When it comes to Trade embellishments, The RNZAOC and its predecessors had very few.
Although not technically an Ordnance embellishment, many of the original members of the NZAOC in the NZEF spent time as Regimental or Company Quartermaster Sergeants.
Quartermaster Rank Insignia
Traditionally considered part of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, New Zealand Army Armourers had their roots as part of the NZAOC until 1946 when they became part of the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corps.
Armourers Rank Insignia
Before the introduction and wide use of motorised vehicles and pneumatic wheels, wagons, carts and artillery with wooden and iron wheels were the main means of battlefield transportation. The repair of wheels was carried out by Wheelwrights, who, due to their specialisation in working with wheels made of wood and iron, were classed as specialist artificers called “Wheeler Articifers”. The New Zealand Expeditionary Force initially deployed in 1914 with:
- 2 Wheeler/Fitters with each Artillery Battery,
- 2 Wheeler/Fitters with the Artillery Ammunition Column,
- 4 Wheelers with the Army Service Corps Divisional Train, and
- 1 Wheeler with the Mounted Rifles Field Ambulance.
As the war progressed, the growth of the Wheeler trade was commensurate with the development of the NZEF. As the war shifted into a war of attrition with little movement, unit tradesmen, including Wheelers, were brigaded at the Divisional Ordnance and ASC workshops.
After the war, army tradesmen were progressively placed under the control of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC). In 1924 all Artificers. (Armament, Saddlers and Wheelers) were reclassified as Artificers and all adopted the Tong and Hammer trade identifier. With no delineation between Artificers, tracing the status of Wheelwrights in the interwar period is difficult. Still, in 1938 there was one civilian Wheelwright on the strength of the Main Ordnance Workshop in Trentham. In 1946 the workshop functions separated from the NZAOC and amalgamated into the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME).
In 1961 the New Zealand Army Ammunition appointments of Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Ammunition Examiner were renamed as follows;
- ‘Ammunition Technical Officer’ (ATO) replaced that of “Inspecting Ordnance Officer’ (IOO) and
- ‘Ammunition Technician’ (AT) that of ‘Ammunition Examiner’ (AE).
ATOs and ATs at this time were still not permitted to wear any trade badges.
On 16 June 1971, the RNZAOC Chief Ammunition Technical Officer Major Bob Duggan oversaw the adoption of the RAOC Ammunition Technician’ Flaming A’ as the qualification badge for New Zealand Army ATOs and ATs. The “A” in the New Zealand badge had little to do with Ammunition but a carryover from the British Army AT badge where the “A” represented the ammunition trades position as one of the army “A” Class trades, and that was identified by the “A” on the qualification badge.
Qualification for the badge was;
- Ammunition Technical Officers: Completion of one year’s practical experience after graduating from the ATO course in either Australia or the United Kingdom
- Ammunition Technicians: Qualified in all aspects of the trade (on average 5 to 6 years of service),
As the badge was identical to the RAOC AT badge, it was decided in 1988 to include fern fonds to give it a significant New Zealand Character.
When the RNZAOC was disestablished in 1996, the use of this badge was carried over to the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.
The Honourable and Ancient Appointment of Conductor has origins dating back to 1327. They are mentioned in the Statute of Westminster as the men whose job was to conduct soldiers to places of assembly. The “Conductor of Ordnance” is also mentioned in the records of the siege of Boulogne in 1544. Surviving as an appointment directly related to the handling of stores in the British army until the late 19th century, the appointment was formalised by Royal Warrant on 11 January 1879. This established conductor of supplies (in the Army Service Corps) and conductors of stores (in the Ordnance Store Branch) as warrant officers, ranking above all non-commissioned officers.
The first New Zealand Conductor was appointed in 1916, and the appointment remained in use until 1930 and again from 1977 to 1996.
Conductor Badges 1916 – 1930
During this period, Ordnance Warrant Officers, Class One, could be granted the appointment of either.
- Conductor, or
Conductors wore the Crown in Laurel Wreath (Now worn by the Warrant Officer Class II) while the Sub-Conductor wore the Royal Arms.
