ROUEN RODNEY BEALE ~ A medal denied as the result of an admin SNAFU is finally awarded to a 1957 CMT Recruit.

649016 ~ ROUEN RODNEY BEALE    

Born in Hastings in 1938, 82 year old Rouen Rodney Beale is retired gentleman who lives with his wife Toni on the Kapiti Coast.  The Beales have an adult family of two sons.  Rouen is a veteran of the NZ Government’s compulsory military training (CMT) scheme that ran in New Zealand from 1950 to 1958, a scheme that was replaced by the compulsory National Service training in 1962 which lasted until 1972.

CMT – What was it ?

In 1900, in part due to the enthusiasm generated by the South African War, military cadet training was introduced into New Zealand schools.  The Defence Act 1909  brought in a general training requirement for boys and young men of the country; 12 to 14 years (Junior Cadets), 14 to 18 (Senior Cadets), 18 to 21 (General Training Section), and 21 to 30 (the Reserve).  

1911 proclamation requiring all boys of 14 -21 years to register for compulsory military training.

The First World War had taken a terrible toll on the 20-40 year old male population of this country.  Conscription had necessarily been imposed in October 1916 because of insufficient volunteers forthcoming which had been brought about by the Gallipoli casualty toll and the information sent back by both soldiers and press.  By war’s end in 1918, almost every household in the country had been touched by the loss of a loved one, relative or friend.  This had a direct impact on the availability of adequate reinforcement at the front in Western Europe. 

 The net result for New Zealand was that conscription, combined with the large number of battle casualties over the four years of war, had left the country very vulnerable to external aggression.  There was a very real fear the country would not be able to defend itself much less raise a military force in quick time, should the need arise.  The territorial reserves had been decimated and the appetite for more military activity in peacetime was met with less than apathetic indifference.  A plan that would place New Zealand in a much less vulnerable state than it found itself in 1920 was required.

Whanganui Marist Brothers school cadets, circa 1910.

After WW1 the status quo prevailed and eventually schools returned to the pre-war compulsory training regime.  The Wall Street Crash in 1929 which heralded the start of the Great Depression changed that and in 1930, CMT in schools was suspended for economic reasons and was not reconsidered until after the Second World War. 

The country faced a similar situation it had done after WW1 in that its younger manpower had again been decimated due to casualties and the results of conscription.  A re-think and rebuild of our defence forces was required to meet future conflicts that we would undoubtedly be committed to.  To that end, compulsory military training was again revisited as a viable means of forging this requirement but with some modifications.  The age groups were reconsidered with an emphasis placed upon creating a pool of manpower that were to be inducted into the military system with basic soldier skills, and who would then undertake part-time training in specialist subjects according to which corps the were placed in.  This then would ensure there was always a current pool of semi-trained soldiers who could take their place in a regular force with the minimum of additional training.  

Compulsory military training was again considered after WW2.  With less than twenty years elapsed between WW1 and WW2, a similar problem was faced in terms of the loss of men from the population resulting from war.  A more sustainable system to prepare young men for future eventualities was needed.  A national referendum to gauge public opinion for the re-introduction of compulsory military training was held in 1949 that resulted in an overwhelming public endorsement by 78% of the population.  As a consequence the Military Training Act 1949 was passed which enacted a system of compulsory military training (CMT) for male teenagers and young adults. 

Training  Obligation

The Act made all males liable for military service upon reaching 18 years of age.  Selection was made by way of a monthly ballot that was published in the press nationwide.   Those balloted were required to register with the Department of Labour and Employment and were given the option of training with the Royal New Zealand Navy, the New Zealand Army or the Royal New Zealand Air Force and was largely driven by the trainees proximity to a military establishment.  

