Outlines the functions of the Order of St. John, New Zealand Red Cross Society and the Women’s War
Service Auxiliary in relation to women’s war time activities. Dated 10 July 1942.
Outlines the functions of the Order of St. John, New Zealand Red Cross Society and the Women’s War
NATIONAL SERVICE DEPARTMENT,
Hope Gibbons Buildings,
P.O. BOX 165, Te Aro,
10th July, 1942
CIRCULAR MEMORANDUM for : -
The Order of St John
The N.Z. Red Cross Society
and all District Committees of
the Womens War Service Auxiliary.
OUTLINE OF THE FUNCTIONS OF THE ORDER OF ST. JOHN,
NEW ZEALAND RED CROSS SOCIETY AND THE WOMENS WAR
SERVICE AUXILIARY IN RELATION TO WOMENS WAR TIME
The object of this memorandum is to define as far as possible the
different functions of the various organizations in relation to womens
volunteer wartime activities, and to convey to organizations various
decisions which have been arrived at. As a preliminary to clarifying
any points which are at present causing some concern, it is desirable to
briefly outline the objects of the various organizations.
Red Cross Work in New Zealand.
The term Red Cross includes three principal organizations carrying
on Red Cross work in New Zealand Army Medical Nursing Service, the
Commandery of the Order of St. John and the New Zealand Red Cross Society.
It is not generally appreciated that the Red Cross is international in
character and the nations throughout the world recognise and protect the
personnel of all bodies approved by their respective Governments who as
Voluntary Aid Societies carry on Red Cross work pursuant to the Geneva
In this Dominion during peace time the Order of St. John and the
New Zealand Red Cross Society carry on their work under an agreement which
need not be set out here but as part of their work they give training in
First Aid, Home Nursing, etc., and they also supply trained personnel as
an auxiliary to the Army Medical Nursing Service and the Department of
Health; and train and form into detachments Red Cross Transport Units to
co-operate with the Army Medical Service and Department of Health in the
transport of the sick and wounded in times of war and great national
calamity. Large numbers of men as well as women belong to the order of
St. John and Red Cross Society.
- Womens War Service Auxiliary.
(a) To co-ordinate the work of existing womens organizations.
(b) To compile a register of woman-power in the Dominion.
(c) To provide training facilities for women who have not been able
to obtain such training through other organizations.
The Auxiliary is the only official body recognised by the Government
for the co-ordinating of all womens war work in the Dominion. It is the
channel of approach by organizations to the Government in respect of war
work by women and the source from which the Governments decisions are
conveyed to those organizations.
- National Service Department.
That National Service Department is the liaison between the
Government, the Minister of National Service, and the Womens War Service
- Co-ordination in relation to W.W.S.A..
The W.W.S.A. was established with one main object and that was to
co-ordinate the war work of all women undertaking or desiring to under-
take it. It would be futile to endeavour to co-ordinate unless all of
the work women could perform, of this nature flowed through one definite
channel. It was never intended that the Auxiliary should perform the
functions of old-established or existing organizations. When requests
for assistance are received by the Auxiliary it is the duty of that body
to allocate the functions to the appropriate bodies in accordance with
the policy already laid down by the Government whereby old-established
and other organizations are to be utilised for whatever service is most
suited to their particular training, and all bodies given a fair and
equitable share in the allocations of duties.
- Training for Hospital Work.
The Government has directed that all training for hospital work is
to be carried out exclusively by the Order of St. John and the New
Zealand Red Cross Society so as to avoid any overlapping in respect of
the training of women for this work. The hospital work includes the
training of voluntary, kitchen, laundry and linen aids. Occasions do
arise, however, where certain hospitals require kitchen, laundry or
linen aids at short notice and that there are no members of the Order
of St. John or Red Cross Society available. Subject to the prior
approval of the Director, Nursing Division, Health Department permission
may be given to hospitals to take members of the Womens War Service
Auxiliary for this work without the members of the Auxiliary being
required to join either of the two societies. This permission is given
only on the application of Hospitals to the Director of Nursing Division
and then only in the case of urgent necessity.
- Obstetrical Nursing Division.
The Obstetrical Nursing Division is a unit of the W.W.S.A. and
operates under the jurisdiction of the Order of St. John. All its
members are registrants of the W.W.S.A. and with the co-operation of the
Order have been formed into nursing divisions and are subject to the St.
John regulations. Training is provided in approved public maternity
hospitals, and members must possess certificates in Home Training, First
Aid and Hygiene.
- Enlistment of Voluntary Aids for Home Service and Overseas Service:
As voluntary aids are trained only by the Order of St. John and the
Red Cross Society it naturally follows that those aids enlisting for war
service can only be taken from these two organisations.
The whole question of the selection of voluntary aids for both
overseas and home service has recently been reconsidered by Government
and in future the National Voluntary Aid Council, to which will be
appointed a representative of the Central Executive of the W.W.S.A., will
undertake the preliminary selection of personnel. From the applications
received through the Order and the Society this selection body will make
full recommendations to the Army.
