The Home Front Volume I
CHAPTER 7 — Conscientious Objectors and Defaulters
Conscientious Objectors and Defaulters
NEW ZEALAND faced its conscientious objectors and defaulters with attitudes largely derived from the First World War. By the Military Service Act of August 1916 only the man who could satisfy a board that before and since August 1914 he had been a member of a religious body to which the bearing of arms was contrary to divine revelation, that he himself conscientiously held such beliefs and was prepared to do non-combatant work in or beyond New Zealand, could be recognised as a religious objector and be exempted from military service. The Society of Friends, the Christadelphians and Seventh Day Adventists were the only creeds which qualified, and only a handful of their adherents convinced boards of their personal religious sincerity. These happy few, numbering between 20 and 30 by February 1918, were sent to alternative service with the Department of Agriculture.1 The remainder, some hundreds, were treated with varying severity that included gaol sentences, deportation, compulsory front line service or non-combatant duties. The distinction between defaulters and conscientious objectors was often very slight.
With this background, New Zealand faced its defaulters in the new war with mixed feelings. There were precedents for severity, honoured by time and the RSA: ‘we are united in a common love of Empire and of home, and we are united also in a common belief that those who are living under the Union Jack and are not willing to fight should be made to do so,’ said Mr Justice Ostler at an RSA luncheon in May 1940.2 On the other hand Truth, a paper by no means tender to objectors, a month earlier had contrasted current conscience tribunal decisions in Britain with 14 New Zealanders shanghaied to France in 1917: ‘Briggs’s case is an almost unbelievable story of sheer sadism and vicious atrocity, perpetrated in the name of patriotism and freedom, the details of which almost make page 245 the blood run cold….’3 Again, a year later, while demanding equality of sacrifice, a Truth article began: ‘No right-thinking citizen wants to see a repetition of the grave injustices and vicious treatment that were meted out to some objectors in the last war’.4 In Parliament, F. W. Doidge, an Empire stalwart, declared: ‘We on this side of the House have every sympathy for those who are “honest-to-God” conscientious objectors and for those who are truly troubled in their conscience. I do not want to see conscientious objectors forced to go through what they had to go through during the war of 1914–18.’5 A few plain men spoke of tolerance and useful work on farms or other production.
I did my bit in the last war, and there were a few conscientious objectors in those days. One or two I knew personally, and I found them quiet God-fearing people. Although I could not see eye to eye with their views I had at the same time every respect for them, and I may say that although I was full of fight in those days I could not muster enough pluck to stand up to what was said to these sincere people…. It is much easier to go into camp.6
Another practical man stated:
These individuals, whether genuine in their beliefs or merely super ‘lead-swingers’, are nothing but an embarrassment and a nuisance to the army. I had some slight contact with them during the last war. Some spent their period of military service alternately doing terms of imprisonment and in the awkward squad. There is no doubt that they suffered a good deal of unnecessary brutality. At one time there was a hut full of them at Trentham camp, some doing home service, some doing nothing but eat good army rations. These men could have been much better employed, from a national viewpoint, in a non-military occupation. It would be unwarranted and unjust, however, to leave them in their present safe and well-paid jobs.7
Labour had opposed 1914–18 as a capitalist war. Fraser, Semple, Armstrong, O’Brien8 and Webb had each served a year for opposing conscription or for seditious utterances. Webb in June 1918 was page 246 also sentenced to two years as a military defaulter and in 1919 lost civil rights for 10 years. Others in the non-Parliamentary Labour hierarchy suffered similarly, and most of those gaoled or gazetted were working men. Even when the government in 1940 accepted the need for conscription, Labour and liberal circles believed that conscientious objectors in this war would have sympathetic treatment.
Labour’s opponents and RSA critics waited expectantly for such softness, ready to assert effectively that these men were by their pasts unfit to be leaders in war. Against their gibes Labour argued that this war was different, that it was not a capitalist brawl but a fight for freedom, a fight for unionism and the rights of workers who under a Labour government each had a stake in the country. But people of any party whose sons or husbands, fiancés, friends or brothers were dead, suffering, in peril, or in any case absent, very readily flamed against those who refused to share the battle and all who favoured them. The government felt insecure and uneasy in this area, and was exasperated that current objectors would not join them in perceiving the difference between 1914 and 1940, as had such noted overseas pacifists as Bertrand Russell9 and C. E. M. Joad.10 As the years unfolded, the paradox appeared that in New Zealand, where the government’s background might have led to considerate handling of conscientious objectors, those who would not fight received much harsher treatment than did those in Britain and other Commonwealth countries.
Uneasily, the government set aside its past and its inclinations, and thought about the unwelcome topic as little as possible. On this subject its opponents could make political capital, while if Labour lost office objectors would suffer more and lose civil rights as in 1919. Its uneasiness appeared in the slowness with which it tackled the problems, the long delay in devising alternative service and in setting up defaulters’ camps, delay that fostered public irritation. Mason, Minister of Justice, gave liberal counsel to the boards which judged conscience, but despite the British example no appeal body was set up, and indefinite prison sentences could be imposed on men still not called criminals. The boards, drawn from the responsible and respected layers of society, reflected broad-based feeling that unless the path of conscientious objection was rough and narrow, page 247 there might be thousands with delicate consciences undermining the sacrifices of brave men and making prosecution of the war impossible.
The conscription regulations provided for six, later nine, Armed Forces Appeal Boards, appointed by the Minister of National Service. Each had as chairman a stipendiary magistrate, with another senior legal man as his deputy; each had a member with some knowledge of workers’ interests, another with knowledge of production and industry, and a Crown representative who was always an experienced lawyer. They dealt with all appeals against overseas service, on grounds of public interest, status, undue personal hardship and conscientious objection; they also handled conscience appeals against Territorial service, other Territorial appeals being heard by local manpower committees.
Besides being men of standing in the community, appeal board members had to be over military age and without sons eligible for service. They were well qualified to discern and weigh the merits of appeals in the public interest, which were by far the most numerous sort, deciding whether a man would assist the war effort better by remaining at his job or being in the Army. The few problems of status did not perplex, nor was it too difficult to assess undue personal hardship, as of a widowed mother struggling against sickness, poverty or an unmanned farm, though it did not rate that a man’s business would collapse without him, unless that business was of value in the war. But matters of conscience were more elusive. In August 1914, Walter Nash had said: ‘My own opinion has been confirmed by that of eminent legal authorities that, while our Courts are eminently fitted for the ascertainment of facts, there is no machinery devised by the human brain which can unerringly detect the state of a man’s conscience.’11 However, this task was handed to the appeal boards and their decisions were final. In the United Kingdom, by contrast, there were local tribunals which dealt solely with conscience cases, and those dissatisfied could go to appellate tribunals, which by December 1944 had heard 18 653 cases and varied the decisions of the local boards in 9422 of them.12
Initially, boards were guided by National Service Emergency Regulations 1940/117, clause 21, which said that to succeed the conscientious objector must satisfy the board that he held a genuine belief that it was wrong to engage in warfare under any circumstances. Active and genuine membership of a pacifist religious body might generally be accepted as evidence and in particular to have page 248 been an active member of the Christadelphians or the Society of Friends for a substantial period before the war would be sufficient proof.
On 9 July 1940 churchmen representing Anglicans, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists, the Church of Christ, the Salvation Army and the Society of Friends wrote to the Prime Minister. They were anxious that appeal boards should regard conscientious objection as a general moral principle, not the monopoly of particular sects, for while most of their churches did not adopt the pacifist view they recognised the right of individual members to do so. They hoped that work serving the community, or non-combatant duties in the armed forces, would be arranged for objectors; that, in the interests of uniformity, appeal board chairmen would consult together before beginning their duties and that there would be an appellate tribunal, as in Britain. In conclusion they realised that the government was anxious, for the sake of the country’s morale in times of strain, that the work of the churches should not suffer; they therefore suggested that all ministers of religion, all home missionaries, and theological students accepted prior to September 1939 should be exempt from military service.
The Prime Minister replied on 9 September that the War Cabinet had decided that conscience appeals would be considered on their individual merits. The appeals of those who established genuine belief that it is wrong under any circumstances to engage in warfare would be allowed, and alternative service recommended. Whenever ministers of religion, including Marist Brothers and theological students, were called in ballots, the head of the church should appeal on public interest grounds; such appeals would cause little difficulty or embarrassment and probably no actual hearing would be needed.13 This was published in the New Zealand Herald and other dailies of 5 October, and in the Presbyterian Outlook of October. It was repeated in a National Service circular sent to appeal boards, along with an Army statement, dated 29 November 1940, that men posted to Medical or Army Service Corps must understand that the exigencies of war might require combatant service. The circular considered the desirability and difficulties of uniformity in the decisions of boards, offered the services of the Department in maintaining the ‘closest liaison’, and urged chairmen to consult each other whenever possible. It also stated that, while the onus of establishing his conscientious belief fell on the appellant, there was grave difficulty in distinguishing the genuine from the false, quoting from the Year Book of Edward IV ‘the thought of man is not triable, for the devil himself page 249 knows not the thought of man.’ Cases based on such recognised religions as the Society of Friends and the Christadelphians would not be unduly difficult, but since the last war there had undoubtedly been a marked growth of conscientious objection, of which the most important instance was perhaps the Peace Pledge Union, which promised never to support or sanction another war. The circular also pointed out that in England the term ‘conscientious objection’ had not been defined by the tribunals which, rather than laying down general principles, dealt with each case on its merits.14
The exemption of the clergy was smoothly implemented, but when the appeal boards had been working for a few weeks it was clear that in several of them the individual conscience met a rough passage and a narrow gate. In February 1941 the combined churches wrote to the Prime Minister15 and sent a deputation to Semple and other heads of the National Service Department.16 The appeal boards, they said, were not interpreting the regulations as expected from the Prime Minister’s letter of 9 September 1940. The boards were concentrating on the church membership of appellants and on whether such churches absolutely rejected war, with the result that ‘many of our young men who have seemed to us to have been genuine conscientious objectors and whose sincerity has been vouched for by their own Minister have had their appeals summarily dismissed.’ There was no provision for alternative service outside military control, nor was there any surety that the Army would keep those whom appeal boards recommended for such service in non-combatant units. Further, tribunals differed enormously in their treatment of objectors.
Semple gave the government’s position quite simply: ‘We do not want wholesale exemptions. By 1943 every young man at present of military age will be out of the country or in camp. If we are too liberal and too sympathetic with the fellow who wants to dodge, we will have trouble.’ The government could not interfere with the decisions of tribunals, even if they were inconsistent, but amendments to the regulations were necessary and had already been drafted. Appeals should depend on each man’s genuine conscientious belief that it was wrong to take part in any war, and independent corroborative evidence of conscience would be strongly advised. Successful appellants would perform alternative civilian tasks at soldiers’ pay; the Services must ensure that those granted non-combatant duties were required to do only these, and if such duties were not available page 250 a non-combatant might be allotted alternative civilian service. Reference to the Society of Friends and the Christadelphians, which had tended to provide an absolute yardstick, would be omitted along with the demand that such beliefs should have been held for a substantial period before the war, which was too exacting, especially for young Territorials.
