NZAOC Between the wars

During its 79 year existence as a Corps, the NZAOC/RNZAOC was essentially a peacetime organisation and only actively engaged in supporting the army on warlike operations for approximately half its life. 1919 to 1939 and 1972 to 1992 were two long periods where the country was at peace, and the NZAOC/RNZAOC focus was on supporting Training, managing stocks for potential mobilisations and struggling to remain relevant in climates of financial restraint.

This article will provide an overview of the NZAOC during the period 1919 to 1938

On the cessation of hostilities in 1918,  the New Zealand Army Ordnance organisation consisted of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (Officers) and the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Other Ranks) collectively referred to as the NZAOC.

Personnel

During the interwar period, the strength of r the NZAOC fluctuated from a high of 493 in 1919  to a low of  20 in 1932 ending the period with a force of 34 in 1939

NZAOC INTERWAR MANNING

Directors of Ordnance Services

  • Major T McCristell – 10 Apr 1916 to 30 Jan 1920 (Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores)
  • Lt Col H.E Pilkington – 30 Jan to 1 Oct 1925 (Director of Ordnance Stores)
  • Major T.J King – 1 Oct 1924 to 22 June 1940

NZAOC JULY 1918 TO JUNE 1919

Having only being Gazetted by regulations published in 1917, the NZAOC had only been established as part of the permanent staff of the Defence Forces of New Zealand for just over a year on the cessation of Hostilities.

Under the control of the Director of Army Ordnance and Supplies, Major T McCristell. The NZAOC was Organised with Ordnance Stores under four District Ordnance Officers located at;

  • Mount Eden in Auckland
  • Alexandra Barracks, Mount Cook, Wellington, with detachments at
    • Palmerston North, and
    • Featherston
  • King Edward Barracks, Christchurch
  • St Andrews St, Dunedin

With the cessation of Hostilities operations swiftly switched from supporting the NZEF and training replacements to the demobilisation of the NZEF, the closing of camps and the downsizing of the army to peacetime levels

NZAOC JULY 1919 TO JUNE 1920

The NZAOC was under pressure to reduce manning levels. This was not possible owing to the significant amount, of work, still required to be carried out in connection with the war. In addition to the ordinary ordnance work in support of the Territorial Force, the NZAOC was required to;

  • maintain extra personnel for the handling, storage and accounting of hospital equipment for the hospitals under the Defence Department,
  • retain additional staff for the educational and vocational establishments,
  • Handle the large quantity of military material arriving from overseas.

NZAOC JULY 1920 TO JULY 1921

Approved by His Majesty King George V at the end of 1920, General Order No 95 of 1 March 1921 granted formal approval of an alliance between the RAOC and the Ordnance Corps of;

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa

The RAOC motto ” SUA TELA TONANTI” formally adopted as the motto of the NZAOC.

During this period the NZAOC had been considerably reduced but was still considered more than the strength required for its regular peace duties which consisted of the accounting, storage, issue, receipt, and care of all Ordnance stores for the N.Z. Military Forces, including the following in excess of ordinary routine duties;;

  • Receipt, accounting, and storage of abundant supplies of military equipment from the United Kingdom,
  • Ordnance issues and accounting in connection with military hospitals and sanatoria,
  • Sale of surplus stores
  • Marking of new rifles and equipment and reissuing to Territorial Force and Cadets. Nearly all of the new military equipment had arrived, and distributed as under;
    • Training equipment to units,
    • Mobilization equipment to depots in each command,
    • Reserve equipment at the main Ordnance depot.

As a result of the Army reorganisation, Military districts were reduced from 4 to 3 and renamed as Commands. This resulted in the Education Department Industrial School at Burnham been taken over for use as a NZAOC depot for the Southern Military Command. This led to the Ordnance Store located at King Edward Barracks and the Dunedin Ordnance Store situated in St Andrews Street, Dunedin closing and relocating to Burnham Camp as the Southern Command Ordnance Depot.

The current Ordnance Store at Mount Eden was unsuitable, and until suitable storage accommodation was provided, mobilisation stores for Auckland command were to be housed at Featherston Camp which resulted in the delayed demolition of this camp.

The NZAOC Palmerston North Detachment had closed during this period and had transferred its stores to Featherston and Trentham Camps.

The Ordnance Stores located in Buckle Street in Wellington had been relocated to Trentham.

