ANNUAL CONFERENCE 1955
The Legion Annual Conference was held in the Concert Chamber of the Town Hall at Rotorua
on Saturday 21st May 1955 at 10.00am.
New Zealand Headquarters were represented by:-
Commandant J.C Findlater, Pnr, LMSM.
Major C.W Carncross, Pnr, LMSM.
Staff Capt E.J.P Simpson, Pnr, LMSM.
Lieut A.A Browne
A Squadron - Capt F.W Kerry
B Squadron - Capt J.M Muir
C Squadron - [not represented]
D Squadron - Capt R. Griffiths
G Squadron - Capt J.B Congreve
I Squadron - Capt T.G Coveney, Pnr
J Squadron - Capt P.G Doherty, Pnr
K Squadron - Capt A.G Wallis, Pnr
L Squadron - Capt J.H Sampson
M Squadron - Capt G.V Thame
N Squadron - Capt A.T Gardiner
O Squadron - Lieut N. McMillan
Q Squadron - Capt H.D Hughes
R Squadron - Frontiersman A. Klee, Pnr
T Squadron - Capt A. Keightley
V Squadron - [not represented]
Y Squadron - Capt A.G Judd
Z Squadron - Capt T. Huckstep
Timaru Troop - [not represented]
Cornwall Troop - Lieut L.E Read
Te Awamutu Troop - Lieut N.V Marshall
NUMBER OF MEMBERS FROM SQUADRONS AND TROOPS ATTENDING CONFERENCE
Entertaining Squadron (B Squadron, Rotorua) estimated at 35; ‘A’ 30; ‘B’ 35; ‘C’ 1; ‘D’ 11; ‘G’ 9; ‘I’ 13; ‘J’ 11; ‘K’ 13; ‘L’ 12; ‘M’ 6; ‘N’ 12; ‘O’ 5; ‘Q’ 1; ‘R’ 1; ‘T’ 8; ‘Y’ 16; ‘Z’ 6; Te Awamutu 16; Cornwall 7; ‘HQ’ 4.
Total number of Frontiersmen attending Conference, 217.
Number attending reunion estimated at 230.
Number on Sunday church parade, 172.
Commandant Findlater said it was a pleasure and privilege to welcome Mr Linton, and he assured him of a very hearty welcome from all Frontiersmen. Last year in Wellington, a great deal had been said about its being the centre of New Zealand and of all its attributes as the capital city. Today te Legion was meeting ar the geographical centre of the North Island, and Mr Linton no doubt, appreciated the honour and responsibility of being Mayor of the town. As a land utilisation officer of the Maori Affairs Department, Mr Linton was engaged in making three blades of grass grow where only scrub had grown before. Visitors to Rotorya could not credit the change that had taken place in the surrounding cuntrym and Mr Linton had been largely responsible for that work.
Commandant Findlater referred to the “adventurous invalid” who used to pitch his tent by a hot water pool here, make his own bath and regulate the temperature by his own hydraulic power. He hoped that before they left, all Frontiersmen would have a opportunity to see the thermal region, and particularly Tikitere and Hell’s Gate. “There will then be no need to urge you to lead a better life and repent of your sins,” he said. The Legion was proud of the Empire and of the Imperial tradition, he continued. It sought to perpetuate these things. He knew that it was an almost unheard of thing for a man in government circles to step out into the arena and take a leading part in civic affairs. Mr Linton had done that and he wished him a long period of office in the Empire job he was doing as Mayor of the town. “Thank you for the honour in asking me to come and speak to you and declare this conference open” said Mr Linton. “We extend to you a very cordial welcome, we are pleased to have you here, we hope that you will take away many happy memories of the fellowship of your conference and that you will feel that it was good to have been here/” Rotorua was becoming the main conference town in New Zealand – he had on one occasion spoken at five in four days. He did not profess to know a great deal of the Legion but had been associated with Legionaries since he served his apprenticeship as a surveyor under one in 1920 he continued. “But I can speakmore directly of our local people here in Rotorua,” he said. “The local Legion and those from outside gave a great deal of service controlling traffic and to the public generally during the Queen’s Visit, and I would like to say ‘Thank you’ publically.” There had grown up in recent years a sense of one-worldliness in the form of a one world government, said Mr Linton. While that might be quite good in itself, there was a tendency for Britishers to forget the traditions of their own empire. He was pleased that there was an organisation such as the Legion which first and foremost stressed loyalty to the Crown. There was a generation growing up to whom the Crown meant little. The visit of the Queen had done much to revive that loyalty in young people, and maintaining it was one of the Legions most important functions. The Legion is a body of people who did not forget the traditions on which the British Commonwealth was founded. Tradition was going by the board in the “One World” notion of all peoples in the melting pot. British people had in the Empire something which others had not got and which they did not prize sufficiently. The Americans would give ‘all the money in the world’ to have the British tradition. Mr Linton spoke briefly of the land development in the district. The Lands & Survey, he said, had about 100,000 acres under development in the district and were bringing in 20,000 acres a year. The Maori Department had almost as much. There were 700 new farmers in the district since the War, and there were probably as many to come. Rotorua was the centre of the largest land and industrial development in the country, with the greatest percentage of the taxpayer’s money being spent at Kawerau, Wairakei, in the forest and on the hydro schemes. But he always believed that what would ‘stick to us’, and pay better dividends in the long run than the more spectacular progress such as Kawerau would be the grass and the communities of families on the land “They are growing up with their roots in the ground and carrying on the traditions we were proud of,” he said.
