Wellington hillsides’ which could cause slips, cavings-in and undermining of steep faces, boundary walls and even houses, while drainage would be very difficult.342 When on 5 June 1941 Hislop complained publicly of government indecision on shelters, Nash replied by quoting the January conference conclusions which had been issued as a circular to EPS heads on 14 March.343
All through the year the government maintained this no-public-shelters policy against various anxious pressures, particularly from Auckland. A few Labour bodies wrote fraternally to ministers asking for shelters.344 The New Zealand Institute of Engineers stressed the need to plan ahead, as even the simplest shelters would need labour, materials and, above all, time.345 In Mt Eden, the use of caves was discussed.346 Newspapers printed plaintive letters,347 while Truth nagged steadily, declaring on 5 November that people were uneasy and alarmed at the lack of shelters; property was well protected,348 page 509 but lives might be lost through government indecision and baulking at cost.
The public was used to the idea of Londoners sheltering from the Blitz. They were less familiar with actual developments in Britain where it had been found that, for some people, deep shelters had a most demoralising effect, and where after the first few weeks factory workers and clerks carried on with their jobs in daylight raids while at night the majority slept at home. In December 1940 the British Ministry of Health reported that only 5 per cent of London’s population used public shelters, 19 per cent slept in domestic or communal shelters, while the rest, realising the value of dispersal, preferred to take the strain in their own homes.349 Moreover, the alert householder on the spot could cope with an incendiary bomb, whereas he might emerge from a shelter to find his home a heap of ashes.
The Director of National Service, J. S. Hunter, reviewed the situation at the end of October in a departmental memorandum. Improvements in air reconnaissance and coastal defence would discourage the expected hit-and-run raid at some main ports, while for many undefended ports quick withdrawal and dispersal was the logical procedure, and some coastal EPS organisations were fully prepared for this. Incendiary bombs would be more effective than limited use of the high explosive sort, and therefore were more likely. The possibility of serious attack by a heavily escorted expedition with aircraft-carriers must be considered, ‘remote though it may be at present’. The enemy would need command of the sea, and would first tackle targets nearer and more valuable, ‘but it is to meet such an attack that the Dominion is putting itself into a state of defence.’ Trenches in suburbs could be left to individuals, with professional guidance, but municipalities should be directed to survey buildings for the blast and splinter-proof shelters that their basements and lower floors might afford. Only Auckland and Wellington had begun such surveys. So far, Auckland had found 37 buildings, out of 332 examined, which could be adapted to shelter about 20 000 (including their own normal population of 8500), while the peak daytime population of the densest commercial area was about 50 000. Much strengthening and protective work would be necessary, with alternative exits and sanitary arrangements, all needing much preliminary planning; the whole would be a ‘Very big major job.’350 Wellington, where a committee of professional men were making a part-time page 510 voluntary survey, was in a very similar position.351 Protection against blast and splinters would be relatively easy, but a shelter must be strong enough to withstand masses of falling debris should the building itself be largely destroyed. General experience abroad and local professional opinion did not rate basement shelter highly.
Statutory authority for the provision of shelters would be necessary, and it should be drafted immediately, in case it should be required in a hurry. But Hunter did not propose launching a large scheme yet. To plan and construct shelters for daytime city populations would be a ‘stupendous job’, taking men and material from all other construction work in the country. If a start were made anywhere, all areas would press for shelters, regardless of relative needs. Undue regard must not be given to sentiment and clamour; Service appraisals, the labour and materials available, the total war effort and the huge demand of shelters, must be considered together.352
On 13 November, after Service and EPS chiefs had met, Fraser repeated the hit-and-run theme, with slight variations: the probable attack would be ‘neither severe nor prolonged’, but one aircraft could carry 1000 incendiary bombs. Therefore property owners had been ordered to install fire-fighting equipment such as bucket pumps, sand, rakes and shovels, and occupiers would act as fire guards. As for costly, difficult shelters, it was essential to maintain a due sense of proportion; the government was watching the situation constantly and would act as need arose. A week later he added that this did not mean acting when the enemy was at the door but ‘when the likelihood of developments other than those now thought possible emerged.’353
So matters stood when the bombs fell on Pearl Harbour.
EPS quickened almost convulsively. A city engineers’ conference was due on 11 December to discuss the use of basements as air raid shelters.354 Instead they outlined an entire shelter programme, which page 511 was adopted by a concurrent emergency conference of 25 mayors from main centres and seaport towns. A central technical body would be set up to guide local authorities who, besides planning dispersals to such features as tunnels, gullies, hillsides or quarries, would immediately as temporary shelter dig slit trenches in parks and any open city spaces, the trenches to be roofed and strengthened as soon as possible. Owners of buildings must provide shelter for their staffs. In suitable buildings, space could also be taken over and adapted for public shelters. The State, added the mayors, should help pay for construction and for owners’ compensation. They also realised that their EPS organisations were short of 15 000 workers, and they returned to their towns to recruit, plan dispersals, dig trenches, impress vehicles, improve sirens, tighten blackouts and conduct comprehensive tests in daylight and in darkness. Citizens, said the mayors, must forget conditions that existed last week, and must respond vigorously to the demands of the new situation; in their own gardens they should dig shelters for their families following directions published in newspapers, and they should also assist municipal workmen in digging public shelters.355 The government hastened to set all this in order with new regulations.
Auckland was active with the shovel. In Albert Park digging began at 8 am on Saturday 13 December. Meanwhile, in suburban gardens household trenches were appearing. An official EPS design proposed an excavation 3 feet wide, 3½ feet deep, and 2 feet long per person, with scoria drainage at the bottom and a timber frame for steadiness; the dug earth should form a mound covered over with turf eighteen inches from the edge of the trench.356 City Council labourers, their normal work set aside, did much of the public digging aided by a mechanical excavator; by Christmas Eve they had dug 10 000 feet of trenches, nearly two miles, of which 9000 feet were then timbered.357 Some of the public helped, such as members of the local Women’s National Service Corps who tackled hard clay in Myers Park,358 while several Chinese volunteers skilled with spades joined the city workmen.359 Railway employees trenched near the station, and Harbour Board workers on an open site in Quay Street. By the first week of January some 16 300 feet of community slit trenches had been provided.360page 512
In the suburbs, and at some schools, volunteers turned to, often with their own garden tools. Between the demands of the Army and new government defence works, labour was suddenly scarce; for instance, 50 subsidised labourers of Mt Eden borough were requisitioned by the government on 16 December, leaving the trenches they had started to be finished by volunteers. Some EPS and Home Guard members dug shelters for the wives of servicemen overseas, for the sick, and the old. Where wet or rocky ground precluded ordinary trenches, other shelters were devised. About Mt Eden, caves long closed against adventuring children were opened up and more were tunnelled out,361 while shallow trenches were carefully dug where stony ground had already been broken for drains.362
At Birkenhead, tunnels 20 feet long, 9 feet wide and 7 feet high were made in the cliff face near the ferry wharf;363 the old Parnell tunnel, superseded 20 years before, was opened, cleared and lighted, with baffle walls at each portal.364 A few sandbag shelters appeared in areas with drainage problems, while some important utilities, such as the Electric Power Board building and the Central Fire Station, protected their ground floors with sandbags.365
A large map was published on 16 December showing how those in various areas should hasten to trenches or natural cover, but a dispersal test on the 18th was taken coolly: the streets were cleared very quickly, but many people did not leave the buildings; an EPS worker remarked that if all the women and children and soldiers and sailors who suddenly re-appeared in Queen Street at the all-clear had come from the dispersal areas, they must have broken records for distance running.
Wellington, relying much on its hills and gullies, its cuttings and tunnels, decided to provide only a ‘certain number’ of trenches in the inner area for those who could not get away in good time; the public in general was told not to use these trenches but to disperse to natural cover, following the plan published, as was its Auckland counterpart, on 16 December. Nature however needed improvement, such as clearing scrub, blackberry, gorse and general debris, and cutting access tracks. On Tuesday 16 December, citizens were asked to dig or to clear at assorted sites,366 bringing axes and slashers, spades, shovels, picks and mugs. But at 11.30 am there were only page 513 six volunteers, most men being at their normal work. The mayoress called for women to join her at the working posts, and at the Mayor’s request Saturday tennis, cricket and other sports were cancelled. Several hundred volunteers, including women and boys, dug and chopped and blistered their hands on 20 December, but afterwards it was announced that communal digging and clearing would cease pending the laying out of further areas and fresh consideration.367 There was some criticism of the trenches being constructed too long, too wide and not deep enough, making them ideal strafing targets and giving poor protection from blast.368 After this first scurry, citizen volunteers were not again set to digging, though civic authorities pleaded for regular labourers. The general difficulties of keeping trenches a safe distance from buildings (20 feet per storey), from retaining walls and from foundations were heightened in Wellington, where engineers also warned against digging near high banks, on steep slopes, or deeper than 3 feet in wet or sandy soil unless with proper supports, all beyond general experience and skill.369
On 20 December a large-scale trench plan was published, with directions, and the public was urged to provide for itself in the domestic area, with 28 expert advisers on call. Little immediate use was made of them; by the end of the month they had received only 57 enquiries.370 Suburban groups that worked on communal trenches rather than individual slit trenches on their own sections were firmly discouraged by Mayor Hislop. Wide dispersal was the best protection in residential areas, he advised, and homes should not be left without someone on firewatch; if people left their sections to gather in communal trenches, homes might be lost for want of someone on the spot to tackle small fires at their start.371
The city engineer of Christchurch warned against any southern sense of remoteness: ‘Personally I cannot see that we are one whit safer here than in Wellington or Auckland.’372 On 12 December 300 local body workers began digging in the central squares, on the city banks of the Avon, and in various open spaces. ‘Temporary shelters first, improvements to them later, and permanent shelters later still, if time permits’ was the programme.373 The water-table being often close to the surface, parapets were needed and the Mayor called for thousands of sandbags. The traffic staff was set to making page 514 a rough count, block by block, of employees and the likely numbers of customers and clients in buildings, of which very few had basements suitable for shelters. By the evening of Monday 15 December, about 2500 feet of trenches, protection for more than 2000 people, had been fully or partly dug in the central areas, and timbering had begun.
In mid-January, with most excavating and side timbering finished, roofing was started. In open places roofs were light, but near buildings they were of heavy materials, such as 6-inch rough pine logs covered with earth and rubble.374 This work, on trenches now sufficient for 12 000 people at six persons per 10 feet, proceeded more slowly, while a few business houses began to strengthen their basements.375
Wall cards issued at the end of January directed all Christchurch householders to dig slit trenches at least two feet deep. They also advised sending old folk and invalids to friends inland, the removal of all clutter material between roofs and ceilings, reserves of food for at least 24 hours, and staying quietly at home in any emergency, blacked out and off the telephone; even if poisonous gas were used, an upper storey would be relatively safe.376
Like Wellington, Dunedin rejoiced in the natural protection of gullies and stands of trees, and did not embark on extensive digging. A few trenches, begun on 15 December, appeared in the Octagon, and the old Caversham tunnel, with lighting and sanitation, would shelter about 2000 people. Citizens were urged to think for themselves, to decide on dispersal areas, to dig trenches if their sections were suitable or build up earth walls where water was too near the surface. Small trenches were less likely to collapse, so they should be of two-person size, 2 feet wide, 3 feet deep and not more than 6 feet long.377
Smaller centres did not feel that the four cities had a monopoly of danger, though preparations varied, probably reflecting the attitudes of leading citizens. At Hamilton the borough council staff was set to trenching in the business centre on 13 December, and on 22 January the Mayor, H. D. Caro,378 asked sports bodies to encourage volunteer digging on Saturday afternoons by postponing their competitions. It was remarked that citizen diggers were mainly middle aged, from shops, offices and the professions.379 In a test alarm on page 515 19 December Hamilton’s public was ‘most apathetic’; shops were not cleared or their staffs released, buses and cars continued to run, and only some one per cent of the people about sought cover in the new trenches or along the river bank. ‘We are not doing this for fun,’ said Mayor Caro, promising further tests in which, if premises were not cleared in five minutes, those responsible, along with laggard pedestrians, would be prosecuted.380
At Tauranga, normal borough work was promptly suspended in favour of trench digging, and at the Monmouth Redoubt trenches made in the New Zealand wars of the 1860s were cleared and timbered for public use. For old people, and for soldier’s wives who could not pay for building, the borough would provide domestic shelters at cost or free.381
On 7 January Wanganui, which had embarked on public trenches for 5000 people, regretted that only one-sixth was as yet available, because of the bad weather and volunteers falling off to one or two daily, leaving the task to council workmen.382
Invercargill took its trenching briskly, with about 60 sportsmen, mainly cricketers and anglers, prominent in weekend digging. Before 6 January public trenches measured more than a mile and a second mile was planned, while in back yards householders were busy, sometimes several sharing in a convenient section, while many business firms with vacant ground were also providing shelters.383
By 13 January Gisborne had more than a mile of slit trenches, accommodating 1800 people, using all available space near the business area.384 Oamaru reported good progress with its trenches, notably at schools;385 nearby Waimate, not regarded as a likely target, dug no trenches, though a survey showed that there was room for several hundred persons in the cellars of all four hotels, two large stores and the silo of the flourmill.386
Trenches, it was often said, were immediate and temporary protection against blast and splinters; they were not effective against a direct hit or the machine-guns of low-flying aircraft; many people would not be able to reach them quickly, nor could they possibly contain a city’s daytime population, while thoughts of winter made page 516 them less and less attractive. In cities likely to be targets for heavy bombing, reinforced shelters in the ground floors and basements of suitable buildings, and covered shelters on patches of open ground, were the next step.
Regulations early in January 1942, in logical sequence to the local authorities agreement of December,387 gave local authorities power to take over buildings or land for shelters or for access, and to require owners of business premises where 30 or more people worked to provide approved shelters for them. Owners and the local council would each pay 25 per cent of the cost and the Crown 50 per cent, though where members of the public were included the Crown paid more in proportion. For public shelters and access ways, local bodies paid 25 per cent and the Crown the rest.
