About ‘To The Warrior His Arms’ The History of the RNZAOC

The provision of weapons, ammunition, clothing and the equipment and supplies used to maintain and service these items is in the vernacular of British and Commonwealth Militaries classified as Ordnance Stores. Despite military and civilian organisations specialising in the provision of Ordnance Services being a constant feature of the New Zealand Military landscape since 1840, the contribution of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services has remained untold in the broader New Zealand military history narrative. This website addresses the shortfall in the New Zealand Military History narrative and provides a comprehensive and growing history of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services from 1840 to 1996

The establishment of the colony of New Zealand in 1840 saw the appointment of the Colonial Storekeeper as the first Government storekeeper responsible for providing arms, munitions and accoutrements to the first militias.  Conductors of Stores accompanied British Regiments from their first deployments to New Zealand, with the Board of Ordnance setting up offices in Wellington and Auckland to provide more robust support to the growing number of Imperial troops. The abolishment of the Board of Ordnance in 1855 and the logistical lessons of the Crimean war saw the British approach the New Zealand Wars with a refreshed view of the importance of Logistics, with the Military Store Department providing Ordnance Services to the Imperial and local forces from 1857 to 1870.[1]  The passing of the Colonial Defence Act of 1862 saw New Zealand Forces take on a bulk of responsibility allowing the withdrawal of Imperial forces by 1870.  The growth of an indigenous New Zealand Military also saw the concurrent growth of a Defence Stores organisation which supported the military until replaced by the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) as part of the Permanent Forces in 1917.

The contribution of the NZAOC to the success of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in the First World War has rarely been examined and is often just mentioned as a footnote in most contemporary histories. Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert, the first Officer Commanding the NZEF Ordnance Corps and the NZEF Assistant Director of Ordnance Service (ADOS), was tasked after the war to produce a war history of the NZAOC. Unfortunately, this directive was never followed up by the authorities responsible for producing the war histories and the opportunity was missed.

The 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force of the Second World War was supported in all theatres by the men of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC), with the New Zealand Division in the Western Desert and Italy regarded as one of the finest Divisions of the war.  Contributing to this success was the Ordnance support provided by the NZAOC and NZOC. Immediately after the war, the War History Branch was created, and a committee of senior Ordnance Officers agreed to produce an Ordnance War History, appointing Warrant Officer Class One R.F Vincent as the Ordnance historian. Unfortunately, Vincent failed to provide the required history in the time required. In 1949 the War History Branch decided that despite the Ordnance Story being crucial to understanding the importance of logistics in modern warfare, it was an area in which there was little interest, and the project was not pursued any further.

On the home front, a bulk of the files relating to the Defence Stores Department (the predecessor to the Home Service NZAOC and the early years of the Ordnance Corps were lost in the Hope Gibbons fire on 29 July 1952, leaving a massive hole in the History of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services.

This webpage carries on from Major Joe Bolton’s 1992 History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, which provides a useful starting point. This webpage expands on Bolton’s work and examines in more detail the Ordnance Support and the men and women who provided it during the Colonial era, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and Somalia. Not forgetting the domestic landscape, Ordnance Services during peacetime in New Zealand and overseas garrisons are also examined.


[1] During the New Zealand Wars that fell between 1840 and 1870, responsibility for the provision of Logistical support to the Imperial Forces in New Zealand fell to two organisations; The Commissariat, whose duty was to keep the soldier well fed and the Military Store Department, whose function was to keep the soldier well and comfortably clad and amply supplied with the munitions of war.



RNZAOC Corps Painting by Graham Braddock, RNZAOC/public domain


24 thoughts on “About ‘To The Warrior His Arms’ The History of the RNZAOC

  1. Kevin Dreyer

    Hi Rob. Love the site. but found it devoid of recent history; ie there’s a whole raft of grumpy old gits (well several of us anyway) who could well fill in some of the detail of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. As an example I did actually serve with 1 Comp Ord when it had the laundry platoon – but don’t remember that much about it. Went from there to Vietnam (2 AOD as Planning Officer just before the withdrawal)and then to NZAOD Singapore and then back to BSB etc. Would be happy to try and co-ordinate my generation to fill out the site., Could well be a thankless task but….

    Liked by 1 person

    • rneilmckie

      Thanks Kevin, glad you are enjoying the site. Its a work in progress and there are articles from more recent times in the pipeline. Any contributions are more than welcome,


  2. David Thompson (Thommo)

    Hi Rob, An awesome site and great to see the old Pataka magazines as well, brought back lots of memories Keep up the good wok!!


