Good intentions but

02/09/2021

Who or what does this remind you of?:

Intention these days is nine-tenths of virtue, and intention is measured mainly by what people say that their intentions are. 

The words are Theodore Dalrymple’s and he was writing about urban environmentalists and their belief in the green credentials of electric cars but it immediately made me think of our government.

Many of its intentions are good.

Who could argue against solving the housing crisis, reducing poverty or keeping us all safe from Covid-19?

But intentions are not achievements and time and time again the government’s good intentions have got very little, if any, further than their announcements.

Housing prices have escalated so that even outside the big cities they’re selling for far too many times the average wage. That has made anyone who doesn’t own their own home poorer and worsened conditions for people already struggling to pay the rent and power and feed their families.

The government won a few skirmishes against Covid-19 last year but the war continues and we’re all having to fight the latest battle because the intention to keep the disease out hasn’t been matched by learning from past mistakes and ensuring they’re not repeated.

Then there’s Afghanistan.

No doubt the government intended to rescue all New Zealand citizens and the locals who had helped our army but again it’s fallen well short in delivering, leaving behind an estimated 375 New Zealand citizens, visa holders, and Afghan allies.

New Zealand isn’t alone in the botched withdrawal but that doesn’t make our government any less culpable for letting those people down and making the chances of getting them out successfully much, much poorer.

The proverb tells us the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It is too big a stretch to say the government is taking us to hell, but its repeated failure to deliver on its good intentions certainly aren’t helping New Zealand feel like paradise.


Marching on meth

25/04/2021

Armies are said to march on their stomachs, but in World War II armies marched on methamphetamine:

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote that speed is “the essence of war.” While he of course did not have amphetamines in mind, he would no doubt have been impressed by their powerful war-facilitating psychoactive effects. Amphetamines—often called “pep pills,” “go pills,” “uppers” or “speed”—are a group of synthetic drugs that stimulate the central nervous system, reducing fatigue and appetite and increasing wakefulness and a sense of well-being. The quintessential drug of the modern industrial age, amphetamines arrived relatively late in the history of mind-altering substances—commercialized just in time for mass consumption during World War II by the leading industrial powers. That war was not only the most destructive war in human history but also the most pharmacologically enhanced. It was literally sped up by speed. . . 

Japanese, American and British forces consumed large amounts of amphetamines, but the Germans were the most enthusiastic early adopters, pioneering pill-popping on the battlefield during the initial phases of the war. . . 

While other drugs were banned or discouraged, methamphetamine was touted as a miracle product when it appeared on the market in the late 1930s. Indeed, the little pill was the perfect Nazi drug: “Germany, awake!” the Nazis had commanded. Energizing and confidence boosting, methamphetamine played into the Third Reich’s obsession with physical and mental superiority. In sharp contrast to drugs such as heroin or alcohol, methamphetamines were not about escapist pleasure. Rather, they were taken for hyper-alertness and vigilance. Aryans, who were the embodiment of human perfection in Nazi ideology, could now even aspire to be superhuman—and such superhumans could be turned into supersoldiers. “We don’t need weak people,” Hitler declared, “we want only the strong!” Weak people took drugs such as opium to escape; strong people took methamphetamine to feel even stronger. . .

Amid growing worries about the addictive potential and negative side effects of overusing the drug, the German military began to cut back on allocations of methamphetamines by the end of 1940. Consumption declined sharply in 1941 and 1942, when the medical establishment formally acknowledged that amphetamines were addictive.

Nevertheless, the drug continued to be dispensed on both the western and eastern fronts. Temmler-Wenke, the maker of the drug, remained as profitable as ever, despite rising awareness of the negative health effects.

Could this be why the German army did so well in the early stages of WWII, but ran out of steam later on?


Armistice Day

11/11/2018

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, 100 years ago today, World War I officially ended.

It was hoped that it would be the war to end all wars.

It wasn’t.

Many died, many lives were changed irreparably, in that war and many others since.

But we still hope.


Horses served too

11/11/2017

Today is the 99th anniversary of the signing – at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month – of the armistice which ended World War I.

My maternal grandfather served with the New Zealand Army.

Mum said he never talked about the war and buried his medals in his garden.

We got his records from the War Archives and found his occupation was farmhand and that he looked after the horses in Egypt.