It will be the responsibility of the Army authorities to approve of
the final selections, to notify applicants accordingly, to arrange for
medical examinations and to attend to all matters relating to equipment,
All applications are to be submitted to the selecting body on the
W.W.S.A. application form but applicants will not be required to
complete the W.W.S.A. enrolment card.
- Army Transport Work.
(a) Transport of Sick and Wounded:
In view of the fact that one of the most important war-time functions
of the Red Cross organization is to train and form into detachments Red
Cross Transport Units to co-operate with the Army Medical Service to
transport sick and wounded, it has been agreed that the Red Cross
organization will be solely responsible for this work in New Zealand.
War Cabinet has directed that any requests by the Army for voluntary
assistance must come through the W.W.S.A. It is the responsibility,
therefore, for this organization to allocate this work in the appropriate
manner. It has been agreed that the transport of sick and wounded shall
be allocated to the organizations which are at present carrying it out,
that is to say, the Order of St. John and the Red Cross Society.
The Army Department will be advised of this arrangement, and in
future requests for such assistance will be made by the Army direct to
the organizations concerned, and consequently there will not be any need
for the Army Department to pass such requests for assistance through the
(b) Transport of other than Sick and Wounded.
In respect of all other types of transport work which is undertaken
by womens organizations for the Army, it has been agreed that this will
be the responsibility of the Womens War Service Auxiliary, and the
Auxiliary units and any other bodies other than the Order of St. John
and the Red Cross which are undertaking this work will continue to carry
it out, but all Army requests for assistance in this direction must come
through the W.W.S.A..
- Registration in the Emergency Reserve Corps.
Membership in any branch of the Emergency Reserve Corps for women is
not at present compulsory. If women desire to serve in any branch of that
Corps, whether they are members of the Order of St. John or the Red Cross
Society, or the W.W.S.A., they are required to legally enrol and sign a
declaration of service. Any woman undertaking authorised voluntary war
or emergency work is not protected for insurance purposes in respect of
any damage or injury sustained whilst performing that service unless she
has joined a branch of the Emergency Reserve Corps. Membership in the
W.W.S.A. is not compulsory, but members are with their concurrence
allocated to branches of the Emergency Reserve Corps requiring assistance.
Once allotted, such members come entirely under the jurisdiction of that
branch of the Corps to which they have been allotted in respect of the
work required of them by that Corps. Members of the Order of St. John
and the Red Cross Society or any other body may join any branch of the
Emergency Reserve Corps without going through the Womens War Service
Auxiliary. Once having joined a branch of the Emergency Reserve Corps
or having been allotted to the Army or hospital service, they are no
longer subject to the direct control of the Order of St. John or Red
Cross Society in respect of the duties of the Emergency Reserve Corps
It is desirable from a practical point of view for all women who
desire to undertake some form of war or emergency work to individually
register with the Auxiliary and if they desire to join the E.P.S. or
some other branch of the Emergency Reserve Corps this can still be done
through the Auxiliary as any members so joining can be seconded to the
E.P.S. organizations and their W.W.S.A. registration cards endorsed
accordingly. An arrangement in this respect has been made with all
E.P.S. organizations and is working satisfactorily.
- Declaration of Service.
Some women have been disturbed at the requirement to sign the
Declaration of Service as it implies that a registrant places herself
unreservedly at the disposal of authorised persons in the event of an
emergency. Many women joining the Auxiliary have considerable domestic
responsibilities, and while they are prepared to undertake certain
voluntarily war or emergency work, they do not feel that they can
conscientiously sign a declaration of service which appear to place
them unreservedly in the hands of authorised persons for any type of
work in the event of an emergency. In order to overcome this difficulty,
the Minister of National Service has decided that while all women joining
the Auxiliary will be required to sign a declaration of service, they
may, however, indicate on their enrolment forms that they are only
available for or willing to undertake certain specific types of work.
In such circumstances the Auxiliary will not allocate these women to any
other work or require them to undertake any other service outside the
work which they have contracted to perform. It should be pointed out
that en bloc registrations by organizations are not effective. This
only amounts to an affiliation with the W.W.S.A., and in order for
individual members to obtain the insurance protection they must
individually sign Emergency Reserve Corps enrolment cards.
It must also be pointed out, however, that power exists for the
Government to direct any person or classes of persons to perform any
service either in the Emergency Reserve Corps or in industry and should
it become necessary to bring those powers into operation it would of
course automatically cancel the above-mentioned undertaking. The
signing of the form would have no bearing on the liability of service in
the wide sense.
- Applications for Service by Women.
When the various organizations are approached by women who desire
to undertake some form of training, the organizations should co-operate
by directing women to the appropriate body which can provide the work
or training which appeals to the women, that is to say, if a woman
desires to undertake voluntary aid work she should be directed to either
the Order of St. John or the Red Cross. If, however, the woman desires
to undertake signalling, canteen, etc., or Army Transport work as
distinct from St. John or Red Cross Transport work she should be directed
to the W.W.S.A.. Complete co-operation between the organizations in
this respect would be of considerable assistance, would enable closer
co-operation and contact between all District Committees of all bodies
and should overcome quite a lot of local difficulties.
Director of National Service.
Mrs [Sybill?] [---ett?]
76 [Savage Cres?]
[Mrs?] [I----?] 604 [Main St?]