Gazetted by regulations published on 1 February 1917, the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department was established as part of the permanent staff of the Defence Forces of New Zealand alongside the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.
The Gazetted regulations that established the NZAOD laid out the structure of the department, and one of the appointments established was:
- The Inspector, engineer, electric light and defence vessel stores.
Graded as Ordnance officer, third class (Captain), the foundation member in this role in the new Ordnance organisation was the then Sixty-Year-old George John Parrell.
George John Parrell was born in the Parish of St. Mary’s, London, on 16 February 1857. By occupation, a Clerk, and this appointment in the NZAOD was the culmination of a lengthy career in the British Army.
Parrell enlisted in the Royal Engineers at Westminster on 4 October 1873 and was assigned the service number 12261. He was first posted to Chatham, Kent, to complete his initial training. He received his first Good Conduct Badge after two years’ service and was promoted to Lance-Corporal on 29 December 1874, reverting to the rank of Sapper on 20 January 1877. He was posted to Bermuda on 1 November 1877, where he was to spend the next eight years of service, was promoted again to Lance-Corporal on 25 March 1878, gained his second Good Conduct Badge on 6 October 1879, and was promoted to Corporal on 1 July 1880 and Sergeant on 1 March 1885. He also re-engaged while in Bermuda to complete 21 years of service. In December 1885, he and his family took passage to England, where he was on home service for about 15 months before returning to Bermuda on 7 April 1887, continuing to serve there for just over a further five years. He was promoted to Company Sergeant-Major, Foreman of Works, and Sergeant-Major, Storekeeper on 26 April 1887. George Parrell was again promoted, to Quarter Master Sergeant, on 1 April 1892, and in June the same year, he and his family returned to England, where he was awarded his British Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. Also, in 1892 Q.M.S. Parrell passed a Submarine Mining Course with a ‘superior’ pass.
His last appointment in the British Army appears to have been as a Stores Accountant with the rank of Company Sergeant-Major, Foreman of Works, and on 5 October 1893, he was discharged from the Coastal Battalion, Royal Engineers at the expiry of his term of service. As a Pensioner, he completed a Submarine Mining Instructor’s Course at H.M.S. Vernon on 31 May 1895 and almost immediately took passage with his family to New Zealand on the S.S. Tainui, which left London on 13 June 1895.
New Zealand Permanent Militia
Sergeant-Major Parrell was enlisted in the New Zealand Permanent Militia as a Submarine Instructor with effect from 13 July 1895, signing his attestation papers at the Permanent Force Depot at Wellington on 10 September 1895. He joined the Torpedo Corps and, on the disbanding of the Torpedo Corps, was transferred to No. 2 Service Company. He was promoted to Regimental Sergeant-Major on 14 October 1898.
Royal New Zealand Engineers
In 1903, General Orders reported the re-engagement of No. 678 Regimental Sergeant-Major George John Parrell (late Royal Engineers) as Submarine Mining Instructor to the Royal New Zealand Engineers for one year from 1 August 1903. The application for the award of his Meritorious Service Medal was dated 29 May 1907, and the approval dated 14 June and recorded in General Orders 212 of 6th July of the same year.
Royal New Zealand Artillery
In October 1907, Regimental Sergeant-Major Parrell was transferred to the Royal New Zealand Army Artillery as the R.N.Z.E. had been absorbed into the Electric Section of the R.N.Z.A. He was appointed Engineer Store Accountant on 17 June 1913 and granted the honorary rank of Lieutenant. This was regularised by the gazetting of the commissioned rank. He was promoted to Quartermaster and Honorary Lieutenant on 17 June 1917.
New Zealand Army Ordnance Department
Transferring into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department on its establishment on 1 April 1917, Parrell was graded Ordnance Officer 3rd Class with the rank of Captain and held the appointment of Inspector of Engineers, Electric Light, and Defence Vessels Stores. Captain Parrell retired on 30 September 1919 and died in Auckland on 22 July 1936.