In 1918, British Army Order 309 of 1918 changed the Conductor’s badges to the Royal Arms in a Laurel Wreath for Conductors, and the Royal Arms continued to be worn by Sub-Conductors. Although the regulations to change badges were issued in 1918, NZEF Conductors were still wearing the original pattern badge in 1919.
The appointment of Conductor remained extant in New Zealand Ordnance until 1930, when due to the mass civilianisation of the NZ Ordnance Corps, the appointment of Conductor fell into abeyance.
Conductor Badges 1977 – 1996
The Honourable and Ancient Appointment of Conductor was approved for selected RNZAOC Warrant Officers Class Ones in 1977. The Modern Conductor badge was the Royal Arms (updated with the Queen’s crown), with either a red backing for metal badges or surrounded by a red border on cloth badges.
The RNZAOC Conductor appointment was discontinued in 1996 following the formation of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR). In 1993 when the United Kingdom Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) was disestablished, the appointment of Conductor was carried over to the new Royal Logistic Corps. The RNZAOC did not follow the lead of the RAOC and carried the appointment over to the new Logistic Regiment. RNZAOC Warrant Officers who held the appointment of Conductor in 1996 retained the appointment until they were either commissioned or left the service.
Director of Ordnance Services
Dress regulations promulgated in the New Zealand Gazette of 19 May 1927 (Para 916. (b) (i) ) detailed that the Director of Ordnance Services was to wear the following dress embellishments.
- Blue Gorget-Patches,
- Blue Cap Band with lion and crown cap badge.
The use of these items was discontinued in the early 1940s.
RNZAOC School Instructors
Established at Trentham in 1958 and formalised by charter on 5 September 1960, the RNZAOC school’s initial function was to.”
“Conduct courses as directed by Army HQ, to recommend personnel for re-employment within the Corps, to assess and test personnel for star classification (later called Band courses) and to recommend improvements in methods and procedures affecting the Corps.”
Over the years, the school developed into one of the most important units of the Corps, with responsibility for
- RNZAOC Supply Training,
- RNZAOC Ammunition Training,
- Tri-Service IED/EOD Training,
- Hosting of major Corps Conferences,
- The development and maintenance of the Corps technical publications,
- The development and conduct of training in all aspects of Corps activities,
- The maintenance of the Corp’s history and heritage.
During the school’s existence, it is known that the following two armlets were worn by School Staff.
The first RNZAOC Instructor armlet was approved for wear on 6 November 1985 and worn until 1994 when the RNZAOC School became the Supply and Ammunition wings of the Army Logistic Center.
The armlet was a 100mm high red band with a 32mm blue stripe sewn centrally around it, mounted with a centrally mounted Ordnance Shield facing outwards.
With the reorganisation of the RNZAOC School into the Army Logistic Center in 1994, a new armlet was introduced. Worn by instructors of the Supply and Ammunition wings of the Army Logistic Center, this armlet was the exact dimensions as the original armlet but with the Crest of the Earl of Liverpool in place of the Ordnance Shield. This armet remained in use until RNZAOC was disestablished and the Trade Training School was established as part of the RNZALR.
Proposed Trade Badges
In 1960 the New Zealand army conducted a comprehensive review of uniform dress embellishments, including trade appointment badges. Comparing the range of trade and Skill at Arms badges authorised in the British and Canadian armies, it was acknowledged that the New Zealand Army was poorly served in compassion, and there was no good reason for the New Zealand Army not to have a comparable range of trade and skill at arms badges.
To close the gap in trade badges, it was recommended that the New Zealand Army approve that new trade badges be approved across many all the army trades. Proposed badged for the RNZAOC were
- The Flaming “A” Badge for Ammunition Examiners
- A Crossed Needle and Awl badge for Leather and Textile trades
- A Crossed Keys badge for Storemen
However, despite the report’s recommendations, the army remained conservative and final approval was not granted.
Copyright © Robert McKie 2017