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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Red Cross Administration

Red Cross Administration

There was a change in the administration of Red Cross Stores when Major Tweedy1 arrived in the Middle East on 25 January 1942 on HS Maunganui as a full-time and permanent New Zealand Red Cross Commissioner for the Middle East, under the Joint Council of the Order of St. John and New Zealand Red Cross Society. Major Tweedy was vested with full authority to act on the Council's behalf in all matters in the Middle East affecting Red Cross interests. He took over from Lieutenant-Colonel Waite who had been acting in a temporary capacity as Red Cross Commissioner.

The control of the issue of Red Cross supplies and comforts from both the British Red Cross Society and the New Zealand Joint Council to 2 NZEF was at first an indirect responsibility of DDMS 2 NZEF. To assist in the issue and accounting of these Red Cross supplies Captain Peek, NZMC, was attached to the staff of the DDMS as quartermaster. When Captain Peek became OC NZ Medical Stores Depot in Maadi in January 1941, he continued to hold and distribute Red Cross stores under the control of DDMS 2 NZEF. The latter was the issuing authority prior to the arrival of Lieutenant-Colonel Waite from New Zealand in May 1941, in the position of Overseas Commissioner jointly of the New Zealand National Patriotic Fund Board and the Joint Council of the Order of St. John and the New Zealand Red Cross Society. DDMS 2 NZEF and Lieutenant-Colonel Waite then comprised the Red Cross Committee in 2 NZEF, supervising the issue of Red Cross supplies to New Zealand medical units for the benefit of patients. Indents were submitted by medical units for approval by DDMS 2 NZEF and supplies issued from New Zealand Red Cross Stores, which could draw stocks from the British Red Cross Society, Cairo, for items page 307 other than those supplied from New Zealand. Items not in stock could be bought locally, if available, and the accounts met by the Red Cross Commissioner, who took over the funds in the Red Cross account on his arrival.

The appointment of a full-time New Zealand Red Cross Commissioner was considered desirable and opportune at this stage, in view of the growing contributions made available from Patriotic Funds in New Zealand and the need for an increased liaison between New Zealand and 2 NZEF in the Middle East in order that optimum use could be made of the volunteer Red Cross effort in New Zealand. In Maadi Camp a separate Red Cross store was established by Major Tweedy with a small staff, and there is no doubt that the services of the Red Cross Commissioner in a separate specialised capacity were valuable, and relieved the DDMS 2 NZEF and OC Medical Stores Depot of the burden of executive control of Red Cross matters.

The DDMS 2 NZEF was naturally still consulted on major policy matters as the work of the Red Cross lay within the medical units, and DDMS 2 NZEF and the Red Cross Commissioner constituted, as formerly, the committee administering the Overseas Fund of the Joint Council (excluding special grants which had been made direct to medical units as sick and wounded funds, which were drawn upon at the discretion of unit commanders).

1 Maj W. G. Tweedy, OBE; Timaru; born Melbourne, 23 Jul 1890; solicitor; Commissioner NZ Order of St. John and Red Cross, Dec 1941–Apr 1945.