NZAOC JULY 1921 TO JUNE 1922

With Ordnance Depots established at Burnham for the Southern Command, and at Trentham for the Central Command. The site for the Northern Command Depot at Ngaruawahia had been obtained in an exchange with the Railway Department for land at Frankton Junction. The mobilisation stores for the Northern Command were held at Trentham and Featherston, so it became a priority to incur some expenditure for the erection of buildings at Ngaruawahia. Plans were also on the table for the provision of suitable fireproof buildings to replace the contemporary temporary accommodation at Trentham and Burnham. At Trentham all available buildings, including the gymnasium used by the School of Instruction, were utilised for storage; many of the older hutments were not suitable for storing the equipment stores within them, and the risk of fire was a very grave one.

Based on the lessons learned during the war a new The cost accounting system was introduced in 1921.

NZAOC JULY 1922 TO JUNE 1923

Due to financial constraints work on the construction of the Ordnance Stores for the Northern Command had not yet been commenced, and work that was proposed to be carried out at Trentham and Burnham depots had been delayed. This had made the provision of proper Ordnance Depots at all three locations an urgent matter.

NZAOC JUNE 1923 TO MAY 1924

On 3 July 1923, the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department was amalgamated with the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps resulting in one Ordnance organisation for the New Zealand Army.

NZAOC JUNE 1924 TO MAY 1925

At Ngaruawahia Camp, a railway-siding had been completed, and a branch line into the camp is under construction. and the provision of buildings for Ordnance stores was receiving consideration.

NZAOC JUNE 1925 TO MAY 1926

At Ngaruawahia work commenced on the large Ordnance Store building, which when completed would absorb the stores located at Mount Eden and at Featherston Camp and enable the temporary structures in those camps to be dismantled. Five magazines for gun-ammunition and high explosives and the earthwork for five others were also completed at Ngaruawahia Camp. Five additional magazines for gun-ammunition and one for small-arms ammunition were planned to be constructed in 1927. Further building forecasted for the next year included;

  • four married quarters,
  • Ordnance Office, and
  • workshops.

NZAOC JUNE 1926 TO MAY 1927

The development of Ngaruawahia Camp was continuing satisfactorily. The large Ordnance Store, a large building 322 ft by 100 ft divided into seven bay’s four 25ft by 100 ft, three 74ft by 100 ft, was nearing completion with the building walls up and two of the smaller bays roofed in. Other buildings projected to be constructed were an Ordnance workshop, 61ft by 50ft, and a vehicle shed, S2oft by 25ft.

The railway-siding serving the Ordnance buildings has been completed. The construction of the Ordnance Office and small-arms ammunition magazine has been commenced, and two high-explosive magazines and three married quarters will be put in hand immediately.

The entire inventory previously held at Featherston Camp had been removed. Several buildings were transferred to Fort Dorset to provide accommodation there, and, except for six retained for possible similar transfer elsewhere, and two brick buildings kept on the site, the whole of the buildings had been sold to the general public for removal. The land was retained and was leased for grazing purposes.

NZAOC JUNE 1927 TO MAY 1928

To make good wastage due to retirements, Six Other Ranks were enlisted into the NZAOC during this year.

The development of Ngaruawahia Camp was now in its final stages.

NZAOC JUNE 1928 TO MAY 1929

A concrete strong-room and Ordnance Workshops had been erected at Burnham Camp.

With the removal of stores to Ngaruawahia Camp, the buildings at Mount Eden were no longer required, so they were disassembled and re-erected Narrow Neck Camp.

NZAOC JUNE 1929 TO MAY 1930 

All construction work at Ngaruawahia Camp was completed, and the buildings have been handed over to the Army

NZAOC JUNE 1930 to MAY 1931

On account of the disastrous earthquake that struck Napier and Hastings on the 3rd February 1931, the NZAOC was called upon at short notice to supply tents, blankets, bedding, cooking and eating utensils, for use in the stricken areas. The total value of the stores issued from the Ordnance Stores at Trentham was £35,000. The Ordnance staff did particularly good work in dispatching these stores and equipment.

The Ordnance workshop located at Mount Cook was relocated to Trentham Camp.

With the Depression affecting the New Zealand economy, the NZAOC was forced to retrench many of its staff including;

  • Seventy-six officers and other ranks of the NZAOC were retired on superannuation as from the 31st March 1931.
  • Seventy-four NZAOC staff (excluding officers and artificers) who were not eligible for retirement were transferred to the civil service to work in the same positions but at a lower rate of pay.

