Apart from Major Joe Bolton’s 1992: A History of The Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, the Story of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) and its predecessors is one that has largely remained untold.
Military Ordnance Services in New Zealand trace their origins to earliest days of the Colony of New Zealand, which in 1840 saw the appointment of the Colonial Storekeeper as the first Government storekeeper with responsibility 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 to the importance of Logistics, with the Military Store Department providing Ordnance Services to the Imperial and local forces from 1857 to 1870. 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 which also saw the concurrent growth of a Defence Stores Organisation which would exist in various forms 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 NZEF in the First World War has rarely been examined and often just mentioned as a footnote in most contemporary histories. Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert the first Officer Commanding of 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 the production of 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 war 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;y in the post-war environment Vincent failed to provide the required history, and by 1949 the War History Branch had decided that despite the Ordnance Story being crucial to understanding the importance of logistics in modern warfare there would be little of 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 a fire in the 1950s. Leaving a massive hole from the interwar years.
With Major Joe Bolton’s 1992 work as a starting point, the work on this site examines in more detail the Ordnance support provided during the of the Colonial era, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and Somalia. Not forgetting the domestic landscape, Ordnance Services during peacetime in New Zealand and overseas are also examined.