Apart from those exempted for medical, compassionate or conscientious objector reasons, the trainees were required to undertake:

  • Basic Training:   The first two CMT intakes of 12 weeks duration were conducted at Linton Military Camp.  Being a new scheme, the training was evaluated after these intakes for suitability of duration and content. The result was that intake duration was reduced with effect from the 3rd CMT Intake, which would 10.5 weeks of intensive full-time basic training conducted predominantly at Waiouru Military Camp, with a few at intakes being conducted at Linton and Burnham Camps as required.  By comparison, intakes of RNZN Compulsory Naval Recruits (CNRs) and RNZAF CMTs (either Ground Trades or Aircrew) were all 14 weeks in duration.
  • Corps Training:  On conclusion of basic training CMT trainees were further obligated to 3 years of part-time service in the Territorial Force, a minimum of 26 days per year being required which generally included attendance at an annual camp of approximately 14 days.  Corps training was run at  most camps as part of the Territorial Force system with specialist trade skills undertaken according to the Corps each soldier was assigned to.  Soldiers undertook their training with whichever unit they could regularly get to for training and were generally geographically proximate to their home location.   At the expiration of the three year term, soldiers were free from any further training obligation under the terms of the Act, and were discharged to the General Reserve. 
  • Reserve:  The Act bonded CMT trainees for a further six years in the General Reserve meaning they could be re-called for military service at any time in the event of a national emergency.  At the end of the six year term, soldiers were then free from any further statutory military obligations, unless conscripted by a subsequent act of parliament.

CMT Intakes

The Army CMT scheme embraced 27 Intakes, roughly four per year (Jan, Apr, Jun or Jul, Sep).  The 1st CMT Intake of 14 weeks duration commenced on 05 May 1950.  Being an untried concept, after evaluation of the first intake, the duration of the courses was reduced to a reconsidered optimum of 10.5 weeks however the Waterfront Strike shortened the 2nd Intake to only 10 weeks.  From the 3rd Intake, all courses were 10.5 weeks long.  Twenty eight intakes had been planned however the CMT scheme ceased with the conclusion of the 27th Intake on 15 July 1958 pending the commencement of the National Service training scheme.  From 1950 to 1958, the RNZN trained 1992 CNRs, NZ Army trained 63,661 CMTs, and the RNZAF trained 6220 CMTs, a total of 63,661 men had been trained under the auspices of the Military Training Act 1949.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CMT Intake 23 – Recruit R. R. BEALE

A CMT Intake returning from the Q Store with uniform issues at the start of Basic Training.

Rouen Beale was an apprenticed joiner living in Levin when he was balloted in 1956 to undergo military training with the Intake 23.   On 19 July 1956, 649016 Recruit Rouen Rodney BEALE reported to the Levin Borough Council Office’s Supper Room for a medical board (medical inspection by a military doctor) to assess his medical and physical fitness to attend the training.  After completing the remainder of his enlistment administration, he was sent by train to No.2 General Hospital at Linton Military Camp, just 36 kilometres from Levin.  Here he was issued with travel warrants for the train to Wellington and passage on the overnight ferry to Lyttelton, to be taken in early August. 

Rouen and his fellow wide-eyed trainees of the 23rd CMT Intake were rounded up as they hesitantly disembarked onto the wharf at Lyttelton not knowing what to expect.  No doubt they all had preconceived ideas but the “screaming skulls” were absent from their welcome (they came later!) and so with their bare essentials in a single suitcase, were herded onto waiting trucks by the training staff NCOs for the 40 km journey south of Christchurch to Burnham Military Camp. 

Basic training

CMT Fernleaf hat badge.

On arrival at Burnham the CMT Recruits** were given the Camp Rules and read the ‘riot act’ – “thou shalt …., and shalt NOT….”  An issue of uniform during which, Rouen was handed a puggaree for his ‘Lemon Squeezer’ hat (the khaki hat band which is fitted onto the ‘Lemon Squeezer’, each colour denoting the Corps the wearer belonged to).  He enquired what the coloured stripe on his puggaree meant – BLUE – he was told he was now in the Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corp and that the colour indicated he was a Dental Assistant! 

WO1 (RSM) Stanley “Tiny” Hill RNZA on the parade ground in 1964.