NZAOC JUNE 1931 TO MAY 1934

A low period in NZAOC history, the retrenchments of 1931 had hit hard, and operations in the army were at an all-time low during this period

NZAOC JUNE 1934 TO MAY 1935

Equipment and stores required for the Territorial Force had been maintained during the year in serviceable condition. Meticulous attention had been paid to the inspection and testing of small-arms ammunition.

NZAOC JUNE 1935 TO MAY 1936

The NZAOC continued to be was responsible for;

  • the provision, distribution, repair, examination, and maintenance of small arms machine guns, vehicles, clothing, equipment, and general stores
  • the inspection and repair of armament and inspection of gun ammunition
  • the receipt, testing, storage, and issue of small-arms ammunition
  • the organisation and control of ordnance workshops

NZAOC JUNE 1936 TO MAY 1937

NZAOC personnel has been engaged throughout the year in the following activities :

  •  Care, preservation, turnover, and accounting for all stores, arms, equipment, and clothing held in Ordnance Depots.
  • Receipt and classification of clothing returned from Territorials and Cadets. Allocation of apparel for dry-cleaning and renovation, and examination on return from dry cleaning contractors.
  • Examination of new clothing supplied by contractors.
  • Annual inspection of rifles and light machine guns on charge to Territorial Units and Cadets, and half-yearly examination of Vickers guns.
  • The issue of camp equipment and training stores for camps, bivouacs, and courses of instruction throughout the Dominion, also hire of stores to various organisations.
  • Sales of rifles and barrels to gunsmiths, to rifle clubs, and to general public, and sales of S.A.A. to rifle clubs.
  • The everyday issues of clothing, arms, equipment, S.A.A. and expendable stores. No progress has been made during the year with the stripping, cleaning, and preservation of the balance of the rifles, S.M.L.E. Mark III, held in store, and which have not been examined since receipt from the United Kingdom in 1920. Authority had been obtained, however, for the engagement of four arms-cleaners, and the work has now started.

As the guest of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, The Director of Ordnance Services paid a six-week visit to Australia at the end of 1936

NZAOC JUNE 1937 TO MAY 1938

The constant changes in the organisation of units and in equipment generally, as adopted in England, had very much complicated and increased the Ordnance work in New Zealand. Much remained to be done in the repair, maintenance, and the modernisation of arms and equipment, in the receipt, storage, and issue of stores and equipment from abroad, and in preparation for mobilisation.

A contract for the first section of the large Ordnance Store required at Trentham was let, and it was proposed to accelerate the construction of the remainder of the buildings. Plans were prepared for the structures needed for the Ordnance Depots at Ngaruawahia and Burnham, and for the rebuilding of the Ordnance Workshop, Devonport.

NZAOC JUNE 1938 TO MAY 1939

There had been a considerable increase in Ordnance work during the last eight months. Equipment tables for all Territorial units except Artillery had been prepared, and the issue of equipment was proceeding. Camp-equipment stocks have been thoroughly revised in the light of the altered establishments, and essential purchases have been affected.

The first section of the large Ordnance store building at Trentham was nearing completion, and a contract had been let for the second section. The construction of this store would alleviate the severe shortage of storage space at Trentham, and will at the same time make available additional barrack-rooms for the accommodation of troops attending the Schools of Instruction. A contract had also been let for the first section of a similar Ordnance store at Burnham with clearing operations on the site commenced.

The Southern Ordnance Depot assisted the Southern Military School at Burnham. The school conducted a unique course for quartermasters, drawn from the various Territorial units of the Southern Military District. The Southern Ordnance Depot provided instruction on the are and preservation of clothing and ordnance equipment.

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NZAOC June 1938 to May 1939

Personnel

The strength of the NZAOC on the 31st May 1939 was 34 consisting of:

  • 6 Officers
  • 28 Permanent Other Ranks

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Joseph King, NZAOC

Ordnance Officer, Main Ordnance Depot, Trentham

  • Captain E. L. O. Bown, NZSC

Ordnance Mechanical Engineer, Trentham

  • Captain S. B. Wallace, B.E. NZAOC

 Assistant Ordnance Officer, Main Ordnance Depot, Trentham

  • Lieutenant A. H. Andrews,  NZAOC

Inspecting Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant A. de T. Nevill, RNZA

Northern Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant D. L. Lewis

Central Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant H. E. Erridge NZAOC

