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Problems of 2 NZEF



The term ‘HQ 2 NZEF’ was used somewhat loosely. In a broad sense it comprised all the group of NZEF ‘authorities’ which were concerned with the administration of the force as a whole, and which are set out in full in Chapter 8. They included the Officer in Charge of Administration, the Military Secretary, the Director of Medical Services, the Senior Chaplain, the Chief Paymaster, and so on. Some of the authorities, however, did not necessarily live in the same immediate area as the rest of Headquarters; and all the page 110 authorities had titles and addresses of their own, and to some extent had an existence separate from Headquarters as interpreted in a more limited connotation.

The term ‘HQ 2 NZEF’ was used also for the office of OICA alone, and correspondence bearing that address was delivered accordingly. In the layout of all the offices, that was the title placed outside OICA's office. He and his immediate assistants may be taken as the ‘staff’, while the others are the ‘services’.

Equally in Maadi, in Santo Spirito and in Senigallia, the offices were spread out, albeit in a limited area, and were never in one large building. In Maadi they were in hutments, and in the other two places in a series of small houses, a state of affairs to be preferred to being accommodated in a large office building. If it can be arranged, a semi-rural atmosphere is pleasant and does not detract from efficient office work – rather the reverse. The atmosphere of a large, grim office block is dampening before work has even started.

The office of the Officer in Charge of Administration, HQ 2 NZEF on the more limited connotation, varied its organisation during the war, depending on the requirements of the moment; but in general it had branches for the usual three divisions – General Staff, Adjutant-General, and Quartermaster-General. The terminology varied also. At one stage the three sub-divisions were known as A1, A2, and A3, the reason being that the greater part of the work at the time pertained to the Adjutant-General's branch. In the end the terminology settled down into (a) General Staff, Staff Duties (G-SD), (b) Assistant Adjutant-General (AAG), and Assistant Quartermaster-General (AQMG), three branches in all.

The detailed allocation of duties to these three branches varied also; but the following gives the allocation which we came to in the end, and which survived unchanged for the last three years of the war.

Officer in Charge of Administration
All policy matters
Military Secretary
Senior Chaplain
Medical and Dental – large questions
‘G’ Branch
Organisation of 2 NZEF
Training – with GSO I, 2 NZ Division
Composition of reinforcement drafts
Formation and disbandment of units
Vehicle markings
War diary, 2 NZEFpage 111
War establishments
Statistics and wastage tables
Order of battle
Location statements
2 NZEF orders and circulars
Security and censorship
Ciphers and communications
Office staff and procedure
‘A’ Branch
Reinforcements to field Discharges
Repatriation Marriages
Furlough and replacement schemes Women's services
Prisoners of war Leave
Second Echelon Attachments and detachments
Commanding officers' reports Courts martial
Selection board – graded personnel Courts of Inquiry
Honours and awards Discipline
Personnel – miscellaneous Traffic accidents
Promotions other ranks Compassionate leave and personal matters
Service chevrons and wound stripes
‘Q’ Branch
Finance and capitation Postal
Compensation for losses Printing unit
Shipping and movements Stationery depot
Quartering and accommodation Base Kit Store
Ordnance, clothing, and equipment Claims
Stores, rations, and supplies ERS
Transport Entertainment unit
Employment of civilians Cinemas
Contracts National Patriotic Fund Board
Publicity YMCA
Pay and audit Church Army
Port detachments Welfare Committee

OICA himself dealt with the Military Secretary – who had direct access to the GOC – and with the Senior Chaplain; the former because he handled confidential matters affecting officers and therefore better confined to the minimum number of staff, and the latter because the questions of spiritual welfare were sometimes of some delicacy and were better handled at the top. The DMS also had direct access to the GOC, and with the ADDS had matters to discuss from time to time affecting their relative duties.

It will be noticed under ‘G’ Branch that ‘Training’ is qualified with the words ‘with GSO I, 2 NZ Division’. In fact the ‘G’ staff of the Division were responsible for all training directives, but page 112 these were transmitted to HQ 2 NZEF and distributed by G(SD) Branch there. The ‘G’ staff of the Division was thus for certain duties the ‘G’ staff for 2 NZEF also, for there was no justification for having a senior ‘G’ officer at HQ 2 NZEF. Actually, a good deal of the correspondence on training passed direct between 2 NZ Division and Maadi Camp, a violation of the correct channel of communication that never caused any trouble. The biggest responsibility of the ‘G’ officer at Headquarters was Organisation, with a capital ‘O’, including keeping a watchful eye on manpower, establishments, and wastage. This officer was also personal assistant to OICA, who took a slightly greater degree of direct interest in this branch than in the other two.

Strictly speaking, some of the duties allotted to ‘Q’ Branch did not come within the normally accepted allocation, e.g., welfare, pay, and ERS, all of which would usually have gone to ‘A’ Branch; but the division was made this way in order to even up the duties between ‘Q’ and ‘A’ Branches. There was more ‘A’ work than ‘Q’, so that in dividing the work equally some ‘A’ work overflowed into the so-called ‘Q’.

Both in Egypt and Italy we had a liaison officer stationed at GHQ, but carried on the establishment of HQ 2 NZEF. We were far too modest about this. The officer was at first only a captain, and even at a later stage only occasionally a major. We would have been better advised to have expanded the office into a small mission, with a lieutenant-colonel at the head. We undoubtedly suffered a little through not having stronger representation at GHQ.

Just after the move to Italy HQ 2 NZEF, i.e., the office of OICA, numbered six officers and nineteen other ranks, together with eight WAAC personnel, including a WAAC subaltern who was in charge of all clerical WAACs in the force. Later it rose to a maximum of 45 all told, but including the Senior Chaplain and the General Manager of clubs and their staff.

It was mentioned in Chapter 4 that HQ 2 NZEF adopted a vehicle sign of a Southern Cross on a dark-blue background. At first officers used to wear an armband corresponding to that worn by the staff of an army corps, viz., red-white-red in equal horizontal bands. In 1942, however, GHQ in the Middle East ruled that any officers having direct access to GHQ – which we had – should wear the armband pertaining to an army, viz., red-black-red, so we adopted that and kept it for the rest of the war. It carried the inscription ‘2 NZEF’.

To keep touch with both divisional and base and line-of-communication units, the staff of Headquarters had to keep moving round. Reflection today makes it clear that despite good intentions neither OICA nor the staff of Headquarters moved about enough, page 113 and that as usual there was a tendency for the office work to prevail over the maintenance of personal liaison with the various parts of 2 NZEF. Later in this volume the value of personal liaison will be stressed in other aspects. It is to be regretted that Headquarters did not set the example it should have done. The answer was either one or two permanent mobile liaison officers, or the same number of officers added to the staff of Headquarters for office duties – preferably the latter so that the senior officers could have carried out the liaison duties themselves. The only excuse that can be made is that Headquarters was trying to set an example of economy of staff.