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Their carefully constructed lairs, equipped with radio, explosives, ammunition and hard rations for a month, were left quite alone, while the men, to mislead the curious, worked from dummy headquarters and caches. Other Army-nurtured specialists, in number, were in the Bomb Disposal Group, formed in April They had training at Trentham and received much information about enemy bombs.
The only live bombs available were those dropped on several occasions by the RNZAF , but they had more work in conjunction with the Navy dealing with enemy and British mines which drifted on to the west coasts of both islands, the Coromandel Peninsula and the Bay of Islands. One such mine was bravely handled: it came ashore at New Plymouth near the railway shed and hospital, in a fairly heavy sea and could not be destroyed on the spot. Two men of the local bomb section attached a rope to it, swam with the rope to a launch and towed the mine to an empty beach.
Such groups knew they had specific tasks, as had the less adventurous technical communications sections, and the guardians of petrol stocks and of vital points. For some, both in the community and in the Home Guard , there was a strong sense of unreality, of playing at soldiers, scepticism that this semi-amateur effort would be effective in the face of trained, well-equipped, hard-driving attackers.
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Others, including the old soldiers, knew that a sense of unreality could persist into the midst of action. Nevertheless, it was better to prepare to do what one could than to wait inactive; the fighting attitude of mind was more robust, less fearful, than one of empty-handed default. Fathers as they farewelled sons going overseas knew that if the young men could not stop the Japanese, the old ones would not let the home places, the women and the children go without a fight.
The Prime Minister, agreeing to this, said that Home Guard affairs had the anxious attention of War Cabinet, which had instructed the Army that its training and issue of equipment should be as speedy as circumstances would permit; difficulties were being overcome, and much creditable uneasiness came from not knowing fully what was being done. The Auckland Star commented that recognition at this late date of the need for inquiry into the training, organisation and employment of the Home Guard would be an unpleasant shock to many.
The Star doubted that the inquiry would now achieve much.
The military affairs committee of the War Council, W. Lowry and E. Tirikatene, inquired diligently into Home Guard complaints and circumstances. Their suggestions, plus the comments of Lieutenant-General Puttick and the Army Department were tabled in the House on 14 October Since May, compulsory recruitment had filled in the ranks, and the majority were no longer empty-handed or in civilian garb.
Battalions in the areas immediately essential for defence had been given priority: here the majority had rifles, and others formed sections with machine-guns, tommy-guns and mortars. Ammunition was still short, especially for the American rifles of which 40 now had been imported.
Proposals that the Guard should be permitted to make its own wireless sets and improvise weapons were not approved. Variety in wireless sets might imperil security it was said, and Army headquarters had to approve all specifications in advance. Several hundred sets had been ordered and the Army would give training in signals work.
Puttick commented that many improvised weapons were inefficient and dangerous to the users; skilled men and explosives would be better used in regular production of approved types. Payment for attendance at parades was not favoured, and there was only a small increase for out-of-pocket expenses. Though no marked change resulted from the inquiry at this stage, it is probable that its existence had already helped to give Home Guard requirements some priority amid the heavy competition of On the day that the Parliamentary report was published, the headlines told of six Japanese warships sunk in the Solomons in the latest naval clash.
There were thousands of Americans in New Zealand, and the 3rd Division was leaving to seek the enemy overseas. The accent was shifting from organisation for defence to organisation for production; men from the home defence forces were being released to industry in thousands; and although there were many recent recruits in the Home Guard , many of its veterans felt that they had learned all it could teach them. Ironically, at about the same time, the first prosecutions for non-attendance came through the courts.
Training was restored to 16 hours a month in March. In all, but excluding dubiously fit, it numbered A conspicuous example was presented in the Hutt where, partly by voluntary work over the period of reduced training, the local battalion had built 20 huts, each about 50 feet by 20 feet, for eating and sleeping accommodation in the rear of its battle station, so that when longer training resumed there could be comfortable weekends on duty. A mounted troop had also built a large hut, plus horse lines and a chaff house.
Companion to the Home Guard and in some respects its rival was the Emergency Precautions Scheme EPS for coping with civilian needs in air raids or invasion.
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Its roots had been growing slowly page for several years. By July it thought that its three main problems were earthquakes, air raids and gas defence, that the Army should train a selected core of civilians in gas decontamination and that the St John Ambulance and Red Cross should be asked to help with casualties; but it had done very little when in the starveling Committee of Imperial Defence became the starveling Organisation for National Security, with Emergency Precautions again a sub-committee. In anti-gas plans grew a little firmer: training was to start in the four main centres, gradually extending to towns of to 10 , with about 20 men to a class—six police, six municipal staff, four firemen and four first-aid experts—and civilian gas masks were to be stored at the three main Army depots.
In , when the emergency precautions booklet was at last distributed to local authorities by Internal Affairs, enemy action was included among the hazards. Each area would have a controller and committee of supply, to provide, commandeer and distribute food, clothes, bedding. The controller and committee of works and public utilities would deal with water, electricity and gas supplies, sewer repairs, street clearing and demolition, the general labour needs of other sections, and anti-gas training by instructors page from the Army classes. A central committee of these controllers with the mayor as chairman would be responsible for general policy, finance and dealings with outside bodies including government.
