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

 

 

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