Military unit photos, I have a stack of them from my 29 years in the service. They provide a snapshot of a unit and its personnel at a set moment in time. The photos I am writing about here are significant to the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps as they provide one of the few photographic records of New Zealand’s Ordnance Personnel from the First World War.
The Group portraits on this page are of the New Zealand Ordnance staff taken at Mulheim, Germany, February 1919 by Henry Armitage Sanders. On the completion of hostilities on 11 Nov 1918, the New Zealand Division as part of the British Occupation Forces in Germany was stationed at Mulheim, Germany. The New Zealand occupation was short-lived, and by April the bulk of the New Zealand troops had been pulled back to Britain and the NZ Division disbanded.
There are two pictures;
- A large group photo of what I assume is the entire Ordnance and Demobilisation Staff representing most of the units of the NZ Division. Then caption found on the back of the first print only states “Occupation of Germany” and has no details of the individuals in the photos.
- A group photo of just the Ordnance members of the Demobilisation Staff, consisting of :
- A major,
- A Lieutenant,
- A Warrant Officer Class 1 (Conductor),
- 2 Warrant Officers Class 1 ( Sub Conductor), and
- 7 Other Ranks.
Given the scarcity of information on the activities of the NZEF NZAOC I have focused on attempting to identify the following;
- The Ordnance Major,
- The Ordnance Lieutenant,
- The Conductor, and
- The two Sub Conductors.
At present, there is insufficient information on who the other ranks of the NZAOC were, so this is an ongoing effort to be completed at a later date.
Rank badges are one of the key indicators to the identification of an individual against the existing records. But there can be small fishhooks that can cause some trip-ups to the novice researcher. The one in this picture is the Conductors badges. To those familiar with modern-day New Zealand Warrant Officer rank, it is simple, WO1 – Coat of Arms; WO2 – Crown with Laurels, but in 1919 things were slightly different. Ordnance conductors and Sub-Conductors were both Warrant Officers Class I, with Conductors authorised to wear a crown in a laurel wreath and sub-conductors the royal coat of arms.
Some of the men in the picture are wearing medal ribbons.
This ribbon is for the 1914-15 Star which was awarded to all personnel who had served at Gallipoli. Ribbons had been issued by August 1918 with the medals following in the post-war years.
Service Chevrons were worn inverted on the right sleeve and signified overseas service since 4 August 1914. A red chevron worn on the base indicated service on or before 31 December 1914. Service after 1 January 1915 was denoted by Blue Chevrons.
It was quite easy as at the time there were only two Majors in the NZEF NZAOC,
- Major Levien who at the time was based in England, and
- Temporary Major Gossage, who was the NZ Division, DADOS.
9/39 Major Charles Ingram Gossage whose pre-war occupation was a bank clerk, enlisted into the Otago Mounted Rifles on 19 Aug 1914. Serving in Egypt and Gallipoli Gossage transferred into the NZAOC as an NCO on 23 March 1916. Moving with the NZ Division to France Gossage served on the Division DADOS staff becoming a Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Sub Conductor on 24 July 1916. Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 24 Jan 1917, Gossage attended an Ordnance course at the Woolwich Ordnance College from 21 Sept 1917, Gossage returned to the NZ Division in March 1918 as the DADOS. Attaining the rank of temporary Major, Gossage would remain as the NZ Division DADOS until the NZ Division was disestablished and Gossage was demobilised on 24 January 1920. Gossage was awarded the OBE on 15 June 1919. Postwar Gossage served in the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department until 1922.
During 1919 I have identified two Lieutenants in the NZAOC;
- 23/659 Lieutenant William Henchcliffe Simmons, MSM. Lieutenant Simmons was a railway clerk who enlisted on 8 August 1914 and served in Samoa before been deployed to the Middle East and then France. Transferring to the NZAOC on 21 March 1916. Simmons was commissioned and attained the Rank of Temporary Captain on 31 December 1919. Posted from the NZ Division to Headquarters Ordnance in London in January 1920, Simmons was appointed Officer Commanding Ordnance on 20 Feb 1920 and finally Demobilised on 13 October 1920. Simmons was Awarded the MSM 1 Jan 1917. From being on the Samoa Advance party in 1914 to the NZEF rear details in late 1920 Temp Captain Simmons was definitely close to being “first in – Last out”.
- 15/111 Lieutenant Walter John Geard, A steelworker from Auckland, Lt Geard enlisted in the Auckland Infantry on 10 August 1914. Serving in Egypt, and possibly Gallipoli. Geard continued to serve with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force after the bulk of the NZEF deployed to France. Promoted to Warrant Officer and posted to Brigade headquarters for Ordnance Duties on 10 Jan 1916, Geard was Promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 (Conductor) on 1 January 1917. Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 20 June 1917 Geard was transferred to France on 25 May 1918, where he was employed as an assistant to the NZ Division DADOS from August 1918. Posted to Ordnance Headquarters London in May 1919, Geard was demobilised on 29 October 1919.
Evidence suggests that it is Lieutenant Geard, The medal ribbon and the Service Chevrons correspond with the details in his record.
The Warrant Officer Class 1 – Conductor
In Feb 1919 I identified five Warrant Officers Class 1 (Conductor) in the NZAOC.
