Post by kiwithrottlejockey on Apr 19, 2012 21:43:46 GMT 12
The following was published in today's KiwiRail Staff News....
When I was a “boy on the job” as a locomotive assistant (formerly called a fireman) at Napier in the mid-1970s, I worked with some drivers who had served in the Railway Operating Company in North Africa during WWII. I remember them saying they were blocked from joining the RSA because they weren't considered soldiers, even though they were in uniform and were the target of every passing Luftwaffe flight.
When WWII broke out, the government of NZ immediately blocked all railway operating staff from enlisting in the armed services. This was because in WWI, over a quarter of all railways staff had enlisted and it caused serious transport problems at home which hindered the war effort, hence the government reaction during WWII. However, when a railway operating group was formed, railway operating staff from NZ Railways were allowed to join up, however they remained as NZR employees, paid by the NZ Railways and they also held their seniority positions. However, they came under army orders and discipline while they were serving.
There has actually been at least two books I know of that have been self-published by former locomotive crew members who served in the Railway Operating Group. Unfortunately I didn't acquire a copy of either book and as they were published many years ago (and I'm pretty certain the authors are long since dead) it would probably be rather difficult to track down copies now.
However, this latest book looks interesting.
If you aren't living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space!
If anyone out there has any other written material about the 16th Railway Operating Company (i.e. other than Brendon's book), I'd be very pleased to hear from you -- my grandfather was a fireman in the 16th....