Southern Command Ordnance Depot

  • Lieutenant D. Nicol

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant I. R. Withell, RNZA

Assistant Chief Ordnance Officer Trentham Camp

  • Captain W. R. Burge, M.C., NZSC

Ordnance Officer Main Depot and Officer in Charge Trentham Military Camp

  • Captain W. M. Bell, NZAOC

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Assistant Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant S. B. Wallace

Ordnance Officer (provisional) at the Main Ordnance Depot

  • Lieutenant H. E. Erridge

Proof Officer, Small Arms Ammunition, Auckland

  • Honorary Lieutenant J.W Fletcher, NZPS

Consequent upon the increase in the establishment of the Territorial Force and the continuous work that would have to be done in the future in connection with preparations for mobilization, a considerable increase in staff was identified as necessary.

Ordnance Services

The NZAOC was responsible for;

  • the provision, distribution, repair, examination, and maintenance of small arms, machine guns, vehicles, clothing, equipment, and general stores;
  • the inspection and repair of armament and inspection of gun ammunition ;
  • the receipt, testing, storage, and issue of small-arms ammunition;
  • the organization and control of ordnance workshops.

There had been a considerable increase in Ordnance work during the last eight months. Equipment tables for all Territorial units except Artillery had been prepared, and the issue of equipment was proceeding. Camp-equipment stocks have been completely revised in the light of the altered establishments, and considerable purchases have been effected.

Ordnance Store Buildings and Workshops

The new carpenters’ workshop at Trentham, Main Ordnance Depot was under construction. The first section of the large Ordnance store building at Trentham was nearing completion, and a contract had been let for the second section. The completion of this store will alleviate the serious shortage of storage space at Trentham, and will at the same time make available additional barrack-rooms for the accommodation of troops attending the Schools of Instruction. A contract had also been let for the first section of a similar Ordnance store at Burnham and clearing operations on the site commenced.

Credits

The sum of £41,705 19s. 10d. has been received for the sale of rifles, ammunition, cordite, cloth, trimmings, waste products, etc

Arms

A supply of short M.L.E. Mark 111 heavy Lithgow barrels and of M.L.E. converted Lithgow barrels was received from the Australian Government for sale to members of Defence rifle clubs. The first consignment of Bren guns was received from England with an armourers’ course on this particular type of gun was held in February 1939.

Clothing and Equipment

Mush difficulty had been experienced in purchasing certain items necessary for mobilization, and if the NZAOC was to be in a position to function efficiently immediately on mobilization it was identified to Government that ordering of additional stocks would have to procured and held in peace. This was recognized in principle, and the clothing and equipment situation for mobilization improved, but much remained to be done. Considerable progress had been made with the manufacture of blue uniforms, and to date over 3,400 had been issued. The uniform had received the most favourable reception.

Quartermasters’ Course

The Southern Ordnance Depot assisted the Southern Military School at Burnham. The school conducted a  special course for quartermasters, drawn from the various Territorial units of the Southern Military District. The Southern Ordnance Depot provided instruction on the are and preservation of clothing and ordnance equipment.

1939 Releases

Armourer Staff Sergeant Andrew Archibald Young, MSM
Lieutenant Alfred William Baldwin

 

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NZAOC June 1937 to May 1938

Personnel

The strength of the NZAOC on the 31st May 1938 was 34 consisting of:

  • 6 Officers
  • 28 Permanent Other Ranks

Establishment Review

It was identified due to the recent and pending increases in armament, instruments, and equipment generally, and in the proposed further distribution of mobilization equipment to districts. then an increase in the NZAOC establishment would be required in the following areas;

  • armament and armourer sections,
  • clerical division,
  • General division with store-men and tradesmen.

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Major Thomas Joseph King, NZAOC

Inspecting Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant A. de T. Nevill, RNZA

Northern Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant D. L. Lewis

Central Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant H. E. Erridge NZAOC

Southern Command Ordnance Depot

  • Lieutenant D. Nicol

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant I. R. Withell, RNZA

Assistant Chief Ordnance Officer Trentham Camp

  • Captain W. R. Burge, M.C., NZSC

Ordnance Officer Main Depot and Officer in Charge Trentham Military Camp

  • Captain W. M. Bell, NZAOC

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Assistant Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant S. B. Wallace

