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Leadership School

Leadership School

Soon after victory in Europe a Leadership School organised by the Chaplains' Department came into existence. The idea was copied from the courses run by the Royal Air Force in Rome, one of which Padre E. O. Sheild13 attended as an observer. His report was considered by the chaplains, and when a plan had been made for similar courses in the 2nd NZEF the proposal was submitted to the GOC. Official approval was given and, through the courtesy of the National Patriotic Fund Board, the Divisional YMCA hostel at Riccione was made available and every help given by the YMCA secretary, Allister Gill.14

Padre Sheild was appointed principal of the school and three other chaplains were released for this work. Together they prepared a syllabus and solved all the administrative and other problems. It page 110 was decided that each course should last for ten days, including two Sundays, and provision was made for a maximum of sixty students at a time. Courses were run on a denominational basis in that there were three divisions: Church of England, Presbyterian, and Other Denominations. The syllabus remained the same with the exception of certain periods on Church history and Christian doctrine which varied with each course. Plans by Father Spring for a series of courses for Roman Catholics did not eventuate.

An effort was made to select students from men who had already shown some capability for leadership; accordingly, commanding officers were asked to pick the candidates from their units and it was suggested to them that they should consult their chaplains when making the selection.

The school was open to all ranks, and many officers attended. Its object was to ‘train leaders by showing that the Christian way of life gave the only outlook which provided coherence and meaning to all experience, and provided power by which fine words and ideals could be translated into action.’ The daily syllabus contained Church services, discussions, and three lectures under the general headings:


The foundations and fundamentals of leadership;


The dynamic at work in history;


The application of leadership.

Two lectures were held each morning and the third in the afternoon. After lunch the afternoons were free until four o'clock and most of the men took advantage of the magnificent facilities for sea-bathing on the beach at Riccione. In the evenings there was a kind of ‘brains trust’ in which written questions that had been submitted to the staff were answered and freely discussed.

At the conclusion of each course the students were invited to give their opinions on the school, and of the 450 who attended all expressed their approval of it. Information about each man attending the school was sent to his Church in New Zealand. The school was a notable venture by the Department and credit is due to the many authorities concerned for the speedy efficiency with which the organisation was planned and put into practice, though much of the success was owed to the enthusiasm and talents of Padre Sheild.