There was no such thing as choice as far as the Corps each CMT trainee went in to.  It was arbitrary and governed largely by one’s home location and its proximity to a military establishment where part-time (TF) training was conducted.  Yes, Rouen was a joinery apprentice and yes, he was versed in the use of a drill, hammer and chisel, as well as the application of glue, putty and wood fillers, even paint – but Dental Assistant ???  Perhaps he had been selected for dentistry because his basic skills as a joiner roughly equated to the work of a ‘tooth fairy’ or ‘fang farrier’ (as Army dentistry staff are known).  In fact it was because the Linton No.2 General Hospital was was one of the larger units on the camp, it operated 24 hours and had the capacity to accommodate part-time training of Territorial Force soldiers in basic medical and life saving skills, the sort of stuff every soldier needed to know, not just Medics …. and, it was the nearest camp to Rouen’s home in Levin.  As it turned out Rouen said he never got near a dentist or dentistry equipment other than having his own teeth checked.   I think whoever he spoke to that had given him the puggaree might have been having him on – the BLUE stripe on the puggaree was the generic colour for the Royal New Zealand Corps of Engineers.  Linton was then, and still is, the ‘home’ of the Royal NZ Engineers.   The trainees were then shown to their 16 man barrack huts that flanked the dreaded ‘bull ring’.  These unlined, open dormitory wooden huts would be home for the next ten and a half weeks.

Note:   CMT Recruit ** CMT trainees were addressed as “Recruit” (Rec.) during their Basic Training.  Once they commenced Corps training, their titles changed to the normal Army titles of the lowest rank of the Corps in which they served.

‘Q’ Store issues  “… and finally, lad … if ANYTHING fits, bring it straight back here and I’ll change it, understand?”

CMT working dress, Burnham 1956.

Basic training commenced the following day with a very early rise, the first few days being spent largely with uniform and equipment issues and learning how to march.  This was the primarily tool in initial training as drill is considered the basis of discipline and teamwork.  Learning to respond to orders delivered by a variety of “screaming skulls” who felt it was necessary for some CMTs to be given special instructions, whispered into their shell-like ears by a voice that quickly elevated from 22 to 202 decibels!   On most occasions the message got through (once one’s hearing had recovered). ‘Square bashing’ as it was called was to become a way of life for every CMT until such time as it became second nature.  This was the philosophy of the training – repetition, repetition, repetition until you could do whatever needed to be done in your sleep.  One day, that speedy and automatic response that had been over-learned could save a life in the heat of battle.

Rec. Beale’s group had the very good (mis?) fortune to be under the instruction and guidance of one Bombardier Stanley Frank “Tiny” HILL (All Black No.574) whom I am sure would have been only too obliging when it came to getting his tiring young lads a cup of tea or an ice cold drink, providing deck chairs to rest their weary legs, or to permit the wee lads to have an afternoon nap ….. yeah, right! 

Bayonet training …. aaaaAH !!!

The CMTs were given little time off.  Most waking hours were consumed with field training, rifle range work, drilling, cleaning of self, barrack huts and equipment, eating or sleeping.  A brief period of time during the week days after work to go to the Canteen Hut or YMCA, and the odd weekend day was about as recreational as their time in camp got.  For those who had “crossed that variable line” of disobedience, insolence, or omission, special treatment was arranged to acquaint the recalcitrants with the fine art of collecting discarded cigarette butts and matches (referred to as an “Emu” parade), raking gravel, scrubbing toilets and showers, trimming lawns with scissors and the like, all topped off with a few hours of fitness and character building exercises – “Change Parades.”  This involved leaping in and out of a specified combination of uniform and/or civil clothing, as directed by and for the amusement of, the Orderly SGT or NCO.  Participants were generally given an unachievable time frame in which to change and report back (always at the double) – this was a no win situation but it did invariably cured the miscreant of a repetition of the same error. 

Rouen recalled the highlights of his particular Intake were being trucked to West Melton, or Birdlings Flat near Lake Ellesmere, to the firing ranges for live practices with a variety of weapons.  On another occasion they were fortunate enough to be taken on a day trip to the Temple Basin ski field and to Arthur’s Pass.  

Rec. Rouen Beale (far right) and friends cleaning the Bren Guns after a live firing practice.

Rec. Beale practising ‘dry’ firing with the .303 Bren Gun, the fire power of an Infantry section.

 

 

 

 

 

CMT Intake No.23 was given a most interesting task which took them into Cathedral Square in Christchurch for the day.  None of the CMTs who had arrived at Burnham for Intake 23 would have had even the remotest idea that they might be featuring in a Hollywood movie production before they went home, but they did. 

