Like the Ordnance services of Australia, Canada and other Commonwealth nations, New Zealand’s Army Ordnance services utilised the insignia for the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) as inspiration for the New Zealand Ordnance Badge.
From 1912 to 1996, the design of the New Zealand Ordnance Badge evolved, including these design elements.
- 1937 – 1955 – the Kings (Tudor) crown
- 1955 – 1996 – the Queens (St Edwards) Crown
- 1937-47 pattern badge – annulus inscribed with the words “New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps
- 1948 -96 pater badges – annulus was the royal Garter inscribed with the motto of the British Order of the Garter ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’
The Riband has had Many variations since 1916. Inscriptions have included.
- Army Ordnance Dept
- Army Ordnance Corps
- Sua Tela Tonanti
The most recognisable feature on all Ordnance badges is the Ordnance shield of three cannons and three cannonballs.
Collar badges were either a variation or copy of the cap badge, coming in pairs with the cannons facing inwards.
Before the 1st World War, no military Ordnance Organisation was included in the organisational structure of the New Zealand Military Forces. The Defence Stores Department and the Royal New Zealand Artillery divided responsibility for Ordnance services. The Defence Stores Department managed the supply and maintenance of clothing and accessories, Small Arms, Machine guns and associated ammunition with the Royal New Zealand Artillery, managing the storage and maintenance of all Artillery related equipment and Ammunition. The need for a New Zealand Ordnance organisation had been identified as early as 1900. However, despite Canada and Australia creating indigenous Ordnance organisations based on the British model, New Zealand’s approach was more hesitant.
Three Armourers of the British Army Ordnance Corps (AOC) had been seconded to the New Zealand Defence Stores since 1900. By 1912 they had trained sufficient men as armourers to the stage that a formal career structure from apprentice to senior Armourer was required. Providing a trade and career structure for New Zealand military Armourers, the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) was established on 1 May 1912. The AOC Armourers were seconded to New Zealand’s Military Forces and expected to wear the uniforms and embellishments of New Zealand’s Military Forces. However, with the establishment of the NZOC, it is possible that as a specialist Corps, the British NCOs reverted to wearing their AOC badges.
For the provision of general Ordnance Services, it was not until the annual camps of 1913 that a proof-of-concept trial of temporary Ordnance Store Depots was conducted. This trial saw the nucleus of an Ordnance Corps formed by training specific men from within the Territorial Army in the knowledge of Ordnance duties. A temporary arrangement established under the Director of Equipment and Stores for each Annual camp from 1913, it is unknown if any unique insignia was adopted for the personnel working in these Ordnance Stores Depots.
First World War 1914-1921
Ordnance Depots were formed as part of the mobilisation and manned by the individuals trained in Ordnance duties in the previous Annual camps. Some individuals, such as Temporary Sergeant Norman Levien, transferred from the strength of the 3rd Auckland Regiment into the Ordnance Department as the IC of Stores and Equipment and assisted in equipping the troops for overseas service. Levien was enlisted into the NZEF and was a foundation member of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) when it was established as a unit of the NZEF in 1915. Levien remained with the NZEF NZAOC for the duration of the war, attaining the rank of Major as the Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom.
Royal New Zealand Artillery Ordnance Corps Section
Conceived as an economic measure due to the tyranny of distance from traditional sources of supply and the shortfalls caused by the 1914–19 war, it was decided to create an Ordnance Corps Section to inspect and manufacture artillery ammunition. Established on 1 April 1915, the Ordnance Corps Section of the Royal New Zealand Artillery was located at Fort Balance in Wellington. Part of the Royal New Zealand Artillery, the Ordnance Corps Section wore the Badge of the Royal New Zealand Artillery.
NZEF New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1916-1919.
The New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) had existed as an ad-hoc organisation of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) since mobilisation in 1914, formally established as a unit of NZEF in March 1915 with the commissioning of Sergeants T.J King and N.J Levien as Second Lieutenants in the NZAOC. It is unknown when insignia was adopted for the NZAOC. However, pending the issue of a New Zealand Ordnance Badge, there is photographic evidence of a New Zealand Soldier wearing a British AOC Insignia at Zeition Camp in 1915, an indication to identify themselves as New Zealand Ordnance Soldiers British AOC Badges were worn.
Unsupported by any photographic or written evidence, modified AOC badges exist where New Zealand Ordnance soldiers modified the AOC badge by having the letters “NZ” affixed to the Badge. However, these modified badges were short-lived as an official NZAOC based on the British Army Ordnance Department (AOD) badge was adopted for use by the NZAOC in the NZEF.