Commandant Findlater thanked the Mayor for his address, and particularly for his reference to the Imperial traditions. A large number of the Frontiersmen were farmers, he said, and they would watch with great interest the developments of the district.
The Conference sang the National Anthem and stood while the Mayor left.
After a prayer, led by Padre H.J Williams [‘D’ Squadron], the Commandant moved that the minutes of the Wellington Conference as printed in ‘The Frontiersman’ should be taken as read, CARRIED.
He then moved that Squadron reports, most of which had been printed in ‘The Frontiersman’ should also be taken as read, CARRIED. Apologies were then received from Pioneers K.P Blair, A. Whitehead and R.B Foord.
Commandant Findlater made special mention of Pioneer J.T.K Dodds, who was missing his first Conference in 23 years because of hospitalisation. He also referred to Commandant General G.E Dunn, recovering slowly from illness in the Royal Masonic Hospital. He moved that messages of greeting and good wishes for recovery should be telegraphed to these men, CARRIED.
Letters of good wishes were then read to the Conference (printed in June issue). Telegrams from D.H Graham and Lieut D, McPherson
Commandant’s Report and Balance Sheet
Commandant Findlater moved that his own report as circulated with the Conference Agenda should be taken as read, CARRIED
He read to the Conference the items contained in the balance sheet and other accounts. The balance sheet called for some caustic comment. Commandant Findlater declared. The time had come when Headquarters staff must stop working late at nights bringing out the balance sheet, delayed because returns from squadrons were not coming in as quickly as they should. In addition to the inconvenience, it meant that at the end of the year until the returns came in; headquarters was running on an overdraft and borrowing to pay its way. Moreover, Adjutants were not sending in the returns properly, showing no indications as to what were renewals, what were new memberships &c. Major Carncross was at his wits end sorting them out. It had looked for a while as if there would be no auditor’s signature on the balance sheet because of the delay occasioned by the slowness with which the returns came in. Referring to the balance sheet, Commandant Findlater said: “It looks like we have a fair amount of money, but there has been a fair amount of expense, starting from the Wellington Conference.” He detailed expenses. In the ‘Frontiersman’ account he said, there had been times when it could not meet the bills from the printing company, and money had been ‘on loan in a way, without interest” from a member of headquarters staff. The magazine had cost £286/19/2 and stationery expenditure of £22/9/- had also been very heavy. Moved by Fm J. Myhill (‘J’ Squadron), seconded by Capt F.W Kerry (‘A’ Squadron) that the report and balance sheet be adopted. There were no questions and the motion was CARRIED unanimously. Lieut P.S Gilchrist (‘N’ Squadron) said; “I would like to pass a vote of thanks to Simmie (S/Capt E.J.P Simpson) for making that money available free of interest.” CARRIED BY ACCLAIMATION. Major Carncross said that the delay in furnishing returns had landed Headquarters in quite a financial worry, and provided more than a fair share of headaches. There were five different headings in the capitations book, but money was being sent in with not a clue as to how it was to be apportioned, and all too frequently it was impossible to work it out. It was a simple matter for Adjutants sending in their returns showing how much was for renewals, arrears, and sometimes new members. In the last case, the fees would already be paid; otherwise they would not be on the roll. The work would then be straight-forward. But as things were, it was just impossible to unravel the tangle. He had worked on one account from 6pm till 9.50pm then given it up and gone to bed. Wakened at 3am with a possible solution, only to find when he tried it out that it was not the answer. In a number of instances he had allowed so much for renewals and the rest under sundries, a balance being impossible. “Late returns, hopelessly tangled, really got me down, and I just escaped certification by the skin of my teeth.” He said. Major Carncross also referred to the way cheques and money orders were made out. He had been told by the bank that it was not necessary to write the full title of the Legion on cheques and cross them. If they were made payable to N.Z.H.Q and marked Not Negotiable, that was sufficient protection and saved a lot of writing. Money orders should not be made out to Captain Simpson at Raumati Beach or to any individual but to headquarters at Eltham. At present, failure to observe this instruction from the last Conference was costing money in exchange and charges. The trouble with endorsements for cheques could be overcome at headquarters if a rubber stamp bearing all possible ones were made, said Frontiersman A.C Thompson [A Squadron]. This was acceptable to the banks. It was stamped on the back of the cheque and the officer of the Legion signed his name. trouble with vague returns could be overcome if circulars listing all items were sent out to Adjutants so they merely had to fill out numbers under different headings. It was no use leaving it to the Adjutants because it would never be done uniformly, he said. Returns should be in by 31 March, said Staff Captain E.J.P Simpson. Only two had been received by that date