ANZUK Supply Platoon

 

These are a series of photos from an album I was surprised to discover in a Wellington second-hand shop. The collection spans from 1971 to 1979 and provides a photographic history of the ANZUK Supply Depot (1971-74) and the New Zealand Supply Platoon (1974-89).

My Connection with this album

I was surprised to find that I have several connections to these photos. The first link is evident as I served in Singapore from 1987 to 1989 and the Supply Platoon was part of my unit, the New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot (NZAOD).  I spent a lot of time in the cool-store and the old POL Store which by then was our vehicle section, and sadly one of my last duties was clearing these buildings out for handover to the Singapore Authorities ending around 54 years of commonwealth occupancy.

The second connection is from one of the photos of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary  (RFA) Tideflow been provisioned. In 1971 a Royal Navy Task-force headed by the carrier HMS Eagle visited Wellington, New Zealand. With My brother home from Cadets, my father took my brothers and me to visit the ships. Finding long ques for all the fighting ships, we wandered around, and somehow we ended up on the RFA Tideflow. Which according to family legend, 5ish year old me got separated from the party and found my way to the wardroom (a habit that has stuck with me for a lifetime) and my brother getting incredibly drunk. As a vicar, my father offered the crew ( who were mainly Maltese) some pastoral care and arranged some onshore activities, FB_IMG_1489901557315 (002) including a football match and a home cooked meal at the vicarage. The bonus for us kids was what seemed to be a mountain of crisps, chocolates and canned soft drinks, canned soft drinks been somewhat of a novelty that was unavailable in New Zealand at the time. On departure, my father was given a Plaque as a thank you, and to this day that plaque takes pride of place in his living room, Oh there was also several cases of Courage CSB.

RFA Tideflow

RFA Tideflow. Robert McKie collection

ANZUK Supply Platoon

The ANZUK Supply Platoon was the ANZUK unit responsible for the provision of foodstuffs and POL (petrol oil lubricants) to the ANZUK Force (1971-1974). Under the command of the Commander Royal Australian Army Service Corp (CRAASC), it was a tri-nation unit, with members drawn from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

It was formed at a time when the three different armies were rationalising their Supply functions from an Army Service Corp Responsibility to an Ordnance Corp responsibility, and as a result, the unit was a mix of Royal Army Ordnance Corp and Australian and New Zealand Army Service Corp personnel. The United Kingdom had made the change in 1965, Australia would follow in 1973 and New Zealand in 1979.

With the withdrawal of the British and Australians form Singapore, the ANZUK Supply Depot would change ownership and become the NZ Supply depot In 1974, continuing under RNZASC control until 1979 and then RNZAOC control until 1989 when the New Zealand withdrew its forces from Singapore.

Located in the northeastern section of the former HM Naval Dockyard, Sembawang, Singapore, the ANZUK Supply Depot occupied the cluster of buildings that were the former Royal Navy Victualling and Storing Office and Victualling Depot (SVSO and Vict Depot).

Originally announced in 1923, construction of the Naval Dockyard was completed in 1939, at a staggering cost of £60 million – equivalent to £2½ billion in 2006 paid for by the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The base covered 21 square miles (54 km2) and had the most significant dry dock in the world, the third-largest floating dock, fuel tanks to support the entire British Navy for six months and a host of workshops, warehouses and accommodation. With the withdrawal of British forces from Singapore starting in 1968, most of the Naval Base was handed over to the Singapore government, with the area adjacent to the Stores basin retained for use by the residual Commonwealth, then New Zealand Forces

Royal Navy Dockyard, Singapore

Map of Royal Navy Dockyard, Singapore. Robert McKie Collection

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Map of Store Basin, Royal Navy Dockyard, Sembawang, Singapore. Robert McKie Collection

 DRY STORE

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Dry provision store 1971. Robert McKie collection

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Current dry store area, proposed as office accommodation, 1971. Robert McKie collection

Cold Store

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Aerial view of ANZUK Supply Depot Cool-store, 1971. Robert McKie Collection

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Cool-store area entrance, 1971. Robert McKie Collection

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Cool-store area and waiting area, 1972. Robert McKie collection

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Cool-store refrigeration plant and operators, 1972. Robert McKie Collection

POL Store

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Main bulk dry store – POL Store, proposed new petrol point site, 1971. Robert McKie collection

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The site for proposed area for petrol pumps, 1971. Robert McKie collection

ANZUK Supply Depot 1972

ANZUK SUPPLY DEPOT STAFF 1972

ANZUK SUPPLY DEPOT STAFF 1972 Robert McKie Collection

Standing L to R: Cpl Parker, RAASC. Cpl Olderman, RAASC, Cpl Mcintyre, RAOC. Sgt Frank, RAOC. Cpl Rangi, RNZASC. Sgt Locke, RNZASC. Sgt Bust, RAOC. Pte Mag, RAASC. Cpl David, RAASC.

Sitting L to R: Sgt Kietelgen, RAASC. WO2 West, RAOC. Capt Mcnice, RAOC. Maj Hunt, RAASC. Lt Fynn, RAASC. WO2 Cole, RAASC. WO2 Clapton. RAASC

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WO2 John West (Master Butcher) RAOC, Inspecting live goats before issue to Gurkha Regt at Nee Soon for Sacrificial Purposes. 1972 . Robert McKie Collection

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Checking fresh fish consignment, 1973, Left to right: Cpl Mcintyre, RAOC; WO2 John West, RAOC; Cpl Olderman, RAASC, 1973. Robert McKie collection

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Supply of provisions to RFA Tideflow, 1973. Robert McKie collection

Checking ‘Live’ consignment of produce to issue to Gurkha Regt at Nee Soon,

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Sgt Bill Donaghue, RNZASC; Cpl Mcintyre, RAOC: Cpl Olderman, RAASC; WO2 John West RAOC. Robert McKie collection

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Cpl Mcintyre, RAOC; WO2 John West, RAOC. Robert McKie collection

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WO2 John West, RAOC; Locally Employed Civilian; Cpl Mcintyre, RAOC. Robert McKie collection

HMY Britannia

Robert McKie Collection

signal

Robert McKie Collection

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New Zealand Supply Contingent Somalia

1992 was an exciting time to be an Ordnance Soldier, after close to 20 years with few operational tours; the RNZAOC was deploying a supply unit with supporting elements from the RNZCT, RNZEME, RNZSig, RNZMC and later RNZIR to support the international and United Nations famine relief efforts in Somalia.

New Zealand Supply Detachment

The New Zealand Army first deployed to Somalia in 1992 with a Supply Detachment which was part of the original United Nations Operation in Somalia, (UNOSOM). To facilitate the purchase of goods in neighbouring Kenya, personnel were also deployed there on a regular basis. The original commitment was 28-strong, with most members arriving in Somalia in early 1993.

Taniwha Hill2

New Zealand Supply Platoon

The Supply Detachment was replaced in July 1993 with a more substantial 43-strong Supply Platoon. Due to the deteriorating security situation, it included an infantry section from 1 RNZIR, which marked the first deployment of Kiwi combat troops since the Vietnam War. This Platoon witnessed the Battle of Mogadishu unfold including the events of the infamous Black Hawk Down incident.

A second Supply Platoon rotated in January 1994. This platoon was present for the draw-down and withdrawal of all of the western forces which were completed by 30 March 1994, which then left the New Zealand platoon, Australian MOVCON, Air Traffic Controllers and ASASR troop and the Irish Transport Company as the few western contingents remaining in Somalia.

Taniwha Hill

Role of the Supply Units

The purpose of the New Zealand Supply units was the provision of supplies to the UN Force. To facilitate this, a section was situated at the Port of Mogadishu working with the Catering, and food supply contractor to the UN, Morris Catering, and a section was located at the Airport where a warehouse was maintained holding general stores.

