Topic: Militiaz - New Zealand
New Zealand Militia and Volunteers
Citation: New Zealand Militia and Volunteers, Contents
"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess
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New Zealand Militia and Volunteers
New Zealand Militia and Volunteers
THE SKELETON ARMY
The following article about the New Zealand volunteers proves the supposed Napoleonic adage that an "Army marches on its stomach." The Volunteers from the Wellington region drafted in to perform ceremonial duties during the visit of the Duke of Cornwall found their conditions unacceptable. Tea that tasted like cabbage water, rancid meat and stale bread let alone no fodder for their horses was a recipe for mutiny.
THE SKELETON ARMY
[From: The Adelaide Advertiser, 1 July 1901, p. 6.]
The transcription of the article follows:
INCIDENTS IN NEW ZEALAND.
THE MILITARY SCANDAL. THE SKELETON ARMY.
The jarring note of the festivities during the reception of the Duke of Cornwall in the capital city of New Zealand was the scandal in connection with the treatment of a number of visiting volunteers. The very heavy rain which had fallen had con- verted Newton Park, where the men were encamped, into a quagmire. Several inches of mud ano water were on the surface of the park, and 'the moisture found its way through into the tents, soaking the straw beds and belongings of the men, and making them very unhappy. Several deputations of men complained of insufficiency of accommodation and lack of food, and said that their horses were practically starving, there being a lack of fodder and water for their use. When the men went to get some hot water to make tea there was none avail- able, the supply having been cut off. When they informed the officer in command that unless they were adequately provisioned they would have to leave camp he threatened them with pains and penalties.
One trooper declared "you had to scramble for what you got; it was served in dirty dishes, the tea was like cabbage water, and the whole thing was-ugh! let me go home!" One of the officers, who had seen service with our contingents in South Africa, is reported to have said that in the whole of his experience at the 'front he had never put in such a week as this just passed at Newtown Park. "Hungry we often were when at the front," because there was no food," He remarked, "but when we did get food it was cooked, not sent to us half cooked." . One trooper said he wouldn’t; have minded the treatment so much if it only concerned himself, but when it came to starving his horse "it was time to squeak". He added that he had bad to go into town and buy a feed for 'his horse, as well as for himself.
Undeterred by the terrors of militarism, a "skeleton army" of men in uniform actually paraded the streets of Wellington, carrying some stale bread and questionable meat upon a pole, a board above which bore the significant legend, "Our Rations."
The bearer of the pole attracted much attention, and quite a procession was formed, which, amid much cheering and groaning, passed not only along the main streets, but through the streets around Government House. Four troopers were noticed taking a prominent part in the head of the procession, and their demonstrations (says the Wellington "Post") gave the affair an importance which otherwise would not have been attached to the demonstration.
In the morning the proceedings took a serious turn. Colonel Penton (Commandant of the forces) ordered a parade of the troops. He addressed them in severe tone upon the subject of "last night’s disgraceful proceedings." The action of the four troopers who took part in the procession, he said, had brought disgrace upon the whole of the proceedings of the week. It was the most disgraceful thing that had happened in the whole of the colonies, and it was deeply painful that it should have happened when the representative of the King was with us. An example must be made of the men who had been the cause of the scandal, and he (Colonel Penton) looked to the officers to find out those men and bring them before him for punishment. It was also to be regretted that the men should have aired their grievances to the press. Finally the Colonel said he laid the whole blame upon the officers. "You should have seen to the complaints of the men, found out what was wanted, and by remedying them, prevented this disgrace.'
Colonel Sommerville, who was in charge of the camp, was understood to say that he had tried his best to get the bad condition of affairs remedied, but without success. The officers then dispersed, some muttering unutterable things, and went along the ranks of their companies, seeking the names of "the four." Some of the men laughed outright when the question was put to them, and the officers had to report that no names were procurable.
Then Colonel Penton addressed himself to the whole of the troops. He commenced by saying that up till that time the men had borne their hard lot like soldiers, but by the action of four "infernal cowards" the whole regiment had been disgraced. There were in the ranks, he said, some "infernal curs" Who were not men enough to step forward and own up, so as to save the good name of their comrades. "You four curs," exclaimed the Colonel, "who have spoilt the whole show, had not the pluck to come out, but you go and make a disgraceful scene when the son of your King is present in the city. In my regiment if any of the men had done as these four have done their comrades would have given them a jolly bad time."
