CONFERENCE AT WANGANUI 1956
© NZ Command LF
The Legion Annual Conference was held in the Gonville Town Hall
at Wanganui on Saturday 26th May 1956
New Zealand Headquarters was represented by:
18770 Commandant J.C. Findlater, Pnr, LMSM
16713 Major C.W. Carncross, Pnr, LMSM
24049 S/Captain E.J.P. Simpson, Pnr, LMSM
24075 Lieutenant T.J. Laing
500 Lieutenant A.A. Browne
A Squadron389 Captain F.W. Kerry B Squadron569 Captain H.M. Fraser C Squadron[not represented] D Squadron216 Captain R. Griffiths G Squadron461 Captain J.B. Congreve I Squadron 212 Captain T.G. Coveney, Pnr J Squadron Captain W.N. West K Squadron25814 Captain A.G. Wallis L Squadron 264 Captain J.H. Sampson M Squadron616 Captain G.V. Thame N Squadron 21777 Frontiersman D.A. Honore O Squadron[not represented] Q Squadron19457 Captain H.D. Hughes R Squadron306 SQMS I.P. Larsen T Squadron 27512 Captain A. Keightley V Squadron [not represented] Y Squadron 27493 Captain R.S. Whittaker Z Squadron 25953 Captain T. Huckstep Cornwall Troop 22630 Lieutenant C.T. Woolley, Pnr Te Awamutu Troop 607 Lieutenant N.V. Marshall Tamaki Troop 1100 Lieutenant B.J. Ashton Taupo Troop1072 Lieutenant G.M. Cricket Timaru Troop 25937 Lieutenant G.L Powell Invercargill Troop[not represented]
NUMBER OF MEMBERS ATTENDING CONFERENCE FROM SQUADRONS AND UNATTACHED TROOPS
Entertaining Squadron (G Squadron, Wanganui) estimated at 43: A 14; B 6; C Nil; D 12; I 15; J 3; K 22; L 23; M 7; N 15; O 4; Q 1; R 2; T 4; V 1; Y 12; Z 6. Unattached Troops: Te Awamutu 15; Timaru 1; Cornwall 4; Tamaki 5; Taupo 5; Invercargill nil.
Total number attending Conference was 220 members.
A prayer for guidance in our deliberations was given by Frontiersman D. Curham, MM, and an introduction to Conference was offered by Captain J.B. Congreve, OC of G Squadron.
The Chairman: I have much pleasure in extending to His Worship the Mayor of Wanganui a very hearty welcome to our annual gathering. It is no mean office to be the First Citizen of a city the size and importance of Wanganui. Your river, known as the ‘Rhine of New Zealand’ is one of the major scenic attractions of this country. The city has been fortunate in its many public benefactors, particularly in the gifts of the Sargeant Art Gallery, the Alexander Museum and the Alexander Public Library. As one whose occupation is training the young idea, your scholastic institutions are well known throughout the Dominion. Historically, Wanganui hhas its record from the days of the Maori Wars. Sir, the Legion is proud of its local Squadron in helping you to assist in many ways, the civic life of the community and expresses thanks for your share in its administration.”
Mr W. Millward, in reply: “I have much pleasure in welcoming you to our city and thank you very much indeed for your kind remarks. I do hope your delegates will have time to have a look around; our parks are exceptionally good. The Museum, as far as Maori relics go, is looked upon as the best in the world. We are very proud of our schools. I have the honour to be chairman of the Collegiate Board of Governors and, on their behalf; I thank you for your reference to the college. May I also say that I am very proud of our association with the Legion in this city. We ask them to help us and they always turn out, not only here but throughout the dominion, wherever you have units, the Legion is always on the job. I hope you have a successful conference. Matters have been arranged with the weather office and I hope it set’ fair and fine’ not only today but always as far as your organisation is concerned. (applause) In recognition of the common bond of loyalty to the Crown shown by civic authorities and the Apologies for absence were sustained from Pioneers L. Buckley, W. Palmer and N. Kerr; Frontiersman Jones, Lieutenant G. Cawte, OBE, Frontiersman J.R Fullerton, Frontiersman C.G Coxhead, Lieutenant J. Scott and Corporal Bush, Pioneer R. Allen and Frontiersman Carter, Lieutenant Kell and Frontiersman P. Graham. Telegrams of sympathy were forwarded to Pioneer W. Palmer and Frontiersman Coxhead, in hospital. A vote of condolence to Lieutenant Read of Lower Hutt was passed, he having been called from Conference on account of the death of his son by accident in Wellington. Chairman moved: “That the minutes of the 1955 Conference having been printed and circulated, be taken as read.”
