New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Shoulder Titles

New Zealand Army Shoulder Titles C1979. Robert McKie Collection


Brass Shoulder Titles

Authorised in Army Dress Regulations for 1912 [1], shoulder titles were to be affixed to the shoulder strap (Epaulette) of the Service jacket. Shoulder titles were to be metal denoting the Corps or Regiment of the wearer. With the establishment of the NZEF, New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) in 1916 and the Home Service NZAOC and New Zealand Army Ordnance Department in 1917, the introduction of brass NZAOC and NZAOD shoulder titles soon followed.

The Dress Regulations of 1923 further clarified their use “The shoulder titles of the unit or corps, in brass letters will be worn by Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and men on the shoulder straps of jackets (service and blue) and great coats. They will not be worn on mess jackets”. The approved Ordnance shoulder titles were, [2]

  • New Zealand Army Ordnance Department – NZAOD
  • New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps – NZAOC.
NZAOC Shoulder Titles. Robert McKie Collection

With the disestablishment of the NZAOD on the 27th of June 1924 [3], and official use of the NZAOD shoulder title was discontinued, and the NZAOC shoulder title remained in use for all ranks, its use confirmed in the 1927 Dress regulations. [4]

Early in World War Two saw the establishment of the NZEF and Territorial Army ‘New Zealand Ordnance Corps’, again as in the case of the NZAOC 24 years earlier, shoulder titles were soon provided.[5]


Worn early in the war, the adoption of new uniforms and universal “New Zealand” flashes saw that existing stocks of brass shoulder titles, including the NZAOC and NZOC shoulder titles, were wasted out until stocks were exhausted. [6]

Cloth Titles

The adoption of cloth shoulder titles was first proposed in 1948. Screen printed samples like the current British pattern were proposed in 1949.

RAOC Shoulder
RAOC 1940’s screen printed shoulder titles. Robert McKie Collection

Desiring something more durable and presentable, it was decided that embroidered shoulder titles were the way ahead. After much deliberation, the Army Board approved the introduction of shoulder titles in 1954. After much bureaucratic discussion over costings and developing requirements, it was not until 1961 that the first samples were approved. The shoulder titles for the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps were to have a Post Office red background with purple navy lettering in “Serif” Font. Over time there were variations in colour and size of lettering due to manufacture variations, with the final versions featuring lettering in a “Sans Serif” font and an overlocked edge. [2]

As part of a significant overhaul of New Zealand’s Army Service Dress, corps shoulder patches, including the RNZAOC pattern, were replaced with a universal “NEW ZEALAND” shoulder title from 1 January 1996.



  1. Dress Regulations 1912, GHQ Circular No 5, Wellington: General Headquarters, 1912.
  2. M. Thomas and C. Lord, NZ Army Distinguishing Patches 1911-1991, Wellington: Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord, 1995.
  3. “NZAOD and NZAOC,” New Zealand Gazette, p. 1605, 3 July 1924.
  4. “Shoulder Titles,” New Zealand Gazette, p. 1599, 19 May 1927.
  5. G. Oldham, Badges and Insignia of the New Zealand Army, 2 ed., Auckland: Milimen Books, 2011.
  6. B. O’Sullivan and M. O’Sullivan, New Zealand Army Uniforms and Clothing 1910-1945, Christchurch: Wilson Scott, 2009.

1st NZ Army Tank Brigade Ordnance


Formation Sign 1 NZ Tank Brigade

Formed at Waiouru in October 1941 with the intent of being deployed to the Middle East after Training in New Zealand for six months. The 1st NZ Army Tank Brigade was to provide armoured support for the 2nd NZ Division. The 1st NZ Army Tank Brigade consisted of three Tank Battalions with ancillary units including Medical Corps, ASC, Signals and Ordnance. The Ordnance units included:

  • A Second Line Workshop.
  • A Third Line Workshop.
  • Two Ordnance Field Parks in support each workshop.
  • Three Light Aid Detachments (one for each Tank Battalion).