In general these proposals placated the clergy, though they remained anxious lest some tribunals would still not accept that honest conscientious objection existed. They were particularly concerned about the Wellington Board where the Crown representative was by profession a Crown prosecutor, and largely took over the questioning. The Bishop of Wellington declared himself ‘honestly staggered…. They are just catch questions, every one of them, given by a skilled legal mind. It seems to me to be absolutely unfair.’ Semple soothingly promised to ‘do our best to give these boys a fair go’ with the new regulations.17
On 15 May 1941 new regulations (1941/73) established in detail the changes proposed in February. Where an appellant, assisted by corroborative evidence but not necessarily dependent on it, convinced a board that he genuinely believed that it was wrong under any circumstances to engage in warfare, the board should allow the appeal, and thereafter the Minister of National Service might direct the man to any civilian work and at such pay and conditions as he thought fit. If the appellant established his genuine belief that it was wrong to do combat duty, the board should ‘dismiss’ the appeal, directing that he should go to non-combatant duties only, and if these were not available in the armed forces, he should be directed to civilian work by the Minister likewise.18 All other appeals would be dismissed unconditionally. Those who had appealed successfully or been allotted non-combatant duties could at any time change their minds and enter the forces; if applied for within a fortnight, appeals previously dismissed could be reheard under the new regulations. It was also decreed that conscientious objectors were to be medically examined before their cases were heard, and against those unfit no further action would be taken, thus reducing the number of these vexed issues.19
The Minister of Justice, Mason, explaining the changes to a conference of chairmen, Crown representatives and secretaries of appeal page 251 boards, spoke of the difficulties of assessing conscience and the need for approaching a uniform standard. There had been criticisms of boards’ decisions by churchmen and others, most of them not pacifists but anxious for the genuine objector; he was sure much of it was ill-founded on abridged newspaper reports or on disappointed appellants’ complaints. But the previous regulations did not convey the government’s policy. The government, he said, earnestly desired to prevent the coward and slacker from sheltering under an invented conscience, but to extend every consideration to the sincere objector. ‘To this end the standard of proof should not be harsh. Until and unless an appellant shows himself to lack sincerity, I suggest he should be handled by a friendly examination rather than by a rigorous cross-examination.’20
This was liberal-minded direction, but laws depend on those who actually administer them. There was no notable change in the boards that felt their first duty was to prevent slackers dodging their obligations. Further, although Semple had publicly announced that military exemption now definitely involved alternative service and sacrifice, there was no machinery to effect this: it was all left to the direction of the Minister, who remained inactive. As weeks and months passed public opinion, spearheaded by the RSA and newspaper editorials and sharpened by the military disasters of Greece and Crete, pressed for clarification of this alternative sacrifice. Possibly lack of definition increased the reluctance of some appeal boards to accept conscience easily, and it is likely that they were confirmed in that tendency by an influential British judgment during April 1941, in a case of appeal against wrongful dismissal, which ruled out politically-based objection, no matter how sincere.21
The question of alternative service and sacrifice was tackled in August 1941 by more regulations, which created a Special Tribunal to examine every recognised conscientious objector, directing him where necessary to essential work and arranging, by levies varying from 2s 6d to several pounds a week paid into the Social Security Fund, that he receive only the equivalent of Army pay and allowances, the basic rate for a single man being £4 a week. Many of the young men concerned were not earning more than this. Grade page 252 III men were totally exempted. Members of the Tribunal, all distinguished lawyers,22 worked alone, examining each objector in camera and checking with his employer, Social Security and National Service. In most cases men were not ordered to change their work except where it was of no use to the community or their employers did not wish them to continue. This Tribunal, which began work late in November 1941, was generally accepted by both pacifists and public, though some newspapers, notably Truth and the Dominion,23 found the sacrifice insufficient and the secrecy disturbing. By the end of 1944 the Tribunal had dealt with 500 recognised objectors, plus 72 of those given non-combatant duties whom the Army did not require, and during 1945 defaulters released from detention camps also came before them. Financial orders were made in 343 of their total 826 cases, with an estimated annual yield to Social Security of £6,502.24 Some orders had to be reviewed frequently, to fit variations in the amounts earned.25
Despite the regulations of May 1941 and Mason’s liberal directions, appeal boards continued to judge objectors by their own differing standards. On 8 August 1941 J. A. Lee said that boards varied so much from place to place that they were making the law, not administering it. In Auckland, for instance, the Labour representative had ‘taken up at times a most ferocious attitude to conscientious objectors…. It was an outrage that in some centres men were hectored for the attitude they took up, while in other centres they were exempted for the same attitude.’ Some boards were still making conscience dependent on belonging to certain religious groups. There should be definite instruction and effort towards co-ordinating their decisions so that the tribunals might work uniformly.26
Clergymen often testified to the sincerity of appellants, and they were disturbed when their evidence was ignored. Towards the end of 1941 Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist churches, while earnest in loyalty and in support of a righteous war, expressed dissatisfaction with the boards, and also with magistrates who sentenced defaulters. The Baptist Assembly on 22 October deprecated ‘humiliating and page 253 unfair treatment’; it was wrong, said Dr Alexander Hodge, to conclude that all who resisted being in the forces were malingerers and cowards; some magisterial comments savoured too much of Judge Jeffreys.27 Dr J. J. North,28 principal of the Baptist training college, wrote more comprehensively of the world’s current danger and its debt to conscience in the martyrs of the past. Those sitting in judgment must remember that conscience existed and was recognised by law; the exonerating reason for exemption must be a man’s own, related to God and human society, and its final proof was his willingness to suffer for it, to pay cheerfully the price of his costly convictions.29
The Presbyterian General Assembly, disappointed that National Service regulations were being ‘so unsatisfactorily administered’, offered its sympathy to those who suffered in consequence.30 Its Public Questions Committee stated that in accepting the regulations of May 1941 it had expressed its view that they could be administered satisfactorily only by special tribunals, as in England. ‘It is impossible to follow the decisions of the Boards; and it is hard to understand why the evidence of a minister concerning the conscientious beliefs of a young man he had known intimately should be entirely ignored. As a result a number of young men have already been imprisoned for conscience sake.’31 St John’s Church, Wellington, under Gladstone Hughes vigorously dissented, declaring that such statements misrepresented the Presbyterians of New Zealand.32
The Methodist Church, with Burton, Barrington and their company so prominent, was anxious to avoid the label ‘pacifist’, while also concerned for justice. In November the synods of Auckland, Wellington and North Canterbury deplored that appeals by young men of undoubted sincerity had been dismissed, thought that there should be a higher tribunal, as in England, and regretted that there was no alternative service other than defaulters’ camps for those whose appeals were dismissed.33 The synod of Otago and Southland, however, regretted the indiscretions of some ministers at appeal boards page 254 and wanted discipline from Conference,34 while the church at Hataitai, Wellington, approved by the RSA, strongly affirmed its loyalty to the war and the British Empire.35 In the Observer, a paper somewhat prone to pacifist-hunting, the president-elect of Conference, Reverend W. Walker,36 an ex-president of the Christchurch and Canterbury RSA, stated stoutly that the Methodist Church was not pacifist, that hundreds of young Methodists were fighting valiantly in a war which they believed to be righteous, and that fully three-fourths of the current trouble was due to the government not producing worthy forms of alternative sacrificial service; young men of deep sincerity and sterling character had had appeals dismissed and been imprisoned, even when vouched for by men of high standing who knew them well.37 At the Methodist Conference, while stating clearly ‘It is right to fight’, he saw need for Church and State to clarify the position regarding genuine objectors for the guidance of appeal boards and suggested a little more sweet reasonableness all round.38 In its resolutions Conference itself was cautious: while most members would be active in the war effort, freedom of conscience should be respected but those sincerely unwilling to bear arms should render alternative sacrificial service.39
The conduct of appeal boards and the clergy’s attacks drew differing comments, both critical of the boards, from two Wellington lawyers. One, O. C. Mazengarb,40 regretted that certain ministers of religion in their support of pacifists were doing real disservice to their denominations and to the State by fostering antagonism to civil law. There was, he said, no real conflict between divine and civil law; the conflict arose only when people sought to interpret the unrevealed law of God in a way that opposed the duties of citizens. If such a conflict occurred, the obvious course was to ask the legislature to amend the law so as to bring it into harmony with the presumed will of God. Newspaper reports showed that there was urgent need for change in the law, but while the law was there the clergy should respect it and not criticise the tribunals which had the unpleasant task of trying to penetrate into the real minds of men.page 255
Churchmen should confine themselves to their proper province; ‘any movement which white-ants the law is quite capable of white-anting the Church itself.’ Cabinet ministers were currently wrestling with problems that they had helped to create by nurturing pacifists in days gone by, and churchmen doing likewise might easily split their congregations, might drive a wedge between Church and State.41
Another lawyer, A. Eaton Hurley, saw the statements of these churches as
primarily a protest against the taunts and insults delivered against some conscientious objectors by certain public men and by some Magistrates who have forgotten the historical position of Quakers and other pacifists who for their faith have suffered. Such taunts lower the dignity of the Magistracy and impair the impartial administration of justice… we pride ourselves on our tolerance, but it is absent from our midst; in its place are growing bitterness and hatred…. Unless we are able to retain respect for individuals with whose opinions we are not in sympathy, there can be no real solidarity within our country.
