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Problems of 2 NZEF

CHAPTER 17 — Some Miscellaneous Points

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Some Miscellaneous Points

IT will possibly have been noted that few of the problems that have been mentioned in previous chapters were what is known in the army as ‘Q’ problems. The greater part of our difficulties were either matters of organisation or were personal problems, and appertained either to ‘G’ or to ‘A’ branches. This is not to say that there was a lack of activity on the Quartermaster-General's side, but merely that most of the work went smoothly and did not create any purely 2 NZEF problems. With Army Headquarters we had few discussions on any ‘Q’ matters, because the main ‘Q’ subjects were for discussion with General Headquarters overseas (e.g., movements, rations, accommodation, equipment, repairs) and New Zealand played no part in them. New Zealand supplied us with the bulk of our woollen articles of clothing, including battle dress; but, strictly speaking, this was as a result of the arrangements made by the United Kingdom supply authorities when contracting for uniforms from New Zealand for all troops, and was not of our own making. Officially these and other articles were supplied by New Zealand to the United Kingdom authorities and by them passed over to us; but the practical arrangement was made in this case that we received them direct from New Zealand.


Several times during the war we appealed to New Zealand to help us out with MT. On one occasion they sent us a consignment of trucks with the names of the original owners still decorating the sides – ‘XYZ, Carrier, Lower Hutt’ and so on. On one or two occasions they sent us the consignment direct, and on one occasion a consignment for GHQ.

We were probably extravagant over MT, and were not content until we were self-contained throughout, and until all the bits and pieces had transport of their own – chaplains, public relations, and anyone whose duties necessitated his travelling round and about with any degree of frequency. Our scales were higher than with British formations and led, as has already been mentioned, to arguments with GHQ regarding our right to the vehicles under the financial agreement. The additional cars prevented a lot of minor irritations, such as a state of affairs that left the unit chaplain to travel on any vehicle in which he could beg a seat.

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But in an endeavour to economise on MT, we tried once or twice to establish a pool of cars at HQ 2 NZEF. The rule we tried to enforce was that whether or not an officer had a car of his own depended upon the degree of urgency with which he might be called on to move, and not on seniority alone. If an officer could always give fair notice of his wish for transport, there was no point in tying up a car for him all the time; whereas if he might have to move at short notice, then a car must be ready for him. There then followed protests from senior officers who were excluded from the chosen few, and somehow or other they got their cars. To enforce the rule strictly was a hopeless task, and probably the effort was not worth it, for compared with the scandalous waste of MT that went on throughout our force and in the army generally, our little saving would not have been even one drop in the ocean.


We started the war with the usual New Zealand head-dress of the high-crowned felt hat. At an early point it appeared that there would be some difficulties over future supplies; and in the opinion of some senior officers in the First Echelon, the felt hat was not a good headgear for a sandy country. This engendered some emotion in other senior officers, who claimed that the war would be lost if we did not continue to wear our beloved hats. In the summer of 1940 the First Echelon was issued with genuine tropical helmets. The Division then went to Greece in a combination of simpler helmets (‘Bombay bowlers’) and the ‘fore-and-aft’ British cap, the reason being that these were the normal wear of British troops, and that it was easier for us to draw them from British depots than to persist with a separate hat. Thereafter we adhered to British usage, first the ‘fore-and-after’ and then the beret. Troops in Maadi retained the New Zealand hat for a long time, as reinforcements always arrived so equipped; but in general the hat became rarer, and we even shipped some consignments back to New Zealand.

A good deal of sentiment attaches to our ‘funny hats’. It seems likely that we were a bit hasty in abandoning them, although it is true that they get sticky and dirty, are not suitable for use in cars and trucks, and are quite useless for members of armoured regiments. We could not help noticing that felt hats were the universal wear in South-east Asia.


