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Problems of 2 NZEF



From the point of view of HQ 2 NZEF, training of reinforcements presented few problems. The GSO I of the Division was the staff officer principally responsible for training, but he used the machinery of HQ 2 NZEF for distributing any directives. At Headquarters the GSO-SD distributed material sent to him by the GSO I, and to some small degree acted as his mouthpiece. In Maadi Camp, however, there was always a senior officer responsible for supervising training, and it would be more accurate to say that HQ Maadi Camp was the authority in 2 NZEF that controlled training, for the number of directives issued by the GSO I was small.

The varied career of the training depots has already been recounted in Chapter 9, and it is not necessary to go over it again.

It is a matter of opinion how much training should be carried out in the homeland and how much overscas. If we had listened to some senior officers in the force, we would have advocated that only the minimum of elementary training should be carried out in New Zealand, all the rest being carried out in Maadi; for there was a strong belief that training in New Zealand was subject to many interruptions – leave, helping with the harvest and so on – and, moreover, lacked that touch of realism which can so easily be given overseas. There is some truth in this. Although many drafts from New Zealand had been well trained – the 8th Reinforcements, owing to their long period under arms, were an outstanding example – there were others whose training had been spasmodic. For as long as men are in their homeland there is an irresistible urge in leaders, both political and local body, to use them for other duties should the need arise; and the influence of domestic arrangements must continue to be strong. Overseas there will be greater continuity, and the training will be carried out by instructors fresh from the field. If conditions overseas are suitable, there is a lot to be said for adopting the policy of carrying out only basic training in the homeland and leaving the rest for overseas. Other factors may prevent this, the need to have a pool of fully-trained men in the homeland, for instance; but it should be borne in mind as an advantageous policy.

The pros and cons of moving our main training camp to Italy have already been indicated in Chapter 9, mainly from the standpoint of effect on manpower. Training facilities in Maadi, which in so many ways were unrivalled, had to be set against the fact that training in a hot climate in the desert is not the best introduction to subsequent fighting in a temperate climate in a closely-settled European country. From the standpoint of training alone, however, we probably did right in adhering to Maadi.

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