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Historic Poverty Bay and the East Coast, N.I., N.Z.

District Wartime Activities

District Wartime Activities

The Legion of Frontiersmen in Poverty Bay recruited a voluntary Home Defence Force of about 250 members in May, 1940. Major H. Miller, M.C., was the O.C., and Captain T. G. Nowell his 2 I.C. It had to be disbanded when the compulsory Home Guard unit was established on 2 August, 1940. Major Miller became the first O.C. of the new body, which, in August, 1941, was transferred to Army control. In August, 1942, Major C. A. Smith became the O.C., with Captain E. L., Adams his page 347 2 I.C. The first division comprised 650 men and the second 150. On account of the calling up of so many members either for service in the Armed Forces, or to assist in essential industries, there was a heavy turnover in personnel. In all, about 2,000 men did Home Guard service in Gisborne. Early in 1945 the organisation was disbanded.

The National Military Reserve (“Nat. R's”) was mobilised for full-time defence duties in Gisborne in January, 1942. Many of its members had served in the First Great War. Poho-o-Rawiri was its headquarters. The first O.C. was Major E. R. Black, M.C. When Major J. W. Bain returned from overseas service he took over-There were also an Independent M.R. unit and an Air Training Corps in Gisborne.

A Gisborne Emergency Precautions Service was established to handle any civil emergency that might arise on account of enemy action. At the peak the enlistments totalled nearly 3,000. All civilian adult males up to 65 years were required to enrol. Many women joined voluntarily, and others were recruited through a branch of the Women's War Service Auxiliary, of which Mrs. V. F. Wise was the leader. Unit controllers—Wardens: W. Keith (chief) and C. V. Harre, J. Peach, W. Sherwood, H. A. Dear, E. Grabham, J. R. Samson, J. H. Walker, R. C. Knowles, S. P. Sheppard, E. J. Poswillo and A. L. Campbell; Works and Services: J. Gunn, F. Matthewson and W. Harnett; Medical (including members of St. John Ambulance Association and Red Cross Society): M. J. White; Evacuation: T. G. Johns; Fire (including members of the Fire Brigade): B. S. Bree; Reduced Lighting: F. R. Ball; Transport: B. H. Wilcox; Marine Transport: Captain G. McK. Smart; Law and Order: Police Inspector D. McLean; Supplies: L. Balfour; and Communications (including members of the Post and Telegraph Department's staff): A. M. Robertson.

Specialised units included a bomb disposal squad (under G. H. Tresadern), denial of resources squad (L. Miles), an anti-gas squad (E. A. Woods) and others set up by various State departments and local bodies. Food depots were established in the country districts, and plans were made to enable the town to be evacuated (if necessary). The members of the wardens' units were required to patrol the streets nightly to ensure that the “blackout” restrictions were strictly observed. N. H. Bull (the mayor) was chairman of the council of controllers, R. Morse deputy-chairman, and W. M. Jenkins treasurer. The initial organiser was T. A. N. Corson, and then J. A. Mackay became organising secretary.