New Zealanders were standing for the common people against the despot, for the right of each to the freedom of his own conscience, freedom recognised by the law of the land. ‘The measure of our sincerity is the measure by which we ourselves in New Zealand are able to live with respect for beliefs that are not our own.’42
An Evening Post correspondent feared that newspaper reports of appeal board dialogues gave ‘ready-made arguments and excuses’, encouraging other objectors to ‘give it a go’.43 The Evening Post, in an editor’s comment, thought that more would be deterred than encouraged. Another correspondent, Oliver Duff,44 wrote that while he did not sympathise with five per cent of appellants, and if on a board might not allow two per cent of them, yet the law gave every man called up the right of appeal, and every citizen the right to know on what grounds appeals were granted or rejected. ‘Justice with the blinds down is an experiment that we can’t afford to risk.’45
Meanwhile, on 24 October when an Opposition member, W. P. Endean,46 asked for an appellant tribunal, Fraser answered that the government had considered this but found it ‘neither desirable nor practicable’; the boards were fully competent to deal fairly and page 256 impartially with the evidence submitted and they could grant a rehearing if they had reason to suppose that a decision had been fraudulently obtained or if new and material evidence had been discovered.47
Two incidents may be cited here, one to show how decisions could vary in apparently similar cases, one to suggest the zeal of some boards against conscientious objectors. A member of the Brethren sect got a month’s imprisonment for failing to report for military duty. His lawyer explained that his appeal had been dismissed by the same board that had allowed an identical appeal by his elder brother, brought up in the same religion; the only difference was that the elder brother had employed counsel while the younger had not, thinking that the earlier decision would be followed.48 The zeal of the Auckland board was shown in its reception of an amendment to the regulations in mid-November. Previously, if a conscientious objector also appealed on other grounds his conscience appeal was heard first, before undue hardship or the value of his work were considered, but now these grounds were to be heard first. The New Zealand Herald of 15 November had promptly protested that this amendment would favour the objector on work of national importance, who would continue on full pay, while the pay of recognised conscientious objectors was reduced by the special tribunal. The chairman of the Auckland board, C. R. Orr-Walker,49 was surprised that boards had not been consulted before the amendment was made; possibly a man exempted in the public interest might be a ‘fraudulent conscientious objector, or even a disloyal subject or a fifth-columnist, in a very important position, but his employer would know nothing of that and the Board would have to exempt him.’50 By this amendment, 1096 conscience appeals were adjourned sine die, appeals on other grounds taking priority.51
In Britain an advisory board for conscientious objectors was officially recognised. In Wellington in October 1940 several senior pacifists offered to act in this way, but after one appearance their advertisements were refused on instructions from the Prime Minister’s Department. A deputation explained to the Prime Minister that this group would not proselytize but merely advise young, inexperienced men of their legal rights,52 but on 24 October Fraser told them that page 257 as the National Service Department would give conscience objectors full legal information, any other organisation was unnecessary, would lead to misunderstanding and resentment and would not be conducive to the interests of the country’s war effort or of the conscientious objectors themselves.53 The group thereon sent out its notices to 1200 names chosen at random from the second ballot.54 Several newspapers made disapproving comment, but while the Press obligingly printed the document, giving the names of the committee members and an address, the Evening Post spoke of ‘subversive letters’ and the Observer, with a large heading ‘A School for Shirkers’, urged the government to stamp out the suppliers of ‘bullet-proof consciences’.55
Another body, the Fellowship of Conscientious Objectors, formed in Wellington on 5 June 1941, also denied having propaganda purposes. But despite its lofty aims—to give fellowship, advice and financial relief to objectors, and to be a channel of communication with government56 —its secretary, John Davis, in mid-1942 was sentenced to a year in prison for subversive newsletters.57
Conscience objectors whose appeals were pending or allowed met various sorts of hostility. Their services were rejected by some branches of the Emergency Fire Service,58 the St John Ambulance Brigade59 and the EPS,60 which did not want to be regarded as refuges for ‘conchies’, and which claimed that as they would be in the forefront of action in a crisis, persons opposed to war would be unsuitable. Apart from known pacifists, who usually signed newspaper letters with their own names, there were very few who took the line of one anonymous writer to the Press:
… ordinary submissive citizens … take a lot of annoying, and so we have not said anything publicly about the way conscientious objectors are hounded by a few noisy publicists. J. B. Priestley61 in ‘Postscripts’ says the Nazi is found in every community, that he is the intolerant and stupid bully who wants to bash everybody who does not think as he thinks. Well, he is here. What I am page 258 getting at is the way women teachers are refused jobs because their husbands are in defaulters’ camps, the venomous way people write about c.o.’s in these columns, the way the W.E.A. is criticised for sending lecturers to defaulters’ camps. We plain, sober folk believe in British justice and we take the side of the underdog. We think the C.O. is not getting a fair spin and we are getting annoyed. If a man is paying the penalty of his opinions, let him be.62
This letter was applauded by one correspondent, a veteran pacifist, but strongly attacked by three others.63
The regulation that prohibited dismissing a man because he had enlisted or been called up was, on 14 May 1941, extended to protect those who appealed against military service on any grounds, but when on 14 June 1941 an officer of the Labour Department, R. T. Bailey,64 stated clearly that it was an offence, liable to prosecution, to dismiss a man who exercised his legal right to appeal and perhaps to be exempted on conscience grounds, there was considerable outcry. What would the men overseas feel, what would their brothers feel, queried the Star-Sun on 15 June. The Wellington Manufacturers Association challenged Bailey’s statement; the head of a large Wellington firm said, ‘If I find anyone who even looks like a conscientious objector among our employees he will get his walking shoes’;65 a correspondent asked if the Labour Department expected an employer with a son overseas to keep on a conscientious objector66 and the Labour Department remained silent.67
Sometimes the presence of such a man was actively resented by his work-fellows. A firm appealing in public interest for a clothing cutter who had appealed on conscience grounds, withdrew its appeal when other workers opposed it, one having a son who had lost an arm overseas.68 At the Ruakura Animal Research Station when the Minister of Agriculture refused to dismiss an objector, saying that though his views were repugnant he should be allowed freedom of conscience, 25 employees protested emphatically, with plans for a public meeting and pressure in the coming election.69
There was strong feeling that objectors should not hold government or local body jobs, drawing money from the public purse. The page 259 Waitemata County Council decided not to employ one any longer, although Semple wrote that the government considered that no special action should be taken by individual bodies, that so long as a man fulfilled his obligations to his employers the rest should be left to the government.70 Several letters heartily supported the Council71 but one held that a man released by law from the Army had as good a right as any to a public job and should not be persecuted for his opinions.72 This view was also put forth a few months later by A. R. D. Fairburn, who wrote that among several recent dismissals of successful conscience appellants by local bodies, the latest was of a hospital orderly by the Auckland Hospital Board, its chairman, A. J. Moody, saying, ‘We do not want the type of man who preaches the rubbish he does.’73
The Wellington Hospital Board adopted a motion against employing any active pacifist, brought forward by a member anxious that hospital service should not be ‘used as a funk hole by people with distorted ideas’, but the chairman and others thought that it was unnecessary, outside the range of the Board, and would be so ineffective as to be innocuous.74 The Wellington City Council decided not to employ any objector who would give no community service at all, but would take each case on its merits.75 The Temuka Borough Council disapproved of the Health Department retaining a successful appellant as an inspector.76 A questionnaire issued by the Christchurch City Council to its staff included questions on their attitudes to war service that were resented as ‘Fascist and Gestapo methods’ by a meeting of 200 employees.77 One councillor said that this data was needed to answer critics who ‘twitted’ the Council about its staff being a ‘hot bed of pacifism, conscientious objectors, and subversion’, but another said that if all bodies were going to set up their own authorities, they might as well do away with State tribunals; it was decided that those questions need not be answered.78
All this helped to show the government how the wind of opinion was blowing, and by the regulations of August 1941 no employer page 260 was obliged to retain an exempted objector. Late in 1942, however, the Dunedin City Council braved the displeasure of the local RSA by declining to inquire into the attitudes to war of applicants for jobs, though there were instructions to avoid those known to have expressed subversive views.79 Moreover, an attempt by the Hastings Rugby Union to bar all who refused the King’s uniform from rugby clubs and grounds was promptly rejected by the provincial union. One member held: ‘There are worse people than conscientious objectors. There are any amount of them hiding behind their jobs as an excuse for not wearing uniform’, and another declared, ‘I would not undertake the responsibility of debarring a man from Rugby grounds.’ A similar response was made at Wellington.80
Rugby might remain open to conscientious objectors but the minds of children were another matter. There had been in mid-1940 alarums lest school children be corrupted by disloyalty or pernicious doctrines about Russia,81 and during 1941 a movement against conscientious objector teachers gathered strength till in December all who lodged appeals were excluded from State schools.
Some teachers, when questioned by appeal boards, made statements that excited indignation, for example, that they would not help wounded men, or use force to defend women or the children in their care. There was delay, often of months, between the lodging of an appeal (readily known of in school circles), the hearing of it, and the calling up of those rejected. Meanwhile objectors with pending appeals continued in their jobs, along with any whose appeals were successful and those found to be unfit and therefore free from military obligations but whose unwillingness to serve was known and resented by parents. It was, these parents said, hard on children whose fathers and brothers were overseas to have such teachers, and if they were allowed in the schools there would grow up a nation of conscientious objectors.
In May, the Canterbury Education Board wanted the Department to stipulate that those ‘war profiteers’, the pacifists and exempted conscientious objectors, should not be eligible for positions carrying higher salary and temporarily vacated by soldier teachers.82 A ground page 261 swell of protest was also rising in several country districts.83 By July the Hawke’s Bay Education Board had taken the stand that if a man was not prepared to defend the British Empire he was not fit to teach British children; it was promptly congratulated by the Nelson Board.84
The erosion of more liberal attitudes was instanced by the Wellington Education Board. On 16 July, Colonel T. W. McDonald and T. K. Moody proposed that a list should be made, for use in future appointments, of all teachers, men and women, who were pacifists or who had appealed on conscience grounds. The Board refused this ‘inquisitorial list’; people were entitled to their opinions and it was not the Board’s duty to decide who was a pacifist.85 Soon, however, the combined Wellington school committees, with Moody prominent in their counsels, recommended such a list to the board;86 the country-wide clamour was rising. The central executive of the RSA declared that it would bring forward instances of disloyal attitudes.87 Education boards, pressed by school committees and parents, were either dismissing teachers who had appealed88 or asking the government for regulations enabling them to dismiss conscientious objectors as such and at once.89 When saluting the flag was discussed in the House on 8 August, Clyde Carr’s remarks about ritual observances and totem poles drew strong protest.90 A national conference of school committees meeting in Wellington on 25–6 August was fervent for flag saluting, teachers’ loyalty, and penalties against those not conforming.page 262
The Wellington Board on 20 August had turned down another McDonald/Moody motion that no teacher who was a conscientious objector or a pacifist should receive promotion, but decided to ask the government for authority to terminate the engagements of conscience objectors immediately, when warranted. On 26 August a deputation told the Minister of Education, Mason, that from the nature of their occupation ‘a very fierce spotlight’ bore on the few teachers concerned. The statements of some to appeal boards, that they would take no action even if their own mothers or the children in their charge were attacked, had created very strong public opinion against children remaining under such influences. Conscientious objectors should not remain in the schools, even at soldiers’ pay, if their appeals were accepted or, if rejected, even for the month or two until they were called up.91 The Minister pointed out that such dismissal was punishment for being an objector, which was not a crime; he hoped that the special tribunals for arranging alternative service which were just about to emerge would provide remedy, but if they did not he would consider increasing the education boards’ powers.92
These tribunal regulations did not oblige an unwilling employer to retain a recognised objector, even with his pay reduced to Army level, and they did nothing about appellants who proved to be medically unfit and were therefore exempted.93 When the NZEI tried to support teachers whose appeals were accepted by appeal boards, the Minister of Education thought that no further regulations would be needed,94 but pressure on and by boards continued. On 2 October a conference, between them, the Minister and departmental heads, set in train the regulations of 10 December 1941 which banished all conscientious objectors from State school staffs. The Minister explained that the removal of conscientious objector teachers was necessary because of their close contact with children, a factor affecting no other occupation. When a teacher in any State school lodged an appeal he was given a month’s notice to go on leave without pay for the duration; if considered a bad influence he might be required to leave at once, though with the month’s pay. Teachers who became defaulters by refusing service without making an appeal could, with the Minister’s consent, be dismissed immediately or, if not dismissed, go on leave without pay for the duration.page 263
By February 1942, 120 teachers had appealed on conscience grounds,95 and altogether 123 made such appeals, though a number later joined the forces as servicemen or non-combatants.96 At the end of the war, despite many requests that these regulations should be revoked, the Education Boards’ Conference of April 1946 firmly refused to re-engage defaulters and did not favour the return of recognised objectors.97 In October 1947 it was decided to bar defaulters permanently from the teaching service; recognised objectors, and defaulters whose consciences had satisfied the Revision Authorities, could re-join when the regulations that excluded them were revoked, which happened at the end of 1948.98
Education boards, anxious to clear the slur of disloyalty with evidence of military service, would not appeal for any teachers, refusing in February 1942 to hold even headmasters of Grade IV schools and high school teachers of mathematics and science. By mid-1942 shortage of teachers was so acute that boards were forced to make appeals, and in November teaching was declared an essential occupation. This meant that teachers could not readily transfer to other work, but did not fend off the demands for military service. In Roman Catholic schools from the start teachers (Marist Brothers) were exempted on the formal application of their Archbishop. In the furore of August 1941 the small voice of the Randwick School committee, in Lower Hutt, was hardly heard as it asked for the same consideration that was extended to Archbishop O’Shea, and for the Wellington Board to make a definite stand in claiming exemptions.99
In April 1942, Canterbury University College recommended that the regulations excluding conscientious objector teachers should be extended to universities. The other colleges firmly rejected the idea, and the government assured them that it would not interfere.100 Canterbury imposed its ban on 31 August 1942, and placed one of its staff on leave without pay for the duration.101 A month later, and again in February 1944, some college council members failed to have this measure rescinded.102 The students, through their executive and a petition in 1942 and at a general meeting in April 1944, opposed the ban.103page 264
With Japan in the war, ballot swiftly followed ballot. From February 1942 fathers were called in age groups regardless of how many children they had. After June, all soldiers were liable for overseas service, though in practice those under 21 years were not sent abroad. In this climate few felt over-delicate about conscientious objectors.
