The reorganisation of New Zealand Military Forces
Formation of NZEME
On 1 September 1946 the MT Workshops, Ordnance Workshops and Armourers Workshops combined to form the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The MT Stores would transfer to NZAOC control, becoming workshops stores sections in later years.
Reorganisation of the NZAOC
Combining of Regular and Non-Regular Forces
During the year the distinction between Regular and non-Regular soldiers which had been in place since the Defence Act of 1909 was removed. The New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps would now be comprised of both Regular and non-Regular personnel from The New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC), The NZOC had been constituted as a stand-alone Corps of the Territorial Army in December 1940 and had been in suspension since 1944.
The NZAOC Stores Depots were located at the following locations, the Major change in this period was the handing over of Sylvia Park by the US Forces to the NZ Army;
- Main Ordnance Depot, including
- Bulk Stores Sub Depots, at
- Gracefield, Lower Hutt.
- Linton Camp until 30 Sept 46
- Waiouru Camp until 30 Sept 46
- HQ Ammunition Group, with sections at
- Moko Moko,
- Kuku Valley,
- Bulk Stores Sub Depots, at
- Vehicle Depot, Sylvia Park,
- Ammunition Magazines at Ardmore.
- No 1 Ordnance Depot,
- Ammunition Magazines at Kelms Road.
On 1 October 1946 the Main Ordnance Depot, Linton Sub Depot was reorganised into an independent Ordnance Depot to be known as No 2 Ordnance Depot.
No 2 Ordnance Depot would also assume responsibility for the Waiouru Sub Depot.
- No 3 Ordnance Depot
- Ammunition magazines at
- Glen Tunnel,
- Mount Somers.
All NZAOC establishments were fully occupied in consolidating and maintaining stocks and in the disposal of substantial surplus holdings through War Assets Realization Board.
Considerable shipments of clothing, necessaries, and barrack stores were made to B.C.0.F. in Japan were made during the year.
The following transactions were recorded for the year:
- Receipts – No less than 536,355
- Issues – 665,953.
At all depots suffered from severe shortages of personnel, which prevented preservation work on much of the valuable equipment held, resulting in avoidable deterioration, mainly where the material was stored in the open.
The total value of disposals amounted to £790000 (2017 NZD$64,526,315.79) distributed as follows
- UNRRA, CORSO, and overseas relief – £68,000 (2017 NZD$5,554,163.89)
- Other overseas – £190,000 (2017 NZD$15,518,987.34)
- Goods sold in New Zealand/ transferred to the Defence Services Provision Office for overseas disposal. £532,000 (2017 NZD$43,453,164.56)
The Inspecting Ordnance Officers Group was employed on the inspection and repair of ammunition and explosive stores and the disposal of unserviceable and unsafe stores, including the disposal of chemical-warfare weapons by dumping at sea during October 1946. Some 1500 tons of 25 pounder chemical shells and 20 tons of bombs were taken to a point 50 nautical miles off Pencarrow Head near Wellington by the Marine Department steamer Matai and dumped. The latter project was completed, but other activities were hampered by shortages of staff.
From 1 April 1947, the responsibility for medical stores was resumed by the Chief Ordnance Officer. Due to the expansion of the New Zealand Forces for home defence and overseas the responsibility for medical stores was transferred from the NZAOC to a standalone organisation in November 1940.
Under the wartime organisation, a large warehouse in Wellington was taken over as the Main Medical Stores Depot, with sub-depots at Christchurch and Auckland, and a reserve depot at Palmerston North.
In November 1946, 4 New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot was renamed to 4 New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot.
London Victory Celebrations of 1946
The London Victory Celebrations of 1946 were British Commonwealth, Empire and Allied victory celebrations held on 8 June 1946 to commemorate the defeat of Nazi Germany and Japan in World War II. New Zealand provided a contingent of 300 members and former members of the armed forces with 150 from the Army, 100 from the RNZAF and 50 from the RNZN. The New Zealand contingent also included women from all the services.
The NZAOC was represented on the parade by;
- Lieutenant Colonel John Owen Kelsey, MBE, MID
- Sergeant Bernard Foster,
- Corporal Ronald Dawson Briggs
Presentation on New Zealand Ordnance in the Pacific
In April 1947, Mr Bernard Ewart Woodhams, formerly of the Ordnance Coprs recounted to the Hamilton Rotary Club some of the problems which had been faced in supplying the 3rd New Zealand Division during the Pacific campaign.
In the first major campaign ever to take place in the Pacific, lack of port facilities, the effect of the climatic conditions and the great amount of handling required were responsible for great difficulty in the distribution of supplies, said Mr Woodhams. The Ordnance Corps had been responsible for the supply and maintenance of most of the stores used by the division. Although it worked in the background the corps was an important force in the military set-up. Giving a review of the campaign, Mr Woodhams said after some months in New Caledonia the division moved on to Guadalcanal and much work was involved in the transfer of 12,000 troops, vehicles and supplies to the new area. The materials for supply and maintenance were mainly supplied from New Zealand. In his opinion, the supply of the New Zealand troops would have been much easier if American equipment had been used.
The New Zealand force was operating among the Americans and because the division had British equipment supplies had to be indented in New Zealand. The division had to take its own ammunition everywhere it went. The American supply system was amazing, said’ Mr Woodhams. When the New, Zealanders landed at Noumea there were about 80 American ships in the harbour with supplies for their forces. As an illustration of the efficiency of American logistics, Mr Woodhams said that a special issue of shirts, trousers and belts was to be made to the 15,000′ New Zealand troops. When the order was placed the American officer asked the New Zealander to call for the supplies the following morning.
Speaking of the effect of the climate on equipment, Mr Woodhams said that the life of a tent under combat conditions was about three months. A type of fungus grew on the lenses of binoculars and other optical equipment. Radio sets used by the division were difficult to maintain, certain standard types being practically useless in the jungle. A species of insect was notorious for boring into the rifling of the barrels of rifles. Because of this pest troops not immediately in action were allowed to grease barrels and cover the muzzles.
When the troops were due to return to the Dominion, 22,000 battledresses and greatcoats were required to replace the tropical, issue, said Mr Woodhams. In addition to issuing and storing equipment, the maintenance of gear imposed a great strain on the organisation. On one occasion 20,000 blankets had to be washed and packed before being returned to the Dominion. Half a ton of soap powder was used to do the job. Two football fields made an unusual sight absolutely covered with lines hearing the drying blankets. In all 11,000 tons of ammunition had to be brought back. As the troops had carried their own rifles and webbing equipment on the outward trip the Ordnance Corps was responsible for the return of this gear. There were no cases for the packing of the rifles, so the timber had to be cut and boxes made.