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The Second Echelon

The Second Echelon

In March 1941 the Second Echelon arrived in Egypt from the United Kingdom. Eleven chaplains, among them Bishop Gerard, who had been appointed Senior Chaplain to the Forces, 2nd NZEF, page 20 had accompanied this force to England; it had arrived there in June 1940 after Dunkirk and just before the fall of France.

While in the United Kingdom, units of this contingent were spread over a wide area in the southern counties, and this meant much travelling for the chaplains; fortunately there was a plentiful supply of transport. Civilian clergy gave all possible help, and often their churches were used for Church parades, while very friendly relations were established with village communities. On one occasion, to the embarrassment of some Wellington soldiers, the suggestion was made by a certain English vicar that it would be a happy gesture to rename one of the village roads ‘Taranaki Street’.

Padre L. D. C. Groves5 was left in England to look after the Forestry units, and throughout the war he worked hard to keep in touch with the New Zealanders there, visiting men at the New Zealand Post Office and Forces Club in London, and in the New Zealand Convalescent Home in Hampshire, as well as many others serving with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force.