When Pacific tension slackened, however, uneasiness emerged from within the government. On 16 April 1943, in reply to questions raised by the Minister of Justice (Mason), the Director of National Service, J. S. Hunter,104 thought that inconsistencies in appeal board decisions were not serious, especially as in some districts there were groups of particular religious beliefs, and in the smaller centres cases were few. It would be unwise at that time to set up an appellant tribunal; there might be ‘grave embarrassment’ for the government if decisions on those in detention were reversed. An accompanying table showed that in conscience appeals from the 13th ballot of 20 January 1942 to 10 November 1942 the percentage of those allowed ranged from 14 at Napier, and 15 at Wellington, Wanganui and Greymouth, to 20 at Auckland and Hamilton, 24 at Dunedin and 29 at Christchurch. Those given non-combatant duties ranged from 32 per cent at Whangarei, 44 per cent at Dunedin, 48 per cent at Auckland, 57 per cent at Christchurch, and 66 per cent at Wellington, to 70 per cent at Greymouth and 73 per cent at Hamilton. Appeals dismissed outright were 7 per cent at Hamilton, 14 per cent at Christchurch, 19 per cent at Wellington, 32 per cent at Auckland and Dunedin, and 68 per cent at Whangarei. The countrywide average was 20 per cent of appeals allowed, 55 per cent granted non-combatant service and 25 per cent dismissed.105 However, returns published later that year showed that of the total appeals, 2869, heard up to 10 November 1942, 19.3 per cent (554) were allowed, 39.2 per cent (1124) were dismissed subject to non-combatant duties, and 41.5 per cent (1191) dismissed outright.106 This suggests that in the early ballots, before January 1942, boards were harder to satisfy than they were during the 10-month period that Hunter reviewed for the Minister.
To further queries from the Minister, Hunter replied on 24 May 1943 that some inconsistency was inevitable but he had no evidence that the boards had not dealt fairly and reasonably with conscience appeals. The views of many appellants, though sincere, were ‘purely political’, while the legal authorities available (he cited two legal page 265 articles and Atkinson’s judgment107) were clear that the basis of belief must be religion. Had the boards been lax or set an easy standard the consequences would have been ‘more serious and gravely embarrassing’.108
On 17 July 1943 criticism from the Press further perturbed Mason. In matters of conscience, said this editorial, the sole task of the boards was to establish
whether the appellant’s objection is genuine. Too frequently members of Appeal Boards take a far wider view of their responsibilities, with the result that they resort to long and aggressive arguments with appellants about the rights and wrongs of their views, possibly to the neglect of their purely judicial function. Occasionally their attitude is hectoring, not to say insulting. This is not the judicial, impartial attitude expected by the law of Appeal Board members, and is therefore incompatible with their functions. Moreover, it wastes many hours of the time of their fellow members and of appellants who, objecting on other grounds, are waiting for their cases to be heard. To say this is in no sense to uphold the views of conscientious objectors. But it is necessary to draw attention to the precise and proper limits of Appeal Board functions in determining their appeals, and to say that these limits should be more carefully respected than they have sometimes been.
The National Service Director, stirred on by Mason, sent copies to the appeal boards; the Minister had said that these comments were justified if newspaper reports he had seen bore any relation to the facts of hearings, in which it often seemed doubtful just what boards were deciding. Hunter added that allowing for the difficulty of understanding conscientious objectors, it seemed from newspaper reports that questions were not always such as to enable an appellant fairly to disclose his beliefs and outlook so that the board could decide whether he had genuine belief that it was wrong to engage in warfare. Often it seemed that he was placed on the defensive by a volley of questions obviously hostile and not always relevant. ‘Examination must be clothed both with the fact and the appearance of complete impartiality.’109
From when balloting began in October 1940 to 31 December 1944, after which appeals on conscience grounds were negligible, 5117 conscience appeals were lodged, 1.7 per cent of the 306 352 men called by ballot. Of these appeals, 1096, or 21 per cent, were adjourned sine die because they succeeded on other grounds, mainly page 266 that of essential civilian work; in 944 other cases the appellant was unfit for service, or the appeal was withdrawn or dismissed for lack of prosecution.110 The remaining 3077 were determined by appeal boards. Of these 606 (19.7 per cent) were allowed, 1226 (39.8 per cent) were dismissed subject to non-combatant duties, and 1245 (40.5 per cent) dismissed outright.111 Most were judged within the first two years: up to November 1942, appeals allowed numbered 554 (19.3 per cent of the total to that date), those given non-combatant service 1124 (39.2 per cent), those dismissed outright 1191 (41.5 per cent), totalling 2869.112 Awareness of past and possibly continuing variation in the boards’ standards continued to trouble Mason as the years of detention ticked by, and led to arrangements for wholesale review in the latter half of 1945.113
About a quarter of the men whose appeals were dismissed outright or who were assigned to non-combatant duties were resolute in refusal;114 the rest accepted service rather than face a future of penalties. The stubborn or steadfast quarter were in due course brought to court as defaulters, along with those who refused service without having lodged an appeal.115 At the start, they faced a £50 fine or three months in prison or both, and thereafter, if still unwilling, military detention as in the First World War.116
In Britain during the Second World War an appeal could be allowed outright, with no conditions, or a man might be directed to specific civil work; it could also be dismissed subject to non-combatant military duties, or dismissed outright. Those dismissed who refused service were gaoled for terms ranging from three months to two years, and thereafter recognised as conscientious objectors, having proved their sincerity by accepting prison. In New Zealand, the government was reluctant that young men, who though lawbreakers were not ordinary criminals, should be kept indefinitely in civil or military prisons. But public opinion could not accept that men whose consciences had not convinced an appeal board should go free, even after a prison sentence. Defaulters’ detention was the page 267 compromise.117 Introducing it in August 1941 Nash had said that there was no machinery which could unerringly detect the state of a man’s conscience. Many dismissals had been correctly given because the appellant failed to satisfy the appeal board that his objection was genuine; ‘his subsequent conduct, however, may show that there is some substance in his objection.’ It was bad for the Army to have unwilling and unsatisfactory soldiers in its ranks, and it was bad for the community to place these men in gaol. They would be detained in special camps, doing useful work under strict discipline.118
By Regulation 44A, clause 2, of 27 August 1941, when a man refused service ‘the Magistrate, if in the circumstances of the case he thinks fit to do so, may in addition to or instead of imposing any other lawful penalty, order that the man shall be committed to defaulters’ detention… for the duration of the present war.’ The government considered sending out circulars instructing magistrates that they should probe cases to ascertain whether non-compliance ‘was based on conscientious objection and was not merely a contumacious refusal or the act of a deliberate shirker’, but it was decided that magistrates could not be asked to review a matter already determined by a more experienced board, and that they would properly resent any such interference in their judicial discretion.119
Variations in magisterial discretion soon appeared. At Wellington, J. L. Stout stated that he intended to impose a short term of imprisonment to let a defendant think it over and decide to accept military service; on a second appearance he would be committed to defaulters’ detention for the duration, however long that might be.120 Stout also stated plainly, ‘There is no such thing as a conscientious objector in this court’; all those with dismissed appeals were considered ordinary defaulters.121 At Auckland J. H. Luxford and F. H. Levien declared that a straight-out slacker would go to prison. ‘If he is betwixt and between he will go to prison for a shorter term and then be sent to defaulters’ camp. If he is just a poor, misguided page 268 person with an inflexible idea he will be sent straight to defaulters’ camp.’122 At Rotorua, W. H. Freeman,123 who probed the beliefs of a man whose appeal had been dismissed in order to decide what to do with him, came to the conclusion that he was a genuine conscientious objector. ‘What other tribunals have done is nothing to do with this court, which must preserve its judicial viewpoint’, said he; until a defaulters’ camp opened, the man should remain free, reporting daily to the police.124 At Christchurch Levvey, hoping that ‘the other establishment’ would soon be available, repeatedly remanded a man who had refused military service on 2 July 1941.125
A pacifist observer, noting that in 48 South Island cases 14 men were sentenced to three months in gaol, 18 to two months, 11 to one month and 5 sent direct to defaulters’ camp, said, ‘The position is, roughly, that if you are sentenced in Southland you may be sent direct to the detention camp; in Otago you receive one month; but if you belong to Canterbury or the West Coast you are sentenced to two or three months.’126 J. A. Lee in October 1942 also remarked that whether a man went to gaol or defaulters’ camp depended on where he lived.127 The magistrates, however, were within the margins of the regulations, and similar variations have been noticed in, say, the treatment of drunken drivers.
During 1941 about 168 men went to prison for breaches of military obligations,128 and in 1942 the number of persons sent to prison, then averaging about 2300 a year, was notably increased by the committal or transfer129 of more than 500 military defaulters; there were 39 such committals in 1943 and 24 in 1944.130 Later, L. J. Greenberg,131 Controller of Defaulters’ Detention, remarked that as the camps were designed to avoid having these young men in gaol, ‘It is difficult to realise what good purpose was served by this initial term of imprisonment’, which in many cases soured youths only 18, 19 or 20 years old. It also caused them to view prison lightly; for page 269 compassionate reasons, they were, where possible, placed under favoured conditions, ‘which left them with the impression that prison life wasn’t so bad after all, and that the men they met in prison were just as good as any other citizens. Hence the hankering for prison life on the part of so many of the younger defaulters… who found by experience, that defaulters detention was far more irksome than a short term spent in prison.’132
Originally there was some thought of graded camps. ‘I understand that there are to be two classes of camps, one for bona fide conscientious objectors, and the other for defaulters’, the Under-Secretary for Justice wrote rather surprisingly133 and a Press article also ‘understood that those considered to be genuine on religious, ethical, or political grounds will be committed to the camp near Rotorua, and those regarded as being not genuine will be sent to the more isolated camp.’134 The British High Commissioner was told in January 1942 that defaulters detention ‘was not intended for the obvious shirker or the man whose refusal of service has no background of conscientious objection.’135 Nq specific provision was made for the obvious shirker, however, apart from the three months’ prison sentence for refusing a military order, which was a frequent preliminary to detention for the duration. The several main camps established in due course took all sorts together, though Hautu also became a punishment centre for ‘bad boys’ and the unco-operative, who were not necessarily insincere in their convictions, while the smaller sub-camps took the most docile.
