November 30 - 1940 2nd Echelon Army Team

An Army team made up of men from the 2nd Echelon, captained by All Black Eric Tindill (also a cricket international), played a game in Cape Town en route to Britain and then eight matches in England in late 1940. Opposition teams sometimes included international players and the rugby was of a high standard. The 2nd Echelon struck a tough opponent in St Mary’s Hospital on November 30, losing 3 – 15 but then won their remaining five matches.

From: “RUGBY versus ROMMEL”, edited by P P Donoghue. Published 1961 for 2 NZEF Rugby Reunion. P.25, 31.

“2nd Echelon Team 1940 May 1940, versus Combined Universities at Newlands, Capetown. Lost 6-9. 2nd October, 1940, versus London Division at Hollingsbourne, Kent. Won 7-3. 23rd November, 1940, versus Rosslyn Park at Richmond, Surrey. Lost 20-22. 30th November, 1940, versus St. Mary’s Hospital at Aldershot. Lost 3-15. 5th December, 1940, versus Oxford University at Oxford. Won 21-5. 11th December, 1940, versus Rosslyn Park at Aldershot. Won 15-8. 14th December, 1940, versus Aldershot Corninand at Aldershot. Won 8-0. 21st December, 1940, versus West of England at Bristol. Won 13-8. 28th December, 1940, versus Guy’s Hospital at Honor Oak Park, London. Won 33–3.

The following players took part in these games: Backs: J. Simpson, R. A. Paterson, J. R. O’Hearn, J. Campbell, T. Paraone, M. Symons. E. N. Howell, F. J. Neighbours, I. G. Sterling. E. W. Tindill, W. A. Bell, R. Bonner, G. E. King. Fowards: G. R. Harrison, R. K. King, F. Solomon, W. J. Cooper, J. McLean, P. P. Donoghue, F. S. R. Thompson, P. Bruning, H. 0. Crawford-Smith, T. G. Fowler, T. Graham, C. S. Pepper, E. Newton. A. C. Fowler. B. W. Johnston. “


Little has been written between 1940 and 1961 of the exploits of the 2nd Echelon team, which had the rare experience for a short period of seeing England at the time of the terrific enemy onslaught on that country, a bombardment which shattered its homes, but never its spirit. It is fitting therefore that some mention of the team’s personnel, its calibre and that of its opponents and the resuIts of the matches played, should be recorded in a publication such as this.

In view of the confusion created by the Dunkirk evacuation, Rugby in England during the latter part of 1940 was of a surprisingly high standard in the areas with which the 2nd Echelon was most closely associated. A series of matches was arranged with many of the leading Clubs such as Rosslyn Park, St. Mary’s Hospital, and Guy’s Hospital in addition to Oxford University. Aldershot Command, and the West of England. Most of these teams included several Internationals in their ranks and provided us with formidable opposition. Whom of us who played will forget the stirring finish against Rosslyn Park, played on a grey November day at Old Deer Park. Richmond, in Surrey, when after a settling down process which left us trailing by some 17 points. we came right back into the game. In a most exciting match we got within two points of Rosslyn Park’s 22.

Another tough match followed against St. Mary’s Hospital. captained by Tom Kemp. the then current outstanding stand-off half for England, but from then onwards we went from strength to strength winning the remaining games handsomely. By this time we had developed splendid team work and understanding and this was reflected in the fine performances of the team.

Some of us were also able to accept invitations to play in other fixtures of some importance and consideration was being given for a Commonwealth side to tour other countries “apres la guerre”. However, the end of the war was so long in coming that we had by then become widely scattered in varying circumstances in many different parts of the world, or else been replaced by others who were later to form the basis of the eventual Kiwi team which had such a successful tour of the United Kingdom, France and Germany. The suggestion of a reunion therefore was most welcome.

It is with real pleasure that I. as captain of the 2nd Echelon team, pay a tribute to the splendid spirit which prevailed in the team and also acknowledge the assistance given to us by those responsible for its management. Our players take great pride and joy in being associated with this reunion and we look forward keenly to meeting all those from the other groups who by their performances qualify for attendance.

E W Tindill.”

Eric Tindill - 2nd Echelon captain

Cyril Pepper one of the 2nd Echelon All Blacks