The Home Front Volume I
CHAPTER 3 — The First Moves
The First Moves
ON 8 September 1939 it was announced that there would be a special force of volunteers to serve in and beyond New Zealand, the immediate target being 6600 men aged 21–35 years for the First Echelon (about one-third of the proposed expeditionary force). The three long-established military districts, northern, central and southern, sub-divided into sixteen areas, were each to supply according to its population a certain number of volunteers. Enlistments began on 12 September: by 9 pm that night they totalled 66551 and within a week reached almost 12 000.2 Thereafter as the first mood of acceptance and excitement waned, recruiting became slower and slower, and by December it plainly needed gingering up to complete the Second Echelon. For instance the Otago area yielded 567 volunteers in the week ending 16 September, but only 7 in the week ending 11 November, while in the Canterbury area the scores were respectively 1130 and 21.3
For this sudden surge and the sharp decline there were many reasons, some practical, some emotional. A large number of men were ready to enlist at the first call, their motives various and often mixed. Some were moved by plain old-fashioned patriotism, or were adventurous, restless, bored; some wanted to see the world or get away from jobs or families that depressed them. Some, though hating war, felt soberly that Nazism was so bad, so contrary to their own values, that it outweighed other evils and only fighting could stop it. They themselves could not remain out of the fight. Some, sure that they would have to go sooner or later, preferred not to wait or to be pushed. Some saw that, for the first wave, the chances of interesting jobs matched those of dying a little sooner. These, and no doubt hundreds of individual reasons, lay behind those first 12 000 enlistments.
Having passed the medical examination (where a good many were halted for teeth, which at this stage had to be repaired at their own expense), they could not go straight into khaki—carpenters and other page 69 tradesmen were busy extending camps at Ngaruawahia, Trentham and Burnham, clothing and equipment had to be assembled, officers and NCOs sorted out. Men were warned not to throw up their jobs until actually called. Officers and NCOs were summoned in the last days of September, and most of the rank and file of the First Echelon during the first week of October. Volunteers for the Second and Third echelons were still sought (by 2 October enlistments totalled 14 7424) but they would not be called up for two or three months. These necessary delays tended to check the enlistment snowball right at the start. There was time for a wait-and-see mood to grow.
Speechmakers and newspaper editors in the next few months commented often that there was not the wave of feeling, not the flocking to the colours, not the open-handed giving of money, not the serious war-mindedness of 1914; they usually concluded that the country needed a lead. But was this inertia surprising? The war was remote, confused, and not dramatic; life was unchanged and there was no smouldering backlog of military temper ready to flame up if skilfully stoked or poked. Rather there was a deep reluctance, especially amongst men of fighting age and their families, to go through the desolate business again. Behind this feeling lay the wounds of 1914–18, when about 100 500 New Zealanders (including 550 nurses) had gone overseas. Some 58 000 casualties had included nearly 17 000 deaths, from a population little in excess of 1 100 000.5 These wounds had been deepened by awareness that anxiety, poverty and failure had beset thousands of returned men, inadequately compensated for suffering and loss of opportunity, in a world that seemed no better for their sacrifice. Also, for three years before 1914 military training had been compulsory, producing a large body of young men already half-way into the Army, prepared to do what was expected of them and carrying others along with them; while very few guessed at the long grim stretch and the savage dirty fighting that lay ahead. In the years before 1939, by contrast, Territorial training was voluntary and not popular, nor was there complete acceptance of the soldier as a worthy figure—if many esteemed him, to others his uniform was an unwelcome symbol. The war itself was accepted without protest. Almost everyone declared loyalty but dull resentment was widespread, expressing itself almost unconsciously in forgetting the war as much as possible and, for many, in feeling that it was primarily the concern of a vague ‘they’, presumably the government; if ‘they’ wanted an army, let them conscript it, not expect a man to volunteer.page 70
This absence of enthusiasm, mixed with foreboding and remembered pain, showed at the railway station farewells to the First Echelon contingents both when entering camp early in October and when returning from final leave just before New Year. Bands did their best, there was the usual banter, the soldiers themselves were cheery if set-faced (‘the real feelings of the Troops were for the moment hidden under a mask of cheerful indifference’6) but there were few cheers, some crowds were notably silent and women wept. At Napier and Hastings, for instance, it was the opinion of several old soldiers that the attitude of the people towards the war was reflected in the atmosphere of restraint: ‘There was no gloom, but the wild and hysterical enthusiasm witnessed during the Great War was absent.’ It seemed that no one present welcomed the war but that all were determined to see it through now that it had started.7
Further, the slowness of the war in the west gave time for second thoughts. It is now known that the German command thought and hoped at first that Britain and France did not really mean to fight, that their war would be a fire of straw and a peace could be patched up for a year or two more. This was not known to the Allies, but it was clear that the peace so far from peaceful had been followed by war much less warlike than expected. The careful imprecision of the British government’s stated war aims contributed to the sense of uncertainty. During November the Opposition wanted sharper definition of war aims than defence of freedom and democracy, and to some there seemed still a chance of avoiding a big fight; Fraser in London pressed on both these points.8 In New Zealand it is hard to guess how many, and with what urgency, asked ‘What are we fighting for?’ Apart from pacifists and Communists, there were a good many Labour supporters who had been very uneasy about Chamberlain’s pre-1939 course and who were troubled now that New Zealand’s government had identified itself completely with the British government’s purposes.9 Could the men in Britain and France whose judgments had been so wrong be trusted now for wisdom and integrity? Such people felt that the war was slipping into a likeness of the imperialism of 1914–18, that it might crumble into an ill-advised Chamberlain peace or somehow, especially after Russia attacked Finland, be switched against Russia. All the years of secret diplomacy and faits accomplis favoured these doubts. Some West Coast trade unions in December passed critical resolutions about this imperialist war; writers in Tomorrow, including a few members of page 71 Parliament,10 were worried about war aims, convinced that others less articulate were also worrying, and some urged that the first duties of politically conscious New Zealanders were to protect civil liberties and guard against the excesses of war-mindedness and against Fascism at home: the non-political could defeat it abroad. Tomorrow spoke for only a very thin slice of New Zealand, but such people were not alone in feeling a lack of purpose and direction—for instance Rodney Coates, farmer of Otamatea and no leftist, declared, ‘There is a spirit abroad that is anti-British. People are so ignorant of the position they are asking, “What are we fighting for?” All are asking for a lead.’11 He laid this bewilderment at the door of the government, but a larger despair was expressed by a writer to the Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail who on 8 April wrote that lately a returned soldier had asked why, after he had gone through hell for years, his sons were required to go through it all again. The peoples of the Empire, the letter continued, were for the most part going into the war in a spirit of dazed fatalism. ‘Having no real understanding of the propaganda game, they are just marching out once more, thinking that since we’re “in it” there is no way out but to stumble and blunder further in.’
On the other hand, in the Transport Worker, which generally backed the government and held that the prime and proper concerns of trade unions were the wages and working conditions of their members, a writer asked what would happen if Germany won. Would New Zealand be taken over? Would his own life, liberty and standard of living be preserved? He did not want to know what Chamberlain said to Hitler, or what the British did in the Boer War 40 years ago. ‘Whether the Treaty of Versailles was wrong or not is not as important to me as what occurs to my carcase just now, and the necessity of a commonsense decision of supporting the New Zealand Government in its war effort.’12
These are sample views, individual perceptions of war aims or lack of them, each, it may be presumed, held by a number of people; doubtless there were many others. Of those above, the clearest reason given for fighting the war was to prevent Germany from winning. Withal, the feeling that plain men did not know the real purposes and maneouvres of governments behind their fronts of words induced caution. For instance, the Southland Times on 6 October remarked that First Echelon men were merely going into camp for three months, after which they would receive orders to hold themselves in readiness page 72 while back in civilian work, or to remain on military duty here, or to go overseas. In the camps, gossip ran that troops would not be going overseas, they would have three months’ training and return to their jobs. Such talk could well deflect men from enlisting when a break in employment could check promotion or even lose a job, let alone the three months’ drop in pay.
Newspapers yield a few letters from young men saying why they did not volunteer. They were bitter that war had arrived for them, who had had no part in making it. Without enthusiasm, they accepted that it was necessary to fight the Nazis. They felt that conscription would come sooner or later and they might as well wait for it. With the bleak days of the Depression only a little behind, men who had known relief camps and pannikin bosses had no zest for more mud or for Army sergeants; men who had secured good positions at £5 or £6 a week had no mind to give them up for 7s a day any sooner than they must; men still on relief had little urge to fight for the country that had given them so little. Unemployment was waning, but jobs were still eagerly sought—thus at Christchurch and Dunedin where papers at first published the names and addresses of volunteers, employers were embarrassed by applications for jobs before their present holders were even medically examined.
In one newspaper, for instance, a questioning young man wrote that a travelling companion on a train had asked him what young men today thought about the war. ‘Some, of course, don’t think about it at all, but the ones who do, I am convinced, think it is a scandalous thing.’ They did not, he went on, disagree with Britain’s policy, but war was so different from the ideals they had been brought up with.
Unlike Germany, the war psychosis is not an integral part of the young New Zealander’s make-up…. Every year when at school, and perhaps after that, we marched with the returned soldiers to the Cenotaph to commemorate those who had laid down their lives for democracy—the war to end wars; and today with this second Great War upon us, looking back it seems all so farcical…. Despite these thoughts, since September war has been our policy, to give freedom to the oppressed people of the world, and if war it must be then every young man in this country is prepared to do his part. Most of us are marking time and waiting, waiting silently, for the time to come when we will be conscripted, and I think that that time should be now. We have known for years the way the wind was blowing in Europe, and I think that conscription or compulsory military training should have been brought in… two years ago. It is the only fair way and… the general physique would have been at a higher standard. There is no doubt that Hitler is a madman, and if we are page 73 to meet force with force every man should be asked to do his duty and should be prepared for it.
When this war starts in earnest thousands can be expected to suffer. But for what? Will the world be a better place when it is all over? We hope so and will give our lives in that cause, yet still the doubt remains.13
A 23-year old, well read in the last war, said that he was holding back not from cowardice or pacifism, but because he could not see why he should be mutilated or blinded while others of his age waited for conscription; instead of leaving the decision to the individual, let the government’s register and ballot decide whether one should be called up in two days or two years.14
Another thought that thousands would be willing to serve under conscription, without the moral responsibility of volunteering to kill; wanting both British victory and a clear conscience, he would destroy his fellow men if directly chosen to do so by lawful authority, with the rightness or wrongness of it resting upon the government, not on himself.15
A 33-year-old man wrote to the Press on 10 October: One realises what one is sacrificing in giving up a hard-earned situation to enlist—for what? Some of us don’t forget that a few of the best years of our lives were spent in camps at 10s a week. Some of us have seen pictures of acres of white crosses in France, and in the ears of some of us still ring the echoes of the tragedies of last war. Sacrifice and die for one’s country! Yes and again yes; but let it be done in a fair way, and what more fair way could there be than conscription…. I am quite content to hold my job until John Bull whistles me up through the conscription list. Then I shall fall in and march into the fog of duty… my step will be no less brisk because my life is conscript to my God and my country’s need.
Another reported that when he discussed service with married men they said, ‘It’s not my job, I’ve a wife and kids’, while single men said, ‘If they want me they can come and get me’, or ‘I’ve a job worth six quid a week, I would be a mug’.16 Yet another wrote that he was quite willing to go under conscription but not willing to give up his job to ‘some scrounger who won’t volunteer’, and that he knew plenty of others who were waiting for ‘a written invitation from Mr Savage’.17 A fencer was quite willing to fight for the page 74 country but was not giving up a good job at £1 a day while ‘Jack So-and-So remains in the bank and John Someone-Else in the county office’.18
Certainly a large part of the young men’s reluctance to immolate themselves ahead of others was fear that being away at the war would cripple them economically for the rest of their lives. The recruiting air was full of promises, but they knew how promises can become vague and shrunken. Savage on 7 January pledged that they would not return to ‘an unseemly struggle for the right to live’. Again on 3 March, in his last broadcast speech, he said that this time New Zealand could and must do more than before; to reabsorb thousands back into civilian work would be a full-sized job for the government and the community; the government was taking steps and would welcome suggestions.
No government getting a war under way could reasonably be expected to have its rehabilitation cut and dried, but people, equally reasonably, were dubious of promises not backed by statutes. A first step was made on 14 October with a regulation obliging employers to reinstate employees at the end of their military service, but this was not strongly publicised till later. Many officials less responsible than Savage promised quite as much as he did on behalf of the government—for instance, the deputy-mayor of Wellington declared that returned men or the dependents of the dead would ‘have no call to make on the Government that will not be fully met’, they would lose nothing, apart from the accidents of war; he himself would undertake as far as was in his power that Wellington would do its share to make the pledge good.19 Fine words uttered freely and vaguely on all sides begot more doubt than confidence. At Auckland the RSA, sharply aware of last time’s meagreness, said that the government must remove some pension anomalies before it would urge young men to enlist.20 Newspapers carried a trickle of letters contrasting the soldiers’ 7s a day plus danger and discomfort with the ‘carry on as we are’ attitude of the rest of the community. One said:
It is rather amusing to witness the attempts being made to entice men to enlist. Wash it all out and get down to facts. Let the various bodies who are doing the most shouting come out in the open and declare themselves ready to protect the vital interests of the men…. All the mortgages, monetary interests, big businesses, shares, insurances etc., won’t be worth the paper they are page 75 written on if the tide goes the other way and we are beaten…. Start a crusade for the protection of the men who protect wealth and I’m sure conscription will never come.21
An example of the situation was provided at Stratford where the Mayor and the RSA called a meeting to encourage recruiting. Most of the young men were at a swimming carnival but 74 other persons, while supporting a motion for conscription, firmly defeated a proposal to first levy one per cent on all capital over £500 for a fund to rehabilitate men after the war.22 Again, at Palmerston North, when the Junior Chamber of Commerce recommended conscription of both men and wealth, the senior Chamber urged conscription of manpower as in 1917, but opposed subsidising soldiers’ pay out of taxpayers’ money, suggesting instead that the government should, if necessary, increase the allowance for wives and children.23 Some local bodies considered subsidising their employees’ Service pay to civilian level but decided it was not practicable.
Another factor checking enlistment was uncertainty about ‘reserved occupations’. Farmers were assured that their highest duty was to work their land—‘Farm or fight’ was a slogan—but did this hold for their skilled labourers? Some farmers believed that they had no right to intrude on the decisions of their men; others pressed their claims on the Labour Department and Army authorities, to the chagrin of enlisting musterers or shepherds, who might be passed fit then told to go back to their jobs. Skilled technicians, too, were held at the employers’ requests, for the government had no wish to disrupt industry. There were protests against the hidden contrivings of some employers and demands that reserved occupations should be publicly listed; the government, feeling its way through new problems, was anxious not to commit itself. Enough uncertainty existed for some waverers to claim that they were not allowed to enlist, and for others to distrust this claim.
Right from the beginning there were demands for a national register and for conscription. Wars are usually fought within the framework of the previous war, and in 1916 conscription had been brought in, though volunteering continued along with it till the end, resulting in nearly 92 000 volunteers and 32 000 conscripts and some feeling between the two. In the reasons now advanced, fairness stood first: why should the burden and risk be borne by the willing, while the slack and selfish stayed in safety and took the jobs? Efficiency demanded that men keenly needed for food production or for essential industry should not disrupt these things by disappearing into page 76 the Army. Conscription also saved the personal ordeal of deciding between the claims of country, family and business obligations. Many of these demands came from National party circles, from farmers’ organisations, Chambers of Commerce, the newspapers and the RSA, some closely and calmly reasoned, some smacking more of political attack on the government. A steady trickle of newspaper letters spoke of fairness and efficiency, some were of the direct ‘I have two sons in the Army. Why doesn’t the Government bring in conscription’ type, others more complex, discussing for instance the relationship of the State, the individual, and the good of the nation.
The government was highly sensitive on this point. Labour had decried the 1914–18 war as an imperialist struggle wherein workers were duped and exploited for privilege and money power, and five Cabinet ministers had been gaoled for opposing conscription or the war itself. This war, for the protection of workers and democracy everywhere, was, they explained, quite different, but it was no light matter to make an about-turn on conscription, and they hoped to avoid it. Surely, with their own Labour government and a high standard of living to defend, which would certainly be lost if Britain were defeated,24 workers would volunteer in such generous numbers that conscription would not be needed. For the first three months there was no real recruiting campaign: military plans were uncertain, and it was a task for which most Labour members felt a natural reluctance. Those in the House most for it were Nationalists, and the left-wingers Lee and Barnard for whom the government did not desire prominence. Moreover, many people thought that massed infantry had given way to aerial combat and it followed that expeditionary forces were unnecessary.