It had been decided in New Zealand while the First Echelon was training there, that 2 NZEF should wear a universal hat badge, which was to be distinctive of New Zealand. There was reason for page 258 this. In the First World War New Zealanders had worn their peacetime regimental badges, in which except under close examination there was nothing of a distinctive New Zealand nature, artistic though many of them were. The Australians, on the other hand, had adopted a universal badge – the rising sun – which, while having nothing particularly Australian about it, was clearly distinctive and became widely known. In 1939, therefore, a badge had been designed and made in New Zealand, and had been issued to the First Echelon before departure.

This meant that all troops had to give up their regimental or corps badges, a sacrifice that did not meet with universal approval. The new badge had been issued fairly late and, so to speak, had not registered as the ‘one and only’, so that here and there the custom arose of sticking to the peacetime badge. Artillery had their gun, the Machine Gun Battalion had revived the crossed machine guns of the first war, and so on. As soon as this was noticed, and orders were issued to stop it, there was an outcry which soon became general. All units wanted something else – mostly their peacetime badges – while the accusation was made against the new badge that it was lacking in imagination and was not artistic. This agitation was bound up with an ill-defined feeling that the infantry titles should be changed, as the new numbers had no connection with any peacetime title. However, the answer was clear. It was too late to reopen the question of titles and thus the question of the badges of the infantry. The other corps must fall into line and all the nice unit badges must be abandoned. As time went on the universal badge achieved a position of its own, and came to be accepted as a New Zealand distinction.


While the First Echelon was still in New Zealand, a system of shoulder patches had been designed, intended to distinguish brigades, battalions, field regiments, etc. Patches had existed in the First Expeditionary Force, and it was natural that they should be revived for 2 NZEF. Once overseas, however, complaints started, the theme being that they did not go far enough and did not indicate sub-units to the degree desirable. We had a conference on this also early in 1940 and endeavoured to achieve both rationality and finality. All went well until after Greece and Crete, by which time the force had greatly expanded and the system showed signs of becoming too complicated. After all, there are only a few distinctive primary colours, and not many simple shapes, and the number of combinations is limited. Just when we began to think that we would have to tackle the whole thing again, the point – or rather the alleged page 259 point – of having patches at all wellnigh ceased to exist. They could not be worn on shirts, which became standard dress for at least half the year, because they would not stand up to washing, and it was too much trouble to unstitch them and then stitch them on again. The same applied to bush shirts when they became standard dress. They could still be worn on service dress or battle dress; but by the end of 1941 people had ceased to worry about them, for it was apparent that their practical value was small, and their sentimental value not very great. Patches were never officially abandoned, and they appeared on battle dress spasmodically until the end.


Units had come overseas wearing the metal titles issued in New Zealand and applicable to the various corps. Partly owing to difficulties of replacement – metals were precious – and partly because the titles did not sit comfortably on shirts or bush shirts, they gradually ceased to be an article of normal wear. What we wanted was something distinctive for New Zealand, which led to the introduction of the cloth title with the words ‘New Zealand’ in white on a black background. The first issue was so made that it had to be stitched on, which again led to troubles at washing time. The final pattern was a looped title which could be slid over the shoulder straps that were a part of all types of dress. This could be easily removed and was a success. After an initial issue made in Egypt, later issues were drawn from New Zealand. Chaplains wore a loop of purple material in addition.


Vehicle markings caused little trouble. For the Division the tradition established in the First World War made the choice of a fernleaf inevitable. The first complication, even if only a minor one, arose when the number of non-divisional units became appreciable. It was thought desirable that they should have a separate sign, and for some time they carried a black fernleaf on a white background, the reverse of the divisional sign. However, this was never truly distinctive, for by an optical illusion the eye often saw what it thought it ought to see, and few appreciated that the colours had been reversed. When in 1942 Maadi Camp became 6 NZ Division, a separate vehicle sign was necessary and the kiwi was selected; and the opportunity was taken to devise a fresh sign for 2 NZEF units, as opposed to divisional or base ones. A minor competition was held, and on one particular day a number of vehicles were lined up outside Headquarters bearing sample signs such as Mount Cook, a tiki, and a mako shark. In the end we adopted the Southern Cross page 260 as it appears on the national flag, i.e., the four stars of the cross in red with a narrow white surround, all on a dark-blue background. It was effective, and also distinctive. Its effectiveness was doubled when, in 1943 and later, we came into touch with American troops. Their general officers carried red stars on their cars to mark their rank, ranging from one for a brigadier-general to four for a full general, all the stars in a horizontal line on a light background – the system which in fact has been adopted by the British Army. The sight of our four stars arranged in cross form was often too much for American military police, who must have thought that it represented nothing short of Commander-in-Chief The World, from the look of petrified astonishment that appeared on their faces.

