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Problems of 2 NZEF


page vii


THIS volume differs from other volumes covering the history of 2 NZEF in the Mediterranean. First it deals with general administration, with no reference to any individual formation, unit or corps. Secondly, the author was intimately concerned with the subject matter of the volume, and is thus to some degree under post-war review himself.

Unfortunately I never kept a diary; but during 1945 I jotted down notes on various difficult or controversial points that had arisen in 2 NZEF in the earlier years. These were then elaborated as a result of conversations with other members of 2 NZEF, in particular when it appeared likely that some of us might be helping to form an expeditionary force for operations against Japan. By the time I returned to New Zealand in 1946 I had collected sufficient material to form an extensive precis; and it is mainly on that precis that this volume is based.

The volume is thus largely a personal report, despite its apparent anonymity.

However, I owe a great deal to the War History Branch, and in particular to the late Major-General Sir Howard Kippenberger, who at all times kept me on an even keel. The Branch in general answered many queries, and hunted out a mass of old papers and files, including the War Diaries of HQ 2 NZEF. I found these last most helpful, particularly those dealing with the early period when Headquarters was establishing itself. The compiler at that time was Captain A. C. Highet, and to him retrospectively I owe a lot.

Many people, too many to mention in detail, willingly answered questions on odd points, and others made helpful criticisms on various parts of the draft volume. Major-General W. G. Gentry and Colonel A. S. Muir read the whole volume in draft and made extensive and helpful criticisms, so continuing into peace the invaluable advice and assistance they gave me during the war. To all I tender my grateful thanks.

The introductory chapter gives an outline of the volume, and explains the method followed.

On 22 November 1939 I was in the Savoy Hotel in London and was the first person to greet Major-General Freyberg when he came out of Mr Fraser's office, having just been offered and having just accepted the appointment of GOC. Six years later to the day I had the honour of proposing his health when he left us in page viii Florence. It was a long association, and to say that it was an unforgettable one for me is an understatement. I could not have had a more considerate or lovable chief, one who was always so appreciative of what we tried to do for him, one who never said a harsh word. It was an honour and a privilege to serve him. This volume will show one aspect of the work of 2 NZEF—an aspect in which the GOC's influence was as marked as elsewhere.

The work of HQ 2 NZEF was intended, however indifferently, to make smooth the path of the field troops. For the ordinary New Zealand fighting soldiers I have an unbounded admiration. It was an honour to give them what assistance we could, even if only from the back rooms.