Ordnance within the 1st NZ Tank Brigade

The leadership of the Brigades Ordnance units was drawn from the 2nd NZ Division and arrived back in New Zealand in Late 1941. As the New Zealand Ordnance Corps was a new unit, most of the new recruits had to be found in Civilian Garages, workshops and industry, with some additional specialists drawn from NZAOC workshops and returned from the Middle East. Most of the specialist personnel were trained at the Main Ordnance Workshop in Trentham, with the remainder prepared at the new AFV school in Waiouru. 1

New Zealand is ready.

With the entry of the Japanese into the war in December 1941 and their advance and conquering of much of South East Asia and the Pacific, home defence became the priority. Plans to deploy the 1st NZ Army Tank Brigade to the Middle East were put on hold and the unit rerolled for the immediate defence needs of New Zealand.2 After a period of reorganisations, the Brigade was ordered to be deployed in April 1942, with elements dispersed to:

  • Brigade HQ renamed Independent Squadron – deployed to the South Island.
  • 1 Tank Battalion – deployed to Northland.
  • 2 Tank Battalion – deployed to Manawatu.
  • 3 Tank Battalion – deployed to Pukekohe.

This dispersion caused some issues for the Ordnance organisation. Designed to support the Brigade as a single entry in the flat North African desert within a 70mile radius. Ordnance struggled to support the dispersed brigade that was now dispersed throughout the length and breadth of rural New Zealand, with few suitable roads and limited railway capability able to handle the ancillary equipment such as the specialist workshop binned and machinery trucks.

To Provide optimal support for the Brigade units, the Ordnance organisation had been reorganised by July 1942 with the Army Tank Ordnance Workshop and 32, 33, and 34 Lads organised into what could be described as “Super-LADs” providing both 1st and 2nd line A and B Vehicle and Armaments and specialist spares support. 3rd line support was provided by the Tank Brigade Ordnance Workshop at Trentham and the Railway Workshops at Otahuhu.

November 1942 saw further changes with the gradual disestablishment of the 1st NZ Tank Brigade.3

  • No 1 Tank Battalion and 32 LAD remained in the home defence roll in the Auckland/Northland area.
  • No 2 Tank Battalion, the Army Tank Ordnance Workshop and Ordnance Field Park were dissolved and became part of the 3 NZ Division Independent Tank Battalion Group for service in the Pacific.
  • No 3 Tank Battalion and 33 LAD were deployed to the Middle East for service with the 2nd NZ Division, where it was dissolved, forming the nucleus of the 4th NZ Armoured brigade.
  • 34 LAD was stationed with the Independent Tank Squadron at Harewood on the South Island.
  • The Tank Brigade Ordnance Workshop and Ordnance Field Park remained at Trentham, eventually being fully integrated into the Base Ordnance Workshops.


A Valentine Mk V of the Brigade HQ Squadron, Dunedin,1943.

By June 1943, the final units of the 1st NZ Army Tank Brigade, the 1 Tank Battalion Group and 32 LAD, now based at Pukekohe and the Independent Tank Squadron and 34 LAD based at Harewood, were disbanded. The Ordnance personnel of those units were either sent to the 2nd or 3rd Divisions in Italy and the Pacific as reinforcements or absorbed into other ordnance units in New Zealand for the duration of the war.

The only unit authorised to wear the 2NZEF ‘Onward” badge, members of the 1st NZ Army Tank Brigade also wore on both arms a one-inch square coloured patch in the arm of service colours (purple Navy and Post Office Blue for Ordnance), with a miniature RTR ‘Tank” superimposed onto it. 3,4

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017


  1. Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, Wellington: Defence of NZ Study Group, 2016.
  2. Henley, “The Tanks an Unofficial History of the Activities of the Third New Zealand Division Tank Squadron In the Pacific,” in TANKS, MMGS & ORDNANCE, Wellington, Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 1947.
  3. Plowman and M. Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, Christchurch: Jeffrey Plowman, 2001.
  4. Documents Relating to New Zealand’s Participation in the Second World War, Wellington, New Zealand: R. E. Owen, Government Printer, 1951.
  5. Oldham, Badges and insignia of the New Zealand Army, Auckland: Milimen Books, 2011.
  6. M. Thomas and C. Lord, NZ Army Distinguishing Patches 1911-1991, Wellington: Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord, 1995.
  7. J. Bolton, A History Of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps., Wellington: RNZAOC, 1992.

