Gazetted by regulations published on 1 February 1917, the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps was established as part of the permanent staff of the Defence Forces of New Zealand. Organised with Ordnance Stores under four District Ordnance Officers in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and detachments at Palmerston North and Featherston.
For this article as the activities of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and Corps were intertwined during the period 1918-1923 they will be referred to as the NZAOC.
The routine the work of the four District Ordnance Officers was considerably increased with the cessation of hostilities in November 1918. The return of troops necessitated the opening and equipping of hospitals, vocational and educational training schemes. This opened up new and important work to be handled by the Ordnance Corps.
During the 1918-1919 period, the strength of the NZAOC has increased markedly. This was due to the taking over of the camps and the rush of work because of demobilization. In recruiting for the NZAOC preference was given to returned soldiers. The total strength of the NZAOC on 1st June 1919 was 486, consisting of;
- 18 Officers, and
- 475 Other ranks.
Director of Army Ordnance and Supplies
- Major T. M’Cristell
Assistant Director of Equipment and Ordnance Store
- Temporary Captain T. J. King
Ordnance Officer Auckland
- Captain L.F McNair
Ordnance Officer Christchurch
- Honorary Captain A.R.C White
Ordnance Officer Dunedin
- Honorary Captain O.F. M’Guigan
Ordnance Officer Wellington
- Honorary Lieutenant F.E Ford
Ordnance Officer Featherston Camp
- Captain A. W. Baldwin
Proof Officer, Small Arms Ammunition, Auckland
- Captain A. Duvall
Inspector of Ordnance Machinery
- Captain B.G.V Parker
- Lieutenant Albert Austin
- lieutenant Walter N. Bates
- lieutenant James M. Miller
- Honorary Lieutenant Frederick W. Kibblewhite
- Honorary Lieutenant William H Manning
- Honorary Lieutenant William Ramsey
- Honorary Lieutenant William E. Luckman
Alexandra Barracks, Buckle Street, Wellington
The home of the NZAOC, the Defence complex of Alexandra Barracks included the Central Districts Ordnance Depot, located on the corner of Taranaki and Buckle Street and the Armament Workshop, which was located on the site where the current museum is.
Central Districts Ordnance Depot
The Main Ordnance Depot the Central Districts maintained a number of sections including Clerical, Store and Maintenance, with specialist subsections such as Boot (new and repair), Sailmaker (Textile repair) and clothing.
The total quantity of boots received from manufacturers during the 1918/19 period was;
- 51,693 pairs shoes (deck),
- 6,552 pairs.
When drawing up specifications for the supply of boots for 1918 it was recognized that several alterations were necessary to render the boots more comfortable, and durable than those of the 1917 pattern. Special fittings were placed on the toes of all military lasts used by manufacturers to render that portion of the boots roomier, and also short stout puffs were introduced, with the result that no complaints whatever were received regarding undue pressure on the toes of the wearer. A special tannage of sole leather suitable for military work was also obtained, and by a test of wear gave every satisfaction. The total number of boots rejected during this period was 95 pairs. The majority of boots rejected were discarded for minor faults only, no case being observed where manufacturers had deliberately attempted to depart from specifications, the deliveries as a whole being, both in workmanship and material, well up to the standard required.
On account of the shortage of military footwear in England, during the 1918/19 period shipments to England for the purpose of equipping returning members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force before leaving for New Zealand was;
- boots (ankle) 42,900 pairs,
- shoes (deck), 14,000 pairs,
To satisfy demands made in New Zealand, the following issues were made
- Boots (ankle, regulation), 29,886 pairs,
- boots (light and special), 68 pairs;
- shoes (deck), 9,845 pairs.
The stock of in store as of June 1919 comprised;
- boots (ankle, regulation) 5,092 pairs,
- shoes (deck) 7,684 pairs,
The Central Districts Ordnance Depot also maintained a Boot-repair Factory. During the 1918/19 period, the output of the boot-repair factory had been equal to all demands made on it, with all repairs required for Trentham and Featherston Camps and districts being satisfied. The total quantity of boots repaired from the 1st June 1918 to the 31st May 1919, was
- 12,709 pairs, at an average cost of 5s. Id. per pair.
- 13 pairs of shoes (deck) at an average cost of Is. 7d. per pair.
All material used in repairing boots and shoes was of the highest quality obtainable, and the results given in wear proved to be highly satisfactory. The repair process was as follows;
- Before repairing, all boots are thoroughly disinfected by immersion in a solution of kerol (disinfectant) and water.
