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Problems of 2 NZEF



It had been decided in New Zealand while the First Echelon was training there, that 2 NZEF should wear a universal hat badge, which was to be distinctive of New Zealand. There was reason for page 258 this. In the First World War New Zealanders had worn their peacetime regimental badges, in which except under close examination there was nothing of a distinctive New Zealand nature, artistic though many of them were. The Australians, on the other hand, had adopted a universal badge – the rising sun – which, while having nothing particularly Australian about it, was clearly distinctive and became widely known. In 1939, therefore, a badge had been designed and made in New Zealand, and had been issued to the First Echelon before departure.

This meant that all troops had to give up their regimental or corps badges, a sacrifice that did not meet with universal approval. The new badge had been issued fairly late and, so to speak, had not registered as the ‘one and only’, so that here and there the custom arose of sticking to the peacetime badge. Artillery had their gun, the Machine Gun Battalion had revived the crossed machine guns of the first war, and so on. As soon as this was noticed, and orders were issued to stop it, there was an outcry which soon became general. All units wanted something else – mostly their peacetime badges – while the accusation was made against the new badge that it was lacking in imagination and was not artistic. This agitation was bound up with an ill-defined feeling that the infantry titles should be changed, as the new numbers had no connection with any peacetime title. However, the answer was clear. It was too late to reopen the question of titles and thus the question of the badges of the infantry. The other corps must fall into line and all the nice unit badges must be abandoned. As time went on the universal badge achieved a position of its own, and came to be accepted as a New Zealand distinction.