Sheaves of such directions were sent out during January and succeeding months. For some firms, basement and storage space was already cleared because supplies of goods were smaller; other firms made changes.388 Much co-operation was called for all round, as in Christchurch where the Council, issuing 150 notices, said that in some of the buildings shelters could not be constructed, but their owners might be induced to work in with the owners of suitable buildings.389 Generally, exterior walls would be strengthened and window spaces filled in; there would be protected entrances, interior partitions, ventilation, sanitation and lighting, while water and sewer pipes that could cause flooding would be re-sited.390
At the end of March, across a rising welter of requisitions, excavations and plans fell an embarrassing reversal of policy, the edict of James Fletcher, newly-appointed Commissioner of Defence Construction: cement and brickwork must be reserved for main defence jobs; their use was prohibited in private building and industry, but in shelters current stages of work could be completed. Sawn timber also was to be used as little as possible. Designs must be adapted to use other materials, such as bulkhead walls of sapling logs, the interstices filled with sand, earth or rubble, with floors of gravel topped by duckboards.391 From the end of April cement supplies page 517 gradually eased,392 but labour and materials generally remained short; for several months, except for tunnelling and timber work with unsawn logs, EPS constructions were substantially checked, and meanwhile their urgency became more doubtful. The Wairarapa earthquakes of June and August 1942 made fresh demands on labour, and experts became concerned about the ability of shelters to withstand earthquakes. It was decided that various types should be tested against both bomb blast and earthshock and meanwhile EPS controllers were told, in strictest confidence, that no more shelters should be undertaken.393 Thereafter the threat of danger steadily receded, and with it the need for shelters. Towards the end of March 1943, War Cabinet finally decided that all work on shelters should cease.394
Only in the four main centres were shelters other than trenches much developed, and the four courses taken differed so widely that they need separate description. In Auckland, where the estimated daytime population of the high risk business area was 70 000, 35 modern buildings were in January 1942 considered to have suitable basements, which would provide shelter for 18 000.395 Actual work on the first shelter started in mid-February and a month later the Dilworth and Dingwall buildings had accommodation for 300, while in several other buildings constructions were under way.396 By April there was shelter for about 20 000 people in central Auckland: 4000 in buildings, 3000 in the old Parnell tunnel, 2000 dispersed in the Domain and Grafton Gully and 11 000 in trenches that were being roofed.397
British experience promised a large measure of protection by such means, but less than from deep underground shelters, which could withstand a direct hit. A plan for linked tunnels under Albert Park, which rose steeply in the midst of the commercial area, was devised by James Tyler,398 the city engineer. These tunnels, with about a dozen entrances, ventilation, sanitation and electric light, would connect with a subway from Victoria Street to Gittos Street under Constitution Hill,399 and would protect about 20 000. The estimated cost was £119,700, about £6 per head, of which the government would pay 75 per cent and Auckland 25 percent; by working three shifts seven days a week it might be finished in four to six months.400 page 518 The Public Works Department approved, remarking that it would probably take nine to twelve months and cost up to £40,000 more than estimated.401 On 5 February National Service told Auckland to go ahead on the tunnels but at the same time to press on with shelters in buildings, reminding that military authorities advised taking shelter in any building if a raid started.402 With this approval given, more details were published: there would be a group of galleries, large enough for a wooden bench on each side plus standing room between them, in gridiron fashion under Albert Park and Bowen Reserve, with cross galleries at intervals so that there would be no dead ends. The work would take about four months, but it should be possible to start using the tunnels at a fairly early stage. Preparatory work began on 12 February. Mechanical excavators could be used only at the portals, of which there were nine, and as but few men could work on each tunnel face, these faces were multiplied by sinking eight shafts from the surface to where the galleries would intersect, shafts that would later be used for ventilation.403
With contracts let on a co-operative system, up to 300 men in gangs worked three shifts a day six days a week, through loose volcanic rock, hard sandstone and papa. On 12 August the last few feet of rock in the middle of the 2000 foot main tunnel were blasted through. With 9 entrances,404 the arched access tunnels, 9 feet high and 15 feet wide, totalled 3700 feet in length; there were 6000 feet of accommodation tunnels, 7 feet square, and all were lined with timber. Engineers, surveyors and labourers had toiled ungrudgingly, and all the drives met truly. Carpentry and plumbing were still to be done, but it was thought that the cost would not exceed £120,000.405 Two months later, one and a half million feet of squared timber and a large quantity of pine trunks were lining and propping the tunnels, the floor was covered with scoria, fans provided ventilation; a diesel power plant, formerly used in a meatworks, would provide auxiliary lighting if the city power failed, and seats were being built.406
By the end of September about 58 000 Aucklanders could be sheltered: 20 000 in the Albert Park tunnels, 10 000 in 30 city buildings, 3500 in government buildings, 11 000 in covered and page 519 slit trenches, 3000 in the old Parnell Tunnel and 7800 in covered trenches in the outer parts of the metropolitan area, while dispersal areas would provide for 2000–3000. Nine more city buildings were being prepared, and more than 20 others were under survey.407 Meanwhile winter rains had tested both public and private trenches and some, dug in clay and in low-lying places, were filled with water. Private shelters varied greatly: some were timbered, covered with corrugated iron plus a protective mound of earth, and snug within; some were quite elaborate, while others were dank holes that ‘one would enter only under the compulsion of immediate danger.’408
In Wellington on a busy day there could be 30 000 people between Cuba Street and the wooden Government Building in Lambton Quay.409 On the east lay Lambton Harbour, to the west a few steep streets and access ways climbed to The Terrace, then almost entirely a street of houses, with a long sheltering gully (later to become a motorway) behind it. By 3 February 1942, 200 requisitions had been issued, ensuring public right of way from Lambton Quay and Willis Street to The Terrace and through its gardens to the gully and beyond. Before the end of the month there were paths and steps and notices.410 Meanwhile about 100 owners were instructed to provide shelter for those occupying their city buildings, though only about 50 could be made suitable even after costly alterations.411 By 11 February plans for 23 basement shelters for about 4000 people at an estimated cost of £24,000 had been forwarded to the Public Works Department.412
The Chamber of Commerce advanced the proposals of two prominent architects, F. de J. Clere413 and E. Anscombe,414 for driving a tunnel, or temporarily disconnected lengths of tunnel, under The Terrace. This, they claimed, would in peace time be a city asset, as public garages or to relieve traffic on Lambton Quay and Willis page 520 Street, and meanwhile would protect, well away from heat and fire and smoke, many more people than could the proposed shelters in buildings; tunnels could be built with less expense and as rapidly as such shelters, which would be worse than useless after the war and expensive to remove. Alternatively, the business men suggested surface shelters on vacant lots which would be infinitely superior to shelters in buildings: they would be accessible to the public, and could be built in concrete without steel, economising on materials, skill, manpower and time. Also, public shelters, whether surface or tunnels, would be paid for by the Crown and the city, whereas some firms would be faced with a total expenditure of £3,000, although after subsidies they would pay only 25 per cent and could recover this through increased rents.415
The Automobile Association backed The Terrace tunnel, and the Building Trades Federation, which was communist-led,416 urged tunnels there and at other necessary points; their ‘experienced tunnellers’ stated that progress could be made, with eight foot drives, at 80 feet a day from each set of two faces.417 Semple airily promised to find the labour.418 At a public meeting called by the Chamber of Commerce on 11 February, which advocated immediate tunnelling, a seismologist, Dr L. Bastings,419 said that The Terrace was one of the areas most liable to suffer considerable slips from mild earth tremors, and though a safe tunnel would be possible it would take much longer than was proposed. A city spokesman, R. H. Nimmo, replied that he would take the rare chance of an earth tremor rather than be buried under tons of masonry.420
Against all this, Mayor Hislop pointed to the danger of running through streets in a raid to get to a tunnel instead of going down to the basement of one’s building. The strengthening of city buildings must go on, he said, with the City Corporation leading the way. At the same time, a new type of easily constructed, concrete, communal shelter would be placed on all suitable sites, even in the streets; the city engineer would examine the possibilities of short tunnels. The foundations of the demolished ‘Dominion’ building near Plimmers Steps would for about £4,500 provide a very strong, page 521 well-placed shelter for 1000 people, and needed only roofs, flooring, sanitation and entrances.421
Two days later, as Singapore fell, Hislop announced that work on both surface and underground public shelters would proceed at once, if labour and material could be obtained. There would be three timber-lined tunnels, at Hobson Street gully (for 2000 people), near the Carillon (1500 people) and off Hospital Road, Newtown (1500 people); shelters, mainly of concrete blocks, would be started at such populous places as Miramar, Evans Bay, Kilbirnie, Courtenay Place, Kent and Cambridge Terraces and Te Aro Flat. In city buildings 26 shelter plans, for about 5000 people, had been already submitted to the Public Works Department.422 By 20 February, 92 labourers, eight carpenters and seven tunnellers were working on public shelters. Two tunnels had been started in the sides of Hobson Street gully, and there were large excavations for semi-surface shelters in front of the Public Library, in Parliament grounds and in Sydney Street near the Waterloo Hotel, in the reserve at the corner of Wakefield Street and Jervois Quay, in Kent Terrace, at the Carillon and other places.423 The grounds of Parliament were much disturbed, for besides three ordinary public shelters they concealed a massively strong underground room where the War Cabinet and Service chiefs could continue their work under heavy bombing.424 Vacant sections or open spaces in industrial areas became shelter sites, such as the parking grounds of a motor firm in Taranaki Street where six big trenches were dug in the current style: their floors were five and a half feet below the surface, they were roofed and boarded with timber and packed over with about two feet of soil.425 A long row of municipally-owned garages under Bowen Street became shelters.426
It was, however, firmly pointed out that in both city and suburbs dispersal would be the principal protection; even in the city proper it was not intended that everyone would make for a constructed shelter.427 Dispersal routes were worked out, mapped and rehearsed, page 522 from buildings, from blocks, and from larger areas, using the additional exits to The Terrace gully and the Town Belt.428 Directed by wardens and by numerous signs, people in the streets moved away first, followed by those in the buildings; they went obediently, but without any Boy Scout or Tom Wintringham-type realism, many treating such excursions as a joke. On 17 March, although 15 000 moved in 15 minutes from the city between Bunny Street and Plimmers Steps towards The Terrace gully, Bolton Street cemetery and the Botanic Gardens, the Post remarked that the ambling crowds would have been good targets for machine-guns.
The shortage of concrete checked and changed the semi-surface shelters,429 but by 18 April it was claimed that 42 of them were so well advanced they would already afford some protection. By the end of June 1942 60 were completed in the city area, including 13 on the waterfront, each seating 50 but taking twice as many at a pinch. They had concrete floors, ventilation, sanitation and candle light, and their doors were locked against larrikins, with all nearby wardens carrying keys. In large buildings there were basement shelters for several thousand people.430 Meanwhile concrete economy had produced the log-cabin shelter, the first appearing in the centre of lower Taranaki Street, made of radiata pine logs 8 inches thick and 9 feet high, upright in the ground.431 Others of this type were built along the wharves and in other central places.432
Tunnelling was not halted for materials, and at the Hobson Street gully 30 to 40 men working till midnight in two shifts had, by the end of April, driven two tunnels running north and south, each about 75 yards long, 12 feet wide and 9 feet high, through fairly yielding ground, the whole being timbered with three rows of stout pine logs from Rotorua. On one side to the gully the soil was dry, but the other proved so wet and puggy that extensive concrete lining was needed.433
In June, the commandeer of men and materials for camps and airfields relaxed slightly. The conversion of the old foundations near Plimmers Steps into a many-compartmented shelter, now expected to hold up to 2000 people behind brick walls 3 feet thick, under 12 inches of reinforced concrete, was completed, and in Thorndon work began for a similar shelter in the foundations of the Social Security building burnt down in 1938.434page 523
At this stage, on the night of 24 June 1942, a severe earthquake centred in the Wairarapa caused widespread havoc, without loss of life. In Wellington thousands of chimneys were wrecked and scores of buildings suffered major structural damage. This cut across shelter work, but the EPS men had plenty of demolition practice, mostly on the chimneys, and all possible labour was directed to repairing the damage. Six weeks later, on the night of 2 August, a second earthquake brought down most of the newly built chimneys over a wide area. In Wellington buildings the effect was cumulative: minor cracks became gaps, weakened brickwork collapsed, some heavy parapets crashed down and others showed alarming breaks; the Chief Post Office, the Town Hall and many other buildings were partly disabled; the main part of the Porirua mental hospital had to be emptied of patients. Demolition of parapets and towers that were dangerous, or might become so in another shake, was now an urgent task; engineers and architects, with steel ties and girders and reinforced concrete, repaired and anticipated damage; labourers, bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers and plumbers were brought in; shelters paused.
As the Post explained in September, the shelter programme for various reasons had been interrupted and delayed, but work had never wholly stopped and Wellington had shelter for 25 000 of the public, apart from that provided for business staffs, schools and hospitals, the waterfront and Service headquarters. What happened in the Pacific during the next few weeks would decide whether construction would be taken up with a rush, mark time, or be abandoned.435
For the first three months of the Pacific war Christchurch concentrated on its trenches, which would hold 12 000 people. Early in March the City Council decided that the owners of 150 buildings, in each of which more than 30 people worked, should be told to provide shelters. Only 40 such notices had been issued when the cement ban deferred action.436 The Council then planned surface shelters in the streets, using timber and rubble, anything but concrete: they would not, remarked Mayor Andrews,437 be very sightly.438 As winter approached, the open trenches in parks and squares were roofed and made as water-free as possible, sufficient for about 5000 page 524 people being thus treated by the end of May.439 Meanwhile engineers and architects hastened to devise shelters within buildings, using substitute materials and a little necessary concrete, of which a small quantity was now available, remarking that in some cases substitute materials would actually be better, because permanence was not wanted. Thus a wooden floor over a basement could be made fire resistant by covering it with eight inches of shingle or six inches of brick, supported by understrutting; basements were strengthened by timber partitions filled with shingle.440 By 16 June, Public Works had approved plans for 26 such shelters, and 58, accommodating 5250 people, were completed by September.441 Many of the older buildings, however, were not suitable for shelter development. By November the programme was lagging,442 and as need receded, it quietly faded out.
Dunedin’s first places of refuge were the Caversham tunnel, estimated to provide for 3000 people, and in the Town Belt, where fireplaces and sanitation were arranged, but the City Council was also prompt in prescribing public shelters under suitable buildings, beginning with the Town Hall (750 people) and a new brewery (1000 people), while in a rock face behind the Electricity Department a tunnel shelter was made for the staff. About 250 buildings had 30 or more employees; 50 were served shelter-notices at the start,443 but a month later shelters for more than 7000 people were being planned in 140 buildings.444 At this stage, Dunedin adopted a new shelter idea: locally made concrete pipes, five feet and six feet in diameter, were set in specially prepared beds, with concrete walls protecting each end to stop blast, wooden seats built along each side and duckboards down the middle.445 The city engineer took an elaborate census to discover population densities in various areas at different times of day and night, and placed the pipes accordingly, in streets, public squares, church grounds and the basements of modern buildings.446 In August, W. A. Bodkin, Minister of Civil Defence, was loud in praise of Dunedin’s system which he did not think was bettered anywhere in the country; experts held that the pipes would be thoroughly safe in a blitz, they were well placed, efficient and page 525 economical.447 By September more than 3000 feet of pipes, which would accommodate nearly 5000 people, had been delivered by the manufacturers and were being installed, with more on order to protect a further 3000 people.448
The four main cities were reckoned the first targets, but towards the end of January, the National Service Department warned 18 secondary centres449 to start digging in their business areas. The most likely attack, they were reminded, would be by shelling and a few bombs from ship-borne aircraft, directed against shipping, wharves, stores of oil and primary products. They should examine their natural cover for quick dispersal purposes, and see if their buildings could produce up-to-standard shelters. Slit trenches required constant maintenance, but there were standard plans for converting them to covered shelters. These towns, however, should remember that they were less liable to attack than the main cities and modify their schemes accordingly.450
Some centres had already prepared shelters, others followed: thus, Palmerston North dug trenches for 1000 people in the Square;451 Lower Hutt and Petone prepared both slit trenches and covered shelters, while shops and factories dug their own trenches;452 Greymouth tackled its shelters late in March.453
Schools, congregations of children, raised anxiety. Quick dispersal to homes in an alarm was established policy, well rehearsed before December 1941454 and remained so. But it was eroded by visions of bunched children on roads being targets for machine-guns, of stray children lost and panic-stricken, of parents, disobeying orders, hurrying out to look for them. Immediately after Pearl Harbour there was an impulse to dig. An EPS notice in Auckland papers on 15 December asked school committees to organise volunteer labour for slit trenches in school grounds where EPS could not and did not intrude; generally, however, word from education authorities was awaited and the summer holidays passed.page 526
On 23 January 1942 the Education Department told boards that protection works should be considered only for schools in specially vulnerable areas, though not all of these would get them; boards should confer with the Public Works Department over each school; the government would pay but volunteer labour was to be used wherever possible.455 When voluntary labour was available the Works Department could authorise spending of up to 12s 6d per child on material for approved plans.456
The Auckland Education Board asked its schools to seek every means for dispersal. It did not favour trenches which would concentrate large numbers, usually in full view, and when without head cover were only a temporary expedient; some warning could be expected; most schools needed all their playing space.457 But in the disasters of February uneasiness grew, especially in Auckland. Headmasters were worried about the lack of under-surface shelters and about the uncertainties of dispersal.458 Auckland’s EPS said that headmasters and wardens should consult, and gave guidance: if there were prior warning of an attack children should stay home or go home; if the alarm and the enemy action coincided children should shelter in the buildings, in trenches or nearby cover; if an alarm sounded before actual enemy action every effort should be made to get the children home or to friends nearby.459 But many children lived at least 15 minutes away from school and Darwin on 19 February had had two minutes’ warning of its first raid.
At each school the shelter programme varied according to the kind of ground, the space and labour available, the cover nearby. There would be trenches at Mt Albert and Takapuna Grammar schools, where the soil was suitable, and trenches for Auckland Girls in Western Park, but pupils at Auckland Boys’ Grammar and Epsom Girls’ Grammar, which schools stood on rock, must disperse.460 The boys of King’s College and of many other secondary schools dug their own trenches.461 A few examples illustrate shelter-building in page 527 Auckland primary schools. The Auckland Education Board erected its first surface shelters at Devonport: 9 units each to hold 50 children, 40 feet long, 5 feet high, 4½ feet wide, either of concrete building blocks set in cement to give a thickness of 16 inches, or of massed concrete 14 inches thick, roofed with reinforced concrete 5 inches thick, the reinforcing steel tied to steel rods in the concrete blocks at 5 foot intervals. Schools at Stanley Bay, Vauxhall, Napier Street and Parnell had similar shelters. They were specially suited to inner city schools as they could be close to buildings and so took little playground space.462 They also took a great deal of concrete which from the end of March was reserved mainly for military works.
At St Heliers 90 parents and EPS and Home Guard members dug and trenched eight covered shelters, each 31½ feet long, 5½ feet wide and nearly 6 feet deep, to hold 40 children. The Education Department supplied the design and material worth £200; they looked like railway carriages partly sunk in the ground and topped with earth.463 At Orakei a borrowed mechanical shovel dug eight trenches about 30 feet long, 5½ wide and 4½ deep. They were timbered by 80 parents and EPS men, working 10 hours a day over a weekend, and the shovel piled the earth back.464 At Gladstone School, Mt Albert, trenches for 500 children were dug in one day: 150 men including a clergyman, lawyers, accountants, bankers, the school staff and committee, Home Guard and EPS members, dug six slit trenches each 31 feet long, 3 feet wide, 3½ feet deep, and six deeper trenches, to be timbered and covered later. Local women supplied teas and a mid-day meal, with a large surplus going to Mt Albert Orphanage.465
By mid-April 21 schools in Auckland’s metropolitan area had shelters for 7000 children.466 In May the Commissioner of Defence Construction ordered that there should be no further contracts for school shelters until he could advise that more labour was available, though with volunteer labour for shelters approved by Public Works engineers, school committees could obtain up to 20s per child for materials.467 By August the Education Department had decided that it would not erect any more shelters or give money for their construction; Auckland school committees argued that although most schools in the danger area had shelters, all should have them. They page 528 made parents at work feel happier, while making everyone aware that there was a grim war in the Pacific.468
At Wellington dispersal resources seemed less adequate than they had during 1941 but official action barely preceded a flare of public anxiety for shelters in mid-February. This was led by a district warden in the Hutt Valley, where schools, amid military and industrial targets, had no protection and teachers were told to shepherd children into ‘natural shelter’ which did not exist. He knew that substantial shelters were proposed but there should be temporary trenches immediately.469 Headmasters complained that for some city schools dispersal routes lay through dangerous areas, that fire-fighting equipment and instruction had not been given and that even tin cans for water were scarce; 28 school committees called for prompt action.470
The Wellington Education Board and the Public Works Department had various plans ready: for large concrete shelters, for covered, timbered trenches, for reinforced concrete pipe shelters and for another type which later could be converted into a swimming pool; but it was hard to get materials and labour.471 In mid-February contracts were made for concrete shelters at five schools—Randwick, Gracefield, Petone Central, Miramar South and Miramar Central.472 By early March shelters were authorised at 12 other schools, £37,000 was involved and official procedures were hastened.473 But much lay between authorisation and completion: of the eight shelters intended for Hutt Central School (infants) and the Technical College, only one was partially completed when work was suspended in mid-June.474
At a few Wellington primary schools parents were active, notably at Lyall Bay, where they first built ramps to speed dispersal and began a series of short slit trenches which later could be converted into an underground shelter.475 Parents also dug at Wellington South and did what they could in very limited space at Newtown.
At Christchurch shelter designs and ways and means were being studied early in February and the Canterbury Education Board considered whether five-year-olds at vulnerable schools should stay at home till danger from enemy action was past.476 Dispersal to homes was the basic policy but the many schools and colleges near Hagley page 529 Park practised running to it and later shallow trenches were dug under the trees.477 In general the Board undertook provision of shelters at its schools for children who could not get home within seven minutes, beginning with the most vulnerable, steadily excavating and timbering its earth-covered shelters or building in concrete or brick against retaining walls; the first completed were at Lyttelton.478 By mid-July, there were shelters costing £7,300 for 3910 children at 20 schools, whose rolls totalled 6076, including several at Timaru and on the West Coast. Work was in hand at 10 other schools to shelter 2131 of their 3808 pupils, at an estimated cost of £2,500; 23 more schools were listed for shelters estimated at £9,000 to receive 3216 of their 7861 children.479 This methodical progress was questioned on 28 and 30 July by the Press, which was concerned that so many schools were still quite without shelters and thought that a measure of protection should be provided in shallow, open trenches that could be dug quickly by volunteers and completed later. There might not be enough time to get children home, immediate danger, including defensive fire, might coincide with the first warning. ‘To disperse children in the hope that they will escape or survive these risks is not a precaution but an incredible folly.’480
Here the Press implied criticism of the division into home goers and shelter stayers. More directly, parents at Greymouth took this question up with the Education Department, whose Director consulted National Service, receiving the awkward answer that ‘in the view of this Department’ shelters at a school in a vulnerable area should be for all pupils, not only for those living more than seven minutes away from home.481 There was, however, no public statement from the Canterbury Board reversing its policy of division.