- 10/2725 WO1 (Conductor) John Goutenoire O’Brien. WO1 (Cdr) O’Brien was a Bank Clerk who enlisted into the Wellington Infantry on 20 April 1915. Leaving NZ as part of the 6th reinforcements, O’Brien served in Gallipoli. Transferring to the NZAOC on its formation in Feb 1916 he continued to serve with the NZ Division in France. Transferring to London Headquarters in March 1918 as the chief clerk, a position he held until March 1920. O’Brien was Awarded the MSM in December 1919.
- 8/2287 WO1 (Conductor) Edward Cullen Little. WO1 (Cdr) Little was a clerk with State Fire Insurance when he enlisted with the Wellington Infantry on 9 August 1914. Deploying to Samoa from 15 Aug 1915 to 22 March 1915. Re mustering into the Otago Regiment, he deployed to the Middle East on 17 April 1915. Wounded at Gallipoli and evacuated to Egypt, Little transferred in the NZAOC in Feb 1916. Remaining in the Middle East until March 1917 when Little was transferred to France. Serving in France, Little was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 (Conductor) and transferred back to the Middle East for service with the NZ Mounted Rifle Brigade. Little was demobilised on 11 Nov 1919.
- 66613 WO1 (Conductor) Charles Slattery. WO1 (Cdr) Slattery a long-serving member of the New Zealand Forces since 1898, was a member of the New Zealand Permanent Staff and had spent most of the war filling Quartermaster Sergeants positions in New Zealand until drafted in the NZEF in late 1918. After a short time in Sling camp and with the Wellington Regiment, he was transferred into the NZAOC as a WO (Cdr) on 6 Jan 1919. Becoming ill with influenza Slattery was admitted to 44 Casualty Clearing Station on 16 Feb 1919, passing away on the 25th of February 1919 aged 39 years.
- 6/3459 WO1 (Conductor) Clarence Adrian Seay, MSM. Initially a Sheep Farmer, Seay enlisted into the Canterbury Regiment in August 1915. Transferring into the NZAOC as a Temporary Sergeant on 11 Feb 1916, Attaining the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 with the Appointment of Conductor on 22 Sept 1917. Becoming ill with influenza Seay was admitted to 44 Casualty Clearing Station on 12 Feb 1919, passing away on the 20th of February 1919 aged 25 years. WO1 (Cdr) Seay was awarded the MSM on 3 June 1919.
- 6/1147 WO1 (Conductor) Walter Gus Smiley. Initially a Motor Engineer, Smiley enlisted into the Canterbury Regiment in August 1914. Wounded at Gallipoli and evacuated to Malta and then England, Smiley returned to Gallipoli in December 1915, immediately transferring into the NZAOC on his return. Remaining with the NZAOC for the remainder of the war Smiley attained the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 with the Appointment of Conductor on 23 April 1917. Smiley was discharged From the NZEF on 28 April 1920.
Given that this Warrant Officer has no service chevrons or medal ribbons there is a high probability that it is WO1 (Cdr) Slattery who joined the NZEF in late 1918 and transferred into the NZAOC as a WO1 (Cdr) on 6 Jan 1919.
The Warrant Officers Class 1 – Sub Conductor
In Feb 1919 I identified four Warrant Officers Class 1 (Sub Conductor) in the NZAOC.
- 10/2484 WO1 (Sub Conductor) Harold Gordon Hill. WO1 (Sub Cdr) Hill was a student when he enlisted into the Wellington Infantry Battalion on 15 Feb 1915. Wounded at Gallipoli and Evacuated to Egypt, Hill was transferred to the NZAOC on 22 Feb 1916. Serving in France, Hill was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 2 (Sub-Conductor) on 23 April 1917. Hill was demobilised on 14 December 1919.
- 8/1484 WO1 (Sub Conductor) Edwin Stanley Green. A bank clerk who enlisted into Otago Infantry Battalion on 15 Dec 1914. Serving at Gallipoli and the Egypt and France, Green was transferred to the NZAOC on 22 Dec 1916, attaining the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 (Sub Conductor) on 26 Nov 1918.Green was demobilised on 18 Dec 1919.
- 8/584 WO1 (Sub Conductor) Frank Percy Hutton. WO1 (Sub Cdr) Hutton had a civilian trade of indentor when he enlisted in the Otago Infantry on 28 August 1914. While serving at Gallipoli where has was attached to the NZAOC on 15 Dec 1915. Transferring into the NZAOC on 29 January 1916. Remaining with the NZAOC for the remainder of the war, Hutton was promoted to WO1 with the appointment of Sub Conductor on 1 Dec 1917 and was demobilised on 20 August 1919.
- 50248 Temporary WO1 (Temporary Sub Conductor)Arthur Sydney Richardson. Temp WO1 (Temp Sub Cdr) Richardson was a career soldier with the Royal New Zealand Artillery with the trade of Armament Artificer. Richardson embarked for overseas service with the NZEF on 12 June 1917 and was transferred into the NZAOC on 16 Feb 1918 with the rank of temporary WO1 with the appointment of Temporary Sub Conductor on 12 Feb 1919. Rejoining the Artillery in October 1919, he would transfer back to the NZAOC in 1928, becoming a WO1 in 1940 and was awarded the MSM in 1942. Remaining in the NZAOC for the duration of the Second World War he would transfer to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1948, retiring in 1951.
The Service Chevrons and medal Ribbon identify this WO1 as most likely being WO1 (Sub Cdr) Hutton.
As this WO1 has no service chevrons or medal ribbon, this is probably Temporary WO1 (Temporary Sub Conductor)Richardson.
Copyright © Robert McKie 2017