Conditions in Somalia

The New Zealand troops were poorly equipped and only issued with primary small arms and fragmentation vests, which given the threat level was wholly inadequate for the task. Vehicle movement was by light-skinned commercial vehicles and due to the risk of ambush and IEDs, with vehicle movement often limited, and often the situation deteriorated to a state where vehicle movement was stopped altogether, and helicopters had to be used to fly to United Nations locations around Mogadishu. Gunfire was constant, with Somali bandits climbing into the surrounding buildings and sporadically firing into the airfield and seaport, with random mortar fire also been a continuous threat and annoyance. An increasing casualty list of UN personnel and relief workers served as a continuing reminder of the hostility and dangers of working in Somalia.

Brigadier Charles Lott, who served in Somalia, recalls that the drive between the UNOSOM HQ in the university compound in Mogadishu itself and the airport was hair-raising:

“Speed was the main weapon against Somalis who were often under the influence of the hallucinatory herbal drug known as khat and were taking pot shots. It was common practice for the crew of New Zealand vehicles travelling between Mogadishu and the airport to have their Steyr on “instant”, wedged between the front seats ‒ the driver with a Sig Sauer also on “instant”, jammed into the door handle.” “Weapon discipline was very important as was a constant wariness of burning tyres, a Somali signal that there is “bad stuff” about to go down, come and join the fun.”

The New Zealanders, he said, worked long hours, often ten hours a day, seven days a week. In one month alone more than 1000 tonnes of rations were distributed, including live goats.

Somalia Body Armour


Taniwha Hill

The New Zealanders home in Mogadishu was a camp in the sand-hills between the Indian ocean and Mogadishu Airport which had been christened “Taniwha Hill”. Taniwha Hill was a self-contained location with heavily sandbagged tents providing the most austere accommodation, and a large mess tent/kitchen/recreation area as the central point of the camp. Ablution facilities were rudimentary with buckets for showers and dissected 44-gallon drums for toilets, which required the daily disposal by stirring and burning. Modern ablution blocks with hot and cold running water and flush toilets were provided in the last weeks of the deployment.

Withdrawal

The Supply Platoons ended their mission in June 1994.

Reunion

A very successful reunion was held in 2013, with past members returning from as far away as the UK to attend, A very successful take away from this reunion was a Somalia Journal which no doubt takes pride of place on many bookshelves. The next reunion is planned for 2018.

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Facebook Page

The Kiwi Somalia veterans have an active Facebook Group,  Taniwha Hill – Kiwi Somalia Veterans where members keep in touch, share photos and organise events.

(Copyright © Robert McKie 2017)


New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Home Service), 1917-1924

Before the 1st World War, there was no Ordnance Organisation in the New Zealand Army, responsibility for Ordnance Services were split between the Defence Stores Department, a civilian organisation and the Royal New Zealand Artillery. Need for an Ordnance Organisation has been identified as early as 1901 [1] and again in 1907 [2], but it wasn’t until 1917 that a formal Ordnance organisation would be established in New Zealand.

Based on the British Ordnance model (which itself was abolished on 28 November 1918 with the formation of the RAOC) [3] [4], two separate organisations would be established for the supply, maintenance and repair of equipment, small arms and all stores required for the Defence Force.

  • An Ordnance Department for Officers, and
  • An Ordnance Corps for Warrant officer, SNCO’s and Other ranks

Establishment

The regulations establishing the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) were published in the New Zealand Gazette on the 7th of June 1917. Established under the authority of the Defence Act,1909 the NZAOC was constituted and created as part of the Permanent Staff of the Defence Forces of New Zealand as of the 1st of February 1917.  Superseding the New Zealand Defence Stores Department, absorbing its existing staff and those handling military equipment and stores in the districts and training camps. Previously the Defence Stores Department had been under the control of the Public Service Commission, the NZAOC was now under the direction of the Quartermaster General. The establishment of the new Ordnance organisations, ended the anomaly of having civilians in the army who are outside it, and were not subject to military discipline and control, and placed staff who had worn civilian clothes into uniform and under army discipline [5] [6].

Organisation

The Gazetted regulations that established the NZAOC laid out the foundation of the Corps, the same Gazette also detailed the establishment of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department, which was a separate organisation made up only of Officers.

NZAOC 1917

The NZAOC Establishment as of 7 June 1917 was [7]:

1917 ESTAB

Stores Regulations

To complement the creation of the new Ordnance Services, new regulations for the management of the equipment of the New Zealand Military Forces were published in the New Zealand Gazette on the 14th of June 1917 [8].

Operations

The NZAOC in conjunction with the NZAOD in New Zealand and the NZEF NZAOC would continue to support New Zealand’s war effort up to the end of the war, and then play a significant role in the demobilisation of New Zealand’s Forces, and the return, inspection, repair and redistribution of equipment. As the NZEF demobilised, the NZAOC absorbed some of the men who had served with the NZEF NZAOC providing much operation experience which became invaluable as both the NZAOD and NZAOC consolidated their position and started to centralise themselves as an organisation in Trentham, Burnham and Auckland.

Badges

Badges of the NZAOC are detailed in my earlier Blog Ordnance Badges of New Zealand 1916-1996.

Reconstitution

On 27th of June 1924, the regulations establishing the NZAOD and NZAOC on the 7th of June 1917 were revoked, and the NZAOD was reconstituted as part of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps resulting in one Ordnance organisation for the New Zealand Permanent Forces [9].

 

 

References

[1] J. Babington, “Defence Forces of New Zealand,” House of Representatives, Wellington, 1904.
[2] J. Ward, “Defence Forces of New Zealand,” House of Representatives, Wellington, 1907.
[3] F. Steer, To The Warrior his Arms, Barnsley: Pen and Sword Books, 2005.
[4] A. Fernyhough, A short history of the RAOC, London: C B Printers Ltd, 1965.
[5] J. Bolton, A History of the RNZAOC, Wellington: RNZAOC, 1992.
[6] “Defence Stores,” Otago Daily Times, no. 17033, p. 6, 18 June 1917.
[7] New Zealand Gazette, p. 2292, 7 June 1917.
[8] “Regulations for the Equipment of the New Zealand Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette, no. 99, pp. 2369-2498, 14 June 1917.
[9] “NZAOD and NZAOC,” New Zealand Gazette, p. 1605, 3 July 1924.
[10] “New Zealand Army,” Evening Post, vol. XCIV, no. 24, p. 7, 28 July 1917.
[11] “Ordnance Services,” Evening Post, vol. XCIX, no. 38, p. 5, 14 February February 1920.

 

 

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017

 

 


New Zealand Army Ordnance Department, 1917-1924

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NZ Army Ordnance Department badge 1917-1924. Robert McKie collection

Before the 1st World War, there was no single Organisation responsible for the provision of Ordnance Services to the New Zealand Forces. Responsibility for Ordnance Services was split between the Defence Stores Department, a civilian organisation and the Royal New Zealand Artillery. Need for an Ordnance Organisation has been identified much in the preceding years including as early as 1901 [1] and again in 1907 [2], but it wasn’t until 1917 that a formal Ordnance organisation would be established in New Zealand.

Based on the British Ordnance model (which itself was abolished on 28 November 1918 with the formation of the RAOC) [3] [4], two separate organisations would be established for the supply, maintenance and repair of equipment, small arms and all stores required for the Defence Force.

