Percy Clarence O’Hara


Percy Clarence O’Hara was born at Whanganui on the 16th of June 1895 to William and Agnes O’Hara and was the youngest of six children, having three brothers and two sisters. O’Hara was a second generation New Zealander, with his father William born in Greytown in 1856 and his mother Agnes was born at Nelson in 1857[1].

O’Hara’s father who was a grocer at Whanganui died at the age of 49 in 1907, O’Hara completed school to at least Standard Four. On the declaration of war in 1914, O’Hara was self-employed as a Commission Agent[2], and was a member of the  Queen Alexandra Band of Whanganui[3].


O'HaraPC AWN 10-5-1917

23/1457 Sergeant Percy Clarence O’Hara, NZAOC. Auckland Weekly News/Public Domain


O’Hara voluntary enlisted into E Company of the 8th Reinforcements at Trentham Camp on the 24th of August 1915. Transferred into the New Zealand Rifle Brigade Headquarters on the 24th of Septemeber 1915, O’Hara embarked for Overseas service on the 13th of November 1915, arriving at Suez on the 21st of December 1915[4].

Remaining with the NZRB Headquarters at Zeitoun, O’Hara transferred for duty with the Army Ordnance Corps personnel on the 21st of December 1915. Posted to A Company of the 1st Battalion on the 27th of January 1916, O’Hara was seconded for duty back to the Brigade Headquarters and promoted to Sergeant on the 15th of February 1916[5].

Formally transferred into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps on its formation in February 1916, O’Hara was seconded for duty with the 1st battalion of the NZRB on the 26th of February 1916[6].

O’Hara embarked for France from Alexandra on the 6th of April 1916. Soon after arrival in France O’Hara was detached to the Ordnance Stores on the 20th of April 1916. Few details of O’Hara’s activities over the next few months exist. The NZ Division was committed to the Armentieres and Sailly sectors from May 1916 to February 1917 with the NZRB undergoing a reorganisation in January 1917. There is little doubt that with his Ordnance role within the NZRB, O’Hara was well employed with the administrative functions required to maintain a fighting force in the field[7].

On the 4th of April 1917, while still serving with the Headquarters of the 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade O’Hara was admitted into No 2 New Zealand Field Ambulance. Transferred to No 2 Casualty Clearing Station on the 8th of April 1927 O’Hara passed away due to the effects of Broncho-Pneumonia at 8.25am on the morning of 11 April 1917[8][9][10].

O’Hara was interred at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Bailleul, Nord, France[11].


Gravestone of P.C O’Hara. Bailleul, Nord, France. Courtesy of Raymond Kareko


Tragically O’Hara family would be struck with tragedy twice. In 1918 O’Hara’s brother Claude Nelson O’Hara was called up for service, and while training as part of the 48th reinforcements, Claude O’Hara was struck down with Influenza and passed away at Featherston Camp on the 16th of November 1918[12].

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018


[1] “Percy Clarence O’Hara,”

[2] “Personnel Records “Percy Clarence O’Hara”,”  (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, Archive Reference AABK 18805 W5549 0088063).

[3] “Local and General,” Wanganui Herald, Volume LI, Issue 15316, 3 September 1917.

[4] “Personnel Records “Percy Clarence O’Hara”.”

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Lieut-Col W. S. Austin DSO, New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Naval & Military Press, 2007).

[8] “Hospital Progress Report,” New Zealand Times, Volume XLII, Issue 9635, 16 April 1917.

[9] “Personnel Records “Percy Clarence O’Hara”.”

[10] “Death., Wanganui Herald, Volume Li, Issue 15200, 21 April 1917,”

[11] “Percy Clarence O’Hara,”’hara,-percy-clarence/.

[12] “Personnel Record ‘Claude Nelson O’Hara’,”  (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, Reference: AABK 18805 W5549 0088050).





New Zealand Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London

The New Zealand Ordnance Corps in the course of its 80-year history established and maintained Ordnance Depots in many unique locations. The Base Ordnance Depot in Trentham became acknowledged as the home of the Corps; the New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot in Singapore the most exotic, and all Corps members have fond memories of the depots in Ngaruawahia, Waiouru, Linton and Burnham. This article will examine one of the least known of New Zealand’s Ordnance Depots, the First World War Farringdon Road Depot.

