Problems of 2 NZEF
Our first censor section was formed in December 1941 to work in Egypt, and the second after we went to Italy for work in that country. They were formed at the request of GHQ in both cases, the intention being to help the overworked British sections, which previously had carried out the work without any help from 2 NZEF; but it had already become clear that it would be better if our own people performed for us this necessary but invidious task. The sections worked within the British framework and were under the control of GHQ and not of 2 NZEF. It was by arrangement with GHQ that the greater part of their work should be the censoring of 2 NZEF mail.page 131
Their reports were sent to GHQ, but with copies to the GOC and to OICA. They took the form of brief extracts from letters, the names and the units of the writers being omitted. The extracts were selected in order to give a fair summary of the morale and opinions of the force for the preceding month, each subject being prefaced by a brief paragraph giving the general impression gained by the censor staff of the views of the force on that particular subject. It must be repeated that no names appeared in the reports.
Other than by recording their conclusions, the censor staff took no action, any steps that might be necessary to improve morale or to obviate irritations being for the GOC to take; but the censor staff did make definite reports, including details of names and units, where there had been clear breaches of censorship regulations – locations of units, future activities, particulars of losses and so on. The implication in these cases was that disciplinary action was called for. However, the responsibility of the censor sections ended with bringing the breach to notice, and further action was for the CO of the unit.
The censorship reports were of interest to the limited number of officers who saw them; but it must said that there were very few cases where any explicit action was taken on a report. Morale fluctuated a little, which was only to be expected, but only once called for action throughout the force. The return of the Australian troops to their homeland in early 1942, combined with the knowledge that United States troops were in New Zealand, caused the greatest uneasiness of any incident in the war, and did impel the GOC to issue a personal message to all ranks. In other cases the most that would happen would be that the GOC or OICA would remember what had appeared in a report, and would perhaps speak to a few appropriate subordinates about it. Very often the opinions held throughout the force came to notice without the need for reading the reports.