  • An Ordnance Department for Officers, and
  • An Ordnance Corps for Warrant officer, SNCO’s and Other ranks

Establishment

The regulations establishing the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) were published in the New Zealand Gazette on the 7th of June 1917. Established under the authority of the Defence Act,1909 the NZAOD was constituted and established as part of the Permanent Staff of the Defence Forces of New Zealand as of the 1st of February 1917.  Superseding the New Zealand Defence Stores Department, absorbing its existing staff and those handling military equipment and stores in the districts and training camps. Previously the Defence Stores Department had been under the control of the Public Service Commission, the NZAOD was now under the direction of the Quartermaster General. The establishment of the new Ordnance organisations, ended the anomaly of having civilians in the army who are outside it, and were not subject to military discipline and control, and placed staff who had worn civilian clothes into uniform and under army discipline [5] [6].

Organisation

The Gazetted regulations that established the NZAOD laid out the foundation of the department, the same Gazette also detailed the establishment of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, which was a separate organisation made up of Warrant Officers, Non- Commissioned Officers, soldiers and civilians. The NZAOD was to consist of [7]:

Directing Staff

  • Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores,
  • Assistant Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores,
  • Four Ordnance Officers attached to district commands,
  • Two Ordnance Officers of the expeditionary force camps.

Executive Staff

  • Three Accounting Officers at/headquarters, graded as Ordnance officers, fourth class.

Inspectorate Staff

  • The Inspector of Ordnance Machinery, graded as Ordnance officer, third class
  • The Inspector, Engineer, Electric light and Defence vessels stores, graded as Ordnance officer, third class.

In the NZ Gazette of January 10, 1918, the Inspectorate Staff was restructured as 18 December 1917 as follows;

  • The Inspector of Ordnance Machinery, graded as Ordnance officer, third class
  • The Inspector, Engineer, Electric light and Defence vessels stores, graded as Ordnance officer, third class.
  • Proof Officer, Small Arms Ammunition, graded as Ordnance Officer, third class

Officers of the Department were ranked as:

  • Ordnance officer First class: – Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, or Major.
  • Ordnance officer Second class: – Major or Captain.
  • Ordnance officer Third class: – Captain.
  • Ordnance officer Fourth class: – Lieutenant.

NZAOD 1917

Foundation Staff

Approved with effect 1 April 1917, the foundation staff of the NZAOD on its formation were [8];

Directing Staff

  • Honorary Major T. M’Cristell– Director of Equipment and Ordnance stores, graded Ordnance Officer, 1st class, with the rank of Major
  • Temporary Captain T. J. King – Assistant Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores to be graded Ordnance Officer, 2nd class; with the rank of Captain
  • Honorary Captain W.T Beck DS0 – Ordnance Officer Auckland, graded as Ordnance Officer, 4th class, with the rank of lieutenant, but retained the rank of Captain (temp) whilst performing the duties’ of ordnance officer, 3rd class
  • Honorary Captain A.R.C White – Ordnance Officer Christchurch, graded as Ordnance Officer, 3rd class, with the rank of Captain
  • Honorary Captain O.F. M’Guigan – Ordnance Officer Dunedin, graded as Ordnance Officer, 4th class, but retained the rank of Captain (temp) whilst performing the duties’ of Ordnance Officer, 3rd class.
  • Honorary Lieutenant F.E Ford – Ordnance Officer Wellington, graded as Ordnance Officer, 3rd class, with the rank of Captain

Executive Staff

  • Honorary Lieutenant L.F M’Nair – graded as Ordnance Officer, 4th class, with the rank of lieutenant
  • Honorary Lieutenant A.W Baldwin – graded as Ordnance Officer, 4th class, with the rank of lieutenant.

Inspectorial Staff

  • Honorary Captain and Quartermaster B.G.V Parker – Inspector of Ordnance Machinery, graded as Ordnance Officer, 3rd class, with the rank of captain
  • Honorary Lieutenant and Quartermaster G.J. Parrell – Inspector Engineer, Electrical light and Defence Vessels Stores, graded as Ordnance Officer 3rd class, with the rank of captain.
  • Captain Arthur Duvall – Proof Officer, Small Arms Ammunition as Ordnance Officer 3rd Class (From 10 January 1918).

Stores Regulations

To complement the creation of the new Ordnance Services, new regulations for the management of the equipment of the New Zealand Military Forces were published in the New Zealand Gazette on the 14th of June 1917 [9].

Operations

The NZAOD in conjunction with the NZAOC in New Zealand and the NZEF NZAOC in Europe would continue to support New Zealand’s war effort up to the end of the war, and then play a significant role in the demobilisation of the NZEF and the return, inspection, repair and redistribution of equipment. On 14 February 1920 Lieutenant Colonel H. E. Pilkington, was appointed Staff Officer for the Ordnance Services effectively replacing McCristell as the Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores, with the new title Director of Ordnance Stores [10]. As the NZEF demobilised, the NZAOD absorbed some of the officers who had served with the NZEF NZAOC providing much operation experience which became invaluable as both the NZAOD and NZAOC consolidated their position and started to centralise themselves as an organisation in Trentham, Burnham and Auckland.

Badges

Badges of the NZAOD are detailed in my earlier Blog Ordnance Badges of New Zealand 1916-1996.

Reconstitution

On 27th of June 1924, the regulations establishing the NZAOD on the 7th of June 1917 were revoked, and the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department was reconstituted as part of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps resulting in one Ordnance organisation for the New Zealand Army [11].

 

References

[1] J. Babington, “Defence Forces of New Zealand,” House of Representatives, Wellington, 1904.
[2] J. Ward, “Defence Forces of New Zealand,” House of Representatives, Wellington, 1907.
[3] F. Steer, To The Warrior his Arms, Barnsley: Pen and Sword Books, 2005.
[4] A. Fernyhough, A short history of the RAOC, London: C B Printers Ltd, 1965.
[5] J. Bolton, A History of the RNZAOC, Wellington: RNZAOC, 1992.
[6] “Defence Stores,” Otago Daily Times, no. 17033, p. 6, 18 June 1917.
[7] New Zealand Gazette, p. 2292, 7 June 1917.
[8] “New Zealand Army,” Evening Post, vol. XCIV, no. 24, p. 7, 28 July 1917.
[9] “Regulations for the Equipment of the New Zealand Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette, no. 99, pp. 2369-2498, 14 June 1917.
[10] “Ordnance Services,” Evening Post, vol. XCIX, no. 38, p. 5, 14 February February 1920.
[11] “NZAOD and NZAOC,” New Zealand Gazette, p. 1605, 3 July 1924.

 

 

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017

 

 


New Zealand Army Ordnance Section

The early years of the 20th century were a confusing time in the field of stores accounting for the New Zealand Defence Force.  Responsibilities were split between:

  • The Director of Ordnance and Artillery, who was responsible for Artillery armament, fixed coast defences, and supplies for ordnance, and
  • The Quartermaster General, who through the Director of Stores of the Defence Stores Department, was responsible for clothing and personal equipment, accoutrements, saddlery, harness, small-arms and small arms ammunition, machine guns and all stores required for the Defence Forces.

By all accounts, these arrangements were somewhat perplexing, and there was a considerable amount of duplication of responsibility. At the time it was agreed that the practices were inefficient and should be replaced. But as they were very much in line with current British Army procedures there would be no move to change. Eventually, the change would happen, and a New Zealand Ordnance Corps would be formed to manage most army supply matters, but for the time being Artillery would remain responsible for the management of their Ammunition, an arrangement that would endure until 1947.

In 1911, concerned with the Artillery ammunition situation, and the associated costs with importation all of the required stocks to maintain training and operational needs. Lieutenant Colonel G.N Johnston, the Director of Ordnance and Artillery, tasked his Artillery Stores Accountant Lieutenant R.G.V Parker to conduct a cost-benefit analysis exercise on the virtues of locally made up ammunition versus the importation new ammunition.