“Stars” are born

In early February 1957, the Intake was required to parade in uniform and were trucked into King Edward Barracks.  A Hollywood movie production called “Until They Sail” was being partly filmed in Auckland and Christchurch.  The film was an American black-and-white drama starring Jean Simmons, Joan Fontaine, Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, and Sandra Dee – all but Paul Newman being big names of their day – Newman eclipsed them all as a megastar in the years to come.  The screenplay is based on a story by James A. Michener included in his 1951 anthology Return to Paradise, and focuses on four New Zealand sisters and their relationships with U.S. Marines during World War II.   The film opens in a Christchurch courtroom, where testimony prompts Barbara Leslie to flashback to the events that led to the trial. She and her sisters Anne, Evelyn, and Delia live in Christchurch, where most of the male residents, including their brother Kit and Barbara’s new husband Mark, are preparing to leave for World War II duty.   

For CMT Intake 23 it was a most welcome break from training and a limited opportunity to interact with civilians before being whisked off back to Bombardier “Tiny” and his waiting Parade Ground, just in case they had forgotten how to use it.   The part the CMTs played was taking part in a parade and March Past in the Square as if departing for war.   The all became legends in their own lunchtime.  The odd part about the movie was that all the Auckland and Christchurch scenery was recreated back in Hollywood, and the stars of the film all had their parts filmed in a Hollywood studio – none ever came to New Zealand. 

Rec. Rouen Beale standing second from left and fellow CMT trainees dressed ready for their part in the filming of “Until They Sail” on Sunday, 17 Feb 1957.   They are wearing WW2 khaki serge Battle Dress uniforms, berets and badges of the 1st Echelon soldiers to portray their return to NZ and march through Cathedral Square – Note: all are wearing the medal ribbon of the Africa Star which was issued for the returning soldiers to wear home.  The medal came much later after the war.

1st NZ Regiment Band leads the “First Echelon” (A & D Coys, Intake 23) through Cathedral Square and down Colombo Street to the Railway Station to be railed to the troop transport ships waiting at Lyttelton in  January 1940 – Saturday, 16 February 1957 filming session of  “Until They Sail”

Filming from a “dolly” car – the sequence of the “First Echelon” (B & C Coys, Intake 23) returning to Christchurch in 1940 – Sunday, 17 February 1957.

Christchurch people gathered at the Savoy Theatre in Cathedral Square in December 1957 for the Kiwi premiere of “Until They Sail”.  It was attended by the city’s mayor and the band of the 1st Canterbury regiment and the City of Christchurch Highland Pipe Band, which both appeared in the film.  Hundreds of Christchurch people gathered in the dark theatre, which was demolished in 1993, to watch a strange version of their city made by a major Hollywood studio.  No doubt there was a good representation of Intake No.23 in attendance looking to identify themselves marching past.  

Charles Drake and Joan Fontaine – “Until They Sail”

The female lead stars – Jean Simmonds, Joan Fontaine, Piper Laurie and Sandra Dee.

Jean Simmonds and Paul Newman (31) on set.

Paul Newman and Joan Fontaine beside a mock-up of the Avon River,  boating and the Colombo Street road bridge in the MGM studios, Hollywood.

Another Avon riverbank scene – Paul Newman and Jean Simmonds, complete with ferns (the river was actually a concrete lake on the studio lot).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from their ‘film starring’ roles, there was no time to dispense autographs as their next and only other outing away from the camp was a day spent unloading 25lb artillery shells from railway wagons that had just arrived back from Korea after the war there had concluded– some fun huh?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On 4th December 1956, CMT Intake No.23 bid farewell to Burnham after a dazzling demonstration of their newly acquired drill manoeuvres that they had practised for days prior for the Passing Out Parade.  Creases as sharp as knives, highly polished foot wear, webbing equipment (belt and anklets) blancoed and polished – not forgetting all the brass attachments, Lemon Squeezer hats free from lint, brims ironed flat and the brass Fern Leaf hat badge brassoed and glinting in the sun; each man freshly shaven within an inch of his life.  The Intake was now ready to “March On” (as the RSM would command) to the Parade Ground for the last time as a Compulsory Military Trainee, a Recruit. 

The 1st NZ Regiment Band was in attendance along with a guest of honour, various local dignitaries, officers from the Camp HQ, and hundreds of invited proud parents, siblings, friends and well wishers.  Those who had successfully completed their 10.5 weeks of military indoctrination could be rightly proud of their achievement in having reached this point.  A number of the trainees would later commit to a Regular Force career but as for Rouen, with the passing out parade behind him, he still had a joinery apprenticeship to complete.  