Dunedin held to dispersal. The Otago Education Board in February 1942 adopted a ‘very fine, commonsense report’ from its architect: school grounds were too small to have open trenches well clear of buildings for all the children and it was unwise to shelter only some of them; surface shelters again would take too much space and cost £100–150. Since some schools had been taken over by the Army they could be military targets, and would parents remain at home in an alarm, with their children congregated in a school shelter? It was better to rely on quick dispersal.482 In March, again page 530 considering shelters, the Board took comfort from the Mayor’s promise to share any preliminary alert, whereon children would be sent home and the schools closed for a few days.483 The Board held to this policy in mid-April: vulnerable schools would be closed as soon as the authorities advised that daylight raids without warning were possible and the Board would ‘err on the side of safety even if loss of some schooling may result.’484
In smaller centres, some of which were classed as secondary vulnerable areas,485 there was a wide range of activity. In February at Greymouth, where parents demanded that their Education Board should at once provide trenches, proposing to keep children below Standard III at home in the meantime, trenches were rapidly constructed.486 At Pahautahanui, early in March an EPS working bee dug slit trenches.487 At Whangarei’s primary school the Home Guard dug,488 but three months later the High School Board of Governors, advised by the Northern Area military commander, decided against trenches since for a large daylight raid there would be warning enough.489 At Hamilton, again on military advice, it was decided that children should be sent home in two stages: at an alarm, children would spread over as wide an area as possible near the school, in trenches, gullies and under trees. From there, during breaks in the attack, they would make for home a few at a time, under the care of wardens or trained senior pupils. Where cover was too scanty, it was decided to dig trenches in school grounds and a large number of parents did so, guided by a lieutenant-colonel and the borough engineer.490 Gisborne, in April, decided that its High Schools’ 600 yards of slit trenches should not be covered in; the money would be better spent on weapons.491
Hawera’s High School had trenches and pupils practised getting into them, preceded by hedgehog-removing monitors.492 At Titirangi, parent labour cut a crescent-shaped tunnel 205 feet long, 7 feet high and 5 feet wide, into cliffs of volcanic ash below the school. It was timbered and had seats as in Auckland’s Albert Park tunnel.493
Local zeal, fired to protect its children, could see danger in some quite remote areas.page 531
As fears of Japanese invasion spread interest in evacuation, which had been very slight, increased in some areas and among some people. In cities, some who had saved petrol kept food and clothing packed ready, planning, if attack came, to make for the back country. EPS authorities warned that such French-style flight, impeding roads and damaging morale, would be turned back by wardens in the towns and by traffic guards on the main roads;494 they favoured children and old people being sent well before an emergency from danger areas to friends inland, thereby reducing problems.
In December 1941, Auckland’s EPS, with War Cabinet approval, declared that it had no plans for advance evacuation though it would be ready to shift sections of the community as directed by the military.495 But nervousness grew, starting in North Shore suburbs which could see themselves being cut off. On 5 January, C. J. Lovegrove496 was made Auckland’s controller of evacuation. He promptly travelled south as far as Rotorua and Taumarunui, inquiring where and how Auckland’s women and children could be absorbed. He found people highly responsive and glad that the problem was being tackled early, country districts being specially willing to accept evacuees. Eighteen districts together offered to take in 46 120, mainly in rural areas, though some would be in towns and some, for a time at least, housed in halls. Priorities and transport would be worked out, possibly with launches, tugs and barges taking an all-water route from Onehunga to Cambridge. Refugees would bring their own bedding, but reserves of basic foods could be built up in the reception areas, and billet charges would have to be discussed.497
Some further attitudes of country people to the possible invasion were expressed in a letter by a woman:
In this country district lists of people willing to take children have been compiled. In many cases, mothers of several young children and who milk, have offered to take, perhaps, two children. Their hearts never fail them where children are concerned.
Our homes are already overcrowded, and we work all day and half the night. In our district are several big homes, an occasional empty house, etc.—a good hall may be in some districts.
I suggest, humbly, that these homes and other available buildings be equipped, provisioned, staffed by some of those pretty page 532 city girls in uniforms, the children sent in groups and well cared for….A heavy burden cannot be thrown onto the already overburdened country mothers, although, be assured, little ones, that while we have the strength you shall always have what refuge we can give you.498
Lovegrove urged that the government should authorise voluntary, or even compulsory, advance evacuation from some danger zones, notably the North Shore, with assistance to those who could not meet the cost.499
Meanwhile, the Auckland Committee for the Protection of School Children advised obtaining, through schools, the names of friends and relations to whom children could go; this would be a step towards billet-placing and bring before parents the prospect of evacuation.500 In mid-February parents were asked if they would allow their children, in an emergency, to be taken by teachers to country reception areas, the idea being to keep schools and classes together as much as possible so that each child would meet familiar faces in unfamiliar surroundings. Generally the idea was not accepted: some of the discussion meetings called by headmasters in 64 schools were well attended, but in others there was very little interest. Parents in the most vulnerable areas did not by their voting show particular concern. In some schools the vote was 90 per cent against removal, and nowhere did the vote for it reach 50 per cent.501
The government, shrinking from panic, expense and disruption, held to the policy of evacuation only on military orders, and avoided other decisions. When pressed by the Waikato County Council about billeting allowances, David Wilson, Associate Minister of National Service, replied that some evacuees might pay for themselves, some hosts might refuse payment, and others could lodge claims with local authorities.502 The Waikato Council, backed by the New Zealand Herald, said that this was unsatisfactory; Lovegrove had gone as far as he could, and government indecision was halting vital preparations.503 The mayors of Cambridge and Te Awamutu explained their anxieties at the prospect of impoverished refugees in thousands, each costing at least 10s a week in upkeep.504 Lovegrove repeatedly urged comprehensive regulations that would define priorities and set a scale of billeting fees. Those who could not pay should page 533 have government assistance and there should be power to impress accommodation and control evacuees. The chief warden of Auckland as regional Commissioner should be able, in given circumstances, to order evacuation. If this decision was to remain with the military authorities, they should indicate the conditions in which they would order it. Public opinion in Auckland, he claimed, was that the order should not await the emergency.505
The New Zealand Herald declared that this was so sound as to be unanswerable,506 but the Prime Minister on 3 March 1942 replied firmly that, as no one could say where or when attack would come, it was most unwise to disrupt community life by evacuating selected areas in advance; essential work must continue unimpeded, and wives could help by staying with their husbands. If any area had to be evacuated, its essential workers would be moved as short a distance as possible, but it might be necessary to move women and children to more distant localities when danger threatened. EPS could arrange accommodation lists in advance, but the Army would decide if evacuation were required. Meanwhile shelters and trenches should be made ready.507 The Press approved: belief that evacuation was essential grew from false analogies with vastly more crowded cities, and plans must be based on carefully calculated probabilities rather than on the worst, but unlikely, possibilities.508 The Evening Star also approved: ‘Mr Fraser’s advice was neither thoughtless nor heartless.’509 The Herald, however, held that panic evacuation overseas had been due to military delay and inaction, while Lovegrove’s main points, notably those on finance, had been avoided.510
Lovegrove’s proposals were also supported by the 2NZEF Association, some members claiming to have seen disasters resulting from unpreparedness, and seeing no reason why muddle-headed optimism should make war more dreadful than necessary.511 A public meeting on 15 March, at which Lovegrove reiterated his views, declared itself gravely perturbed by the conflict between him and the government, and wanted his plans adopted; so did both Auckland papers and the local Chamber of Commerce.512
Regulations that finally emerged towards the end of April left compulsory evacuation fully in military hands, and guarded the government purse by making the local authorities which would page 534 receive people pay the billeting charges, recovering them from the local authority of a refugee’s home area, which in turn could recover them from the family breadwinner.513 Neither Lovegrove nor the Herald were at all contented, the latter pointing out that a local authority under enemy attack would have to pay for its evacuated women and children until it could recover their upkeep from fathers who might be in no condition to pay. The Minister of National Service explained that under existing policy any bad debts would, like other EPS expenditure, receive government’s 75 per cent subsidy. If the government accepted financial responsibility for evacuees in the first instance, the work, staff and delay involved would inevitably be greater than for a decentralised local body.514 On 19 May some compromise on the civilian–military control issue was achieved: three colonels were seconded to the National Service Department as regional commissioners for areas corresponding to the northern, central and southern military commands, to make liaison between military and civil defence.
The government’s ‘stay put’ policy avoided the many-faceted disturbances in living and feeling that could have snowballed, affecting other centres besides Auckland,515 if pre-emergency evacuation had been made financially easier. In June 1942 news of the Coral Sea and Midway battles restored faith in the United States navy and lessened anxiety. Late in August when, unknown to the public, the Guadalcanal campaign was going badly, Bodkin, Minister of Civil Defence since 26 June, said that, with the advice of the Services, areas to be compulsorily evacuated had been agreed upon, but no good purpose would be served by proclaiming these in advance of the emergency. People in other areas would stay put, and there would be no voluntary evacuation.516
Meanwhile Lovegrove and Auckland’s EPS turned their energy to nearer fields. Wardens made a house-to-house survey of the metropolitan district and Manukau and Waitemata counties, noting floor space, the number of rooms, the adults and children in each dwelling, so that if it became necessary to move people, the authorities would know how many were involved, how much house-room there was to absorb them, and how much transport would be needed.517
No such heat developed at Wellington, where the EPS had plans for moving stricken individuals or groups from one suburb to another, page 535 with 25 nearby rest centres organised for temporary accommodation.518 There were also plans for moving women and children further afield, notably to the Wairarapa which was reported ready to receive thousands in selected buildings and private homes, billets for 8500 in homes being listed by the end of February.519 Decision to evacuate women and children was to be a matter for the government, acting on military advice. As February’s anxious days passed, there was some restlessness. The Wellington Ratepayers’ Association respectfully suggested to the government the wisdom of giving evacuation plans early and serious thought.520 The EPS authorities, after special discussions, said that they had made arrangements for minor scale evacuation and the government had plans for larger movements, but meanwhile it was desirable that all the women and children, the old and the ailing who could leave Wellington to stay with friends or relatives in safer areas should do so, thereby easing the work of those responsible for their safety.521
The Prime Minister’s ‘stay put’ direction on 3 March, playing down the likelihood of large-scale evacuation, was accepted without any public opposition in Wellington, where two further official statements during the month moved progressively away from the exodus theme. On 11 March, Mayor Hislop said that although no great publicity had been given to EPS evacuation plans, their foundations were laid well in advance and they were now ready, with the final points on transport, billets, the maintenance of billeting centres and food supplies being settled with the Wairarapa authorities. Brigadier A. Greene,522 of the Salvation Army, schooled in the Napier earthquake and now in charge of Wellington’s evacuation unit, on 20 March clearly envisaged not invasion but a tip-and-run raid or bombardment. He touched very lightly on movement from Wellington and dwelt on the local arrangements that would deal with scattered damage, on the lines of British mid-war routines. He said that the Wellington unit had been preparing for a long time, and had lately been enlarged to 1000 workers. There were 26 district rest centres in churches, halls and schools, each with tank water, portable boilers, emergency rations and clothing, and a Plunket nurse, but clients should bring their own blankets. Thence they would be directed to temporary billets, preferably near their homes; if necessary emergency buildings would be quickly erected in parks, and page 536 the overflow would go to accommodation outside Wellington. Brigadier Greene repeated these assurances in April, adding that there were plans for camps at 10 suitable sites around Wellington and preliminary arrangements for railing some thousands of evacuees to the Wairarapa.523
The earthquake on the night of 24 June 1942524 brought some of Wellington’s accommodation plans into action. More than 70 people were moved from damaged houses, notably in streets off Cambridge and Kent terraces. At the start many were quartered in nearby St Mark’s schoolroom, ‘due to the absence of the billeting list’, with hot meals provided at the Brougham Street rest centre. Within two days most had been placed in houses or rooms, and for the remainder EPS commandeered two large empty houses in the area. Meanwhile a mobile canteen helped to feed the hundreds of workers hastily mustered to repair the damage.525
At Christchurch, with its well-spread suburbs, there were paper plans at the end of 1941 for adapting some large buildings in the Kirwee–West Melton area, to house several thousand people temporarily,526 but there soon appeared some agitation for organised retreat, especially for children. A letter to Semple, dated 1 January 1942, combined the liveliest fears of invasion with apparent belief that the Japanese would not go far inland:
Why have the school children not been evacuated to the country? There are large empty hotels and boarding houses all over the country….
I read recently in the American Readers Digest that the Japanese send their men to search the countryside and take any girls they can lay hands on….
I do not always agree with your policy or your utterances but one thing I have come to expect from you, Mr Semple, is getting things done. This is a crying problem and we have very little time to do it in—can’t we mothers look to you to do something in this respect.
…. personally I am of the opinion that Japan will endeavour to take New Zealand before she attacks Australia, as Australia will then be surrounded, and if our daughters are left at the mercy of the Japs what a—well, words fail me. You can’t beg this question, and you, if you have any conscience, can’t delay dealing page 537 with it…. If I had a gun, I’d shoot my children myself before I’d let the Japs touch them.527
This letter was minuted by J. S. Hunter, Director of National Service: ‘For carefully drafted reply. This fear can easily spread and a bare statement that action is not considered necessary will not allay simple fear of the [sic] kind…. The best line to take with such correspondents I think is to say that the danger is fully realised and should the war situation be such as to make action necessary and desirable, the present organisation is being designed to cope with it.’
In the Press, some anxious mothers suggested taking children to the hills, complaining also of insufficient trenches and orders to die on their doorsteps.528 EPS spokesmen replied that they could take themselves off at once or even when ‘an alert’ was sounded, which would probably be well in advance of ‘an alarm’ when such movement would not be permitted; hysterical talk about dying on doorsteps did not help.529 A retired lieutenant-colonel also reproved the nervous, and classed Christchurch as a reception area rather than as one to be vacated.530
On 6 March the Christchurch Star–Sun advocated that discussion of moving women and children from Lyttelton, from near the aerodrome, perhaps from near industrial plants, should be completed, and the public should know about arrangements for transport and billeting. Large-scale evacuation was not possible, however, and shelter building should be hurried. Later in the month when some women’s organisations, introduced by Mabel Howard, city councillor, proposed evacuating about 30 000 women, children and old people, the Mayor thought that such people would suffer more in damp, improvised camps with doubtful sanitation than in any probable attack, and said that most people had no wish for extensive preparations.531
It was recognised, however, that about 8000 people lived in four small coastal areas—Sumner, Redcliffs, Mt Pleasant and New Brighton—which would be exposed to attack and which the Army might want cleared at very short notice. Nearly half could go to friends inland, and billets were arranged for the rest, aided by 1000 two-decked bunks which the EPS made at 20s 6d each, plus a large number of stretcher beds, also made by EPS, and stored in the country. Transport was arranged by some 600 to 700 private cars, page 538 plus trams, trucks and buses, to Christchurch, and thence by train to inland towns. People were told to have their basic necessary possessions wrapped in blanket bundles of about 561b each. Mattresses should have strong labels of name and billet address tied on, as they might be collected later, and keys could be left with wardens. There were identification cards giving names, original addresses and destinations; there were even arrangements with the Post Office and Social Security to send on mail and pensions.532
Dunedin did not make special preparations for flight. Many coastal towns which had some evacuation plans on paper as part of their EPS programme before Japan entered the war, now made detailed arrangements to send away the aged and infirm, the women and children, leaving the men free to fight off the invaders. The extent of such preparations varied according to the zeal and imagination of organisers. Wanganui, for example, was highly prepared, with billets arranged in woolshed camps and other inland accommodation; cars were allotted, collection points fixed, baggage prescribed. Cards were issued, to give directions and to serve as evacuation passports.533 Local pride helped to make people see such towns as Wanganui, Patea, Gisborne or Westport as important to the enemy, either as invasion points or because of valuable industries such as mines or meatworks. Some EPS authorities, taking their responsibilities very earnestly, felt that planning must be all-embracing. Thus at Rangiora one man said that Rangiora was a place for receiving refugees; if the Japanese landed they would concentrate on Christchurch. Another argued that there might be a landing at Waikuku or Leithfield and, as an EPS executive in a danger zone, said they should plan for evacuation.534
There were also sturdy souls, like Mulholland of the Farmers’ Union, who would meet the enemy at all points with weapons to hand, and wanted no talk of running away. But some argued that fighters could fight better untroubled by non-combatants, who should withdraw from homes near military targets.535 The Communist party, pointing to street-by-street fighting in Russia, claimed that such evacuation, plus deep shelters, did not lead to defeatism.536
There was no sustained popular drive for evacuation. Children in England had been sent from their homes in thousands, and only the more cheerful or touching aspects had had much publicity, but page 539 page 540 everyone knew that English conditions were very different; England also had a ‘stay put’ policy. Few New Zealand parents, except those with very close friends or relatives in the country, thought actively of parting with their children. Mass movements were too unwieldy and expensive without government help, and the government, risking reproaches for possible lost lives, kept preparations in the listmaking stage, leaving further decisions to military experts. Nervousness waned as Japan’s advance slowed. The idea of dispersal, always present, came to dominate that of evacuation. On 9 September Bodkin, Minister of Civil Defence, said that although evacuation of any area was a remote possibility, the authorities were ready for any emergency. Both evacuation and dispersal would be carried out only on military orders: dispersal was a temporary measure, while evacuation was the definite removal of people in whole areas from their homes to temporary quarters elsewhere. Country towns or rural areas would be liable, not to removal, but to receive people.
