Problems of 2 NZEF
Regimental funds were derived in part from profits made by the unit on the sale of canteen goods, in part from donations from the National Patriotic Fund, and in part from donations from 2 NZEF Central Regimental Funds, of which more later. Unit funds were subject to audit; and with distressing frequency the auditor would point out that money had been spent on something that could not in page 250 any way be called ‘an improvement in the general welfare of the men’, which were the words used in the Standing Instruction on the subject. The commonest fault was to buy extra office equipment – typewriters, lamps, stationery – and we had a case of a unit paying for lessons in German for one of its NCOs. When checked by the auditor, the unit would apply to HQ 2 NZEF for retrospective approval for the expenditure to be paid by the Government. We had to emphasise that COs were administering a trust fund, and must adhere to the principle that the money was intended for improvements in the general welfare of the men, a definition that appeared to us to be sufficiently broad to cover all things in reason.
It was perhaps small wonder that every CO tried somehow or other to become possessed of a unit fund about which neither Headquarters nor the auditor knew anything.
The Standing Instruction on the subject is in Appendix XII.
We had also a Central Regimental Fund, the money in which came from a rebate from NAAFI known as the Egyptian Customs rebate, i.e., a retrospective refund by the Egyptian Customs of the duty paid when the goods entered Egypt. It was handed to us on a numerical basis depending on the strength of the force, and bore no relation to purchases. We retained a portion of this in a central fund for general 2 NZEF purposes, and distributed the remainder periodically to units. Audit of all these funds was highly desirable, for it is very easy for a campaign of suspicion to start about the use made of them.
At the end of the war, Headquarters recommended to units that the balance of their funds should be paid into the Central 2 NZEF Fund, which we thought would go after the war to swell a large central fund in New Zealand – as has been the case. There was, however, a tendency for the unit spirit to play its part, and for units to hold on to their funds for the use of members of the unit who might be in need after the war. The intention was excellent; but there are bound to be difficulties in administering small funds once all concerned are back home and scattered all over New Zealand.
A word must be said here about the most generous gifts made to the NZEF by Captain Dennis Duigan, a New Zealander formerly resident in South Africa, and later in England, who served with the force in 1940, but was later discharged owing to ill health. At intervals throughout the war he sent to the GOC sums of money amounting in the total to many thousands of pounds, to be used at the unfettered discretion of the GOC for the good of the force. The ‘Dennis Duigan Fund’, in common with all others, was strictly controlled and was regularly audited.page 251
At each Christmas time the Government gave a special grant of one shilling a head to be spent on Christmas fare. One way and another, the welfare of the New Zealand troops was of a standard much above that of any other British force.