At the time the stocks of the RNZA consisted of a variety of obsolete, obsolescent and current field and fixed coast artillery pieces including:

  • QF  6-Pounder Hotchkiss gun.
  • QF 6 pounder Nordenfelt.
  • QF 12 pounder 12 cwt gun.
  • Ordnance QF 18-pounder.
  • QF 4.5-inch howitzer.
  • BL 6-inch Mk VII naval gun.
  • BL 6 inch gun Mk V.
  • BL 8 inch Mk VII naval gun.

Most of the Quick Loading (QF) ammunition types consisted of single piece ammunition, which had the projectile mounted in a  brass case which held the propellant charge.  QF cases had a limited life and could usually only be cleaned and reloaded with Cordite charges, up to a maximum of six times before requiring disposal.

 

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BL 6inch Gun Cartridge MkIII. Wikipedia Commons

The Breech loading weapons used a two-piece ammunition system where the projectile and the propellant bags were separate single-use items that could be adjusted to provide different firing characteristics. Propellant charges of the time were cloth, usually silk bag, containing sticks of cordite bound up together with an igniter pad. The nature of the cordite provided the cartridges with some rigidity and a tubular shape so that they could be loaded as a solid unit without a case. 

Lieutenant Parker estimated in his study that by refurbishing by cleaning, inspecting and refilling the QF Casings, and inspecting and refurbishing in service propellant bags, and manufacturing new ones as required, considerable savings could be made instead of importing new items.

He estimated with an initial outlay for specialist equipment and materials exuding labour, the savings would be in the area of £3,333.15 ($555230.08 in today’s money) in favour of the local product which costed out at £5683.11 ( $946,670.23  in today’s currency).

To achieve these savings Lieutenant Parker recommended that as part of the RNZA, a specialist Ordnance Stores Corps be established for the manufacture and modification of Ammunition. The initial manpower scaling of the Ordnance Stores Corps was proposed that it would be made up  of either;

  • Six gunners from within the current Artillery establishment, or
  • Six gunners whose time had already expired but had the required ammunition experience.

Both options would be under the supervision of the Master Gunner and would be entitled to the same pay and allowances as other member’s of the Royal New Zealand Artillery as they would just be another section of the Artillery.

The actual formation of this Ordnance Stores Corps would have an extended gestation period, and it would not be until mid-1914 that General Godley, the Commander of the New Zealand Forces approved the proposal and work could begin in establishing the Artillery Ordnance Stores Corps.

Orders were placed on Great Britain for the supply of the required machinery, components and most importantly cordite, with the some of the machinery received in good time, the delivery of the remainder was promised to be delivered as soon as possible by the British suppliers. Given that war had broken out the importance of setting up this capability and securing New Zealand’s immediate supply of Artillery Ammunition for training and home defence became evident,  Lieutenant Parker must be commended for his proposal which laid the foundations for the modern Ammunition Technician Trade.

As the new Corps was to be another uniformed section of the RNZA such as the Field Artillery or Electric Light Company. It was to be under the administration and control of the OC RNZA and not the Quartermaster General, and on  1 March 1915 authority was granted under New Zealand Defence Forces General Order 90 to raise the New Zealand Army Ordnance Section with effect from 1 April 1915.

Given that the creation of the Ordnance Section within the RNZA had been anticipated for some time it was not an entirely smooth transition. The OC RNZA Lieutenant Colonel J.E Hume was away from his  Wellington HQ at the time, with many of his responsibilities carried out by a subordinate,  Lieutenant J Burberry, and was somewhat out of the loop when the Defence Force general Orders were published. Lt Col Hume was at the Regimental HQ in Auckland when he received the file with the names of the selected men for his approval, replied a week later that he was unaware of the formation of such a section. As it had been settled on without referring to him to proceed, adding that if it was intended to appoint serving soldiers, then seniors with good records should be selected.

All those selected had retired and declined re-enlistment, except for an Ex sergeant Murray.  Applications were widened to both former and serving members of the RNZA and although, with not as much service and experience as those selected initially  the following were the Foundation members:

  • Bombardier John Murray,
  • Gunner Hugh John Adams,
  • Gunner Maurice Francis Johnstone,
  • Gunner Patrick Kesham,
  • Gunner Charles William Marshall,
  • Gunner R Ross,
  • Gunner William Thornton,

Members of the section were classed as non-combatants and were to be employed wholly on their own particular work and were not to be detailed for any other duty or task whatsoever.

Located Fort Ballance at Mahanga Bay on Wellington’s Miramar Peninsula, the section’s primary duties was the assembling of ammunition components for the artillery, with care and upkeep of the magazines becoming part of their responsibilities.

Mahanga Bay, Miramar, Wellington, ca 1910

Mahanga Bay, Miramar, Wellington, c1910. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

Its members wore a variation of the badge of the RNZA with the difference between the badge worn by the Ordnance section and the Artillery was that the word “UBIQUE” was replaced by the initials “NZ”.

With an extensive stock of neglected cartridge cases requiring inspection, it seems that the first priority was clearing this backlog until the balance of the equipment and material was received from England, and after a short period of training, it would have been a steady state of work inspecting and manufacturing artillery ammunition components.

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Removing primer from a round of fixed QF ammunition. Australian War Memorial

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RAN personnel inspecting cordite then tying it into bundles. Australian War Memorial

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Base fuze or plug being removed from, or replaced in a large calibre BL projectile. Australian War Memorial

With the creation of the NZAOC in 1917, it seems that the administrative responsibility for the Ordnance Section passed from the RNZA to the NZAOC with its members becoming Ordnance soldiers, but with technical control remaining with the RNZA.

The immediate post-war years into the mid-1920’s were a busy time for the NZAOC Ammunition Section.  The Kaiwharawhara Magazine close to the city was closed, and the Mahanga Bay facilities expanded from the original magazine and laboratory building on the foreshore to include Fort Balance, Fort Gordon and the Kau Point Battery as these were decommissioned, their armaments removed, gun pits covered over with roofs and turned into additional magazines. The area went from been Wellingtons premier Defensive location to quite possibly the 1st large scale ammunition depot of the NZAOC, a role it would fill until 1929 when purpose-built facilities were constructed at Hopuhopu in the Waikato.

The RNZA would still maintain overall control for Artillery Ammunition with their own Artillery Directorate until 1947 when this was also handed over to the RNZAOC.

AT new

Modern NZ Army Ammunition Technician Badge. Dave Theyers Collection

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017


Henry Tucker, the first colonial storekeeper

On joining the RNZAOC in the early 1980’s, significant time was spent on learning about Mr Henry Tucker (1793 – 26 August 1850) who was a Royal Navy officer and the first colonial storekeeper for the newly established Colony of New Zealand[1]. At the time there were really few details about this gentleman apart from the fact he was the Colonial Storekeeper in the 1840’s.

Early life

Tucker entered Royal Navy service at the Plymouth Yard on 29 November 1802, initially as a Shipwright apprentice under the Master Measurer. Tucker completed his apprenticeship on 14 December 1811, when he then became the Clerk to the Master Measurer, remaining in this role until 1822[2]. This was a role of some responsibility requiring above average literacy and numeracy skills and would have provided Tucker with intimate knowledge of the behind the scenes logistic workings of the Royal Navy.

On 16 Nov 1817 Tucker Married Elizabeth Howell (1795-1844) at South Wraxall, Wiltshire, England[3]. It is known that their union produced a daughter Emma Mary who was born in 1829[4] and a son, William, who was born on 5 January 1843[5]. His wife Elizabeth died on 16 December 1844, and Tucker remarried on 20 December 1845 to Emily Shell. Tuckers Son William would become a farmer, soldier, politician and mayor of Gisborne.