That these orders were never necessary perhaps avoided exacerbation of the deep-seated resentment felt by many country people for town-dwelling ‘softies’, their easy lives upborne by farmers’ efforts, if a letter that appeared in the Press on 4 May 1942 voiced more than a solitary opinion:
I look forward to the day when townswomen get evacuated to the country to learn to understand what country women have to put up with—no means of transport except cars in most cases and the same petrol ration as townswomen with trams and buses at their doors almost, no cake shops to run to when out of sugar or too tired to bake; no pictures, concerts, war charity parties or dances, or any form of recreation except heavy farm work to break the deadly monotony of the housework; not even a chance to meet other women at service club teas or camouflage net making etc.; just an endless lonely routine with men out all day and to all hours at night.
While most people remained at home in the alarms of early 1942, many library and art treasures, especially at Auckland, were sent into country places or stowed away. The Dominion reported on 7 April that pictures from the National Art Gallery had been ‘placed in what is hoped will be safety in an inland town’, while others were cased and stored underground in dry cellars. Its best pictures, then worth about £25,000, removed from their frames and packed in 16 cases, were stored in a concrete room at Hastings until late page 541 in 1945.537 Wellington was not entirely deprived of its art collection for all that time. Most of the Gallery building being taken over by the Services, some pictures from the national collection were displayed in an improvised gallery, the tearooms of a central department store, the DIC, with special groupings shown periodically. The seasonal shows of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts were also held there.
From the Supreme Court in Wellington five oil paintings of deceased judges were rusticated to safety, along with volumes of English law reports which would be hard to replace.538 From the Alexander Turnbull Library 30 000 of its 80 000 holdings, manuscripts, books and pictures,539 along with material from the General Assembly Library and the infant Archives section,540 were sent inland. Ironically, some of this material was stored in Masterton. The Parliamentary librarian and archivist, G. H. Scholefield, inspecting the repository on 25 June 1942 after the previous night’s earthquake, wrote:
25 June (Thursday). Visited Masterton to inspect book repository. Found building just standing, having lost a length of parapet in Chapel Street and a broken cistern pipe freeing water near the door. All the book cases prostrate against eastern wall, but most of the books hanging to shelves. Turnbull collection in Public Trust Office in much the same condition, but books are more likely to suffer from sun than anything else.
From Auckland’s Public Library rare books of the Grey and Shaw collections, other important New Zealand books and some old and precious English volumes were sent to safety. The Art Gallery sent away its best pictures; historic municipal records left the Town Hall; the Manukau Road statue of John Logan Campbell,541 father of Auckland, was buried in a nearby reserve, along with that of a Maori chief which had previously stood atop One Tree Hill.542 In the Auckland Museum the Maori section, under skylights, was specially vulnerable. Many exhibits were removed to safety. The inflammable page 542 thatch of the meeting house was removed; a canoe 107 years old and the only authentic large one of its kind was too long to be removed entirely, but its prow and stern posts were taken away and over the remainder was placed a structure of large cones of 3-ply wood covered with sandbags.543
Dunedin, though more remote from likely attack, also took precautions. In a large vault beneath the Museum, Maori and Easter Island carvings were stored, along with takahe and moa material, a collection of Attic pottery, and manuscripts from the Hocken Library.544
In Britain fear of losing records had stimulated methods of duplication of which three were available in New Zealand. A document or drawing could be photographed directly on to sensitised paper, or a new application of the reflex method could be used. Both these processes gave copies of the same size as the originals and could be done by junior workers after brief instruction, on apparatus which could be installed in offices. The third method, photo-copying on small film, needed special apparatus and skilled operators.545 In the business world and in some government departments especially at Auckland but also in Wellington and Christchurch, there was much photo-copying of key records. Banks and the larger insurance companies photographed ledger books and other documents; one large company was reported to have compressed its records on to films which could fit into an envelope box, stored safely miles away from the city.546 Other firms pinned their faith to fireproof and bomb-proof cabinets similar to those proved effective in London.547 In the Press, on 21 March 1942, a large advertisement read: ‘Are your valuables safe? The Public Trustee has available for leasing specially built, self-contained steel lockers in fire and thief resisting vaults ….’
At the same time, emergency food reserves were arranged. Late in November 1941, at Auckland, an EPS supply committee had plans for reserves of wheat and flour, and advised householders to have baking powder and at least 25lb of flour on hand lest bakeries should be temporarily out of action.548 In mid-December the WWSA listed staple foods, such as oatmeal, wholemeal flour, dried milk and fruits, beans, biscuits, sugar, cocoa, tea, tinned meats and fish, which prudent housewives should keep.549 Early in February 1942 page 543 a Dominion Controller of Supplies and four regional EPS controllers were appointed with authority over all local controllers of food supplies and other commodities such as building timber, transport and electricity,550 and by March good progress was reported in decentralising supplies of essential foods.551 Meanwhile, lest a breakdown of normal yeast supplies should disrupt bread making, the Wheat Research Institute advised bakers about alternative yeasts.552
Lighting restrictions increased. New regulations coming into force on 12 December 1941 required light escaping from houses, shops, factories and offices to be drastically reduced. All decorative lighting in shop windows was prohibited; no light could be left on anywhere unless there was someone on hand to turn it off if need be; even in areas not visible from the sea, windows must be fully screened in every room in which a light could appear; all windows in seaside baches must be thoroughly darkened; parked cars visible from the sea must not show any parking lights; officers of the Electricity Department and the EPS had authority to visit, inspect, advise and insist on precautions.553 A few days later the order to black out at least one room totally in any house or commercial building was repeated and extended, to ensure that there was enough blacked-out space to accommodate all persons likely to be on the premises after dark.554
The restrictions now applied to towns as far inland as Rotorua,555 and all over the country blackout trials were held, often combined with EPS exercises, as at Feilding on 18 December, when bridges were supposedly bombed, buildings on fire and families homeless.556 Auckland and Wellington had already darkened their nights and held tests during October and November.557 Now the southern cities followed quickly. Christchurch’s first trial on 14 December was thoroughly black, as the many who had not shrouded their windows merely turned off their lights, and some made the most of the new experience. ‘Big numbers in Cathedral Square made the night almost as noisy as it was black,’ remarked the Press, and larrikins shone torches.558 The local lighting controller gave detailed advice about page 544 pasting dark paper round the edges of windows, on varieties of movable screens, the handiness of blackout curtains run on rings and wires over the whole window, and devices such as loops or rings sewn to any heavy dark cloth, rugs, old table covers, even large pieces of clothing, to be hung up quickly on nails or hooks over architraves.559 Blackout materials were prominently advertised.560 In a test on 18 January, again the electricity load dropped remarkably, but an aircraft overhead reported many house lights;561 the next test on 18 February, showed some improvement and room for more, which the authorities ensured by cutting off the lights for one week in 81 offending houses, prosecuting 18 firms, and issuing more than 1000 warnings.562 There were now 1500 wardens active, indeed, according to some press letters, revelling in activity.563 After a further test on 29 April, there were only some 500 warnings, 13 prosecutions, and 39 houses darkened, this time for a fortnight.564 Timaru was even sterner, cutting off all electricity in 30 offending premises.565
Dunedin’s first trial on 21 December was far from perfect, and its second, on 18 January, little better: apart from the ‘direct gibe’ of a bonfire on Signal Hill, many blinds were not dark enough, many fan-lights uncovered and many lights merely switched off.566 Viewed from the air, Port Chalmers was well blacked out, but in all other areas the trial was declared a failure of the first magnitude; the city was visible from 15 miles off.567 ‘If it was’na weel bobbit, weel bobbit, weel bobbit, If it was’na weel bobbit, we’ll bob it again’, said the Evening Star, quoting a Scottish song.568 The next attempt, on a darker evening late in March, was more satisfactory, though in two suburbs where the alarm sounded too soon there was confusion, with street lights still on; a coloured signal lamp betrayed the railway station.569
There were now official blind-drawing times, which grew earlier as summer passed into autumn and winter, published in newspapers.570 Places with big windows, such as technical colleges and page 545 universities, reduced the number of rooms in use and faced up to the expense of blacking out the remainder.571 Skylights in factories and workshops were difficult; lighter grades of sisalkraft were used in some cases,572 and in others cowlings were fitted over the lights or they were brought down to near the machinery and away from the skylights; sometimes the skylights were painted over, making them useless in daytime.573 Apart from sky glow and lights visible from the sea, total factory darkness was not demanded. The Dominion Lighting Controller ruled that factories working at night had to provide sufficient blacked out space for those who in emergency had to remain at work, with the rest dispersing and switching off their lights; if the whole plant had to continue working then complete blackout screens must be provided.574
Wellington’s third test on 23 February, combined with a practice by the fire services, was its best yet, although car lights, even on EPS cars, remained a problem. Many householders were told that their screenings left straying chinks, and Army headquarters was a conspicuous and high-handed offender. Many people went outside to view the effect, and among several hundred gathered about the Manners Street–Willis Street corner there was singing.575
Acceptance of the blackout settled firmly, aided by prosecutions. These were fairly widespread. Seven Aucklanders were prosecuted on 23 January, with fines ranging from £2 to £6, and seven more a week later. The first prison sentence was given on 6 February 1942, with a repeated offender jailed for the weekend until 7 am on Monday, in time for his work on the waterfront.576 Hundreds of householders found wardens on their doorsteps, complaining of errant gleams or of windows forgotten in little-used rooms. As in England, wardens came to be known as blackout wardens; some were understanding, some officious; there was mounting worry if one’s name were taken, for future slips could mean trouble.
Car light restrictions were a persisting difficulty. Apart from only parking lights being allowed in sea-facing areas, regulations required that one headlight must not exceed seven watts, and that the other should be tilted downwards eight inches for every ten feet of beam (adjustments which tended to wear off). Non-compliance was rated dangerous because, apart from any possible enemy, all eyes in the prevailing darkness were very sensitive to glare and accident risk was page 546 high. Although there was much less driving, traffic authorities at Auckland, for instance, commented that motorists were prosecuted every week for lighting faults.577 In July, of 61 traffic cases heard by an Auckland magistrate, more than 40 concerned lights, with fines of from 20s to 30s; the magistrate warned that these would rise if offences continued.578
Japanese submarine action in the Tasman, raiding Sydney579 and sinking several ships in the first week or so of June 1942, intensified lighting restrictions and renewed vigilance from wardens. Service authorities, particularly anxious to avoid ships being silhouetted against a lighted background, insisted on coastal city street lights being turned off. As this involved all lights on certain wiring circuits, some areas not visible from the sea were lightless. While inconsistency was heightened by the wharves themselves where work was going on at all hours continuing to be brightly lit, harbour boards claiming that they could be darkened instantly in emergency. The cities were full of soldiers, home forces, now at top mobilisation, being augmented by thousands of Americans; darkness promoted unaccustomed candour in both amatory behaviour and excretion. Molestation and bag-snatching were further risks to worry women whose work did not begin or end in daylight.
The Evening Post, while dismissing the repeated complaint that the darkness was a device to save electricity, pointed to anomalies and hazards: ‘Such streets as Manners Street and Cuba Street are dead black, filled with voices and footfalls, until cars and trams come along and break the blackness, and suburban roads—some with paths and a lot without—need a torch or extraordinary circumspection’. Round the hills house lights were as bright as ever behind thin blinds and the headlamps of cars could be seen for miles, while what sky reflection had been saved from street lights had been multiplied several times by new wharf lights. Accidents had been few because pedestrians knew that they could take no chances, and that if they did not have to be out it was wiser to stay at home. Street behaviour had been good, but the streets in the morning were ‘not as clean as they used to be, by a long run’. Some pavement lighting in the centre of the town would be the cheapest police force and discourage unpleasantness likely to increase.580 Civic authorities and tram men pleaded with Service chiefs for more light,581 but on 23 July the Minister of Civil Defence said that page 547 circuits must remain switched off till the lights which would offend could be more heavily screened, which would take some time. A few days later, however, the simpler method of removing such lights from their sockets and switching on the remainder was under way.582 Pre-Sydney-raid visibility was soon restored to about 80 per cent of Wellington’s streets, though areas verging the port and hill suburbs overlooking it remained in Stygian gloom;583 Auckland took a like course.
These steps presaged the beginning of the dawn. It was announced on 29 July 1942 that the War Cabinet had decided that, to lessen the total blackout burden, inland areas could revert to pre-war lighting, provided that their sky glow was not visible ten miles out to sea; in a coastal strip, three to twelve miles wide according to topography, lights visible from sea and harbours had to be blacked out or screened. More sky glow would be permitted, allowing some increase in street and exterior lighting. New regulations were gazetted on 20 August. Coastal towns were still firmly darkened: for instance, at Whangarei the borough council, disturbed by nuisances in telephone boxes and happenings in doorways and recesses in the main street, proposed under-verandah lights, but the Dominion Lighting Controller would not allow this; instead civilian and military police were increased.584
With no more Tasman raids and the news permitting more optimism about the Solomons than events there really justified until mid-November, impatience with the coastal blackout grew. This was heightened at the start of November by the New South Wales Minister for National Emergency, R. J. Heffron,585 who declared that the brownout was the brain-child of brass hats who had refused to admit the error of their ways, but he intended to fight unceasingly for a relaxation ‘of the present intolerable darkness that hinders instead of helps, the vigorous prosecution of the war.’586 Public response to the blackout demands was flagging.587 The Auckland Star, on 12 November, wrote of the widely held belief that the continuous brownout could now be relaxed. Already wardens had been advised that, in areas not facing the sea, less strictness was needed, but some entirely disregarded this suggestion. They said outright that having secured a close observance by drawing attention page 548 to every infraction, they would not permit the slightest relaxation. Meanwhile more open-minded wardens, noting the current of the war, interpreted their instructions with some liberality. The result was a ‘patchwork of dark and twilight all over the city’. The restrictions, pronounced the Star, had become ‘an inconvenience to everyone who stays at home, a danger to everyone who goes abroad at night, and they serve no apparent useful purpose.’
There were complaints of officious wardens and refusal to admit futility.588 Also, although these did not get much publicity at the time, there had been many minor accidents, and some not minor, through tram passengers alighting too soon, unable to see whether the tram had actually stopped.589 Auckland’s coroner was to say on 8 February 1943 that the brownout had taken a fairly heavy toll of life, and so many minor accidents had been caused by falls and collisions in darkened streets that even a hit-and-run raid by an aircraft might have caused less personal injury.590
On 8 December 1942 War Cabinet announced that, except at Auckland and Wellington where the degree of relaxation had yet to be determined, lighting restrictions, along with firewatching, would be suspended, to be reimposed if the Pacific situation worsened. Regulations at the end of December confirmed that, except in certain areas in Auckland and Wellington visible from the harbours, windows could be uncovered and lights returned to normal, provided that there was someone at hand to turn them off if necessary; likewise car lights were restricted only within certain harbour and sea commanding areas.
Christchurch began taking the shields from street lights at once, beginning in Cathedral Square,591 but other cities and towns were more cautious: shrouding might be reimposed, and no one wanted to remove paint or shields only to replace them. Auckland’s transport board, on its own initiative, at once restored normal lights on trams, and their glowing windows on New Year’s Eve gave an air of pageantry in the still darkened streets.592
By mid-February 1943 most of Auckland’s street lights, except those in harbour areas, had been restored,593 but in Wellington, although neon signs in commercial buildings made flashing inroads on the gloom, shrouds had not been taken from street or tram lamps, though in some trams interior shades had unofficially disappeared;594 page 549 shortage of labour for careful removal contributed largely to the delay.595 Meanwhile Dunedin authorities, warning against discarding blackout materials, held a trial on 23 March and promised more.596
By the end of May, further regulations brightened even Auckland and Wellington, though it was repeated that attack was still possible: lights must not be left unattended and people must be prepared to black out if the sirens sounded. Said the Auckland Star.
Of the dim-out itself nothing remains but a prohibition on lights which cannot be switched off in a moment, and unhappy memories of darkened streets, of increased traffic dangers, and of better cover by night for the lawless. The traffic dangers involved were considerable; the restrictions were in no small measure responsible for the fact that while petrol restrictions reduced street traffic to a skeleton, there was no proportionate decrease in the actual number of accidents.597
Fire was obviously a main hazard. Incendiary bombs could start many small fires which might grow rapidly into a conflagration. City commercial and industrial areas had many buildings of wood, or of brick with wooden floors, and they were largely deserted at night: Auckland’s commercial area, for instance, had fewer than five persons to the acre.598 Regulations in October 1941 had directed owners of city buildings to install fire-fighting equipment, and occupiers to serve as fire guards. On 13 December this came into force more urgently: owners must provide for each floor at least two 20lb bags of sand (costing 9d each) and a bucket pump (£3 to £6) with a hose and spray nozzle. Such pumps were made locally but were at first very scarce and people were told to improvise with any sort of garden pump. Inflammable clutter that might hinder access to a bomb should be cleared from attics and upper floors. Occupiers must arrange to have fire guards, of three men per bucket pump, living within 15 minutes’ walk of their building, ready to report there when an alarm sounded. There should be one man or more, according to the size of the building, on firewatching duty 24 hours of the day, which effectively meant during all non-working hours. Each of the watchers would do about 12 hours a week, without pay; management would provide sleeping accommodation and refreshments.599page 550
In the four main cities, EPS authorities appointed firewatching committees and organisers whose arrangements varied from place to place. Generally, however, in each building or group of small buildings, a staff member was appointed fire organiser, arranging rosters and sending his lists to the central body. For male staff not in the Home Guard or in key EPS work, fire duty was compulsory, and there were penalties for non-performance, a fine of up to £50 or three months in prison. Women were invited to volunteer.