The statement by Savage in June 1938 that if conscription came it would begin not with men but with money was now established Labour doctrine, placating traditional feeling within the party and fending off conservative pressures.25 Conservatives however were apt to retort that as recent legislation had already conscripted wealth, manpower should follow. For instance a letter in the Press of 21 November 1939 said that there was a catch-phrase often heard, ‘If wealth is to be conscripted, men should be conscripted as well,’ adding that only an ignorant savage or a cold and finished scoundrel could weigh a man’s life against a bag of money. Another writher, not a lone voice, expressed a less emotional view: ‘It may be assumed that the page 77 majority of those called up for service would return from the war uninjured. They would merely sell their services to the State for a short period. Wealth conscripted would be seized without payment and would never be returned’; one class would not only give its men but be robbed of its property also.26 The impracticability of conscripting wealth was repeatedly explained.27
The first rush of volunteers was reassuring, and until arrangements about the use of New Zealand troops were made with Britain during Fraser’s November–December visit, urgency was lacking. But with Freyberg28 appointed as General Officer Commanding and the First Echelon due to sail early in January, while not nearly enough men were available for the Second, a national recruiting campaign was launched just before Christmas 1939 for 10 000 volunteers by 12 January, for the Second Echelon and the nucleus of the Third. Higher overseas pay rates were announced, colonels rising by 17s 6d a day to 42s 6d and privates by 6d to 7s 6d; while teeth would be repaired by the Army. There were large newspaper advertisements and posters: ‘Your pal is in the First Echelon. Enlist today’, ‘The Spirit of Anzac calls you. You will be proud to be among the first Ten Thousand’. Recruiting officers were to visit remote pockets of manpower such as public works camps, sawmills and mines, with attendant doctors to give medical examinations on the spot. Local bodies, the RSA, Territorial Associations, patriotic councils, Red Cross societies and the like were asked to help.
Many of these people and groups believed in conscription, and with divided minds they pumped out their speeches. As the Press put it: ‘They co-operate; but they do not agree.’29 Probably those near the apex of affairs accepted more readily than those less elevated the need to subdue their own convictions, support government policy and work up volunteers. Thus Colonel P. H. Bell,30 commanding the Southern Military District, told the RSA that despite all private opinions the idea of conscription must be abandoned and the appeal for volunteers supported;31 Adam Hamilton declared ‘The duty of the National Party is to assist the Government to the fullest extent page 78 in making the voluntary system effective. If conscription is unduly stressed it will undermine the Government’s efforts and no member of the National Party wants that.’32 Many local leaders however were less willing to stifle their feelings. The Mayor of Ashburton, for instance, when only 100 people came to farewell the district’s 34 soldiers, said that he had been asked to appeal for recruits but would prefer a ‘spot of conscription’.33 The Otago Farmers’ Union, though it would ‘willingly co-operate’ in this drive for the Second and Third echelons, declared that universal military service was the only fair and democratic basis for an overseas force.34 The Waipa County Council thought likewise, but while government policy was for volunteers it would give what support it could; one councillor asked how they could back what they knew to be wrong: ‘The Government’s attitude is absurd and they are asking us to stump the country.’35 At Te Aroha a patriotic spokesman held that voluntary enlistment had failed if civilians were expected to go round telling young men they should go to war and he thought the young men wanted conscription.36 Some local bodies declared themselves in favour of conscription, but on 26 January Fraser said that Cabinet was taking no notice of such resolutions.
It is probable, however, that others took notice. In Dunedin, where from October to March enlisting was slow, the Mayor, entraining recruits for the First Echelon on 6 October, had hoped there would soon be conscription, while the local RSA spoke firmly for it and not until pressed by headquarters did the president appear on recruiting platforms.37 At Christchurch, where enlistment also dragged at first, the recruiting committee was very active but at least one member, Sidney Holland, made it clear that he was doing his duty against his better judgment.38
The Prime Minister broadcast, appealing to sense and sensibility; the generals and mayors made speeches; the final parades of the First Echelon at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch were vigorous rallies. The Observer of 10 January said briefly what other papers were saying at more length: it deplored the volunteer system but congratulated the government on greater energy—‘At last some page 79 attempt is being made to kindle patriotic fervour. Last week’s parades were memorable events. Those long columns of eager young soldiers provided a splendid inspiration.’
The First Echelon marches were undoubtedly moving. At Auckland on 4 January the Herald reported a steady stream of volunteers at the Drill Hall, some obviously straight from jobs, in aprons, minus coat or wash; and on the 10th the steady stream yielded 97 men. At Wellington the total for 5 January was 105, and 114 on the 8th—a record. The Evening Post, interviewing recruits on 4 January, wrote that the ‘call of adventure and the roving spirit’ seemed the main motives—though men do not necessarily speak their hearts to reporters. Said one: ‘When I saw three of my pals in the march yesterday I realised for the first time that they are really in for a trip round the world and I wanted to be in the swim too.’ A good job and obligations had kept a 36-year old from joining sooner but when he saw the troops in the city he simply had to go. Another said, ‘It’s well worth the risk to be in the swim with the other boys’, and the next that soon a man would have to be in uniform to get a girl.
The enlistment rate quickened sharply. On 30 December volunteers numbered 18 858, but by 6 January there were 20 541,39 and by 27 January there were 25 14040—some 6000 in four weeks. Various devices were used:.vans with loud speakers toured Auckland streets, and outside recruiting booths brightly dressed girls on lorries did tap and Highland dances. In Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and Hamilton low-flying aircraft rained paper ‘bomphlets’ (‘If this were a bomb, where would you be? Enlist today’) on Friday night shoppers. Wellington and Auckland tried to sing men into the Army with community sings plus recruiting speeches. At Westport it was proposed that prominent citizens should make speeches at picture theatres, and the clergy of the Buller district were asked to mention volunteering in their sermons.41 At Christchurch during a football match troops marched round the grounds with gaps in their ranks and 22 joined in ten minutes.42 There were parades of weapons, of bands, Territorials and returned men; there were speeches and more speeches. Still there was talk of conscription, rumours that it would be introduced soon, rumours which, it was feared, would shrivel the drive to enlist. For instance a major, recruiting at Wellington, said that he had been given fifteen different dates for its introduction,43 page 80 and Dunedin people in February heard that conscription cards were being printed and would be issued in March.44
While recruiting activity grew, those who enlisted and their families began to feel hostility to the others who inevitably appeared as selfish job-holders. Families in which several sons had enlisted looked askance at those which had yielded none. The first call was for single men, but some men with sizeable families enlisted, and if their wives consented they were accepted,45 though some citizens regarded this as economic folly or even criminal evasion of responsibility.46 Under recruiting pressure some men doubted if a wife and one or two children justified remaining. ‘I am beginning to feel that perhaps I am shirking,’ wrote one. ‘If conscription was introduced I would have no difficulty—I would know that my time would come eventually.’47 Another newspaper column held this heart-cry:
Today my husband enlisted. We are very proud of him and at the same time very sad. I have a small son four years old…. My friends say my husband is foolish and ask why he did not wait for conscription. Why give up a position with £6. 10s. per week for a soldier’s pay. Yes, Sir, this is what the people are thinking. Why doesn’t the Government wake up. Conscript the men; also conscript the money. Give everyone soldiers pay; then men will enlist. Why should my boy be separated from his daddy when there are single men left behind…. My husband is only 29, his best years are ahead of him. We were married in 1934, had two years on relief, and now when his country called he has answered, but there are too many men who don’t mind how loud or long the country’s bugle calls…,48
White feathers appeared, but not widely; the National Council of Women disapproved, quoting the Queen who hoped there would be none.49 In the House, Sidney Holland, whose military service in 1914–18 was beyond question, exhibited a feather he had received, declared that they were being sent to other returned soldiers, and hoped that it would be made a heavily punishable offence.50 Another feather was sent to the redoubtable ‘Starkie’, hero of Robin Hyde’s Passport to Hell.51 A few newspaper letters and articles52 condemned page 81 the senders as impertinent and presumptuous. A colonel who said that conscription would not be needed if decent women refused to dance or play tennis with non-volunteers was firmly rebuked by an editorial and letters in the Christchurch Press.53 Truth also reproved.54 In Taranaki a man who received white feathers went into the Army, leaving his mother, sick father and two young brothers on a 200-acre farm. The 11-year-old boy drove the lorry to the factory, as his mother could not drive and she ‘was told all would be OK’. However, she was taken to court and fined for aiding and abetting her son to drive while he was under-age to hold a licence. This led to the elder son’s release from camp.55
The claim, strongly advanced by the RSA, that rejected or waiting volunteers should be distinguished by a badge was recognised by Cabinet in February,56 though it was not until mid-June that these badges were issued. Many ex-soldiers joined or rejoined the RSA, some not having been members for 15–20 years. This increase, begun before August 1939 and intensified with the war, was more than 7500 in the first year, giving a total membership of 30 496 by September 1940.57 They joined partly from general interest and to identify themselves with a body knowledgeable and important at the time; partly to avoid, by use of the Association’s badge, misunderstandings and the attentions of the distributors of white feathers.58
While leaders of the community busily worked for volunteers, conscription and anti-conscription movements were developing. The RSA and Chambers of Commerce had advocated compulsory national service since 1939, farmers considered it necessary if production were to be increased and the Defence League, very quiet since the beginning of the war, at the end of January 1940 wrote to 317 local bodies urging compulsory national service, with all citizens allotted suitable tasks. Of 224 replies, 89 declined giving an opinion, 30 thought it the government’s business, 2 opposed the idea, and 103 favoured it— 63 of these speaking for bodies and 40 as individual conncillors;59 a few councillors were sharply critical of the League and its purposes.60 The League’s proposal was echoed by at least page 82 one private person who called himself’a democrat, an anti militarist, an ex-serviceman and a socialist’, who scorned as hypocritical and inconsistent the many supporters of the volunteer system who cheered the volunteers, saw the glorious side of war, believed it to be unavoidable, never missed a parade, and ‘let George do it’; surely to allot tasks to every serviceable person would be more efficient, democratic and wholesome than the ‘obnoxious campaigning of the recruiters whose stereotyped jingo phrases and methods are sickeningly reminiscent of the last war to end war’.61
Newspapers, in editorials, news reports and correspondence columns, lost no opportunity of assuring the public that the public considered the voluntary system neither efficient nor fair. How far newspapers suppressed or diminished the views of those opposed either to the war itself or to conscription in particular can only be guessed—and perhaps only by those who have tried to express other opinions opposed by those newspapers62 —but a few appeared. Some63 said that men who followed their consciences in refusing to fight needed as much courage as soldiers and should be respected. Others held that those who would not have to go were the most avid for conscription, and hoped that in a referendum only those of military age or their parents could vote;64 some pointed out that conscription propaganda was inimical to volunteering.65 A few suggested that older men should enlist or be conscripted, urging the value of maturity and previous training, or that young men, who had no responsibility for the war, should not be the first to go—‘the economy of drafting off the broken-mouths and retaining the two-tooths is obvious. As a fighting force a body of matured men will, under modern conditions, be superior to one composed of youths in every respect except perhaps mobility.’66
Some thought that the government should know the real need, and that there were enough volunteers. An Otago man complained of the slogan ‘equality of sacrifice’:
Believe me, there is no equality of sacrifice under conscription or any other form of recruitment…. If two men are fit for war service of whom one is engaged in an essential industry and the page 83 other goes to fight, where in the name of common sense is the equality of sacrifice. Hoping to see in the future more appeals to the intelligence of the people than to their stupidity….67
Leftists held that all men would be needed here if New Zealand were invaded and that self defence was the first duty. Britain was involved in Europe, all kinds of surprises were possible, conscription would not be needed to get New Zealanders to defend their own country, but the government should make sure that they had the necessary weapons. This view was shared by the Roman Catholic Church, with the New Zealand Tablet of 25 October declaring that there were several ways in which New Zealand could pull its weight, but wholesale conscription would not be a reasonable service to the Empire, ‘and it would be a traitorous disservice to our own country’. Communists, of course, who opposed the whole war at this stage, opposed conscription vigorously, in the People’s Voice, in leaflets, and in any unions where they had influence.
Some Labour bodies passed resolutions urging the government to stand firm against pressure for conscription, pressure from Labour’s political enemies. Thus a deputation from the Labourers’ Federation went to the Minister of Defence on 14 November 1940, and on 7 February a stop-work meeting of 1000 Wellington watersiders by a large majority opposed conscription; as did the Rotorua Labour Representation Committee.68 The Union Record (of the Carpenters and Joiners Union)69 in communist-tinged phrases demanded ‘stern unbending refusal’, and held that conscription would be unnecessary if New Zealanders were positive that the troops would be used only against the Nazis and not for policing India or for any other imperialist activity.70 The New Zealand Railway Review (of the New Zealand Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants) warned against the constant talk of conscription—‘It is just the old idea that if you say a thing often enough and convincingly enough you will change the opinion of the next person’; New Zealand had a big enough job feeding Britain without worrying about conscription.71page 84
The People’s Voice, which would surely have reported all the anti-conscription motions it heard of, recorded only a handful: the Auckland Carpenters and Ruawai Left Book Club (issue of 19 January); Dunedin Furniture and Related Trades (16 February); New Plymouth Watersiders (8 March); Otago Labourers (28 March); Ngauranga Freezing Workers (12 April).
Labour authorities, while holding firmly to the voluntary system, were cautious. On 19 December Langstone, when asked directly if there would be a referendum before conscription were introduced, replied, ‘We have been elected. A referendum was taken at the last election.’72 The Standard repeatedly reproved debate about conscription: ‘If the issue ever arises it will be time enough to start agitating for a referendum.’ The government opposed conscription and ‘it is a certainty that conscription will not be introduced here except in an extreme emergency.’ Meanwhile the best way to counter propaganda for conscription was to give full support to the voluntary system.73
Labour’s rank and file was, of course, in difficulties: conscription was right against the traditional grain, but to agitate against it betokened lack of confidence in their leaders. The outspoken Union Record voiced the suspicions of the section of the movement not silenced by the fear of embarrassing its own government.74 Meanwhile, in mid-January, pacifists and a wide range of leftists at Wellington started the Peace and Anti-Conscription Council,75 urging New Zealand to withdraw from the war, oppose all conscription and protect civil liberties. Branches appeared in Christchurch, Auckland, Palmerston North and Nelson.76 At least some of its meetings were well attended—about 1000 crowded the Wellington Trades Hall on 18 January77 after the Mayor had cancelled its Town Hall booking;78 and the Evening Post reported more than 800 at a Miramar meeting on 4 February.
In December the West Coast Trades Council had condemned the war as imperialist,79 with consequent furore among its affiliates.80 Although it was rescinded on 10 February,81 this anti-war expression, page 85 plus other anti-conscription activities, led to a joint conference of the executives of the Labour party and the Federation of Labour, which on 21 February made a statement on war policy. It was an interesting statement, floodlighting Labour’s image of itself. In well-rounded party-rallying phrases, it condemned Nazi aggression, and stressed that New Zealand’s high standard of living, won by democracy and trade unionism within the British Commonwealth, depended on that Commonwealth. The British government was at last standing for collective security, as New Zealand had repeatedly advised; it would now be ‘politically irresponsible or worse’ if New Zealand Labour did not give Britain fullest support. The six peace aims of British Labour were endorsed: no revengeful peace, but restitution to victims; right of all nations to self determination; the outlawing of war; rights of minorities; an effective international authority; an end to colonial exploitation and trade monopoly. Recalling that the labour movement had stated its opposition to conscription on 13 July 1939, sure that there was no need for it, that young men would rally willingly to the defence of freedom, the statement continued
We now unconditionally reaffirm that statement…. in our opinion there is no good reason for either conscription or anti-conscription movements in New Zealand. There is no conscription in New Zealand, and there will be no conscription whilst Labour is in power. The best possible guarantee against conscription therefore is to participate in the work of the Labour and Trade Union Movements, to help to keep Labour in power, and to support the Government’s voluntary recruiting campaign.
Social Security registration forms were now being used for a national register (this had been announced on 13 February), but it was for organising economic and industrial life, not for conscription. Freedom of speech was upheld, with some rather vague qualifications.
It is hard to think that the men who compiled this statement82 did not realise that conscription would come sooner or later, but they were running politics. Savage, whose personal hold was very strong, was dying (though this was firmly denied till early March); there was the dissident pull of the left wing and they were concerned to hold the party steady. (For instance, a series of mass demonstrations of Labour solidarity and confidence in the Prime Minister and the government had been planned in December and January, the first to take place at Auckland on 10 March,83 but Savage’s sinking health made them obviously unsuitable.) It was not a time for page 86 unwelcome changes. ‘No conscription’ was so deeply graven on many stalwart Labour hearts that to depart from it during this mild and muddled phase of the war might well have shaken faith in the leaders. Moreover, if the rumours of impending conscription were scotched, enlistment would quicken.
