To commemorate the 70th anniversary on the 12th of July 1947 of the granting of the “Royal” prefix by King George VI to the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, and the 100th anniversary of the formation of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps on 1 February 1917. A small gathering was held the 15th of July 2017 at the Empire Hotel in Palmerston North.
The Empire Hotel was chosen as the venue as 100 years ago the NZAOC Palmerston North Detachment, Ordnance Store was located across the road at 327 Main Street, and I am sure that some of them would have enjoyed a cold beer at the Empire Hotel on a Saturday afternoon.
The gathering was small, but those who attended represented a varied cross-section of former RNZAOC members from the 1960’s to the 1990’s.
Ordnance and the Central Districts
The RNZAOC and its predecessors have had a long association with the Central Districts of New Zealand. The Central Districts including the provinces of;
- Hawkes Bay,
- Horowhenua, and
In the early years of the 20th Century, Ordnance Support to the region was provided by the Defence Stores Department from their Headquarters at Mount Cook in Wellington.
With the foundation of the NZAOC in 1917, Trentham soon became the Main Ordnance Depot with detachments at Featherston and Palmerston North
On the conclusion of the First World War permanent Ordnance Depots were established at Ngaruawahia to support the Northern Districts, and at Burnham to Support the Southern Districts, it was decided to support the Central Districts directly from the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham, resulting in the closure of the Featherston and Palmerston North Ordnance Detachments.
With the onset of the Second World War and the mobilisation of New Zealand, the Central Districts Ordnance Depot was established at the Showground’s in Palmerston North with several large warehouses in rented accommodation at Whanganui.
In August of 1942, the District Ordnance Depots were renamed, and responsibility’s defined. The Main Ordnance Depot name would remain extant, and it would service;
- Army Headquarters,
- Army School,
- Mobilisation Camp, Trentham,
- All other troops in the Wellington Fortress area,
- 1, 2 and 3 Ordnance Sup Depots.
The Central Districts Ordnance Depot would become No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot and would service ;
- Waiouru Military Camp and all units therein,
- Tactical School, Wanganui,
- Staff College, Palmerston North,
- Central Military Districts Troops (except Wellington Fortress troops),
- 4th Division.
On the Wars end, No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot closed on 14 December 1945 and responsibility for Ordnance Support for the Central Districts reverted to the Main Ordnance Depot in Trentham. A short time later No 2 Ordnance Sub depot reopened in Linton Camp.
- No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot in Linton, would endure becoming;
- No2 Ordnance Depot in 1946,
- Central Districts Ordnance Depot in 1961,
- 2 Central Ordnance Depot in 1968,
- 2 Supply Company in 1979,
- 5 Composite Supply Company in 1985 and finally
- 21 Field Supply Company in 1990 until 1996 when its ownership Passed from the RNZAOC to the RNZALR.
Workshops and Stores Sections
In September 1946 most of the repair and maintenance functions of the NZAOC became the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The NZAOC retained repair functions such as Bootmaking, Textile Repair and Tailoring.
From 1961 the RNZAOC was represented across the Central Districts in all of the RNZEME Workshops and LAD Stores Sections.
Constructed and becoming operational in the mid-1940’s, Ammunition Depots would be established at:
- Kuku valley at Trentham,
- Belmont in Wellington,
- Makomako, and
These would remain as interdependent Ammunition Depots until 1961 when they became Sub-Depots of the Central Districts Ordnance Depot.
The Belmont Ammunition Depot would close in the late 1960’s, with Makomako closing in the mid-1990’s leaving Waiouru as the Main Ammunition Depot.
When Waiouru Camp was established in 1940 it was planned to create an Ordnance Depot there, but these plans never eventuated, and Waiouru would remain a Sub Depot of Trentham. Waiouru became a Sub Depot of Linton until the 1970s when it became 4 Central Ordnance Depot, then 4 Supply Company in 1979.
Wellington Region Ordnance Units
Although based in the Wellington region and having a broader responsibility for just, not the Central Districts but also the entire Army, by their proximity they have a closer association to the Central Districts than the Northern and Southern Districts and therefore have been included in this article.
In the post-war era Ordnance in the Main Ordnance Depot in Trentham would undergo many transformations, the Main Ordnance Depot would become the Base Ordnance Depot in 1968 and then the 1st Base Supply Battalion in 1979 and finally 5 Logistic Regiment in 1993.
The RNZAF stores depot at Mangaroa was handed over to the NZ Army in 1949 and over the years would become home to;
- 4(NZ) Division Ordnance Field Park was based at Trentham and Mangaroa from 1950 to 1963,
- 1 Infantry Brigade OFP from 1963 to 1968 until reorganised and redeployed to Ngaruawahia and Burnham.
- 1st Composite Ordnance Company from 1964 to 1977.
The Central Districts Vehicle Depot would be established at Trentham in the late 1940’s and would move closer to its primary customer base at Linton in 1958 and would to be absorbed into the CDOD as a Sub-Depot in 1961.
Adoption of RNZASC functions
In 1979 the foodstuffs and POL functions of the RNZASC became an Ordnance responsibility with the RNZAOC gaining;
- 24 Supply Platoon in Linton,
- 44 Supply Platoon in Waiouru,
- 54 Supply Platoons in Trentham,
- 21 Supply Company in Waiouru (retaining its name in honour of its long history with the RNZASC), and
- 7 Petroleum Platoon in Waiouru, which was renamed 47 Petroleum Platoon (4 added to identify it as a Platoon of 4 Supply Company).
Establishment of the RNZALR
On the 8 of December 1996, the RNZAOC along with the RNZCT and RNZEME was disestablished and its personnel and unit’s becoming part of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.
Copyright © Robert McKie 2017
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