An incendiary bomb could be extinguished easily in its first two minutes of burning. Therefore it was originally prescribed that watchers should be able to patrol their whole area every two minutes where floors and ceilings were fire resistant, while where they were of wood this two-minute patrol should include ceiling space; there should be one extra person for the top floor of every building with a ground floor of more than 2000 square feet. Clearly this would require much organisation and many firewatchers. Auckland’s Organiser hesitated to lay down hard and fast rules,600 but elaborately detailed instructions along these lines appeared in Dunedin and Wellington.601 The patrol system would operate only in actual emergency, hence the condition that reinforcing fire guards must live within 15 minutes’ foot travel,602 while on the site one man, or more, according to the size of the building, was supposed to be awake at all times, ready if need be to arouse the others and admit reinforcements.603
There was considerable lethargy about embarking on this ocean of organisation and lost sleep. By the start of February, in Wellington, the first step of appointing an organiser had been taken in only about 500 of the 3000 buildings concerned,604 but on 20 February, after the fall of Singapore, local regulations obliged these organisers to arrange for continuous watches at two-minute patrol strength during an alarm; on 17 March a skeleton service began.605 By mid-April, Wellington’s grand total of watchers, including women, was 11 875, in 549 buildings or groups of buildings, with 1319 on duty each night;606 and by the end of the month weekly instead of nightly duty was being adopted to stretch manpower.607 page 551 Three months later V. E. Hampson-Tindale,608 Wellington’s organiser, made a realistic appraisal: 50 per cent of the buildings concerned had a first-class service, 30 per cent were more or less satisfactory, 20 per cent ranged down towards gross negligence. The system was still ‘as full of holes as a colander’, but having all buildings manned was safer than block or post watches. There was talk of the futility of sleeping guards, but men who worked must sleep, and they would be alert if danger were imminent. Watching was futile or valuable according to the attitudes of the watchers themselves; they needed not detailed regulations but common sense, initiative, and willingness to make the scheme efficient.609
On 7 February, Auckland’s Mayor, exasperated by inaction, ordered services to be fully organised by the 19th, when inspection by block wardens would begin. The continuous watch was to be strong enough, with an equal number of reinforcements arriving in an alarm, for two-minute patrols; compulsory duty would not be more than 12 hours a week, or one week in 11;610 businessmen were encouraged to devise group firewatching schemes among themselves.611 As more men were drawn into the forces and the Home Guard, fewer were available for firewatching. It was clear that, lacking transport, extra men could not in an attack arrive within 15 minutes. In June it was decreed that firewatchers should spend the nights of one week in four on their work premises, doing other EPS duties in the rest of their time.612 In some buildings, especially those staffed mainly by women, the shortage of manpower was acute: the Auckland Star of 1 July instanced a four-floored building which by the rule needed 32 men but had only three available. It was possible to apply for outsiders, but businessmen were reluctant. One wrote that in small stores, stock and cash ‘will for 112 hours a week be at the mercy of complete strangers. When will the authorities work on practical lines?’613 Access remained a problem throughout firewatching. Keys were supposed to be given to building organisers in sealed packets, to be opened in an emergency, but this did not fully reassure proprietors, and in a real raid the watch would have had to work in unfamiliar places.614page 552
In some buildings women helped notably to fill the rosters. Initially they were supposed to do daylight weekend duty and the early evening shift between 5.30 to 9 pm in buildings where the fire risk was low.615 Some dressed for the part, like the girls at Ballantyne’s, Christchurch, in battle-dress style blouses and roomy slacks.616 In practice, many women took their turn at all-night duty. Dr Scholefield recorded on 31 January that at Wellington’s Public Library women firewatchers in groups of four were sleeping-in, one being constantly alert.617 Marie Bullock618 was one of four girls in the Listener office who played bridge and stayed the night. ‘It was rather a giggle, but we were there, waiting for bombs’, she recalled in 1970. Some groups were zealous; there were 70 volunteers from the DIC building, and girls from the dental clinic took charge of three buildings entirely and one partially.619 In other places response was poor, resulting in long shifts at short intervals, as complained one woman who served from 9 am to 6 pm on frequent Sundays.620
As it was clearly advisable that normal life should be disrupted as little as possible, the government agreed to the Federation of Labour’s demand for a two-hour break, time to go home for a meal, between knocking off work and starting firewatch.621 It was also clearly necessary, for the sake of their normal work, that watchers should sleep as much as possible. Folding beds and stretchers were rapidly devised and advertised,622 along with such other comforts as a ‘good used radio’,623 and small electric cookers for the toast and soup and sausages that would contribute to vigilance, comfort and morale.624 At first it was proposed that the night would be divided into shifts of, say, two hours, during which one or two would remain awake patrolling the building hourly, while the others slept,625 but such demands soon subsided. Even at Auckland, supposedly most vulnerable, it was officially stated early in March that the patrol system was not necessary as yet: watchers would take their rest at their work places, on hand in case of emergency, but if things grew worse patrols might be needed.626 By July the general practice was page 553 for all members of a team, having familiarised themselves with their post, to make up their beds and go to sleep.627 The Wellington Organiser explained that until raiding started, a continuous watch would benefit only the insurance companies; the purpose was to have enough fire fighters immediately available inside familiar city buildings if bombs fell.628
Although firewatching might be taken as lightly as possible, over months it added a good deal to fatigue. At least one doctor regarded it ‘as one of the chief causes of sickness and absence among a certain class of workers’.629 Apart from the tedium of extra travelling, of evenings and weekend days spent in offices and factories, of improvised beds, of lonely wives and children, there were also some complaints about workers being required to guard city property, unpaid, while their own houses and families might be in danger, and while owners merely provided equipment.630 On the other hand, some EPS organisers at Whangarei complained that firewatching was an overpopular ‘racket’ for avoiding other duties.631
There were a few warning prosecutions for refusal. At Wellington, for instance, two men who refused roster changes at Easter were fined £5;632 the magistrate who fined the first three at Auckland £2 10s said that if there were many such charges the fines would rise steeply.633 Auckland University arranged to fine shirking students itself.634 There were also a few reports of normal fires quickly reported or quenched by firewatchers and through buckets of water being handy.635
Only at Auckland and Wellington were buildings attended nightly and at weekends for most of one year. Small towns installed equipment, allocated watchers and waited to go into action when instructed by the government. Christchurch and Dunedin decided that once equipment was ready and rosters arranged, occasional musters to stations and practice in handling the gear would suffice; actual watching would not be needed till the authorities saw danger looming more closely. At the end of January, Mayor Andrews of Christchurch said clearly that the original proposal for a permanent patrol page 554 had been abandoned; equipment and rosters should be prepared, and fire fighters trained, but he expected a warning period of at least some hours in which the guard could mobilise.636
On 4 March, as Java fell, Christchurch businessmen were reminded that they had to have equipment ready, rosters posted, buildings cleared of waste material and arrangements made for sleeping and refreshments. Within the EPS, fire guards for the commercial parts of the city had been appointed, with five area organisers and 130 section officers, who were visiting every business block to advise and check that all was in order, including sleep-in arrangements.637 A three-day trial, ending with an EPS test and blackout, took place at the end of April. Most firms had acquired bedding, but the rest could not then buy blankets and asked watchers to bring their own. In each group a single watcher stayed awake for a three-to-four hour shift, while others slept, most firms giving time off to compensate. In general there was satisfaction with arrangements.638 The Star–Sun on 25 May noted that some of Christchurch’s fire precautions could be seen from the top of a high building: buckets and large containers of water were everywhere, along with hoses; ladders had been placed to give easy access all over roofs and many firewatchers’ look-outs had been constructed.
Dunedin, between Frederick and Market streets and east to the waterfront, was at first divided into 84 blocks, each of one large building or groups of smaller ones, and with fire brigade advice it was decided how many watchers and what equipment would be needed.639 The first trial, lasting five days, began on 7 June, as news came of victory at Midway. By then the city area was organised in 150 groups of one or more business houses, with 24 firewatchers attached to each (making 3600) and 150 more men on premises outside the main area from Port Chalmers to Mosgiel. In each group of 24, a senior man was appointed to arrange rosters and pass on to the team what the fire brigade had taught him, while firemen checked equipment. During the trial four or more from each group were on duty nightly, sleeping on the premises or close by: some employers, unable to muster bedding, had to put up watchers at nearby hotels. The trial was rated satisfactory, with minor failings.640
In the lull that followed the Coral Sea and Midway battles, only the vigilant or well informed were aware that Japan was extending its hold on the Solomons, until 3 August when it was made public page 555 that for some weeks past Japan had been building bases at Tulagi and Guadalcanal. A few days earlier the National Service Department, through the Dominion Fire Controller, ordered that Christchurch and Dunedin should begin regular nightly watches. There was consternation and resistance in the southern cities. With firmness Mayor Andrews stated: ‘We are not having a continuous fire watching service in Christchurch, at least for the present. It can’t be done. We simply have not got the personnel.’ Christchurch, he said, differed from other centres in having residential areas close to the heart of the city, so that firewatchers could be at their posts within the few minutes’ warning that the authorities had always promised; the general system was very efficient and many of the large firms already maintained a continuous service.641
At Dunedin, a resentful group of business men arranged a meeting to propose that the cost of bedding should be shared between owners and tenants, or preferably be borne by the government, and that there should be paid auxiliary firemen instead of voluntary firewatchers. The meeting was prohibited by the police: it was an offence to attempt to interfere with any instruction given by the National Service Department or its agents.642 On account of an influenza outbreak, the night watch programme was postponed till 17 August; and the Mayor, A. H. Allan,643 recollecting that the regulations required him, as chief warden of his city, to introduce a continuous firewatch if so directed by the Minister, decided to wait for such a direction.644 The Minister decided to postpone decisions over Christchurch and Dunedin until two visiting British experts could visit those cities and advise.645
Christchurch promptly had another trial, calling on all concerned to make it a success, lest permanent watching ensue.646 This trial showed that some owners still had not supplied the necessary gear, and that there was some carelessness such as hoses not being attached to taps and buckets not filled, but arrangements were declared as good as they could be under non-emergency conditions.647 On 22 October it was announced that the position disclosed was so satisfactory that the continuous firewatching trial proposed for that month was not necessary.648page 556
In Wellington opposition to firewatching was growing. In August, Harbour Board employees questioned its value and spoke of fatigue.649 A letter in the Dominion of 12 August expressed some of the discontent: the Pacific situation did not warrant continuing the ‘present farce of top-heavy over-organisation’; to meet the present small threat of bombing, a street-by-street patrol would suffice.
One plain fact is that unless the enemy seizes New Caledonia and Fiji, northern New Zealand, and still less Wellington, is not within a coo-ee of his land-based bombers. Another is that the Jap is hardly fool enough to waste what remains of his diminished carrier strength on tip-and-run errands of doubtful military value ….If the war develops badly down here we shall have warning enough. Meanwhile the new Minister of Civil Defence would perform a public service if he ordered the modification of a fire watch that has outlived its plausibility.650
A deputation from a Town Hall meeting told the Minister of Civil Defence that in the changed Pacific situation the present system was unnecessary, besides being inefficient, with watchers not properly trained and regulations and equipment circumvented.651 Bodkin replied with ‘confidential information’;652 he spoke of careful planning with Service chiefs and of intended improvements; he said that the prevention of even normal fires was in the public interest as goods lost could not now be replaced, and stressed that the fundamental purpose was to have people actually in buildings if bombs fell.
Perhaps Bodkin’s ‘confidential information’ was too discreet; the critics were not persuaded that the war situation had deteriorated from that indicated earlier by Service chiefs. Another meeting on 7 September held that current firewatching was no longer necessary, was a social and economic burden and, further, ‘we feel that our legs are being pulled and that we are just acting in an unpaid, unofficial capacity for the insurance companies’.653 Another argument was that if bombs fell on some of the old wooden buildings while watchers were asleep in them, they would be lucky to save their lives, never mind putting the fire out.654 The charges of equipment evasion were endorsed by the Wellington Organiser, who said that recent inspections had shown watchers had good reason for complaint when they were called to buildings which did not have the page 557 prescribed tools; some owners had done very well, others had taken the least possible action: this could not and would not continue. Safety measures had lately been improved by putting in knotted rope escapes, and ladders or duckwalks over roofs. Many complaints about quarters could be met by watchers themselves sweeping floors daily and mopping them at weekends.655 A long article in the Evening Post on 29 August said that while firewatching designed to meet a British-style Blitz had been necessary earlier, such an attack in the greatly improved situation was now a manifest impossibility, and that the war would be won not by effort fruitlessly expended on purely defensive measures in New Zealand, but by increased striking power: sending forth more soldiers, working munition plants 24 hours a day, salvaging scrap material, growing vegetables.656
In Auckland also the months of waiting for something that did not happen had produced feeling that firewatching was unnecessary, ineffective and a farce. ‘I go on duty at 7 p.m. of an evening and sleep on the premises till the caretaker calls me next morning,’ wrote one watcher. Some watchers merely kept a farcical appointment with the caretaker in the morning.657 Late in October, Auckland businessmen and EPS organisers, aware that the existing scheme demanded too much manpower and was not practised in many buildings where it was required, tried to arrange for fewer watchers to be inside buildings; apart from tackling fires themselves, they would open doors to mobile patrols that would report to EPS blocks in a raid alarm.658 Meanwhile, as another Evening Post article stated on 25 October, watchers continued to turn up, thousands of them, every night, all day on Sundays, and on Labour Day, bored till bedtime and grumbling, but more about farce and futility than attendance.
During November complaints continued to come from sources such as the Auckland Chamber of Commerce659 and the Mayor of Wellington who argued that continuous firewatching by tired men was unnecessary because the organisation had reached efficiency.660 The southern cities maintained their resistance to continuous watching though National Service officials visiting them in mid-November insisted that it was necessary. Dunedin manufacturers stated that already production was falling because men were physically and mentally exhausted;661 the Press said that though the reasons given page 558 by the Minister (mainly the value of having people on the spot to put out bomb fires immediately) were in themselves good, ‘the Government has proved many times, and lamentably, that it is easier to see one need and pursue it than to see needs in relation and to give them their relative place in policy.’662 Mayor Andrews declared again that the Christchurch organisation, involving 5570 watchers, had been tested repeatedly and proved 85 per cent effective, while continuous watching since the previous January would have bred staleness and inefficiency. The people of Christchurch resented interference from Wellington officials and a resentful team was never efficient. ‘However, we regard obedience to the law… as essential,’ he continued, ‘and to maintain this must at times pay the price of obeying arbitrary, irksome, and unnecessary regulations.’663 The Canterbury General Labourers Union strongly protested against men of advanced years and poor health being expected to sleep in vermin-infested buildings.664
At length Dunedin, amid scepticism, protest and resentment, began nightly watching on 23 November 1942.665 At Christchurch, where the issue was complicated by the resignation of many top EPS officials, the Mayor said on 26 November that the government’s order had ruined the firewatching system that Christchurch had and put nothing in its place; many people were saying that they would take the consequences of refusing continuous watch in all buildings. ‘They are as rebellious and resentful as they can be.’666 Meanwhile, a few days earlier, the United States navy had at last won decisively in the Solomons. On 8 December, a government order that firewatching was to cease met general joy. The only mourners were ‘the many elderly men’ who had been quietly installed as paid watchers and who were sorry to lose a welcome source of income just before Christmas.667
In addition to the large new items of shelters, firewatching and evacuation plans, all established EPS activities strongly increased after Japan’s assault. Thousands volunteered, and on 23 January 1942 enrolment in the Emergency Defence Corps, of which the EPS, the Emergency Fire Service and the Home Guard were branches, became compulsory for every male of between 16 and 66 who was not an page 559 invalid or in prison, etc, or in the military forces; judges, magistrates, clergymen, police and seamen were also exempt. Women were asked to volunteer, and once enrolled they could not resign at will. In the months that followed, as successive thousands of men were called into the forces, there was a vast amount of re-allocating of postings and training. For instance, by June, Auckland was facing the prospect of most warden’s work being done by women.668
Wardens came out of obscurity. There was a ‘get to know your warden’ movement: notices were nailed on gates, names were published in papers, districts published reports on the progress and imperfections of their various services.669 Auckland adopted a new mass training system for wardens, hoping for more uniformity.670 There were also complaints of inadequacy, confusion, frustration and lack of practical detail.671 In newspapers, especially during April, series of official air-raid hints or EPS notices appeared, giving detailed information on every aspect of protection and EPS arrangements. For instance, the New Zealand Herald of 1 April advised that any house gave some protection against high explosives, much depending on its construction and where one chose to shelter: the more walls and the less window the better; one should sit or lie under a table or a bed with plenty of bedding, screened against glass by sofas etc. The Press, 15–28 April, explained about wardens and siren signals, shelters, first-aid, fire precautions, reduced lighting and total blackout, dispersal and evacuation. Revised instructions on incendiary bombs were also given on a wall sheet issued by the government to all householders.672
All over the country, in cities and in small towns, tests were held, of both total EPS organisations and sections thereof. Group members rushed to their posts, the by-standing public was sent to dispersal areas or trenches; children ran home or to their appointed shelter places; make-believe fires were put out, mains mended, the wounded bandaged and borne on stretchers, dangerous areas cordoned. Full scale tests were too disrupting to be frequent. After Auckland’s third, early in March, the Mayor announced that there would be no more: the organisation would work if the real thing happened, it was not 100 per cent effective, but scores of full-scale tests would not make it so, and there were private, less expensive ways of improvement.673page 560
To add realism in major tests, aircraft often flew low over cities, as in Dunedin’s first trial, lasting 90 minutes, on 12 April. This rated a full column of description in the Otago Daily Times, which may be quoted as being more or less typical of many others:
The peace of a beautiful autumn morning, with the city waking under a soft cloak of smoke and haze, was shattered by the wailing of sirens… and long before the drone of approaching aircraft could be detected, EPS workers were hurrying to perform their allotted tasks.
Medical aid posts were manned, EPS headquarters staff and fire services were standing to, wardens, ‘the eyes and ears of the scheme’, were patrolling the streets, as were traffic and law and order officers, transport was ready, and all the other sections likewise.
The drone of the planes grew louder, and less than twenty minutes after the sounding of the alarm they were ‘in action’ over the heart of the city….Diving, banking, and climbing steeply the planes kept up incessant ‘attacks’ on targets scattered all over the area. It was the most spectacular exhibition of flying the people of Dunedin have witnessed, and it must have brought a clear realisation to many of the horrors and effectiveness of air attacks ….
The scene in the chief warden’s office was typical of the smoothness and efficiency of the whole scheme. Messages from wardens were transmitted by telephone or runner to the control room. An unexploded bomb had fallen in Wilkinson Street, Liberton, and the aid post was out of action. Immediately the transport, medical, law and order, works and evacuation sections were advised. The aid post had to be shifted, the danger area guarded, the people evacuated, and the unexploded bomb had to be removed. This information was posted up in simple form on a large hoarding, and on a large map of the area coloured pins were used to show the EPS sections operating at the bombed locality.
