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 Corps the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
Armourers Rank Insignia
Prior to 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 would have been commensurate with the growth 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, but in 1938 there was one civilian Wheelwright on the strength of the Main Ordnance Workshop in Trentham. In 1946 the workshop functions separated for the NZAOC and amalgamated in tithe Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME).
The seniority list of the British Army Ordnance Corps on its formation in 1896, included two Sergeant Laboratory Foreman. This is considered the first recorded listing of the Ammunition Technician trade. After the granting of the Royal title to The Army Ordnance Corps in 1918, the trade was re-named Ammunition Examiner in 1923.
The first known Ammunition Examiner badge was a cloth badge on Battle Dress, which consisted of the letters AE in script surrounded by a half laurel wreath. Authority was granted to wear the badge on the right arm above the chevrons up to the rank of sergeant although evidence shows it was still worn by SNCOs. An extract from Dress Regulations in 1942 states that “the badge was to be worn in RAOC units responsible for maintenance, safety, storage and disposal of explosives of all kinds – ammunition, gas shells, mines etc; and co-operation with the Royal Engineers in dealing with the remains of minefields and ammunition dumps”. A brass badge worn on Khaki Drill (KD) or Olive Green (OG) clothing was also authorised. There was no official issue of this badge which resulted in those entitled to wear it manufacturing their own. The badge consisted of a WO2 badge (RQMS/SQMS type) with the crown removed and the letters A and E from brass shoulder titles of The Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers inserted and braised or soldered in place.
In 1948 Major General Phelps designed the Ammunition Technician badge, and it was the first 3 colour trade badge in the British Army. The design was inspired by the logo of the Elizabeth Arden Cosmetics Company and was perhaps in keeping with the 1488 motto of ‘keep your powder dry’.
In 1950 the Ammunition Technician badge replaced the Ammunition Examiner badge.
Prior to 1960, there was also a brass and later a Staybrite AT badge. The cloth badge was worn above the chevrons for Corporals and Sergeants or on the cuff in the case of Warrant Officers and Staff Sergeants. Periodic regulation changes altered the position of the flash over the years. The brass badge was intended for use with tropical KD or OG uniform but with the withdrawal of forces from East of Suez it suffered the ignominy of being worn on Laboratory coats or overalls in UK and BAOR depots. There was also a WRAC Assistant Ammunition Technicians badge, which was green on a nut brown backing, these exist but their issue was a short-lived experiment carried out at CAD Kineton in the 1960s.
Prior to 1960 officers conducting technical ammunition duties were known as Inspecting Officer Munitions (IOM) and later Inspecting Ordnance Officers (IOO) with the last officer been trained under this designation in 1959. The first Ammunition Technical Officer (ATO) was trained in 1960 when the title changed. The Ammunition Technical Officer (ATO) badge was authorised in 1975 but was unofficially worn from 1969 which coincided with the troubles in Northern Ireland. Territorial Army soldiers were also able to wear an ATO and AT badge. The letter ‘V’ for volunteer appears in both badges thus replacing the ‘A’ on the AT badge.
New Zealand Use
In 1961 the new titles of;
- ‘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 badge.
On the 16th of 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 AT’s. The “A” in the New Zealand badge had little to do with Ammunition but was chosen to represent that the ammunition trade was 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 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, 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 where they are mentioned in the Statute of Westminister as the men whose job it 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 which established conductors 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 would remain 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 Conductors 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 was 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 civilianization 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 Queens crown), with either a red backing for metal badges or surrounded by a red border on cloth badges.
The appointment of Conductor in the RNZAOC was discontinued in 1996 with the disestablishment of the RNZAOC and 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 carry 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 commisioned 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 1940’s
RNZAOC School Staff
Established at Trentham in 1958 and formalised by charter on 5 September 1960, the RNZAOC schools 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 fro 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 Corps history and heritage.
During the school’s existence, it is known that the following two armlets were worn by School Staff.
It is at present unknown when the first armlet was adopted but it was 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 same 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 up to the time then RNZAOC was disestablished and the Trade Training School was established as part of the RNZALR.
Copyright © Robert McKie 2017