Ordnance Officer (provisional) at the Main Ordnance Depot

  • Lieutenant H. E. Erridge

Officer In Charge, Ordnance Workshop, Trentham

  • Lieutenant A.H Andrews

Proof Officer, Small Arms Ammunition, Auckland

  • Honorary Lieutenant J.W Fletcher, NZPS

New Ordnance Badges

By 1936, stocks of the 1917 pattern Cap badge had been exhausted, with only collar badges remaining in stock. The Director of Ordnance Services of the time proposed to the Quartermaster General that existing stocks of the NZEF NZAOC badge (180 Cap Badges, 319 Pairs of Collar Badges) be used as a replacement, and the current badge be made obsolete.  The Quartermaster General did not authorise the replacement of the 1917 Badge but did allow the use of the NZEF NZAOC Badge until the provision of new badges could be arranged from the UK.

The Director of Ordnance Services counted with a proposal in February 1937 with a design for a new NZAOC badge, which was a similar pattern to the current RAOC Badge which had been introduced in 1918. The New Zealand Badge differed from the RAOC version by having the Inscription “New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps” in the Annulus field, and the inscription “Sua Tela Tonanti” in the Riband. The new design was approved on the 31st of May 1937.

RNZAOC hat and collar 1937-1947

RNZAOC hat and collar 1937-1947. Robert McKie collection

Ordnance Services

The NZAOC was responsible for;

  • the provision, distribution, repair, examination, and maintenance of small arms, machine guns, vehicles, clothing, equipment, and general stores;
  • the inspection and repair of armament and inspection of gun ammunition ;
  • the receipt, testing, storage, and issue of small-arms ammunition;
  • the organization and control of ordnance workshops.

The constant changes in the organisation of units and in equipment generally,  as adopted in England, had very much complicated and increased the Ordnance work in New Zealand. Much remained to be done in the repair, maintenance, and modernization of arms and equipment, in the receipt, storage, and issue of stores and equipment from abroad, and in preparation for mobilisation.

Credits

The sum of £24,776 had been received as credits for the sale of rifles, ammunition, and cordite, cloth and trimmings to contractors, obsolete and unserviceable stores, waste products, etc.

Arms

Good progress had been made with the stripping, cleaning, and preservation of rifles S.M.L.E., Mark III. The stock of barrels brought in 1920 for sale to rifle clubs had now become exhausted. The question of the provision of a suitable barrel was referred to the National Rifle Association, and, as a result of the recommendation received, inquiries are being made from Australia regarding the provision of such a barrel.

Small-arms Ammunition

Proof of ammunition held in magazines throughout the Dominion manufactured between the years 1929-33 was carried out, all ammunition tested was passed as fit for rifle use.

Clothing

The provision of a blue uniform for the Territorial Force had been approved. Four thousand uniforms were manufactured for issue this year.

Store Buildings and Workshops

The extension to the fitters’ shops at the Ordnance Workshops, Trentham, was completed, and the erection of the new carpenters’ shop planned for construction. A contract for the first section of the large Ordnance Store required at Trentham was let and it was proposed to accelerate the construction of the remainder of the buildings. Plans were prepared for the buildings required at the Ordnance Depots at Ngaruawahia and Burnham, and for the rebuilding of the Ordnance Workshop, Devonport.

 

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NZAOC June 1936 to May 1937

Strength

The strength of the NZAOC on the 31st May 1937 was 34 consisting of:

  • 6 Officers, and
  • 28 Other ranks.

Four Armourer recruits were enlisted during the year, they had undergone training and made good progress. In addition, two Armourer recruits for the RNZAF had also made satisfactory progress. In November 1936 a course of instruction for all Armourers was held. This course was very successful and helped to coordinate the work of inspection of arms throughout the Dominion.

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Major Thomas Joseph King, NZAOC

Inspecting Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant A. de T. Nevill, RNZA

Northern Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant D. L. Lewis

Central Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant H. E. Erridge NZAOC

Southern Command Ordnance Depot

  • Lieutenant D. Nicol

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant I. R. Withell, RNZA

Assistant Chief Ordnance Officer Trentham Camp

  • Captain W. R. Burge, M.C., NZSC

Ordnance Officer Main Depot and Officer in Charge Trentham Military Camp

  • Captain W. M. Bell, NZAOC

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Assistant Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant S. B. Wallace,
    • Completed the Ordnance Mechanical Engineer’s Course in England. Arrangements were made for him to attend certain other courses and undergo various attachments. He was scheduled to return to New Zealand in September 1938.