In the memorial erected in Maadi village to commemorate the presence of New Zealanders over the years, all three signs appear – the fernleaf, the kiwi, and the Southern Cross.


For the first three years of the war we had trouble over compensation for loss of officers’ kit, including in this nurses’ kit. It should be said that as other ranks were normally issued with all articles of clothing, replacement was automatic and caused no troubles. Officers and nurses, however, were responsible for their own clothing, with the exception of a few special military items, and to maintain themselves in kit were granted an annual upkeep grant. It was clear from the first that an officer losing his kit by straight-out enemy action was entitled to be compensated, a procedure that caused a lot of work after Greece and Crete. The situation was not so clear in cases where officers or nurses lost their kit by such hazards as fire or theft, and there followed some cabling to and from Army Headquarters before an answer was found – which was in brief that compensation would not be paid if the risk was an insurable one. We found a reputable insurance company in Egypt that would accept such risks, and with which we came to the understanding that losses in front of the Main Dressing Station in action would definitely be considered as arising from enemy action, in which case the State would reimburse the officer; while losses behind the Main Dressing Station, if not obviously caused by enemy action, could be covered by insurance. We thought that the company took a very liberal view of the risk they would accept. We then arranged that the Chief Paymaster would accept ‘bankers’ orders’ to pay premiums when due.

Some officers insured; but the majority did not bother and took the risk themselves, shrugging their shoulders philosophically if they were caught. Nurses were the trouble. Despite the ruling, page 261 nurses still applied for compensation when incurring losses that were clearly insurable, an outstanding case occurring in late 1941, when the tent belonging to two nurses was burnt to the ground while they were away at the cinema. They duly applied for compensation, and when they were refused it appealed to a succession of senior officers, and finally to New Zealand, where, however, both Army Headquarters and the Government were firm in adhering to the ruling. As a result of this and other cases, we arranged that every sister should sign a receipt for a copy of the relevant instruction, so that there could be no argument about it – or so we thought. Thereafter it became one of the duties of the Principal Matron to ensure that every sister had received a copy and had signed for it. But we were not out of the wood yet. When our hospital was moving from Beirut to Tripoli in early 1943, the matron drew the attention of all sisters to the position about loss of kit, pointing out that part of the journey was to be done by train, and that loss by theft or by natural hazard was insurable. And then the worst happened. One railway truck went missing on the journey, and out of all the mass of gear of a hospital on the move it contained nurses’ kits. Some nurses had insured and were compensated accordingly. The remainder duly applied to Headquarters for compensation. Again this reached New Zealand through local MPs or somehow, and again everyone there was firm. During his visit to New Zealand in 1943, in view of the emotion this subject was engendering, OICA discussed it specifically with Army Headquarters; but both sides were agreed that there was no cause to change the ruling.

Many thought sincerely – and strongly – that the rule was a hard one, and that compensation should be given for all losses occurring on active service, no matter how they happened. On the other hand, we thought that an officer must be expected to take the usual reasonable care of his kit, and that it was a fair solution to ask him to insure to cover such risks as the company would accept. As already stated, men in general accepted the position. It was the ladies who were troublesome.

Reviewing the problem today, it seems that the ruling was a little bit too hard, and should have been relaxed to include compensation for losses which were a direct result of active service conditions – in which case the second incident mentioned above (the rail loss) would have come within the scope of compensation by the State while the first one (the fire loss) would still have been outside it. The difficulty would have been to know where to draw the dividing line.

