An Officer's bluff

Over the course of the World War II, 921 men from BNZ’s staff served in the armed forces. Some distinguished themselves in combat, with 57 men receiving military decorations.

Staff records housed in BNZ Archives document their stories with newspaper clippings, handwritten notes and photographs adding insightful details. One example is the staff record of Lieut. Col. Walter Thomas. Staff records for Thomas are crowded with notes on his military service including an interesting story reported by the Evening Post, in October 1944.

Early one morning, Thomas was walking to see his troops when he took a wrong turn. Finding a house with an armed guard outside, Thomas asked where the soldier's platoon commander was. To his surprise, the soldier answered in German. 

Thinking fast, Thomas pointed his forefinger, and in a commanding tone cried 'DROP THAT'. Startled, the German surrendered his weapon.

When a second corporal came to investigate the noise, he saw his companion with arms raised and also dropped his rifle. Colonel Thomas quickly collected the rifles before either could realise the hoax. This was recorded as 'but another incident in the distinguished career of Lieut-Colonel Thomas'.




Walter Thomas military card front

Staff records document Thomas's military service, beginning in 1939.