Ordnance Officer (provisional) at the Main Ordnance Depot

  • Lieutenant H. E. Erridge

Officer In Charge, Ordnance Workshop, Trentham

  • Lieutenant A.H Andrews

Proof Officer, Small Arms Ammunition, Auckland

  • Honorary Lieutenant J.W Fletcher, NZPS

NZAOC Activities

NZAOC personnel has been engaged throughout the year in the following activities :

  • Care, preservation, turnover, and accounting for all stores, arms, equipment, and clothing held in Ordnance Depots.
  • Receipt and classification of clothing returned from Territorials and Cadets. Allocation of clothing for dry-cleaning and renovation, and examination on return from dry cleaning contractors.
  • Examination of new clothing supplied by contractors.
  • Annual inspection of rifles and light machine guns on charge to Territorial Units and Cadets, and half-yearly inspection of Vickers guns.
  • The issue of camp equipment and training stores for camps, bivouacs, and courses of instruction throughout the Dominion, also hire of stores to various organizations.
  • Sales of rifles and barrels to gunsmiths, to rifle clubs, and to the general public, and sales of S.A.A. to rifle clubs.
  • Routine issues of clothing, arms, equipment, S.A.A. and expendable stores. No progress has been made during the year with the stripping, cleaning, and preservation of the balance of the rifles, S.M.L.E. Mark III, held in store, and which have not been examined since receipt from the United Kingdom in 1920. Authority had been obtained, however, for the engagement of four arms-cleaners, and the work has now started.

Credits

Received as credits for the sale of rifles, ammunition, and cordite – £16,573 Is. 10d.

Provision of cloth and trimmings to contractors; waste products, etc. £4,751 5s. 11d. (This represents the proceeds of sales of cloth and trimmings to contractors for use in the manufacture of Territorial clothing.)

Accommodation

The accommodation for mobilization stores at Trentham remained very unsatisfactory.

Arms Sales

The sales of small arms to rifle clubs and the general public continued during the year. The total value of rifles, barrels, and components sold during the year, ending 31st March 1937 was £3,166 75, which was about £1,000 more than any previous total during recent years. These sales involve a considerable amount of work for the NZAOC Armourers, but this was counterbalanced by the returns.

Australia visit by the Director of Ordnance Services

As the guest of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, The Director of Ordnance Services paid a six-week visit to Australia at the end of 1936. During this visit, he inspected the munition establishments of the Commonwealth and visited the Ordnance establishments at Melbourne and Sydney. He also carried out an investigation into the accounting system of the Royal Australian Air Force. Much of the information obtained will be of value in the future.

Workshops

The new instrument workshop at Trentham was occupied in August 1936 and provides greatly increased facilities for repairs. There was a large amount of Armourers’ work in arrears, but owing to the shortage of staff, it was not been possible to undertake it.

 

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NZAOC June 1935 to May 1936

Personnel

The strength of the NZAOC on 31 May 1936 was 30, consisting of;

  • 5 Officers,
  • 25 Permanent Other Ranks

Civilian figures are unknown.

Officers

Some improvement had been effected in the position that existed last year. One junior officer was sent to England to attend the Ordnance Mechanical Engineers’ Course, another with the B.E. degree had been appointed and after experience in a civilian workshop was posted to the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham. An additional officer should be appointed this year for administrative work at the Main Ordnance Depot.

Other Ranks (Including Civilians)

Four men were selected for appointment as armourers and will be trained under a Warrant Officer (Armourer Sergeant-Major) from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, England, who had recently been appointed. An additional instrument-repairer (ex-Warrant Officer, R.A.0.C.) had also been appointed. Two armourers for the Royal N.Z. Air Force will receive their initial training at the same time. A laboratory foreman, whose duties comprise the testing of gun ammunition, had received training in Australia during the year.

