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Problems of 2 NZEF



A few pages ago it was mentioned that we often had to transfer men of reinforcement drafts between corps in order to compensate for unexpected losses or for a change in plan since the draft had been arranged with Army Headquarters. The average New Zealander can be transferred in this way with reasonable ease. He learns the new work, and adjusts himself to his new place, with commendable readiness. In this case it gave us a flexibility that helped to solve some awkward problems. There are limits, of course, to what can reasonably be done by an exchange. It would for instance be unfair to expect a man to transfer from infantry to EME and become a highly-skilled optical mechanic at a stroke; but even here the chances are that he will learn his new work quickly.

The commonest form of transfer was from one to another of the three infantry groups, Northern, Central, and Southern. Varying losses, the varying composition of the call-up in New Zealand, the formation of the armoured brigade and other moves of units, all made it necessary from time to time to transfer blocks of men after arrival in Maadi.

And this brings up another point, that there is an essential uniformity among New Zealanders, no matter from what part of the country they come. By uniformity is not meant class uniformity, although that does exist too, but uniformity of manner, speech, outlook and physical type. Aucklanders are sometimes regarded by other New Zealanders as one-eyed, and Dunedinites are said to have yearnings after Scotland, but that is about the limit of the difference. In Great Britain, however, the differences are most marked in all the characteristics enumerated above, so that a man from Devon may not understand one from Cumberland, and a Durham miner sees things quite differently from an Essex farmer. It is easily understood why regiments of infantry, and units of other page 196 arms too, are recruited from limited areas of country, and why transfers between units, if undertaken at all, have to be effected carefully and sympathetically. There are no such compelling reasons in New Zealand to make it necessary to draw units from one particular area. Sentimental ties to an area there may be, and the chances are that these will increase with the years, but there is nothing to prevent men from any part of the country, thrown together into a unit, from merging into a unity with strong esprit de corps. The units of 2 NZEF with the highest esprit de corps included at least one that was drawn from all over New Zealand.