The declaration so assuaged the Canterbury Peace and Anti-Conscription Council, which had been very active issuing pamphlets and canvassing houses, that it decided to suspend all anti-conscription efforts.84 The Wellington body continued its preparations for a general conference at Easter and the Labour party executive instructed that no Labour member might attend that conference.85 About 100 delegates and observers attended, however, from trade unions, pacifist organisations, youth groups and women’s movements. They held that the government should initiate a peace conference of workers as well as governments of all nations or, failing that, withdraw New Zealand from the war; they condemned the Emergency Regulations and the restrictions of civil liberties, denounced the compilation of the national register and called on the government to declare unconditionally against conscription.86
At the same time the annual conference of the Federation of Labour heartily adopted the February Statement of War Policy, with only 28 (against 223) voting for a leftist amendment calling for immediate peace, disarmament, socialism, and national independence for Czechoslovakia, India, Ireland and Poland.87
The concurrent Labour party conference severely condemned the Wellington Peace and Anti-Conscription Council as a political anti-Labour organisation, contrived by Communists, to whom all opposition to the war was widely attributed. Fraser recalled that when war was declared there was no opposition from anyone in the country, except the pacifist Ormond Burton, until Moscow gave orders. The conference adopted the war policy statement by 821 votes to 104. One speaker remembered that in 193588 Fraser had told conference that its decisions were only recommendations, not binding on the government. In fact, Fraser’s 1937 statement was very close to what actually happened in 1940. He had said that motions of conference were expressions of opinion, not necessarily binding on the government, which would interpret them in the light of existing page 87 circumstances; the final word lay with Cabinet, after consulting caucus and the national executive. ‘The Labour Party, as the Government, was now responsible for the welfare of the whole community not merely of its own supporters.’89
But in March 1940 it was necessary to reassure conference of its own power. Fraser denied having said that conference decisions were not binding, only that the government could not accept decisions contrary to its election pledges; in such a case it would be necessary to call a special conference.90 Here Fraser forecast, as he was later to claim, the special meeting that was called on 2 June, called to endorse, not to discuss, the change in government policy on conscription. Meanwhile several newspapers91 assured their readers that if conscription seemed necessary to fill the drafts, the question would first be considered by a Dominion-wide Labour conference.
Subsequently, several Labour branches expelled members who belonged to the Peace and Anti-Conscription Council.92 Only a few were involved, but this action was significant as part of the change taking place in the party. By inentifying these people with the discredited Communists, Labour’s executive gave warning to other die-hard anti-militarists in its rank and file that Labour demanded full loyalty to its present self and was prepared to discard people and principles that clashed with its new task, the task of keeping Labour in power while running the war. It could be said that Labour adjusted itself to war, or that the need to fight the war changed Labour. This was already being shown by the Lee affair at this same Easter conference,93 and by the silencing of pacificists; in due course conscientious objectors were to meet firm discouragement where, remembering an earlier Labour party, they might well have expected more tolerance.
Meanwhile the Auckland Carpenters Union94 and the Auckland Builders and General Labourers Union in April decided to affiliate with the Peace and Anti-Conscription Council,95 ‘pursuing the traditional policy of the Labour movement’ and recalling that in 1916 Peter Fraser had been national secretary of a body of that name.96 The 1940 Peace and Anti-Conscription Council was soon effectively suppressed. Two prominent Australian members, K. Bronson and page 88 N. Counihan, were quietly deported,97 halls for meetings were not available or were cancelled at the last minute,98 and on 30 June even the Trades Hall was permanently denied it by the police.99
Labour’s repeated reaffirmation that there would be no conscription did not put heart into enlistments. From 1–27 January, 6282 men enlisted, bringing the total to 25 140, and in each of the next three weeks about 1000 enlisted. But only 730 signed on in the week ending 24 February, and for the next three weeks, till mid-March, the weekly average was 571, with a low tide of 534 in the week ending 9 March. Some areas were brimming their quotas, notably Wairarapa–Hawke’s Bay–Gisborne and Auckland,100 but in several South Island districts quota figures loomed heavily above enlistments.101 The Minister of Defence on 14 March maintained that recruiting was quite satisfactory, but on the same day at Christchurch Sidney Holland had declared: ‘We are at our wits’ end. We have had meeting after meeting. We have made speeches until we are sick of speaking. We have had demonstrations without end, and we still need 615 men.’ On 22 April Christchurch business and sporting men proffered such suggestions as: employers should let fit men without genuine reasons for holding back know that they would lose their jobs if they did not enlist; they should also let the men know that they themselves were sincere in their assurances that there would be places for them when they came back; appeal should be made to intellect as well as emotions; marching feet were the best recruiting sergeants in the world; school children should go home and ask their brothers why they had not joined up.102 One or two Press letters criticised recruiting methods. One, on 19 April, hoped that future efforts would avoid a ‘mixture of martial music and platitudes … an insult to our intelligence’; another thought that the recruiting committee, like a keen young salesman, had been ‘overselling’; if it were to cease activities for a few weeks the news from Europe would fill Canterbury’s quota.103 These instances may be taken as illustrative of not only Canterbury’s difficulties, but probably those of many other districts where newspapers were less candid. Complaints of public apathy by perplexed mayors and other recruiting citizens were widespread; if there were real fighting going on, there would be real recruiting. ‘The thing to kick them along page 89 would be to learn that the New Zealanders are in action. They would move quickly enough then,’ said an Otago footballer.104
In the first fortnight of March Fraser, still Deputy Prime Minister, toured both Islands giving, as the Standard put it, an inspiring lead by frankly explaining the vital issues from platforms holding representatives of both political parties. Adam Hamilton assisted, appearing mainly at different towns, though Invercargill and Wanganui had the privilege of hearing the leaders of both government and Opposition give the same message from the same platform; Hamilton’s photograph appeared in large advertisements— ‘Now is the time for service…. We have a high and sacred cause…. Young men … I appeal to you, you with the blood and traditions of your fathers, to spring to the side of your mates in the struggle today….’105 Parades of troops and returned men garnished these political forgatherings, which some Nationalists viewed hopefully as a sign of approaching coalition.106 The victorious HMS Achilles, having shared in destroying the pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee at the River Plate in mid-December, returned late in February; her men were feted in their home towns and welcomed in the main cities with more parades and speeches. In the last half of March the Second Echelon went on special leave, carrying their khaki message even to remote places, and returned to give mass parades in provincial centres during April.
The impact of one such public appearance, the departure after final leave at Dunedin, with a band, returned soldiers’ speeches, and hundreds of friends, was described by the Otago Daily Times with unwonted feeling:
Without ostentation or display, hundreds of farewells were spoken. Quietly, almost abstractedly, in the manner of those who say one thing while they are thinking of something else, the men filled the last moments before the troop train steamed away…. one realised how the sword draws its power from within itself, although in peace time it lies idly in the scabbard with hardly a soul to do it reverence. The scene was profoundly impressive….
In heavy type, the article made its conclusion: Surely more than anything else, such unrehearsed incidents in the progress of the war will awaken a higher realisation of the national peril and a higher resolve to see things through.107
In the last week of March the weekly enlistment rate climbed to 726, at which figure it remained steady all through April. April page 90 passed quietly, though on the 10th newspapers had inch-high headings, ‘Norway and Denmark Invaded’. Under the well-prepared lightning stroke, Denmark crumpled in a day. In Norway, although Britain had mined part of the coast two days earlier, the assault from Oslo to Narvik was so swift that it eluded the British fleet and secured crucial airfields. On 14 April British forces landed at several points but finding that they could not make headway quietly withdrew, except at Narvik where they continued fighting throughout May. They actually captured the town on 28 May but then, not being able to make anything of this gain, withdrew on 10 June.
New Zealand papers treated all this quite calmly. Denmark with her small army and undefended frontiers was an undersized easy victim—though her butter and cheese and bacon would be missed by Britain. Norway, relying on her neutrality, was also an easy kill, while the British withdrawals seemed inconspicuous but almost successful. To New Zealanders the fall of Norway and Denmark proved again that the Nazis were aggressive villains and that the ‘Fifth Column’ was a special danger; it did not follow that Nazi villainy could really threaten man-sized powers like Britain or France. A Press correspondent on 19 April wrote that the British propaganda machine made the Norwegian campaign ‘look like a fight between Joe Louis and one of the Dionne quins. One almost feels sorry for Germany.’ There was only a modest increase in recruiting though the age limit was raised from 35 to 40 years.108 April yielded 2717 volunteers for the army, March had given 2462, and February 3779. By 27 April volunteers totalled 34 900; of these 15 636 had gone to camp (and overseas), and 6720 were available for posting; 1860 were in reserved occupations.109
For Services other than the Expeditionary Force, enlisting was much keener. In February a special railway unit required 370 men and 1142 volunteered, while 600 offered for a forestry unit wanting 160.110 Early in October, when ordinary enlistments were slackening, 900 ground positions advertised in the RNZAF had drawn more than 2000 applications in five days.111 Those volunteering as pilots, air gunners and observers greatly outpaced the selection committees. By mid-February 4300 had applied and 2000 had been interviewed;112 by mid-April the Air Force numbered 387 officers and 3064 airmen, including educational and civilian staff, with 2096 page 91 awaiting selection interviews.113 Meanwhile, as the rate of intake was limited, many of those waiting to be called took preliminary mathematics courses—and sought volunteer badges to show their purpose. When the Navy in February asked for technicians and tradesmen, many hundreds applied, quenching the demand in a few days while more than 500 yachtsmen volunteered for the ten positions offered to them.114
During these first eight months, in fact and in feeling, New Zealand was getting used to its war. Khaki was making its impact. Relatives and friends of volunteers felt that they were in the war; those who gave to patriotic appeals, or entertained soldiers, or packed parcels, or made hussifs115 for the troops, felt they were doing their bit, though a bit that changed their lives very little. As yet no New Zealand soldiers had met the enemy, though there was, of course, the Achilles, and the RAF included some 400 New Zealanders who had joined before the war; from time to time their photographs appeared in New Zealand papers—decorated, missing, wounded, dead. The newspapers after mid-February also showed pictures of the Kiwis in Egypt. The Second Echelon was getting ready to go overseas. To the small towns soldiers came back on leave, the aura of here-today-and-gone-tomorrow about them, a hint of force and danger. In the cities near camps—Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch—hundreds appeared every weekend, some to be the private lions of their families or friends, a few to accept the hospitality of strangers or near-strangers, others to rove the streets and the places of entertainment, slowly augmented by Welcome Clubs, teas and socials and dances run by the churches, the YMCA, the YWCA and various clubs. They hoped for beer and girls and a bit of fun; often they found only boredom and beer of which they could not afford much. In the streets the sound of heavy black boots, moving in rapid groups, made heads turn with a tinge of awe, a self-conscious awareness of their protectors—or with disapproval if those protectors showed signs of drink. The soldiers swaggered a little; they were New Zealanders bound for overseas and they felt they were the All Blacks; they sang the old songs, they sang ‘Roll out the barrel’ and ‘We’ll hang out our washing on the Siegfried Line’. The war was still far away, and there seemed to be no hurry about it.page 92
New Zealand knew little of the storm that hustled the Chamberlain government from office as the sluggish war ended in the first days of May 1940, with the Allied retreat from southern Norway after a three weeks’ campaign, reports of which had been pedestrian but optimistic. True, the dailies of 6 May briefly quoted the Manchester Guardian on shallow ministerial optimism and the Prime Minister’s dangerous capacity for self-delusion, the Daily Mail’s view that British leaders had been fooling themselves and the public, and the South African papers which charged the Ministry of Information with deceiving press and public. But that same day the Evening Post’s war news column held that the set-back in Norway, apart from its implied reflection on the British government’s conduct of the war, was not of vital consequence in the long distance strategy of the war.
Editorials in the New Zealand Herald (7 May) and the Press (9 May) complained about official secretiveness and evasion, of treating British people as if they had no reserves of moral courage, but the Evening Post (8 May) held that ministerial frankness should be qualified by strategic necessity. The Auckland Star on 6 May, however, said that through muddle and dissension in London many Anzacs at Gallipoli had died needlessly and in vain; some apparent errors in Norway were unpleasantly reminiscent of Gallipoli and it must ‘be made clear to the British Government that the Dominions would not permit their troops to be sent and sacrificed in any ill-conceived or badly organised adventure.’
Reports of the debate on Norway and the conduct of the war in the House of Commons on 7 and 8 May gave much space to the explanations of Chamberlain and Churchill, the former claiming that all was not yet lost in Norway and that the Germans had paid heavily for their gains. It was also clear that there was vigorous criticism of the government, both in the press and in the House. While some New Zealand papers printed more of these criticisms than others, there was general mention of attacks by two Conservative members, Admiral Sir Roger Keyes116 and Leo Amery.117 The Admiral declared that the Norway campaign was a shocking story of ineptitude, repeating the Gallipoli tragedy, and he expressed the frustration of the fighting Navy. There were restrained reports of Amery’s censuring the lack of decisive consistent action and demanding a reformed government with fighting spirit in which the Opposition took a share of responsibility, but there was no stress on the page 93 final Cromwellian thrust that helped to sharpen the mood of the House.118
The complaints of Attlee,119 Sir Archibald Sinclair120 and others on muddling mismanagement were briefly noted. Lloyd George’s121 call to Chamberlain to set an example of sacrifice by giving up the seals of his office was widely reported, as were the cries of ‘Resign, resign’ that greeted the vote in which the government’s majority fell from about 240 to 81.122 But the second day’s reports gave much space to Churchill’s explanations, and the New Zealand Herald (10 May) declared, ‘Highest honours in a searching debate go to Mr Churchill.’ Many of the rebel Conservatives who insisted on coalition were named, and it was ‘understood’ that Labour leaders had told Chamberlain that they would not serve under him. Nevertheless the inevitability of Chamberlain’s resignation was not sharply apparent. The Evening Post (9 May) saw the vote as the government’s survival and a united shoulder to the wheel; the New Zealand Herald and the Dominion on 13 May saw Chamberlain’s May 10 (British time) resignation, with a comfortable loyal majority, as unnecessary, but in the highest traditions of British statesmanship.
Churchill was warmly welcomed, the bulldog fit to meet the bull-like rush of the new war. On the day he took office as Prime Minister, 10 May, Germany launched its great attack in the west, first invading Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. By 18 May startled New Zealanders were reading that the Germans had overrun Holland and were thrusting into France. In that week, along with details of Churchill’s all-party cabinet, they also read Labour statements that there was no earthly reason for coalition in New Zealand: Britain was due for an election in 1940, but in New Zealand the government had a large majority, neither party wanted coalition, and lack page 94 of it was not impeding the war effort.123 They also read resolutions from chambers of commerce and farmers’ unions, renewing their demands for conscription and an end to the 40-hour week, and many editorials on lack of leadership and inadequate war effort. Suddenly the remote, unreal war was high and threatening; dismayed New Zealanders felt that they must do something, and old discontents boiled up with new fervour. Some farmers’ suggestions were far-reaching: thus in Hawke’s Bay they wanted coalition including outsiders of ability, conscription of all wealth and manpower, a moratorium on debts, interest and rents, all males on Army pay, graded from private to colonel according to ability in farming and industry, and vigorous production of armaments.124 At Gore they proposed a ‘fight or work’ policy, with a national register to maintain both the overseas forces and essential industry, and a British-style cabinet which would also include the presidents of the Farmers’ Union and the RSA.125
On 13 May Adam Hamilton urged that Parliament should be called immediately, but Fraser adhered to the date already set, 13 June. On 19 May Hamilton, finding that the National party, despite its restraint and co-operation in the past months and despite the British example, was not being invited to join a coalition, made a forthright attack on the government for this, for its ‘shilly-shallying’ war effort and the long silence of Parliament in its seven-month recession.126
The same night, a Sunday, Fraser met the rising challenge with a singularly inept broadcast, quite out of touch with the urgency felt by many as they turned to their radios. The Prime Minister commended Britain’s change of leadership, but found endorsement for his own government in Labour’s victory at the by-election for Savage’s old seat. He spoke of the German crimes against the Netherlands, of the pressing dangers to Britain and France. New Zealand was sustaining its part and the government was prepared for a long war. He announced a new plan for increasing home defence forces but otherwise presaged no major change. He told how the government was helping to replace enlisted farm workers by subsidies on housing and inexperienced labour and by a personal approach to men on public works. Men capable of bearing arms either at home or abroad should come forward now. The rest of the country could serve best by going about their daily tasks and working with a will. He commended the efforts of women and, with a final unlucky page 95 touch, of watersiders who had loaded ships at the weekend, at overtime rates.127
Hard upon this pedestrian statement came Churchill’s sonorous promise to demand, in the coming battle, the utmost effort from all. ‘Interests of property and hours of labour are nothing compared to the struggle for life and honour, for right and freedom, to which we have vowed ourselves’. In its context, the contrast was disturbing, and during the next few days helped bring the general unease and restlessness to a quite remarkable pitch, not lessened on 23 May by news of the British Emergency Powers Defence Act, putting all manpower and property at the service of the government. Rarely except at the height of elections had so many people gone to so many meetings. It seems worthwhile to examine the several streams that together made a flood.
