Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Problems of 2 NZEF



Applications for Return to New Zealand on Compassionate Grounds

(Issued in conjunction with 2 NZEF Orders Serial No. 117 of 1943)

To List ‘Z’

Ref: A 47/1
10 Feb 43

These Instructions cancel previous Standing Instructions and embody all Instructions and Orders issued up to and including 2 NZEF Orders Serial No. 117 of 1943.

A—General Considerations

(1) Although in recent months there has been a considerable increase in applications for compassionate leave to NZ, on investigation few have proved to be based on grounds substantial enough to warrant the return of the applicant.

(2) It is obvious that by any standard, many soldiers are at present making applications on insufficient grounds. The following general comments are made for the information of Commanding Officers:


If 2 NZEF continues to serve outside NZ for a long period, there may be few of its members who will not at some time consider themselves entitled to compassionate leave on account of bereavement, anxiety concerning the welfare of children, financial insecurity or some other domestic and personal reason. It is obviously impracticable for large numbers of personnel to be returned to NZ on compassionate grounds.


To grant leave in any but exceptional circumstances would be unfair to those men having stronger claims who have not so far applied. The knowledge that such leave could be granted would only swell the volume of applications now being received and would lead to even greater delay in the progress of the investigation which must be carried out in New Zealand in the interest of all parties.


As time wears on the natural longing of men to see their relatives and families once again will result in a steady increase in applications unless it is continually emphasised that only serious considerations of real urgency bring about the soldier's return to New Zealand.


There is a natural tendency for letters from New Zealand to exaggerate distressing circumstances, and in the conditions of life in the Middle East personal anxieties also tend to become exaggerated. Further, it has been found that, in the lapse of time taken by correspondence and inquiries, difficulties have, to some extent, been eased and domestic problems solved.

page 303

(3) It requires to be emphasised that:


The number of applications which result in the return of a soldier to NZ is very small.


The following are not, in themselves, considered adequate reasons for a soldier's return:




Illness of next-of-kin or relative's desire for the return of a soldier.


Anxiety about the welfare of children.


The intention to institute divorce proceedings.


Anxiety about the conduct of a business or similar enterprise.


The desire to legitimise a child.


Soldiers must face the facts of bereavement and ill health in the ranks of their next-of-kin and/or other relatives. These are the natural, if unfortunate, accompaniments of ordinary existence, and particularly so is this the case in respect of aged or elderly parents. Few men of mature age can expect to be absent from their homeland for any number of years without the early demise or sickness of parents becoming a probability rather than a possibility. These considerations therefore cannot be advanced as grounds for compassionate leave with any expectation of success in other than the most unusual cases.


The welfare and care of children, whether coming in the train of bereavement, or arising out of neglect or misconduct on the part of wives, or attributable to any other cause, is not to be regarded as a consideration which will ensure a man's return. The Child Welfare Dept is fully equipped to give every attention to cases brought to its notice, and those soldiers who are so concerned may rely on the arrangements made for the care and well being of their children.


It should be pointed out that agencies exist in New Zealand whereby soldiers' interests are safeguarded. For example, in very many cases, inquiries concerning the welfare of children reveal that arrangements have already been made to ensure that they are adequately cared for. Again, if a soldier desires to institute divorce proceedings he should be informed that the necessary action may be taken in the Middle East.


Business considerations are not acceptable as grounds for return. All men in the Army are making some sacrifice, and the man with business anxieties is facing a concomitant of war shared with thousands of others similarly placed.

(4) Where return to NZ is recommended, it is generally found that there is a combination of factors of the kind mentioned in para (3) (b). There follow three typical examples of soldiers whose applications have resulted in their return to NZ:

page 304
Pte A. 1

brother killed; 1 brother missing; 1 brother prisoner of war; 1 brother invalided to NZ from 2 NZEF; 2 brothers still serving with 2 NZEF; father in ill health; family business failing.

Pte B.

Father died suddenly; mother and sister both invalids; one young brother; family's livelihood dependent on a “one-man” enterprise.

Pte C.