this year – from Cornwall Troop and N Squadron, the rest not arriving till the latter part of April. What opportunity was there of checking them with the Legion Master Roll and doing the job properly without working on them far into the night ? he asked. This he had no intention of doing, and intended to resign his appointment if the late arrival of returns occurred again. When he took the office of Staff Adjutant some eight years ago, he made a visit with the Commissioner to all Squadrons. There were only two Adjutants out of the lot who knew their correct Squadron strength and gave him that number; the rest were al “about so and so”. The only way to get to know the correct strength of the Legion in New Zealand was to compile a master roll, which could only be accoumplished by instituting a system of annual returns from all Squadrons, by which Adjutants have to balance their previous years strength with their annual increase of new members and transfers for the current year, less any decreases. By adoption of this system, no member can be missed, nor can a member’s capitation the NZHQ be overlooked. Next year a new form would be added for all unfinancial members, to be signed by the OC of the Squadron, and it would save any future arguments when the amounts were outstanding for some time, and a change of officers had occurred. Another matter for complaint was the late arrival from Squadron Adjutants of applications for membership for NZHQ approval. On April 14th we received a batch of a dozen from ‘A’ Squadron, and on the 15th a bundle of 21 from ‘O’ Squadron. May I point out that batches of applications like those take hours of work to dispose of, and some dated back to June last, and to lank us with work of that nature at the most inappropriate time of the year is past a joke. Adjutants should remember that a members service in the Legion starts from the date his application is approved by NZHQ. Lieut W. Bannister [K Squadron] asked if the forms could not be sent out in January instead of February. At that time of the year a lot of men were working overtime and a month was little time to get the information together. Staff Capt Simpson: You can have them next week if you like. Lieut C.T Bathe [Y Squadron] declared that his Squadron’s returns had been posted by the end of March. It was not their fault there were postal delays.
Staff Capt Simpson read from the records that the letter was posted April 7th and delivered April 14th.
Lieut C.T Bathe [Y Squadron] said that there was confusion in the forms as in one part March 30 was given as the date for returns and in another April 30 was the date. Staff Capt Simpson: The forms had been printed nine years ago and he was going to get new ones. The new ones would record extra information.
Lieut McMillan [O Squadron]: would Headquarters accept an Adjutant’s signature on the forms
Staff Capt Simpson: It would. Lieut L.F Read [Cornwall Troop]: I give a personal guarantee we will be first again this year. Capt T.G Coveney [I Squadron] said that they always kept a file on each Frontiersman corresponding to the returns and it was a simple matter to keep it up to date and saved time when filling the return out each year. He suggested that a duplicate form be sent out next year. Lieut J.P Curry [N Squadron] said he thought the Adjutants could cope with the matter themselves without worrying NZHQ.
‘B’ Squadron [Rotorua] brought forward the first remit and explanation as follows: ‘That the election of Squadron Officers be held at the first Squadron meeting immediately following the Annual Conference’.
Reason: there have been changes made prior to Conference in some cases and we submit that in the event of a change being made, especially in a squadron which had the responsibility for the conference, it might cause quite a bit of embarrassment. Further, any new ideas as per remits passed at Conference would automatically be introduced at the time of the new election of Squadron Officers. Capt J.W Muir, moving the adoption of the remit, said he would let the explanation speak for itself. The motion was seconded by Lieut B. White [B Squadron] The proposal need only apply to the Squadron holding the conference said Capt F.W Kerry [A Squadron], that was known twelve months in advance, and it could have its meeting after the conference, leaving the old executive to carry out the arrangements, but the rest could carry on as usual. When the OC or officers were elected, what it was intended to do at conference was already decided, said Capt R. Griffiths [D Squadron]. If the men got behind the new officers they could carry on just as the old ones would have. The two occasions when Conference had been held in Palmerston North, everything had been perfectly satisfactory, said F/m J.L.C Merton [N Squadron]. All arrangements were well in hand at the time of the annual meeting. The old OC was always quite prepared to carry on and see the conference through. There was no reason why the problem could not be resolved internally by squadrons; it was not a matter for conference. If a direction came from conference it might well upset the workings of Squadrons. Commandant Findlater suggested as a compromise that the outgoing OC should retain office until after Conference and that his successor should be elected but not assume office until then. He moved this as an amendment. It was seconded by F/m A.C Houston [A Squadron]. Put to the conference, it was lost on the voices. The motion was then put and lost.