With a wife to support, Tucker must have decided that a career as a would be a profitable and logical path of advancement. At that time Pursers were warranted by the Admiralty[6] but did not require professional qualifications. However, some financial surety was needed, 20 years as Clerk to a Master Measurer provided that. The duties of a Purser were to oversee supply and issue of victuals, slops and other consumables. The Purser was one of the five standing officers of the ship. (A standing officer was permanently assigned to a vessel.) The Purser’s position presented many opportunities to the canny to enrich himself, often at the expense of the crew. William Bligh of HMS Bounty Fame, served as his own Purser, with the actual work falling to his clerk[7]. The regulations of the Royal Navy demanded that individuals aspiring to become pursers serve at least one year as a captain’s clerk[8], which Tucker competed on HMS Calliope, and in 1825 he obtained his promotion to the rank of Purser and Paymaster[9].

In 1828 Tucker was the Purser aboard HMS Icarus, an 18-gun brig-sloop which was then part of the Royal Navy Barbados Station in the Caribbean, undertaking anti-piracy and anti-slavery patrols.

In 1840 Tucker was the Purser, and Paymaster on HMS Buffalo, which while anchored in Mercury Bay off Whitianga, loaded with Kauri spars was wrecked in a storm on 28 July 1840[10][11][12]. Given the remoteness on New Zealand at that time, Tucker was, along with the rest of the crew of HMS Buffalo stranded in New Zealand, with the choice to either settle or find passage on the next available ship out.

Career in New Zealand

In 1840 New Zealand became a Crown Colony separate from New South Wales. William Hobson the incoming governor[13], having met Tucker on the outwards journey from England to Australia, requested that Tucker remain in the colony and to undertake the office of the colonial storekeeper. To this Tucker consented, occupying that position from 19 Dec 1840[14] to 1844 when the post of Colonial Storekeeper was cancelled.

In the new colony, the role of colonial storekeeper was a critical position within the quickly expanding colonial administration. The colonial storekeeper’s responsibility was to support the colonial administration with its logistical needs. Imperial troops in New Zealand were the responsibility of the Board of Ordnance, with who no doubt Tucker had a close working relationship.

Records show that Tucker as colonial storekeeper was purchasing all manner of goods including tents, blankets, stationery, printing supplies, building product, animals and feed. A primary duty of the colonial storekeeper was to store and issue arms to settler’s militia should the need arise. By December 1842 Tucker had the following in store[15]:

  • 46 Bayonets,
  • 53 Muskets,
  • 2 Cannonades 18pr, and
  • 3 Camp Ovens.

In late 1843 Willoughby Shortland, the Colonial Secretary of New Zealand deemed the position of Colonial Storekeeper as unnecessary, cancelling the position.[16][17] This was an unpopular move and caused some controversy in the new Colony and was questioned by the newspapers of the day as a very apparent case of nepotism. Tucker was a popular individual in the community and especially in the light that as soon as he was made redundant, a Mr Leach was appointed, under a different job title to the office of Colonial Storekeeper[18]. The duties of the Colonial Storekeeper were in time assumed by the Superintendent of Public Works. No longer Colonial Storekeeper Tucker remained in Government service first as the Chief Clerk Audit from 17 Feb 1844[19], and on 24 July 1844, Tucker was appointed as the Chief Clerk, Governor’s private affairs[20][21].

On 8 August 1846, it was announced in the nation’s newspapers that Tucker was to be released from Government service[22]. The newspaper articles of the time assessed that Tucker was a well-respected public servant, and there was some disappointment that he was released from public service.

Final years

Late in 1846, Tucker returned to England, where he was shortly afterwards appointed Paymaster and Purser of HMS Acheron, a Hermes-class wooden paddle sloop of the Royal Navy. While HMS Acheron was undertaking a coastal survey of New Zealand, ill-health compelled Tucker to relinquish his post aboard this vessel. Years of service had significantly impaired Tucker’s constitution, which rapidly gave way, and for the last, three or four months suffered with fortitude and resignation despite being in great pain and died on 26 August 1850 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Having been so recently on active service and a much respected public figure in the Colony, Tucker’s funeral was a marital affair. The coffin, covered with the Union Jack, and surmounted with his hat and sword, carried to the grave by a party of Royal Navy Blue Jackets, landed for that purpose from HMS Fly. The funeral party included his son, the Governor of the New Zealand Colony, senior military officials and a long and highly respectable train of civilians and former shipmates from HMS Buffalo. Tucker is buried at the Symonds Street Cemetery in central Auckland[23][24].

The Daily Southern Cross newspaper eulogy of Henry Tucker read[25]:

“The late Mr Tucker may, without the smallest approach to monument or eulogy, be affirmed to have been a worthy, upright man. Sailors are accurate judges of character, and the soubriquet – “Honest” Ben Tucker” – which, according to Captain Edward Stanley was the appellation given him by his messmates, proved the high estimation in which he was held.”

Sadly, although buried in the Symonds Street Cemetery, Tucker’s tombstone can no longer be found in its original position and has not been seen for some years.

TUCKER GRAVE

Legacy

As the first colonial storekeeper of New Zealand, Henry Tucker has been adopted as the godfather of the New Zealand Army’s Supply Trades[26]. The former Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps named its unofficial Senior NCO, Warrant Officer and Officer social and professional development club “The Henry Tucker Club” a tradition which has carried over to the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment. Today his name adorns lecture rooms at the Supply Wing of the NZ Army Trade Training School and is also used as the name of a combined exercise and field phase of the Supply Technician RNZALR, Intermediate and Senior Supply courses[27].

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017

 

 

Notes

[1] Joseph S. Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Wellington: RNZAOC, 1992), 43.

[2] “Plymouth Yard, Entry Books of Certificates. 1817–1845,”  (The National Archives, 1803).

[3] South Wraxall Parish, “Marriage Records. 16 November 1817.,” (1817).

[4] Patricia Hargreaves, “Henry Tucker,”  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/157192826.

[5] Sheila Robinson, “William Henry Terry Tucker,” in Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand (1993).

[6] National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy, “History of the Warrant Officer Rank,”  http://navymuseum.co.nz/history-of-the-warrant-officer-rank/.

[7] historical Naval Fiction, “Ranks & Duties in Royal Navy,”  https://www.historicnavalfiction.com/general-hnf-info/naval-facts/ranks-duties.

[8] Brian Lavery, Nelson’s Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization (Annapolis, Md: aval Institute Press, 1989).

[9] National Museum of the Royal Navy, “Naval Ranks,”  http://www.nmrn-portsmouth.org.uk/sites/default/files/Naval%20Ranks_0.pdf.

[10] P. Owen Wheatley Chas Ingram, Shipwrecks New Zealand Disasters 1795 to 1950. , 2 ed. (Wellington: AH & AW Reed., 1936).

[11] Wayne Timmo, “Whitianga’s Hms Buffalo Shipwreck Week Ready for Launch,” Waikato Times, 11 July 2015.

[12] Coromandel Life, “The Voyage of the Buffalo,”  http://www.coromandellife.co.nz/flipview/winter_2015_V2/files/assets/common/downloads/page0010.pdf.

[13] K. A. Simpson, “William Hobson,” in Dictionary of New Zealand Biography (Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 1990).

[14] “Tucker Appointed as Colonial Storekeeper,” New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, Issue 36,, 19 December 1840.

[15] Bolton, 43.

[16] “Symptoms of Reform,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume 1, Issue 29, 4 November 1843.

[17] “Editorial,” Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle Volume 3, Issue 138, 26 October 1844.

[18] “Domestic Intelligence,” Daily Southern Cross Volume 1, Issue 36, 23 December 1843.