    • rneilmckie

      Thanks Thommo, Glad you are enjoying the site, keep watching as there is more content in the pipeline and as I research more I am adding additional details to existing pages.

      Cheers Rob


  3. Dave Morris

    You might say, ‘Someone’s gotta do it.’ I’ll chip in whenever, but I am not up to doing the task. Count on me.


  4. Kerry Grassam

    Hi Rob, I have just returned from a RNZASC/ RNZCT reunion at Whangarei, as I was in RNASC in regular force 1963 -66..On joining the TF ,in the late seventies I joined up with RNZAOC, in 3 Bath platoon at Burnham. While at reunion I found out RNZAOC, RNZASC RNZEME, All were almagamated to form the RNZALR. Can you tell me if this is correct, also is there any members who still about from 3Bath Platoon. Regards H41062 GRASSAM K M ( Kerry Grassam)


    • rneilmckie

      Hi Kerry, yes I can confirm that the RNZAOC, RNZASC RNZEME were all amalgamated to form the RNZALR on the 8thof December 1996. I am not sure how many from 3 Bath Platoon are still around but I will put a note on the RNZAOC Facebook page and see who we can find. I hope you find this site informative and take the time to subscribe. I attempt to add new content each week and welcome any contributions and feedback.


  5. Colin Campbell,

    Hi Rob, I am writing about ANZUK in Singapore 1971-74. I would like to quote from your website re the Supply Depot. May I have your permission to do so? Thanks


    • rneilmckie

      Hi Colin, Great to hear that you are writing about the ANZUK Force, it is a long-neglected subject. Feel free to quote from my website but do please ensure that you reference appropriately. Regards


      • Colin Campbell

        Rob, Thank you. Yours is the best information I could find anywhere on the ANZUK Supply depot. It is a pity that space will limit me to only a few paragraphs. Regards, Colin


  6. Les Bates

    Served in 21 field supply co 1986 to 1998 great memories went from 100 plus TF with small RF contingent to 10 TF after creation of log regiment and finally no TF allowed to be part of a RF regiment.


  7. John Balding

    Despite your humble ‘work in progress’ statement, this is a well researched site, well done. We have communicated before over some minor inaccuracies/inconsistencies but can’t find those messages hence this plea via your comments board. I am keen to see a copy of the document you refer to titled, Redesignation of Titles of Inspecting Ordnance Officers and Other Ammunition Personnel Army 209/5/3/Sd’, a soft copy would be appreciated for my own project in UK. Keep up the good work as “knowledge not shared is lost”.
    Regards JB


  8. Stephen Home

    Dear Sir, I noticed that your site published a book titled “DRESS REGULATIONS FOR THE OFFICERS OF THE ARMY. 1883”. I am doing some research into British Army Sword Knots and wondered if there were copies of this book from any other earlier year that I might be able to read or download. Thank you for your help.
    Yours faithfully
    Stephen Home
    British Army veteran


  9. Bec

    Hello, I am doing research on my partner’s grandfather who was an Armourer Sergeant with the 8th CMR, 11th AMR and 2nd Machine Gun Corp. 9 months of part time study has revealed bits of information about what his life could’ve have been like july 1916 – jan 1919. I have matched information about the 6th Reinforcement with his service records, war diaries as well as other general information about ordnance units. However there seems to be a massive gap in what these guys did, when, how etc.
    I am looking for someone who knows about NZEF Armourers of WW1 or a source of information about this specialist unit. I feel like I am missing something. :/


    • Hi Bec, you are correct. There is a massive gap in New Zealand’s Military historical narrative about the role that the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (including Armourers) carried out in the NZEF during WW1. Still, it is one that I am slowly correcting. My work on Armourers is still in progress however their responsibilities included the care and repair of small arms (including rifles, pistols, swords, and scabbards), bayonets, machine guns, Machine Gun carriages, bicycles and for minor repairs to the metal work of accoutrements and equipment. Although held against the strength of Infantry and Mounted Rifle Regiments, from 1916, it seems that Armourers within the NZEF were brigaded together into a central Armourers Workshop, I am still researching how this was managed and if individual Armourers retained some relationship with their parent Regiment. I would be interested to learn more about your relative’s service as it is another piece in the puzzle that is the NZAOC in WW1.


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