Lowering the age limit
‘A’ Squadron brought forward the following remit and explanation: “That the admission age to the Legion be lowered to twenty one year’s”
Reason: that with the age restriction now imposed, we are losing many good men. The Army requirements of the eighteen year olds gives them a taste of Army life and their duty to Queen and Country, and quite a lot of these chaps would make good Legion members. Speaking to it, Capt F.W Kerry said that in Auckland there were quite a few serving men in the Squadron who were in key positions in the services handling young trainees. They were in a position to interest young men in the Legion. The men in the Legion were old and getting older, he said, and the younger men, having learned of duty and loyalty in the services, must be brought into the ranks to keep the Legion going. The motion was seconded by Lieut N. McMillan [O Squadron] The remit was unnecessary, declared Capt A.T Gardner [N Squadron]. It was covered by section 6 in the handbook, which sets out that ‘Men, who in the opinion of NZHQ, would be of value to the Legion and our Empire may be admitted as members even without the qualifications set out in the preceding section’. The preceding sections referred to age limits among other conditions. To reduce the age limit would be to run counter to the Territorial Force which the Legion had always avoided, replied F/m R. Creagh [A Squadron]. He would not like to see the age limit reduced. Headquarters would still have the right to make exceptions where it saw fit. Capt H.D Hughes [Q Squadron, Nelson] said that while interfering with the Army and the other services was definitely against the principles of the Legion, conditions had changed in the last 20 to 25 years. Then, the Defence Department supported the Legion and the Legion relied on it. Today the department did not recognise the Legion and did not give it any assistance. He did not see, therefore, why the Legion should be worried about the Defence Department’s wishes in recruiting young men. F/m .C Houston [A Squadron] said he thought the Territorial’s were redundant, now that Compulsory Military Training scheme was running. The Legion did need recruits.
Commandant Findlater read the following letter from Capt K.H.H Raddon [V Squadron] explain why his Squadron opposed the remit; ‘You might as well reduce the age to 16 years and get those boys coming out of the cadets. There is plenty of scope in the Permanent Force for these so keen boys; they have to rely on overseas recruiting as it is, and the Legion is not meant to be a funk hole. The founder, Capt Roger Pocock and Colonel D.P Driscoll, DSO, pulled out of the Legion after the First World War because of the type of men who had crept in during their absence on active service. I received a letter from London in 1931, the text of which was: The Legion has deteriorated in the quality of its personnel and it is the duty of every officer to raise the standard, thereby restoring the prestige of the illustrious company.’
When the founder Capt Pocock, the grand old man of the Legion, visited New Zealand, he looked at one of New Zealand’s members and said: “Are you another of those boy scouts with a trip to Sydney?” In 1951, I received a letter from London giving the qualifications necessary to join in Britain. They are as follows: Service in Her Majesty’s forces overseas or be able to furnish conclusive proof of at least three years continuous residence overseas. The Grand Old Men of the Legion would turn in their graves if they could see us now. Do we belong to the Legion or are we a junior section? I we want the real men, we must be a body they would be proud to serve with.” There were men who had served with the occupation forces in Japan and were now in New Zealand who were only 21 years of age said F/m A.C.D Mickle [A Squadron]. The men who were active did the work, were keen on drill and shooting were the younger men. The older ones were tired, they had seen active service and were getting on in years. The Legion was losing its vital force, he said, it needed younger members to boost it. There was a certain attitude of slur on the Legion from Auckland to Dunedin, he declared. Younger men regarded its members as “The Old Crocks”. The men of the Legion, imbued with loyalty to the empire, could take that, but they should also see the need for young men who keep them up to date. He instanced a young man who had been in the Air Force and was still in training but because camps were infrequent, he needed some organisation to direct him along the right lines; otherwise he might stray down by-paths of loyalty. “If we get the younger men in, will we hold them?” asked F/m J.G Tennant [J Squadron]. To a lot of the older men, the Legion was a sort of club. He was afraid that the younger men would say: “This is not any good for us.” If they were taken in at a later age, they would probably stay. Captain P.G Doherty [J Squadron] said he favoured the remit. He did not expect to see any great influx of young men; most had plenty to occupy their time. “But if we get one who wants to join the Legion, we should grab him.” He said. The Legion had a duty to train today’s youth in faith in the Empire and loyalty to the Crown, said Lieut E.B Adams [A Squadron]. The youth were going to be the backbone of the Dominion and the older men were not going to remain long enough to guide them. The activities of the communists were rife in the country and they were grabbing young fellows who forgot their loyalty. “We say we are Empire builders. Let us build it” he said. It is up to the men in the hall today to see that this training was given and to use their influence in their own areas by bringing young men into the Legion. In that way they would be doing the job they were supposed to, helping the Empire. There were only two real sovereign dominions within the Empire – Australia and New Zealand. The others were all gradually getting their independence and were gradually ‘going to the other side.’ While New Zealand retained sovereignty – ‘this beautiful thing’ – the older generation should take hold of the young and teach them to maintain their love of freedom and their faith in the Queen. Captain G.V Thame [M Squadron] endorsed these remarks. He did not expect many young recruits, he said, and how they lasted would test the efficiency of the Legion. Major Carncross said the Rover Scouts should be a fruitful field for recruits. They had a Legion background of loyalty to flag and Queen and were trained to fend for themselves. If youths were taken in at 21, after doing their CMT, they would be at a most impressionable age. “If the reds get them and indoctrinate them, they have them for life. If we get them, we have them.” The Motion was then put and carried 38 to 15.
