Problems of 2 NZEF
In addition to helping with the clubs, the Patriotic Fund paid for sports gear, wireless sets and books, bore the entire stage costs of the Kiwi Concert Party, subsidised regimental funds, gave special grants at Christmas, and provided the money to start our paper, page 249 the NZEF Times. Here the Government played its part also, for the personnel of the ‘Kiwis’ and the staff of the Times were soldiers and paid in the normal way, and both units were properly formed units of 2 NZEF. It must be pointed out again that our welfare was shared between the Patriotic Fund and the Government, and was not maintained by the former alone.
The ‘Kiwis’ were officially known as the Entertainment Unit, the more glorified title being thought better for a unit which was self-contained in transport and equipment, and did not merely include the performers. Originally it was intended to serve the troops while in Maadi; but once made fully mobile it roamed all over the theatre of war in the wake of the Division, and in Crete served as a fighting unit. On at least one occasion it made a special trip – to Malta – to entertain other troops, and gradually became famous throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. While showing the necessary degree of ‘snappiness’, it avoided the more than doubtful items which to us disfigured many of the concert parties from the United Kingdom. It is worth recording that while New Zealand troops were by no means saints, they did not like ‘smut’ in their entertainment. Their comments on some of the concert parties were pungent, to say the least of it.
It may be claimed that the NZEF Times was a success also, although many of the troops were disappointed that it did not open its columns to ‘Letters to the Editor’. It has already been mentioned (see page 126) that we thought it wiser to confine it to being a ‘news’ paper. There was a good deal of difficulty in ensuring that all men had a chance to see a copy of the paper. It was distributed to field units on a basis of one copy to three men, and to base units on a basis of one copy to five men, free in both cases; but unfortunately numbers of men posted copies back to New Zealand or kept them as souvenirs and did not pass them on, and there were steady complaints from men that they did not see a copy. The remedy lay with units, and was beyond the powers of Headquarters or of the Times. It should be said that there was insufficient paper to print one copy for every man in the force except for a special edition at Christmas.