The Auditors of World War One

Quite simply – what a fascinating and magnificent remembrance of those just on one hundred years ago that left the security of the employment to participate in the war that changed everything.

This week as our Report of the Week we came across an extraordinary publication published by Auditor General of New Zealand.

It is entitled From Auditor to Solder – Stories of the Men Who Served.

As the publication notes:

At the outbreak of WWI the Audit Department … had a staff of 61.

As to what experience was needed:

If appointed to the Audit Department, staff were expected to have “experience in ledger keeping”.  In 1914, only one staff member is listed as having an accounting qualification.

And just as today the Audit Department was focusing on new technology:

In 1914, the Public Service Commissioner surveyed the extent to which departments were adopting “modern methods” and found that the Audit Department was one of the few that had used any mechanical aids before 1913; two adding machines and one “computing machine”.

This is a poignant window into the lives before, during and after of the 32 Audit Department staff that served in World War One in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.

This is not a publication that glorifies the war or seeks to take sides in its arguments.

Rather it remembers those ordinary people that were anything but ordinary.

It is simultaneously a fascinating picture into the make up of an auditor 100 years ago.

To this day there is a plaque hanging on the walls in the Office of the Auditor General in Wellington, New Zealand that lists the names of the 32 men that went abroad to serve the King and their country.

Five of the names are preceded with an asterisk.

They died on active service.

One hundred years on their dedication is not forgotten.

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