- They were then pulled onto perfect-fitting lasts,
- necessary repairs are carried out,
- and the sizes stamped on the soles.
- The next process is cleaning and blocking. This is done in the following manner
- The boots are pulled on perfect-fitting followers,
- the uppers thoroughly washed in a mixture of soap and lukewarm water.
- While the leather is in a mellow state all creases and wrinkles in the uppers are rubbed out,
- the boots are then put aside for twenty-four hours’ drying.
- After this period the uppers are thoroughly treated with dubbin, which not only penetrates the pores of the leather (thus rendering them watertight) but also has a mellowing effect upon the uppers, making them equal in pliability to those of new boots.
- The boots are then taken off the followers and placed in storage-bins ready for use.
After this treatment, the boots were in excellent condition, both from a serviceable and sanitary point of view. As of 30 June 1919, 4,600 pairs of boots had been treated in this manner, and these figures were added to (approximately) at the rate of forty pairs daily until the present stock of boots in store for repairs (estimated, after allowing for rejections, at 4,000 pairs) was exhausted. From 1918 two disabled returned soldiers were trained in boot-repairing and successfully transitioned into civil life. Three more disabled returned soldiers were sent up by the Repatriation Department for similar training.
With the cessation of hostilities supplies of miscellaneous stores had been reduced to a minimum consistent with estimated requirements. Due to the Influenza, all tentage was placed at the disposal of the Public Health Department.
The deliveries of all clothing into the Central Districts Ordnance Depot during the period had been most satisfactory, with practically nil complaints on the various manufacturers for the good work that was delivered. The condition of stock in the Department was good, with no sign of moth damage visible. Hospital clothing and linen issued to the various hospitals was of a very good quality. The practice of obtaining supplies of linen, shirting, pillow-cotton, and Turkey twill towels from New Zealand manufacturers the NZAOC to supply a good hard-wearing article, and saved a great deal in cost as against local purchase. The installation of the power plant in the Sail-makers’ Section was beneficial and allowed a vast quantity of goods, such as sheets, slips (pillow), neckerchiefs, cloths (table) to be made up.
The NZAOC stock of cholera belts on the cessation of hostilities totalled 19,850, this was essentially dead stock which was re manufactures into shirts (flannel, hospital) and drawers (flannel). The cost of this work is 2s. 6d. per garment. This innovation has proved a success and has enabled the NZAOC to put to good use articles which were considered as useless. Three belts are required to make each flannel shirt, and two belts are required to make each pair flannel drawers. New flannel shirts cost 10s. 6d. each, and drawers 8s. 6d. each.
It was considered advisable to take steps to protect the kapok mattresses from damage owing to the wires on beds rusting from perspiration, and to this end, some 1,500 blankets made from cotton, and which were, not considered suitable for issue, were converted into mattress-protectors by the Sailmakers’ Section.
The renovation of Hats (felt) has also been undertaken been put to good use, the cost of renovation being 3s., which included new leather chin-straps, restocking and cleaning of the hood, with work been most satisfactorily performed with some 1,500 hats subjected to renovation, enabling the NZAOC to reissue hats which in the past were not considered suitable.
The work on the renovation of garments was a complete success during the year. This scheme put to good use articles which formerly would not have been used again. All garments were thoroughly disinfected when being laundered, and all fear of contagion is done away with.
During this period the New Zealand Expeditionary Force was in in the United Kingdom were supplied from NZAOC stocks with;
- Jackets, 25,000
- trousers, 15,040
- shirts work, 42,952
- shirts, under, 18,056
- drawers, pairs, 18,015
- jerseys, 24,760;
- socks, pairs, 39,068
- putties, pairs, 15,096
- boots, pairs, 42,900
- shoes, pairs, 14,000.
The Forces in Egypt were supplied with:
- Jackets, 2,000.
The total value of these articles was £153,600.
During the war years, components for the repairs of small arms had been hampered by difficulties in obtaining spares from England. As a wartime expedient, obsolete MLE rifles once converted by the Armament Workshops to charger loading and sighted for modern ammunition were issued to the Trentham and Featherston camps. On the cessation of hostilities, these rifles were refurbished and redistributed to the four districts in accordance with the requirements of the Training Branch as follows:
- Auckland, 753
- Wellington, 2,163
- Canterbury, 2,126
- Otago, 958.
