Observer, Volume XXXIV, Issue 31, 11 April 1914, Page 2
And the Stern Colonel
COLONEL JAMES ALLEN, Minister of Defence, is regulating his military conduct so that it will not give any offence to the lordly youngsters who control our war office. Since the inauguration of the "universal" and "compulsory" military service the young soldier or the potential young soldier has received more apologies for being forced to carry a gun than soldiers of kind, real or amateur, have received in all history. Because o,f the apologetic attitude of the State, a minority of male children have been given sufficient reason to believe that they are doing the Minister of Defence, the people of New Zealand, and their own fathers jrtnd mothers a favour by consenting to "fall in." Colonel James Allen is
obviously seeking to cultivate thisfeeling in the breasts of the "patriots." He appears to be suffering from a severe attack of political spinal curvature. In effect he says: "Well, after all, you know, what was the law made for but tobe broken? If these poor boys don't want to soldier why should they?" • * •*
Colonel Allen pretends that the bill will be filled if these objecting youngsters are put to non-combatant work in the alleged army, and' that it doesn't matter, anyhow, because we've got nearly all the force we want. A "compulsory" military scheme whose basis is "universal" service is doomed to the worst kind of farcical failure if it lies; and if it permits one available able bodied youth to escape military service which the act says he shall render. The willing territorial is incited to mutiny if he is forced to serve when an equally liable youngster is relieved from military duty under the political spinal curvature dispensation. One point seems to escape all these military apologists and a large part of the army which spends seveneighths of the time in organisation and filling up forms and oneeighth in training for war. Thiff point is that the force, good, bad, or indifferent, frother and slacker, soldier and malingerer, is embodied for offensive purposes. It's a striking machine. When the enemy (out of compliment to which gentleman our army exists) really comes along he won't lower the point of his bayonet or empty his magazine the_ back way because the gentleman in the danger area has conscientious objections; and the conscientious gentleman will get over his own objections in a hurry.
What the enemy is able to do in five minutes Colonel James Allen and his officers, warrant officers, non-coms., soldier and civilian •clerks, Defence Acts, and frill should be able to do. The old time method of dealing with slackers was to put them in the front firing line where they could be commanded by the rifles of their own comrades in the rear and the rifles of the enemy to their front. The new time method of Colonel James Allen is to apologise to slackers and invite them to go and hide behind the nearest rock. When you talk to an old soldier about slackers, he almost invariably replies, "But you've got to treat these territorials differently to soldiers"—the suggestion that they are not soldiers but an imitation. The New Zealand Defence Act is very specific about calling them soldiers and if they really want to belong to the tin variety otf fighjting man they are of no real service. The country is quite agreeable that every young man between the statutory ages should be compelled to serve r whether the complete establishment be 30,000 or 60,000. All handsterritorial or otherwise will fall in and get to work when the need for soldiers arrives and there will be no "beg pardons." Why the Minister of Defence persists in keeping the slackers from serving. by acknowleding the justice of their slackness no man can say. One battery of enemy artillery would settle thequestion quicker than all the army forms and staff corps and Ministers of Defence ever heard of.