The basis on which compensation was paid by the State was reasonable replacement value, to be applied to a definite list of articles, generous enough in its range, but excluding articles of a page 262 semi-luxury type, valuable presents, etc. When officers’ clothing stores appeared in the theatre of war, we took their prices as the ones to be followed. The abnormal losses in Greece and Crete were adjudicated on by a Claims Uniformity Committee, with a membership including officers who had been through the campaign. We tried to be generous – the Prime Minister himself told us to be generous – but on the other hand we had to exclude losses due to sheer carelessness. Taking it all in all, the claims were fairly met. The Uniformity Committee continued as a permanent piece of administrative machinery.

The Standing Instruction on the subject is in Appendix X.


The people of Egypt and the Levant soon found out that the British Army was fair game for claims for compensation arising out of alleged damage done to the person or to belongings. No doubt the troops were often careless, sometimes rough with the inhabitants, and only too easily involved in accidents. In Cairo particularly there was always a mass of MT weaving its way in and out of an anarchic jumble of civilian donkey carts and hawkers. Accidents were inevitable.

Claims from civilians were lodged first with the British headquarters, and then, if our men were concerned, were passed over to us. For a while we tried to wrestle with these ourselves; but our knowledge of Egyptians was slight, we had no idea of local values, and had to rely in any case on the help given us by the British authorities. In the end, by mutual arrangement, the British Claims Commission handled our cases entirely. We gave it authority to settle outright any claims not above a certain figure, subsequently obtaining reimbursement from us; and we engaged ourselves to give much weight to any recommendation made by the commission when bigger amounts were involved.

The commission saved us an enormous amount of work. However, in some ways we were not satisfied with its methods or recommendations. We thought that it was too kind to the Egyptians, and we had a feeling that the necessity of maintaining good political relations with Egypt sometimes weighed with it. It appeared to us that often it was we who had a claim against an Egyptian, and not the reverse. It became our habit to examine the commission's recommendations closely, often not to accept them, but to ask that they be reconsidered. Gradually relations between the commission and Headquarters became more and more strained, until a point was reached when the commission took umbrage at one of our remarks and asked for an apology. We had undoubtedly gone too far, and page 263 the apology was given; but all the same, we were never very happy about the position. However, the alternative was that we should handle the claims ourselves, which we did not want to do. The conclusion must be that we were in the wrong, and should have accepted the recommendations of the commission without cavilling at them.

In Italy the position was easier. The troops did not run foul of the inhabitants to anything like the same degree as in Egypt, and claims were less common.


It was mentioned on page 31 that we had considered the introduction of a photographic identity card for all ranks to be pasted into the backs of paybooks, but did not go on with the idea. While it must be admitted that we never felt the lack of these cards in the years that followed, the reason probably was that we had never experienced the advantages of having them. It appears that there are advantages in such a scheme, which after all is a simple one.


At any one stage during the war, the postal store in Cairo would be clogged up with newspapers from New Zealand, most of them already many months old owing to delays in transportation. Space on ships was at a premium, and newspapers were low in the order of priority. To attempt to readdress this mass of papers, in a way similar to that employed with letters, was manifestly a waste of time for the postal staff; and if a paper was unclaimed at the last address known, it was handed over to hospitals. Moreover, it was common knowledge that there was a great deal of duplication in the despatch of papers and journals, in that many correspondents in New Zealand might send the same paper to the one man, and that many copies of the one paper (the Weekly News for instance) might be received in the one small unit. One way and another a lot of the papers became undeliverable. To achieve a satisfactory answer would appear to require a degree of centralisation in New Zealand that would be unworkable. From time to time we used to ask men to let their correspondents know if they really wanted the papers that were sent to them, and possibly some did; but the accumulation in the postal store continued to the end. It might be possible for the New Zealand authorities to produce a paper covering the whole country, and to send it to units in bulk; but it is realised that this is not quite the same thing as the despatch of a local paper by a friend. One thing is sure – that the Postal Corps would welcome anything that reduced the enormous bulk of newspapers.