Active and non-active members
The following remit and explanation was brought forward by ‘A’ Squadron: ‘That the constitution from membership one class only, Active, to two classes, Active and Non-active or Associate members’ Reason – The Active members to drill and keep up shooting and the various other duties. The Non-active or Associate members to be members that have been active but by reason of their health and age are no longer able to take an active part in the Legion, but who still want to retain their membership and pass on to the younger members their knowledge of the Legion in General. Captain F.W Kerry [A Squadron] said that half the men would be cut off the roll if officers did their jobs in regard to attendance. If a man paid his sub and only attended once a year, he could not be classed as active. There were many elderly men who could not come along and should be able to retain membership. Captain A.G Wallis [K Squadron] said it was a domestic matter for the squadron. He did not know if any would cut men off because of age. In his squadron members had often paid the sub for older men. They would not strike them off the roll. Voices “Here, here !”
Lieut L.F Read [Cornwall Troop] said he would vote against it for the same reason.
F/man J.L.C Merton [N Squadron said his unit had a number of members over 70 years who were ready to do a job when called upon. There was another who could not attend meetings but who acted as accountant for the squadron. Other inactive members had been pall-bearers at a funeral. “We are thrashing a dead horse” said Lieut N. McMillan [O Squadron]. “As far as the Legion is concerned there is only one type of membership.” If the Legion was going to bring in the older members, what was it going to do with them? Make them drill and shoot, said F/m A.C.D Mickle [A Squadron]. The younger men did not want to sit and talk. If the Legion could get them in and have something doing for them, it would be doing a good job. They wanted drill and a hundred percent efficiency, but there were others who were still keen members of the Legion who could inculcate the love of Empire, although they would not drill. He did believe the Commandant would do a full nights drill. (Commandant Findlater: Too right) There were many members too old or too far from the meeting place who felt they should drop out, and only paid the subs to help the Legion. If they were classed as inactive more of them might turn up. The intention of the remit, said F/man R. Creagh [A Squadron] was to make a class for the older ones so the younger ones could not ask “why is he not throwing his weight around?” He himself had been a most active legionary until he had gone into the senior reserve and was not able to spare the time. It was not a domestic matter but one for Headquarters. “Conference should give us recognition,” he said. “At present the definition says ‘only active member.’” “I can see evil ways creeping in,” said Lieut A.J Buckleigh, “A Troop could enlist a lot of inactive members to build itself up to Squadron status and increase its say. We all joined up with the same intention and there should be no distinction.” The original membership in England allowed for Active Members who had been overseas, Associate Members who wore the uniform but had no vote and were younger, and Honorary Members who attended meetings when they liked and did not wear the uniform, said F/man W.C McCombe [A Squadron]. That was true of Liverpool but not in Manchester, said Pioneer W. Little [G Squadron]. The matter was domestic. R. Griffiths [D Squadron] said he had been instructed to oppose the motion. There were only two classes of members – Financial and Unfinancial. Captain T.G Coveney [I Squadron] said he had approached one legionary to rejoin. The answer had been “Yes” if he could come for a mug of beer now and then and the reunions. “I said I didn’t think we could consider that.” He said, “There is that danger in inactive membership.” Commandant Findlater read a reply from ‘V’ Squadron: “We already have more than one typeof Frontiersman; we don’t want to make their status legal.”
The motion was then put and was lost 45 to 5.
The following remit and explanation was submitted by ‘A’ Squadron.
‘That the lapel badge be made with a clasp or a pin on the back.’
Reason: Modern suits are not now made with a buttonhole on the lapel, and tailors say the job of putting in a buttonhole is too small for them to handle.
Commandant Findlater said that the makers of the badges had asked whether the Legion had become a women’s institute and wanted a brooch. The scheme was quite impractical. The pin type would always be in for repair.
Captain Kerry said that the RSA had a pin and many modern suits did not ha a hole in the lapel. :But we are not over keen on it.” He said and the remit was withdrawn.
The following remit was also brought forward by ‘A’ Squadron: That there be a summer dress for men on duty, of a khaki shirt, slacks and the Stetson hat, that the chains be worn on the shoulders as on the present dress.
Reason: On duty for long periods at a time the wearer will be more comfortable. This was also withdrawn. “There’s no reason for it as this was approved as a fatigue dress at Whakatane,” said Captain Kerry. There was very little difference from it and the Army uniform unless some distinctive badge was worn.
The whole matter was covered in the questionnaire sent out to Squadrons, said Lieut L.E Read [Cornwall Troop].
Suspension of fees
The following remit and explanation came from ‘A’ Squadron: That a member who has found himself financially embarrassed could apply to his OC for leave of absence for a stipulated period and not be asked for fees of any kind until the expiration of the period of leave.
Reason: As it is now the man must present his case at a meeting before all the members, who will know for the present that the man is broke, and they will offer to pay his fees for him. If he accepts, this puts him in a situation of obligation to the members. If he refuses to accept help from his fellow Frontiersmen, he has no alternative but resignation from the Legion and that has been done on many occasions. As a rule we do not get these members rejoining the Legion again as they feel that their privacy has been violated. There were men who were good Frontiersmen who wanted to carry on but were in financial difficulties, said F/man A.C.D Mickle. They did not want help from other Frontiersmen as they felt it a sort of charity. They wanted to go onto the reserve until they were able to pay their subscriptions. It was realised that this left a loophole and might be abused, but for the general member it would be a good idea. It was felt that it was uncomfortable for the man to have the fact that he was financially embarrassed brought up before the full meeting and it would be preferable if he could go before his OC or the executive to explain his case. The motion however, lapsed for lack of a seconder.