There was anti-alien128 excitement. The Nazi ‘Fifth Column’ was prominent in Norway and the Low Countries; in Britain there were warnings about parachute landings and temporary wholesale internment of aliens. New Zealand could hardly expect paratroopers, but fear of a ‘Fifth Column’ sprang up overnight. On 15 May Wellington city councillors considered the possibility of enemy spies acting as saboteurs, and reviewed precautions about fires and water and electricity supplies.129 The same day A. J. Moody,130 a lawyer and chairman of the Auckland Hospital Board, declared that ‘every German national should be interned at once. The Government should know that the responsible section of the community is greatly concerned about the large numbers of Germans who are at present free.’ He would employ no German doctors at Auckland hospital; it was ‘monstrously unfair’ that they should practise in New Zealand while New Zealanders were fighting to make refugees safer in future, and enlisted doctors would return to find their work taken over. These views, he said, were being freely expressed in Auckland, and he uttered them not to criticise government officials, but to strengthen their hands.131 The Herald reported that there were 290 Germans in Auckland, only 11 of them interned. Fraser rapidly replied that the government had full information and was watching all aliens, that public vigilance was commendable but the circulation of alarms without foundation would be harmful and unhealthy.132 Moody’s page 96 lead proved popular, touching off newspaper editorials and a rain of letters on the theme ‘play safe and intern the lot’; a week later he spoke of receiving letters and telegrams of approval from all over New Zealand and saw public demand for stringent measures.133 He was backed by Sir Carrick Robertson,134 president of the Auckland BMA, who said, ‘We do not suggest that all or any of these aliens are spies, but what we do know is that their roots for generations have been nurtured on German soil, and it is difficult to believe that just because of their mass expulsion during a political upheaval they are not at the bottom of their hearts loyal to Germany.’135
Of course less inflamed views were also expressed. Some Auckland university professors led in asking for discrimination among aliens, and warned that working up crowd hysteria damaged the war effort by diverting emotion and energy from constructive action,136 while several people in various places wrote in strains similar to A. R. D. Fairburn:137 ‘I find it difficult to imagine that any person past adolescence and not subject to chronic hysteria would regard the presence among us of a handful of Germans (most of them victims of the enemy we are fighting) as a potential menace to this small and remote Dominion. On the other hand, a good deal of undeserved suffering will be caused if the public sets about boycotting and persecuting German refugees. Trying as the times are, let us do our best to avoid stupidity and inhumanity.’138 In Wellington, A. Eaton Hurley139 and Edward Dowsett wrote that in Britain recent steps against certain categories of refugees were precautions against parachute or other invasion, but it could hardly be thought that New Zealand was in the same degree of danger. All refugees had been closely scrutinised by the authorities before coming here, many had suffered in German concentration camps such as Dachau or Buchenwald and, if they filled the positions of men in the forces, regulations made their tenure temporary. Any Fifth Column activities would be settled by competent investigation, not by wholesale accusations, and the writers believed that most refugees would welcome tribunals, as in England, to investigate their credentials. War against Nazi tyranny would be won by the morale of the Allies as much page 97 as by military prowess, and the morale of people depended on the justice of their cause, not on the bitterness of their emotions.140
It was, however, the views of Moody’s ‘responsible section’ that had nation-wide repetition and that were endorsed by Adam Hamilton, who declared his intention of seeking a full return of aliens who had arrived during the last few years. ‘The Government has utterly failed to deal with subversive elements in our midst…. Traitors, whether individuals, small groups, or members of some “fifth column” must be given no opportunity and shown no quarter.’141 These views were not new: for instance some Dunedin RSA men in October had suggested that all enemy aliens should be behind bars,142 there had been occasional grumbles that a German could earn £1 a day while a soldier got 7s, and Truth on 17 January had anticipated Moody’s opinions about Jewish and New Zealand doctors. A week later, however, Truth published a statement by the Refugees Emergency Committee that the number of refugee doctors was small.143
The RSA entered swiftly. Its anti-alien attitude was well established, but it now concentrated on ‘compulsory universal national service’. The RSA held, and it was widely agreed, that it had earned a leading voice in defence matters, with which it linked concern about the enemy at home, disloyalty and aliens. It strongly claimed to be a non-political body, but basically it felt that only those who had served or been willing to serve before were fit to lead the country now, to ask young men to enlist and to expect willing sacrifice from all. The Labour government, of which several had been ‘conchies’ in 1914–18, did not qualify. However it was also a soldierly duty to support elected leaders, and this the RSA did scrupulously. Though it had long wanted a national register and universal national service, it had campaigned actively for volunteers, and it heartily accepted Fraser as Prime Minister.144 On 22 May the central executive urged the government to meet the crisis with a national register and universal national service, and telegraphed its 90 branches to demand these things during the coming week, especially on 30 May. ‘The page 98 New Zealand Returned Services Association calls upon the people of New Zealand to stand to.’145 District bodies stood to with a will. In many places they called or took a leading part in meetings well before that date.
In Auckland a new body, the National Service Movement, sprang up. On 20 May its first public meeting, convened by B. H. Kingston, was attended by 300 people including returned soldiers, farmers, city businessmen and other representative citizens. Besides endorsing the RSA demands, it called for internment of all aliens and a war council under a ‘strong and driving personality’. It also set up a committee of 50 with power to co-opt.146 A further meeting, strongly advertised,147 drew about 2000 on the morning of 23 May. The RSA had announced its active support of the Movement, which would endorse its own campaign for adequate pensions and rehabilitation of soldiers.148 This meeting, widely reported and unusually excited, declared its non-party basis and approved the recent home defence measures, but attacked the government for not leading the country into sacrifice and effort. The chairman, Moody, called for a national register, compulsory universal service, a national government, and a war council of the best brains, co-opted if need be. The Rev P. Gladstone Hughes,149 a prominent Presbyterian, said that Fraser’s speech had ‘left us cold and angry’, that Parliament should meet immediately, that sectional interests were behind the government’s go-slow war effort. He was wildly applauded. Labour member F. W. Schramm, attacking Hitler, Communists and all lazy workers, promised to tell the Prime Minister all about the meeting, and Coates was suggested as Minister of Defence. Copies of the Movement’s constitution and aims, given as the immediate summonsing of Parliament, a British-type cabinet, a war council of the best brains, and compulsory national service, plus support of the RSA’s efforts to improve pensions, were to be circulated throughout the country, ‘many districts’ having expressed a desire to form similar organisations.150
At Hamilton on 24 May a hurriedly convened meeting of 600– 1000 reiterated the demands of the National Service Movement and also wanted the internment of all enemy aliens, the protection of page 99 key positions and the suppression of all subversive propaganda. A returned soldier who interjected when the government was attacked, was ejected amid cries of ‘Communist’ and ‘Concentration camps’.151
Meanwhile a remarkable surge of excitement was spreading through Taranaki and beyond. It was triggered off by the Hawera Rotary Club, disturbed by pamphlets urging that Britain should make peace.152 On 21 May more than 50 Hawera citizens, representing trading, farming and professional interests, resolved that Parliament should be summoned immediately and a non-party government formed to intensify New Zealand’s war effort. ‘There is no reason,’ said one speaker, ‘why a match struck in Hawera should not spread a flame throughout the whole of New Zealand.’153 They forthwith sent envoys—‘flying squads’, the Taranaki Herald of 23 May called them—to all the towns between New Plymouth and Palmerston North urging them to hold public meetings in support of these resolutions, and to join in a mass deputation to the Prime Minister—by special train if possible—stressing that the will to serve and sacrifice was widespread but leadership was lacking. A telephone committee prepared mayors and a few citizens for the envoys, who in each town met the RSA and the business men to arrange public meetings a day or so later.154 By 23 May the Taranaki Daily News reported rapid progress: public meetings had been arranged throughout Taranaki, at Hamilton and Wanganui; an ‘organisation’ was established at Palmerston North and from there the movement had radiated to Dannevirke, Hastings, Napier, Levin and the Manawatu. It was stated that 500 members of the Defence League at Wellington would march to Parliament with the Taranaki visitors.
A coal shortage precluded the special train and on Friday 24 May the Prime Minister announced that Parliament would meet the following week to legislate on the lines of the Emergency Powers Defence Act just passed in Britain.155 Most of the Taranaki meetings were held on that same day—at Waverley, Patea, Manaia, Opunake, Kaponga, Eltham, Stratford, Inglewood, Waitara, New Plymouth, Hawera—and where shops were closed they were impressively large. It was repeated that the movement did not attack the government but wished to inspire it to still further efforts. All meetings were prominently supported by the local RSA and almost all, besides calling for an immediate Parliament and an all-party War Cabinet, page 100 endorsed the RSA demand for compulsory universal national service. Many speakers urged that labour hours be extended and some were anxious about aliens and subversion, but these were not included in the motions. Though Nash had just broadcast that New Zealand had done everything Britain had asked, that more food was in store than there were ships to carry it and more volunteers in hand than could be trained, there was at these meetings strong feeling that more must be done. There was talk of being conquered—New Zealand would be a German colony, New Zealanders would not be allowed to walk on the footpath and would be known not by their names but by numbers. As Kaponga speakers put it, a feeling of shame was sweeping the country, easy times and good living must go, it was time to get down in the scrum and push.156 Hawera’s own meeting numbered 1000 people, but critical comment came in a letter from one of them. ‘The people who sponsored the meeting meant well, but there was an atmosphere of aimless panic about it all; the type of situation that often confronts a cattle drover when his charges get scary and commence what is known in cattle men’s parlance as “ringing”’.157
At Palmerston North, the Taranaki envoys found a very vigorous branch of the Defence League which on the 20th had expressed disappointment in the war effort, demanding a national government representing all sections, universal national service, and that all economic and other resources should be organised towards maximum war effort, controlled by a war cabinet of four. On the 23rd, a ‘vast audience reminiscent of election times’ repeated these demands, adding that the government should immediately deal with aliens and any disloyal elements. The tone was belligerent; speakers condemned the government as ‘wrapped in grave clothes’ and ‘colossally self-complacent’ about its inadequate war effort. Fraser’s suggestion that the widespread call for a national government was being worked up for political ends was, declared the Mayor, insulting: the patriotism of the people transcended such petty things.158 Nor did Fraser’s proposal, on 26 May,159 for an advisory representative war council and conscription of manpower and other resources ‘as required’ give satisfaction; further demands were telegraphed from Palmerston North—for total conscription and a war cabinet of unrestricted power, composed of Nash, Semple, Coates and Holland, with Fraser as chairman.160page 101
A meeting arranged by the RSA at Feilding on the 25th called for conscription of manpower and material and a war cabinet of those most competent, whether inside the government or not, and representing all sections.161 Woodville’s meeting, which gave the RSA and Defence League as its begetters and the sounding of public opinion as its task, moved for compulsory national service and said that the government was not doing its job about increasing production and working hours, or about aliens.162 At Hastings ‘extensive ground work … by influential committees’ prepared for a mass meeting on the 27th, but it was cancelled after Fraser’s weekend announcements.163 Napier had no meeting though its paper gave accounts of those elsewhere.
At Wanganui, the Taranaki bearers of the fiery cross met both a strong RSA and the Dominion Farmers’ Union conference, and together they raised a bonfire. The farmers on 23 May scrapped most of the agenda and instead demanded immediate conscription of all manpower and wealth (‘better to come out of this with only our shirts so long as we are still under the Union Jack’), internment of all enemy aliens and disloyal elements, a war cabinet representative of all sections, and abolition of the 40-hour week for the duration. Next morning many shops closed for an hour, the pipe band played, 200 returned men marched to the Opera House, followed by 100 Farmers’ Union delegates, and 3000 people heard speeches stressing the national emergency and the need for unity. It was urged that the present war effort was a miserable failure and that if the government could not do better it should let someone else have a go. Attempted amendments by two Labour men were drowned by waves of cheering, booing and counting out, in which the Dominion’s report on 25 May saw ‘remarkable evidence of the refusal by an overwhelming majority of New Zealanders to tolerate any discordant note in the demand for vigorous leadership and action in the present crisis’.164
Similar unanimity and enthusiasm occurred at a very vigorous RSA-sponsored meeting in Dunedin on Friday evening, 24 May, where 5000 attended,165 and at Christchurch where 400 met in the afternoon. Both these meetings pressed for total service and a non-party government; at the latter, which was convened by ‘citizens who have been prominent in the war effort … in response to a request from the North Island’ and which spoke of sending delegates page 102 to join the proposed North Island deputation to the Prime Minister, W. Machin,166 president of the Employers’ Federation, made a very forthright attack on Nash.167 These seem to have been the main South Island meetings of the week, though many bodies meeting for normal purposes passed resolutions urging a national government, conscription, etc. On the 22nd at Blenheim 100 women, meeting for patriotic work, urged national service for both men and women as part of the home defence plan, with women filling the positions of Territorials at training.168 At Oamaru on the 24th about 100 citizens anxious to speed up the war effort persuaded the Mayor to call a public meeting on the 29th that would be ‘constructive and helpful’;169 by that date the Prime Minister’s announcements had silenced the most urgent complaints, and the meeting was a rally calling for 100 per cent war effort—with conscription of manpower and of national resources, under national government.170
At Wellington, criticism of the war effort came mostly from the right-wing People’s Movement, founded at the end of November 1939. Adam Hamilton had remarked that its ideas were indistinguishable from those of the National party, except that it did not seem to know there was a war on,171 while its leader, E. Toop,172 charged the National party with being inarticulate.173 On 11 and 16 May, the Evening Post printed Toop’s demands for immediate Parliament, compulsory military training and service for production, and a non-party war council of the best brains in the country. On 22 May Toop further suggested that the government’s persistent inactivity was due to promises concerning conscription and other matters given to trade union leaders174—an idea commonplace in National party circles. Wellington’s Mayor on 25 May announced a public meeting about the war effort, universal service and a national war cabinet for the 28th, but later cancelled it.
This survey of the week’s meetings, while not complete, may show the truth of the Opposition’s claim that they were spontaneous expressions of public opinion; indeed they were not arranged by the National party as such, nor addressed by Nationalist members— save at Tauranga where F. W. Doidge told 1000 people, who page 103 demanded conscription and a national government, that the Prime Minister could best serve the State by giving up his office.175 But there were also grounds for Labour’s view that these meetings were organised by anti-Labour persons, and the RSA was clearly involved in most of them.
In response some Labour bodies176 published motions of confidence in the government’s war effort, and deplored scaremongering and attempts by the ‘exploiting sections’ to use the war to obtain conscription and coalition, to press against the 40-hour week and working conditions. Inevitably these appeared both frail and stubborn among the reportings of dissatisfaction. Some defence came from the Chamber of Commerce. Several branches had been prompt in demanding abolition of the 40-hour week, a national government and immediate calling of Parliament.177 But on 23 May W. S. MacGibbon,178 president of the Associated Chambers, when about to lead a deputation to the Prime Minister, made a very moderate statement pressing for a war cabinet or national government, for conscription and universal service. He complained that the country did not know what was being done and, while allowing that those in charge were sincere, doubted if ministers in charge of departments could give the undivided attention needed by the war effort; he added that the country was fortunate in having a Prime Minister who gave co-operation and help and was receptive to what was said to him—a note very different from the widespread scolding that Fraser received that week. He concluded: ‘Do not allow in the Dominion anything of panic. There has been a suggestion in some centres that there should be a march on Parliament House perhaps to force the Government to do something. I say we are a democracy and must not have anything out of sympathy with democracy. We page 104 must have law and order and not get panicky. It is not British to do so.’179
Newspapers in the main solidly advocated coalition, conscription, universal service and a vastly more vigorous war effort, but a few minor editorial voices advised more precision and less noise. Thus the Dannevirke Evening News on 23 May remarked that neither farmers nor workers had shared in arranging Dannevirke’s public meeting, but only business men, executives and the RSA. Further, did people realise that they would have to surrender a lot if the government acted on their requests for compulsory national service and organisation of the country’s economic resources? The Wanganui Herald on 24 May, after commenting that such widespread public outcry had not been heard since the bad Depression days of the Coalition government, pointed out that rousing sentiment had replaced reasoned statement and that farmers’ unions, chambers of commerce and the RSAs had been advocating conscription without being clear whether it was for overseas service or for home defence. Meanwhile trade unions were busy talking of no conscription of manpower without conscription of wealth, and again no one had defined what this meant.
On Sunday 26 May the Prime Minister broadcast plans for civil, military and financial national service ‘as required’. Each step, as needed, would be taken by Order-in-Council with proper consideration and organisation; the government realised the need for mighty effort. He also proposed a representative war council, of the six cabinet ministers most concerned with war, three members of the Opposition, and representatives of industrialists, employers, trade unions and farmers. It would have powers necessary to keep the war effort at its maximum, and joint sessions of cabinet and war council would be held when needed.
The government had out-manoeuvred its critics. The RSA declared its support, though the Dunedin branch, always dour, demurred.180 The Taranaki surge was spent. The government’s political opponents found that their reproaches, their cries of emergency, had prodded the government into taking increased powers, in which they themselves would have only a limited share. Labour traditionalists were placated: they could believe that conscription of manpower and of wealth were bracketed, while the anathema coalition was not conceded.