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Major Thomas Joseph King, NZAOC

Inspecting Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant A. de T. Nevill, RNZA

Northern Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant D. L. Lewis

Central Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant H. E. Erridge NZAOC

Southern Command Ordnance Depot

  • Lieutenant D. Nicol

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant I. R. Withell, RNZA

Assistant Chief Ordnance Officer Trentham Camp

  • Captain W. R. Burge, M.C., NZSC

Ordnance Officer Main Depot and Officer in Charge Trentham Military Camp

  • Captain W. M. Bell, NZAOC

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Assistant Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant S. B. Wallace

Ordnance Officer (provisional) at the Main Ordnance Depot

  • Lieutenant H. E. Erridge

Officer In Charge, Ordnance Workshop, Trentham

  • Lieutenant A.H Andrews

Proof Officer, Small Arms Ammunition, Auckland

  • Honorary Lieutenant J.W Fletcher, NZPS

 

Ordnance Services

The NZAOC was responsible for;

  • the provision, distribution, repair, examination, and maintenance of small arms, machine guns, vehicles, clothing, equipment, and general stores;
  • the inspection and repair of armament and inspection of gun ammunition ;
  • the receipt, testing, storage, and issue of small-arms ammunition;
  • the organization and control of ordnance workshops.

Equipment and stores required for the Territorial Force had been maintained during the year in serviceable condition. Very careful attention had been paid to the inspection and testing of small-arms ammunition, some of the older stocks of which showed signs of serious deterioration. All ammunition issued for use in rifles was carefully tested before issue, and ammunition found unfit for rifles were either issued for use in machine guns or broken up, according to its condition.

Equipment and Stores

It had not been possible to effect any improvement in the very unsatisfactory position regarding reserves of equipment and stores, as reported in the previous year.

Stores Buildings and Workshops

Sketch plans of additional storage and workshop accommodation at Trentham had been prepared for inclusion in the latest estimates. The buildings required comprise two large storehouses, to be served by an extension of the existing railway siding, and various additions and alterations to the workshops. A substantial economy in staff and administrative expenses would result from the carrying out of this work.

At Burnham Camp, a small building to accommodate single civilian personnel of the Ordnance Depot had been erected, but additions were required to meet an increase in the number of men employed at this camp.

 

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NZAOC June 1934 to May 1935

Personnel

The strength of the NZAOC on the 31st May 1935 was 29 consisting of:

  • 5 Officers, and
  • 24 Other ranks.

It had not been possible, for financial reasons, to follow any progressive policy during the past few years in the appointment of officers to the NZAOC. The officers of the corps are of two classes;

  • Administrative and
  • Technical,

and the small numbers involved made it essential that appointments be made with careful regard to age and the necessity for technical training abroad.

It was planned that two junior officers —one for administrative work and one for technical work—would be appointed as soon as funds permit, with one officer to attend the Ordnance Mechanical Engineers’ Course in England in 1936.

Special attention was being paid to the provision of armourers and instrument artificers. The position as regards armament-artificers was satisfactory, but appointments of young men for training as armourers and for instrument-repair work needed to be made as soon as practicable.

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Major Thomas Joseph King, NZAOC

Inspecting Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant A. de T. Nevill, RNZA

Northern Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant D. L. Lewis

Central Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant H. E. Erridge NZAOC

Southern Command Ordnance Depot

  • Lieutenant D. Nicol

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant I. R. Withell, RNZA

Assistant Chief Ordnance Officer Trentham Camp

  • Captain W. R. Burge, M.C., NZSC

Ordnance Officer Main Depot and Officer in Charge Trentham Military Camp

  • Captain W. M. Bell, NZAOC

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Assistant Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant Mr S. B. Wallace

Ordnance Officer (provisional) at the Main Ordnance Depot

  • Lieutenant H. E. Erridge

Proof Officer, Small Arms Ammunition, Auckland

  • Honorary Lieutenant J.W Fletcher, NZPS ( appointed 1 Sept 1931 NZ General Order 353/1931)

 Ordnance Services

The NZAOC was responsible for;

  • the provision, distribution, repair, examination, and maintenance of small arms, machine guns, vehicles, clothing, equipment, and general stores;
  • the inspection and repair of armament and inspection of gun ammunition ;
  • the receipt, testing, storage, and issue of small-arms ammunition;
  • the organization and control of ordnance workshops.

Equipment and stores required for the Territorial Force had been maintained during the year in serviceable condition. Very careful attention had been paid to the inspection and testing of small-arms ammunition, some of the older stocks of which showed signs of serious deterioration. All ammunition issued for use in rifles was carefully tested before issue, and ammunition found unfit for rifles was either issued for use in machine guns or broken up, according to its condition.

