01:48, Jun 07 2011


Civilian New Zealanders Remember the Second World War

Alison Parr

Penguin, $50 This is a compilation of stories and memories of life in New Zealand during World War II with rationing of a lot of basic food and clothing, having to improvise and make do. People struggled to cope with the anxieties and fears of wartime, especially after December 1941 when the Japanese entered the war.

Families lived in fear of receiving the dreaded telegram starting with "Deeply regret to inform you that your son/husband ..."

The rest of the public read the long list of names of their friends and workmates in the Roll of Honour in the newspapers.

Chapters discuss the men who were refused permission to join the armed forces and "manpowered" into essential industries – some of them very bitter about their fate, and the men who refused to join up because they were conscientious objectors, hundreds being detained in prisons and camps.

Finally we are told of the relief when the war ended and of the difficulty many of the returned servicemen had adapting to post-war life and renewing relationships.

An interesting book that gives plenty of insight into wartime New Zealand from all perspectives.