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Posted on Oct 30, 2006 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

When you’ve got a job to do, you do it: A Kiwi Officer in an Army of Volunteers

By Patrick Bronte

Armchair General is pleased to be allowed to reproduce an interview conducted by Patrick Bronte.

Visit http://www.ngatoa.com or the U.S. mirror site at http://www.kiwivets.com and see the Author Information at the end of this article.


At the outbreak of the Second World War, Lloyd Cross had already been in the army for 3 years. As an officer cadet Lloyd had been sent to Duntroon for training. When war was declared Lloyd was shipped back to New Zealand and anticipated deployment overseas. The New Zealand military had other ideas and Lloyd found himself training the mass of volunteers that enlisted to fight. It would not be until 1941 that Lloyd would face combat in the desert of Africa with the 22nd battalion.

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Duntroon was formed in 1911 as a military academy for training officer cadets. In that first year New Zealand supplied 10 of the 41 inaugural cadets and it was a trend that would continue after the war. Duntroon offered many New Zealand officers professional military training and they were the natural leaders for the conflict that erupted in 1939. These Duntroon graduates were shipped back to New Zealand when war broke out and were expecting to sail to Europe and fight, but many were appointed as training staff to shape the thousands of new volunteers into a capable fighting force.

Despite the vital role of training new soldiers, many professional officers sought fighting commissions from their superior officers. For some, months of frustration followed as they felt that the training they had acquired was wasted as they were continually denied fighting positions overseas. Fortuitously, many of these valuable officers missed out on the failed campaigns of Greece and Crete but later joined the 2 nd New Zealand Division in North Africa.

 

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A NZ Division Provost (J J Morgan) on the phone at the start of the Inferno track in the Cassino area – Photograph taken by George Frederick Kaye. ca 25 May 1944 (from the Alexander Turnbull Library)

Duntroon and Training

Patrick: Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Lloyd: I was born in Dunedin and my early life was spent on the farm at Tupeka West, Central Otago . My father got asthma down there so we bought a high country place in South Canterbury . So we moved up to South Canterbury and I went to a country primary school. There were no school buses, so you rode a horse to school, four miles there and four miles home.

I went to Timaru Boys High, where my third form year I found annoying because my eldest brother was Head Prefect and my cousin was head of the house, and in those days, Prefects caned. I got caned when I shouldn’t of because my brother and my cousin first of all couldn’t let it be seen that they were showing favouritism. Okay, I went on through Timaru and made the first fifteen. I was an athletic champion there.

Patrick: Did you have quite a keen interest in the farm as well, whilst you were in High School?

Lloyd: Yes, I was keen on the farm, but my older brother left for the War so I decided that I wasn’t going back on the farm, if it was good enough for him, well …. So I joined the Regular Army and was sent to Duntroon military College in Australia .

Patrick: What year was that?

Lloyd: 1937-1938. I went through the normal time there, that’s when the war clouds were gathering; we had basically run down our armed forces in NZ. There was no compulsory military training, that had been abolished in 1931. And the Southland Territorials were all voluntary.

Patrick: When you were at Duntroon, were you recognized as a New Zealander?

Lloyd: Yes, Duntroon started in 1910 as a Military College ; they took all the best concepts and features from Sandhurst in England , Sincere Military College in France and West Point in the United States and put them into Duntroon. They learnt all forms of the forces – cavalry, infantry, artillery, engineering, civilian subjects, languages, accountancy, mathematics, science.

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