Corps training & the Reserve

On completion of CMT Basic training, Rec. Beale was transferred to the Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps (RNZAMC) with the rank of Private with effect from 3rd January 1957.  Pte. Beale would start the Part Time corps training component of his CMT obligation from this date for the following three years, a minimum of 24 days training to be completed per year inclusive of an annual camp of about 14 days.  In the mean time however it was back to his joinery apprenticeship in Levin.  Needless to say,  Pte. Beale’s corps training as a Dental Assistant never eventuated.  All of the RNZAMC corps training was built around the duties of a Medic.  Pte. Beale was whisked off to attend only one training camp early in the first year of his  corps training which was held at Helwan, a satellite training camp on the Desert Road near that delightful ‘winter wonderland’ that is Waiouru. 

Certificate of Transfer & Discharge from the Territorial Service.

On the 31st March 1959, one year short of his three year part-time TF training obligation, Private Beale received his Certificate of Transfer & Discharge from Territorial Service.  He was transferred to the General Reserve for the next six years, the last of the CMT obligations under the terms of the Military Training Act 1949.  Why was Pte. Beale’s part-time training reduced from three to two years?  Rouen had been nearing the end of his joinery apprenticeship when he was balloted to start his training.  His apprenticeship was due to conclude during the 1959 year.  As a consequence his employer had made application for Rouen to be released from his last year of training so that he could complete several critical elements of his joinery apprenticeship before he could sit for the trade certificate qualification.  This was common practice for those in trades to ensure CMT did not impinge upon the progress of a soldier’s primary employment, ergo their means of earning a living.

As far as the Reserve was concerned, a soldier’s only obligation during this period was to notify a specified office of any changes of address, and to be advised the soldier could be re-called to the Active List by “Proclamation”, in other words, if the government declared a national emergency or entered into a state of war, a Proclamation would be issued to recall those still under obligation of the General Reserve to serve as required.   There were no training obligations for those in the General Reserve.  He could however re-join the active Territorial Force voluntary if desired.  Pte. Beale remained on the General Reserve for the required six years which expired on 31 March 1965 at which time he was transferred to the Class ‘A’ Reserve on 1st April 1959.    

 New Zealand Defence Service Medal

The New Zealand Defence Service Medal (NZDSM) was announced by the Prime Minister in October 2010, closing a long-standing gap in medallic recognition of non-operational military service.  Instituted in 2011 the NZDSM recognises attested military service in the Defence Force by New Zealanders. Those who have served in the military for three years or more since the end of World War Two, and those who completed their compulsory military training or national military service obligations, qualify.  Personnel with three years accumulated service, for example, between Regular, K Force, J Force and Territorial service (including RNZNR and RNZNVR) are also eligible for the medal.  

Each person’s service fell into one four main categories, often involving a combination of two or more categories of service:

  • Cat 1 – Compulsory Military Training [CMT] (1950-1958)

  • Cat 2 – National Service (1962-1972)

  • Cat 3 – Territorial Service (1937 – current)

  • Cat 4 – Regular Service

The NZDSM was available with a clasp to denote each type of service undertaken, three regular or accumulated service (subject to various conditions and exemptions).  The medal was available with four clasps: CMT, NATIONAL SERVICE, TERRITORIAL and REGULAR.

 Priority for issue

Ex-service persons were required to apply for the medal on a prescribed application form that was readily available on-line, at RSA’s, Territorial and Reserve establishments and from Defence Force Recruiting Offices.

Since April 2011 when the first applications were called for, over 17,700 applications had been received by the Medals Office and over 13,000 medals issued.  Due to the large number of people eligible for the NZDSM, the call for applications was being managed in four stages, with priority given to processing applications from older living ex-Service personnel first.  From April until Sep 2011, the New Zealand Defence Force’s Medals Office had been accepting applications for the NZDSM from ex-Service personnel in age group tranches – first processed were for veterans 70, then over 60, over 50 and then any veteran. 

