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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

Patrick: So it was pretty heavy duty stuff?

Lloyd: Yes. We use to call it the clink; we weren’t aloud to drink even though some of our fellas were over 21. Yet, smoking was permitted.

Patrick: Did you join the regular Army in New Zealand ? And then, did they send you over there?

Lloyd: Yes, they selected about 4 New Zealanders a year. War was declared one Sunday evening and I was on leave, I was out with some people in Canberra and I came in 10 minutes late and I was training with a bit of fuel craft so I wouldn’t be seen to put my leave pass in the box and all the lights were on and a terrific noise was going on all over the place. So I shoved my leave pass in, shot over to the village room, and through the arms they said ‘Wonderful news, war has been declared’. We were regular Army and we were training and one thing we wanted was a war, it would be great. After all, if you’re training for rugby, you got to play a match.


Burial service at El AlameIN. 24 October 1942. Photograph taken by K G Killoh. (from the Alexander Turnbull Library)

Patrick: So as the war clouds loomed, the School’s mood was hoping for a war?

Lloyd: Chamberlain had said peace in our time and we thought that was a bit weak. So it came as a bit of a bolt out of the blue that war was declared so quickly, although we knew it was probably going to happen once they invaded Poland , which it did. We had radio verification of graduation the next day and off to war. The next morning, the commandant came in and said ‘Well gentlemen, war has been declared, work will proceed as usual, and graduation date will be the same” What an anti-climax. We graduated December 12, 1939, went down to Sydney, New Zealanders were to catch the boat (no aircrafts those days) and we came back to New Zealand on the E52 boats on the Wanganella . The Duntroon Officer Cadets always travel first class and because we graduated we got 2 pips because we had been through all the probation period through the college.

Patrick: So you could have quite as easily come back and instructed the NZ Army?

Lloyd: Well, we did as soon as we arrived back. Well before we got out of Sydney , I’ll tell you a little story, we were staying at the Hotel Australia and we’d had lunch and we were going off to some down at the other hotel because we the Australian friends had stayed with us until we caught the boat. We were walking down the street in Sydney and a woman came pass me and put a white feather in my hand, representing ‘coward’s’. In those days in regular Army, when off duty, civilian clothes were allowed to be worn. We were all in civilian clothes and I had just bought a brand new 3 piece suit, David Jones, for 6 pounds.

Patrick: That’s quite a bit of money wasn’t it?

Lloyd: Yes, its $12.00 now. Yes, it was quite a bit of money, probably 3 times the average weekly wage in those days. We were making about 4 pound 12 a week, which was pretty good money.

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