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           Home >  Peace  > Peace  :

Lindsay Crozier 1914 - 1992 - a Christian Pacifist who stood up for his beliefs

Mary Crozier talks to Dorothy - 18/01/08

Lindsay Crozier was born in Scotland in the Scottish town of Galashiels. In 1919 the family came to New Zealand and Lindsay grew up in Invercargill within a staunch Baptist family.

Lindsay Crozier in 1998
Lindsay Crozier in 1998
Click here to view a larger version

When he left school jobs were difficult to get in the worst days of the Depression and he took work in a rabbit processing factory. Next he spent two years in a photographic studio in Gore.

Later he was accepted for teacher training at the Dunedin Training College but was forced to leave when he openly stated his pacifist views.

When he was called for military service he could do no other than to appeal. His strong Christian Pacifist convictions were recognised and his appeal was granted. He was directed into essential factory work - in the Green Island bacon factory.

Work with the Friends Ambulance Unit in China
Learning that the Society of Friends in New Zealand had been asked to recruit seven volunteers to go to China to serve with the Friends Ambulance Unit he applied, was accepted and left for China in May 1945. He had many practical skills and in three years served in several places. He worked in rehabilitating Mission Hospitals, the hospital workshops, public health schemes, refugee situations and at one stage with Japanese prisoners waiting to return to Japan.

In June 1989 the Christian Pacifist Society published


In his article "Three Years in China" Lindsay describes in this own words his work there.
It is re-printed here by permission from Mary Crozier and the Christian Pacifist Society.


Lindsay Crozier

A request came to the Society of Friends in New Zealand to recruit seven volunteers to serve with the Friends Ambulance Unit (F.A.U.) in China. The F.A.U. was an international relief unit made up of conscientious objectors, to work in war stricken areas. I immediately applied and was accepted. The New Zealand group was made up of Owen and Wilf Jackson of Auckland, Neil and Johnnie Johnson of Christchurch, Courtenay Archer of Rangiora and myself from Dunedin.

Owen, Lindsay, Wilf
Owen, Lindsay, Wilf
Photo source Mary Crozier
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Dr Graham Milne, who was planning to go to China with the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, was seconded to the unit on the understanding that when the war was over he would be released to go to the Kong Chuen Hospital about 25 km north of Canton. After the war the F.A.U. became the Friends Service Unit (F.S.U.), and five other New Zealanders joined.

Our party left on May 24th 1945 on the 'Narbada', and arrived in Cochin, South West India, three weeks later. Then up to Calcutta by train to await transport into China. As Japan had control of all of the China coast, the only way into China was over the 'Hump' - the high altitude air route from Calcutta to Kumming. Unit members were flown into China through the courtesy of the American Air Force. It was a thrill to land in Kumming and to be in China. After a few days there, we went to Kutsing, a small village about 150km east of Kumming.

The work of the F.A.U. while the Sino-Japanese war was in progress was mainly two-fold:-

1) Hauling medical and other vital supplies throughout Free China. These supplies were mainly the gift of various Red Cross Societies in the West, and were desperately needed for Mission Hospitals, etc.

2) Staffing and servicing mission hospitals, for by this time many of the expatriate staff had gone home.

The transport work was exciting and tough. The F.A.U. had a series of well-equipped workshops to serve the numerous trucks in various stages of decay. It was a case of cannibalising the least wanted to keep others going. Because petrol was practically non-existent, all the trucks were equipped with F.A.U.-designed and built charcoal gas units. It was a constant struggle to keep them going, especially on the high passes. The poor old vehicles certainly suffered from asthma. The trucks usually travelled in convoy, the rear one carrying a host of spare tyres, engine, charcoal etc., etc.

Tyres were a real problem, and many miles were travelled on one tyre bolted over another badly worn one. On the steep hills the co-driver would ride on the running-board, and when the truck could go no further, he would hop off and put a big chock under the back wheels. This gave breathing space so that the charcoal burner could be raked out and more gas produced. Great joy on reaching the top and tearing down the long winding road. I remember vividly one place where there were 72 hair-pin bends in quick succession. Rivers were a hazard, crossed usually on pontoons which swayed and turned as they floated downstream accompanied by the shouting of the boatmen.