Remits Nos. 7 – 11 were brought forward by Lieut E.W Sampson [Tamaki Troop].
They were as follows: “That the Legion of Frontiersmen be divided into three areas, namely Northern Command, Central Command and Southern Command.” Reason: The Legion of Frontiersmen are separated, and the New Zealand Headquarters are total strangers to the average member. A Conference held once a year only creates unity with those who are able to attend. A Legion command can better organise and control, and also have acquaintance with all members within its area. That a Regional Commander be nominated by New Zealand headquarters in the first instance and thereafter elected by ballot in each respective command. Reason: The Regional Commander will be under the direction of New Zealand Headquarters, preferably a man of more mature years with some experience in Legion law and able to give advice many times needed but seldom available. “That no change be effected in New Zealand Headquarters except that each and every member being financial at a given time be deemed eligible to cast a vote by secret ballot for the Commandant of the New Zealand Command.” Reason: Individual voting for the Commandant of New Zealand can be accomplished by a detachable paper in the issue of the Frontiersman Journal prior to the election. Votes cast can be collected by OC Squadrons or Troops and the official count being made at conference. Scrutineers be appointed, etc. “That no office, whether Commandant, Squadron OC or Troop leader shall be beld more than three times in succession or five times at intervals.” Reason: With regard to the holding of any office in the Legion, the most successful administration is that no one man’s ideas shall prevail for an indefinite time; stalemate, apathy, and stagnation occurs. No matter how brilliant one can be, there is always the time when this stagnation sets in and could be avoided by the change of administration.
“That Regional Commanders confer at least once a year.”
Reason: Regional Commanders conferring at set times will tend to bring the command within closer range, a more intimate knowledge of one another and the whole Legion in general. In other words, unity. Every Regional Commander would know the men in his area and would be able to arbitrate in differences between Troops and Squadrons, said Lieutenant Sampson. The change would bring greater unison and co-operation than was known at the present time. The average Frontiersman only met men of other Squadron once a year at Conference, unless he was fortunate enough to travel widely. Regional Commanders would provide a link, and a smoother organisation; they would be members of Headquarters staff and attached to no troop or squadron, although, they could attend any in their area. He suggested Auckland to Palmerston North as one area, Palmerston North to Christchurch as another, and south of Christchurch as a third. The motion was seconded by Frontiersman A.C.D Mickle. “Headquarters would have to pay their expenses and they are heavy enough in the meantime.” Said Frontiersman E.J Taplin [N Squadron] “I appreciate what they are trying to arrive at but I feel that more liaison officers to keep in contact over an area of about sixty miles radius or more would overcome a lot of those difficulties.” Said Captain A.G Wallis [K Squadron] The Wairarapa seldom saw headquarters men at all; it was impossible for headquarters to keep in touch with all squadron, but if liaison officers worked in smaller areas, it would mean more harmony and keep the squadron together. The scheme might suit the north, but Nelson was out of the way in any region covering Palmerston North to Christchurch said Captain H.H Hughers [Q Squadron]. There was a liaison officer in the South Island and he had not seen him in /nelson in 23 years. A headquarters man had been there only once a couple of years ago and at a conference 23 years ago. He could not see that the remit would accomplish anything except to raise the expenses. The matter was discussed thoroughly at Whakatane in 1949 said Lieutenant C.T Bathe [Y Squadron]. The Bay of Plenty squadrons had enjoyed the most friendly relations without any overriding authority. The motion was put to the Conference and was lost on the voices. There was then some discussion as to whether remits 9 and 10 were properly considered at the same time as those dealing with the appointment of regional commanders. Lieutenant E.W Sampson indicated that their disposal with the other remits was agreeable to him and the matter was dropped.
Commandant Findlater referred to the death of Captain D’Esterre. The Legion had been thrilled to have the grand old man at the last conference, he said, and it was with regret that it was learned that he had passed on a short time later. It was Captain D’Esterre who had picked the site of the Legion’s Memorial on the high country at National Park where the roads met from all directions. That, he had said, symbolised the frontiers. It had been one of Captain D’Esterre’s ‘pet phrases’ that ‘endurance is the crowning virtue of all great hearts.’ It seemed to him fitting that those words should be set upon the memorial.
[In passing, Commandant Findlater referred to the fine work in maintaining the memorial that had been done by G Squadron.] Captain Cook, of Palmerston North, had also passed on just recently, said Commandant Findlater. He was aged 94 and was the first Commandant of the Legion in the South Island. ‘N’ Squadron had officiated at the graveside. The following Frontiersmen who had passed on were also referred to: F/m J McNicol, F/m C.L Duffy, F/m T. Hutchinson, F/m F.R Bould, F/m N.H Bull, F/m C.A Foot, F/m A.F Dickens, Lieut Larson. Sincere sympathy was extended to F/m N. Squire [Cornwall] and Mrs Squire in the loss under trajic circumstances of their infant daughter. The Conference stood for a moment in silence in their memory.
