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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Rank of Eighth Reinforcements

Rank of Eighth Reinforcements

The 8th Reinforcements, NZMC, had trained in New Zealand to form a field ambulance for attachment to an armoured brigade. They were not used for this purpose, but during their service in New Zealand the NCOs had been granted substantive rank. This gave rise to difficulties in administration in 2 NZEF and dissatisfaction among long-service men of the NZMC. After examination some of the NCOs were reduced in rank, but their posting to units, field units especially, naturally gave rise to grievances among men of equal calibre and much longer service who had been superseded in promotion. In respect of the posting of reinforcement NCOs there were explicit rules in 2 NZEF Regulations which had to be followed.

In October 1942 DMS 2 NZEF had asked for a qualified masseur to be sent from New Zealand to assist in the massage department at 1 Convalescent Depot, which was controlled by a qualified masseur of NCO rank. In New Zealand there was much more liberality generally as regards commissioned rank in the NZMC (stretcher-bearer officers being a notable example) and commissions were granted to masseurs. The qualified masseur arrived from New Zealand with commissioned rank and this created a dilemma, and there was no alternative but to grant the long-service NCO commissioned rank.

This matter did not affect the NZMC alone, and the immediate opinion of the Officer-in-Charge Administration and the Military Secretary, Headquarters 2 NZEF, was that the reinforcement officer should be returned to New Zealand as the promotion of the NCO was likely to lead to requests from other personnel with special qualifications, not only in the Medical Corps, for commissioned rank. The fact that the officer had been sent from New Zealand specifically to meet a necessary medical requirement owing to lack of other qualified personnel in 2 NZEF led to his retention, although in all justice masseurs should not have been commissioned ahead of others such as dispensers.