The NZEF of the 1914-1919 war was organised and equipped in such a way so that when mobilised it could comfortably fit into the British Imperial Army alongside British, Australian, Canadian and other troops from throughout the British Empire. In the early days of the war Ordnance support was provided by British AOC[1] Divisional/Corps depots, and although satisfactory the need for the NZEF to have an internal Ordnance organisation to cater for New Zealand specific items was recognised. Subsequently, regulations formally announcing the establishment of the NZAOC[2], as a unit of NZEF[3] were published in February 1916[4]. Moving with the NZEF to Europe the NZAOC consisted of three distinct elements;

  • NZAOC Administrative staff based at the NZEF headquarters at Bloomsbury Square, London consisting of
    • the NZEF Assistant ADOS[5], who was also the Officer Commanding NZEF Ordnance Corps.
    • Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom.
    • A staff of clerks, storekeepers and
  • The New Zealand Division DADOS[6] and Staff, including personnel attached to Brigades.
  • NZAOC Staff of the ANZAC Mounted Brigade in Palestine.

As the NZEF NZAOC staff in the United Kingdom became established, taking under its wing support responsibility for the numerous the New New Zealand Camps, Hospitals and convalescent facilities dispersed throughout the United Kingdom. To centralise and manage Ordnance support it became necessary to establish a New Zealand Ordnance Depot to support all New Zealand units based in the United Kingdom.



‘NZEF in England 1916-19 map’, URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Dec-2016


What was required was a depot in a central location, near the NZEF Headquarters and with road and railway access to the New Zealand Camps and establishments and the ability to quickly link into the AOC logistic infrastructure and RAOC depots such as;

On the 25th of October 1916, the Officer Commanding, London District Authorised the NZEF, under the Defence of the Realm Act to take over the premises of Mr H Fisher and Mr J Fisher at 30 and 32 Farringdon Road[7] as an Ordnance Store. Located 1.5km from the NZEF Headquarters, the NZ Ordnance Depot was well situated on one of the leading north/south roads through London, with easy access to other arterial routes. Adjacent to the Metropolitan Railway, the Ordnance depot had easy access to Farringdon Passenger station and the Metropolitan Railway Goods Station[8]. The intent was to occupy the building from the 7th of November 1916. Still, due to issues securing the key and having the utilities such as water and electricity connected, the final occupation did not occur until the 27th of November. Records indicate the Depot started operations on the 1st of December 1916.

NOTE:  Originally numbered as part of Farringdon Road, Nos 30 and 32 were renamed as  30 Farringdon Lane in 1979.


Faddingdon 3D

New Zealand Ordnance Depot, 30-32 Farrington Road, London. Map data ©2018 Google, Imagery ©2018 Google

Overall command of the Depot rested with the Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom, Captain (later Major) Norman Levien. The Officer in charge of the Depot for most of its existence was Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor), Arthur Gilmore[9]. Posted to the Depot in November 1916 Conductor Gilmore would, apart from a six-month secondment to the Ordnance Depot at Sling Camp and three months sick leave due to Influenza would remain at the Depot until its closure in late1919[10]. Conductor Gilmore was promoted to Second Lieutenant on the 1st of February 1919.

The bulk of the stocks held by the Depot consisted of clothing and necessaries of all descriptions. Clothing was a mixture of;

  • New items purchased from the RACD[11] at Pimlico,
  • New items purchased for civilian manufactures, often at a cheaper rate than from the RACD, In the year up to December 1917 total savings of £31532.7.10(approximately 2018 NZD$3,763,454.27) were made by establishing contracts for clothing with civilian suppliers rather than purchasing from the RACD.
  • Cleaned and repaired items from Salvage stocks,

As members of New Zealand Division started leave rotations to the United Kingdom from the front lines in Belgium and France, the condition of their clothing was found to be unsatisfactory. Under the instructions of the NZ General Officer Commanding, further accommodation for the Depot was secured for the reception of troops from the front on leave. This facility allowed troops as they arrived from the front, to rid themselves of their dirty, often vermin-infested uniforms, have a hot bath and receive a fresh issue of underwear and uniforms. As troops arrived on leave with their spare kit, ammunition, arms and equipment, A secure kit store was available for the holding of these items. As this reception store was developed, the New Zealand Soldiers Club and the New Zealand War Contingent Association set up facilities to provide hot drinks and the option to receive instruction on the use of prophylactic outfits[12].