Seconded by Lieutenant Burling. Carried
Squadron Reports and Balance Sheet. Lieutenent Burling moved: “That as most of the information contained therein was published in ‘The Frontiersman’ paper, they be taken as read.”
Frontiersman Merton Seconded. Carried
Headquarters Annual Report was printed on the agenda and the balance sheet were read by the chairman. As both the report and balance sheet will be featured in the monthly paper. He formally moved their adoption.
Captain Wallis seconded. Carried
An adjournment was taken to the local baths for the group photograph, more representative than usual. Fortunately the baths were in recess, and whether it was because of the glare from the bath floor or the distance from the opposite side for ‘shooting, or the trajectory, or the stain on the lens, the result was not very satisfactory. Luckily no-one fell in at the deep [dry] end. On resuming after lunch, #1 Remit, moved by Lieutenant Bathe [Y] and seconded by Captain Coveney [I] was carried: Conference doors to be closed until official opening (Mayoral Reception) is concluded.
#2 Remit re uniform was taken later in the proceedings.
#3 Remit: “That the Legion press once more for a Royal Charter.”
Reason: The reason for this remit is obvious to all, and N Squadron proposes that any cost incurred in securing the charter be defrayed by a capitation levy for which all Squadrons and Troops would be responsible.
Frontiersman L. Merton [N Squadron]: “Fellow Frontiersmen, in moving this remit I would like to draw your attention to three things: 1, Who and what are frontiersmen? 2, what do we stand for? 3, How will a charter help us?
Firstly we are a voluntary, self supporting body banded together, striving to maintain our way of life in the British Empire.
Secondly: We are organised and prepared to help as circumstance will permit and to keep in touch with our old life.
Thirdly: I asked our founder “What is the Legion?” and he replied: “The Legion stands for good fellowship, mutual assistance and unanimity to serve.” That is what we all want. We want to retain our position as a voluntary body so long as we are prepared to render service when called upon. Our uniform should help us to serve the community. We should never forget our Memorial at National Park. “They have handed down to us a trust never to be allowed to fall into disrepute.” As things stand a present, we must ask whether we have the security we ought to have – we have not. There is a danger that our rights and privileges will be interfered with and taken from us. We have no legal standing to protect our uniform and others could usurp our privileges. The only way these things can be made safe is by a Royal Charter. In 1950 at Auckland, Lieutenant Kerr sponsored a remit along these lines. We should have the right to sympathetic recognition of the Government. Now is the time for the Government to consider our request. I move the adoption of the remit.”
Lieutenant Curry [N Squadron] seconded.
Frontiersman Shaw [N Squadron], in support, stated his Squadron had taken advice from a solicitor member of the RSA who considered the procedure quite simple. An application form is available from the office of the Minister of Internal Affairs. On completion this is forwarded to Her Majesty through the Governor General.
The Chairman asked for the name of the solicitor – Mr T. Seivers.
Chairman: “Our experience at HQ is that the matter is not so easily arranged as has been referred to by previous speakers.” He outlined the history of negotiations taken some years ago as a result of communications with Canada, Australia and Imperial HQ. Admittedly a branch of the Legion in Canada had procured a Charter but, apparently the Government had the machinery for granting such a dispensation without the sanction of the mother country. In Australia, the uniform had been protected for a time under a Patents Act, but as that was only operative for a period of fifteen years, which time had since elapsed, it is ineffectual now. There again no Charter could be given. At the time of application, I had correspondence with Frontiersman E. Corbett [L Squadron], Minister of Lands, and he investigated the position from all angles. He secured an opinion from the Crown Law Office which stated that there was no existing statute or legislation in New Zealand whereby the Government could grant a Charter and there was nothing further that could be done about it. The Boy Scout organisation had received a Charter which originated in the House of Commons in the UK and all that was done in New Zealand was to ‘approve’ the application. If the same procedure was to be tried, the attempt would have to be done by London HQ. And I am informed that the cost would be in the vicinity of £500. That sum is simply not available, neither here nor in London. However I am prepared to pursue the matter further on the information given, though on the advice from the Crown Law Office I am not very sanguine as to the result.