In the general alarm of May—June , many towns pressed on with their arrangements. Parry told the House on 21 June that local authorities were forming or had formed adequate organisations to cope with any local emergencies that might arise, and he gave Auckland honourable mention for the co-operation of its numerous authorities. But of local authorities, had drawn up schemes, at least in outline, when in August the Emergency Reserve Corps Regulations made these compulsory and Internal Affairs handed the matter over to the National Service Department.
An enlistment drive then started. Men outside the range of military call-up, and women also, were urged to join: here there would be opportunities matching every ability to assist the war effort.
There was great uncertainty about what to do and how to do it, and much depended on the energy and tact of central civic figures. Meanwhile, manpower needs multiplied, outstripping enlistments, and there were repeated complaints of tardiness, apathy and the need for fit men as well as veterans. The rival claims of the Home Guard also lessened recruitment. It accepted that the likely form of attack would be a hit-and-run bombardment from the sea, or a carrier-borne air raid, and this shaped all preparations during the next 10 months.
It decided on more rehearsals, and discussed such problems as warning signals, air-raid shelters, anti-gas measures, protection of hospital patients and school children, reduction and control of lighting, evacuation, auxiliary fire brigades, emergency communications and water supplies, protection of vital points and relations with the Home Guard. But one thing led rapidly to another, committees developed families of sub-committees and inter-committee relations, and there were more jobs than people.
Talk of compulsion, however, did not get very far. They were selected by the central body from the volunteers, as reliable active men who would know their areas thoroughly and be competent to report damage accurately, so that the appropriate service could be quickly sent. Central control systems were set up for receiving such reports from district wardens and arranging for repair. Should telephones be disrupted, messages would be sent by car, motor-cycle, bicycle or on foot, with due precautions against the intrusion of unauthorised persons.
These blocks were sub-divided into sections about 20 in Auckland , each under a team warden or subwarden. All wardens would have powers similar to those of special constables. While remote inland towns would need merely a skeleton service that could be expanded quickly, in vulnerable places like Auckland or Wellington the aim was to have one warden to about 50 people. Wardens needed, above all, detailed knowledge of their areas: of the people, with their special abilities or infirmities, and possessions which might be valuable to the organisation; the streets and short cuts; the water mains and fire hydrants and telephones.
They would see that injured people were taken to the nearest first-aid post, give information needed by the fire-fighting or works sections, and ensure that damaged shops were protected from looting and that unexploded bombs were cordoned off. The Works Section, concentrated in several depots, would be sent, through headquarters, to do rescue and demolition work, to clear streets, repair electricity, gas and water supplies and maintain sanitation. Municipal departments were the core of the various branches of the Works Section, but these were thickened with skilled volunteers such as plumbers and electricians in the waterworks and electrical branches.
The medical services, with hospital board direction plus help and advice from doctors, selected first-aid posts and advanced dressing stations in densely populated areas, the latter often in schools, industrial buildings or public halls, to which the injured would be brought from outlying first-aid posts.
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Wellington for instance had 21 advanced dressing stations, and Dunedin , from Port Chalmers to Mosgiel , had eight, surrounded by 36 smaller first-aid posts. All these places were largely equipped by neighbouring households which arranged to lend, for practice and for emergency, beds and other furniture, bedding, towels, buckets, torches, bowls, hot-water bottles and various utensils.
Medical supplies provided by hospital boards, and dressings and bandages prepared by EPS medical workers, were stored in locked cupboards at page page the posts. Thus, again at Auckland , two old railway carriages in the Railway yards were converted into first-aid posts, one placed near the locomotive sheds, one near the passenger platforms, half of each being used as a waiting room, while the other half was fitted up with stretchers and first-aid needs. There was, in all these arrangements, great variation in zeal and efficiency.
There was a full staff of ex-nurses, VADs and domestics, plus a Home Guard motor unit of 12 ambulance-lorries, with trained Red Cross drivers. The ladies, assisted by Home Guard handymen with sanitation and hot water improvements, had practically completed their arrangements before asking the blessing of the Patea Hospital Board. Without publicity, the Health Department and hospital boards all over the country inspected buildings and earmarked many as possible emergency hospitals.
On 17 December , Nordmeyer, Minister of Health, explained that in extreme emergency 21 additional beds could be provided. Reserves of equipment and supplies were accumulated and stored. The 42 hospital boards were arranged in 10 groups, each under the senior officer of its largest member, so that there would be ready assistance between them.
For some duties, notably fire fighting and police work, there was special selection and training. In the main centres, several hundred page active men of suitable background volunteered or were drafted from the general EPS body or the Home Guard for police training, to control traffic and prevent pillage or panic. Of these, 30 in the identification section were specially trained for work with the dead; the rest, in emergency, would clear pedestrians and traffic from damaged areas, and put cordons around unexploded bombs or places where valuable property was exposed or where fire brigades or ambulances were working.