In mid-November 1941 Strathmore camp at Whenuaroa, 30 miles from Rotorua, received its first inmates, 40 men whose resolution had already been tested by imprisonment and who were subsequently in military detention at Trentham.136 Greenberg had no prison-officer background. In 1941 he was working in the broadcasting service, but he had had lengthy organising experience with the YMCA and he was known as a youth leader. In the mid-Thirties he had expressed sympathetic understanding of the resolute pacifist137 page 270 and pacifists welcomed his appointment as showing that the government had the objectors’ personal welfare at heart to some extent.138 But much had changed since 1935, and Greenberg as Controller had wide and final disciplinary powers. There were basic difficulties arising from the environment, the staff, and the defaulters themselves, many of whom had a sense of grievance and some a compulsion not to co-operate. Hardening of attitudes was inevitable in these remote, inward-turning communities and it was not surprising that Greenberg, despite his sympathetic background, became as chief gaoler widely and heartily disliked.139
About the camp scheme, pacifists were divided. Some considered it an honest attempt by a partially sympathetic government to solve a very thorny problem.140 A Quaker, advocating co-operation to make the camps work smoothly, said that Nash had done his best to avoid the penal side of the issue, and he himself felt that ‘we ought now to co-operate in showing that the genuine man with genuine Christian principles is able to go the other mile.’141 Others felt that it would be too easy to accept the government’s kindly intentions by living quietly in comfortable camps while conscripted men faced horror; their purpose was not merely to keep their own hands unbloodied but to witness against war, and by fighting all the way make what stand they could against conscription.142
At the outset Greenberg and his officers were faced with a raw, half-built camp, a mixed and rapidly growing bunch of defaulters, and insufficient staff, too often poor in quality. For the first 12 months at Strathmore both defaulters and staff lived under improvised conditions, in mud, on their bleak treeless plain, with monotonous rations and many shortages, for defaulters had no priority rating and some private traders even refused supplies.143 Gradually, by the inmates’ own labour, the one-man huts,144 the kitchens and community rooms were built, water and sewage systems installed; vegetables, milk and meat were produced on the camp farm, distinct from the regular task of developing a block of Crown land; a ‘splendid corps’ of carpenters, gardeners, garage and electrical mechanics and domestic helpers made it all work.145page 271
This pattern was repeated more or less in other camps. By January 1943 there were 614 men at Strathmore, Hautu, Shannon, Galatea, Balmoral and Conical Hill, doing farm or forestry work, cutting firewood, weeding and cultivating flax. In all, there were 13 camps and sub-camps, and 803 men occupied them; they were, claimed official spokesmen, neither spartan nor soft.146 The guiding principles were segregation, useful occupation and strict discipline, along with wholesome, adequate food, reasonable living conditions, and social amenities above prison standard. These included libraries, stocked by the National Library Service, approved hobbies and educational pursuits. Camps were not geared to the severity of prisons, but they were intended to be substantially less attractive than Army life.147 There was no leave; pay, at 1s 3d a day, depended on good conduct and industry; books were censored, visitors limited, mail both limited and censored (though letters to the Minister of National Service went to him unopened and in large numbers). There were checks and roll-calls; there were rules such as that men might not congregate together and that work must satisfy the overseer. Inmates wore borstal grey uniforms and blue denims for work. There were penalties and boundaries and barbed wire.148
Penalties ranged from fines to bread and water and solitary confinement in the camp or terms in gaol. Regulation 44B (11) of 12 November 1941 ran:
Instead of imposing a minor punishment on any inmate for any breach of the rules, the Camp Supervisor may refer the matter to the Controlling Officer, who may in his discretion, impose on the inmate a minor punishment as aforementioned or a punishment involving close confinement within the camp or a reduction in the dietary scale, or both such confinement and such reduction. In any case where he considers it necessary, the Camp Supervisor may place the inmate in close confinement pending the consideration of the matter by the Controlling Officer.
The Auckland Star commented:
In plainer English, this means that the controlling officer can punish a man by having him locked up, and fed on bread and water, apparently for no specific period. Why should this be necessary, and why should such power be given the controlling officer when it is not given to experienced prison officers? If a man merits this page 272 punishment, as he may, his place should be no longer in a detention camp [but in prison where] he could be sentenced to breadand-water confinement but… only by a magistrate after hearing evidence.149
From the start, such offences as disobeying an order could bring defaulters before a magistrate who could send them to prison for a set term,150 and in all 66 men were so sentenced.151 After May 1942, if a magistrate were satisfied by the camp authorities that a defaulter’s presence was prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the camp, he could order his removal to prison for the duration, though the Minister could transfer him back to camp. During 1942, 28 men were gaoled for the duration, and 48 had been by the end of 1944, when the Controller-General of Prisons was ‘constrained to conclude that the transfer of military defaulters to criminal prisons has not been an altogether satisfactory or happy arrangement’, because in many of them a long-held sense of grievance and injustice had become obsessional;152 this did not lessen when they were still there a year later.
Short terms proved almost popular, or perhaps something those dedicated to non-co-operation must incur. ‘For a period there was an epidemic of escapes’, wrote Greenberg; at one time 30 were out, some using their liberty to complain publicly about the detention scheme. When regulations against escaping were stiffened in February 1944, escapes almost ceased and the protestors then refused to obey orders, aiming to be put in prison. ‘The trickle out of the Camps into the Prisons threatened to become a flood’,153 and 38 in that year went to prison for set terms.154 To combat this, Hautu camp, closely associated with a nearby prison and already holding the more difficult defaulters, became a penal centre for close confinement in locked huts in a separate wired compound. It was cold, dull and lonely. Greenberg wrote with satisfaction: ‘A block has been placed across the road to Prison and it has been found that the defaulter inclined towards non-co-operation thinks very carefully before becoming bold enough to declare himself’. He quoted from a letter written by a man in close confinement who looked back to a recent spell in Mt Eden as ‘happy days’. The Crown Solicitor recommended that such confinement should not be for an unlimited page 273 time, and at first 90 days was the maximum; ‘After consultation with the Minister, this was reduced to thirty days, subject to renewal’, and later again it was thought that 30 days in itself would be sufficient.155 Only if men were still defiant thereafter were they sent on to prison for the duration.
‘Possibly the most valuable result of the detention scheme, with its penalties of incarceration for the duration of the war and its restriction of liberty, etc., has been its deterrent effect upon others’, wrote Greenberg. ‘The numbers who eventually arrived at detention were well under those originally anticipated’.156 The expected figure was 2000,157 the actual total 803.
There was, however, continued criticism by those who suspected the government of pampering objectors: the camps were too comfortable, food was too good, privileges were too many. On 12 February 1942, when Singapore was falling, the House heard questions and answers about defaulters living better than soldiers, with sheets and pyjamas.158 The Matamata Record on 23 February headed a report, ‘The Strathmore Hotel, “Conchies” Comforts, Rotorua seething with Indignation.’ The Observer159 and Truth160 were vigilant, and so was the RSA, although many of the camp staff were returned soldiers. RSA officials were asked to see for themselves, and their vice-president, B. J. Jacobs,161 having inspected Strathmore in June 1942, reported that while defaulters were better treated than they should be, exaggeration had produced most of the complaints and small departures from the regulations by camp authorities had had reasonable grounds. The men were treated as human beings but there was no pampering.162 The charges, however, were made again and again.163
The RSA, remembering the ten year disenfranchisement of defaulters after 1919, was prominent in the pressure that produced emergency electoral regulations in July 1943 by which persons committed page 274 to defaulters’ detention and not discharged therefrom were deprived of the vote.
It was hard to draw suitable officers, overseers and patrolmen to these remote camps. Staffing, wrote Greenberg, ‘was of more concern to the authorities than many of the difficulties involving the inmates’, whose customary good behaviour was remarkable considering the inadequacy of some members of the staff, though others ‘rendered conspicuous service in the most difficult circumstances’.164 Obviously it was not possible to avoid the officious, the unreliable, even the dishonest ‘screw’.
It must be remembered that most defaulters had entered a camp by the end of 1942 and thereafter, shut away among themselves, were excluded from all the influences that might have drawn them into the national effort. Apart from their original beliefs, they were held by the forces of inertia, pride, and loyalty to battered ideals and fellow-defaulters. Whatever had set them on their path, most by now felt committed to pursue it. Many defaulters were well grounded in the dubious nature of the atrocity stories from the First World War. For those unwilling to believe in the necessity of war it was easy to extend these suspicions to accounts of the starvation, torture and death of Jews, Czechs, French, Poles and others.
The 803 men in detention varied widely, ranging from a few minor criminals, as, for instance, a man sentenced to a month’s gaol for theft and then sent on to defaulters’ detention,165 to the ‘intellectuals’ whom Greenberg thought ‘perhaps ought not to have been there.’ He described the latter as quiet and thoughtful, reasonably accepting the penalties of being out of step with the State in war time, and so much ‘all that an ordinary citizen envisages concerning the true conscientious objector’ that it seemed strange that appeal boards had not been convinced of their intellectual honesty.166
Besides the ‘intellectuals’, Greenberg classified his charges as escapists, indifferentists, exhibitionists and recalcitrants, with some overlapping and interweaving among these types. Right or wrong, his opinions shaped the administration. The ‘escapists’ simply wished to escape from the war, to forget it and their obligations as far as possible. Some ‘were just plainly frightened and were only too satisfied to find shelter in a detention camp.’ Many belonged to religious sects which had no standing with appeal boards and which opposed war largely because it made demands on time and allegiance due to their God, and many of these had refused even non-combat service. page 275 Of 592 men reviewed in October 1944, 231 belonged to such sects; Christian Assembly (107), Jehovah’s Witnesses (78), Brethren (35), Pentacostal (11).167 These men, though often fanatical in their religion, were usually docile and co-operative in other respects, and were vital in making the detention scheme workable.