Lieutenant Adams [A Squadron] moved: “That this Conference requests NZHQ to take further steps in the matter outlined in Remit #3.”
Seconded by Lieutenant Gilchrist.
The mover and seconder of original motion agreed to withdrawal and the amended remit was carried
Remit #5: Moved by Captain T Huckstep and seconded by Lieutenant B Henry: “That when a Squadron Commander is unable to attend the Squadron Commanders Meeting he be allowed to appoint a member to represent him.
Captain Thame [M Squadron]: “The Remit is somewhat ambiguous. If the Squadron Commander is not able to attend, a delegate is appointed in his stead to take his place at Conference. A Squadron Leaders Conference, as its name implies, is a conference of Squadron Leaders only.” Captain Hughes [Nelson] supported the motion and seconded it. On being put it was carried
Remit #6: Lieutenant Cricket moved – “That NZHQ reintroduce the issue of printed and signed certificates of membership of the Legion of Frontiersmen.”
Reason: We feel that these certificates would be as highly valued as membership of the Legion itself. They would also serve a useful purpose as identification in the event of loss of the Legion Badge (eg- one of our members whose badge has gone astray recently visited Auckland but was diffident about introducing himself without his badge. He had no means of proving his membership of the Legion. Further, these certificates will in years to come have a certain sentimental value as evidenced by the fact that a proud possession of Taupo Troop is the framed certificate belonging to one of our active members and bears the date of 1918 and bears the signature of Colonel Driscoll. The cost of printing and issuing could be recovered by HQ by a small charge which we feel that no member of the Legion would object to paying (even with a small margin of vprofit for HQ). Major Carncross: “The Remit has merits and, up to a point I am sympathetic towards it, our experience in the past is that the use of a certificate can be abused. A man joins up and secures a certificate. In a few months he drops out but he can use his certificate as proof of membership in the Legion. We know of extreme cases of that being used to obtain credit, otherwise I would like to see the Remit introduced. We had provisional certificates during the war when Imperial HQ was not functioning. Instructions were given that the Secretary or Adjutant could give a certificate as proof of membership and which could be produced at any time. Leave it to the man’s decency to prove his membership. Sometimes a badge is missing and it disappears from the care of HQ. Anyone finding and wearing the badge does so illegally.” Lieutenant Bathe [Y Squadron]: “I am in sympathy with the remit, but referring to the point raised by Major Carncross, would it be possible to work it after a drivers license, with a 2 inch receipt. The other way the member should be supplied by NZHQ with a receipt.” Frontiersman E. Taplin: “I think the certificate unnecessary and it is not always convenient to wear a badge. Most of us have photographs of of Conference and a man can be shown in uniform with the others. I think the Staff Adjutant and HQ have enough to do without issuing certificates.” Lieutenant Adams [A Squadron]: “As far as the certificate is concerned, I think it is quite a good idea as a personal matter, but in the case of a document it ought top be issued by Squadron under the authority of the OC, such certificates to be returned to the Squadron when the man leaves.” Pioneer D. Foord: “The idea has merits. Here is a ol-timers point of view. My certificate was issued and signed by Colonel D. Driscoll and I do not want anyone coming to me and saying that this is his property. On the question of abuse of the certificate, the position is that if a man ceases to pay his sub, then he ceases to be a member. Does he belong to the Legion ? Oh No ! If the certificate is issued it should be the man’s property and not reclaimable.”