[19] “Tucker Appointed as Colonial Storekeeper.”

[20] “Government Gazette,” New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, Volume V, Issue 354, 24 July 1844.

[21] “New Appointments,” New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator, Volume IV, Issue 325, 17 Feb 1844.

[22] “Auckland,” Wellington Independent Volume II, Issue 86, 8 August 1946

[23] Brian G. van Wyk, “Grave Information Henry Tucker,”  https://billiongraves.com/grave/Henry-Tucker/12884193.

[24] Hargreaves.

[25] “Henry Tucker,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume VI, Issue331, 30 August 1850.

[26] Bolton, 44.

[27] “Exercise Henry Tucker,” NZ Army News, Issue 452, May 2015 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mobile Laundry and Bath Equipment 1941-1990

Laundry and Bath Units have played a significant role in the ultimate success of many of the conflicts that New Zealand has participated in since the second world war.  Troops from the fighting units, filthy after weeks of chasing the enemy through the desert, muddy fields and primary jungle would find it slightly surreal to emerge in their filth and greeted by a unit offering them a hot shower and a complete change of clothing. Such was the effect on the morale of our fighting soldiers that it is reasonable to assume that on many occasions the enemy specifically targeted Laundry and Bath units for elimination. The Identity of many Laundry and Bath operators is unknown. This is of course for security reasons. Some soldiers got the wrong laundry back. Moreover, as you all well know, when it comes to personal kit soldiers just don’t forget things like that!

This article will examine the primary Mobile and Bath equipment used by the New Zealand Army from 1941 to 1996

The provision of laundry and Bath functions in commonwealth armies is an Ordnance Corps responsibility, and the role of Laundry and Bath Units was to; 1

  • Decontaminate men and their equipment after a gas attack.
  • Laundry and bath facilities to forward units.
  • Laundry facilities for supported Medical Unit.

Second World War 1939-45

As New Zeland did not have a large peacetime army, there was a reliance on the use of contracts with commercial laundries to meet the laundering needs of the forces, a system which the British military referred to as “Dhobies”. With the arrival of the Main body units of the NZEF at Maadi Camp on the outskirts of Cairo in Egypt in 1940, responsibility for the base laundering requirements of the NZEF was provided by civilian contractors or “Dhobies”, in facilities constructed within Maadi camp under the supervision of the NZEF Hygiene Section. The downside of the Dhobie system was that it did not extend to them following the units into the desert and alternative laundering solutions had to be found.[2

1941-42

Structured along British lines, the NZEF included as part of its organisational structure and war establishment, Laundry and Bath units. An unfamiliar capability that the New Zealand Military Ordnance leadership had no experience in, there was much uncertainty if this was even an Ordnance responsibility of a Medical Corps responsibility, leading to delays in the formation of the Laundry and Bath units. Confirmation that it was an Ordnance responsibility was received from the NZEF liaison staff in London on 15 November 1940. Discussion continued for much or 1941 on the formation of the Laundry and Bath units, with the main concern being whether the units be formed, equipped and trained in New Zealand and then sent to the Middle East or formed from within the existing structure of the NZEF.3

As the decision in the formation of the Laundry and Bath units continued the NZEF Order of Battle was updated on 17 April 1941 and included as part of the NZEF, a:

  • Divisional Mobile Laundry and Forward Decontamination Unit, and a
  • Divisional Mobile Bath unit.

Authority for the formation of these units as part of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC)4 was granted on 31 August 1941, with the formation of the Mobile Bath unit set for 3 September 1941 and the Mobile Laundry and Forward Decontamination unit formation set for 22 September 1941.5

bath 42

laundry 1941

With available equipment drawn from British Army stocks, equipping of the laundry unit would drag out until March 1942 when the balance of its transport and trailers were received. Finding the required number of personnel to man the units was a challenge, with available staff drawn from the NZOC reinforcements and Training Group reinforcements. Remaining under the command of HQ Maadi Camp the Laundry and Bath Units undertook their training and familiarisation with the new equipment and when ready, were transferred to the command of the New Zealand Divison.

On 27 March 1942, it was suggested by the 2 NZEF DDOS that as the title of the NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry and Forward Decontamination Unit was rather long-winded and considering that the decontamination function of the unit was not functional, the units name be shortened to the NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry. The name change was published soon afterwards as NZEF order 935.

rename mar 42

NZ Division Mobile Laundry (1941)

Vehicle Tactical Sign, NZ Division Mobile Laundry (1941)

The Mobile laundry would have its operational baptism when it was deployed to support the New Zealand Division which was at the time deployed to Syria. Establishing itself at an old flour mill adjacent to the small village of Burj al-Arab in northwestern Syria, the Mobile laundry Unit would spend a week in May 1942 coming to grips with the new equipment it had only received two months previously. The unit was working with three shifts a day washing and drying over 70000 blankets and all the division’s winter clothing. By the end of the week’s operations, the unit was easily able to process two thousand five hundred sets of battle dress a day, with the assistance of three hundred and fifty locally employed civilians to carry out mending and ironing duties., By the end of this initial operation, the capacity of the unit had increased markedly.6

NZ Division Mobile Bath Unit (1940)

Vehicle Tactical Sign, NZ Division Mobile Bath Unit (1940)

Working in support of the NZ Division the Mobile Bath and Laundry units would deploy forward to assist in the control of typhus in Libya,7 and would also provide welcome relief to soldiers in the forward areas such as a Whangarei soldier in the NZ Divisional Cavalry who wrote home in a letter to his parents that.  “We are now back out of the firing line at long last. We were up there far longer than any other New Zealanders, and from all accounts have done a good job of work. We did not think we had done much ourselves, but we have had several letters from different Generals congratulating us on our work—and they ought to know. Yesterday we had a hot shower from a mobile bath unit. It was grand and a lot of dirt was shifted: that was the first real wash we had had for just on nine weeks. I had a couple of rough sponges in about a mugful of water at different times but that was all. I didn’t have any clothes off for over five weeks”8

In June 1942 the necessity of the decontamination functionality was questioned as finding the additional fifty-two Other Ranks was proving to challenge and unless the unit would be required for service in the near future, that the enabling of this capability be delayed. In August 1942 the utility of both the Bath and laundry was questioned. It was felt that the effectiveness of the units was dependent on the location of the Division and the availability of water. Since the unit’s inception, they had only provided four months of service to the Divison, and the indications were that they would be no more effective in the future. Given the narrow front found in North Africa, it was decided that laundry services could be provided by RAOC facilities or local contracts. Bath services could also be provided by RAOC assets, natural sources, existing or temporary installations constructed as required. The decision was made that the NZ Laundry and Bath units would be disbanded.

The Laundry equipment due to its specialist and technical nature was intended to be returned to British Ordnance for a full credit to the New Zealand Government for its total cost. The Bath equipment would be retained as a New Zealand assets and stored at the NZ Base Ordnance Depot in anticipation of future employment in other theatres.

Forty-Seven other ranks from the Laundry Unit and eleven other ranks from the Bath Unit were transferred back to their respective Depots on 22 August 1942. The two Officers and twenty-five Other Ranks of the laundry Unit and the eleven Other Ranks of the Bath unit were to be transferred to other branches of the NZOC, with the understanding that if the capabilities were to be regenerated, they would be released to train personnel and have the unit functioning in a matter of days.

The NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry Unit, and NZ Divisional Mobile Bath unit were both formally disbanded on 30 Sept 1942.

disbamdment sept 42

1942 -1943

With wartime conditions causing difficulties in obtaining new stocks of battledress, blankets, greatcoats, shirts and woollen underwear it was considered utilising the mobile field laundry to provide economies by renewing part worn articles. Therefore, on 30 Sept 1942 as the NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry Unit was disbanded the NZ Base Laundry was established as a unit if the NZEF. 9

base launder forming

Taking over equipment of the disbanded Div Mobile Laundry unit the NZ Base Laundry was located at Maadi camp in Cairo, Egypt,10 with an establishment of one officer and 20 Other Ranks. It was estimated the over a twelve-month period the following items could be processed through the Base Laundry for Non-Divisional and Divisional units of the NZEF;

  • Battledress – 120000 pieces,
  • Blankets – 100000pieces,
  • Greatcoats 20000 pieces,
  • Shirts and swollen underwear – 180000 pieces.

With the fall of Tripoli in January 1943, the NZ Base Laundry Unit received an additional ten personnel and deployed a laundry section from Maadi to Libya, a distance if 1600 Miles (2574.95 Kilometers). The forward section would wash and replaced much of the NZ Divisions clothing and bedding. It had just become established when the division was hurriedly moved to continue the campaign. However, many men of the NZ Division had been re-equipped with clean battle-dress which had been brought forward to do this, and the withdrawn battle-dress was washed and mended ready for further use.11 The Base Laundry Unit would continue to support the NZ Division as it went into a period of refit and reorganisation following the Axis defeat in North Africa.

With the New Zealand Divison preparing to move into its next tactical role in Italy, the ADOS of the NZ Diviosn made a proposal for the NZ Base laundry accompany the Division with the Laundries role to be;

  • To undertake the washing of the main items of clothing on issue to personnel, and
  • if conditions permit the laundering for a hospital.

With the existing establishment of  1 Officer and 20 Other Ranks, it was envisaged that the washing for the complete NZ Division could be done twice monthly. For the rate to be increased to four times a month the establishment would have to be increased by 10 Other Ranks. This increase would allow the machines to be run for two shifts a day doubling the current capacity. The ADOS proposal was accepted and the  NZ Base Laundry Unit was disbanded on 30 September 1943,12  with NZ Mobile Laundry with a strength of 1 Officer and 36 Other ranks formed as a unit of the NZEF on 1 October 1943.Mobile laundry 1943 During October 1943 the NZ Division, including the NZ Mobile Laundry Unit moved secretly from Egypt to southern Italy, and on the 18th of October 1943, the NZ Mobile Bath unit was formed in Italy as a unit of the NZEF. 13

1943-1945

2 NZ Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit (1944)

Vehicle Tactical Sign 2 NZ Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit (1944)

In November 1943 the NZ Division ADOS stated his intent to place the Mobile Bath Unit under the Officer Commanding of the Mobile Laundry Unit, allowing both units to be administered economically.

NZ MLBUThe NZ Mobile Bath Unit was disbanded on 16 February 1944 and the NZ Mobile Laundry Unit renamed as the NZ Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit. The New Zealand reorganisation of its Laundry and Bath units brought the New Zealand organisation into line with British Army War Establishment II/293/1 of December 1943, as a Type B: Mobile Field Laundry and Bath Unit, and became known as 2NZ Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit (2NZ MLBU). 2NZ MLBU served with distinction in support of the NZ Division throughout the Italian campaign, often with detachments providing support to units on the front line.14 2NZ MLBU was disbanded as a unit of the NZEF on 8 December 1945.

MLBU dec 1945

 

Mobile Laundry Equipment 1941-45

Mounted on 9 Trailers, the mobile equipment of the laundry consisted of;[15]

    • Four Trailer Type A – This was the washing trailer which carried the following equipment;
      • 1 X Bradford Rotary washing machine,
      • 1 X hydro extractor,
      • 1 X soap boiler,
      • 1 X ventilation fan,
      • hot and cold water, steam and electrical equipment.
    • One Trailer Type B – This was a drying trailer and carried the following equipment;
      • 1 x Rotary Dryer,
      • steam, condenser and electrical equipment.
    • One Trailer Type C – This was a drying trailer and carried the following equipment;
      • 1 X continuous drying machine -The continuous drying machine was a line which went through a series of pulleys. Items to be dried were pegged to the line which was slowly pulled through a chamber which blew hot air in one end and extracted it at the other. No ironing was done,
      • steam, condenser and electrical equipment.
    • Two Trailer Type D – With two of these per unit these trailers provided hot water and hot air. It carried the following equipment;
      • 1 X Clarkson steam boiler,
      • 1 X calorifier,
      • 1 X cold water tank,
      • 1 X feed water tank,
      • 1 X oil storage tank,
      • 1 X centrifugal pump,
      • 1 X feed pump,
      • piping, fittings and electrical equipment.
    • One Generator Trailer – This was a standard generator trailer with;
      • 1 X Fowler Sanders or Lister 22/24Kw Fowler Sanders diesel Generator
      • 1 X switchboard
      • 2 X distribution boxes
    • Distributed amongst all the vehicles for water supply and disposal was;
      • 2 X 205 litre (45 gallons) per minute pumps with motors
      • effluent tanks
      • piping
      • water testing apparatus

The Washing machine and Dryer trailers were positioned back to back alongside another pair. Platforms were mounted between the trailers, with a canvas canopy over the top, this can be seen in the picture below.

ww2 brit laundry

For operation the Mobile laundry required;

  • firm standing with an area of 19 meters (60 foot) by 19 meters (60 foot)
  • a water supply of 163659 litres (36,000 gallons) a day
  • a good access road
  • as much cover as possible although the laundry section was designed to operate in the open air

The Mobile laundry could wash 16000 blankets or 12000 sets of personal clothing a week.

ordnance laundry at work

RAOC Mobile Laundry at work 1944/45 (RAOC, public domain)

Mobile Laundry Video

A short video showing a Canadian Ordnance Corps Laundry unit in action in Northwest Europe 1944/45.   Canadian Army Newsreel No. 3

Mobile Bath Equipment

The Mobile Bath Unit was mounted in a 1 ton 2 wheeled trailer, and consisted of the means to heat water and pipe it to the showers, and included;

  • Hot water boiler,
  • oil burner,
  • semi-rotary pump,
  • couplings and fitting

The showers consisted of;

  • tubular metal shower trestles,
  • five or six shower heads,
  • pipework and fittings

The capacity was based on each man taking five minutes to shower,

  • A Subsection could bathe 60 to 70 men in an hour,
  • A section could wash 120 to 140 men in an hour,

The shower equipment was designed to be used in the open, but tents were provided for the showers, and for changing rooms if necessary. Commonly showers would be sited where changing could be in a building. A bath section requires a firm site 18 meters (60 foot) by 12 meters (40 foot) and a water supply of 38641 litres (8,500 gallons) of water a day.

arms_land_field_ordnance_4

Canadian Army mobile bath. Wouenhaus, 8 April 1945. Photo by Alexander M. Stirton. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-198131.

A short video showing a Canadian Ordnance Corps Laundry unit in action in Northwest Europe 1944/45.

Mobile Bath Video

A short video showing a Mobile Bath unit in action in the Western Desert. Mobile Bath Unit (Western Desert)

Postwar the 1950’s

The postwar New Zealand Army was committed to providing a Division for service in the Middle East, the RNZAOC Commitment to this was the provision of Ordnance Divisional Troops commanded by the Chief Royal Army Ordnance Corps (CRAOC).