On the cessation of hostilities control of the greater part of the administrative work of Featherston Camp came under the jurisdiction of the NZAOC, the satellite camps were closed, and many of the buildings of the Canvas Camp were dismantled and removed to Trentham. Stores on issue to the various schools at Featherston were either transferred to the Schools of Instruction at Trentham, with the balance distributed among the four districts, Outstanding accounts to local vendors were settled and matters placed on a sound commercial basis. Rented areas were cleared and rendered fit for return to the lessors.
As with Featherston administrative control of parts of this camp were placed under the jurisdiction of the NZAOC with general cleaning up on similar lines as that carried out at Featherston carried out. A large staff of artisans was employed on the construction of hospital buildings and general alterations to existing buildings.
In both camps, the demobilization of troops and the subsequent cleaning up, stocktaking, and balancing of ledgers were carried out.
Trentham Ordnance Workshops
During 1918 the Trentham workshops had been working at full capacity with 16,000 articles such as coffins and tables manufactured or repaired. This work was carried out in addition to that relating to new hospitals and entailed the use of 344,207 square feet of timber and 25,278 square feet of three-ply. A large quantity of musketry equipment and office furniture was also manufactured in the Trentham workshop, saving the need to purchase from the commercial market at inflated prices. Machinery for a second-class Ordnance workshop has been ordered through the High Commissioner, London.
Hospital and Vocational training infrastructure
On the 9th January 1919, the NZAOC took the Railways and Works Department responsibilities for Trentham Camp. This responsibility included the maintenance of Trentham. Camp and alterations to several hutments into hospital accommodation. The hospital alterations were as follows
- Ten hutments, 22 ft. by 140 ft lined and converted into hospital wards, with necessary kitchen, Duty Sister’s room, and lavatory accommodation
- Four and a half hutments into cubicle accommodation for Sisters, Nurses, and V.A.D.s dining and sitting rooms for Sisters and V.A.D.s also a self-contained kitchen for the female staff employed in Trentham Military Hospital.
In addition to the above, provision was made for X-ray plant and a plaster-room. Alterations were also affected in the operating-theatre. A new septic tank capable of dealing with the sewerage of 1,000 persons was constructed. Owing to the difficulty of obtaining skilled carpenters and plumbers the progress of the work was somewhat slow. Further works have been carried out for educational and vocational training.
As part of the vocational training scheme for returning servicemen, Huts were fitted out for training in:
- boot making,
- commercial training,
- basket making,
- surgical boots and splint making, and
- acetone welding.
The provision was also made to install a hot-water system for the new hospital quarters.
Ordnance Ammunition Section at Fort Ballance
The Ammunition Section at Fort Balance destroyed a large number of B.L. cordite cartridges owing to deterioration but were replaced from stocks of material held by the Ammunition Section.
About 3,000 rounds of Q.F. ammunition was made up during the year, and 1,000 rounds altered to conform with later specifications. The annual proof of percussion fuzes, friction tubes, etc was also successfully carried out.
NZAOC as Quartermasters
The accounting, care, and custody of stores by units had in the main, been unsatisfactory with units not carrying out their responsibilities as detailed by the Regulations of New Zealand Military Forces. To address the situation Eleven NZAOC Staff Sergeants were seconded for duty as Quartermaster-Sergeants with units. They were appointed to units to make the necessary adjustments and get the units stores accounts onto a working basis. This was a successful arrangement with further audits disclosing few if any deficiencies. It was however evident that the storage accommodation for units was inadequate, with many units having no accommodation where stores could be secured, resulting in the backloading of many items to the regional Stores Depots.
The NZAOC earned good revenue from the sale of waste products. During the 1918/19 period, the sum of £3,520 was paid into the Public Account in respect of sales of produce.
The Influenza epidemic placed additional strain on the NZAOC with its staff rising to the occasion and providing important support to the local authorities The Epidemic. In November 1918 the epidemic that had such terrible effects on the populace of Wellington city that every assistance was given by the NZAOC to the civil community in the way of equipping temporary hospitals. To cope with the need for hospital accommodation, temporary hospitals were opened in some half-dozen buildings. All were equipped by the NZAOC, and the staff were congratulated for the way they rose to the occasion and worked night and day.
On the 23rd September 1918 a Rugby team from the NZAOC met and defeated a team from Base Records by 12 to 5. In the evening the teams and other members of the staffs combined to hold a smoke concert. Major T. M’Cristell, Director of Army Ordnance and Supplies, presided, and a very pleasant evening was spent with musical items and speeches.
