Soldiers Comforts Scheme
During both world wars BNZ staff found many ways to support their colleagues who were serving overseas. Whether that be the exchanging of regular correspondence, sending gift parcels, or supporting their families at home.
We have a lovely example in our archives of one such scheme which was organised by Mr Alan Keith Robson from the Wellington Branch. The ‘Soldiers Comforts Scheme’ took volunteer donations from BNZ staff around the Wellington region. The money was then used to purchase ‘comfort’ parcels for the BNZ officers serving overseas. The comforts included boots, tobacco, food and monthly newsletters.
The scheme ran from Sept 1940- June 1947. The Soldiers Comforts Scheme accounting book and accompanying information was donated to the BNZ archives in 1974. During the duration of the scheme 723 parcels were sent overseas and a total of £625 raised by staff.
The account book shows fortnightly donations from staff at Wellington branches. The book also shows the schedule of receipts and payments, amounts donated by individuals, gifts sent, soldiers details including postal addresses, military awards and newspaper articles which mention the soldiers overseas.
From 1945-1947 after the war had ended monthly parcels continued to be sent to a BNZ officer who was blinded during the war and was receiving rehabilitation and training at St Dunstan, England.
Other known staff funds include the London Branch food parcels. This was facilitated through the Auckland branch but received donations from bnz branches all over the country. London branch acknowledged their thanks for this scheme in 1951 with the gifting of five trophies named the ‘The London Cups’.
The annual reports over the war years show that the bank sent Christmas parcels to staff serving overseas and donated money to various war funds. The bank also supplemented the military salaries of those officers serving overseas and continued to give annual ‘war bonuses’ to those staff.