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Problems of 2 NZEF



The activities of the Red Cross Commissioner are mainly the concern of the Director of Medical Services, with whom rested the responsibility, under the GOC, for the health of the troops. The appointment of someone to represent the Red Cross is in some part a relic of the time over a hundred years ago when the army took little or no care of the sick and wounded, and the Red Cross societies did noble work in restoring a sense of humanity to the care of these unfortunates. Today the military medical services are fully capable of restoring men to health without any assistance from other bodies. The function of the Red Cross is then to supply occasional jam to the army's nutritious bread and butter, or in other words, to supply those additional little amenities which make so much difference to life in hospital. The work of the Commissioner is thus social and not medical.

The understanding was that the Commissioner was to work under the direction of the DMS. On any future occasion, this should be made clearer. The Commissioner's funds were supplied from the Patriotic Fund in New Zealand.

As with the YMCA, the army provided a great deal of help for the Commissioner – clerical staff, personal assistants, and the whole of the men for a Red Cross store. In other words, the Red Cross Commissioner was a normal part of the 2 NZEF welfare organisation, and not an independent authority. It has already been mentioned that the Society was inclined to look on the girls who worked in the hospitals as their own private army; and now it must be said that there were occasions when it appeared to us that they looked on the responsibility for the treatment of the sick and wounded as belonging to them also. We were probably wrong in this belief; but it is right to say that that was the impression left on us by various communications from New Zealand. The responsibility was the GOC's alone, with the skilled assistance of the DMS; and the GOC in turn was responsible to the Government.