Wife deserted two small children while Pte C in Middle East; children ill cared for; no relatives in NZ.


(5) The following is the procedure whereby applications for return to New Zealand on compassionate grounds are referred to the proper authority and the appropriate action taken:


The application, accompanied by a full statement of supporting reasons, is made through the applicant's CO and forwarded by the usual channels to HQ 2 NZEF, accompanied by the CO's recommendation. The applicant is advised to forward also letters or other evidence which may support his case.


If the application appears to be well-founded and/or is supported by the applicant's CO, HQ 2 NZEF requests Army Headquarters, NZ, to investigate the case and to make a recommendation. In cases of urgency HQ 2 NZEF communicates with AHQ NZ by cable.


Investigations are made in NZ by the National Service Department through the District Secretary of the Manpower Committee, and Army Headquarters' recommendations are based on the report of that Department.


If the recommendation from AHQ NZ is favourable, the application is approved by HQ 2 NZEF and a passage is arranged at the first opportunity.


In urgent cases AHQ NZ forward recommendation by cable, but in all cases there follows by surface mail a copy of the report by the District Manpower Committee which has investigated the circumstances surrounding the application. This report will, in whole or in part, be sent forward by HQ 2 NZEF to the Commanding Officer concerned so that the soldier may know that his interests have received adequate consideration.

(6) In regard to the conduct of inquiries in New Zealand the following observations should be noted by Commanding Officers:


Suitable general instructions are invariably issued to investigating Officers.


Cases receive detailed and sympathetic investigation.


Although at times it has been necessary for the National Service Department to make use of the Social Security and Police Departments, investigations are usually conducted in person by senior officers of the National Service Department.


Every effort is made by this Department to expedite investigations. It must, however, be realised that delay is often inevitable on account of slowness of mail services, inability to trace witnesses, changes of address, and the reluctance of witnesses to give full information.

page 305

(7) Emphasis should be given to the following:


Applicants should forward with their applications letters and other evidence which may support their statements.


Frequently significant facts are omitted or vaguely defined by applicants, e.g., a witness is referred to only by his or her Christian name, or the address of the most important witness is not given.


Some applicants attempt to strengthen applications by references to their failing health, sense of strain, etc. All such references will be deleted by HQ 2 NZEF. Applications should be made on compassionate, not on medical grounds. If the applicant believes that his health is failing, he has the recourse of reporting to RMO and further action will be taken, if necessary. There is no means of combining medical with compassionate grounds.



In cases of extreme distress of mind over the health or welfare of relatives, HQ 2 NZEF asks for information from New Zealand by cable.


These cases refer to soldiers who have not applied for leave to return to NZ and who, for some reason have not received information which they have considered themselves entitled to expect.


It should be pointed out that such investigations conducted by the National Service Department are carried out as tactfully and thoroughly as possible and with the least possible publicity.


This clause, however, is not to be interpreted as meaning that HQ 2 NZEF will enquire by cable concerning the health and welfare of relatives of 2 NZEF personnel, whatever the circumstances.


Only in special circumstances will such cables be despatched. If the information sought is such as may be obtained by the soldier himself by cable or by other means, HQ 2 NZEF will take no action, but if he has tried and failed, or if he has evidence that he has been supplied with inaccurate or incomplete information, he may apply for investigation by HQ 2 NZEF.

(9) Since COs are in a better position than most to assure themselves of the applicant's sincerity and to some extent of the validity of the application, they are requested to bring the foregoing considerations to the notice of prospective applicants who may consult them.

If thereby men can be induced to place their problems, domestic or otherwise, alongside those of the enslaved peoples of Europe and take a positive view of realities, in many cases they will find their difficulties so reduced in proportion as to be readily overcome on the spot, and many may decide not to continue with their applications. Notwithstanding this, in all cases where the soldier desires to continue, applications will be forwarded to HQ 2 NZEF with the CO's recommendation, as a case that appears ill-founded may be badly presented, or the applicant may be reticent about the full circumstances of his domestic situation.

W. G. Stevens,

Officer in Charge Administration 2 NZEF