Captain T Coveney [I Squadron]: “In the old days a certificate was issued by London HQ, This was proof that his name had been recorded on the London Register. I think, and my Squadron thinks, that if it was issued by London there would be some value attached to it”
Lieutenant A. Browne [HQ]: “I think, as a matter of fact it is a good idea that a man should have a record of his membership. As to the badge, some members do trade upon it. I had a man who asked me to arrange accommodation and cash a couple of cheques = both were duds – and the boarding house people fell in too. Detective Sharp finally collected him and he is now in Auckland Gaol. All in the name of the Legion !”
Frontiersman Farelly [Cornwall]: “A man who has his certificate has something to show and his receipt paid at the last annual meeting. I always carry my receipt to show I am financial.” Lieutenant Ashby [Tamaki]: “If we become a certificated member of the Legion we shall consider it an honour to show the certificate that we are a member of the Legion.” Captain Hughes: “I am asked to oppose this remit. I agree with Captain Coveney that we should have a certificate endorsed from London.”
Frontiersman Tennant: “I would like to raise the point that the New Zealand certificate should ve as valued as much as the London one.”
Captain Kerry [A Squadron]: “I support the certificate idea provided the term is at least five years service. In this time we could prove whether the man was worthy to hold it.”
Captain Coveney [I Squadron]: favoured a three year period
Lieutenant Walker [A Squadron]: Moved “That a certificate be issued to members who attain a satisfactory period of 5 years.”
Lieutenant Ashby seconded. Carried unanimously
Remit #2: Frontiersman D. Honore [N Squadron]: “That the summer dress for traffic duty as outlined in Routine Orders 4/55, portion 141, be cancelled and the following dress substituted: Stetson hat, white shirt, black tie, black or navy blue trousers, black sox and black boots or shoes.”
Reason: The reasons for the submission of the remit are manifold. They are: 1.The present uniform as outlined in th Frontiersman August 1955, is uneconomical and does little to improve the problem of summer dress. 2.That most members already possess the uniform outlined in our remit and the costly purchase of a khaki uniform with chains etc would be avoided. 3.I the event of inclement weather, tunics could, of course be worn with this uniform as outlined in the remit without creating another style of dress, which must eventuate if the tunic is worn over the khaki ensemble.
As official delegate of N Squadron I am in a somewhat difficult situation in sponsoring a re,i, carried by the Squadron, but against my own ideas on the subject. What I have to offer is only a suggestion
At this stage, QMS Lawson [R Squadron] asked permission for one of their members to appear in the uniform suggested by R Squadron and Lieutenant Burling was due to appear in the uniform suggested by N Squadron, the proposer of the original remit
Chairman: I hope this is not going to turn into a mannequin parade! After a short recess the three “styles” were on parade and their sponsors (and themselves) deserve credit for their appearance and presentation of their ideas in an attempt to solve this uniform problem.
Frontiersman Honore, continuing, said: “I have put on this uniform – on exhibition if you like – to represent the type of dress we might be able to adopt. For a long time we have had remits about changes to the uniform and reviewing our dress. I think you will agree that our uniform has stood the test of time and I do not think any great change can effect the pride the older members have in wearing it. We have a lot of new members and we may have to march with the times and move accordingly and if we can come forward, even if it is considered a mannequin parade, now is the time to do it. We have a larger representation at Conference than any other time of the year
“N Squadron has adopted a uniform as similar to the Traffic Officer’s as possible. The name Traffic Dept, and their uniform is odious to many people and that does not help the Legion. You can see for yourselves that some of the units have been using this type of dress and the tenor of the remit is to make the uniform universal. Whether you agree or not, remains with you. The cost is not a great deal. We are in danger of losing our identity as Frontiersmen. What is left? Only the hat. I wish to see more of our identity retained and a uniform that will be useful on other occasions as well as on traffic duties.” QMS Lawson [R Squadron]: This afternoon I tabled a notice of motion to display a uniform and to save if possible, a lot of argument and taking up a lot of time. Bring your answer to nex Conference. The uniform shown on the parade is a practical uniform for traffic work, no khaki. Occasionally in Dunedin we do four days running in different types of weather. After delegates from A, O, N, and K Squadrons had spoken to the remit covering cost of various items and climatic conditions in different parts of New Zealand, the Chairman intervened and moved: “That each unit shall be allowed to adopt the style of uniform best fitted to the geographical conditions for traffic duties, but for ceremonial parades we adhere to the conditions laid down in the handbook.”