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In September 1942 Headquarters published an order on the difficult question of acceptance of payment for services. What was legitimate was reasonably clear, e.g., payment for a photograph accepted by the NZEF Times. What was irregular was also clear, e.g., acceptance of money or even gifts from contractors. In the middle, however, came a number of cases that were defined as questionable, e.g., a unit photographer making considerable profit out of selling copies of his photos to members of the unit, a hairdresser also charging so much as to give him a good profit, and so on. It appears to be wrong that a man should make money out of his fellow soldiers in these ways, but it is difficult to draw a clear dividing line between what is above board and what is of doubtful honesty. COs were asked to keep a watchful eye on all such cases.


Toward the end of 1941, after the Libyan campaign, it became clear that the Division would be having a long spell for rest and reorganisation. The opportunity was taken to circularise all senior officers and ask their views about repatriation after the war. At the moment nothing seemed more distant than going home to New Zealand; but the problem was one that required much thought and long planning, and in any case there was no harm in letting Army Headquarters have our views. The resulting paper went off to New Zealand in April 1942, and as far as 2 NZEF was concerned that was the end of it. We were informed that our contribution had been passed to the ‘Rehabilitation Council’ in New Zealand, where, as we had reason to believe later on, it was duly taken into account.

The details of the paper are not worth mentioning, except those that concern the order of return and the occupation of the force while awaiting repatriation. The consensus of opinion favoured ‘first out, first back’, and of concentrating on a scheme of educational training, although the prospects of the scheme were somewhat damned by the comment, ‘at the best it can be little more than a means of filling in time’.

It is of major interest to note that some of our assumptions proved not to be justified. We thought that shipping delays would make the repatriation take up to two years from the end of the war. Actually, it took much less than a year. We assumed that 2 NZEF would spend some time on garrison duties, probably in Central Europe. Actually, when it came to the time, the Government refused to let New Zealand troops be used for this duty.

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One internal problem over which there was considerable difference of opinion was the length of time that existing units should remain as units, i.e., the stage at which men should be withdrawn for reorganisation preparatory to embarkation. It was obvious, although some COs would not agree, that the existing unit framework would have to be broken up for the journey back, and special units formed. The COs in question were gloomy about the prospects of keeping discipline in temporary units.

As it turned out, the order of return never created a problem, as the ‘first out, first back’ was accepted. Those wishing to go back before their turn applied for compassionate leave in the ordinary way – and HQ 2 NZEF could console itself with the thought that it had not to make the decision.

The ERS has already been discussed in Chapter 16, where it is claimed that in the end it did more than merely fill in time, and was a satisfactory and reputable way of tiding over the period of waiting.

It has already been mentioned in Chapter 6 that at the end of 1945 we were nearly found wanting, in that ships came so fast that we had difficulty in filling them. We had perfect schemes for keeping men employed for indefinite periods, but had never thought of the unexpected factor. In the end all was well; but it is a lesson for the future.

It is undoubtedly desirable that men should stay within the framework of their old units for as long as can safely be allowed. It was in part because of this, of course, that we were nearly caught out; but even that experience does not detract from the desirability of retaining unit identity for the maximum time possible. At Advanced Base men were reorganised into suitable units for the journey back; but it was generally possible to arrange that officers known to the majority of the men were also in the units.

For special reasons the Maori Battalion was allowed to embark as a unit. Its place in the order of embarkation was such that a good number of the men were later in leaving than if they had gone normally. In a rather rough and ready way this compensated for the fact that a lot of the men were getting away before their time.

Throughout the war we had had many cases of disbandment of units – disbandment in the form of the complete disappearance of the unit on one particular date. At the end of the war the disbandment was more in the nature of ‘fading away’, the popular method of all old soldiers; but even then it was desirable that the normal administrative action should be taken, and in effect this was the case. There was in existence a Standing Instruction on Disbandment of Units (see Appendix XIII) which enabled all concerned to check off the action to be taken. All promotions had in any case stopped page 266 some time before throughout the force. Equipment had been handed in as part of the general clean-up, and so on. Almost the only remaining problem, the disposal of regimental funds, has been discussed in Chapter 16.