At this interesting point of the proceedings Colonel Penton, who was addressing the men with a great deal of warmth, observed a representative of a newspaper, who was standing some little distance away, on the footpath,-taking a note. The Colonel paused, and in a stentorian voice, called to the pressman, "Will you leave here, please?" And the pressman withdrew out of earshot. The colonel then continued to address the troops for a few minutes, after which the men were dismissed to their quarters.
Ellesmere Guards, New Zealand
On 30 October 1901, the New Zealand Canterbury Times, published the above picture of the officers and non-commissioned officers in the Ellesmere Guards.
In the back row, standing to the extreme right is Corporal James McVinnie of Hornby, at the time a village outside Christchurch, although now it is part of the metro area. During the Great War he saw service as 33754 Pte James McVinnie. After the war, he went back to his farm where he remained for many decades. He died at Hornby in 1961.
And the cautionary tale
The problem with a time of crisis as occurs with war is the forcing up of social temperature. Things that take a leisurely pace now become urgent. Social change and attitudes were put into sharp relief as a consequence of many young men gathered together in a circumstance that enhances a socially sanctioned desirability from the single women. One of the natural consequences is a breakdown in the social sanctions that, under ordinary circumstances, existed. There became a greater urgency on behalf of both genders to remove the time of propriety and engage in sexual behaviour in a compressed period of time.
The knock on effects of this social breakdown also tore at other institutions. One was the necessity for greater numbers of abortions which led to a greater number of women dying as a consequence of these back yard abortions.
The particular story here may have come from New Zealand but is not unique to either New Zealand or Australia. The penalties were clear cut. This article was first published in the Melbourne Truth, 31 March 1917 at page 3.
A SCALAWAG SOLDIER.
BLACKGUARDLY TREATMENT OF A TRUSTING GIRL.
Aftermath of Abortion Case.
Just before the last New Zealand mail left, Mr. Justice Edwards had before him in the Wanganui Supreme Court, for sentence, Richard Patrick Pollard, 23, who, after three trials-two juries disagreeing - had been found guilty of the illegal use of an instrument to procure abortion.
Counsel for the defence suggested that the accused should be allowed to go to the war, but his Honor rejected the proposal with wrathful score. In the course of his judgment, he said;"In 1915 Edna Hogg was employed by a firm of dentists at Hawera, and in that year you were a sergeant-major in the Defence. Office there. It was apparently a case of theGLAMOR OF THE UNIFORMon the feminine mind. Unfortunately, she was living far from her parents. Under those circumstances you were able to make her acquaintance early in December, 1915, but must have rapidly proceeded to something more than were acquaintance. You were sent to Taumarunui, and at the latter end of February, according to evidence, you received, while there, letters from her informing you that as a result of improper intimacy, she was pregnant. You stated that you did not answer them. Yet, on March 10, she saw you and asked you to marry her, and you refused. You allege that you had quarrelled on the grounds of her behavior with returned soldiers and commerial travellers."Of course, it is very difficult when a man and woman go wrong to apportion the offence; but there has been sufficient evidence before the court and jury to apportion the offence between you and Edna Hogg. The girl hadAN INNOCENT AFFECTION FOR YOU.
The tales of your affection is best shown by the letter you received from your friend Farrell while you were in Taumanmui, and which you carefully preserved. Your confidant announced his intentions with regard to deceased after her chastity bad been taken from her by you. The letter was so coarse and vile that no newspaper would dare to put in into print. No man possessed with the smallest affection for a girl could but resent that letter. Plainly, your only wish was to gratify your lust. She fell. She is dead. You stand there and endeavor to blacken the character of an unfortunate girl why now lies in her grave."You stand before the court a plainly unrepentant criminal, guilty of a crime for which the extreme penalty is hard labor for life. We are told that you should be allowed to go away and fight for your country. I am not one of these who think that legions composed of criminals should be sent to fight the enemy. Germans have formed regiments of them, but I hope that New Zealand we will not have to do so. I gravely doubt that you would be a fit associate for young men. My position is not to set prisoners at large to fight for their country, but to deal with them according to the law."
After which common sense remarks, his Honor sentenced the blackguard to seven years' imprisonment with hard labour.
Post Script: Richard Patrick Pollard died at Takapuna, 1965. He never served his country. After the completion of his prison sentence, he found work as a labourer. One wonders if he ever reflected over the untimely death of Edna Hogg as he grew older. Like most people, these episodes return to haunt like Banquo's Ghost, always there and never disappearing regardless of the activity or liquor. A sad tale that built up a pressure for the emancipation that is enjoyed today.
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