This article covers the activity’s of the NZAOC from June 1945 to 1946.
With the Second World War concluded by the Japanese surrender in September 1945, the 2NZEF in Italy had demobilised, with elements redeploying in January 1946 to Japan as “Jayforce” the New Zealand’s contribution to the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan. In New Zealand NZAOC units had been fully occupied with:
- The consolidation, classification, and maintenance of the large stocks accumulated post-war,
- The transfer and receipt of stock into Ordnance Depots as rented accommodation was vacated
- providing support to BCOF.
In New Zealand, the postwar strength of the Regular Force was 144 officers and 400 other ranks. Of the 400 other ranks, 131 held temporary or N.Z.E.F. commissions. The May 1946 strength of the NZAOC against the approved 1939 establishment was :
- Officers ;
- Present Strength – 9
- Establishment – 20
- Other Ranks;
- Present Strength.
- Temporary Commissions – 12
- Other ranks – 31
- Quartermaster Commissions – 2
- Other ranks – 83
- Present Strength.
NZAOC Officer and Officers holding Ordnance Appointments
- DQMG2 – Lieutenant Colonel (temp.) C. S. J. Duff, D.S.O., R.N.Z.A
- Chief Ordnance Officer – Lieutenant Colonel (temp.) E. L. G Brown, O.B.E., N.Z.S.C
- Assistant Chief Ordnance Officer – Major Nicol
- Chief Inspecting Ordnance Officer –
- Controller Defence Procurement Office – Lieutenant Colonel (temp.) H.E. Erridge, O.B.E., N.Z.A.O.C
- Ordnance Officer Main Ordnance Depot – Lieutenant Colonel (temp.) E. L. G Brown, O.B.E., N.Z.S.C
- Ordnance Officer No 1 Ordnance Depot – Major D.L Lewis, NZAOC (also Commandant Ngaruawahia Military Camp)
- Ordnance Officer No 2 Ordnance Depot – Captian W.S.Keegan, NZAOC (disbanded 1 Dec 1945)
- Officer No 3 Ordnance Depot – Major Reid, NZAOC
The NZAOC Stores Depots were located at the following locations;
- Main Ordnance Depot, including
- Bulk Stores Sub Depots, at
- Linton, and
- Gracefield, Lower Hutt.
- Artillery Sub Depot at Waiouru
- HQ Ammunition Group, with sections at
- Moko Moko,
- Kuku Valley,
- Main Ordnance Workshop
- Bulk Stores Sub Depots, at
- Ammunition Magazines at Ardmore.
- No 1 Ordnance Sub Depot
- Ammunition Magazines at Kelms Road
- No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot. Ceased to function 1 December 1945, All issues for the Central Military District were made from the Main Ordnance Depot, Trentham
- No 3 Ordnance Sub Depot
- Ammunition magazines at
- Glen Tunnel
- Mount Somers
- No 14 Ordnance Workshop,
The total storage space (including magazine accommodation) now occupied by the NZAOC was 1,349,488 square feet (411323.95 Sq Mtrs). This was suitable for most requirements except there was still a significant amount of equipment stored in the open at Waiouru Camp and in accommodation such as mess-rooms, barrack-rooms, and institutes at Waiouru and Linton. It was anticipated that this material would be stored under cover once Sylvia Park was made available by the United States Forces.
All rented storage space occupied at the commencement of the year had been vacated. Stores released include;
- Federal Street (Clothing Store),
- Mills Lane Boot Store, Auckland,
- Glide Rink, Auckland.
- Farmers’Co-operative Building,
- Thanes Building,
- Horsley’s Garage.
- Taranaki Street (Bulk Store),
- Todd Motors (Clothing Bulk Store).
- Victoria Street,
- New Zealand Railways Building (Clothing Bulk Store),
- Moorhouse Avenue.
- Briscoe’s Building (Clothing Bulk Store),
- Otago Steam Laundry (Overseas Bulk Store).