We had a certain amount of general equipment that belonged definitely to 2 NZEF, and was not part of the equipment issued to us from British sources. Examples are a lot of our cars, the launch at Suez, and the printing machinery. These were sold to ‘best advantage’, the sale being conducted through a special Disposals Board in order to avoid any scandals. The money, of course, went back to the Government.

There were many duties to be carried out to the last, by which is meant after the rest of the force had embarked. In the Pay Office and Second Echelon we had to retain certain key personnel, even though we went as far as we could to staff the units with volunteers. The personnel concerned, all officers or senior NCOs, understood the position and were uncomplaining. For the Graves units we relied on volunteers, having them sign a special form agreeing to serve for a period after the war. Most of the men volunteered for laudable reasons – love, or a desire to see a bit more of the world – but a few did so because of the chances of loot and more black-market activities. Had it become necessary to retain large numbers, we would have had to be very careful whom we accepted.


It has been mentioned in one or two places that the day-to-day administration of 2 NZEF proceeded in accordance with normal military custom, and that it was never intended to write a treatise on the subject; but the administration of a small specially formed national force served to cast a highlight on a few points which appear worthy of mention.

The basic point which must always be remembered was that it was a specially formed force and had an existence that at the most would be of only a few years. It differed in this respect from a regular army, and even from the wartime divisions of the British Army, where there was always a stiffening of regular personnel in units, and where the new formations were built on a foundation of the peacetime regular army.

It is a complete impossibility to expect a temporary ad hoc force to achieve the same standards of administration as in a peacetime army. For one thing, there is no time. Such time as there is must be devoted to training for war in its broadest sense – not that administration does not matter, and that there is not an irreducible minimum of training necessary for that also; but something must suffer, page 267 and it is inevitable that it should be administration. A comparatively low standard must be expected, and must be accepted. The aim of the headquarters should be to make things as simple as is possible for recipients and to ease the burden on formation and unit commanders.

Some orders, some rules, some adherence to the custom of the service there must be. In peacetime it is possible for New Zealanders to ‘consider each case on its merits’; in war there is no time for such a luxury, and one must adopt some rule, rough and ready though it may be – and stick to it. If the rule then turns out to be hard, or does not meet the generality of cases, the thing to do is to alter the rule, and then continue to adhere to it. Few orders, as few as possible, and strict adherence to them, will make it easy for both the enforcer of the rule and the enforcee.

It must be remembered that the perfect answer, the answer that would be completely fair to every individual case, is unattainable in wartime. To achieve it would mean such delays that the administrative machine would gradually grind to a standstill. It often used to be said at HQ 2 NZEF that if only the enemy would ‘freeze’ for a few months we would have everything properly sorted out, would have every peg in the proper hole, and could make a nice clean fresh start; but the enemy, far from ‘freezing’, was a particularly energetic one, so we had to get on as best we could.

If there is one thing that is certain, it is that far too many administrative orders were issued during the war, the greater part being unenforceable, even though they did finish up with the words, ‘failure to comply with this order will lead to severe disciplinary action’, or something of that kind. There were so many orders that they bred a habit of disregarding them all, which sometimes led to unfortunate results, for every now and then there would be an order that really mattered. It would have been to the benefit of good administration in the end if more thought had been given to the essentials, and less time wasted on a mass of verbiage, directed doubtless to achieving perfection – that perfection which is unattainable in a wartime citizen army.

General Headquarters was the worst offender; but a perusal of 2 NZEF orders today must make one ruefully admit that despite our efforts – and we did try – we ourselves issued too many orders that had not a chance of being observed. We could have exercised a greater measure of selectivity, have published fewer orders, and then there might have been a chance of a few of them being obeyed.