Equipment and Stores

The situation regarding equipment and stores was far from satisfactory. Financial limitations had made it impossible to build up an adequate reserve of equipment and stores or to maintain those reserves that existed. These stores could not be obtained in New Zealand, nor would they be available until at least six months after the outbreak of war. Apart from the provision of stores, a considerable amount of leeway had to be made up in carrying out alterations and additions to existing equipment. Shortage of skilled personnel and small stores, and inadequate workshops and machinery, together with the increased demands made upon them, were responsible for the present situation. Unfortunately, financial limitations permitted no progress made in remedying this position. An issue of boots has been made to all ranks of the Territorial Force during the past year which proved satisfactory in every way.

Stores Buildings and Workshops

The Ordnance Depots were situated at Ngaruawahia, Trentham, and Burnham. The storage accommodation at Ngaruawahia and Burnham was reasonably satisfactory. At Trentham, where the greater quantity of reserve stores was held, the store buildings consist of the wooden hutments erected to accommodate troops during the war. Most of these buildings still have a considerable ” life,” but the layout is uneconomical in staff and administration and insufficient to accommodate any considerable increase in the quantity of stock held. The stores required on mobilization cannot, under present conditions, be segregated and laid out as they should be. It was proposed that when finance became available, to erect a modern store building at Trentham which will increase the storage available and anticipate the deterioration of the present wooden buildings.

The principal workshop is at Trentham. Small workshops exist at North Head, Auckland, and Burnham, Canterbury. These workshops carry out repair and maintenance work on guns, howitzers, vehicles, machine guns, rifles, optical and other instruments, and miscellaneous small items. A marked increase in this work was expected with the advent of the new armament for coast defences and other equipment. A considerable extension of the workshop at Trentham is overdue, but could not be undertaken with the finances available in the vote.

 

Sports

The position of the teams at the end of the first round in the 1934/Upper Hutt Cricket League competition is as follows:

  • Ordnance 45 points,
  • Training Depot 44,
  • Trentham B 40,
  • Upper Hutt A 26,
  • St. Joseph’s 25,
  • Methodist 7,
  • Trentham A 16,
  • Upper Hutt B 11.

1935 Releases

Armourer Staff Sergeant Frederick Henry Dew

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

 


NZAOC June 1931 to May 1934

Personnel

The strength of the NZAOC between May 1932 and May 1934 was;

  • May 1932
    • 2 Officers
    • 18 Permanent Other Ranks
  • May 1933
    •  2 Officers
    • 18 Permanent Other Ranks
  • May 1834
    • 5 Officers
    • 21 Permanent Other Ranks

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Major Thomas Joseph King, NZAOC

Inspecting Officer Ordnance and Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Major W Ivory, RNZA

Inspecting Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant A. de T. Nevill, RNZA

Northern Command Ordnance Officer

  • Mr D. L. Lewis of the civil personnel employed in the Ordnance Department, appointed to a commission in the NZAOC with the rank of Lieutenant, on I February 1934.

Central Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant H. E. Erridge NZAOC

Southern Command Ordnance Depot

  • Mr D. Nicol employed in a civil capacity at the Main Ordnance Depot, Trentham, was appointed to a commission NZAOC with the rank of Lieutenant on 9 May 1934.

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant I. R. Withell, RNZA

Assistant Chief Ordnance Officer Trentham Camp

  • Captain W. R. Burge, M.C., NZSC

Ordnance Officer Main Depot and Officer in Charge Trentham Military Camp

  • Captain W. M. Bell, NZAOC

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Assistant Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Mr S. B. Wallace,  appointed and granted the rank of Lieutenant in the NZAOC dated 12th December 1933.

Proof Officer, Small Arms Ammunition, Auckland

  • Honorary Lieutenant J.W Fletcher, NZPS ( appointed 1 Sept 1931 NZ General Order 353/1931)

Warrant Officer Armourers

Two armourers who had completed their time with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps had been engaged for service with the NZAOC, They are;

  • Armourer Staff Sergeant-Major E. J. Hay, and
  • Armourer Quarter-master-Sergeant E. J. Trappitt

Retirements

  • Major W. Ivory. RNZA. Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Chief Mechanical Engineer
    • Responsible for the design, erection, and organisation of the new military workshops at Trentham, and for the scheme for the demolition of the Mount Cook Barracks. As the Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Mechanical Engineer organised the whole of the military workshops throughout New Zealand for the repair and maintenance of equipment.

Overseas Courses

  • Captain’ I. R. Withell, RNZA relinquished the appointments of Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Assistant Chief Mechanical Engineer proceeding to England for courses of instruction in Ordnance duties.

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018