Similar reports of damage followed….A high explosive bomb had struck the Ross Creek Reservoir and the Leith Valley was flooded; the Caversham tunnel had been hit and 2000 people were trapped; a plane had crashed at 10 Mayfield Avenue, Wakari, blocking a street, setting fire to a house, and wrecking vital power lines; the city gas works and the Rugby Hotel had been set on fire; Onslow House had been wrecked and its inhabitants had to be evacuated….At one stage the telephone exchange was supposed to have been hit and messages had to be transmitted by runner, but not once did a hold-up or a ‘bottle-neck’ occur.
… Casualties were presumed to have occurred at each of the 41 aid posts scattered… from Port Chalmers to Mosgiel. Several page 561 hundred casualties were dealt with, and the more serious cases taken by ambulance to the Public Hospital.
Even gas attack was included. A gas bomb had exploded near the south-east corner of the Queen’s Gardens, and the anti-gas squad in masks and special oil-skin uniforms hurried to meet ‘clouds of noxious-smelling fumes, representing mustard gas and Lewisite’; they decontaminated twelve gas casualties and the ground affected. The ambulance that took the casualties to hospital, with its workers and gear, was also decontaminated, and further precautions were taken in hospital. Other gas reports were investigated, and an aid station that became contaminated had to be closed down.
Five ‘fires’ in the city area were put out, the fire brigades and the EFS co-operating most effectively. Firewatchers did not man the buildings but remained outside to show that their organisation was complete. ‘Although this part of the major scheme has been in operation only a few months, it was obvious that the area is well covered.’ All other sections, transport, public works supplies, evacuation, accommodation, communications, law and order, publicity and records, were involved. The authorities were pleased at the general success and the experience gained; the organisation was not perfect, but further work would eliminate faults.674
A not infrequent complaint was that the public did not treat EPS trials seriously. Thus, in a full rehearsal at Wellington on 29 April there was a ‘tendency to take the whole thing as a joke’, and efforts to get people into shelter were resented by some, especially by girls who obeyed instructors and then saw others strolling along uninterrupted because they were escorted by soldiers. Some drivers refused to stop when ordered: ‘some drove with determination to theoretical death in spite of being told that the Kelburn Viaduct had been destroyed; others went too fast to be told.’675 A stern line was taken with a few of the disrespectful: thus at Te Aroha a man who was walking along a street when the alarm sounded and who refused to take cover, though twice spoken to by law and order officials, was fined £2 and costs;676 so was a Wellington woman who likewise disobeyed repeated orders on 20 June 1942;677 a Wanganui man, who continued loading furniture bound for a train during a dispersal trial on 9 October, was fined costs.678
Transport was difficult. Apart from local body vehicles, the EPS depended on private cars or trucks that were lent or impressed. They page 562 were used for training and trials only, being returned to their owners at other times. In many cases owners drove their own cars and trucks on fire patrols, communications and other services, sometimes as volunteers, sometimes by impressment: for instance, Auckland’s taxis with their drivers were impressed to convey key personnel from the city to their posts in the suburbs if an emergency occurred in working hours.679 Readiness to lend cars was increased by the scarcity of petrol which was entirely denied to private cars from mid-December 1941 till March 1942, and thereafter was limited to one or two gallons a month, depending on the car’s size. EPS vehicles received a gallon of petrol in February, to keep them mobile,680 and free battery charging services were arranged.681 Sealed two-gallon tins of petrol were delivered to the owners of these vehicles, for use in an emergency, and they had special coupons for further supplies at such times.682
Fire fighting was recognised as the most necessary emergency service.683 District fire patrols, of volunteer car owners with helpers and lightweight fire gear, were increased, as were the truck squads, equipped to work from street hydrants. The government-run EFS, trained for larger fires and using heavy pumps on trailers mainly towed by taxis, was made more professional, with a 24 hour roster and weekly billeting. During working hours these men were rostered to action stations near their places of work. At night, for one week in three, groups in rotation were billeted in boarding houses on the fringe of the business area, with their equipment at hand, ready to turn out as quickly as regular firemen. Those not in billets were allotted in an alarm to suburban duty points near their homes.684 To increase their skill and experience, those in billets were called out to all fires in their districts along with the regular fire brigades.685 Fire services were always hungry for workers: by May the EFS in Wellington and the Hutt was 485 strong, while EPS units mustered 1000, but 600 and 1300, respectively, were wanted.686 In June the Christchurch EFS was still 77 short of its required 400 men.687
As damage to water mains was expected, independent supplies were arranged. At Auckland, following London models, several semi-sunken tanks were built, about eight feet deep, of double timber page 563 with waterproof material between, bottomed with concrete or puddled clay and with mains leading to fire plugs in city streets. The first, at the corner of Albert and Cook streets, held 60 000 gallons; there was one behind the Supreme Court, and another in Albert Park held 100 000 gallons.688 Similar reservoir cisterns were later built at Hamilton.689 At Wellington any large private tanks were sought out,690 and some 300 000 gallons, ponded in abandoned building foundations in Bowen Street, were increased to 1 million gallons, providing a spectacular reservoir for EFS trailer pumps.691 Through fire hose leads into salt water mains (‘risers’) from Jervois Quay, high-powered pumps drew many streams of sea water into canvas reservoirs, whence it was drawn out again by pumps and hoses fanning out over Wellington’s business area.692 Similar use was made of the Avon River at Christchurch;693 in the streets of Wanganui steel pipes with quickly fitted couplings lay ready to bring water gushing from the river.694 Steps were also taken to provide emergency drinking water. Thus in Wellington some 130 tanks, each holding about 400 gallons, were placed around the city and suburbs. They were filled by tankers with chlorinated water, changed as necessary, under the supervision of a committee of chemists; while nearby streams, at the back of Karori and in Happy Valley, were tested for purity in advance.695
Films and photographs had made the helmets of British ARP workers familiar, and New Zealanders wanted them. The era of hard hats on construction sites was many years in the future, the Army’s helmets were imported, and there were none for civilian defenders. At Auckland an engineer, H. J. Butcher, acquired steel plate sufficient for several thousand, found a luggage manufacturer to supply linings, and was soon turning out helmets ‘ninety per cent effective’.696 Wellington followed, three firms co-operating to make about 2000 a week: the metal was stamped out in a factory that had formerly made radios; linings were made at a slipper factory; painting and assembly done with machinery that was previously used on page 564 washing machines.697 Some of these steel shapes went to Christchurch, where they were painted and lined.698
On 10 May 1942, Churchill promised reprisal in kind if gas were used against Russia,699 and there were occasional reports of the Japanese using it700 and of the Germans being about to do so.701 Though New Zealand authorities considered gas attack unlikely, government, industrial and university chemists, especially at Auckland and Christchurch, worked to extend knowledge and recognition of gases, and training was extended at all main centres.702 During March 1942 a Christchurch rubber firm began work on a government order for 250 000 masks for civilians. These had a fitted rubber face piece, celluloid windows, a canister with a filter of raw cotton and cotton wool plus government-supplied activated charcoal made from coconut shell, treated so that it absorbed poisonous gases; a valve prevented exhalation through the canister.703 Timaru wanted to make its own masks at 5s each, and when told by the National Service Department to wait for its share of tested and approved respirators, complained of yet another instance of the smaller communities being badly treated: ‘we will probably have to wait until the cities have been supplied.’704 By June, rubber was desperately short and the official view that gas attack was remote checked the issue of masks to any but front line sections of EPS.705
Late in 1942, as the Pacific crisis began to wane, thousands of gas masks were sent to vulnerable centres. Some centres briskly issued them to EPS workers, as at Timaru;706 others, such as Wellington and Christchurch, decided to store most of them in depots in the meantime.707 Auckland began issuing, then paused;708 by March, it had received 60 000 respirators and issued 25 000 of them.709 The National Service Department issued a handbook, War Gases, Decon- tamination and Protection Measures, in August 1942.page 565
The main centres had early decided that, in emergency, all medical care would be arranged through the EPS. There would be no private calls for doctors, even for such civilian needs as heart attack or childbirth. Walking patients would go to the nearest first-aid post, usually in a school or public hall, where there would be a doctor and trained nurses. If a person could not leave the house, a large white sheet should be hung at the gate or a front window, to attract the notice of passing wardens, who would arrange for medical attention.710
In many places the public had been sluggish in producing equipment for first-aid posts and advanced dressing stations;711 now this was readily provided. A notable example was Kelburn’s post, the vacant tea rooms near the top of the cable car at Wellington, which was inadequately stocked in December.712 By the end of January 1942 it was considered ready for anything short of a major operation, with 28 beds and matching supplies, blood donors and transfusion apparatus, a well supplied kitchen and abundant VADs.713 In Dunedin by mid-1942, schools and halls could, in half an hour or so, be transformed into medical posts, each with 10 to 25 beds made up, plus screens, hot water bottles, kerosene heaters and lamps, medical equipment, sterilisers, stretcher-bearers with improvised ambulances, doctors, nurses and various assistants.714
At the main hospitals it was arranged that patients not seriously ill would be moved to temporary hospitals to make room for raid casualties. For this purpose, and also to expose fewer people to bomb risk, admissions were reduced at Wellington’s public hospitals, where only urgent cases were taken in, and only 440 operations were performed during January compared with 1189 in January 1941. Non-urgent cases were advised to apply to provincial hospitals.715 Shelters were built in hospital grounds and basements, the moving out of patients was practised, operating theatres were protected against blast, there were emergency supplies of water and of electricity.716 At Auckland two upper wards that were grave fire risks were cleared, patients from three others moved into the corridors, and much glass was covered with protective fabric.717page 566
Buildings suitable as emergency hospitals were sought out, beds and equipment and medical supplies stored there, and sometimes minor alterations made. Schools were favoured, but they were not generally taken over, carrying on with their normal work meanwhile.718 Kelburn’s now well-equipped first-aid post in the tea rooms was taken over as a standing emergency hospital, Kelburn EPS workers having to transfer to the nearby Teachers’ Training College.719 Some hospital centralisation was arranged at both Auckland and Wellington: many old people were moved from Wellington to the Otaki Health Camp, which made visiting difficult,720 while at Auckland St John’s College and St Stephen’s College, Bombay, were used for like purposes. The crippled children from the Wilson Home at Takapuna, considered a danger zone, were transferred to the new Onehunga school. Ellerslie racecourse buildings, in partial use from time to time as a military hospital, could take up to 450 beds.721
Appeals for blood donors were strengthened by awareness, gained from British air raids, of the wide usefulness of blood transfusions.722 Many transfusions were then given directly, but hospitals’ supplies of blood, which could be refrigerated for two weeks, and serum, which could be preserved for some months, was built up and donor lists lengthened. At Wellington, the 519 calls on donors of 1940 rose to 942 in the year ended March 1942, and by July there were 1148 donors on call.723 Dunedin’s blood donors increased from 290 in 1940 to 777 in 1941–2, and a further 253 were available for emergency, making more than 1000.724 Many EPS medical posts had transfusion equipment, and known blood group supplies were available ‘on the hoof’ from EPS workers.
Identification discs, widely worn in Britain, now became an item of worry for New Zealanders. Some Plunket and school authorities alarmingly advised mothers to sew labels into their children’s clothing.725 The Mayor of Auckland, hearing that expensive discs were page 567 being sold (at 10s 6d) and believing that they would soon be compulsory, arranged for silver-plated discs of sheet copper, with inscriptions reproduced from typewriting by a photo-etching process, to be retailed at 1s each.726 Army authorities and the 2NZEF Association wanted soldiers’ next-of-kin to wear some identification, so that if they became casualties soldiers could be notified.727 War Cabinet finally decided against imposing identification discs by regulation, preferring that the Prime Minister should appeal for them to be worn as a commonsense precaution.728 By mid-July more than 20 000 had been sold at Auckland, but in Wellington they did not catch on: in four months James Smith’s sold 1850 and Woolworth’s, after selling 2500, withdrew them as sales did not justify the accounting work.729 The wearing of identification tags was widespread though not compulsory in schools and various sorts were devised, such as a slim wooden label, about two inches by one inch, neatly printed and varnished.730
As 1942 wore on EPS reached full, almost blousy, development while retaining some youthful imperfections. Its sections and subsections increased. Several government emergency schemes had been developed to ensure the continuance of vital services such as railways, road services, post and telegraph, electricity and broadcasting. By mid-1942 there were about 6 technical units, quite separate from the municipal organisations,731 while within the latter subdivisions had proliferated. Throughout, EPS was bedevilled by changing membership: thousands were moved into the Home Guard and, as the ballots ploughed on through the 30 to 40-year-olds, many of the most competent disappeared into the forces. This involved tangled chains of re-allocation and replacement, while at team level there was much repetitive training for the benefit of newcomers. There were criticisms, such as:
We are an almost unlimited number of units, each incompetently (with a few exceptions) taught our one special job—police, ambulance, fire patrol, and a score of other jobs, all useful, but only a small proportion likely to be needed. Train all these specials, page 568 I say, but also train every member to do every job when necessary. I am a fire patrol, but am heartily sick of the whole thing. I have been taught or shown nothing, and meetings are a waste of time. We should all learn first-aid, fire fighting, traffic control, etc. Suppose I, a fire patrol, find an injured man. Is it not better that I administer first aid than run off to find an ambulanceman?732
In Auckland a warden who had served in Glasgow and the Midlands spoke of conflicting orders from headquarters, of changing membership, scanty training of wardens, and a lack of preparedness in civilians that was shocking by British standards; he also spoke of seeming emphasis on saving property rather than lives, with wardens’ posts unprotected, of EPS workers in an alarm hurrying to their posts regardless of danger, and of ‘serious casualties’ bandaged and splinted in the open.733 There were complaints of wardens’ lectures being heavy but without practical details, and of administrative complications.734
Tests continued modestly. In cities usually only some EPS sections were involved: thus Petone called out its wardens, firemen, works and medical units to deal with unexploded bombs and damage to gas mains, water pipes and people.735 Suburbs such as Mt Eden or Grey Lynn would have a local blackout, with wardens, fire patrols and law and order men out, and medical posts at the ready.736 Sometimes realism was induced by bonfires or sound effects, as at Wellington’s Eastern Bays where heavy planks dropped from a height gave a mild imitation of bombs exploding, and hosepipe on a lathe turning rapidly against an empty tin simulated machine-gun fire;737 smoke bombs were placed on city buildings, to give point to the actions of fire services.738 Sometimes exercises were comprehensive, as when Hamilton’s business was completely suspended for an hour-and-a-half while under a light drizzle EPS units dealt with supposed bomb damage, fires and casualties, and citizens were thankful that they were not required actually to enter trenches ‘on account of the water and mud in them’.739
Christchurch services were challenged by a hundred unrehearsed incidents when lorries moving through the night announced by gunshots the dropping of white sacks containing descriptions of damage, to be picked up and acted upon; some controllers took 18 minutes page 569 to issue instructions, some two minutes, and the average was 5.95 minutes, with experienced men well ahead of late comers.740
To avoid interrupting production, tests were usually in the evenings or weekends, while ordinary traffic was not halted, or people hustled into shelters or ‘evacuated’ from buildings or areas. Such dislocation would have been irksome, but lack of it, and of large-scale trials, worried some critics who lamented wasted early energy and growing apathy: it was ‘drilling everyone but the troops. The sergeants have done wonderfully well to maintain their own interest in the theory of helping the public and the practice of giving their time and energy, and some of them their money, but they know that the public is not being instructed’.741 The Dominion on 27 October said that some district groups had not assembled, let alone practised, for months past, and hundreds of EPS members were in danger of forgetting what little they had learned.
The early stimulus of fear had waned: the shock of Japan’s attack had worn off, people were used to the nearer war. In April–May it had seemed that the main drive was turning towards Burma and India; in June the Coral Sea and Midway victories made for comfortable talk about the tide turning and, in the lull that followed, people were not sharply alarmed that Japan was thrusting deeper into New Guinea and more quietly occupying obscure islands in the little-known Solomon chain. On 10 August came the news of America’s attack on Guadalcanal and though it was soon clear that this was a slow-moving fight there was little awareness of the narrow American hold. Meanwhile British forces were barely holding the Nazi panzers in Egypt, and Germans were pushing towards Stalingrad, but who could argue that New Zealand’s EPS activities would help the Russians or the Eighth Army? Leaders demanding effort in the name of urgency and danger were flogging a dead horse as long as the news gave no more than accustomed discomfort, especially with the presence of thousands of Americans giving both assurance and pre-occupation.
In mid-November, when air and naval success at Guadalcanal had achieved what the ill-informed majority had prematurely taken for granted, a few long-intended EPS tests proved a rather tame finale. Auckland’s fourth full-scale effort, with districts from Mercer to North Cape also participating, was held between 6 and 7.15 am on 27 November, with cloud and rain precluding the excitement of bombers overhead; it affected few but its well-warned EPS personnel, who scurried to their posts in thousands. Indeed, the Auckland Star’s page 570 ‘first and outstanding impression’ was that almost every adult male in the city, many women and a large number of boys had some EPS right to be on the streets, and in a real raid too many would have been exposed to injury. The usual incidents with imaginary fire and bomb damage were staged, and more than 400 hospital beds were vacated by shifting suitable patients into temporary quarters in the museum.742
After a blackout on 9 November, the Evening Post said that Wellington would have been easy to find and that EPS traffic had been immobilised. After three years, regulations still required urgent traffic, in an alarm, to drive behind parking lights covered with two thicknesses of newspaper—‘Given a sufficiently long war, this problem will undoubtedly be solved, but until it is, EPS transport at night will be a farce.’ Before a general trial at Wellington in mid-December it was announced that the public would take cover, but as very few were abroad between 7 and 9 on a Sunday morning, shelters were empty; some wardens ‘moved with alacrity, others strolled along’, and one called it all a ‘complete farce’.743 Dunedin was more steadfast: according to the Evening Star, 10 000 willing EPS workers went into action at 6.20 am on Saturday 29 May 1943 and, although the all clear sounded 20 minutes later, it was nearly 9 o’clock before all the incidents were cleared up. On the other hand, Hamilton’s EPS, which had been zealous, streamlined itself in mid-November, reducing its 4200 members to 1557.744
With lighting restrictions eased and nightly firewatching called off shortly before Christmas 1942, there was widespread feeling that the EPS was finished. In the New Year it was given new direction and its name changed to Civil Defence, and schools of instruction were set up in Wellington to give three weeks’ intensive training in a revised general personnel course to groups of about 30, drawn from the principal towns. These, armed with the latest gospel on fire fighting, first-aid, resuscitation, unexploded bombs, protection from high explosives, hygiene, stretcher bearing, crowd dispersal and chemical warfare, were to begin training their fellows uniformly throughout the country.745 On 27 February a new policy was announced. For the 25 vulnerable centres there would henceforth be fixed civil defence establishments. Auckland would have 7500 members, Wellington 5250, Christchurch 3750, Dunedin 3000, New page 571 Plymouth, Wanganui and Napier 1200 each, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Lower Hutt 1050, Whangarei, Timaru, and Invercargill 900, Westport and Masterton 600, and so on, nearly 35 000 in all. They would be allotted to six first-line sections in each centre, wardens, fire, works and medical units each claiming 20 per cent, law and order and communications 10 per cent apiece.