The Emergency Regulations Amendment Act, authorising regulations that would place persons and property in the hands of the page 105 State, passed without division on Friday 31 May, while the BEF was fighting back to Dunkirk. On 3 June, while the Navy and the little ships were taking off thousands of empty-handed Allied troops,181 emergency Labour conferences met in Wellington, called to ratify, not to debate, major changes in government policy. In crisis-laden tones, Fraser stressed the dreadful and sudden changes that were going on, changes that had sent some people into a panic, fanned by Labour’s political opponents; he said that the government could cope with the war only if given a completely free hand (including the question of forming a national government);182 its supporters must sacrifice some of their hard-won privileges. It was now as wrong to boggle about holidays or overtime as to haggle over profits. Since wealth as well as manpower was being conscripted, there was no break with traditional policy. There had been no time to call conferences before taking action, it was a question not of days but of hours—‘Our duty was clear. We either had to lead the people in the hour of crisis or give place to others.’ James Roberts, president of the Labour party, repeated the message: unless the delegates gave their own government the mandate it asked for, another government would take its place and such powers would be forced upon them. These warnings and the logic of events carried the conferences. With the condition that none should profit unfairly from the sacrifices of the workers which would be for the wartime only, they promised full support for conscription ‘as required’ of wealth and manpower. The Federation of Labour’s voting was 275:50, the Labour party’s 903:100.183
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Opposition had rejected the proposed war council as no real coalition, a sop, an attempt to acquire their support without giving them enough power to represent those behind them effectively. As the Greymouth Evening Star of 28 May put it, ‘The suspicion is general that pressure may be brought to bear on the Labour Government, by prominent supporters, to adopt a policy calling for conscription of wealth more than for conscription of men.’ The press in general—with the powerful exceptions of Truth on 29 May and the New Zealand Tablet on 5 June—declared that the coalition offered was quite inadequate: measures so far-reaching demanded the wholehearted response of the entire community, and could not be carried by a party representing about 55 per cent of page 106 the electorate and tied to pledges made in peace time. All pointed to the British example, not yet a month old, declaring that the all-party Cabinet there had instantly created unity from top to toe. A cartoon in the Auckland Star of 28 May showed a small war council trailer behind a cabinet limousine, with Fraser, wrench in hand, worrying over the tow rope, while Voice of the People thundered, ‘Stop monkeying about, Peter—you must all ride together.’ Minhinnick’s Fraser, his back turned to symbols of British national government, gazed into his Labour looking-glass saying, ‘Magnificent! I salute it! But it’s not politics’.184
The New Zealand Herald, on 28, 29 and 31 May, collected and summarised resolutions from sundry bodies throughout the country, such as the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce, the New Zealand Manufacturers’ Federation, the South Island Dairy Association and several local farmers’ unions. These maintained, with varying intensity, that both the situation itself and the far-reaching emergency regulations required full coalition.185 The Dominion president of the Farmers’ Union, W. W. Mulholland,186 said that if Fraser did not now lead the country into real unity, he would face the same position as had Chamberlain in Britain.187 At a special East Coast meeting, one speaker said, ‘I do not say that a Coalition Government will be better than the Government of the present time, but it will inspire confidence.’188
The Wairoa Harbour Board also demanded, lengthily, a government holding the confidence of all electors.189 A newspaper correspondent, H. Kitson,190 who had chaired the public meeting at Christchurch, wrote that if there were to be only a ‘nebulous War Cabinet’ the Opposition should walk out and find more useful occupation.191 Palmerston North’s special committee, headed by the Mayor, thought the new proposals insufficient.192 In Invercargill, 145 business firms petitioned Fraser for coalition: while endorsing his proposals for action, they wanted ‘an heroic Prime Minister and Government that will devote itself to the formation of a national page 107 Government which will truly represent each and every class in the Dominion and devote itself to victory.’193
The most strident demands came from the new-born National Service Movement. On 27 and 28 May full-page advertisements in the Auckland papers declared that three objects of the Movement, rejected by the government seven days earlier, were now promised— immediate calling of Parliament, national service, and a non-party war council. Three demands remained: non-party coalition government, internment of aliens, and removal of anomalies in the pensions of present soldiers. The meetings set for 28 May were postponed at Auckland and at country centres, but further announcements would follow. A women’s branch was enthusiastically formed on 27 May, mainly to support the coalition drive, but it also advocated internment of aliens and discussed taking on men’s jobs.194
On 4 June a meeting of 3000 in the Auckland Town Hall responded to the question, ‘Do you want a lead and a leader?’ with cries of ‘Gordon Coates’. Speakers demanded a coalition thinking of victory not votes; a non-party war cabinet with full powers; compulsory national service and equality of sacrifice, speedy suppression of all subversion, ‘Communist, Nazi, Pacifist or just plain disloyalty’; justice and proper protection for the men, women and children of New Zealand who would fight or suffer in the war.195 These demands were also printed in widely distributed leaflets, which gave the Movement’s purpose as: ‘one people, one aim, one voice, united action on the part of a loyal and determined people bent on giving all and doing all to win the war’.196
At Pukekohe on 10 June, the Rev Gladstone Hughes and another National Service speaker from Auckland spoke to about 500 people, who passed the usual motions for coalition, conscription and internment.197 The Morrinsville branch on 11 June held a public meeting, with shops closed for it, chaired by the Mayor and forebodingly addressed by Hughes.198 Two days later at Rotorua an enthusiastic meeting of nearly 200 called by the local Chamber of Commerce, with two speakers from Auckland, formed a branch of the Movement.199page 108
On 13 June the Auckland chairman, B. H. Kingston, declared the Movement’s growing impatience for unified control of the war effort, but on the 15th the Attorney-General, H. G. R. Mason,200 said that the Movement must dissolve. Its intentions might be very good, but it was starting up the path which Hitler’s organisation had taken. Its propaganda, with an ‘indefinable expanding range of aims’, showed it likely to become a body rivalling constitutional authority, with an irresponsible committee deriving power from mob violence.201 Later in Parliament Mason reviewed leaflets giving these aims and giving also the impression that the Movement was getting and would get things done. Further, a circular asking for ‘say, £ donation and £ 1 per week’ at the discretion of the donor suggested permanence, and another envisaged a very large organisation: should an emergency arise calling for any form of activity within minutes of a telephone call or telegram from the centre ‘the whole of New Zealand would be placed in motion, you in your area playing your part with the rest of the nation’. Mason said that the Movement’s publicity man was just putting too much energy and combativeness into his job, but large advertisements could in excited times quickly work up troublesome emotion.202 There were some protests from Adam Hamilton and from some newspapers,203 saying that the government’s judgment in this matter had astounded and distressed many worthy people and that it would be better employed chasing the Fifth Column. The Movement advertised a meeting of badge-wearing supporters on 17 June to discuss the government’s action, but cancelled it after telephone talks with the Prime Minister that warned of police action.204 Expressing dismay at such misunderstanding, it rapidly amended its aims to general zest for the war effort and the establishment by constitutional means of a united representative government.205 By 19 June the Observer could write: ‘the Government’s little brush with the National Service Movement seems to have been just a piece of harmless shadow sparring with a happy ending for everyone, except perhaps for those who would page 109 have tried to use the Movement as a screen for political attack on the Government.’ The Evening Post on 15 June explained that in Australia a somewhat similar unofficial movement, ‘a sixth column’ encroaching on the duties of police and defence authorities, had ‘raced like a bush fire’ to an alleged membership of 30 000 and mass meetings before being frowned upon by the Federal Prime Minister.206
The Movement withered quickly. Its offer in early July to load a ship that watersiders were reported unwilling to work after midnight proved unnecessary.207 In mid-July newspaper correspondence showed that when the War Cabinet was formed, some Movement members, including Kingston, the Auckland chairman, were satisfied,208 while others, including Gladstone Hughes, wanted a ‘new movement to convert the parody of national unity expressed by the War Cabinet into a real unity.’209 In August the Movement turned its attention to physical culture classes to improve the fitness of civilians,210 while the women’s section arranged itself in groups concerned with clerical training, knitting and sewing for patriotic purposes, soldiers’ wives, journalism, anti-waste, and canteen work; also a spinning circle to revive interest in an ancient craft and to ease the knitting wool shortage.211
With the principle of conscription conceded, and even a narrow place offered to the talents of business and property, the edge was taken off the National party argument and now the urgency of the moment swung behind the government’s proposals; to stand out for larger powers looked like party politics at the war’s expense. The manoeuvrings about the War Council and the War Cabinet are told elsewhere.212 Here it can be noted that a War Council concerned with production for war, war finance and emergency regulations, was announced on 18 June: six cabinet ministers, one representative of the farmers, one of employers, two trade union men, four returned soldiers (one a Maori) and an independent member of Parliament— page 110 National party members had refused places.213 This became merely an advisory body when further negotiations led in mid-July to a War Cabinet of Fraser, Nash, Jones, Hamilton and Coates to handle war matters, while Labour’s Cabinet retained control of the rest of the country’s affairs. Nationalist interests, having exerted as much pressure as they reasonably could, accepted both the emergency and its compromise, while hoping for more in the future—the Chamber of Commerce, for instance, while welcoming the War Cabinet, hoped that it would be the forerunner of a national government.214
Meanwhile, during all this expression and creation of public opinion, the enlistment figures more quietly reflected the views of the men actually involved. During April and the Norway campaign 726 men enlisted weekly. This rate was falling slightly by the end of the month: 1232 in the fortnight ending on 11 May. With the attack on the western front it quickened; 928 joined up in that week and 1339 in the week ending 25 May, when the agitation for conscription and coalition reached its peak, making a total of 38 399 enlistments before conscription was promised. Thereafter, with the French news growing worse, between two and three thousand volunteered weekly, the highest number, 3480, being for the week ending 29 June, when France had capitulated and it had been announced that volunteering would end on 22 July. In the last week, 3087 anticipated conscription by signing up, with 1947 more on the final day, Monday 22nd. At that date volunteers for 2NZEF, including the Maori Battalion’s 4103, numbered 63 740.215 Many who volunteered for the Air Force but failed to meet its exacting physical requirements, enlisted in the Army, and the Prime Minister on 19 September 1940 gave the total registered for voluntary service with the NZEF as 65 063. By then more than 16 000 had volunteered for the Air Force, and nearly 3000 were already serving in the Navy.216page 111
For the mercy of Dunkirk and other evacuations, whence between 20 May and 26 June 1940 a total of 558 032 troops were ferried across the Channel,217 there was deep thankfulness. It was something to set against the shattering realisation, in the days that followed, that the French, who last time had slogged out four stubborn years, were now crumpling in less than six weeks. Newspapers were restrained: the headlines were big and bad, the reports of attack and defeat were confused and confounding, but hopeful notes were sounded where possible; the German radio paid tribute to the fighting quality of the British; the morale and courage of the French forces were high and they had withdrawn without being encircled. It was stressed that the Allies were fighting back steadily against tremendous odds, against millions of men and thousands of tanks, thrown in reckless of loss, that German gains were made at enormous cost, that the enemy would soon exhaust his effort and find his lines of communication too long; that staying power would count. On 13 June the headlines declared that Paris would never submit; two days later Paris, an open city, received the invaders, her leaders seeing no worthwhile reason for risking her destruction; Reynaud,218 the premier who talked of last ditch fighting from North Africa, was replaced by Marshal Pétain,219 the 84-year-old veteran of Verdun, who on 18 June sought an armistice.
Now, more even than in the first days of the war, ‘the news’ dominated conversation, people waited at their doors for the paper, hung about the radio—a Waikato man complained to his Primary Producer Council that the frequent BBC broadcasts from Daventry were affecting production, as farmers instead of working remained at home, hoping that something fresh would be announced.220 There was awe, dismay, apprehension, but no widespread sense that France’s fall was any more than the fall of France. Nor was there any immediate railing against France in the daily papers or radio—sorrow not anger was the note. At first editors, as in the crises of September ’38 and March ’39, shook their heads but passed no judgment; it was too large a matter, too much was obviously not known. Leading articles merely warned that it all showed how close the war was, how necessary that all energy should be directed towards it. Churchill’s effort to rally French resistance by a solemn act of union between the two countries, which failed almost before it was heard of, did page 112 not sink deeply into New Zealand consciousness. Papers gave prominence to the messages of the King (5 June), of Fraser (14 June), of the British Government (15 June), and of Churchill (18 June), all speaking of French heroism, fortitude and devotion, which had been praised by many lesser witnesses at Dunkirk and after. A terrible misfortune had fallen on a valiant people and the size of the disaster measured the might of the enemy. Press and radio gave forth and echoed the words of Churchill, powerful, restrained oratory that contained the emotions of the moment.
The news from France is very bad. I grieve for the gallant French people who have fallen into this terrible misfortune. Nothing will alter our feeling towards them or our faith that the genius of the French will rise again.
What has happened in France makes no difference to the British faith and purpose. We have become the sole champions now in arms to defend the world cause. We shall do our best to be worthy of that high honour. We shall defend our island….
But sympathy was soon overrun by anger. On 19 June the New Zealand Herald and other papers quoted a BEF correspondent who wrote that a huge confederacy of spies and Fifth Column agents had beaten France, and that the nation was as rotten as an old tree inside; such reports continued, and the resurgence of Laval was viewed with misgiving. On the morning of 24 June, with the armistice terms not fully known, the Christchurch Press, more restrained than many papers, said ‘It is a betrayal, but more pitiful than infamous.’ Later that day, when the terms were declared, all remaining sorrow turned to anger, and editors thundered all over the country. The Press (25 June) declared that Pétain’s government must be charged not merely with deserting an ally but with becoming an accomplice of the enemy. France, conceding every conceivable point, had openly and shamelessly betrayed her British ally, said the New Zealand Herald. The Evening Post (24 June) held that the Pétain government’s contract with Hitler ‘is a breach of faith that admits of no denial and of no extenuation. Within the bounds of common morality that Government is left without a feather to fly with …’, while the Otago Daily Times (25 June) stated that France, without suffering a final defeat on the field, possessing a great empire and a powerful ally, had, through the panic precipitancy of the government, been forced into an undertaking which spelled degradation and servitude for a whole proud people, and had become ‘an unprotesting agent’ against Britain. Everywhere it was seen that France had made itself a springboard for the attack on Britain with no attempt at the scorched earth policy by which the Russians in 1812 and the Chinese at present fighting Japan snatched the fruits of victory from the invader. The French fleet was supposed to be demobilised and interned, but page 113 Germany and Italy would use it, as they saw fit, to defend the coast of France; the thin pretence that French ships would not act on German orders comforted no one.
There was no recognition that France with her armies in full retreat and her population confused and helpless had only her fleet to bargain with, and that only by compromising was she able to obtain any independence. Editors concluded that, by agreeing virtually to collaborate against Britain, France had won dubious secret promises of better terms following German victory.
Several papers at the same time published the Daventry report of the Dunedin Rhodes Scholar, journalist Geoffrey Cox,221 telling how the ministers, then at Bordeaux (but soon to move to Vichy, which gave its name to the French collaborationist government), outvoted premier Reynaud, the fierce little fighter, and installed Pétain, the ancient hero of Verdun, to sue for peace. Everywhere, he said, was the spirit of defeat; France was weary from the last war and the years since of struggle between Left and Right. The tired-eyed, drooping Pétain epitomised this weariness and the reluctance to face again the slaughter of Verdun. A cartoon by Minhinnick, ‘The Hollow Tree’, appeared in several papers, showing a great fallen tree cracked through at its base, hollow and black within. Waving his small ‘Blitzkrieg’ axe and shouting ‘I did it with my little hatchet’, Hitler stands over a shallow cut in the trunk, with monkey-Mussolini peering from behind.222
Articles and reports from various overseas papers were published, so that while all agreed on treachery and betrayal from within, accounts of the forces and interests behind these evils differed widely. Thus about 26 June it was copiously reported from the Chicago Daily News that breakdown was due to the Belgian collapse, plus treachery, inefficiency and graft in France. Early in July The Times supplied the view that lack of foresight, fear of responsibility, divided counsels, outmoded military thinking, and inability to understand Nazi intentions had brought France to her knees. Hindsight makes it clear that from this time ‘Maginot-thinking’ became anathema; never again would a people deceive itself that a fixed, defensive wall could protect a nation.
The ‘slothful orgies’223 of Blum’s Popular Front regime of 1936– 8 were widely named as the basic evil. Both the New Zealand Tablet of 26 June and the Otago Daily Times of 3 July repeated a Sydney page 114 Bulletin article which laid the blame on Communists and the Popular Front’s 40-hour week, with its diminished production of armaments, especially aircraft, and the squandering of French weapons in the Spanish war which had aligned Italy with the enemy. This view was repeated by the Tablet on 10 July. It was independently set forth, minus the Spanish details, on 15 August by the Southland Times, which concluded that following the labour troubles of 1938 ‘the French nation was like a building riddled with borer. The ultimate collapse was by no means surprising. Communism is hand in glove with the Nazis’. Zealandia, on 11 July, repeated the cry ‘Le communisme, voila l’ennemi!’ and warned against Moscow-drugged minds which attributed the collapse to pro-Fascist politicians. In the House on 12 July F. W. Doidge claimed that France had been reduced to helplessness because Blum, like the Labour government in New Zealand, repeatedly made concessions to militant unions. Fraser replied that this was ‘sheer tripe’ and ‘misrepresentation of one of the finest men France has ever had and one who is suffering today.’224 Readers of Truth225 were told that the betrayal was planned long before the war by Bonnet,226 Flandin227 and Laval, who disliked the Left more than they disliked Hitler, and that high officers contributed to domination by philo-Germans. This view was also put forward by the Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail:228 factors contributing to France’s fall were ‘the purblind interests of big money and a pathological fear in certain high places of impending social upheaval.’
Censorship was also given as a cause. France, blinkered by official secrecy and press censorship, had stumbled to inevitable disaster, said the Otago Daily Times,229 adding the Manchester Guardian’s warning that if the British press became merely the mouthpiece of official news and opinion it would begin treading a path that notably contributed to the ruin of France. The menace of the ‘Maginot mind’ was discussed, linked with the false calm induced by censorship which hid disaster till the last moment.230 The Auckland Star231 page 115 explained that France had suppressed unpleasant truths and encouraged pleasant falsehood; the New Zealand Financial Times232 said: ‘rumour breeds best in a vacuum; and to take the tragic lesson of France again, our nearest Allies fell to pieces largely because they were not told what was happening.’