A football match was played on Saturday 12 October between the NZAOC and Base Records. Resulting in an 11 to 3 win for the NZAOC. For the winners, tries were scored by Captain King and Private Batchelor. Quartermaster-Sergeant Maclntyre converted one try. Both teams showed good form, but the NZAOC forwards proved too good for Records. Lieutenant Valentine kicked a penalty goal for the losers. Mr R Fordyce was the referee.
Personnel Movements -July 1918 to June 1919
- 198 Private Daniel Brett
- 200 Private Alfred Healy de Vere
- 201 Private Christopher Greeshaw
- 203 Private Richard Rowe
- 204 Private Benjamin Studley
- 206 Private John Sheehan
- 207 Private Orecchio Natale
- 209 Private A.K Simpson
- 211 Cadet John Lines
- 215 Private Samuel Victor Forsythe
- 220 Cadet Frederick Stephen Forster Shell
- 221 Cadet Harry William Miller
- 228 Private Thomas Graham Niven
- 239 Private Edward John Treweek
- 241 Private Theodore Norris
- 246 Private Thomas Bowman
- 253 Private Charles James Gardiner
- 254 Private James Gorman
- 263 Private McKenzie Denis Horneman
- 268 Private James Alexander Kenning
- 269 Private George Kermode
- 273 Private Thomas Ellwood Lyle
- 293 Artificer Michael Scollard
- 294 Private Richard Brady Simpson
- 297 Private George Steventon Thompson
- 299 Private Peter Tulloch
- 318 Private Frank Joseph Shacklock
- 329 Private Harold Fraser White
- 332 Private Hugh Patrick Duffin
- 343 Private Tom John McGrath
- 348 Private Leonard Robertshaw
- 354 Private William Varian Wilson
- 361 Private Josiah Phethean
- 366 Private William Henry Murdoch
- 368 Private James King
- 381 Private Henry Steele
- 382 Private George Priestley Smith
- 392 Private Robert O’Brien
- 393 Private John Naylor
- 395 Private Orlando Max Adams
- 407 Private James Crone
- 409 Private John de Rungs
- 414 Private Allen Gibbs
- 418 Private William Henry McCarthy
- 424 Private Phillip Thomas Labatt
- 431 Private John McVean Walker
- 432 Private Reginald Andrew Ross
- 436 Private John Raymond Johnson
- 438 Private Leonard Alexander Tall
- 441 Private Montagu Spotswood
- 446 Private Cecil Balcombe Langridge
- 453 Private Harold Rigby
- 462 Private William Ernest George
- 477 Private Lawritz Christopher Jansen
- 477 Private Lawritz Christopher Jansen
- 478 Private Andrew Robert Murphy
- 480 Private James Herbert Turner
- 493 Private William Parry Mortimore
- 515 Private Thomas Edward Mills
- 518 James McEntee
- 553 Private Martin Joseph Power
- 555 Private Gray
- 562 Private Herbert Edward Rogers
- 563 Artificer Gerald Bridge
- 574 Artificer Henry James Day
- 580 Private Robert James Kennedy
- 589 Private James O’Malley
- 590 Private Petersen Julius
- 594 Private James Gordon Sievwright
- 595 Private Albert Sydney Smith
- 601 Private James Pritchard
- 605 Private Walter Edward Cook
- 617 Private Horace James Richards
- 634 Private John Morrison
- 654 Private Lewis Freeman Keys
- 669 Lance Corporal Thomas William Cooper
- 675 Private Benjamin Smith
- 680 Private Egbert Edwin White
- 687 Private George Quayle
- 690 Private John Miller
- 695 Private William Cyril McGill
- 697 Private William Gibbons
- 714 Private Kennith Hoare
- 718 Private Peter Douglas Adamson
- 948 Lieutenant Michael Joseph Lyons
- 1001 Private Arthur James Kelly
- 28 Private Robert James Kennedy
- 34 Lance Corporal Cecil Martin Ellison
- 37 Corporal James Flynn
- 48 Conductor Mark Leonard Hathaway, MSM
- 49 George Hayes
- 53 Private H Houton
- 66 Private Harry Stephens Jupp
- 67 Corporal Martin Henri Kearney
- 70 Private Walter Ernest Hamilton Knowles
- 101 Private Michael Joseph Rees
- 115 Private Alfred William Sparkes
- 131 Private George Yates
- 137 Sergeant Horace Eugene Waller
- 149 Lance Corporal Lionel Bust Foster
- Captain Robert Vinning Parker
- Captain McGiuigan