The first medals were presented by the Minister of Defence to 34 recipients (selected from various eligible category groups) during a ceremony at Parliament on 14 April 2011.  The first medals issued to the veteran age groups commenced in June 2011. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Applying for the medal

Rouen Beale emailed me the following in September 2020:

Hello, my name is Rouen Rodney Beale.   l think I was in a CMT intake around 195?  I applied for the CMT medal some time ago but after some considerable time had elapsed I received a reply from the Defence Dept – no medal because no records held!   I recall attending only one territorial camp at Waiouru.   Having been a member of the Paraparaumu RSA since about 1972, l am now 82yrs old.  At the time I applied for the medal, a friend of mine had received his.  My instructor was “Tiny Hill”.  I was an apprentice joiner in Levin where l was signed up.  I had a medical and went to Linton Military Camp where I was given my 2nd General Hospital “pugare”?  (lemon squeezer hat sleeve).  This I was told denoted “Dental  Assistant”.

The above l hope may shed some light to establish my authenticity.   Rouen Beale

Rouen had applied for the New Zealand Defence Service Medal with clasp CMT in 2014.  After several months he received a reply from the Medals Office (as it was then known) telling him bluntly that he did not meet the criteria for the award of the medal …. FULL STOP!   According to Rouen there was no reason given.  No explanation, no where’s or why-fores, not even questions of clarification.  Rouen said to me,I received a letter in response to the application declining my request without any explanation.   I was disappointed and tore up the letter “  

Needless to say Rouen was rather shattered to receive this response and understandably so.  Since that time he could never understand why his medal claim had been rejected as many who he had served with had received the medal?  Rouen was around 73 years of age at that time and was not about to ‘go to war’ over the rejection.  After he had ripped up the letter in disgust, Rouen said he had tried to put any thoughts of the medal well behind him, resigning himself to forgetting all about.  But circumstances kept popping up that re-ignited his anger over the rejection that continued to gnaw away at him every now and then over the next ten years.  A long standing member of his local Paraparaumu RSA (since 1974), Rouen had continued to witness presentations of the CMT medal to former CMT soldiers every now and again.  Each time this happened he recalled his bitter experience to mind.  Talking with mates, he was regularly encouraged to have another go at getting the medal whenever the subject came up but is was something Rouen was disinclined to do.  For some considerable years he had served as a Traffic Officer with the Department of Transport and so as with military training, was used to disciplined processes that were well documented and occur when required.  Medals were not something that one hunted – they came in due course if so entitled (most of the time).  Our pride also dissuaded us from questioning anything that related to personal reward, it just wasn’t done.  Men of Rouen’s generation preferred to let things be, not wanting to make a fuss or draw attention to themselves.  While that stance was certainly true in Rouen’s time in the military, thankfully it has changed somewhat since the proliferation of medallic recognition occurred for Defence Force personnel from around 2000 onward. 

One last shot …

Rouen would have left this whole issue behind him for good however, there was a compelling reason the spectre of the NZDSM had re-raised itself.  When the NZDSM was originally announced on 2010, Rouen planned to gift his medals to his sons.  After his original application was knocked back in the manner it had which really wounded him, other than a couple of photographs of his training and some documents he thought he would not have anything truly representative of his military service such as a medal.   Perhaps there would always be an underlying question as to why he had not received it?  He certainly didn’t want to leave that unanswered.  Rouen’s wish was to pass his medals on before  his time came to ‘March Out’  to the big ‘parade ground in the sky’.  I should point out that Rouen is in (almost) perfect health and not about to shed his mortal coil anytime soon, however, when one is in their 83rd year, it doesn’t pay to take the number of days one has left on the planet as a given.   This together with knowing his Intake colleagues had so far as he knew, all received their medals without difficulty,  prompted Rouen to get some advice about having one last shot at getting his medal.  Rouen had seen my MRNZ advertisement for reuniting medals in the RSA Review and contacted me to see if I could help.  

Rouen was in two minds about making another attempt so it was with some trepidation that he contacted me.  He told me his story which frankly bowled me over.  Having had regular and recent personal experience over the last three years with the staff at the NZDF medals office, now called Personnel Archives and Medals (PAM), I cannot speak highly enough of the assistance I have received, assistance I might add PAM is under no obligation whatsoever to give to me in the pursuit of reuniting medals.  I was struggling to imagine a request such as Rouen’s being rejected out of hand without at least an explanation.  I would do whatever I could to firstly validate his service and then see what could be done thereafter.