These scattered, desultory opinions, however, occupied little space. Having poured forth its wrath in one burst, the press in the main dropped France very quickly. It was clearly no use to cry over spilt milk, clearly impolitic to dwell on military and moral disaster. By 28 June 1940 Japanese foreign policy and New Zealand’s budget had driven France from the centre pages. It returned for a few days early in July when Britain as a last resort took action against part of the French fleet at Oran, action which, although some ships escaped to Toulon, could be rated as a much-needed victory, removing the threat of a German-controlled French fleet in the Mediterranean. It was even suggested that Britain was better off without France. For instance: ‘Our task becomes clearer,’ said Truth. ‘At last we fight our own war, hopefully blotting out Essen, Hamburg, Kiel, Boulogne, Havre, Brest or any other German strongholds.’233 Churchill’s words were echoed: Britain had left the slough at the bottom of the hill, and was toiling slowly upwards morally and physically far better equipped, despite the loss of allies, to meet the Nazi menace than it had been a year before.234 In a few months cables and articles began to appear explaining that the French people, distinct from their government at Vichy, desired British victory, accepted the leadership of de Gaulle,235 and were assisting with sabotage and slow production while suffering shortages of food and fuel.236
If the fall of France evoked bitter surprise mingled with dismay, the entry of Italy probably aroused a simple sense of outrage. Few in New Zealand had ever shared Chamberlain’s evaluation of Italy’s military and naval strength, and most regarded it as a lightweight enemy. Expectation of this entry had been growing as the German attack developed. The Press of 7 June 1940 reviewed the news and page 116 the speculation of recent weeks. There had been successive predicttions that Italy would declare war within a few days. Mussolini would prefer to keep Europe on tenterhooks indefinitely but he was becoming the victim of his own devices:
every time he arranges popular demonstrations against the Allies and engages ostentatiously in further troop mobilisations he makes it more difficult to postpone the day of action without damaging his own prestige and that of his regime. It is for this reason that in the United States and in Great Britain and France hope of keeping Italy out of the war has virtually been abandoned. Signor Mussolini, it is agreed, has travelled so far along the road to war that he cannot draw back. The only questions are when he will strike and where he will strike.
Short of supplies and easily blockaded, Italy, reflected the Press, would attack only when France was near collapse; its own interests lay eastward in Greece and Yugoslavia, where intrusion would bring the disapproval of Russia, Germany’s other ally, while attack on France would set two great Catholic countries against each other.
Mussolini had not intended to enter the war until the spring of 1941 but now, expecting a rapid finish, he pressed forward in order to claim spoils, though in fact France fell before any real fighting could occur.237 News that Italy, denouncing the long denial of its territorial dues by Britain and France, had struck at the Riviera reached New Zealand at 6 am on 11 June 1940, and New Zealand’s own declaration of war was issued by 10.30 am. Italy’s ‘cynical and cold-blooded attack’, said the Prime Minister, would call forth in New Zealand as elsewhere the strongest feelings of indignation. Newspapers repeated that Italy’s action was expected and their contempt varied only in choice of metaphor. ‘The entry of Italy … has neither surprised nor dismayed the Allies’, stated the Press; its Fascist leaders had chosen war with dishonour because regimes born in violence have not the moral strength to live otherwise than by violence. Nor was the Evening Post surprised by ‘the thunder which has just issued from the famous balcony of the Palazzo Venetia’, and spoke of the hyena borrowing the lion’s skin. ‘Italy’s entry comes as no surprise,’ wrote the New Zealand Herald, and compared Mussolini’s attack on France with Stalin’s on Poland; he had ‘humiliated Italy in the sight of all men by exhibiting her as the black-shirted carrion-crow, hungrily aiding and abetting the screaming Nazi eagle’; Minhinnick’s cartoon, ‘Enter the Vulture’, showed a scrawny-necked bird hovering over an explosion. ‘There can be no surprise, but merely page 117 disgusted acceptance … of the vulturine nature of the Italian dictator,’ said the Otago Daily Times. At Palmerston North, the Times held that Mussolini, not the Italian people, had stabbed France in the back, hoping for loot and believing Hitler victorious; ‘the jackal follows the tiger’.
The rout at Caporetto238 in 1917 was recalled by several papers, and a soldierly ‘old resident’, reported on 12 June by both the Otago Daily News and the Southland Times, said that it was characteristic of Italians to join an attack just when victory seemed assured; except for their excellent Alpini troops, they were the worst soldiers he had ever seen or heard of, but very good at running away. A general comment was: ‘Fair enough, we had to carry them last time, now it’s their turn.’
Some more realistic opinions were voiced. The Listener, repeating the vulture theme, said that Italy had no friend on earth: ‘to call Germany her friend is to insult even Ribbentrop.239 Germany despises and uses her; openly threatens and unblushingly bribes her; and when she has ceased to be useful will show her as much respect as a thug shows to the harlot who has shared his bed and his board.’ It must not be forgotten that this loathsome enemy had men, guns and ships, and to expect its armies to collapse at first impact with the Allies would be an ignorant and dangerous fallacy.240
The Auckland Star on 11 June said that both cupidity and fear had moved Mussolini to take his peaceful people into war. It was doubly certain that the war would be long and desperately hard, but the heavy odds could be countered by Empire-wide efforts of the kind that the British people, ‘led at last by a Government worthy of them’, were making. Also the threat of Nazi victory would bring new friends; already President Roosevelt241 had bluntly likened Mussolini’s action to stabbing a neighbour in the back, and had declared America’s intention of giving all possible material aid to the Allies.
Despite all the disapproval, there were no demonstrations against the Italian consul at Wellington before his departure. On 11 June, outside the drawn blinds of his office in Aitken Street, knots of a page 118 dozen or so gathered from time to time. Some youths had passing designs on the Italian arms displayed at the entrance, others took desultory interest in the evident burning of papers in an outhouse, but the single constable posted at the door had a quiet day.242
Birthplace statistics in the 1886 census had shown that 483 persons born in Italy were scattered through New Zealand. Thereafter a trickle had come by immigration chains, with friends and relations following one another from certain areas in Italy to certain areas in New Zealand. About half had come from fishing villages in Stromboli, the Bay of Naples and the far south, to be fishermen mainly at Island Bay and Rona Bay at Wellington, but with some at Dunedin, Hawke’s Bay, Auckland and Nelson. At Nelson there were also some market gardeners from the inland southern area of Polenza. From scattered villages in northern Venezia a number had come to the coalmines of the West Coast and to the market gardens of the Hutt, where a few were Fascists; a handful from near the Swiss frontier lived in Taranaki as dairy farmers. Among recent arrivals were a few businessmen, well educated and pro-Fascist. Generally, northern Italians were better educated and more politically minded than those from the poorer south, who when without leaders were politically inert.243 In August 1940 some 800 Italians were classified as enemy aliens,244 while many others, born in New Zealand of Italian parents, were classed as New Zealanders, liable in due course for military service.
Most of these groups had Italian clubs, which were simply social bodies and which were closed in January 1941 mainly out of regard for undue public apprehension. The largest, the Garibaldi Club at Wellington, had contributed during Italy’s neutrality to the Red Cross and to interest-free war loans, thereby probably reflecting the feelings of the majority, and it resisted an attempt by the Fascist Club to use its premises. The Fascist Club, set up in 1927, never had more than 100 members, and about 75 in mid-1940, of whom about 50 lived in Wellington.245 It was, wrote Dr Lochore, then senior translator in the Censorship Department, a moribund affair that looked important on paper but would have succumbed in a week but for the zeal of the Italian consul. Its executive members were peasants flattered into office by that great gentleman, but even those who had come to New Zealand from dislike of Mussolini’s regime found it wise to maintain correct relations with the Fascists page 119 here lest their relatives in Italy should be troubled.246 Many Italians, while settled to make their lives in this country, were strongly attached to their relatives at home, and for these the war was a tragic conflict.
Italian immigration had accelerated only mildly before the war. Between January 1933 and March 1938, the yearly average of Italian arrivals intending to settle permanently was 16; in the next year 29 came, and 16 in 1939–40. During 1939, 26 Italian males were naturalised, and 4 during 1940.247 By an amendment on 22 November 1939, persons naturalised before August 1914, and their children, were generally exempt from alien regulations and did not have to register.248
Anxiety about aliens and the ‘Fifth Column’ was running high by 11 June 1940, and the Prime Minister immediately announced the internment of a ‘considerable number’ of Italians known to have Fascist sympathies. This knowledge was derived from police investigation of aliens begun in mid-1938 and from the wartime censorship of all overseas correspondence and all internal correspondence addressed to aliens.249
In May 1940 the British government had advised that Italian consuls in British territories had instructed their people to commit sabotage if Italy entered the war, and that in some places there were explosives on hand.250 Obviously in New Zealand miners would have more scope for sabotage than gardeners or shopkeepers or fishermen. About 50 Italians worked in the State coal mines on the West Coast, 19 on the coal face. Many were naturalised and some were married to New Zealand women, but ‘prompt steps were taken to place in other employment those who were not interned’.251 These steps were not directly initiated by government authority; special meetings of miners decided almost unanimously that in the interests of general safety Italians should be suspended from all work in the mines.252 A proposal to put them on public works253 produced some indignant letters, calling for their internment and opposing high page 120 wages to enemies.254 In mid-September it was announced that these miners were being set to clear blocks of Crown land on the West Coast; the majority had been on social security for some months.255
The regulations, following precedents of the last war, already provided that no one who was British by naturalisation only could work on a wharf or a ship except by special licence. There were not many Italian-born watersiders, and their retirement from this area drew little notice, except that at Port Chalmers watersiders refused to work with men of Italian extraction who apparently were not excluded by the regulations.256 British warnings against possible sabotage by Italians presumably stimulated the passing on 11 June of shipping safety regulations by which police control of wharves and ships was stiffened: wharves were barred to the public, and no person was to be allowed on board a ship without a permit, while customs officers were given more power to search cargoes.257
Most of Wellington’s 381 Italians, except for some market gardeners at Taita, lived at Island Bay with off-shoot groups at Makara and Rona Bay. They owned and ran many of the local fishing boats and a sprinkling of suburban shops. Immediately after the declaration of war, police went to Island Bay to question men thought to be anti-British, while a launch called in the boats already out at the fishing grounds. Even such a mild and minor group of enemy aliens was exciting on the New Zealand scale. Several newspapers reported the Island Bay round-up with some zest, and the Otago Daily Times’ special correspondent made the most of it.
The scene was a notable one, though there was no sort of hostile demonstration. Indeed, many Italians have come to regard New Zealand as their home and express abhorrence of the Mussolini regime as opposed to the interests of both the Italian monarchy and the Church.
There was keen excitement in the little fishing suburb of Wellington. Emotion ran high as friends and shipmates were hauled away for internment for the duration of the war. Picturesque groups of fishermen, some in sea-boots and jerseys and others in shore clothes, stood gesticulating and chattering volubly along the foreshore. Their dark, excited faces and abrupt gestures were in strong contrast with the calm, bulky figures of the police going about their duties. Some of the internees waved and called “Arevederci” … as though they were setting off on a pleasant holiday…. It page 121 is understood that among those interned were some who were naturalised New Zealanders and even of New Zealand birth.
Wellington’s fish supply, however, was not expected to be affected seriously; the boats would find crews and continue to work.258 Newspapers did not publish the number interned, though the Evening Post of 12 June was told that four men did not return to their homes that night. Police sources state that 30 Italians were taken to Somes Island in June.259
Away from mines and ships and wharves there was no general intention to deprive Italians of work or business. The Mayor of Wellington explained on 12 June that a number of men with Italian names were employed by the Council, some in responsible positions; the police had been told about them but there would be no hasty dismissals. Some had worked for years for the Council, some had been born in New Zealand, and of course there would be no action against them, though there would be action against employees of any nationality who took a disloyal attitude. Again, when an angry ‘Returned Digger’ in the columns of the Press asked the Minister of Works why he had an Italian as foreman on the mid-Canterbury irrigation scheme, Semple replied with his usual firmness and more than usual dignity that the Italian was a decent, capable, highly skilled man who had been 15 years with the Department and showed no disloyalty. ‘The Government is not waging a campaign against aliens, and proposes to interfere with them only if they are thought to be engaged in subversive activities’.260 ‘Returned Digger’ agreed that the foreman ‘may be as good as anyone else and a good worker; but the principle is this: my sons have to leave New Zealand for 7s a day as wages, while aliens sheltered here can draw three times as much.’261
With a few safeguards imposed, Italian fishermen continued to fish. On 11 June representatives of the Services and the Industries and Commerce, Police and Marine departments discussed with the Secretary of the Organisation for National Security whether the Italians should be withdrawn from that industry and replaced by British nationals. It was decided that the fish supply should be maintained, and that all possible Italians should be kept working rather than have them interned and a charge on the community. It would be most undesirable to take them out of their boats, leaving them ashore to become disgruntled saboteurs. A proposal to insert, say, page 122 two British subjects in each boat crew of five was dismissed as likely to cause friction and poor fishing.262 Detailed arrangements were proposed and with slight additions were approved by the Prime Minister. All boats in the Wellington area were to be concentrated at Island Bay263 where they would, before sailing, regularly be inspected for explosives, and for signalling gear or charts not usual for fishermen. Registration numbers a foot high would be painted on the boats, which would avoid the harbour entrance, and from time to time there would be aerial reconnaissance over the fishing grounds. At Port Chalmers, Napier and Auckland there were similar arrangements for inspecting boats operated by Italians. At Nelson and Gisborne, where Italians did not own the boats and were already working with local crew-members, inspections were less frequent.264
Italian fishermen could fish under the inspection and protection of the police, but those in business were more subject to the pressure of public feeling, expressed either by avoiding their shops or by open hostility. The Evening Post of 12 June thought it unfortunate that public disgust should extend to Italians who had no sympathy with Mussolini. Although Italian shopkeepers had had a thin time that day, there had been no senseless demonstrations or window-breaking, nor were any likely. The Greek consul-general, T. E. Y. Seddon,265 reported that Greeks were suffering from the anti-Italian feeling in Wellington; one fish shop owner was asked three times by hesitating customers if his shop were Italian.266
There are only occasional references to the little shops that closed or were sold: as, for instance, that of young Vicenso Basile who started hairdressing in Eastbourne, Wellington, a few months before June 1940, but had to give it up and do labouring work because of public feeling.267 An instance of overt hostility was the case of Joseph Lino, who had come to New Zealand in 1913, was naturalised and married to a New Zealander, and had for 10 years kept a popular restaurant in Dannevirke. Early in July 1940 he left the town after sudden local unfriendliness culminated in the restaurant being twice damaged by a man who claimed in court that his motive page 123 was loyalty, he did not like to see Italians in business; he was fined £5 15s. Truth, while regretting ‘Joe’s’ misfortune, held that there was commonsense in the view that all aliens, naturalised or not, should be interned: pro-British ones would be protected from violence and therefore happier, and the others could do no harm.268
Catholics, about 13 per cent of the population,269 faced some inner conflict. Rome was the capital of Italy, and it was also the centre of their faith. A lead to opinion was given by the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Hinsley:270 both Pius XI and Pius XII,271 the previous and current popes, had denounced Fascist paganism, and now the Fascist leaders had dropped their disguise of temporising with religion. They had broken with Christian civilisation, and there was no longer any possibility of a modus vivendi with the open enemy of the faith of most Italian people. Fascism had become radical Nazism, committed to pillage, to dominate and enslave.272 Liston,273 Bishop of Auckland, regretfully expressed the same view, that Fascist leaders had made Catholic Italy an enemy.274 The Tablet repeated the message: the incredible had happened and the leader of the people overwhelmingly Catholic had thrown in his lot with an avowed enemy of Christianity. Mussolini’s dream of a new Roman empire and his distrust of Britain and France were stronger than the popular dislike of Nazism, stronger than the reluctance of a Catholic people to ally themselves with an open enemy of their faith. Fascism must not be identified either with the Italian people, on whom it was imposed from above, or with the Church, with which it existed in ‘uneasy neighbourliness’. The Italian people and still less the Church and the Pope could not be held responsible for Mussolini’s decision.275 War with Italy was accepted by Catholics without protest though with reluctance. The only appeals against military service on the grounds of not wanting to fight Italians were made by young men from Italian families. The fight against Italy did not seem the real fight, and possibly this eased Catholic bitterness.page 124
New Zealand’s trade with Italy was both minor and one-sided, its cutting-off a concern to housewives rather than ministers of supply or finance. In 1938 New Zealand exported £6,578 worth of goods (mainly wool) to Italy, and £1,565 worth in 1939, importing from Italy as the country of origin £163,745 worth in 1938 and £137,835 worth in 1939.276 In the latter year, prominent items were gloves (£12,328), millinery (£16,381), silk, art silk and other piece-goods (£33,435), buttons (£3,061), wine (£2,725), olive oil (£4,313), almonds (£21,414), cream of tartar (£4,920), motor-cars (£7,798) and musical instruments (£2,017); others were essential oils, acids, miscellaneous drapery, marble, and cherries in brine.277
Along with concern to guard young minds from communist and subversive influences, there were movements to promote positive feelings of Britishness and loyalty. As the Germans pounded west some New Zealanders, shaken into self-doubt, felt that this success might be due in part to the Nazis’ will-to-win, their fervent patriotism, their propaganda in schools; it might be well to learn from them, to thicken up patriotism. There were a few suggestions278 that business houses, schools, public buildings, and even cars should meet these days of stress with flags flying, the sign of the unconquered citadel, to stiffen resolution and defeat pessimism. This was going further than many wanted, but something was needed to arouse enthusiasm and the schools seemed the right place to start. The rising generation must know that the Union Jack was more than coloured bunting, realise the glory of their British heritage, the need to defend it and the alternative disaster.