A letter was received from Timaru Troop, seeking to be the venue of the next Conference. Commandant Findlater said that the previous Conference had picked ‘G’ Squadron, Wanganui as a likely venue. It was a matter of custom that a central point be chosen for Conference at which elections were to take place.
It was moved by Captain J.B Congreve [G Squadron] and seconded by Captain G.V Thame [M Squadron] that Wanganui be the venue of then next Conference. Commandant Findlater said it was then the intension that the following year the Legion should meet at Timaru, subject to confirmation at the Wanganui Conference.
The results of a questionnaire sent out to Troops and Squadrons on the Legion uniforms were discussed by Commandant Findlater. All were in favour of the retention of the hat, he said (applause). The blue cap with the black peak as a travelling cap was turned down by 9 to 7, but that was the subject of approval at Conference.
F/m E.J Taplin [N Squadron]: “The questionnaire was the opinion of 90% of the men and therefore should be binding and final.” He moved that it should be taken as such. F/m T. Maher [A Squadron] seconded this. Lieut N. McMillan [O Squadron] said the matter of hats had been decided at a previous Conference. Commandant Findlater said it had been decided only that those who found the Stetson awkward in small cars could wear the other type, it was optional. A F/m rose to say that at an earlier Conference, Glengarry’s were approved. F/m T.R Mateer [D Squadron] and F/m D.A Honore [N Squadron] both declared that the Stetson should be worn at all times in public, if the other type was to be worn in cars it should be worn there only said F/m Mateer. A change of hat was the easiest way for the Legion to lose its identity, said F/m D.A Honore. That morning he had heard disparaging talk of a legionary who was wearing a navy cay, allying him with the Police and strike-breaking. If that was the attitude of some members of the public it would be the attitude of others. “The questionnaire definitely ruled the peaked cap out and needs no discussion.” Said Lieut A.J Buckleigh [B Squadron] Any man could take his stetson off in a car if he wished to, said Capt A. Keightley [T Troop] Capt P.G Doherty [J Squadron] moved that the motion of F/m Taplin should be put. It was thereupon carried.
There was some discussion about the non-appearance of photographs taken at the Wellington Conference and Capt T.G Coveney [I Squadron] said the matter would be attended to.
‘A’ Squadron presented the following remit and explanation: ‘That with the building up of the Legion strength, arrangements be made for the purchase of uniforms and their supply to new members, and that a Quartermasters Store be established in a proper manner carrying all equipment.’
Reason: A Quartermasters Store for New Zealand, centrally located, could be established and a levy on each unit made according to its roll of members. The demand for uniforms exceeded the supply and his Troop was having a hectic time trying to get uniforms of the same cut and colour, said Lieut E.W Sampson [Tamaki Troop], the mover of the remit. In the Conference he declared that only two men in a hundred would have matching uniforms. The proposed QM Store would deal not with individuals but with Squadrons and Troops. The man paid his dues to the Squadron and the Squadron paid the QMS. The levy would be made whether he had a uniform or not, because it would come back in uniforms for himself and others later. There was no need for this shinanaking around, said Lieu N. McMillan [O Squadron], his Squadron had 100 tunics from the Police force, brought cheaply and readily available to those who wanted them. Lieut E.W Sampson “Quite good, but not the same thing as a store. There was nothing to stop another Squadron getting tunics from the Marine Dept or the Transport Dept.” he said. The financial position was not very healthy and the important question was ‘What would it cost’ asked Capt G.V Thame [M Squadron] It had been tried in England and cost a lot of money said Capt Sampson. He did not know what it would cost in New Zealand. In England the QMS now only handles buttons, chains and badges. In Canada, most Frontiersmen had their outfits tailored. He traced the history of delays in receiving uniform equipment from England, occasioned by British Army orders and waterfront strikes. The QM ‘s account was, like the handbook and decorations accounts, kept separately from the general bank account at Levin and were run each as separate units with their own Post Office accounts. He hoped that next year they would be treated as such and deleted from the annual balance sheet (there seemed to be no objection). When he took over, everything was jumbled in the one general account and it was impossible to sort out any special item without a lot of wasted time and trouble. The Quartermasters account was now able to finance its own requirements within reason without having to draw upon the Legion general account for any finance. F/m Creagh [A Squadron] said he would like to speak against the store proposal. In the senior reserve he handled the dressing of 350 men coming or going. The stocks of clothes were valued at £11,000 at government prices, which were lower than the Legion could match. The outlay would be so terrific that the New Zealand Command could not finance it in the initial stages. Headquarters was in for a whole heap of trouble if it was adopted. An initial difficulty would be in fitting more mature men whose figures merited the attention of a tailor. The discussion was ‘off the beam’, interrupted Lieut E.W Sampson. It was not intended to keep stocks but merely to establish a source of uniform supply. His Troop bought all the breeches from a Rotorua firm and and the men were then turned out identically. With men in all cuts and colours, it would be no uniform at all. The Transport Dept did the same thing with certain drapers. F/m Creagh: The Transport Dept bought all its material from government stores but the Legion could not do that. Capt G.V Thame said he would support the proposal to establish a source of supply for uniforms but not the remit as put before the Conference that would cost, he thought, £20,000 to establish at least. Commandant Findlater said the original scheme seemed impractical in view of the expense. Was it the wish of the meeting that the levy provision be cut out? Lieut Simpson protested that the purpose of the levy was merely to get the scheme started and ensure a source of supply. The Squadrons and Troops would be levied to create an account at the store. Lieut A.A Browne (Quartermaster) described plans for bringing out tunics from England and reported on the progress made in turning plans into reality. Commandant Findlater said Headquarters would try to improve deliveries. In a range of tunics from England, there was bound to be a number of odd sizes that would lie on Headquarters hands until the moths had them, said Sergeant R.H Burling (N Squadron). He thought the proposal about a source of supply, very good. The remit was put to the meeting and lost. During the foregoing discussion, Staff Capt Simpson read out the list of badges on hand. This provoked several officers to rise, saying they had unsuccessfully appealed to Quartermaster Browne for badges for some time. This was finally postponed after explanations from Lieut Browne, by a suggestion of Commandant Findlater that those who had a grievance should see Lieut Browne later.