Greenberg applied the term ‘indifferentists’ to those, not religious escapists, who were indifferent to the war and its issues: ‘in the first place, those who appeared to be confused and immature, or perhaps frightened, in their thinking about the war, and obviously didn’t bother to pursue the matter far enough to ascertain what the war did mean to themselves or others; and in the second place, this category included those who found a comfortable “funk hole” for their indifferentism in their glib and plausible use of the word “Humanitarian”.’ Many rationalised their decision after making it, and were confirmed therein by segregation with other defaulters; many ‘would have become tired of detention, and would have joined the Army, if it had not been for their fears of others, especially the so-called politicals in the camps.’168
‘The exhibitionist strutted across the war scene as the one person who had the right idea and whose main urge was to let the world know what this idea was.’ His mission was to witness to his own idea, not by seeking alternative service in dangerous zones, but by assuming ‘a peculiar personal kind of arrogance and superiority, which demanded exemption from every duty, but required rights and privileges which were not given to ordinary citizens in war-time…. His conceit in his own ideas was colossal! His conscience apparently said little to him about peaceful nations trodden under-foot by a wicked invader; or millions of innocent victims cast into extermination chambers and furnaces….169 All these evils were just summed up in the one word “War”…. all war was wrong and all nations participating in it were equally culpable.’ When the camps were closed, men of this type inscribed on the walls such words as: ‘In this hut lived James Thomas Smith, so-called defaulter, from May 4th 1942 to March 8th 1946, because of his refusal to murder his fellow men.’ Though many came from ‘an honoured religious organisation’,170 these young men were among the most difficult to handle, page 276 and were very ready to ally themselves with ‘the non-religious-quasi-political-agitator group’, often with the express object of embarrassing the government and detention officials. To the latter they were the ‘greatest moaners, agitators and trouble-makers’ in the camps. As a last resort, in prisons they hunger-struck and, in the cells of Mt Eden, shouted and battered on the walls.171
Greenberg’s ‘recalcitrants’ pushed these attitudes just a little further. They grew around the ‘so-called politically-minded individuals who, with the agitator’s technique, quickly found the detention community suitable soil for the propagation of their quasi-political ideas’, some of which could have developed into sedition and subversion. Although a minority, they soon became the most vocal and difficult inmates, ‘and quite early in detention history, a trial of strength took place between them and the authorities, with the result that the camp at Hautu, near Turangi, was devised as a special disciplinary centre’ for them. Co-operation or non-co-operation, whether one should accept the camps and their routine, or whether one should carry rejection of war and all its works to the logical extreme of refusing orders to work, remained burning questions for many inmates. Finally, by the amendment of 23 May 1942, the real non-co-operators, in Greenberg’s estimate one-sixth of the total number, would be sent to prison for the duration: 58 were so transferred and 66 others served set terms. In January 1943 there were 614 men in the camps, 610 in March 1944 and 608 in March 1945; in all, 803 entered, 69 later deciding to accept military service.172 Between officials and recalcitrants there was ‘unending conflict’, and the persistence of their nuisance tactics, Greenberg held, showed the value of retaining the offenders in camps, for outside they would have attempted illegal meetings, unauthorised street speaking, subversive publications, and efforts to influence members of the forces.173
The total cost of the camps, from November 1941 to 31 March 1946, was £502,535, of which £109,076 was capital expenditure, while running expenses totalled £393,459. It could be worked out that the average cost of maintaining each inmate was £164 a year, or £3 3s 1d a week, but the value of work done reduced this to £2 5s 5d.174
The work actually performed varied from place to place, from time to time, from man to man. For instance, at Balmoral in North page 277 Canterbury, a camp without barbed wire for about 40 good conduct men, the pruning of trees, making of roads and cutting of firewood was approved by the Director of Forestry, A. R. Entrican,175 a man by no means automatically pleased;176 at Shannon during one period, some men contrived to weed a very small area of flax each day.177 A good many fenced, cleared and drained land, cut manuka and other firewood, or worked at camp upkeep industriously; others put in their 40 hours adequately but without drive. It was dull work, almost without pay or any positive incentive except willingness to do the job before one, and for some there was the persisting problem: should one, by working, co-operate in a system which, however remotely, was part of the war effort, or resist it by minimal work, plus protest and complaint wherever possible? The zealots, often most sincere in their objection to war, who inevitably appeared to authority as political agitators and recalcitrants, sought to influence others, and all the attitudes associated with trade unionism and loyalty to one’s fellows, including moral intimidation, were involved.
Many were willing to do essential non-war jobs at a soldier’s pay, sacrificial work for the community, such as in the acutely short-staffed mental hospitals, or among VD patients, but these proposals were not taken up by authority sensitive to the difficulties of organisation, opposing alteration to what had been established, and fearing outcry and repercussions.178
Throughout 1943–5, despite ministerial assurances that defaulters were doing useful work,179 there was a trickle of complaint that the camps were unproductive and expensive, and that defaulters should work under supervision on farms or in essential industries.180 A few such comments came from ex-overseers,181 though one wrote of hard work and good administration at Strathmore.182 The letter from ‘Disgusted Overseer’ in the Dominion on 20 March 1943, describing page 278 futility and frustration at Shannon’s flax camps, was accompanied by an editorial questioning whether the camps should not be abolished and the defaulters supervised in essential industry, and this was not the Dominion’s only criticism on these lines.183 The remarks in court of a Shannon man, sentenced on 2 July 1943 to three months’ gaol for refusing an order to cut kindling wood, that in 14 months he had not done one day’s useful work and that hundreds of men were twiddling their thumbs, gained wide publicity.184 The government, concerned to protect its projects from criticism and not to excite further attacks for pampering ‘conchies’, ignored such proposals. To put defaulters into essential industry would greatly lessen the distinction between those recognised by armed forces appeal boards and those dismissed. There would also be uneasiness about assigning them to employers like the North Otago farmer who demanded of a Minister, ‘How many miserable, damned crawlers have you got tucked away in conscientious objectors’ camps? Why can’t they be made use of?’185 On 4 March 1943, when a Labour member inquired about their doing firewatching or other war work, the Minister of Justice stated that about 650 men were in the camps, which was the first public statement of their number, and ‘the question of utilizing the services of defaulters on outside work has been considered but deemed to be inadvisable.’186
However, proposals for change and for making the work-force more effective came from the Controller of Detention himself. In March 1943, with 35 refractory men in prison and a total of 614 in three main and four small camps, Greenberg wrote that they were
a weird collection of individuals, some of them quite cold blooded and calculative in their designs to frustrate the present Government and anything in connection with the war effort. Others again have an intense fiery passion for the cause which they believe they are serving, the cause of witnessing against war and of suffering for their beliefs. Religion in many instances intensifies their fervour. In between these two extremes there is a large bunch of inmates who are not sure of themselves, some lazy, many cowards, and mostly ignorant of the real issues involved.
The large camps seemed a mistake: they posed the threat of mass action, slowed down work, ‘and kept the staff on nerve ends’, while page 279 the smaller groups on extension jobs showed better work and healthier spirit.
With the passing of time, camp routine and loss of liberty had become more irksome, increasing the sense of grievance held by many. ‘Unrest and unsettlement’ were growing and Greenberg thought that the scheme should be reviewed. Releasing defaulters to essential industry had many difficulties, but men whose objection to war seemed genuine and who had six months of good conduct in camp should join civilian service units. Each would have 100 men, in five 20-man sections, available for essential work anywhere, on military pay or slightly less, under National Service supervision but not required to live in camps, and with one week’s leave a year. Technically they would still be in detention, but work would be more effective and would not be forced labour. Less staff would be needed, though at least one camp should be maintained for those who had not qualified for civilian work and those who proved unreliable.187
With the war at full pitch and an election in the offing, nothing came of this except some more small, lightly guarded camps to which the more tractable were transferred, mainly the other-worldly Christian fundamentalists.188 In October 1943, with the election over, Greenberg again stated his ‘urgent plea’ for reform, stressing that the present system offered no incentive or hope to any inmates till the war’s end. There were humbugs and rascals who opposed the war effort and who should not be at large, but some men who had not convinced their appeal boards had in camp clearly shown the genuineness of their objections; others were weak and confused but bolstered in resistance to the war by those about them; others were deeply afraid. Greenberg believed that particularly in these last two sorts camp life promoted mental deterioration. He advocated that all cases should be reviewed, unhurriedly and in camera, by a judge or magistrate who would make recommendations to the Minister, based on genuineness and good conduct; knowledge that this was going on would improve morale and lessen the escapes that were causing ‘utmost concern’. There should also be stiffer penalties for escapers and those who harboured them.189
This opened up far-reaching principles, commented the Director of National Service, J. S. Hunter. The real penalty for refusing service after failing in an appeal was loss of liberty for the duration; any change would have to preserve the difference between those who page 280 won their appeals and those who did not. That a policy which had been designed to extend toleration and sympathetic understanding to the conscientious objector resulted in the detention of many whom Greenberg showed must be considered genuine, in an atmosphere of frustration and mental deterioration, could not be regarded as satisfactory but he could not offer an alternative.190
Reforms based on Greenberg’s ideas were proposed to the War Cabinet by Mason in December 1943. All who had been in camp 12 months or more should be re-examined and, under powers already held by the Minister of National Service,191 those showing genuine conscientious objection, or medical or mental unfitness, provided that they did not oppose the war effort and otherwise behaved themselves, should be released to work of public utility, on the terms that Greenberg had suggested. Similarly, defaulters for whom there was now no military service, ie, 18 and 19-year-olds, men over 41 years and those of medical Grade III, should be released, to work as directed by the Special Tribunal. There should be penalties for harbouring escapers, and escapers should serve the time of their illegal freedom after the war.192 Measures against escapers, gazetted on 10 February 1944, were the only outcome of these proposals.
However, the government now inquired how conscientious objectors were treated in Britain, learning that up to 31 December 1943 there were 57 329 registered objectors, 0.83 per cent of those eligible for service; the higher appellate tribunal had varied 50.4 per cent of the 17 657 decisions taken to it from local boards, mostly in favour of the applicants; of all appeals finalised, 6 per cent were recognised unconditionally, 48 per cent were recognised conditionally, that is, directed to essential work, 25 percent were given non-combatant duties and 21 per cent were dismissed. For those refusing to comply the penalties were up to 12 months’ imprisonment or a £50 fine. Usually after serving three months or more, in one dose or more—‘a sentence of imprisonment of three months or more is regarded as substantial’—they were directed to vital civilian work.193
Again, in May 1944, Mason advocated large changes. Internees, he wrote, were mainly those whose appeals had been rejected. This did not mean that an internee was not a conscientous objector but often merely that he had failed to prove it. ‘The camps largely comprise those whom the law in accordance with Government policy page 281 was intended to exclude therefrom. This fact has been troubling me for well over a year.’ The position was ‘illogical in the extreme’, offending humanity and commonsense, while the camps had cost a quarter of a million pounds. Two magistrates should interview every man, consider his record and decide whether any worthwhile purpose was served by keeping him in camp; otherwise he should be released to useful civilian work under Manpower direction.194 The reforms thus forthrightly proposed by the Minister were not accepted by his colleagues, and instead Cabinet on 7 June 1944 set two detention administrators, Greenberg and C. J. Hay,195 to review defaulters with conditional release in mind; they also decided that men with good records for 12 months should have two days’ parole each quarter, plus travelling time, to visit their homes, at their own expense. Payments for good conduct and industry could be doubled, giving a top rate of 2s 6d a day. These two morale-lifting arrangements were effective from October 1944.196