In primary schools, the patriotic temper varied with headmasters and other teachers. The new Director of Education, Dr C. E. Beeby,279 and the Minister, H. G. R. Mason, both rejected Nazi propaganda methods but held that schools should teach faith in the values underlying democracy: love of freedom, of reasonableness, and justice page 125 and tolerance of opposition.280 The Director, when asked on 6 June for a rule on flag saluting, quoted the syllabus, suggesting that it gave ample opportunity for inculcating patriotic ideals.281 The syllabus instructed that head teachers should attend to the development of a good tone, a corporate life and the patriotic sentiment; the narrow nationalistic interpretation of history should be avoided and there should be sedulously cultivated a strong faith in a more peaceful, harmonious and prosperous world; annual commemorations should be used to inculcate in the young love for their country and desire to promote peace among nations; national anthems and songs of all nations could always be used.
Most education boards had by-laws requiring teachers to assemble pupils to salute the flag, with appropriate explanations, on anniversaries such as Waitangi Day, Anzac Day, the King’s Birthday, Empire Day, and Armistice Day and a 1921 Order-in-Council called for saluting the Union Jack and singing the national anthem at the beginning and end of each school week.282 In general flag ceremonies had declined: the Hawke’s Bay Education Board in June 1940 found that 115 of its schools had serviceable flags, 28 had unserviceable ones, and 34 had none at all.283 The Federated School Committees conference just after the outbreak of war had recommended that flag-honouring should be revived.284
Now as France fell, there was feeling among education boards, school committees, teachers and others that patriotism should be writ large and youthful loyalty increased by saluting and singing. For instance, the Taradale RSA urged that children and teachers should assemble daily to salute the flag and sing the national and New Zealand anthems, to inculcate loyalty and to check subversive teaching; any teacher not complying should be dismissed.285 Several education boards issued instructions that saluting should be done once a week;286 the Auckland Board remembered the 1921 Order-in-Council, the Nelson Board recommended that a flag should fly at every school in New Zealand throughout the war, while the Wanganui Board would leave the matter to the discretion of headmasters.287 A Masterton school stated that for more than seven years it had had a Monday morning ceremony at which both anthems page 126 were sung, separate classes recited verses of Kipling’s ‘Children’s Song’, with the whole school singing the last verse. The flag was saluted while the headmaster recited ‘Flag of the Empire, thou shalt be/The noblest flag that ever waved/O’er river, mountain, land or sea’. The Wellington Board thought that this should be more or less standard practice288 and the Dominion called it a ‘very fine little ceremony’.289 The Minister suggested that saluting the flag over-often might make it a mere drill without feeling.290 This drew reproof from a non-educational public figure, Mulholland, the president of the Farmer’s Union: so-called intellectuals who loudly proclaimed loyalty to the people of the world and denied or were lukewarm to their own country were traitors. ‘Why are our leaders both in Church and State frequently so lukewarm in their patriotic expressions? Is it that they doubt the righteousness of our fight, or is it that they are ashamed to challenge this false sentiment to which perhaps they had given some heed in the past…. In these days we need robust patriotism, not the anaemic patriotism of the Minister of Education who feared to allow the school children to salute the British flag too often’.291 The Professor of Education at Victoria University College, W. H. Gould,292 thought this ‘splenetic outburst’ was itself perilously close to subversion, and the Prime Minister said hastily that Mulholland’s remarks, though not subversive, were not helpful, but he was doing very good work and his words were possibly over-emphasised by the press.293 Mulholland did not mind the attention given to his statement, for ‘in these times of stress it is essential for public men to hearten the people by giving expression to their patriotic sentiments in a forthright downright manner free from hesitancy.’294
The state of mind behind the flags was set forth in a memorandum from the Canterbury Education Board to its schools:
During the war, the effects of which are bound to be somewhat depressing, it is desired to sustain in the children an abundant source of loyalty and vitality. To date, conditions have caused throughout the community a spirit of unrest and nervous tension, and this is likely to react in the general atmosphere in the home and in the school. To offset this, and to keep prominently before the children what Britain and Britons stand for throughout the page 127 length and breadth of the Empire, the Board has decided … that every school day should begin with the song ‘There’ll always be an England’.
The school committee’s incidental funds should pay for the music, and station 3YA would broadcast the song twice weekly at 9 am.295 A correspondent doubted if ‘this attractive song’ would wear well, and suggested instead Parry’s setting of Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’, or better still a weekly menu including ‘God Defend New Zealand’, Kipling’s ‘God of our Fathers’ or ‘Land of our Birth’, finishing up with ‘These Things Shall Be’ on Fridays.296
Flag saluting faded from the news, presumably because it was generally accepted. In June 1941 the Teachers’ Court of Appeal held that a by-law requiring teachers to salute the flag was ultra vires and reinstated a teacher, a Jehovah’s Witness, who had been dismissed under it.297 Walter J. Broadfoot MP298 suggested that there should be legislation validating the by-law.299 However, a regulation gazetted on 13 November 1941 decreed that the flag should be honoured in all public schools on seven anniversaries,300 the Minister explaining that the purpose of the ceremony was to awaken the spirit of patriotism in the children, and the purpose of the regulation was to supercede the ultra vires by-laws of some boards and put the matter beyond dispute.
Another minor instance of increased pressure for patriotism in schools was the Navy League’s brush with the Wellington Education Board. The League had long canvassed for members in schools: subscription was one shilling and when all the children in a school of less than 100 pupils joined, or at least 100 in a bigger one, the League presented a flag, which was used in the flag saluting ceremonies.301 In May 1940 the Wellington Board maintained its 10-year-old refusal to allow League speakers during school hours, saying that teachers could teach about the Navy and schools should not become agents of propaganda, good or bad,302 and held to this against renewed pressure in August, claiming that if the League were page 128 admitted other organisations could expect admission. This the Evening Post condemned as ‘weak and misguided consistency’.303 The RSA backed the League, saying that children should be navy-minded and that Wellington’s was the only Board in the country which refused permission. The Board, trimming to the wind of opinion, proposed that the League’s subscription gathering be dropped and that a naval officer should address one big gathering of schools. Local headmasters, through their Association, claimed deep interest in the Navy, and ability to impart it.304 Finally, on 16 October 1940 the Board granted the League’s representatives an annual half-hour in its schools, on condition that they did not canvass for members, saying that its principal objection was to the invidious difference of one child being able to pay while another could not. It also urged the Department to broadcast to schools talks by experts on current events and the various defence forces.305
Opposition to the League came not only from the Wellington Education Board, but from headmasters, wary of schools becoming propaganda centres, and private schools were among those that declined visits. The League, considering it futile to address schools unless allowed to form branches, visited no Wellington State school during 1941, but resolved in 1942 to seek out any schools where headmasters would welcome speakers, noting that some Wairarapa schools, regardless of the Board, had formed branches.306 Two Board members, Colonel T. W. McDonald307 and T. K. Moody, who strongly believed that if the League’s demand for a strong Navy had prevailed the present parlous position would have been different, independently circularised school committees, asking for an hour’s access a year instead of half an hour, and for the right to form branches.308 Despite support from Wellington school committees for these proposals, the Board in April 1942 again refused to enlarge the League’s operations,309 and as Colonel McDonald lost his seat on the Board in July, the League lost a champion within that forum.
Other channels, however, remained. On 21 July 1942 a Navy League flag, signifying 100 members, was presented to St Mark’s page 129 School310 by the Governor-General, Sir Cyril Newall,311 with the Minister of Defence and Mrs Peter Fraser among the visitors.312 Under such distinguished patronage the League could quietly continue this branch of its work. At the end of 1943 two more Wellington schools, Newtown and Khandallah, received Navy League flags, again presented by the Governor-General, while the League’s Wellington secretary reported that in 1943 school enrolments exceeded 4000, the highest number in the last 21 years.313
In schools, as elsewhere, robust loyalty linked itself with religion. There was feeling that now was a time for soundness, for setting one’s own house in order, mixed with a strong, vague wish to count God among one’s allies, to get on side with God. What better peace-offering than the prayers of children? This was not a new desire, but it gained strength and acceptance from the times. With his customary vigour F. W. Doidge MP said that if the war was teaching people anything, it was teaching them to come back to God; he wondered if the education vote should be spent without teaching children to fear God and honour the King.314 There had long been regret in church areas that State education was, by statute, secular and there had been persistent efforts to change this. Since schools taught for more than the four hours daily required by law, it had become usual, and was legal under the system started in Nelson, for ministers of religion with the approval of headmasters and school committees to take classes for half-an-hour weekly, though the children did not have to attend. Also during the 1930s the Bible in Schools League had induced most boards to favour, again with the consent of school committees and headmasters, the daily repetition of religious exercises, usually the Lord’s Prayer, taken by teachers.315 This was of doubtful legality, and in 1938 Fraser as Minister of Education had said that he would move against it.316 The feeling, which gained strength and acceptance from the war, that religion should have more place was expressed by a writer to the Press:
At a time when the Government is endeavouring to deal with the spread of pernicious and subversive propaganda … it may page 130 not be out of place to inquire whether this is a sufficient or adequate means of ensuring a broad and sane outlook on our national life and its duties, ideals and responsibilities…. Merely secular education will only produce a democracy without life, without ideals and without inspiration. It is high time we in New Zealand abandoned our silly and irrational prejudices against the Bible in schools.317
On 21 August the Wellington Board accepted Colonel McDonald’s proposal that, as the Empire was out to defend Christianity, and the King had called for prayers for victory, the Board should begin its meetings with prayer.318 Another member, C. H. W. Nicholls, suggested as a further step that the Board should ask its schools to do likewise, once a week. ‘We have reached a stage in the history of the British Empire when we must come down to earth’, he said. ‘I have always opposed religious instruction in schools, but I think this is a time when prayers should be said in schools’.319 Here, simply, was the reaction of one sincere minor public man to the blows falling on Britain.
Next month the Board, by 11 votes to 3, decided that subject to the approval of headmasters and committees its schools should open each day with the Lord’s Prayer; Colonel McDonald in an impassioned speech asked how, if God could not be mentioned in schools, people could expect the help of Christ in the present struggle, adding that all should show the suffering British people that New Zealand was not going ‘to blot the religious escutcheon.’320 In October the Wellington Board, claiming that it was a matter for itself and school committees, rejected the advice of the Director that this decision was contrary to law.321 The Otago Board recommended any of its headmasters who were not already doing so to open with the Lord’s Prayer, and defied the Director. Should committees continue to legalise the matter, questioned the Otago Board, or has the time arrived for us to turn a blind eye on the Education Act which in this respect is hopelessly behind public opinion. There is no doubt that the desire for religious instruction in our schools has been increasing—particularly so in the matter of opening with religious exercises. This desire has been intensified since the outbreak of the war and the realisation of the need for Divine page 131 help…. It would be a fine thing at the present time if every school in New Zealand were to open not only with the Lord’s Prayer but also a suitable prayer of intercession on behalf of our fighting forces and the men, women and children of the Homeland…. Education Boards and school committees are in much closer touch with public opinion in this matter than the Education Department and the Government.
The Otago Board hoped that all its schools would adopt its recommendation—not an instruction—to begin with the Lord’s Prayer.322 At the same time the Auckland Board reported that it had not officially considered the issue, and very few if any of its schools opened with prayer, but school committees could hold referendums among parents.323
Professor Gould complained of an administrative body, elected on a narrow franchise, presuming to interpret public opinion and override the law.324 The Educational Institute explained on 26 October that pressure against secular State education was longstanding, but now the advocates of religion were making use of the crisis. ‘The Institute sides with those distinguished Christian leaders who have objected in the strongest terms to the use of religious observances as a kind of social tonic in times of national crisis’.325 To clear up public misunderstanding the Director of Education, Dr Beeby, on 1 November stated that the Department and education boards existed to administer free, secular and compulsory education, with no power to give directions on religious instruction or observances. Under section 49 (7) of the Act, school committees could grant use of school buildings for religious instruction out of school hours, but they could not order that the school should open with prayers, which no child could be compelled to attend and a teacher taking part would do so as a citizen, not a teacher; the curriculum belonged to the Department alone. An education board, like any group of citizens, could express an opinion that certain religious observances would be desirable, but such opinion could not be regarded as legal instruction.326
Legal niceties did not perplex those who felt that the Wellington Board had taken the right course. The Presbyterian Outlook held that by acquiescence in earlier decisions by boards the Department page 132 had waived its right to interfere.327 Colonel McDonald was undismayed,328 and he was not alone; at the end of November the Wanganui Board asked its schools to open with the Lord’s Prayer.329 The Wellington Board on 20 November reported protests from only one school committee, support from religious and social organisations and its own intention to allow the daily prayer, subject to the approval of headmasters and school committees.330
For some, the 9 o’clock recital of the Lord’s Prayer by thousands of children was the whole issue; it might do some good and surely it would do no harm. For others, it was the thin end of the wedge, as the Bishop of Wellington made clear:
What really is at stake … is the future of Christianity as our national religion…. What we of the Church are asking for is not just the right of entry to the schools, but an adjustment of the educational system which will give free course to the Christian Gospel. To my mind, there is no sense in pretending that we are fighting for great spiritual issues while we make no effort to adjust the law of the land to the clamant and urgent need of the building up of a generation which will have some knowledge of the principles upon which alone a world of freedom and justice and peace can be established.331
There was no further confrontation. With unity the country’s avowed watchword, it was impolitic for the Department to do more than wait for religious fervour to flow and ebb.332
2 Wood, p. 98
4 Ibid., 4 Oct 39, p. 3
5 Press, 8 Mar 40, p. 8; Yearbook1940, p. 230
7 Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail, 29 Dec 39
8 Wood, pp. 106–9
9 Discussed in ibid., pp. 111–12
10 F. L. Frost, J. O’Brien, W. E. Barnard
12 NZ Transport Worker, 1 Mar 40, p. 9
14 Press, 27 Dec 39, p. 7
16 Ibid., 18 Mar 40, p. 10
17 Press, 23, 30 Jan 40, pp. 6, 12
21 Press, 16 Jan 40, p. 5
22 Truth, 17 Jan 40, p. 9
24 Savage’s ‘If Britain loses, all is lost’ became a slogan.
25 See p. 28. Langstone on 20 December 1939 said that if there were not enough volunteers and strong measures had to be taken, they would be 100 per cent, with everyone on soldier’s rations and pay; it would be a great step towards collective socialism, and those most opposed to it would be capitalists and Communists. Evening Post. 20 Dec 39, p. 12
27 Ibid., 5, 8, 9, 13 Mar, 28 May 40, pp. 10, 10, 14, 15, 13; Auckland Star, 28 May 40, p. 6
28 Freyberg, Lieutenant-General Rt Hon Sir Bernard, Baron Freyberg of Wellington and Munstead, Surrey (’51), VC, GCMG(’46), KCB(’42), KBE, DSO (1889–1963): b UK, to NZ 1891; GOC NZ Forces 1939–45; C-in-C Allied Forces Crete 1941; Gov Gen NZ 1946–52
29 Press, 10 Feb 40, p. 13
30 Bell, Brigadier Peter Harvey, CB(’44), DSO (1886–1963): QMG & 3rd Military Memb NZ Army Board 1940; OC Northern Military District 1941
31 Press, 22 Dec 39, p. 8
33 Press, 22 Dec 39, p. 3
34 Ibid., p. 6
36 Ibid., 6 Feb 40, p. 9
38 ‘Some people would like to see conscription. 1 believe it would meet with the approval of the majority … but the Government, in its wisdom, had decided on a voluntary system. The decision rests with the Government and ours is the job to translate it into action.’ Press, 22 Dec 39, p. 8
41 Press, 8 Jan 40, p. 6
49 Ibid., 6 Oct 39, p. 11
51 Wanganui Herald, 9 Jan 40, p. 9
53 Press, 22, 23, 26, 28 Dec 40, pp. 8, 10, 4, 5
54 Truth, 24, Apr, 17 Jul 40, pp. 9, 14
55 Information from Mrs P. Duckett, Waitara, Sep 69
58 Press, 2 May 40, p. 8
62 In this survey, newspaper letters are given a place as expressing, in the phrases of the moment, views by random people. That few letters appeared opposing conscription cannot be taken to mean that opposition was not felt or expressed, only that it was not published.
68 People’s Voice, 16 Feb 40, p. 1
69 The Record supplanted the Borer as the voice of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners in 1940. Like its predecessor it was prepared and published in the Auckland area, but was made available to Union members throughout the country. In July 1951 appeared the first issue of a national journal, the New Zealand Building Worker.
