Reuben Birch – Fern Leaf Club, guest ticket

The Fern Leaf Club - guest ticket.

The Fern Leaf Club – guest ticket.

“Myself and both sides of my family are ‘Londoners’, my fathers side are all born and bread West London, and my late mothers side are south and east end. My uncle probably was able to hop over from the family home in South Ealing on the tube to SW1 where the club was with ease when on leave.”

The New Zealand Forces Club was a series of leave centres instigated for the benefit of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Egypt, Britain and Italy during World War II. General Freyberg had a deep concern for the well being of his men. He saw the New Zealand Forces Club in Cairo as a place where other ranks especially could go and feel normal in what was an extraordinarily abnormal situation. General Freyberg was always anxious to have good leave centres for his men, maintaining, ‘You can’t treat a man like a butler and expect him to fight like a gladiator’. From New Zealand patriotic funded every possible amenity and the best of equipment was provided for these clubs. They provided variety and a pleasant break from the mud and the cold. At the conclusion of the war, General Freyberg stated that the “greatest individual factor in keeping the NZ Division a unified force lay in the fact that we had ‘all ranks’ clubs, where we all met under the same roof—officers, sisters, VADs, and other ranks”

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