I spent most of my time as a medical mechanic, servicing and improvising equipment for the hospitals. We had a sign in the workshops - "Bombers into bedpans". Wrecked aeroplanes were a great source of materials, and many a peasant hobbled around on an artificial limb made from some aeroplane part.

When the Sino-Japanese War came to an end, the emphasis of the unit changed. It moved from 'Free' China into what had been occupied, took over the hospitals from the occupying Japanese, got them going again, and handed them over to the respective mission.

A few of us went to Hankow, a large city about 600 miles up the Yangtze, to take over the Union Hospital normally run and staffed by L.M.S. (London Missionary Society) and the Methodist Churches of Great Britain. When we arrived this large hospital and compound were occupied by about 700 Japanese P.O.W.s. We very quickly established that we were not part of a conquering nation, but a team of reconciliation. Looking back, I realise that my few months spent at Hankow was the most fulfilling time spent in China with the F.A.U. I recall the Christmas Service - about 50 of the Japanese Christians, our Chinese colleagues, and a few of us non-Easterners - forgetting the war and the things which divided us. We had all gathered to give thanks to the Prince of Peace. A highlight of the service was the Japanese nurses singing 'Silent Night' in four parts.

I heard that there were some Korean P.O.W.s in Wuhan, across the river from Hankow, living in appalling conditions and dying like flies. The Chinese wouldn't help, the Japanese weren't allowed to, but were willing to share their meagre supplies, so I would fill up a rucksack and cross the river at midnight and wend my way through the darkened streets to the hospital. I had a few tussles with the guards on our compound. There were some delightful Catholic Sisters who used to visit our hospital. I found that they had a well which they were scared to use because there was an unexploded bomb at the bottom, so I volunteered to have a look. The water was mighty cold. I saw the fin of the bomb sticking out of the mud - gave a gentle tug and it came away in my hand - the bomb had gone off with little damage. The Mother Superior was so relieved that she presented me with a little plaque with the words "Just for Today". The outcome of that visit was that I spent four weekends in the convent fixing their equipment, and being thoroughly spoiled.

When the Japanese were repatriated and the hospital handed back to the L.M.S. I moved up to Honan and worked on a number of projects. Then went down to Shanghai and spent some time doing a documentary film of the Chinese Industrial Co-ops. I went to China for two years and stayed for three. It was time to return to New Zealand.

In retrospect, the time in China was tremendously rewarding - life-long friendships were created, misunderstandings broken down, and I trust that we were able, in some small way, to show that pacifism is a positive way of life.

As Hayakawa San, the head Japanese nurse and a fine Christian, said in a little farewell speech, "Men have come to the East to teach humanism, but you have come to live Jesus Christ."

Back to New Zealand for a short time
On returning to New Zealand in 1948 he was encouraged to apply for a position as Compound Manager with the NZ Presbyterian Mission at Kong Chuen, South China and was duly appointed.

Marriage to Mary Jacobs
He attended Assembly in 1948 in Wellington. On his return journey to Christchurch by ferry on November 9 he met Mary Jacobs, a deaconess stationed in Greymouth, also returning from Assembly. On January 28 1949, he and Mary were married in Greymouth.

Back to China
In mid-February they left to take up the work at the mission station in Kong Chuen. After two years in China they left when the Communist takeover created problems which led to withdrawal of the missions - and when Mary was due to have her first baby. That baby was twin girls and later Mary had a son.

After China then what?
Lindsay was appointed by the NZ Presbyterian Church Assembly to head up the publicity work of the church in New Zealand and overseas, a position he held for eighteen years. Mary was often left with responsibility for the family while he travelled, but on one memorable occasion she accompanied him on an assignment undertaken with an Auckland firm called Reynolds Television. Their director Don Whyte and the Croziers were a team, filming in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong, highlighting the work of the Leprosy Mission, the Baptist Mission, Corso, and the Ludhiana Fellowship. The work took three months.

Lindsay's next appointment was a field officer's position with the Presbyterian Social Services in the Northern South Island Area.

He retired in 1979 and died in 1992.

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