No unit can possibly absorb the mass of stuff that gets hurled at it when it arrives overseas, either from the British headquarters under whose command it is to serve, or from its own headquarters which may have preceded it. In Appendix VI appears the ‘Joining page 268 Instructions’ for the Third Echelon – or ‘Contingent’ as we were trying to call it at the time. Headquarters 2 NZEF had done its best by compiling in the preceding two months a series of what were then called ‘Special Circulars’, which were a collection of the orders and instructions that had been issued since the First Echelon arrived in Egypt. It was hoped in this way to make the task of units a little easier; but one is left with the melancholy thought that the task would have been easier still if the matter contained in the circulars had been reduced by 50 per cent.

So much for the arrival of the Third Echelon. When the Second Echelon units arrived in early 1941, they were placed under orders to go to Greece almost as soon as they landed, and there was no time for HQ 2 NZEF to distribute a ‘Joining Instruction’ of a similar type. The war had now intervened to spoil any idea of a nice, tidy administrative welcome – and as far as could be seen then, or can be seen now, it did not matter a bit.

In September 1941 Headquarters started a series of ‘Standing Instructions’, which were added to in succeeding years. A full list is given in Appendix VIII, and some examples of the shorter ones in Appendices IX to XIII. Some were intended to be of use for personal problems, e.g., compassionate leave, marriages, compensation for loss of kit; some were to help units for certain administrative work, e.g., regimental funds, traffic accidents, welfare, control of photography; one or two were designed to collect into one place the action required of a number of people for one transaction, e.g., drafts for the United Kingdom or New Zealand, disbandment of units; a good number merely collected into one place a mass of separate orders dealing with pay, Second Echelon, postal service, and base kits. Probably few of the last class were ever read, whereas the others had some practical value. It appears that Headquarters was afflicted with the common complaint of issuing too much paper, and that we would have been better advised to cut the list down by half, particularly as few units ever had a complete set of the instructions, despite our attempts from time to time to find out deficiencies and replace them.

At this point it is opportune to repeat that printed orders are easier to read than cyclostyled ones. We did not have a printing unit until January 1942, which was much too late. It would have been of great help from the start, and it should be one of the units which accompanies the first contingent overseas. It is not just a luxury, for it is an admirable example of the principle that everything possible should be done to make things easy for recipients.

One aspect of this problem of the dissemination of orders to which a satisfactory answer was never found was that of passing on orders issued by GHQ. There were two facets, first the applicability page 269 of the order, and second how it was to be distributed. The first facet has been dealt with in Chapter 11, where it is stated that a completely satisfactory answer was never found. The second facet was within our own powers. The number of copies of GHQ orders was limited, and did not reach down to units. In the end HQ 2 NZEF assumed the task of repeating the appropriate ones in 2 NZEF Orders, one reason being that HQ 2 NZ Division would thereby be spared the task. As each issue of GHQ orders was received, the appropriate administrative head (medical, pay, legal, ordnance, etc.) was asked his views about our repeating any order that was marked as applicable to all troops, and which came within his province. At least that was the general idea; but very often in the heat of the war the officer concerned was either not consulted or was away at the time, and the order was first put aside and then forgotten altogether. On the whole it never seemed to matter, and there is no record of any trouble occurring because a GHQ order did not reach 2 NZEF units.

Second NZEF orders might have been better arranged. Reading them today gives the impression of a bit of a muddle; and in fact we were almost as bad as GHQ, in that genuine 2 NZEF orders containing something that mattered are mixed up with repeats of GHQ orders and other things included merely as information. On one or two occasions we issued a consolidated volume of 2 NZEF orders, but it is doubtful if it was of any value.

If any headquarters is going to issue orders, it is better to make use of them as much as possible, and avoid a multiplicity of separate instructions and bits of paper. The ideal would be that everything, every form of order or directive, was issued through one source, so enabling the recipient to keep a careful check on what he received and make sure that he had missed nothing. That method is impossible, however, if for no other reason than that a lot of what is issued is secret or goes only to a limited number of recipients.

The crisis of July 1942 found HQ 2 NZEF with a mass of back files and correspondence, a lot of which was either of no importance at all, or had only historical interest. We had been remiss in not having periodical purges of files, and either sending unwanted files back to New Zealand for storage or destroying them. Anyhow, we had a good bonfire at the time.