The Order of Battle of the NZ Army in 1953, details that under the NZ Division HQ CRAOC  the Ordnance organisation was;

  • an  Infantry Division Ordnance Field Park, and
  • a Mobile Laundry and Bath Company, consisting of;
    • an HQ,
    • 5 Laundry Sub-Sections and
    • 5 Bath Section Sub Sections.
20170713_164112

Org Chart from “Org & Duty of RNZAOC in NZ Div” CRAOC 5.1 of 1 Sept 1959.  National Archives of New Zealand

The Mobile Laundry and Bath Company intended to provide bathing facilities and wash soldiers underclothing.  The laundry function was supported by carrying a stock of underclothing from which a set could be issued to each man after bathing. Cast off underclothing was then washed and returned to stock for subsequent reissue. Sewing machines would be provided as part of the Company’s equipment to allow “Stich in time” repairs as part of the clothing exchange process.

The Company was structured to allow the use of double shifts. Apart from the normal considerations of accessibility to troops and hard standing then main siting consideration was accessibility to water. the Bath subsection as a requirement of 400 gallons (1800 Litres) per hour and a Laundry Subsection a requirement of 300 Gallons (1360 Litres) per hour.

At this stage, it unknown what equipment was used but some assumptions would be that it was either equipment from the 2nd World War or locally manufactured material.

20170314_083546 (002)

Members of 1 Battalion, Wellington Regiment enjoying a field Shower, Daba Camp, Waiouru, Summer 1952-53 (7WnHb Regt, Public domain)

download

Showering in Korea, May 1952. Alexander Turnbull Library

The 1960’s and 70’s

In the 1960’s 1st Composite Ordnance Company (1 Comp Ord Coy), RNZAOC had two dedicated platoons for Laundry and Bath services;

  • 5 (Laundry) Platoon,  and
  • 6  (Bath) Platoon.

Laundry unit, single, trailer-mounted. M-532

1 Comp Ord Coy, 5 (Laundry) Platoon,  was equipped with the American  Laundry unit, single, trailer-mounted. M-532.  The M-532 was a self-contained trailer mounted unit which consisted of ;

  • A 2½-ton capacity, 2-wheel trailer;
  • A washer-extractor,
  • A Tumble Dryer,
  • A  water heater,
  • An electric generator,
  • An air compressor, and
  • water pump.

The unit was able to furnish a complete (wash and dry) laundering cycle at a capacity of 120 pounds (54kg) per hour.

LAUNDRY UNIT, M532

LAUNDRY UNIT, M532 (US Army, public domain)

m532 Laundry Trailers

LAUNDRY UNIT, M532 (US Army, public domain)

Laundry 3

Sgt Brian Quinn instructing National Servicemen on the Laundry Unit in the mid-1960’s. Photo was taken in Kuku Valley Ammunition area, Trentham Camp. RNZAOC School.

Bath Unit, Portable, 8-Showerhead M1958

1 Comp Ord Coy, 6 (Bath) Platoon,  was equipped with the American Bath Unit, Portable, 8-Showerhead M1958. The M1958  was a compact unit that included;

  • A 20-gallon (75 litre) water heater,
  • A 3/4-horsepower water pump,
  • Two shower stands with four nozzles each,
  • A 3-k.w. generator set,
  • A 55- gallon (209 litre) fuel drum,
  • moreover, all the necessary ancillary equipment including hoses and fires extinguishers.

The M1958 used approximately 960 gallons (3600 litres) of water per hour, which could be drawn from a tank, mains or a water source such as a river or pond. It is capable of providing continuing support for 3,000 troops.

m1958 layout

M1958 Bath Unit Equipment layout (US Army, public domain)

The January 1972 edition of the RAOC Gazette made mention of the M1958 in service with the ANZUK Force.

” ANZUK Ordnance Depot” The unit has raised a Field Support Detachment, and under the command of Capt J Clarke supported by SSgt’s Ashdown and Shepard, it is supporting 28 ANZUK Brigade in the Mersing area of Malaysia.

The bath unit of the detachment is using an amazing American equipment which requires a brave man to peer though a peep hole until combustion. Fortunately, the unit has such a man in Corporal Smith of the RNZAOC”

and this from the February 1972  issue of the RAOC Gazette:16

” The Bath section apparently run by Corporal Smith RNZAOC, succeed in bathing all comers and, in spite of water shortages, operated almost nonstop for twelve days.”

FB_IMG_1489359687910

ANZUK Ordnance Depot, Forward Ordnance Detachment, setting up a shower unit, Malaysia 1972 (Copyright © Robert McKie 2017)

The 1980’s and 90’s

With the retirement of the Laundry unit,  M-532 in the early 1980’s, leaving the Bath Unit M1958 to although in need of replacement due to support and maintenance issues, soldier on until the later years of the 1980’s. The last time I saw one in action was on the Triad Exercise of 1984 when I was operating on at Baggush Camp at Waiouru under the tutelage of WO2 Smith.

FW-37 Trailer Mounted Field Laundry Unit

The Replacement for the Laundry unit,  M-532 was purchased in the early 80’s, it was the West German FW-37 Trailer Mounted Field Laundry Unit.

Laundry 2

FW-37 Mobile Laundry Equipment. RNZAOC School

Laundry 1

FW-37 Mobile Laundry Equipment. RNZAOC School

The FW-37 was a self-contained field laundry unit mounted on two trailers;

  • Washer Trailer, the washer trailer consisted of;
    • Two washing machines,
    • Hydro extractor,
    • Water pump,
    • Two Diesel/Oil Burners,
    • Hoses, electrical cables and other ancillary connections
  • Dryer Trailer, the Dryer trailer consisted of;
    • A single drying machine,
    • One Diesel/Oil Burner,
    • 3 Phase generator,
    • Hoses, electrical cables and other ancillary connections.

The FW-37 and could be run by either mains power or by its own generator, Water could be supplied from a mains supply, water tank or local water supply such as a river or a pond.

FB_IMG_1495706001798

Kerrick Shower Unit

As the M1958 Bath Units became worn out in the mid-1980’s, a replacement item was provided by Kerrick Industries. Utilising many of the M1958 Bath Units components, such as the hoses and shower stands the Kerrick was an electric powered, Kerosene fed unit.

Karcher Shower System

In the early 1990’s the NZ Army procured several Karcher Multi-Purpose Decontamination Systems (MPDS). Essentially a high tech Steam Cleaner the NZ Army systems were configured as either a;

  • A shower system, or
  • A decontamination System (used only by RNZE units, not RNZAOC).
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Karcher MPDS (Karcher, public domain)

The MPDS was an entirely self-contained system, powered by its own engine and able to suck water from a local source such as a river or from a holding tank fed by mains water. The shower system was capable of showering 15 persons at the same time.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017

Notes:

1 “Administration within the Division,” in Administration in the Field (London: War Office, 1951).

2 A.H. Fernyhough, History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1920-1945 (Royal Army Ordnance Corps, 1958), 121.

3 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Field Item Idr20107590 Record No  Da 1/9/Sd81/21 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1941).

4 The New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps was the permanent Corps in New Zealand and the NZOC the tile of the Expeditionary Force Ordnance Corps.

5 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Field

6 “Mobile Laundry,” Auckland Star, Volume LXXIII, Issue 109, 11 May 1942.

7 “Fit Division,” Otago Daily Times, Issue 24908, 6 May 1942.

8 “Divisional Cavalryman’s Adventures,” Northern Advocate, 25 June 1942.

9 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Base, Item Idr20107591 Record No  Da 1/9/Sd81/22 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1941).

10 Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992).

11 “Clothing for NZ Troops,” Press, Volume LXXIX, Issue 24011, 28 July 1943.

12 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Base.

13 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Field

14 Robin Kay, “From Cassino to Trieste,” in Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45 (Wellington: Historical Publications Branch, Department of Internal Affairs 1967).

15 WWII reenacting, “Mobile Bath and Laundry Unit Raoc,” in WWIIReenacting (2006).

16 RAOC, “Anzuk Ordnance Depot,” RAOC Gazette, January 1972.