In knowing roughly how PAM works, I am aware that a great deal of their time is taken up with processing medal applications, current and historical.  In addition, requests for Personnel files and summaries of service on the Archives side of things is also a very time consuming task.  Aside from addressing the acquisition and issue of medals for all serving personnel of the NZ Defence Force, PAMS can sometimes be overwhelmed when a new medal is bought into service, particularly one that is made available to every person who has ever been attested into the NZ Defence Force.  For the NZDSM for instance, the numbers ran into the tens of thousands. 

The tide of retrospective medal applications for the NZDSM in 2011 was truly a big ask.  To ease the tide of requests for the NZDSM, staggered applications from veterans were called for in age groupings, the oldest first (for obvious reasons).  First to be issued were for those 70 years of age and over, then 60-70, over 50, and the remainder.  The medals for serving personnel also needed to be addressed at the same time – all in all a very big ask.  However, no reason at all for the response Rouen had received as an over seventy and first priority applicant. 

A CMT Intake at Papakura dressed for their Passing Out parade.

I gave some thought to the notion that perhaps there had been a well founded reason his request for the medal had been denied?  Had there been an inexperienced or temporary staff member responsible?  (possibly one of several part-time civilian or service staff assigned to PAM to assist with the big roll-out task?).  That was a question that would not help Rouen’s case so I dropped it.  I next looked at the existing criteria for the award of the NZDSM and specifically for a CMT clasp and compared it with what Rouen had shown me re dates of service etc.  I also looked at both the Royal Warrant which established the medal, and the rules governing qualification, the variations of qualifying conditions and also forfeiture.

After asking Rouen a series of question of clarification and viewing what documentary evidence he had of his training, I could then look for any obvious reasons that might have disqualified him from qualifying for the medal.  The key questions for me were:  had he been a convicted criminal of a serious crime, had he been ejected from the Service during his training for misconduct, or had he failed to complete the statutory requirements of the training? 

The Royal Warrant disqualifies a person from the medal for the following:

  1. Dismissal from the Service by a Court Martial? – NO
  2. Convicted before or during his service that resulted in imprisonment for 7 years, or convicted or discharged for other offence for which the CDF decides the medal and clasp should not be awarded. – NO
  3. Any court appearances pending? – NO
  4. Medically discharged? – NO

The next thing to check was the obligations imposed on a CMT soldier under the terms of the Military Service Act 1949:

  1. Had he completed his CMT Basic course of 10.5 weeks? – YES 
  2. Had he completed his 3 year part-time TF obligation? – YES, but should be noted he was released from last year of the obligation due to employer requirements, pending completion of apprenticeship trade certification.
  3. Had he completed 6 years in the General Reserve, expiring 31 March 1965 – YES

On the face of it, as far as I could determine there seemed to be no compelling reason why Private Beale should have been denied the NZDSM (CMT).  Having a good working relationship with the current PAM leadership, I felt sure the rejected application in 2014 had been an aberration and that a fresh application would be met with more rigorous scrutiny by the incumbent leadership.  I also had every confidence that the new PAM Team Leader, Mr Geoff Fox, would review Rouen’s application and be able to provide a detailed explanation should non-qualification for the medal still apply.  I sent Rouen a new application and some guidance for its completion which he duly dispatched to PAM in November 2020 with an accompanying letter.

CMT service recognised at last – Rouen R. Beale wearing his CMT medals, 2021.

On January 20th, 2021 I received the following email from Rouen: 

Hello Ian  

l wish to advise you of the receipt of the requested medals which included clasp of CMT in a presentation box.  Your assistance enabled me to apply a further request from New Zealand Defence Force Upper Hutt.  A letter of apology was also received enclosed with the medals.

Thank you again, Rouen Beale

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My thanks to Geoff Fox and his team at PAM for rectifying this historic ‘cock-up’ which I must stress was not of the current staff’s making.  PAMs speedy processing of Rouen’s claim, its approval and dispatch of his medals has made one old soldier a very happy man – thank you all sincerely.

The reunited medal tally is now …… 371.     

 

 

Worth a read.   A ground-breaking study of 100,000 New Zealanders was launched at Parliament on Monday, 25 March 2013 – the results is this comprehensive reference book that traces the history of Compulsory Military Training and National Service in New Zealand – Fit to Fight: Compulsory Military Training and National Service in New Zealand 1949-72 by PDF Cooke.

 

 

 

 

 

Medals Reunited New Zealand©