Frontiersman Boyd [Z Squadron] seconded. Carried
The chairman remarked that units would do as they liked in any case, so it might as well be done under authority.
Lieutenant Walker: I notice Commandant General Girdwood’s decoration is printed in the paper as C.M.C. Can you tell me what these letters stand for? I think it should be oriented correctly – C.M.G.
Frontiersman Taplin: Canterbury Meat Company. Chairman: A correction will be made. Frontiersman J. Tennant: From statements made this morning, I was struck with the many ways to which the Legion can be put. I think it is a sign that the Legion is becoming ‘accepted. All units are doing an excellent job and it is good for us to know that. In the obituary resolution reference was made to Major Ricketts. I do not think his name should be allowed to pass without special mention. He was well known and a friend to many of us; a fine man who did a great deal for our organisation. I regret he has gone from us – as Chief of Staff he did an exceptional job. Sir, I would like to place on record the fact that the passing of Major Ricketts is a great loss to the Legion.
Chairman: I agree
Captain Congreve: I would like to refer to the 1/- Conference Levy. As you all know, costs have rise, and it is difficult to run a Conference on the amount received. Captain Kerry moved: “That a levy of 2/6 per visiting member be struck to help to defray the costs of the entertaining Squadron – applicable to those attending Conference.” Frontiersman Weatherall seconded, Carried The venue for next Conference: Lieutenant Laing spoke of the arrangement agreed on years ago that the Conference should be held alternately in North Island and South Islands. He moved that the 1957 Conference be held at Timaru.
Lieutenant Powell seconded. Carried
A request for the 1958 Conference to be held at New Plymouth was recorded. Election: Frontiersmen J.C Findlater was re-elected Commandant of the New Zealand Division for the ensuing three years and acclaimed with musical honours. He intimated that, with one exception, NZHQ Staff was reappointed as a team. Captain Hughes moved “A hearty vote of thanks be accorded to HQ Staff for the work they had done during their term of office.
Captain Wilks seconded. Carried
A vote of thanks to the chair moved by Captain Sampson terminated the Conference at 4:15 pm, enabling members to listen to the springbok and Australia games.
INSPIRING ADDRESS AT CONFERENCE CHURCH PARADE
Rarely have members of the Legion been accorded the privilege of listening to such an inspiring address as that delivered by Frontiersman Curham, MM, at the church parade held at the conclusion of the Annual Conference at Wanganui. It was a man-to-man talk by one who, with a lengthy membership, knows the Legion from every aspect, and he conveyed to his large congregation its fundamental principles, what might be termed its creed, far more effectively than the printed word, his courageous personality deeply impressing all listeners, who were given much food for thought.
The address was based on St Matthew XX, verses 25 to 28, which gave ample scope for development of the theme of “Service before self” a tenet of the Legion, particularly appropriate in these days when the very reverse obtains. There was, said the speaker, far too much fault-finding, grumbling, and complaining at the present time, and we did not, as we should, count our blessings, which would show us that we had a great deal for which to be thankful. He briefly outlined the glorious history of the British Empire, from the early days when the first explorers set out to extend its boundaries and lay the foundations. By accident of birth, we enjoyed the privileges and freedoms attached to membership, whereas we might have belonged to the lowest of coloured races. That was but one of the blessings we should count, and we had every reason to be proud of our heritage. The first lesson was read by Commandant Findlater, and the second by Captain J.C Congreve, OC of G Squadron. A feature of the service was the really hearty singing, the congregation responding in full measure to Frontiersman Curham’s behest to give voice as they had at the reunion the previous night. The National Anthem provided a real thrill, for it was sung not perfunctorily, as is so often the case, but in a manner that left no doubt as to the sincerity of the prayer for Her Majesty’s safety. Accompaniments for the hymns were played by Queen Alexandra’s Regimental Band, who also led the parade and supplied a bugler to sound the “Last Post” and “Reveille” during the laying of wreaths by Commandant Findlater and Captain Congreve on the war memorial in Queen’s Park.