Official NZEF NZAOC Badge
The official NZEF NZAOC badge is a British AOD Badge with the letters “NZ” mounted on top of the shield. It is unknown what the process was that led to the introduction of the NZAOC badge. In late 1916 Levien, Promoted to Captain, was appointed Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the UK. Levien’s interactions with all the other Commonwealth Ordnance Services, including the Canadians and the insignia of the Canadian Ordnance Corps (COC), influenced the design of the NZEF NZAOC Badge. The COC had, in 1903, adopted a badge based on the UK AOD badge, with a Beaver on the crest to provide the desired national distinction.
J R Gaunt of London manufactured existing examples of the NZEF NZAOC Badge. The Badges were produced by the die stamping process, with the NZ sweated on, which leads to the assumption that; either surplus UK AOD badges were used or new badges were made using new dies. Matching Collar badges were produced and were miniatures of the cap badge, in pairs with the cannons facing inwards.
This Badge was possibly introduced in late 1916 and was utilised until the demobilisation of the NZEF in 1919, with some individuals carrying out residual duties in the UK continuing to wear it until 1921. Unused stocks were returned to New Zealand as part of the NZEF demobilisation.
Variations of the NZEF NZAOC Badge
Examples of the NZEF NZAOC Badge with matching collar badges can be found in;
- Brass, and
The NZEF Badge remained in use by some NZAOC members with NZEF service, for example, in the following picture from 1934 with Armament Staff Sargent Arthur Stewart Richardson wearing the NZEF pattern Badge and Armament Staff Sargent John William (Bill) Dalton wearing the 1917 pattern badge.
New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1917-1923
Gazetted as of 1 February 1917, The New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) was made up of Commissioned Ordnance Officers, while the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) was comprised of Warrant Officers, NCOs and men. Both agencies were responsible for supplying, maintaining and repairing equipment, small arms and all stores required for the Defence Force and absorbed the men from the Defence Stores Department, Armourers of the NZOC and gunners of the RNZA Ordnance Corps Section.
New Zealand Army Ordnance Department Badge 1917-1924
The NZAOD badge was based on the British Ordnance insignia. The New Zealand version modified the British insignia by having the letters NZ replace the centre cannonball in the top panel of the shield and with the inscriptions Army Ordnance Department on the scroll beneath the shield.
New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Badge 1917-1937
The NZAOC badge was also based on the British AOC insignia. The New Zealand version modified the British insignia, having the letters NZ replace the centre cannonball in the top panel of the shield and with the inscriptions Army Ordnance Corps on the scroll beneath the shield.
The 1917 Pattern NZAOC Badge is unique as it is one of the few Ordnance cap badges where the cannons face in the opposite direction to all other ordnance badges.
NZAOD and NZAOC Collar Badges
The NZAOC and NZAOC shared a collar badge. They consisted of a simple version of the Ordnance shield with cannons facing inwards and the letters NZ replacing the centre cannonball. The collar badge had no scroll.
The NZAOD was reorganised into the NZAOC in 1924, with the NZAOC badge remaining in use as the Corps badge until 1937.
Variations of the NZAOC 1917-1937 Badge
Examples of the NZAOC 1917-1937 Badge can be found in;
- Brass, and
New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1937-1947
By 1936, stocks of the 1917 pattern Cap badge had been exhausted, with only collar badges remaining in stock. The Director of Ordnance Services of the time proposed to the Quartermaster General that existing stock of the NZEF NZAOC badge (180 Cap Badges, 319 Pairs of Collar Badges) be used as a replacement, and the current Badge made obsolete. The Quartermaster General did not authorise the replacement of the 1917 Badge but did allow the use of the NZEF NZAOC Badge until the provision of new badges could be arranged from the UK.
The Director of Ordnance Services counted with a proposal in February 1937 chosen by a competition held within the NZAOC. The winning design by Sergeant C Bryant was an interpretation of the RAOC badge of the time. The New Zealand Badge differed from the RAOC version by having the Inscription “New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps” in the Annulus field and the inscription “Sua Tela Tonanti” in the Riband. The new design was approved on 31 May 1937.
Variations of the NZAOC 1937-1947 Badge
Examples of the NZAOC 1937-1947 Badge can be found with matching collar badges in the following finishes.
- Gilt Silver and Enamel
Second World War
Wartime use of the NZEF NZAOC Badge 1939-1947
During the wartime years, the NZEF NZAOC badge was recycled for use by both the New Zealand Temporary Staff and the New Zealand Ordnance Corps.