A bronze war horse by artist Matt Gauldie to acknowledge the 10,000 New Zealand horses that served in WW1 will be unveiled at Memorial Park, Hamilton at 11am this morning.


Passchendaele perspective

12/10/2017

The Otago Daily Times has invited family members of those who were killed in World War I to pay tribute to them on the 100th anniversary of their deaths.

Most days there are a few names.

Putting the disaster that was the Battle of Passchendaele into perspective. today 130 men are remembered.


Quote of the day

09/10/2015

People think what they think about us being here and that sort of thing but for me personally the satisfaction in knowing these guys are going to stay alive because of the training we’ve given them (is important). They know what’s out there and they’ve lost a lot of friends already. So when they come in here they want to know the good stuff. They don’t want to muck around and drill or anything like that. They want to know how to defeat IEDs, and’ put tourniquets on properly, they’re the one sucking the information out of us. – One of the New Zealand soldiers training Iraqi soldiers.


Quote of the day

24/04/2015
In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies – Sir Winston Churchill

Patriotic Call To Yarn

23/02/2015

The National Army Museum at Waiuru made a patriotic Call to Yarn:

They started by calling for a handcrafted poppy for each of the 18,166 New Zealanders killed in service during World War I:

On 16th October the National Army Museum officially launched their ‘Patriotic Call to Yarn’ project commemorating all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on an important day in history when the first soldiers left New Zealand for Europe and the First World War.

On 16th October 1914 over 8,000 New Zealand troops and their horses left Wellington harbour and New Zealand shores bound for Egypt. They left thinking, “it will all be over by Christmas”, that it was an adventure of a lifetime, the opportunity for overseas travel. Little did they know what awaited them on the other side of the world.

Over the course of the next four to five years on the battlefields of Gallipoli and later Europe, New Zealand lost 18,166 men and women to the ravages of war.

Back home the war effort was strong as the women realised they also could ‘do their bit’.

“For the empire and for freedom, we all must do our bit, the men go forth to battle, the women wait and knit” Lady Liverpool

Patriotic associations were formed all over the country with over 5 million pounds raised. Women got together and knitted and stitched items of clothing for the soldiers including balaclavas, shirts, underclothing, socks and darning kits.

In honour of all those men and women 100 years ago, the National Army Museum is seeking assistance from the general public of New Zealand and have made a ‘patriotic call to yarn’ by aiming to produce one hand crafted poppy for each serviceman and woman lost by our nation in the Great War. That is 18,166 poppies!

These very special tributes will be on show in the form of a cascading waterfall of poppies in the museum’s Tears on Greenstone memorial area.

Poppy project coordinator, Alison Jones said, “We hope to achieve this traget by 2018 and have already had an overwhelming response with well over 1,000 poppies made.

Poppies can be knitted, crocheted, sewn or hand crafted in anyway and there are several different patterns available to assist people in their contributions.

With that total of 18,166 already exceed, they are now making a bigger call:

A Patriotic Call to Yarn – The Last Post

To achieve, one hand crafted poppy for EVERY New Zealand Serviceman or Woman lost during War or conflict.

Based on the Tears on Greenstone database at the Museum – that is 30,475 personnel from all services
(Army, Navy, Airforce and Merchant Navy).

We have already achieved 18,166 – so that is a further 12,309 poppies.

These poppies must be smaller – no more than 7cm in diameter* – so that they can be remembered together in one memorial piece.

*Please note: All poppies will be accepted so do send poppies already constructed larger than 7cm. Smaller poppies are encouraged for the new format to ensure they are able to be displayed all together. . .

poppy reveal 4 200x300 A Patriotic Call to Yarn

The first panel is unveiled in the Tears on Greenstone memorial

Rural women has links to patterns.

Kathryn Ryan interviewed the project coordinator, Alison Jones on Friday.


WWI: changing the fabric of our nation

12/11/2014

Statistics NZ has produced an infographic commemorating Armistice Day :

Statistics Minister Craig Foss said:.

“The First World War was a significant event in New Zealand’s history — it helped define us as a nation and it continues to have a lasting impact,” Mr Foss says.

“I am proud to be able to tell the story of this important event through statistics.”

The First World War – Changing the Fabric of our Nation infographic has been developed by Statistics New Zealand in partnership with the WW100 Programme Office.