In addition, at the four main centres and the secondary ports, there would be mobile squads, 10 per cent of the establishment numbers, which would train alongside established units and reinforce any of them in a crisis. They would have 30 hours’ training in the revised general course, spread over six months. All other EPS members would remain, on paper, in their old units, liable to occasional parades;746 but in effect they were retired.
In April there was a specialist rescue course, highly technical, involving lifting gear and tackle, rescue methods, ladder, rope and stretcher work, shoring of damaged buildings, demolition, and removal of the dead. This was followed in May by a short specialist course in law and order.747 Such training would, apart from enemy action, be of value in destructive earthquakes etc, but there was widespread desire to reduce unnecessary service, releasing energy and money for more productive use. In July, War Cabinet decided that the new training programme was no longer necessary and that the front line units should be cut back by about 64 per cent, to between 12 000 and 13 000 volunteers in all. These would attend one parade a month in respect of their own particular unit.748
Meanwhile some school grounds, parks and open spaces were disfigured by overgrown, waterlogged trenches, open or covered; other school grounds, the basements of buildings and vacant sections were cumbered with shelters. By August 1943 the Pacific war seemed safely distant, and short-lived hopes that the war in Europe might be soon over heightened impatience with these encumbrances. But there was no sudden demolition; their position and sturdiness largely determined how long they lasted. Labour urgently needed for productive work could not be spent on their removal, except where they were dangerous or expensive to maintain.749 Open trenches were the first to go, some quite early in 1943: for instance, those in the gardens of Parliament Buildings, in certain play areas, and some, overgrown and crumbling, that pitted the wasteland of Albert Park, page 572 once Auckland’s pride;750 most household trenches were already replaced by vegetables or grass.
During the first part of 1943 authority, advised by Chiefs of Staff, required the retention ‘of all necessary Air Raid Shelters in a full state of efficiency’,751 especially in the port areas of Auckland and Wellington. Thus, the Wellington Harbour Board’s request to demolish shelters occupying much needed space near the wharves was refused in March, again in August, and not granted till December 1943.752 Notwithstanding this caution, Air Commodore R. V. Goddard, as early as December 1942, had asked that the protective pinex partitions in Air Headquarters, Stout Street, Wellington, should be replaced with glass, to give more well-lit space, stating: ‘there is no doubt whatever that the possibility of enemy action against the Dominion has become more remote, and accordingly the precautions which were taken originally are not now warranted.’ This was minuted: ‘As he is in a better position than PWD to assess the danger of using glass, let him decide.’753
By October, shelters were officially rated no longer necessary and removal was sanctioned,754 but labour shortage was the main factor retaining them. They disappeared piecemeal over the next 18 months. An example of the delay was provided by the log cabin surface shelter in lower Taranaki Street, Wellington, which occupied about one third of the roadway: in December 1943, with grass three feet high growing round it, it was booked for early removal; at the end of April 1944, gorse bushes were in full bloom on its roof; in June 1944 the timbering was coming apart, releasing the rubble filling.755 Meanwhile, brickwork protecting windows and doorways in some public buildings was removed, restoring much-needed light and air, as in the outpatients’ department at Wellington Public Hospital.756
By slow degrees the laboriously built impedimenta were whittled away: most of Albert Park was regrassed in the autumn of 1944,757 trench shelters in the small reserve at Wellington’s Jervois Quay– Wakefield Street junction were levelled during April 1944, and in Kent Terrace a month later.758 In June 1944 at Auckland the page 573 Symonds Street–Wakefield Street reserve was restored, soon to be followed by others.759 Emergency water tanks disappeared at about the end of the year.760 In the Albert Park tunnel, pride of New Zealand’s deep shelters, the timbers were beginning to falter by the end of 1943, and as conversion to a traffic way or a parking area would cost more money and labour than could be spared, tenders for filling it in were, after much debate, sought in February 1945.761 At about the same time, the solid public shelters in Parliament grounds were unearthed and removed, the power shovel providing lunchtime entertainment for many civil servants.762 The deep bunker for War Cabinet, built nearby under the main roadway, was to remain, however, till excavated for the carpark in 1970.763
2 NZPD, vol 258, p. 88
5 eg, NZ Herald, 1, 6, 9, 11, 14, 15, 16 May, 5, 20 Jun, 3, 4, 6, 9, 11, 12, 15 Jul, 2 Aug 40; Evening Post, 10, 18, 21 May, 3, 20, 24 Jun 40; Press, 28 Apr, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 22 May 40; Otago Daily Times, 5 Jul 40; Southland Times, 15 Aug 40; Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail, 11 Jul 40
6 Deer-stalkers and rifle club members felt that they already had the skill, ability and equipment to be highly useful, and needed only some training and organisation. ‘What better equipped men than we to stalk a wily Hun instead of a stag?’ asked a writer to the Southland Times, 10 Jul 40; ibid., 27 Jul 40; Evening Post, 10, 18 May, 24 Jun 40; Wanganui Herald, 11 Sep 40
8 Press, 18 Jun 40, p. 8
9 Taranaki Daily News, 21, 26 Jun 40, pp. 6, 6
11 Ibid., 20 Jun, 9 Jul 40, pp. 2, 10
13 NZPD, vol 257, p. 358
16 Ibid., referring to NS file 13/2/3
17 Duigan, Major-General Sir John, KBE(’40), CB, DSO (1882–1950): Chief of Staff Northern Cmd 1919, OC 1930; CGS and First Military Member NZ Army Bd 1937–41
19 Ibid., p. 7, quoting a memorandum Army HQ to Dir Nat Service, 31 Jul 40
21 See p. 1068ff
22 Wilson, Hon David (1880–1977): b Scotland; Nat Sec NZ Lab party; MLC from 1937, Leader 1939–40, 1947–9; Min Manpower, Immigration, Broadcasting, Civil Def during WWII; member War Council; NZHC Canada 1944–7
25 Ibid., 20, 21 Aug 40, pp. 13, 11; Press, 22 Aug 40, p. 8. These purposes were reported with more or less detail from other centres during the next month, though allegiance and rumour-checking got little space. Wilson’s explanations, eg, Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail, 24 Aug 40, p. 7, had rather less froth and perhaps more facts.
26 Timaru Herald, 11 Oct 40, p. 6
28 Taranaki Daily News, 18 Feb 41, p. 9
30 ‘Answer the Call/Back up the Fighting Forces/Join the Home Guard/“Sunk off coast …400 miles from Dominion”/Smash the Invader/Auckland is in the Danger Zone/We must Defend our City. Only trained men can do this. Don’t wait until it happens…’ NZ Herald, 5 Dec 40, p. 12
32 Ibid., 17, 22 Oct 40, pp. 12, 10
33 Press, 5 Nov 40, p. 3
35 The People’s Voice of 27 August warned: ‘The whole idea is to build up an organisation parallel in structure to the Army, to be partly controlled by the Army and in times of “crisis” to be handed over completely to military control. It aims at introducing the Nazi fashion of civilians having physical drill in the parks. It aims at building up a Gestapo to combat the “spreading of rumours” and to provide free (“scab”) labour under the pretext of ensuring effective use of the country’s manpower. The official personnel will not be elected but appointed and the local body authorities are to be used to give a semblance of democracy to the scheme at its inception, but after that they will obviously have no control over the function of the Home Guard.’
36 Press, 16 Nov 40, p. 10; Star–Sun, 12 Nov 40, p. 9
37 At the beginning of 1914 a widespread strike originating with shipwrights and watersiders jeopardised the export of primary produce and Massey authorised the enrolment of special constables to enforce order until the strike ended.
38 A. B. Grant, a trade union secretary, said that no Minister could say straight out that New Zealand could expect invasion from a certain country; that would be asking for trouble. Another said, ‘If the appeal for recruits has failed so far, then it is because while our speakers are able to go to the factories and tell the people that the Home Guard is being formed to counter a possible invasion, their statements are not backed up by statements from Ministers, who say something else.’ Press, 13 Nov 40, p. 12
39 Ibid., 22 Oct 40, p. 8
42 Point Blank, 14 Dec 40, p. 5
44 Press, 6, 26 Nov 40, pp. 10, 10
45 Ibid., 5 Dec 40, p. 8
46 Thus in March 1941 a Wellington city councillor said that the uninformative nature of public statements was the root of failure to respond; surely something definite could be said ‘without antagonising other people’. The idea of raiders coming was absurd; British people hated hints and wanted plain speaking. Evening Post, 13 Mar 41, p. 6
47 Ibid., 24 Oct 40, p. 13
50 Truth, 30 Oct, 27 Nov 40, pp. 28, 7
54 Ibid., 19 Dec 40, p. 9, 24 Jan 41, p. 5
55 Ibid., 24 Feb, 30 Apr 41, pp. 9, 7
57 The Lands and Survey maps then current did not show relief or ground cover.
62 Figures for 20 Nov & 7 Dec 40 in Evening Post, 17 Dec 40, p. 9; for 31 Jan & 28 Feb 41 in ibid., 25 Mar 41, p. 8. Figures for all five dates are in WHN, ‘Home Guard’, App IX. The total for 7 Dec 40 should read 37 703.
66 Ibid., 12 Mar 41, p. 10
67 Ibid., 22 Mar 41, p. 8
68 Ibid., 22, 25 Feb, 1 Mar 41, pp. 8, 8, 8
73 Ibid., p. 15
75 The Home Guardsman, 28 Jun 41, p. 4
77 For instance, by mid-March the Karori Battalion was getting familiar with the Makara area, using improvised equipment of various sorts, with transport, signals, ambulance, mortar and machine gun platoons, as well as infantry companies. Evening Post, 15 Mar 41, p. 11
78 Taranaki Daily News, 17 Feb 41, p. 6; Wanganui Herald, 1 May 41, p. 11
79 Press, 18 Jun 41, p. 4
80 Taranaki Daily News, 11 Feb 41, p. 8
81 Press, 26 May 41, p. 6
84 Ibid., 10 Apr 41, p. 13
88 Ibid., pp. 64–5 and App XII
89 Ibid., pp. 22, 29, 34 and App XII
91 Press, 18 Mar 41, p. 8
94 Press, 16 Jun 41, p. 4
95 Williams, General Sir Guy (1881–1959): C-in-C Eastern Command 1938–41; Military Adviser NZ govt 1941
99 NZPD, vol 259, p. 488
101 Ibid., App XVI, Home Guard Special NZ Army Order 261/1941
104 Ibid., App XVI, Army Order 261/1941, p. 4
109 Press, 26 Nov 41, p. 8
110 Ibid., 5 Nov 41, p. 6
112 Ibid., 7 Nov 41, p. 7
116 Press, 22, 23, 27, 30 Jan, 7 Mar 42, pp. 6, 6, 8, 4, 6; Star–Sun, 7 Sep 42, p. 4
118 Press, 23 Jan 42, p. 6
124 Ibid., 7 Feb 42, p. 6
126 Ibid., pp. 33, 41. The capitation grant was paid to units, not to Guardsmen, for expenses.
127 Ibid., App XXI, p. 181
130 Ibid., p. 182
132 Auckland Star, 6 Mar 42, p. 4
136 Ibid., pp. 42, 182
137 A to J1942, H–19, p. 1
141 Ibid., 16 Apr 42, p. 8
145 Auckland Star, 2 Feb, 13 Mar 42, pp. 4, 5
147 Auckland Star, 2 May, 2 Sep 42, pp. 8, 4
153 Ibid., pp. 51, 66
155 Auckland Star, 27 Mar 42
156 Russell, Sir Andrew Hamilton, KCB(’18), KCMG(’15) (1868–1960): GOC NZ Div 1915–19; Pres NZRSA 1920–4, 1927ff; Inspector-Gen NZ Military Forces, member War Council 1940ff
158 Tirikatene, Hon Sir Eruera Tihema Teaika, KCMG(’60), JP (1895–1967): MP (Lab) Southern Maori from 1932; Min representing Maori Race NZ Exec Council 1943–9, of Forests, Maori Aff 1957–60; member War Council
162 Press, 26, 29 Sep, 9 Oct 42, pp. 6, 6, 4
164 Auckland Star, 13 Nov 42, p. 4
165 Ibid., 4, 13 Nov 42, pp. 4, 4
170 Wood, pp. 85–6
171 War History Narrative, ‘Emergency Precautions Scheme’ (hereinafter WHN, ‘EPS’), p. 8, referring to IA 178/1, pt 1, minutes of EP committee, 16 Jun 37
172 Ibid., p. 9, minutes of EP committee, 18 Aug 38
173 Meanwhile some local bodies had already planned how they would cope with other dangers. The Mayor of Dunedin in March 1941 said that three years earlier Dunedin began preparing a ‘wide and complete scheme’ for natural disasters; it was finished in November 1939, and did not consider war. Otago Daily Times, 14 Mar 41, p. 4
174 In June 1940, W. E. Parry, Min Int Aff, told the House that in the main centres 287 persons had been or were being trained and they in turn would instruct others. A to J 1940, H–22B, pp. 4, 5; Dominion, 24 Jun 40, p. 9
175 Taumarunui Press, 7 Nov 40
177 Parry, Hon William Edward (1878–1952): b Aust, to NZ c. 1906; Pres Waihi Miners Union 1913; Sec Coal Miners Fed 1918; MP (Lab) Auck Central from 1919, Min Int Aff, Pensions 1935–49, Social Security 1946–9
178 A to J1940, H–22B, p. 2
179 Auckland Star, 22 Jun 40
182 Ibid., 24 Aug 40, p. 12. When compulsory military service was introduced in June 1940, the National Service Department was established, consolidating and extending earlier machinery for controlling manpower in order to maintain essential industry. This function was strengthened in 1942 and 1944 by industrial manpower regulations and the Department also dealt with military defaulters and conscientious objectors. Emergency Precautions Services, linked with fire-fighting, light restrictions and the provision of air-raid shelters, were further concerns of the Department. A to J 1943, H–11A, pp. 2–4, 14–20
183 Nat Service Circular No 9 of 14 March, quoted in Nash to Hislop, 6 Jun 41, IA 178/8
187 J. S. Hunter to EPS Taumarunui, 8 Oct 41, IA 178/6
189 Ibid., 19 Feb 41, p. 8
191 Ibid.; Dominion, 4 Dec 41, p. 8; Press, 7 Nov 41, p. 2
193 Ibid., 24 Jun 41, p. 8
197 Press, 3 Dec 41, p. 6
199 C. W. Lopdell to Nat Service Dept, 23 Jul 42, IA 178/267
200 WHN, ‘EPS’, chap VI, p. 2
204 Ibid., 28 Jun 41, p. 11
206 Press, 12 Mar 41, p. 10
211 Population 1610, Yearbook 1942, p. 53
212 Press, 14 Apr 41, p. 5
213 Population 2760, Yearbook 1942, p. 52
214 Taumarunui Press, 27 Nov 41
216 Ibid., 18 Sep 41, p. 10
218 Population 2690, Yearbook 1942, p. 52
219 Ibid., 5 Dec 41, p. 8
220 Ibid., 14 Nov 41, p. 8
221 Ibid., 13, 14, 17 Nov 41, pp. 8, 4, 4
222 Ibid., 15 Nov 41, p. 10
223 Baker, Alfred James (1881–1961): Asst Engineer-in-chief, Public Works Department 1932–40
224 Report of A. J. B[aker], nd[c.17 Jun 41], IA 178/8
227 Ibid., 25 Nov 41, p. 8
228 On 5 June Mayor Hislop had publicly complained of government delay in issuing a circular to householders, lack of direction about shelters and of information about subsidies to local bodies, and muddled transport arrangements.
229 Press, 11 Jun 41, also 12 Jun 41, p. 6
230 Calder, pp. 55, 66–7, 112, 243
231 Semple to J. Williams, 12 Jun 41, IA 158/238/12
232 Press, 8 Nov 41, p. 8
236 Press, 14 Apr 41, p. 4
237 Ibid., 27 Jun 41, p. 10
239 Wanganui Herald, 22 May 41, p. 6; J. S. Hunter, Dir Nat Service, to Min, 30 Oct 41, IA 178/259
240 The city population was 120 700; total, with Hutt, etc, 160 500. Yearbook 1942, p. 50
242 Ibid., 7 Aug 41, p. 8
243 Press, 4 Nov 41, p. 8
245 City population 106 800, in total urban area 223 700. Yearbook 1942, p. 50
247 Report of EPS conference, 16 Jan 41, IA 178/247; Taranaki Daily News, 1 Mar 41, p. 6, reporting from a Nat Service Dept circular
248 Surveys dated 15 and 26 August 1941 on IA 178/247
252 Circular, 26 Jun 41, IA 178/247
253 Overton, Educ Dept, to Mulligan, Nat Service Dept, 10 Jun 41, IA 178/247/1
255 Press, 6 May 41, p. 5
256 Auckland Star, 15 Sep 41, p. 5
258 Taranaki Daily News, 11 Jan 41, p. 8
260 Imprisonment of up to three months and fines of up to £50 for individuals, with a maximum fine of £200 for a stubborn company.