The following items are an example of the types and quantities of the stores received by the Farringdon Road Depot over the Period 1 December 1916 to 1 August 1919;



With the Armistice in November 1918, the activities of the Depot started to wind down. Undergoing a full audit in July 1919, outstanding orders cancelled, stocks either returned to New Zealand, returned to RAOC Depots for credits, sold or destroyed with the Depot closed by November 1919 ending an early chapter of the New Zealand Ordnance story.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018


New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Badge, 1916-1919 (Robert McKie Collection 2017)


[1] Army Ordnance Corps

[2] New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps

[3] New Zealand Expeditionary Force

[4] “Road to Promotion “, Evening Post, Volume XCI, Issue 29, 4 February 1916.

[5] Assistant Director of Ordnance Service

[6] Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Service

[7] Now Farrington Lane  “Insurance Plan of London Vol. Vi: Sheet 128,” ed. British Library (Chas E Goad Limited, 1886).

[8] “Farringdon Road,” in Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell, Ed. Philip Temple (London: London County Council, 2008), 358-384. British History Online, Accessed April 25, 2018, Http://Www.British-History.Ac.Uk/Survey-London/Vol46/Pp358-384..”

[9] “Personnel Records “Arthur Gilmore”,”  (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, Archive Reference AABK 18805 W5568 0135616).

[10] Arthur Gilmore, “Audit Farringdon Road Ordnance Stores for Period Ended 17 July 1919,” (Wellington: Archives New Zealand  Record Group WA1 Record No 2/13, 1919).

[11] The Royal Army Clothing Depot, Pimlico, was the main supplier of Uniforms for the British Army from 1855 until 1932.

[12] Captian Norman Levein, “Report of Ordnance Officer on Administration of Ordnance Department for 1917,” (Wellington: Archives New Zealand Record Group WA1 Record No 2/13, 1918).


Colonial Storekeeper 1840-1871

The Office of the Colonial Storekeeper was the government apparatus responsible for the provision of logistic services to the early Colonial Government of New Zealand. Established in 1840, the appointment of Colonial Storekeeper was discontinued in 1844 only to be reestablished in the early 1860’s until falling into disuse in 1871. Having Military and civilian responsibilities the Colonial Storekeeper and can be considered as the foundation of New Zealand’s Military Stores services. Providing an overview and background this article provides a brief history of the Colonial Storekeepers of New Zealand.

The establishment of New Zealand as a British Colony in 1840 saw the adoption of the British system of colonial government which was already in use across the 40 colonies of the British Empire. The system consisted of a Governor and a range of administrative departments; such as Survey, Surgeon, Customs, Police/Militia, Stores etc. As New Zealand was initially annexed as part of the Colony of New South Wales the laws and institutions of New South Wales were duplicated in New Zealand utilising individuals seconded from New South Wales institutions until November 1840 when New Zealand became a separate colony[1].

The Office of the Colonial Storekeeper has its origins with the Colonial administration of New South Wales, which from 1836 had two distinct supply organisations;

  • The Ordnance Board which was responsible for British Government (Imperial) Stores, and
  • The Colonial Storekeeper, which was responsible for “Colonial stores”.

Although having separate roles, the two organisations overlapped as they shared the same magazines and storehouses and between 1836 and 1844 the position of Ordnance Storekeeper and Colonial Storekeeper was held by the same individual[2].

The Colonial Storekeepers office was included in the First wave of administrators to arrive with Governor William Hobson in January 1840[3]. Mr Charles Hook Gordon Logie of the Sydney based Colonial Storekeepers was appointed on the 15th of January 1840 to hold the appointment of Colonial Storekeeper in Hobsons administration[4].

Charles Logie(1810-1866) was a 29-year-old English immigrant then working for the Colonial Storekeeper in Sydney. Establishing the Office of the Colonial Storekeeper at Old Russell[5] with stocks dispatched from Sydney on HMS Herald[6], Logie would hold the position of Colonial Storekeeper until October 1840. The Colonial Storekeeper was only responsible for the provision of stores and supplies to Colonial entities and not for the Imperial troops stationed in New Zealand. Imperial forces such as the 8oth Regiment who arrived in early in 1840, had their immediate logistic requirements met by a Staff Sergeant from the Ordnance Board[7]. Following echelons of Imperial troops would have the logistic needs met by the Commissariat Transport Corps and the Ordnance Board[8] (Military Store Department from 1855).