“Communities, towns and cities rallied to the call for ‘King and Country’ in 1914. Just over 100,000 New Zealand troops served overseas from a population of barely one million,” Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry says.

“The WW100 centenary honours the sacrifice of those who fought and will also tell the story of those who remained at home.”

The infographic uses historical census data to highlight key events prior, during and just after the war.

 The infographic is too wide for the post, you can see it all here.

We developed the First World War – Changing the fabric of our nation infographic in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage WW100 Programme Office, and with valuable assistance from the New Zealand Defence Force, to mark the First World War centenary from 2014 to 2018. The First World War was one of the most significant events of the 20th century and we are proud to commemorate this important event through the statistics we’ve been gathering about New Zealand for over 100 years.

The infographic aims to present key information about the war and its impact on New Zealand. With the limited space available on an infographic, depicting all factual information relevant to this significant historical event is difficult.

We developed this infographic for any organisation or group to use in their commemoration activities and events. We are happy to share relevant files with these groups for republication.

 

Image, First World War – Changing the fabric of our nation, WW100 infographic.

The WW100 programme and other resources are available at WW100.govt.nz


Lest we forget

11/11/2014

At 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month,  the war that began 100 years ago and was supposed to end all wars, came to an end.

My maternal  grandfather was one of the thousands who left their homes to serve with the New Zealand Army.

My mother told us he wouldn’t talk about his experience and he buried all his medals in the garden.

A few years ago we got his records and found that part of his service was looking after the horses in Egypt.

Poppy Appeal Australia  pays tribute to the 8 million horses, donkeys and mules that died faithfully supporting their respective armies:

 

Photo: Incredible tribute to the 8 million horses, donkeys and mules that died faithfully supporting their respective armies. Faithful to the end. We will remember them.

 

 


Two deaths on eve of World Peace Day

05/08/2012

On the eve of World Peace Day we’ve had a  reminder of  the tragedy of war:

It is with great sadness that Prime Minister John Key has learned of the death of two New Zealand soldiers serving with the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan, Afghanistan.

The soldiers were killed during an encounter with insurgents, which began at about 7:00pm last night (NZ time) after they went to the aid of local security forces under attack.

Two local security personnel were also killed during the attack.

Another six New Zealand Defence Force personnel, 10 local security personnel, and one civilian were also injured.

“This brings the total number of New Zealand soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan to seven,” Mr Key says.

“It reinforces the danger faced daily by our forces as they work tirelessly to restore stability to the Province.

“It is with enormous sadness that I acknowledge that these soldiers have paid the highest price. My thoughts are with the family and friends of the two brave soldiers killed and also with the families and friends of those injured.”

Governor General  Sir Jerry Mateparae, a former soldier and current Commander in Chief, said:

It was with great sadness that I learned of the tragic death of our two soldiers in the Bamiyan Province.
 
Serving in New Zealand’s Defence Force and being deployed in war-torn countries, such as Afghanistan, carries significant risk. The soldiers, whose names are yet to be released, bring to seven the number of New Zealand Defence Force soldiers to be killed while on operations in Afghanistan.
 
Serving with the Provincial Reconstruction Team, those two soldiers, who paid the ultimate sacrifice, and the six injured, have been part of a team that has worked tirelessly and consistently to bring peace and stability to the Province.
 
Their presence in Afghanistan exemplified their dedication to New Zealand and the New Zealand Defence Force’s mission in that country.
 
On behalf of all New Zealanders, Janine and I extend our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and mates-in-arms of the two deceased soldiers, as they come to terms with this tragic loss. Our thoughts are also with the families and friends of those who have been injured.

Lest we forget

11/11/2009

When I was at school everything stopped for a minute at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month while we observed a minute’s silence in commemoration of the end of World War I.

It’s called Remembrance Day in Britain. Our remembrance day is Anzac Day but it is still important to acknowledge Armistice Day, to remember the sacrifices so many people made for us and to be grateful for peace.

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, by Eric Bogle is about Anzac Day commemorations, rather than those for Armistice Day, but the story it relates is set during World War I.


Atrocities from all sides

13/01/2009

Construction workers in Poland have uncovered a mass grave  believed to be of 1800 German civilians who disappeared during the Soviet Army’s march to Berlin.

That reminded me of a story my father told. He served in the 20th battalion in Egypt and was part of a group who took some German POWs. They were handed over to Polish troops and never seen again.


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