Soon after the cessation of hostilities, all outstanding orders placed overseas were reviewed and where the necessary action was taken to cancel, except where items were required to complete equipment’s already in the country and for the maintenance and modification of stores. The following table of yearly requisition values illustrates how these demands were equated to the war situation :
- Year ended
- 31st March, 1943 – £44830000 (2017 NZD$3,756,772,385.51)
- 31st March, 1944 – £7300000 (2017 NZD$602,883,125.63)
- 31st March, 1945 – £173000 (2017 NZD$14,106,950.45)
- 31st March, 1946 – £94000 (2017 NZD$7,677,814.79)
NZAOC Workshops alongside the Motor Transport Branch(MT Branch) continued to undertake work of a general nature with all workshops been fairly heavy, in spite of the closing down of units. The bulk of the work carried out was the overhaul and repair of stores returned by units and the inspection and dismantling of stores for disposal by War Assets Realization Board.
At the start of 1945 there was;
- Three Ordnance Workshops
- Main Ordnance Workshop, Trentham
- 12 Ordnance Workshop, Devonport
- 14 Ordnance Workshop, Burnham
- Nine MT Workshops
- 1 MT Workshop, Trentham
- 2 MT Workshop, Waiouru
- 3 MT Workshop, Papakura
- 4 MT Workshop, Palmerston North
- 5 MT Workshop, Burnham
- 7 MT Workshop, Wellington
- Five MT Depots
- 1 MT Depot, Auckland
- 2 MT Depot, Hamilton
- 3 MT Depot, Napier
- 4 MT Depot, Whanganui
- 5 MT Depot, Christchurch
- Four MT Stores
- 1 Base MT Stores, Trentham
- 2 Advanced MT Stores, Papakura
- 3 Advanced MT Stores, Palmerston North
- 4 Advanced MT Stores, Burnham
Disposals of surplus stores continued to be carried out, with further considerable surpluses declared to the War Assets Realization Board and held pending disposal instructions.
Up to 1946 the RNZA, managed ammunition, explosives, Coast Artillery and specialist equipment and stores with the Ammunition and Equipment Section based in Army Headquarters, during the year this responsibility including some manpower was passed to the NZAOC.
The Inspecting Ordnance Officer’s Branch, continued to Inspect ammunition of all calibres to classified it, serviced if required and prepared for long-term storage.
In April 1946, 200 tons of Chemical shells were dumped at sea. The Chemical shells were loaded on to the hulk of the Rosomund at Auckland and then towed to the 100 fathom line of the Hauraki Gulf by the tug Maui Pomare and scuttled.
Privates Sedrick Montague Cameron and Trevor Ronald Beach were killed when a truck from the Trentham Ordnance Depot crashed over a 400 ft bank into the Belmont Stream, at the Belmont Ammunition Depot. Fifteen other occupants escaped with light injuries and bruises, including;
- Corporal N. A. Prier
- Sergeant T. A. Claridge
- Corporal W. M. Hugh
- Corporal J, R. Parker
- Private V. E. Nicholas
- Private J. A. Hockly,
Ordnance in Support of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force
- Assistant Director of Ordnance Services
- Lieutenant-Colonel J. O. Kelsey, MBE
- Divisional Ordnance Field Park
- Officer Commanding, Major H. L. McLaren
- Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit
- Officer Commanding, Captian I Bell
NZEF Ordnance units consisted of;
- Office of the ADOS 2NZEF, Formed 2 June 1945 – Disbanded 1 September 1945
- No 1 Base Ordnance Depot, Maadi Camp Egypt – Disbanded February 1946
- No 2 New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot, Bari, Disbanded 30 November 1945
- 2 NZ Division Ordnance Field Park OFP – Disbanded 29 December 1945
- MZ Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit – Disbanded 8 December 1945
- NZ Vehicle and Stores Reception Depot – Formed 27 October 1945 – Disbanded January 1946
- Vehicle Depot, Assisi
- Stores Depot, Perugia
- NZ Advanced Ordnance Depot Formed 27 Oct 1945 – Disbanded 1 February 1946
On 12 March 1946, Major R. G. A. Arnell was named as the Officer Commanding of the Ordnance Depot to support the New New Zealand Brigade Group, which was on its way to Japan from Italy.
Major G. Prentice, N.Z.P.S, the Senior Ordnance stationed as part of the 2nd NZEF in Fiji returned to New Zealand in May 1946.
Copyright © Robert McKie 2017