New Zealand Temporary Staff 1939-1947
With the massive expansion of the home army from late 1939, The New Zealand Temporary Staff (NZTS) was created to allow the temporary recruitment of officers and men to fill the gaps created by increasing military establishments. As a temporary measure for the duration of the war, many of the positions at the Main Ordnance Depot and 1,2 and 3 Sub depots were filled by older men and those graded as medically unfit for overseas but suitable for home service. The NZTS was disestablished in January 1947 with the creation of the post-war interim army. Although the badge of the NZTS was the Fernleaf Badge, the earlier NZEF NZAOC badge was utilised as the badge for NZTS personnel attached to Ordnance units.
New Zealand Ordnance Corps 1940-1947
The New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) was formally constituted as a stand-alone Corps in December 1940. The NZOC was the Ordnance element of the New Zealand Territorial Army and was tasked with home defence and as a feeder for the Expeditionary Forces. In 1947 a Reorganization of New Zealand Military Forces removed the distinction between Regular and non-Regular soldiers, and the NZOC ceased to be a separate Corps, becoming part of the NZAOC.
Photographic evidence suggests that only the Cap badge was used.
Variations of the NZTS & NZOC 1939-1947 Badge
Examples of the NZTS & NZOC 1939-1947 Badge can be found in
- White Metal
Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1947-1955
On 12 July 1947, the NZAOC was granted Royal status and adopted a new badge. Mounted with a Kings (Tudor) crown, the new RNZAOC badge had in the Garter the inscription ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’, the letters NZ below the Garter surrounded by the Riband with the inscription ‘Sua Tela Tonanti’.
The Badge was produced in Brass for Other Ranks, with a Gilt, Silver and Enamel badge available for officer use.
The Design for the new Badge was approved on 27 October 1947, and orders were placed on 14 January 1948 from manufacturers in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The United Kingdom.
- 175 Gilt, Silver and Enamel cap badges,
- 158 Pairs Gilt, Silver and Enamel cap collar badges.
- 1600 Brass cap badges,
- 850 Pairs Brass collar badges
In 1947 NZ Army Order 36/1947 authorised that a 2 inch Diamond patch was to be worn on the Cap GS or Beret as a backing to Corps cap badges. The patch for Ordnance was Red and Blue (vertical), an example is shown below.
Variations of the RNZAOC 1947-1955 Badge
Examples of the RNZAOC 1947-1955 Badge with matching collar badges can be found in.
- Gilt Silver and Enamel.
Due to the ascension of Queen Elizabeth, the Second in 1953 and a replacement design with the St Edward Crown was approved in 1955. However, due to the new anodised badges not being ready for issue until 1962, the 47-55 Badge remained in use well into the 1960s.
Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1955-1996
With the ascension of Queen Elizabeth, the Second, to the throne in 1953, the design of the RNZAOC badge was upgraded from having a Kings crown to having a Queens (St Edwards) crown. The modern design was approved in 1955.
Eager to retain a Brass finish, the original issue of post-1955 badges were plain gilt anodised badges. Although approved in 1955, the first gilt anodised badges were not ready for issue until 31 May 1962.
In 1964 it was decided to transition to a coloured anodised badge, with three samples provided by J.R Gaunt.
- Sample A – Background of the Ribanb, less the Garter buckle and the letters ‘NZ’ coloured blue.
- Sample B – Background of the Riband, less the Garter buckle coloured blue.
- Sample C – Background of the Riband, including the Garter buckle coloured blue.
Sample C was accepted and progressively intruded into service from October 1965.
Both the plain and coloured anodised badges were provided with matching collar badges.
Gilt Silver and Enamel
As with the previous two iterations of the RNZAOC Badge, a Gilt Silver and Enamel badge version of the 1955-96 badge with matching collar badges was provided for use by Officers and Warrant Officers.
The Final Badges
To dispense with the expense of maintaining separate Officer and Other Ranks badges, a range of new Cap and Collar badges were introduced across the New Zealand Army during the early 1990s.
The New and final RNZAOC cap badge was similar to the Gilt, Silver & Enamel Officers Badge, but with a White Metal piece containing the three cannonballs above the shield. It was found that on this pattern of badge, the white metal piece was placed on a slight angle during the manufacturing process resulting in holdings of this badge being quarantined, with few issued before the disestablishment of the RNZAOC.
The final Collar badge was a metal badge with a gilt finish, the painted coloured areas.
Copyright © Robert McKie 2022