Returned soldiers given a rough deal

Officers of the Coast Defence detachment in camp at Waitati. From left: Captain-chaplain Saunders...
Officers of the Coast Defence detachment in camp at Waitati. From left: Captain-chaplain Saunders, Lieutenant-colonel Fredric (officer commanding), Lieutenant-colonel Strong, Lieutenants Cooke and Brown, Captain Jones. - Otago Witness, 14.3.1917.
Mr A.P. Whatman, while speaking at Friday's meeting of the Wairarapa Patriotic Executive on the question of providing land for returned soldiers, complained bitterly of the policy of the Government in sending men out into the backblocks to settle.

``These men are fresh from the horrors of war, and it is not fair to ask them to go into the roadless backblocks on to rough country and expect them to make a living''` said Mr Whatman. A typical case came under his notice recently, when he met a clear-cut young fellow in the Soldiers' Hostel in Wellington. He had been allotted 400 acres of land at the head of the Wanganui River. There were no roads, and as the man had no pack-horse he had to carry his stuff. He had no mates and no house, living in a dug-out. Mr Whatman said this was only one typical case, and showed that the man was living under much the same conditions as he did at Gallipoli. This was not playing the game to the returned men, and he considered the Government should acquire portions of some of the big estates closer to civilisation and place the returned men upon the land under better conditions.

Addressing fellow members of the Otago Motor Club, Mr Ansell said they were all aware that, according to the new by-law of the City Council, pillion riding on a motorcycle and riding on the running board of a motor car were now prohibited. He considered, however, that the by-law was causing some little misunderstanding. A member of the club, who was carrying three passengers in his three-seater car, with one of the passengers holding a child of about seven years on his knee, had been stopped by a policeman and warned that he was committing a breach of the by-law in that he was overloading his car. He (Mr Ansell) had called on the Mayor and Mr Lewin (town clerk), and they informed him that the policeman had put a construction on the by-law which was not intended. As far as the club was concerned, he was quite sure that members were against pillion riding and using the running boards of cars for passengers. - (``Hear, hear.'') It was decided that Mr Ansell be requested again to interview Mr Lewin and get a definite ruling on the by-law. Mr W.T. McFarlane, a member of the club, was asked to give particulars of his alleged breach of the speed limit of 15 miles an hour when coming through Tinwald (Canterbury) and for which breach he had been summoned. Mr McFarlane said he was much surprised when he was waited on in Dunedin by the police and informed that he had exceeded the speed limit named. He did not see a soul - not even a rabbit - when he was running along the road. He had been told that the observers on this road received half the amount of the fines. He considered it was most iniquitous that he should have been summoned. He was certain he had not exceeded the speed limit. The Chairman said the road referred to was clear and straight, and the limit was absolutely ridiculous. It was decided to write to the Automobile Union of New Zealand and all the North Canterbury Motor Clubs drawing their attention to the absurdity of such a speed limit as that referred to.

The following is a copy of a circular issued by a Dunedin mercantile house to its clients:- ``We are not pessimistic about the future. We have every confidence that the Allies will ultimately secure a victorious peace. This may not be accomplished as early as we would wish and expect therefore it becomes necessary to prepare with care to meet whatever the future holds. Traders must act with caution in regard to giving credit. In the Old Country it is unlawful for retailers to give credit, to make window displays, or deliver food supplies to their customers. These restrictions are for the purpose of enforcing economy. While it may not be necessary to go the whole length of refusing to give any credit, we are satisfied that so far as country storekeepers are concerned it is very necessary that a drastic reform should be made at this time in this direction. The average individual will not economise until he is compelled to. Only the other week a local magistrate refused to make an order against a debtor for over 20 owing to a storekeeper, notwithstanding the fact that the debtor was in receipt of a salary of 6 per week. Under such circumstances curtailment of credit is the only wise course. We commend this to your careful consideration.''

Residents of Clyde were startled from their slumbers early on Sunday morning by a loud report (says the Dunstan TImes). Investigations showed that the camp of an elderly man named James Harris (employed by the Public Works Department) was on fire, and that an explosion of over half a box of gelignite (between 30 and 40 plugs) had taken place. The occupant of the tent, who was sound asleep when the explosion took place, only received slight injury to a leg. He suffered a severe shock, but, now an inmate of the Dunstan Hospital, is progressing favourably. It is surmised that the fire took place through a candle being left burning. The gelignite was stored on a shelf over the bed in which Mr Harris was sleeping, but the fact that the roof of calico offered little resistance is no doubt responsible for that gentleman's miraculous escape. Properly distributed there was sufficient explosives to blow up the biggest building in the town. Besides losing his personal effects Mr Harris lost 11 in notes. - ODT, 14.3.1917.

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