Major Eric Dudley Gerard

Transfering into the RNZAOC from the Artillery in 1946, Eric (Gumboots) Gerard would become a well-known officer throughout the RNZAOC. In the time up to his retirement in 1972, Gerard would serve in all three of the ‘Districts’; Northern, Central and Southern.  During his service, he would have been witness to the construction of the various Ammunition Areas during the War years; the creation of the standalone Ammunition Depots in the late 1940’s; and then their absorption into the Ordnance Depots as Ammunition Sub-Depots during the 1960’s. Gerard Acquired the nickname “Gumboots” because of the many hours he spent in the wet and mud blowing up ammunition.

Gerard was born in Wellington on the 26th of April 1917. In 1938 when working as a Hardware assistant at Palmerston North[1], Gerard joined the Territorial Force New Zealand Artillery (NZA). Due to the worsening war situation and the growing threat from Japan, Gerard was called up by ballot for full-time service with the Territorial Force in 1940[2].  Gerard was serving with 10th Heavy (Coast) Regiment when he was selected for Officer Training in 1941. Graduating from 11 Officer Cadet Training Unit (11 OCTU) as a 2nd Lieutenant on the 1st of July 1942[3]. On Graduation, Gerard was posted to the New Zealand Temporary Staff and promoted to Lieutenant on the 9th of October 1945[4]  in 1946 Gerard was based at Wellington[5] serving with the RNZA Ammunition and Equipment Section.

Up to 1946, the RNZA managed ammunition, explosives, Coast Artillery and specialist equipment and stores with the Ammunition and Equipment Section based in Army Headquarters, during 1946 this responsibility including some manpower, including Gerard were transferred to the NZAOC[6].

From 1946 Gerard was based out of Trentham spent time working at the Belmont and Waiouru Ammunition Areas, when in 1949 he became the District Inspecting Ordnance Officer (DIOO) at Headquarters Central Military District.

Posted to Ngaruawahia in 1953, Gerard would remain there as the Northen Districts DIOO until 1957 when he was posted to the Southern Military District(SMD) as DIOO.

It is during his tenure as SMD DIOO that Gerard became regarded as the most “Confederate” of Ordnance Officers, proudly displaying the confederate ‘Stars and Bars’ flag in his office.

WO in Office

In 1961 the modern Ammunition Technician trade speciality was created when new titles were adopted and[7];

  • ‘Ammunition Technical Officer’ (ATO) replaced that of ‘Inspecting Ordnance Officer’ (IOO) and
  • ‘Ammunition Technician’ (AT) that of ‘Ammunition Examiner’ (AE).
  • ‘District Ammunition Techincal Officer’ (DATO) replaced that of ‘District Inspecting Ordnance Officer’

Remaining as DATO SMD until the reorganisation of 1968[8], Gerard was then posted to 3 Central Ordnance Depot (3COD) as the Second in Command (2IC). During his last year of’ service, he was the Officer Commanding 3 COD.

On Friday 24 March 19721 the RNZAOC farewelled Major E.D Gerard on his retirement from the New Zealand Army after 30 years service as an Officer plus two more years in the ranks. Gerard remained in Christchurch and passed away on the 21st of July 2003.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

Notes

[1] “Palmerston North General Roll,” New Zealand Electoral Roll, Palmerston North, Page 84  (1938).

[2] Peter D. F. Cooke and John Crawford, The Territorials: The History of the Territorial and Volunteer Forces of New Zealand (Auckland, N.Z.: Random House, 2011, 2011).

[3] World War II Appointments New Zealand, Promotions, Transfers and Resignations, 1939–1945. [Extracted from the New Zealand Gazette.] CD-ROM. Ravensbourne, Dunedin, New Zealand: Colonial CD Books, n.d.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Karori General Roll,” New Zealand Electoral Roll, Wellington, Page 88  (1946).

[6] N.W.Mcd Weir, “Report on the Defence Forces of New Zealand,” AJHR H-19 (1946).

[7] “Redesignation of Titles of Inspecting Ordnance Officers and Other Ammunition Personnel Army 209/5/3/Sd,” Defence Archives, Archives New Zealand  (1961).

[8] Joseph S. Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Wellington: RNZAOC, 1992).

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