This interesting picture held in the Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services is of the Palmerston North Ordnance Store. Titled as being located at 327 Main Street, opposite the Empire Hotel ( The Cobb to those familiar with Palmerston North). The occupants of this location are now Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) at what is now 527 Main Street.
The building was initially known as the Lyceum Hall and, in 1914, used by the Boy Scouts as their hall.
The Palmerston North Ordnance Store was established early in the war to service the growing mobilisation camps in the Manawatu region, with records showing that Alfred Butler, a civilian employee of the Defence Stores Department, was transferred into the Palmerston North Ordnance Store in February 1915. Private Butler was attested in the NZAOC on its formation in 1917. Mr Frank Edwin Ford, formerly the Mobilisation Storekeeper at Nelson, was appointed district storekeeper, Wellington. Military District. Ford commenced duty and took charge of the Defence Stores, Palmerston North, on 2l June 1915.
At some stage in the early years of the war, the building was taken over by the Defence Stores Department and, by 1917, was utilised as an Ordnance Store. On 1 July 1917, many of the Defence Stores Department staff were attested for service into the newly formed New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, with the Palmerston North Ordnance Store designation renamed “Palmerston North Detachment – NZAOC”.
Under the command of Captain F.E Ford NZAOD, the Ordnance Officer Wellington, between 1 July 1917 and 14 Dec 1921, the Palmerston North Detachment – NZAOC consisted of the following staff drawn from the New Zealand Permanent Staff, Militarised Defence Stores Department staff and returned servicemen from the NZEF.
- NZAOC No 132. Armourer Staff Sergeant Andrew Archibald Young, MSM.
- NZAOC No 209. Sergeant A.K Simpson.
- NZAOC No 617, Private James Richards Horace.
- NZAOC No 80, Private Wilfred John Mitchinson.
- NZAOC No 838, Lance Corporal William Robert McMinn.
- NZAOC No 19, Private Alfred Charles Butler.
- NZAOC No 44, Private George Henry Gedson.
- NZAOC No 53, Private H Houton.
- NZAOC No 163, Private William Alexander Larkin.
It is unknown if this building was occupied by all the Ordnance Staff or if they were employed in different locations, but what is known is that by 1921 as the Army demobilised and wartime facilities closed. Up to its closure in 1921, the Palmerston North Detachment was primarily concerned with transferring stores to Featherston Camp and conditioning many auctions and tenders for surplus Camp Equipment and Clothing.
The Building was advertised for let by Headquarters, Central Military Command in June 1921, and by September 1921, the building had been taken over by Universal Secondhand Depot, who at the time claimed to have in stock the most extensive supply of Modern Secondhand Furniture in the District.
Records show that by December 1921, the Palmerston North Detachment – NZAOC staff had either been posted to Featherston or Trentham Camps or had been demobilised, and it seems that with little ceremony, the Palmerston North Detachment – NZAOC faded into History with only a single photo to remember its existence.
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