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Base Wallahs: Story of the units of the base organisation, NZEF IP


Paradoxically, the history of the Kiwi Company New Zealand WAAC goes back some six months before it was officially constituted a unit of NZEF IP. It commences with the posting of six WAAC personnel to Papakura Military Camp attached to 4th NZ General Hospital overseas. They duly proceeded overseas with the hospital, arriving in New Caledonia on 1 January 1943. Their story is one with all those units who pioneered NZEF IP and a very sincere tribute should be paid to their hard work and unfailing cheerfulness under all conditions. The main body of WAAC personnel were marched in to 4th NZ General Hospital on 16 July 1943. This draft consisted of two officers, Subaltern M. Hardcastle and Second-Subaltern A. Shannon, and 76 other ranks. From this date on reinforcements and replacements arrived at frequent intervals for the staffing of 4th General, Convalescent Depot, BTD detachment and, at a later date, the Kiwi Club. In September 1943, Junior-Commander G. V. M. McClure, Officer Commanding Kiwi Company NZ WAAC arrived to take command of all WAACs in New Caledonia. The duties carried out by the WAACs varied considerably. In the two medical units they were employed as nursing orderlies, clerks, batwomen, telephone exchange operators, in the hospital laundry and in the laboratories. The clubs found work for waitresses, cashiers, clerks and cooks, but wherever and whatever the work done, it had this in common—the adaptability of the WAACs to new types of work and their willingness to fit into a monotonous routine that was as changeless as the hills surrounding the camps. The novelty of the first week soon disappeared and adjustments had to be made to a new way of living that had only the necessities of war to justify it.