70 Union Record, 15 Jan 40, p. 2
71 NZ Railway Review, 5 Jan 40, p. 3
73 Standard, 28 Dec 39, p. 6. 1 Feb 40, p. 4
74 Union Record, 15 Mar 40, p. 7
75 Ibid., 15 Feb 40, p. 6
76 People’s Voice, 19, 26 Jan, 16 Feb, 15, 29 Mar 40, pp. 5, 1, 5, 1, 2; Union Record, 15 Jan 40, p. 8
77 Tomorrow, 24 Jan 40, p. 188
79 Press, 6 Dec 39, p. 8
81 Press, 12 Feb 40. p. 8
84 Press, 12 Apr 40, p. 10
86 Auckland Star, 26 Mar 40, p. 9
87 Standard, 28 Mar 40, pp. 7, 14
88 Actually 1937; see Standard, 8 Apr 37, p. 1
90 Ibid., 4 Apr 40, p. 14
92 Standard, 11 Apr 40, p. 1; Press, 13 Apr 40, p. 12
94 Union Record, 10 May 40, p. 6
96 Ibid., 24 May 40, p. 10
98 People’s Voice, 5 Mar 40, p. 5; NZ Methodist Times, 24 Feb 40, p. 347
99 People’s Voice, 9 Jul 40, no pagination
103 Press, 16 May 40, p. 3
105 eg, Press, 20 Mar 40, p. 14
109 Ibid., 1 May 40, p. 11
111 Ibid., 6 Oct 39, p. 12
114 Ibid., 17 Feb 40, p. 12
118 Harold Nicholson, one of the Conservatives who turned against Chamberlain, wrote of Keyes’s ‘absolutely devastating attack’ on naval bungling, and Amery’s ‘further terrific attack’. The latter switched attention from Norway to the whole conduct of the war, concluding with Cromwell’s dismissal of the Long Parliament: ‘You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.’ Nicholson, Harold, Diaries and Letters 1939–1945, p. 73; also Dalton, Hugh, The Fateful Years: Memoirs 1939–1945, pp. 304–11; Calder, Angus, The People’s War: Britain 1939–45, pp. 81–2
119 Attlee, Rt Hon Clement Richard, 1st Earl Attlee (’55), Viscount Prestwood (’55), KG, PC, OM, CH, FRS (1883–1967): MP (Lab) 1922–55; Leader Oppos 1935–40, 1951–5; Deputy PM 1942–4, Sec State Dom Aff 1942–3; PM 1945–51; Min Defence 1945–6
120 Sinclair, Rt Hon Sir Archibald, 1st Viscount Thurso of Ulbster (’52), KT(’41), PC, CMG (1890–1970): MP (Lib) 1922–45; Sec State Air 1940–5; Leader Parl Liberal party 1935–45
122 The vote was 281:200, showing many Conservative absences apart from those who marched into the Opposition Lobby.
128 See p. 859ff
130 Moody, Allan John (d 1973 aet 85): barrister & solicitor; chmn Auck Hospital Bd 1938–47
136 Ibid., 24, 25 May 40, pp. 11, 14
137 Fairburn, Arthur Rex Duggard (1904–57): lecturer Elam School Fine Arts; freelance journalist & script writer; 3 years with Broadcasting Service; poet and savant
138 Auckland Star, 23 May 40, p. 6 (slightly abridged); NZ Observer, 5 Jun 40, p. 2
139 Hurley, Albert Eaton: b 1904; barrister & solicitor Wgtn 1929–76; Sec Municipal Assn NZ 1936–52, legal adviser 1949–76; Ombudsman Auck 1976–80
141 Wanganui Herald, 23 May 40, p. 4
144 For instance, on 8 April the Christchurch executive declared that Fraser had already shown his courage and capacity, his appreciation of the needs of the country at war, and that he would not allow subversive elements to go unchecked. ‘Mr Fraser is our leader in this time of crisis. We stand or fall by him’. Press, 9 Apr 40, p. 6
147 Such phrases as ‘This crisis demands your presence’, ‘Better to sweat ourselves now than be sweated by the Nazis for ever’, ‘A call for ACTION’, plus large photographs of Churchill with slogans from his speeches, struck a note of urgency and authority.
149 Hughes, Rev Percy Gladstone (d 1949): b Wales; Presbyterian minister; Dom Pres LoN Union
152 Patea and Waverley Press, 24 May 40
156 Taranaki Daily News, 25 May 40, p. 9; Patea and Waverley Press, 24 May 40
157 Taranaki Daily News, 28 May 40, p. 8
162 Ibid., 25 May 40, p. 4
163 Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail, 24, 27 May 40, pp. 8, 7
167 Press, 25 May 40, p. 10
169 Auckland Star, 25 May 40, p. 17
170 Oamaru Mail, 30 May 40
172 Toop, Ernest Richard, CBE(’65) (1895–1976): Wgtn City Council 13 years, Dep Mayor 3 years; Wgtn Harbour Bd 13 years, chmn 5 years
174 Ibid., 22 May 40, p. 11
176 Exec Council ASRS, Evening Post, 23 May 40, p. 13; Wanganui Rlwy Workshops, Wanganui Herald, 23 May 40, p. 8; Otahuhu and Hillside ASRS, exec P & T Employees’ Assn, NZ Herald, 25 May 40, p. 13; Addington Rlwy Workshops, Press, 30 May, p. 8; Hutt Rlwy Workshops, Evening Post, 31 May 40, p. 8; Taranaki Trades Council, Taranaki Daily News, 24 May 40, p. 8; New Plymouth LRC and Wellington district sections of NZ Workers Union, Evening Post, 27 May 40, p. 11; exec Westland branch of NZ Timber Workers Union, Chch Sth and Shirley branches of Lab Party, Press, 28 May 40, p. 8; Waitara Freezing Workers, Taranaki Daily News, 31 May 40, p. 8; Blenheim Engineering and Allied Trades, Marlborough Express, 8 Jun 40; Canty Freezing Works and Related Trades, Press, 11 Jun 40, p. 12; Wairarapa Trades Council, Wairarapa Times–Age, 28 May 40
179 Press, 23 May 40, p. 8
186 Mulholland, Sir William, Kt(’56), OBE(’46) (1887–1971): Dom Pres Farmers’ Union 1936–44, Pres Fed Farmers 1945–6; fdtn member NZ Royal Agricultural Soc
188 Gisborne Herald, 30 May 40, p. 6
189 Wairoa Star, 5 Jun 40
190 Kitson, Henry (1882–1959): chmn Employers Fed 1940; local govt and bds member; HQ Southern Military District 1942–5
191 Press, 28 May 40, p. 14
194 Auckland Star, 28 May 40, p. 11
196 Auckland Star, 15 Jun 40, p. 12
198 Morrinsville Star, 7, 11 Jun 40
200 Mason, Hon Henry Greathead Rex, CMG(’67), QC (1885–1975): MP (Lab) Eden, Auck Suburbs, Waitakere 1926–66; Attorney-General, Min Justice 1935–49, 1957–60, Min Education 1940–7, Native Affairs 1943–6, Health 1957–60
201 Auckland Star, 15 Jun 40, p. 10
202 NZPD, vol 257, pp. 235–6
204 At Te Awamutu, a meeting to express dissatisfaction, set for 17 June, whose promoters claimed to have no association with any organisation, was postponed indefinitely in view of the government banning ‘a similar meeting which was to have been held in Auckland today.’ Te Awamutu Courier, 17 Jun 40
208 Ibid., 18, 23, 30 Jul 40
209 Ibid., 19, 20, 22, 24, 27 Jul 40
210 Ibid., 8, 9 Aug 40, pp. 11, 8
211 Ibid., 16 Jul, 10, 29 Aug, 24 Sep, 5 Oct 40, pp. 11, 17, 4, 11, 16
212 Wood, pp. 139–42
213 Ministers on the War Council were P. Fraser (Prime Minister), W. Nash (Finance), F. Jones (Defence), D. G. Sullivan (Supply) and R. Semple (National Service), with P. C. Webb (Labour) and W. L. Martin (Agriculture) alternating at meetings according to their topics. Other members were W. W. Mulholland, president of the Farmers’ Union; C. C. Davis, of the Employers Federation; R. Eddy, president of the NZ Workers Union; A. McLagan, president of the Federation of Labour; W. Perry, president of NZRSA; E. T. Tirikatene MP, returned soldiers, representing the Maori people; Sir Andrew Russell and L. G. Lowry MP, returned soldiers, appointed by the government; H. Atmore, Independent member for Nelson. Evening Post, 18 June 40, p. 8
215 Ibid., 24, 29 Jul 40, pp. 8, 6
216 Auckland Star, 19 Sep 40, p. 15; other figures in this paragraph are from weekly totals published in most newspapers
217 Roskill, vol I, p. 239. Of these, 189 541 were Allied troops, the rest British
218 Reynaud, Paul, GCVO(Hon) (1878–1966): French statesman; PM 1940, 1946–8
219 Pétain, Marshal Philippe (1856–1951): French soldier/statesman; Gen-in-Chief 1917; Sec War 1934; Chief French State 1940–44
221 Cox, Sir Geoffrey, Kt(’66), CBE(’59) (1910–): Rhodes Scholar 1932; foreign & war correspondent 1936–40; 1st Sec & Charge d’Affaires, NZ Legation Washington 1942–3; dep chmn Yorkshire TV UK; Dir Tyne–Tees and Trident TVs UK
224 NZPD, vol 257, p. 489
225 Truth, 10 Jul, 7 Aug 40, both p. 14
226 Bonnet, George Étienne (1889–1973): French politician; Min Finance 1933–4, 1937–8; Ambassador USA 1937; Min State 1938, Foreign Aff 1938–40; member Nat Council 1941
227 Flandin, Pierre Étienne (1889–1958): French politician; Min Finance 1931–2, 1932, Public Works 1934, Foreign Aff 1940–1; PM 1934–5; 5-year sentence for collaboration 1946; Leader Left Republican Party pre-war
228 Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail, 9, 11 Jul 40, both p. 7, quoting the British magazine Cavalcade
231 Auckland Star, 15 Aug 40, p. 14
232 NZ Financial Times, Sep 40, p. 388, quoting the Economist
233 Truth, 10 Jul 40, p. 14
234 Wanganui Herald, 3 Sep 40, p. 6
235 de Gaulle, General Charles André Joseph Marie (1890–1970): French politician, soldier; Chief Free French, then Pres National Committee 1940–2; Pres Committee National Liberation Algiers 1943, Provisional Government French Republic & Head Chief of Armies 1944–6; Pres French Govt 1958–9, Republic 1959–69
237 Deakin, F. W., The Brutal Friendship, pp. 9–10
238 A surprise attack in November 1917 by the freshly formed German–Austrian 14th Army on the Italian lines stretching into Yugoslavia, after a stalemate of two-and-a-half years, which drove the Italians back, in a near-rout, to the Piave River, where they held the offensive. This attack threatened to engulf the whole of north-east Italy, and more than 600 000 Italians surrendered or deserted in the retreat. British and French guns and infantry were deployed to the area and a Supreme Command established to counter the débâcle.
239 Ribbentrop, Joachim von (1893–1946): Nazi Min Foreign Aff 1938–45; executed as war criminal
241 Roosevelt, Franklin Delano (1882–1945): 31st Pres USA 1933–45
243 War History Narrative, ‘Police Department’, pp. 56–7; Lochore, R. A., From Europe to New Zealand, pp. 22–30
245 WHN, ‘Police Department’, pp. 57–9
246 Lochore, p. 30
247 Yearbook1941, p. 45, 1942, p. 42
248 WHN, ‘Police Department’, p. 75. In all, 817 Italians were registered as enemy aliens in August 1940. Whangarei had 2, Auckland 67, Hamilton 27, Gisborne 27, Napier 42, New Plymouth 10, Wanganui 6, Palmerston North 13, Wellington 381, Nelson 81, Greymouth 94, Christchurch 27, Timaru 7, Dunedin 30, Invercargill 3; ibid., p. 82 and Schedule following p. 124
249 Ibid., pp. 39–40, 77; see also chaps 19, 18
250 WHN, ‘Police Department’, p. 59
251 Ibid., p. 60
252 Press, 12, 13, 17 Jun 40, pp. 12, 8, 8; Auckland Star, 17 Jun 40, p. 3
253 Press, 2 Jul 40, p. 6
257 Ibid., 14, 19 Jun 40, pp. 8, 7
259 ‘Aliens Administration’, a war history narrative prepared by the Police Department (hereinafter WHN, ‘Aliens’), p. 9
260 Press, 1 Aug 40, p. 10
261 Ibid., 12 Aug 40, p. 10
262 Report of Secretary ONS to PM, 11 Jun 40 in WHN, ‘Police Department’, pp. 91–3
263 This involved the removal of four boats from Rona Bay, three from Makara, one from Paremata and one from Picton.
264 WHN, ‘Police Department’, pp. 93–6
265 Seddon, Thomas Edward Youd (1884–1972): son of Rt Hon R. J. Seddon; MP (Lib) Westland 1906–22, 1925–8; Hon Consul Greece 1938–60; chmn War Pensions Bd 1930–63
266 Otago Daily Times, 13 Jun 40, p. 6. Perhaps to counter such hostility, Greek nationals, who numbered 600, decided to give one day’s takings from business, or one day’s wages, to patriotic funds. The day selected was 28 June 1940, and it yielded £1,639. Press, 16 Jul 40, p. 6
268 Truth, 10, 17 Jul 40, pp. 8, 9
269 Yearbook, 1947–49, pp. 954–5. In the 1936 census, excluding Maoris, 195 261 or 13.09 per cent out of 1 491 484; Maoris, 11 326 or 13.76 per cent of 82 326.
270 Hinsley, His Eminence Cardinal Arthur (1865–1943): Roman Catholic Archbishop Westminster from 1935
271 Pius XI (Achille Ambrogio Damiano Ratti) 1857–1939: Pope from 1922; Pius XII (Eugene Pacelli) 1876–1958: Pope from 1939
273 Liston, Most Rev James Michael, CMG(’68) (1881–1976): Roman Catholic Bishop Auck 1920–70; Archbishop 1954
274 Zealandia, 20 Jun 40, p. 4
275 NZ Tablet, 19 Jun 40, p. 5
277 NZ Dept Statistics, Annual Statistical Reports, 1939, Annual Statistical Report on Trade and Shipping, Pt II, p. 58
279 Beeby, Dr Clarence Edward, CMG(’56): b UK 1902, educ NZ; lect. Philosophy, Education CUC 1923–34; Dir NZ Council Educational Research 1934–38, associated WEA, adult educ 1928–38; Asst Dir Educ 1938, Dir 1940–60; UNESCO conference posts from 1946, chmn Exec Bd 1963; NZ Ambassador France 1960–3
281 Auckland Star, 19 Jun 40, p. 6
283 Hawke’s Bay Daily Mail, 24 Jun 40, p. 6
287 Wanganui Herald, 19 Jul 40, p. 6
289 Ibid., 19 Jul 40
291 Ibid., 16 Jul 40, p. 8
295 Press, 13 Jul 40, p. 10
296 Ibid., 18 Jul 40, p. 10
298 Broadfoot, Hon Walter James, KBE(’55) (1881–1965): MP (Nat) Waitomo 1928– 54; Mayor Te Kuiti 1927–35; Junior Whip 1936–41, Senior Whip 1941–9; PMG 1949–54; Min Nat Service, War Cab
299 NZPD, vol 259, pp. 687, 690
300 These were: Waitangi Day, 6 February; Anzac Day, 25 April; Empire Day, 24 May; King’s Birthday, 1st Monday in June; Dominion Day, 4th Monday in September; Trafalgar Day, 21 October; Armistice Day, 11 November. See also p. 1138
302 Ibid., 22 May 40, p. 10
303 Ibid., 22 Aug 40
304 Ibid., 3, 18 Sep 40, pp. 6, 11
305 Ibid., 16 Oct 40, p. 10
307 McDonald, Colonel Thomas William (1869–1968): b Aust; Mayor Lower Hutt 1905–7: MP (United) Wairarapa 1928–31; member RSA, Wgtn Educ Bd, Wgtn, Petone Technical College Bds; organiser & CO public school cadets Wgtn district
308 Ibid., 10 Feb, 17 Apr 42, pp. 5, 6
309 Ibid., 23 Apr 42, p. 9
310 A private school not far from the Governor-General’s residence.
311 Newall, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Cyril, GCB, OM, GCMG, CBE, KStJ, 1st Baron of Clifton-on-Dunsmoor (’46) (1886–1963): Indian Army 1909, RFC 1914, RAF 1919; Chief Air Staff, UK, 1937–40; Gov Gen NZ 1941–6
313 Ibid., 8 Dec 43, p. 6
317 Press, 6 Aug 40, p. 12
318 A few days earlier the Riccarton Borough Council had accepted the proposal of its Mayor, H. S. S. Kyle MP, to invoke Divine blessing on its proceedings as in Parliament. Otago Daily Times, 15 Aug 40, p. 6
320 Ibid., 18 Sep 40, p. 11
321 Ibid., 16 Oct 40, p. 11
325 Ibid., 26 Oct 40, p. 11
326 Ibid., 1 Nov 40, p. 8
327 Outlook, 23 Oct, 25 Sep 40, pp. 3, 3
329 Ibid., 26 Nov 40, p. 9
330 Ibid., 21 Nov 40, p. 12
331 Ibid., 2 Dec 40, p. 11, quoting Church Chronicle, Dec 40, p. 167
332 See pp. 1134–5