The Greenberg–Hay report, completed in October 1944, described the problems and sorted 592 defaulters into categories;197 82 of sincere mind and good conduct were recommended for immediate release; 354 for deferred release, under special supervision; 98 should be considered for release later, if their detention records improved; 37 should not be released and 21 would not be interviewed. No immediate releases were made but, ‘in pursuance of information contained in the report’, the War Cabinet on 20 November 1944 directed that regulations should be drafted setting up one-man Revision Authorities to deal with defaulters’ applications for release on parole.198
All this, of course, was unknown to the public, though some rumours arose of intended release199 and in 1944–5 there was increasing pressure towards it. Interested persons wrote persistently to the government.200 In July 1944, four petitions, with 6641 signatures in all, including some from university staffs, trade unions and the Labour party,201 were made to Parliament. These urged that detention was wasteful both economically and in human values. It page 282 was no longer a deterrent, as ballots were exhausted; indeterminate sentences were not British justice, and there should be appellate tribunals as in Britain. The Petitions Committee (including several members of the National party which was firm against any softening) shelved the matter as one for government decision. The New Zealand Tablet on 16 February 1944 had stated boldly that defaulters should be released in the national interest; the Auckland Star on 28 July 1944, and again on 2 March 1945, while not forgetting the thousands of soldiers and prisoners-of-war detained indefinitely, began to think that appeal boards could have made a few mistakes; by April 1945 it disapproved of unlimited sentences and found the lack of appellate tribunals remarkable.202 The Dunedin Presbytery on 3 April 1945 gave out disturbing figures on the unevenness of appeal boards in New Zealand and the tolerance towards defaulters in Britain.203 A letter from England appeared in many newspapers between May and July,204 signed by nine notables including Bertrand Russell, C. E. M. Joad, Dame Sybil Thorndike,205 Vera Brittain206 and the Bishop of Birmingham,207 contrasting the rigid severity of New Zealand’s system with the flexibility of Britain’s which enabled conscientious objectors to do widespread useful work and, in many cases, sacrificial service for the community. In New Zealand in February 1945 five defaulters in gaol refused work and went on hunger strike to draw attention to their indefinite sentences and the lack of any appeal. Magistrates J. H. Luxford and J. Morling208 spoke against ‘morbid sentimentality’ and firmly sentenced them to 30 days’ confinement;209 Truth was sure that, ‘If a bunch of these troublemongers want to starve themselves the people of New Zealand aren’t likely to worry much’,210 but a spate of letters appeared in the Auckland Star, and made further impact when repeated in H. R. Urquart’s pamphlet, The Searchlight on R.S.A.’s and C.O.’s. On 16 May a protest meeting under the Howard Penal Reform League’s banner filled the Auckland concert chamber, and two more pamphlets were seeking publication.211page 283
Meanwhile the RSA and its supporters, including the Farmers’ Union,212 mounted a powerful counter-offensive demanding that the government should impose the penalties which the RSA had advocated since October 1941: that defaulters should be detained for at least six months after troops were demobilised and should lose civil rights and government employment for 10 years. Pressure was exerted directly, backed by a threat to publish previous correspondence213 which the government rejected, saying that it would add little to existing publicity.214 Strongly worded articles appeared repeatedly in the RSA Review;215 there were well publicised branch resolutions, supported by newspaper editorials, and a forceful deputation attended Nash and others on 7 March 1945.216
Fighting in Europe ceased on 7 May 1945 and in Britain all detained defaulters were released,217 but wars do not officially end until so proclaimed and a long battle against Japan was still expected. On 7 June regulations appointed two Revision Authorities,218 each to hear, with counsel if desired, applications from any defaulters, save those in prison, for release on parole. The defaulter had to establish that he held conscientious beliefs against participation in war. His good conduct was not directly a key to release for, as Nash said in debate, it did not necessarily follow that a ‘good boy’ was a real conscientious objector, while the man most difficult to handle might prove to be so.219
It was carefully established that the purpose of the Revision Authorities was not to lessen severity to defaulters but to find whether any would not have been committed to detention had the original appeals been more uniformly judged, as was suggested by variations ranging between 14 per cent allowed in one district and 33 per cent in another, with an over-all average of 19.7 per cent. If it were decided that a defaulter had thus suffered injustice, the original decision would not be reversed, nor would he be classified as a proven conscientious objector, but he would be released on parole, under Manpower direction, forfeiting to Social Security all pay above page 284 what a private received; he must notify changes of address and do nothing to oppose the war effort.220
It was a practical compromise, a device to get the genuine objectors out of the camps quickly, avoiding the legal difficulties of admitting error and wrongful detention, while minimising the outrage of frustrated RSA spokesmen, whose arguments about ‘betrayal’ were fully and fiercely put forth by Holland and the Opposition. The Inter-Church Council on Public Affairs thought that revision would be approved by all right-thinking people,221 but most papers, inflamed by two misconceptions, that proceedings would be in camera and that the Crown would not be represented, strongly disapproved at the outset. Several said that appeal proceedings should have been arranged right from the start. A few approved temperately: ‘a commonsense step’ said the Auckland Star of 8 June; the Wanganui Herald on 12 June quoted Churchill saying ‘Anything in the nature of persecution, victimisation or man-hunting is odious to the British people’; the Grey River Argus of 8 June said that New Zealand had been singularly severe on objectors; so did the Hawke’s Bay Daily Telegraph of 29 June. The Pres and the Southland Times on 27 June rebuked the attacks of the RSA.
In the next six months 467 men, 76 per cent of those in detention, appealed to the Revision Authorities, who released 283 of them.222 Review of those in prison also began, 14 being released by 31 December 1945.223 Under ministerial powers (Regulation 44A, 5b), 226 others who were over-age, medically down-graded or who had been in detention more than four years, quietly emerged and by 31 March 1946 only 132 men remained in camps and 26 in prison.224 Having so belatedly sorted out the ‘conscientious’, it was awkward to free the rest at almost the same time, and the RSA was not sleeping. Cabinet decided on 14 December 1945 that all defaulters would be released by 30 April 1946 but that they would remain under Manpower direction.225 On the night of 16 January 1946 a government Pacific news broadcast stated that defaulters in the camps would be released in April and that the cases of those in prison would be reviewed individually. Next day it was announced that the Auckland Watersiders Union had asked that a deputation from Auckland’s Trades Council and Labour Representation Committee page 285 should urge the Minister of National Service to release the defaulters. If the deputation gained no satisfaction, the Auckland watersiders, whose president was also president of the national union, proposed a one-day strike each week until the defaulters were released.226 For a few nights previously a group of defaulters in Auckland prison, who for offences such as escaping had been sentenced to 12 days’ close confinement on bread and water for infringing against prison discipline, had begun noisy nightly protest against their situation.227 Not surprisingly, the NZRSA was critical of the government’s ‘hasty decision’, under threat of direct action, and the ‘indirect method of publicity given to the impending release of military defaulters.’ It called on the government to reconsider the decision, reiterating its own demands: that defaulters should be detained for 12 months after the end of the war (calculated to cover the return, furlough and rehabilitation of all loyal servicemen), be banned from government employment at the taxpayer’s expense and be deprived of civil rights for 10 years.228 Instead, Cabinet decided on 15 March that defaulters who had escaped would be released in the first or second half of May according to the length of their period of escape.229 A fortnight later Cabinet dismantled the last controls on defaulters and conscientious objectors: Manpower direction of defaulters who had been released on parole would cease on 29 June 1946 and at the same time the Special Tribunal curbing the earnings of conscientious objectors would cease to function along with all its orders.230
1 Conscientious Objectors, a pamphlet issued by the Defence Dept, 28 Feb 18, p. 1
3 Truth, 1 May 40, p. 17. The 14 had included Mark Briggs (1884–1965), whose sufferings were described by H. E. Holland in Armageddon or Calvary and who in 1936 became a member of the Legislative Council, and Archibald Baxter (1861–1970), author of We Will Not Cease.
4 Truth, 25 Jun 41, p. 9
8 O’Brien, Hon James (1875–1947); b Aust, to NZ 1904; MP (Lab) Westland 1922– 46, introduced Invalid Pensions Bill 1930 (effective 1936); Min Transport, Marine from 1942
9 Russell, Bertrand Arthur William, OM(’49), 3rd Earl (1872–1970): Brit philosopher, author
10 Joad, Cyril Edwin Mitchison (1891–1953): Brit philosopher, author, Head Philosophy & Psychology Dept Birkenhead College, Univ London from 1930
11 NZPD, vol 260, p. 327
12 Efford, L. A. W., Penalties on Conscience, p. 34; cf. A to J 1945, H–11A, p. 26 for 1943 figures
13 Copies of both these letters are on WHF, ‘Defaulters’
14 Copy of pp. 19–21 National Service Department Circular A. B. No 1, undated, but apparently early 1941, on WHF, ‘Defaulters’
16 Notes of a deputation from various churches to Min Nat Service, 26 Feb 41, ibid.
18 It was not in a sense always accurate to say that such an appeal was dismissed, when sometimes a man got all that he asked for, but perhaps the government was not unwilling to heighten harmlessly the impression that appeals did not often succeed.
19 Press, 16 May 41, p. 10
20 Remarks by Hon H. G. R. Mason on the Conscientious Objector, WHF, ‘Defaulters’
21 Atkinson J, in Newell v. Gillingham Corporation, All England Law Reports 1941, pp. 553–4; endorsed by the English Law Journal, 3 May 1941, XCI, p. 176. Copies of both were sent to appeal boards. Dir Nat Service to Min Justice, 24 May 43, WHF, ‘Defaulters’. This judgment was also widely reported in the daily press, eg, Evening Post, 20 Jun 41, p. 9
22 A. H. (later Sir Alexander) Johnstone, Kt(’50), OBE(’46), KC(’34), of Auckland, d 1956; H. F. O’Leary (later Rt Hon), KCMG(’47), PC(’48), KC(’35) (1886–1953), of Wellington, Chief Justice NZ from 1946; A. T. (later Sir Arthur) Donnelly, KBE(’49), CMG(’39) (1890–1954), Crown Solicitor Chch from 1920, Dir NZ Newspapers, member CUC Bd Governors, chmn Directors Bank NZ from 1937, chmn Economic Stabilisation Cmssn during WWII; Maurice James Gresson (1884–1948), barrister & solicitor, dep chmn Red Cross 1917–18, of Christchurch
24 Report of Nat Service Dept, A to J 1946, H–11A, pp. 25, 129
25 Press, 3 Sep 42, p. 4
26 NZPD, vol 260, pp. 65–6
27 Jeffreys, George, 1st Baron of Wem (1644–89): Lord Chief Justice Britain from 1682; notorious for injustice and brutality and his ‘Bloody Assize’ after Monmouth’s rebellion against James II 1685
37 NZ Observer, 10 Dec 41, p. 7
39 NZ Methodist Times, 7 Mar 42, p. 372
40 Mazengarb, Hon Oswald Chettle, CBE(’52), KC (1890–1963): MLC 1950
42 Ibid., 4 Dec 41, p. 8
43 Ibid., 23 Oct 41, p. 8
47 NZPD, vol 260, p. 1254
49 Orr-Walker, Charles Rutherford (d 1947): barrister & solicitor 1896–1920; Chief Judge Dept Admin Western Samoa 1921–3; SM from 1920
51 A to J1945, H-11A, p. 23
53 Ibid., W23, p. 8
58 Press, 20 Aug 41, p. 6
62 Press, 22 Jul 42, p. 4
63 Ibid., 24 Jul 42, p. 6
64 Bailey, R. T. (d 1950 aet 72): Labour Dept officer 1909–44, including officer-in-charge Lab Dept Chch, certifying officer for Unemployment Board during Depression
66 Ibid., 16 Jul 41, p. 6
70 Ibid., 22 Feb, 22 Mar 41, pp. 8, 11
71 Ibid., 10, 13, 15, 21 Mar 41, pp. 9, 13, 12, 10
72 Ibid., 17 Mar 41, p. 10
73 Auckland Star, 17 Jul 41, p. 6
75 Ibid., 12 Jun 41, p. 10
76 Press, 14 Apr 42, p. 6
77 Ibid., 18, 23 Jun 41, pp. 6, 4
78 Ibid., 24 Jun, 15 Jul 41, pp. 8, 8. Later it transpired that there had been 5 conscience appeals among about 700 employees. Ibid., 23 Dec 41, p. 4
79 Auckland Star, 22 Dec 42, p. 6
83 For example: at Kaiti near Gisborne, prompted by the RSA, and at a school near Dannevirke where parents would not send their children to school while a teacher whose appeal had been rejected remained there. Ibid., 7, 10, 19 Jul 41, pp. 8, 10, 11. Of a teacher’s appeal allowed at Lynnford near Ashburton, Truth said that it was heard late in February, the decision announced in June and that since February parents had been twitted on letting the teacher’s views go unchallenged. At a public meeting there were angry references to his statements to the Appeal Board, and the general feeling was that he should not be allowed to continue in an easy job, at good pay, accepting the protection of soldiers in the Middle East. Truth, 16 Jul 41, p. 4
85 Ibid., 16 Jul 41, p. 8
86 Ibid., 20, 21 Aug 41, pp. 8, 11
87 Ibid., 17 Jul 41, p. 8
88 They had power to dismiss summarily for immorality or misbehaviour.
89 Wanganui Board, Evening Post, 19 Aug 41, p. 8; Southland Board, ibid., 23 Aug 41, p. 11, NZ Herald, 6 Nov 41, p. 8; Canterbury, Evening Post, 19 Jul 41, p. 6, Press, 22 Sep 41, p. 6; Auckland, Evening Post, 3 Sep 41, p. 9; Otago, Press, 19 Sep 41, p. 6; Marlborough College Board of Governors, Evening Post, 12 Aug 41, p. 9. Col McDonald (Ibid., 9 Sep 41, p. 9) claimed that one reason for the hostility of the Minister of Education towards himself was the strong stand that he had taken against pacifist teachers, which attitude was being adopted by other boards; outside the Wellington area the Colonel was not visibly in the lead.
