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Problems of 2 NZEF




Cooks 2/6 per diem


Privates and lance-corporals whilst carrying out one of the duties stated below will be granted 1/- per diem extra duty pay: Armourer, baker, bootmaker, butcher, dental mechanic, farrier, fitter, engine-driver, motor mechanic, orderly-room clerk, saddler, shoeing-smith, tailor, wheeler.

Up to the time of the departure of the First Echelon, the text of Pay and Allowance Regulations had not been scrutinised by any appropriate member of the Expeditionary Force, and in fact the bulk issue of the regulations was only placed on board the transports while they were in Wellington harbour. It was not until we had been in Maadi for a few weeks that this paragraph struck home to units, and then the complaints came thick and heavy.

Sub-paragraph (a) was not in question. The trouble was with sub-paragraph (b). As far as is known, the paragraph had been page 119 lifted bodily from the regulations for the 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force. There had been no time to examine it closely, nor to relate it to the new force, and it was allowed to stand. It would be unfair to blame anyone for this, for Army Headquarters was working under extreme pressure; but it was unfortunate to the highest degree. The paragraph as worded was largely inapplicable, and was in general unsuited to the force. It had been designed for a force whose transport was almost entirely horsed, and in which the amount of mechanical transport or mechanical appliances was so small as to be something exceptional. The new force had no horses, was entirely mechanised, and was equipped with a mass of complicated arms and machinery. There were no ‘farriers, saddlers or shoeing-smiths’, whereas there was an army of skilled tradesmen most inadequately covered by the terms ‘armourer, fitter, engine-driver, or motor mechanic’. Our war establishments included tradesmen under a profusion of titles; but what was even more important was that the skilled tradesman of the First World War had ceased to be exceptional in the Second, and was just an ordinary member of the force and a reflection of the mechanical age in which we live. To have given all these tradesmen and skilled personnel the extra shilling would have been absurd, for in some corps – the armoured corps for instance – tradesmen were between one-third and half of the unit on 1940 establishments.

black and white photograph of army camp in desert

Maadi Camp, looking towards the Citadel and Cairo

black and white photograph of market scene

New Zealand Supply Depot. Vegetables arrive from native gardens

black and white photograph of washing clothes in the desert

Egyptian laundry, Maadi

black and white photograph of army officers eating

Divisional Headquarters mess, Maadi, 1940. From left: Maj W. G. Gentry, Lt-Col W. G. Stevens, Maj-Gen B. C. Freyberg, Lt-Col K. L. Stewart and Rev. E. B. Moore (back to camera)

black and white photograph of swimming competition

Inter-unit relay race, Maadi baths, 1940

black and white photograph of army administrators

2 Echelon Records Section, Maadi Camp, December 1943

black and white photograph of mail sorting office

Christmas parcel mail being sorted at the New Zealand Chief Post Office, Cairo, December 1943

black and white photograph of army officers with minister

The Minister of Defence visits the Middle East, April 1943. From left: Brig G. B. Parkinson, Brig H. K. Kippenberger, Hon. F. Jones, Lt-Gen Sir Bernard Freyberg, Brig W. G. Stevens, Col R. C. Queree, Brig C. E. Weir and Col B. Barrington

black and white photograph of army pastor

Rev. J. W. McKenzie (Senior Chaplain) and Rt. Rev. G. V. Gerard at Maadi, June 1943

black and white photograph of army officer

Brigadier K. MacCormick, Director of Medical Services, 2 NZEF, 1940-43

black and white photograph of parcel delivery

Troops in the Western Desert receive National Patriotic Fund Christmas parcels, January 1942

black and white photograph of mobile cafeteria

Colonel F. Waite, National Patriotic Fund Board Commissioner, hands over to the YMCA a mobile canteen, the gift of the New Zealand Returned Soldiers' Association

black and white photograph of radio communication for troops

New Zealand Broadcasting Unit, Maadi. Troops queue up to broadcast messages to New Zealand, May 1942

Early in 1940 we held a conference to see what could be done and what recommendation we could make to New Zealand, for rates of pay and allowances were not within the powers of the GOC to alter. We tried to separate the sheep from the goats and decide out of the mass of tradesmen which ones really deserved an extra shilling, and in the end we did get the list slightly extended by including such trades as artificer, electrician, and instrument mechanic. The result was still unsatisfactory, however, and became more so as the war went on and equipment became even more technical. When the first non-divisional engineer units reached us from New Zealand, the issue became more complicated owing to some ill-considered promises made to the units by members of the Government, to wit that they would all get extra-duty pay. There was trouble with this paragraph repeatedly in the first few years, units asking from time to time that the list should be extended by such and such a trade; but the fact was that it was wellnigh impossible to draw a clear dividing line between what was truly exceptional, and what was just the normal duty to be expected from a trained soldier in a mechanical age. In the end we had to say firmly that complaints must cease and the position be accepted. It would have almost been better if in early 1940 we had asked that the paragraph be cancelled for future enlistments, for the number page 120 of men receiving the pay at the moment was not so great as all that, and would have diminished with the years. However, such action would have appeared to us at the time as too drastic, for we had not appreciated how bad the position was, and how much worse it would get. When at a much later stage we were told that the Government was considering a rise in pay, we suggested (somewhat half-heartedly) that the opportunity should be taken to abandon extra-duty pay; but by that time no one in New Zealand was prepared to take away an allowance that had existed for so long, and the original position continued to the end.

There was no doubt about the justice of the extra-duty pay for cooks. Many thought that it should be given also to clerks, because they were hard to find, and some inducement might have helped. Beyond that we were floundering in a morass and never found a way out. Probably it would have been better to give the allowance to no one, on account of the difficulty of determining who was carrying out exceptional work of a technical nature, and because no extra allowance was given to the poor infantryman for taking the great risks that were his daily share. The allowance could have been given to all tradesmen appearing in war establishments, but with the result that far too high a proportion of men would have been receiving it. Probably we did not grapple with this problem firmly enough; but there was no encouragement from the New Zealand end.

It has already been mentioned in Chapter 6 that in the last year or so there were many cases of men producing large rolls of Italian lire notes and asking that they should be credited to their accounts. There was a strong suspicion – indeed more than a suspicion – that the money had been gained illegally. The Pay Office, in any case, was under no obligation to handle moneys other than pay, nor was the Government under any obligation to grant the exchange concession except for pay. Men were sometimes embarrassed over the disposal of legitimate gains such as those coming from wins on the totalisators at the races; but the obligation was on the man to prove that the money was legitimate, and the Pay Office was within its rights in refusing to handle money that was believed to have come from Crown and Anchor winnings or from black-market activities.

The Chief Pay Office at its maximum was about 200 all ranks. The Chief Paymaster and the main office moved to Italy when Headquarters moved, and remained with Headquarters throughout. A rear office remained at Maadi.

The Chief Paymaster was also Financial Adviser to the GOC. It cannot be claimed that his work under this heading was extensive, but there were occasions when the GOC needed some guidance about the propriety of certain expenditure.

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