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Problems of 2 NZEF



While the First Echelon was still in New Zealand, a system of shoulder patches had been designed, intended to distinguish brigades, battalions, field regiments, etc. Patches had existed in the First Expeditionary Force, and it was natural that they should be revived for 2 NZEF. Once overseas, however, complaints started, the theme being that they did not go far enough and did not indicate sub-units to the degree desirable. We had a conference on this also early in 1940 and endeavoured to achieve both rationality and finality. All went well until after Greece and Crete, by which time the force had greatly expanded and the system showed signs of becoming too complicated. After all, there are only a few distinctive primary colours, and not many simple shapes, and the number of combinations is limited. Just when we began to think that we would have to tackle the whole thing again, the point – or rather the alleged page 259 point – of having patches at all wellnigh ceased to exist. They could not be worn on shirts, which became standard dress for at least half the year, because they would not stand up to washing, and it was too much trouble to unstitch them and then stitch them on again. The same applied to bush shirts when they became standard dress. They could still be worn on service dress or battle dress; but by the end of 1941 people had ceased to worry about them, for it was apparent that their practical value was small, and their sentimental value not very great. Patches were never officially abandoned, and they appeared on battle dress spasmodically until the end.