Shooting for the Pioneer Cup and the Weston Cup should be a governed shoot, supervised by the Police, and Army NCO or some independent person, said Lieut A.J Buckleigh (B Squadron). He would defy anybody to make some of the scores without slings and with open sights.
Lieut C.T Bathe (Y Squadron) said his squadron had stopped competing because it was impossible to approach the winning scores – though that was a hard thing to have to say about comrades in the Legion. The competitions should come under the ordinary rules for postal shoots, with independent observers and signed targets. Staff Capt Simpson: “I asked them to send their targets in by April 30, and how many did? ... Why can’t they be shot earlier? You wait till the last minute.” Lieut A.J Buckleigh moved that the two shoots be supervised by an NRA officer or other independent person under oath who would certify the results.
Lieut A.A Browne (B Squadron) commended the study of the Holger Neilson method of artificial respiration to Frontiersmen. F/m F.B Lowe, he said, had demonstrated it to many groups in Rotorua. It was possible with it to “Bring people back from the dead”. He could arrange for classes for those interested in other districts, and it would be a good idea if Frontiersmen elsewhere had the certificate of proficiency that a number of B Squadron had now. It would be a worthwhile community service in their districts
Tamaki Troop Status:
Lieut E.W Sampson made earnest representations for unattached status for Tamaki Troop. One application had been turned down on the score that Tamaki was too close to Auckland, he said, but Tamaki would soon be a Squadron itself. Twenty five families were moving in each week and the Troop had progressed greatly during the year. It was ten miles from A Squadron. It covered a wide district and wanted to be able manage its own administration. It hoped to acquire ground and later put up a building, but it did not feel able to go forward and exercise its functions fully when it was still attached to A Squadron,
Commandant Findlater said he appreciated position but the rules were definite as to when Squadron status should be assumed and he would abide by them.
Lieut E.W Sampson: It’s impossible for us to carry on as a Troop. We’ll not make any headway if we are not free to manage our own affairs.
After some further cross-talk Commandant Findlater said the matter should be left in the hands of headquarters to weigh the pros and cons. He was diffident about creating a precedent
Lieut N. McMillan: It should never have been brought up here. He moved the matter be referred to HQ. Carried
Lieut E.W Sampson: “Are other Squadron’s up to strength”
Commandant Findlater named several that had been cut back to Troops
An assistant to S/Capt Simpson might be appointed to be schooled up to take over, suggested Fm J.G Tennant, J Squadron. No decision was made on this.
At future Conferences a public address system would help many Frontiersmen to follow the proceedings more easily, said Fm A.C.D Mickle. He had missed half of what was said and believed a number of men stayed away because of the difficulty in hearing.
This was the first occasion on which he had heard grouses from HQ at the Conference and they were all merited, Fm J.G Tennant, J Squadron. It was an opportunity for Squadron Commanders and Adjutants to take notice of what was said by HQ. The men now in office had built up an administrative machine more efficient than there had ever been (cries of “Here, here”). He had noticed the way Captain Simpson always knew the answers to questions. “He spends half a day, every day, on the Legion,” he said. “If we lose him, it will be a very serious blow to us. I hope all remember this and mend their ways (loud applause).
“Do you remember when Headquarters was a washout?” asked Capt H.D Hughes, Q Squadron. The Legion was in debt, he said, to the extent of £45 to the British organisation, though through no fault of HQ. The Commandant had cleared the way for a balance sheet, which was now a credit to him and to ‘Simmie’. “When we lose this HQ, we’ve had it.” He said. “Where are we going to find men to replace them.” Turning to the dais, Capt Hughes said “Sirs, I take my hat off and salute you bare-headed – and the best of luck.”
The conference then dispersed at 5.30pm