New Zealand Ordnance Corps 1940-1946

New Zealand Army Ordnance existed between 1939 and 1946 in Three distinct iterations.

  • The New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC), which was the title of the permanent Corps which continued to provide base support functions in New Zealand for the duration of the war,
  • The New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) was created with two separate functions
    • As the title of Ordnance in the Expeditionary Forces deployed in the Middle East, Italy and the Pacific, and
    • The Ordnance component of the Territorial Army from 1940 to 1946.


At the start of the war, the NZAOC was part of the New Zealand Permanent Army. Still recovering from the black day of 14 July 1930, when as an economy measure all the uniformed staff less; Officers, Armaments Artificers and Armourers had been transferred to the civil service [1]. With the NZAOC’s uniformed manpower in a very depleted state, the NZAOC was slowly rebuilding with new enlistments and temporary staff, with the bulk of the Corps personnel being civilians distributed across the country at.

  • The Main Ordnance Depot and Workshops at Trentham,
  • Ordnance Depot and Workshop at Burnham,
  • Ordnance Depot at Hopuhopu,
  • Ordnance Workshops at Devonport.

Providing a firm base for the provision of Ordnance support for the mobilisation and ongoing support of the NZEF and home defence units, the NZAOC never deployed any units directly for overseas service but did provide personnel for many of the critical leadership positions in the NZOC. By the end of the war, the distribution of NZAOC within NZ was [1] [2];

  • Trentham
    • Main Ordnance Depot with rented and requisitioned storage accommodation throughout the Wellington and Central region, including Sub Depots at
      • Linton
      • Lower Hutt,
      • Māngere, and
      • Wanganui
    • Main Ordnance Workshop
  • Northern Military District
    • 11 Ordnance Workshop, Whangarei
    • 12 Ordnance Workshop, Devonport
    • No1 Ordnance Sub Depot, Hopuhopu
    • Ammunition Depots at
      • Ardmore,
      • Kelms Road, and
      • Hopuhopu
    • Rented and requisitioned storage accommodation throughout the northern region
  • Central Military District
    • No2 Ordnance Sub Depot, Palmerston North
    • Ordnance stores detachments at Waiouru
    • Ammunition Depots at
      • Waiouru
      • Makomako
      • Belmont
      • Kuku Valley
    • Rented and requisitioned storage accommodation throughout the Central region
  • Southern Military District
    • No3 Ordnance Sub Depot, Burnham
    • 13 Ordnance Workshop, Blenheim
    • 14 Ordnance Workshop, Burnham
    • 15 Ordnance Workshop, Dunedin
    • Ammunition Depots at
      • Alexandra
      • Burnham
      • Glen Tunnel
      • Fairlie
      • Mt Sommers
    • Rented and requisitioned storage accommodation throughout the South Island

2NZEF (the Middle East/Italy)

Created as part of the newly constituted 2NZEF in 1939, the 2NZEF NZOC was described in the Evening Post newspaper as consisting of “11 Light Aid Detachments of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps. These are numbered 9 to 19, and their part is to render assistance and effect repairs to mechanic transport and the anti-tank units” [3]. From these original 11 units, the NZOC contribution to the NZ Division grew to include.

  • Base and Field Workshops,
  • Base and Advanced Ordnance Depots,
  • Divisional Ordnance Field Parks,
  • Laundry and Bath Units, and
  • Salvage units.

The was initially some confusion between the use of the designation NZAOC and NZOC in the context of the NZEF. This was clarified in NZEF Order 221 of March 1941 which set NZOC as the title of Ordnance in the NZEF.


1942 saw the separation of maintenance and repair functions from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) with the formation of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME) in the Brutish Army[4]. The New Zealand Division followed suit and formed the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) on 1 December 1942 [1] separating the repair, maintenance and ordnance stores functions of the NZOC.