261 Kissel, Frederick Templeton Manheim, ISO(’49) (1881–1962): Gen Manager Hydroelectricity Dept 1945–8
264 Auckland Star, 5 Jul 41, p. 6
271 Ibid., 15 Mar 41, p. 6
273 Ibid., 26 May 41, p. 8
274 Ibid., 16 Jun 41, p. 9
275 Ibid., 24 Jun 41, p. 6
276 Ibid., 19 Dec 41, p. 4
278 Ibid., 25 Mar, 4 Jul 41, pp. 9, 4
279 Ibid., 27 Mar, 3 Apr 41, pp. 6, 10
280 Press, 7, 8 Jul 41, pp. 9, 10
281 NZ Woman’s Weekly, 17 Apr 41, p. 1
282 Press, 14 Aug 41, p. 8, also 30 Jun 41, p. 8
283 Ibid., 16 Aug 41, p. 5
293 Press, 26 Jun 41, p. 6
295 Ibid., 2, 9 Apr, 27 May 41, pp. 12, 10, 6; Auckland Star, 22 Sep 41, p. 6
299 Ibid., 8 Apr 41, p. 6
300 Ibid., 12 Apr 41, p. 8
301 Ibid., 5 Apr 41, p. 8
302 Press, 8 Jul 41
305 Hitchcock, Edward (1883–1966): Gen Manager MED Chch 1920–49
306 Press, 14 Aug 41, p. 4
308 Ibid., 1 Apr 41, p. 6
309 Ibid., 1 May 41, p. 8
310 Ibid., 30 Jun 41, p. 6
311 A judge, sentencing a man to two years in prison for assaulting a woman on a Ponsonby street, said that it was the court’s duty to protect women in the blackout. Auckland Star, 24 Jul 41, p. 4
313 Zealandia, 20 Mar 41, p. 4
316 Press, 18 Jun 41, p. 8
317 Auckland Star, 27 Sep 41, p. 4 (photo)
320 Ibid., 7 Jul 41, p. 9
321 Ibid., 9 Jul 41, p. 8
322 Ibid., 12, 25 Nov 41, pp. 8, 8
324 Ibid., 8 Oct 41, p. 6
325 Ibid., 4 Oct 41, p. 8
326 Ibid., 13, 14 Oct 41, pp. 9, 8
327 Ibid., 10, 11 Nov 41, pp. 6, 6
328 Ibid., 20 Nov 41, p. 6
329 Ibid., 21 Nov 41, p. 4
330 Ibid., 11 Dec 41, p. 8
332 Ibid., 4 Dec 41, p. 10
333 Press, 22 Dec 41, p. 8
334 Report of pilot, 17 Dec 41, at 2120–2145 hours, IA 178/8
337 Semple to E. Davis, 4 Mar 41, IA 158/238/12, citing the consensus of the conference
338 Fraser to Semple, 8 Mar 41, IA 178/259, pt 1
339 E. Davis to Semple, 18 Feb 41, IA 158/238/12
340 Semple to Davis, 4 Mar 41, ibid.
343 Nash to Hislop, 6 Jun 41, IA 178/8
344 Auckland Suburbs LRC to F. Jones, 25 May 41, IA 178/3/6; Westmere Labour Party Branch to Nash, 19 May 41, and NZ Locomotive Engineers, Firemen and Cleaners Association to Nash, 29 May 41, both IA 178/259, pt 1
345 NZ Institute of Engineers to Nash, 28 May 41, IA 178/259, pt 1
346 Auckland Star, 27 Aug 41, p. 5
348 More regulations in late October caused property owners in vulnerable areas to install bucket pumps and to train people occupying buildings in their use.
350 Hunter Report to Semple, 30 Oct 41, IA 178/259, pt 1
351 An interim report of the Wellington committee said that of 1558 buildings, from the Railway Station to Abel Smith Street and Buckle Street, only 13.5% would be of any value, and in the main would protect only their own occupants. If Japan entered the war, which could happen at any moment, there would be immediate demand for adequate protection and a frantic rush to achieve in a few weeks results which must necessarily occupy months; no data would be available for designing, and labour and materials would be hopelessly inadequate. Report of Wellington committee, 29 Aug 41, IA 178/8
352 J. S. Hunter to Semple, 30 Oct 41, IA 178/259, pt 1
354 Press, 6 Dec 41, p. 4
357 Ibid., 24 Dec 41, p. 6
358 Ibid., 15 Dec 41, p. 8
359 Ibid., p. 6
360 J. Tyler, City Engineer, to J. S. Hunter, Dir Nat Service, 8 Jan 42, IA 178/3/6
362 Ibid., 31 Dec 41, p. 6
363 Ibid., 17 Jan 42, p. 6
364 Ibid., 6 Jan 42, p. 4
365 Ibid., 20, 23, 31 Dec 41, pp. 13, 6, 6, 15 Jan 42, p. 9 (photo)
366 These were at an old timber yard in Taranaki Street, Newtown Park, Basin Reserve, Salamanca Road, Grant Road quarry, Hobson Street gully, Aotea and Thorndon quays, Majoribanks Street and the National Art Gallery. Dominion, 22 Dec 41, p. 7
367 Ibid., 23 Dec 41, p. 4
368 Ibid., p. 6; Truth, 31 Dec 41, p. 7
372 Press, 13 Dec 41, p. 10
373 Ibid., 16 Dec 41, p. 8
376 Press, 29 Jan 42, p. 9
379 Ibid., 20 Dec 41, p. 13
380 Ibid., 17 Dec 41, p. 8
381 Wanganui Herald, 7 Jan 42, p. 2
383 Ibid., 6 Jan 42, p. 8
385 Press, 10 Jan 42, p. 5
386 Ibid., 14 Jan 42, p. 3
388 ‘To make provision for an air-raid shelter and the consequent reorganisation of floor space it has been decided to close the DIC Tearoom temporarily on Sat., February 21 …. When danger no longer looms so close to these shores and times become more normal, the DIC will, with confidence, re-open their Tearoom.’ Dominion, 16 Feb 42, p. 3. ‘Atwaters urgently require their basement for an air raid shelter and have to remove over 100 pianos … each heavily reduced. This sacrifice is your gain’. NZ Herald, 31 Jan 42, p. 2, repeated until 12 Mar 42
389 Press, 10 Mar 42, p. 4
394 Dir Nat Service to Asst Under-Sec PWD, 2 Apr 43, ibid., pt 2
398 Tyler, James (d 1952, aet 75): Auckland City Engineer 1930–44
400 City Engineer to District Engineer PWD, 27 Jan 42, IA 178/3/6
401 Engineer in Chief PWD to Dir Nat Service, 2 Feb 42, ibid.
404 Six between Wellesley and Bacon Streets; three at the intersection of Churchill Street and Black Road.
407 Auckland Star, 25 Sep 42, p. 4
408 Ibid., 9 Jun 42, p. 4
411 Evening Post, 29 Jan 42, p. 8; Dominion, 3 Feb 42, p. 6. Among the first buildings so notified, on 20 January, were the AMP in Customhouse Quay, Brandon House and New Zealand Insurance in Featherston Street, the Hotel Waterloo, James Smith’s and Kirkcaldie & Stains. IA 178/8/1
416 The Communist party held that deep bomb-proof shelters were the right of the people.
423 Ibid., 20 Feb 42, p. 6
424 Press, 6 Feb 42, p. 4. ‘Parliament grounds now look like Gallipoli or a relief map of New Guinea, almost completely turned up by machinery into a succession of hills and gullies for construction of shelters for the public in case of raids. The engineers have been considerate enough to spare the pohutukawa trees which have been a feature of the grounds for many years, and the statues of Seddon and Ballance.’ Scholefield, Diary, 30 Mar 42. On the 24th, Scholefield had remarked that owing to the demand for cement for aviation runways at Ohakea, these shelters were to have very much lighter roofs than intended.
435 Ibid., 12 Sep 42, p. 8
436 Press, 10, 11, 25 Mar 42, pp. 4, 4, 4
437 Andrews, Sir Ernest, Kt(’50), CBE(’46), JP (1873–1961): Chch city councillor 1918–50 including mayoralty; various Education Board appointments, including NZ Council of Education; local body posts, including founder & 1st Pres Sth Island Local Bodies Assn; District Controller EPS WWII
438 Star-Sun, 31 Mar 42, p. 3
439 Press, 12, 26, 27 May 42, pp. 4, 4
440 Ibid., 10, 21 Apr 42, pp. 4, 4; Star-Sun, 10, 22 Apr 42, pp. 3, 6
441 Press, 12, 13, 26 May, 16 Jun, 18 Aug 42, pp. 4, 4, 4, 4, 4; Star-Sun, 25 May, 8 Sep 42, pp. 3 (photo), 2
444 Ibid., 24 Feb 42, p. 4
447 Press, 12 Aug 42, p. 2
450 Nat Service Circular to EPS, No 48, 26 Jan 42; PWD Engineer in Chief to district engineers, 2 Mar 42, enclosing typical plans of a covered public shelter, constructed of timber, found satisfactory in Wellington. IA 178/259
451 Wanganui Herald, 5 Feb 42, p. 4
453 Star-Sun, 21 Mar 42, p. 3
455 Circular memo for education boards, secondary school boards, etc from Education Dept, 23 Jan 42, IA 178/247. The Department of Education controls the syllabuses and operation of secondary schools, each of which has an elected Board of Governors to supervise the administration of its school; primary schools are under the control of local Education Boards, with parents forming School Committees for individual administration.
457 Auckland Star, 31 Jan 42, p. 6
458 Telegram to Min Def from Headmasters’ Assn, Auck, 17 Feb 42, IA 178/247; NZ Herald, 20 Feb 42, p. 6
463 Auckland Star, 3 Mar 42, p. 3
466 Auckland Star, 17 Apr 42, p. 4
467 Dir Educ to Nat Service, 21 Aug 42, IA 178/3/6
468 Auckland Star, 5 Aug 42, p. 6
474 Ibid., 16 Jun 42, p. 4
477 Ibid., 27 Feb, 20 Jun 42, pp. 4, 6 (photo)
478 Press, 19 Mar, 28 Jul 42, pp. 7, 4; Star–Sun, 14 Apr 42, p. 6
479 Star–Sun, 18 Jul 42, p. 6
480 Press, 30 Jul 42
481 Dir Educ Dept to Dir Nat Service Dept, and reply, 6 Aug 42, IA 178/247/1
483 Ibid., 18 Mar 42, p. 7
484 Ibid., 15 Apr 42, p. 4
486 Press, 3, 5 Feb 42, pp. 6, 6
493 Auckland Star, 13 Aug 42, p. 3
496 Lovegrove, Claude James, OBE(’54) (1897–1977): member Auck City Council 6 years, Electric Power Board 18 years (chmn 1948–51); Pres Electric Supply Authorities Assn 1951–5
499 Lovegrove to Allum, 26 Jan 42, IA 178/3/3
500 Ibid., Report of Cmte
502 Ibid., 12 Feb 42, p. 6
504 Ibid., 23 Feb 42, p. 6
505 Ibid., 3 Mar 42, p. 4
507 Auckland Star, 3 Mar 42, p. 6
508 Press, 5 Mar 42
511 Auckland Star, 7 Mar 42, p. 5
512 Auck Chamber of Commerce to Min Def, 17 Mar 42, IA 178/3/3
517 Ibid., 11 Sep 42, p. 2
522 Greene, Brigadier Alfred, JP (1872–1950): b Aust; Salvation Army Chaplain NZEF 1914–20
526 Press, 4 Nov 41, p. 8
528 Press, 20, 23, 29 Jan, 6, 14 Feb 42, letters
529 Ibid., 20, 29 Jan 42, pp. 8, 8
530 Ibid., 30 Jan 42, p. 8
531 E. H. Andrews to M. Howard, 25 Mar 42, IA 178/2/4
532 Ibid., EPS Bulletin No 2, Apr 42; Press, 19 Mar 42, p. 3
534 Press, 10 Mar 42, p. 3
538 Ibid., 12 Jan 42, p. 6
539 Ibid., 27 May 42, p. 4
540 ‘9 Jan 1942. To Dannevirke to inspect depository for storage of books and manuscripts …. 10 Jan 1942 (Saturday). Packing books for removal; also considerable quantity of manuscripts belonging to the Archives, notably the New Zealand Company’s papers and what we have of provincial records. 20 Jan…. Packing of books for safe custody finished.’ Scholefield, Diary
543 Ibid., 18 Dec 41, p. 6, 30 Apr 42, p. 6
547 Auckland Star, 7 Mar 42, p. 5
549 Ibid., 18 Dec 41, p. 3
551 Auckland Star, 7 Mar 42, p. 5
552 Press, 24 Apr 42, p. 4
555 Ibid., 2 Jan 42, p. 4
556 Press, 20 Dec 41, p. 5
558 Press, 15, 16 Dec 41, pp. 4, 8
559 Ibid., 14 Jan 42, p. 6
560 Ibid., 12 Feb 42, p. 4: paper for pasting on windows, etc, cost 6d a yard; heavy quality paper for rolling up, 1s 1d a yard; stiff board, removable in the daytime, 6s a sheet 6ft by 3ft
561 Ibid., 19, 21 Jan 42, pp. 4, 6
562 Ibid., 24 Feb, 12 Mar 42, pp. 6, 6
563 Ibid., 12 Mar, 8 Oct 42, pp. 6, 3
565 Press, 27 Feb 42, p. 4
567 Ibid., 22 Jan 42, p. 6
568 Ibid., 23 Jan 42, p. 2
569 Ibid., 25 Mar 42, p. 4
572 Press, 14 Jan 42, p. 4
573 Auckland Star, 23 Jun 42, p. 4
574 Press, 28 Feb 42, p. 8
577 Ibid., 22 May 42, p. 6
578 Auckland Star, 29 Jul 42, p. 6
581 Ibid., 16, 18 Jul 42, pp. 6, 4
584 Auckland Star, 2 Sep, 7 Oct 42, pp. 4, 4
585 Heffron, Hon Robert James (1890–1978): b NZ, to Aust 1921; MLA New South Wales 1930–68, Min Nat Emergency Service 1941–4, Education 1944–60, Premier 1959–64
590 Auckland Star, 8 Feb 43
591 Press, 12 Dec 42, p. 4
592 Auckland Star, 2 Jan 43, p. 3
593 Ibid., 16 Feb 43, p. 4
595 Ibid., 8 Mar 43, p. 6
597 Auckland Star, 31 May 43
600 Ibid., 23 Dec 41, p. 6
603 Ibid., 15, 24 Dec 41, pp. 9, 6
605 Ibid., 10 Mar 42, p. 6
608 Hampson-Tindale, V. E. (d 1964 aet 55): specialist in fire protection engineering; Fire Protection Organiser Wgtn EPS, chief exec officer nat EPS
611 Ibid., 20 Feb 42, p. 6
612 Ibid., 10, 19 Jun 42, pp. 4, 2
613 Auckland Star, 9 Feb 42, p. 4
616 Press, 23 Mar 42, p. 3 (photo)
617 Scholefield, Diary, 31 Mar 42
618 Bullock, Mrs Marie Isobel (1918–82): playwright, author, actress; NZ Listener staff 1940–2
621 Ibid., 8 Apr 42, p. 4
624 Press, 5 Jun 42, p. 3
627 Truth, 22 Jul 42, p. 13
628 Ibid., 29 Jul 42, p. 13
632 Ibid., 5 Jun 42, p. 2
633 Ibid., 20 Jun 42, p. 4
634 Ibid., 16 Jun 42, p. 2
636 Press, 27 Jan 42, p. 6; Star–Sun, 30 Jan 42, p. 6
637 Press, 5 Mar 42, p. 4
638 Ibid., 27 Apr 42, p. 4; Star–Sun, 28, 29 Apr 42, pp. 6, 6
641 Press, 31 Jul 42, p. 4
642 Ibid., 30 Jul 42, p. 4
643 Allan, Hon Andrew Henson, CBE(’46), JP (1877–1963): Mayor Dunedin 1938–44
645 Press, 13 Aug 42, p. 4
646 Ibid., 14 Aug 42, p. 6
647 Ibid., 28 Aug, 11 Sep 42, pp. 6, 4
648 Ibid., 22 Oct 42, p. 4
653 Ibid., 8 Sep 42, p. 4
654 Ibid., 24 Jul 42, p. 4
655 Ibid., 10, 19 Sep 42, pp. 3, 9
656 Ibid., 29 Aug 42, p. 9
658 Ibid., 23 Oct 42, p. 4
659 Auckland Star, 19 Nov 42, p. 6
661 Press, 18 Nov 42
663 Ibid., 7 Nov 42, p. 4
664 Ibid., 26 Nov 42, p. 4
666 Press, 27 Nov 42, p. 4
668 Ibid., 2 Jun 42, p. 4
672 Press, 22 Apr 42, p. 4
677 Auckland Star, 24 Aug 42, p. 4
678 Wanganui Herald, 30 Nov 42, p. 2
680 Press, 23 Feb 42, p. 6
681 Ibid., 7 Feb 42, p. 8
687 Press, 24 Jun 42, p. 4
689 Auckland Star, 18 Nov 42, p. 6
691 Ibid., 25 May 42, p. 4
693 Star–Sun, 15 Apr 42, p. 4; Press, 15 Jul 42, p. 4
698 Press, 28 Apr 42, p. 4
701 Press, 16 Mar, 27 Oct 42, pp. 5, 3
703 Press, 14 Mar 42, p. 3 (photos)
704 Ibid., 24 Mar 42, p. 4
706 Press, 23 Sep 42, p. 2
708 Auckland Star, 17 Nov, 11 Dec 42, pp. 4, 4
709 Ibid., 25 Mar 43, p. 4
716 Press, 23, 27 Mar 42, pp. 3 (photo), 4
726 Ibid., 24, 27 Feb 42, pp. 4, 4; Allum to Dir Nat Service, 2 Mar 42, IA 178/273
728 Memo from Nat Service Dept to Min, 6 May 42, and note by J. S. Hunter, 20 May 42, IA 178/273
729 Note, 15 Jul 42, IA 178/273
732 Press, 19 Jun 42, p. 6
734 Ibid., 16, 27 Jul 42, pp. 2, 2
736 Auckland Star, 21, 26 Sep 42, pp. 4, 6
740 Press, 24 Aug, 3 Sep 42, pp. 4, 4
749 Dir Civil Defence to Dir Educ, 18 Oct 43, IA 178/247/1
751 Dir Nat Service to Asst Under-Sec PWD, 2 Apr 43, IA 178/247/1
752 Secretary, Wgtn Harbour Board to Dir Nat Service, and replies, 19, 25 Mar, 27 Aug, 7 Dec 43, IA 178/8/6
753 CAS to Dir Nat Service, 4 Dec 42, IA 178/8/6
759 Auckland Star, 20, 21 Jun 44, pp. 4, 4
760 Ibid., 1 Dec 44, p. 3
763 Ibid., 1 Oct 70, p. 9