91 Report of deputation from Wgtn Educ Bd to Min Educ, 26 Aug 41, WHF, ‘Defaulters’
92 Ibid.; Evening Post, 26 Aug 41, p. 9
93 National Service Emergency Regulations 1940 Amendment 5 (1941/148)
95 Press, 13 Feb 42, p. 4, quoting a circular received by school boards
97 Ibid., p. 170
98 Ibid., pp. 170–1
102 Press, 29 Sep 42, p. 4, 29 Feb 44, p. 4
103 Ibid., 14 Apr 44, p. 4. The voting was 66:47.
104 Hunter, James Stanley, CBE(’46) (1889–1975); Dir Social Security Dept 1938, Nat Service 1940, Organisation Nat Development 1944
105 Hunter to Mason, 16 Apr 43, WHF, ‘Defaulters’
106 A to J1943, H–11A, p. 33
108 Hunter to Mason, 24 May 43, WHF, ‘Defaulters’
109 Dir Nat Service to Appeal Boards, 30 Jul 43, ibid.
110 A to J1946, H–11A, p. 24
111 Ibid., 1945, H–11A, pp. 23, 68
112 Ibid., 1943, H–11A, p. 33
114 A to J1943, H–11A, p. 7, 1945, H–11A, p. 23
115 In January 1943 there were 68 of the latter among the 614 men in detention camps. Ibid., 1943, H–11A, p. 39
116 In one instance a member of the Assembly of Christians, refusing to don uniform or obey orders after his appeal was dismissed, was sentenced by court-martial to six month’s hard labour in Auckland’s gaol. NZ Herald, 2, 9 Aug 41, pp. 12, 10
117 In the First World War defaulters court-martialled into prisons had been a severe problem to their administrators, who did not regard them as ordinary criminals and strove to keep them separate, working on afforestation, roadmaking and building for the State. Their highest number was 293 in March 1918, and in August 1919 the Permanent Head of the Prisons Department wrote that in any future war ‘I sincerely trust that an endeavour will be made to confine military offenders in camps or other places entirely outside the jurisdiction of the Prisons Department.’ A to J 1919, H–20, p. 2, 1918, H–20, pp. 1, 3
118 NZPD, vol 260, pp. 62, 327
119 Under-Sec Justice to Min Justice, 9 Oct 41, and Minister’s comment, PM 83/10/1
120 Evening Post, 24 Oct 41, p. 6. Actually prison was not the only place where a defaulter could change his mind; 13 did so there, but the regulations of May 1941 provided that he could accept the Army at any time, and 69 left the camps for service.
121 Ibid., 7 Nov 41, p. 6
123 Freeman, William Henry (b 1891): SM from 1935
126 Press, 27 Feb 42, p. 8, and 28 Feb, p. 2, where a letter tells of a 20-year-old and six others receiving a second dose of two months in the Paparua shingle pit
127 NZPD, vol 261, p. 871
128 A to J1942, H–20, p. 1
129 There were 39 transfers. Ibid., 1946, H–20, p. 4
130 Yearbook1946, p. 156
131 Greenberg, Len Joseph, OBE(’46) (1891–1957): broadcasting administrator; b Aust; 27 years Gen Sec Wgtn YMCA; army & navy YMCA work Aust 1939; Controller Defaulters’ Detention NZ from 1941; Sec Juvenile Delinquency Cmte 1954
132 L. J. Greenberg, ‘The Men Who Would Not Serve’, War History Narrative, p. 54 (hereinafter WHN, ‘Greenberg’)
133 Under-Sec to Min Justice, 9 Oct 41, PM 83/10/1
134 Press, 10 Nov 41, p. 6
135 ONS to UKHC, 27 Feb 42, PM 83/10/1
136 WHN, ‘Greenberg’, p. 12
137 ‘… nothing short of sincere conviction and superlative courage can make a man a Christian “conscientious objector.” The story of the treatment of many “objectors” in New Zealand during the last war makes very sorry reading indeed…. There are indications that no amount of bullying will change the views held by these young men, and certain it is that the martyrdom of the pacifists will not kill pacifism any more than the Crucifiction of Christ killed Christianity.’ Evening Post, 17 Sep 35, p. 11
139 Paul Oestreicher, ‘They would not Fight’, unpublished thesis, p. 101
141 Ibid., W33, supplement
142 Ibid., W33, p. 6, W35, p. 7
143 WHN, ‘Greenberg’, pp. 10, 11
145 WHN, ‘Greenberg’, p. 37
147 A to J1945, H–11A, p. 24
149 Auckland Star, 19 Nov 41
150 For example, two men who persisted in walking to a job by a track through scrub instead of through allegedly wet grass got two months’ gaol; they had previously ‘just kept within the regulations’. Rotorua Morning Post, 22 Dec 41
151 A to J1946, H–20, p. 4
152 Ibid., 1945, H–20, p. 2
153 Controller Detention to Dir Nat Service, 2 Sep 44, WHN, ‘Greenberg’, App F
154 A to J1946, H–20, p. 4
155 Controller Detention to Dir Nat Service, 1 Sep 44, WHN, ‘Greenberg’, App F. Mr Justice Fair, sentencing an escaper to nine months reformative detention, stated that close confinement, while sometimes necessary for persistent, troublesome offenders, should never exceed 30 days and often could well be less, depending on the person concerned. Evening Post, 3 Mar 45, p. 6
156 WHN, ‘Greenberg’, p. 15
157 Parry/Hamilton report to War Cab, 18 May 44, PM 83/10/1
158 NZPD, vol 261, pp. 52–3
159 eg, NZ Observer, 4 Mar, 10 Jun 42, pp. 5, 12
160 eg, Truth, 19 Nov 41, p. 4, 11 Mar, 22 Apr 42, pp. 9, 10
161 Jacobs, Bertram Joseph, OBE(’46) (d 1964 aet 79): 10 years Vice-Pres, 4 years Pres, NZRSA
164 WHN, ‘Greenberg’, pp. 9–10
166 WHN, ‘Greenberg’, p. 24
167 Ibid., pp. 20–1 and App B. Among adherents of the main churches (which broadly considered the Allies’ struggle a necessary and justified evil, while advocating respect of conscience on the one hand, and, on the other, willingness to pay the penalty for it), Methodists led with 68 members, followed by Anglicans (32), Presbyterians (28), Roman Catholics (23), Seventh Day Adventists (9), Christadelphians (8), Baptists (6), others 30; 156 were non-religious.
168 Ibid., pp. 22–3
169 This was written in 1947; these details were not fully known until late in the war.
170 The Methodist Church. WHN, ‘Greenberg’, p. 35 and App B
171 Ibid., pp. 18–20
172 A to J1943, H–11A, p. 39, 1944, H–11A, p. 14, 1945, H–11A, p. 23, 1946, H–11A, p. 27
173 WHN, ‘Greenberg’, pp. 24–7
174 Figures from ibid., pp. 43–5
175 Entrican, Alexander Robert (1898–1965): Dir Forestry 1939–60; Dir-Gen Forests 1960; Permanent Head NZ Forest 1939–61, Timber Controller 1939–48; member Nat Parks Authority 1953–61
176 Press, 15 Apr 43, p. 4
178 Auckland Star, 20 Feb 45, p. 6
180 eg, Otago Daily Times, 10, 14 Mar 41, pp. 5, 7; Southland Times, 24, 26 Jun 41, pp. 7, 3; Press, 13 Apr 42, p. 6; NZ Herald, 3, 11 Nov 42, pp. 2, 2; Auckland Star, 4, 12 Nov 42, pp. 4, 4; 9, 12, 13, 18 Mar 43, pp. 2, 2, 4, 4; Dominion, 10, 17, 19 Feb, 10 Mar, 25 Jun 43, pp. 6, 4, 5, 6, 6
182 Gisborne Herald, 15 Jan 43, p. 5
185 Press, 11 Jan 43, p. 2
187 Controller of Detention to Dir Nat Service, 29 Mar 43, PM 83/10/1
188 Oestricher, p. 120
189 Controller of Detention to Dir Nat Service, 8 Oct 43, PM 83/10/1
190 Dir Nat Service to Min Justice, 13 Oct 43, ibid.
191 Regulation 44A, 5b (1941/148, 27 Aug 1941), whereby the Minister could temporarily release any defaulter to work as directed by the Special Tribunal.
192 Min Justice to all Mins, 1 Dec 43, PM 83/10/1
194 Min Justice to War Cab, 1 May 44, PM 83/10/1
195 Hay, Caryll James, JP (d 1966 aet 68): 20 years Pres Miramar Branch Lab party; asst organiser Home Guard throughout NZ WWII; Immigration Office London 1946–8; liaison officer immigration ship Atlantis 1948–50; Dir State Advances Corp 1950–3
196 WHN, ‘Greenberg’, p. 39
198 Dir Nat Service to Sec Cab, 4 Apr 45, PM 83/10/1
200 By June 1945 Nash had received 118 such letters. Tabulation on PM 83/10/1
201 Efford, p. 45
202 Auckland Star, 28 Jul 44, 2 Mar, 20 Apr 45
207 Barnes, Rt Rev Ernest William (1874–1953): Bishop Birmingham 1925–53
209 Auckland Star, 20, 21 Feb 45, pp. 6, 3
210 Truth, 28 Feb 45, p. 8
211 The C.O. and the Community, by ‘Humanist’, S. Wignall, a returned soldier, was ready in March 1945; Efford’s Penalties on Conscience was ready in April.
213 Sec RSA to PM, 29 Mar 44, PM 83/10/1
214 Dep PM to Sec RSA, 9 Jun 44, ibid.
215 Review, Apr, Aug, Dec 44, Jan, Mar, Jun 45
216 Record of RSA deputation to Acting PM and members of Cab and War Cab, 7 Mar 45, PM 83/10/1
218 The eminent A. H. Johnstone KC and W. H. Woodward SM, who as an appeal board chairman had shown unusual understanding.
219 NZPD, vol 268, p. 61
220 A to J1945, H–11A, pp. 23, 25; ‘The case for the Appointment of Revision Authorities and for the review of defaulters in defaulters detention’, circular issued to MPs by H. G. R. Mason, in WHF, ‘Defaulters’
222 WHN, ‘Greenberg’, p. 41
223 A to J1946, H–20, p. 5
224 Ibid., H–11A, p. 27
225 War Cab Minute, PM 83/10/1
227 Auckland Star, 12, 15 Jan 46, pp. 4, 6
228 Ibid., 2 Feb 46, p. 6
229 Cab Minute, 15 Mar 46, PM 83/10/1
230 Ibid., 28 Mar 46