The NZEF NZOC was disestablished along with the NZEF in 1946.

2NZEF (Pacific)

As with the NZEF in the Middle East, NZOC units were formed for service with the NZEF in the Pacific (NZEFIP). Initially providing a Base Ordnance Depot, Two Workshop Sections and a LAD supporting 8 Infantry Brigade Group in Fiji from November 1940. As the war progressed, the NZOC grew into a Divisional sized organisation of 23 units and detachments supporting the NZEFIP with the full range of Ordnance Services in all its operations in Fiji, New Caledonia, The Solomon Islands and Tonga [5]. The formation of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers 1942 was not followed thru in New Zealand and the Pacific, with repair and Maintenance functions remaining part of Ordnance for the duration of the war.


Following the successful conclusion of the campaigns in the Solomon Islands, 3 NZ Division and its equipment were returned to New Zealand and disestablished. On return to New Zealand, many NZOC members were graded unfit due to rigours of the tropical campaign and returned to their civilian occupations, some were redeployed as reinforcement to 2NZEF in Italy. Some remained at the division’s Mangere base near Auckland, or at Wellington, checking, sorting and reconditioning stores and vehicles of every description before handing the division’s entire stocks of equipment and clothing over to the Main Ordnance Depot, a task that continued until September 1945 [5].

Territorial Army Ordnance

With the NZAOC and the New Zealand Permanent Army Service Corps (NZPASC) existing as part of the Permanent Army, only the NZPASC had a Territorial Army component, known as the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC). From the 1930’s Light Aid Detachments (LADs) and workshop sections had been included on the establishments of ASC unit for activation on mobilisation. With the onset of war in 1939 and the mobilisation of the Territorial Army in 1940 the Quartermaster General, Col H.E Avery made the decision that the LADs were an Ordnance responsibility and the NZOC was established as the Ordnance Component of Territorial Army in December 1940 [6].


Territorial Force Ordnance Units, Northern Military District June 1942


Territorial Force Ordnance Units, Central Military District June 1942


Territorial Force Ordnance Units, Southern Military District June 1942

By late 1943 the mobilisation of the Territorial Forces had ceased to be necessary, and most units had been stood down and placed on care and maintenance status with a small RF Cadre. By 1 April 1944, all wartime home defence units had been disbanded [6]. Although not part of the pre-war Territorial Army the NZOC remained on establishments. In 1946 a Reorganisation of New Zealand Military Forces removed the distinction between Regular and non-Regular soldiers, and the NZOC ceased to be a separate Corps, becoming part of the NZAOC [7].

Dress Distinctions

As with all the other units of 2 NZEF, units and corps badges were dispensed with, and the NZEF “Onward” badge was worn.


nzoc 40-47

New Zealand Ordnance Corps Badge 1940-44 (Copyright © Robert McKie 2017)

In the Pacific and New Zealand, the NZOC adopted the WW1 NZEF Ordnance badge which can be seen on the cover of the unofficial history of the NZEFIP NZOC and Territorial Army Unit Pennants.


Copyright © Robert McKie 2018


[1] J. Bolton, A History of the RNZAOC, Wellington: Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, 1992.
[2] P. Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, Wellington: Defence of NZ Study Group, 2016.
[3] “2nd NZ Division,” EVENING POST, vol. CXXVIII, no. 102, 27 OCTOBER 1939.
[4] A. Fernyhough, A short history of the RAOC, London: C B Printers Ltd, 1965.
[5] P. Henley, “ORDNANCE, The Unofficial History of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps in the Pacific from 1940 until 3rd Division was disbanded in 1944,” in Tanks, MMGs & Ordnance, Wellington, Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 1947, pp. 137-227.
[6] P. Cooke and J. Crawford, The Territorials, Wellington: Random House New Zealand Ltd, 2011, p. 258.
[7] “MILITARY FORCES OF NEW ZEALAND ANNUAL REPORT OF THE CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF,” Journals of the House of Representatives, vol. H19, no. 1947 Session, 1 January 1947.
[8] G. Oldham, Badges and insignia of the New Zealand Army, Auckland: Milimem Books, 2011.