In October 1840 it was time for Logie to move on and approval was given on the 30th of October 1840 by the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales for Henry Tucker to replace Logie as Colonial Storekeeper, with Tucker taking up the appointment in November. Tucker was a Royal Navy Officer and purser aboard HMS Buffalo who had been stranded in New Zealand as a result of that ship coming to grief and sinking in the Coromandel on the 28th of July 1840[9]. During Tucker’s tenure, the capital was transferred from Russell to Auckland from March 1840[10], and in July 1841 New Zealand was granted the status as a full colony separating it from New South Wales[11].

Old Russell

Russell, Bay of Islands in 1858. [Moresby, Matthew Fortescue]. Attributed photographer: Reference Number: E-309-q-1-017 Alexander Turnbull Libary

The role of the colonial storekeeper in early colonial New Zealand was a critical position attempting as much as possible to meet the store’s needs of the expanding colonial administration. Stocks were either provided from the Colonial Storekeepers office in Sydney, purchased on the local market or obtained from the Board of Ordnance representatives in New Zealand. The Colonial Storekeeper was responsible for providing the local militia with arms and accoutrements but had no responsibility for Imperial troops. Imperial troops in New Zealand were the responsibility of the Board of Ordnance. Stores and services provided to the Colonial Storekeeper from Board of Ordnance stocks were on a “repayment” basis, an arrangement that would remain in place until the withdrawal of Imperial troops in 1870.

65th Regiment

Soldiers of the Light Infantry Company, 65th Regiment Ref: 1/2-025608-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

In late 1843 the Colonial Secretary of New Zealand under pressure to reduce expenditure from the Colonial Office in London deemed the positions of Colonial Surgeon, Harbourmaster and Colonial Storekeeper as unnecessary and had them cancelled[12]. By February 1844 the duties of the Colonial Storekeeper had been divided between the Colonial Secretary and the Superintendent of Public Works[13][14]

From 1844 there is little evidence of the existence of a Colonial Storekeeper for New Zealand.  The passing of The Militia Act of 1845[15] established the Militia that was administered by the Colonial Secretary and equipped directly by stocks provided by the Imperial Military Store Department or purchased from the Colonial Storekeepers in Sydney, New South Wales.colonial storekeeper

The outbreak of hostilities in the Taranaki in the early 1860’s saw the calling out of the Militia across the country and the large-scale use of Imperial troops. The conflict in the Taranaki led to the passing of the Colonial Defence Act of 1862[16] on the 15th of September 1862 and the formation of the Colonial Defence Force (the first Regular Force in New Zealand) with detachments throughout the country.

Superintendent Militia Stores,Under the Quartermaster General Office of the Colonial Defence Force, the Superintendent of Militia Stores was responsible for supplying the Colonial Forces from 1863 to 1865. During 1865 the responsibilities of the Superintendent of Militia Stores was transferred to the new Colonial Storekeeper, Captian John Mitchell. The exact date that the Office of Colonial Storekeeper had been reinstated is unclear, but correspondence originating from the Colonial Storekeeper shows that the position was existing from March 1862[17].Colonial Defence Force

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Gorton

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Gorton

Capitan John Mitchell had been a long-serving member of the 58th (Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot which had arrived in New Zealand in 1854. A Corporal in the Bay of Islands in 1846[18], Mitchell, then a Sergeant took his discharge on the 31st of August 1853[19]. Entering government service in October 1856[20], Mitchell joined the Auckland Rifle Volunteers and had advanced to the rank of Captain in 1864 when he was placed on the unattached list of officers[21]. Mitchell was suspended as Colonial Storekeeper in May 1869 due to a dispute about some absences. Resigning on the 5th of July 1869[22] Mitchell was replaced by Major William St Clair Tisdall, who assumed the position as acting Colonial Storekeeper[23]. Tisdall would only remain as acting Colonial Storekeeper for a short time as Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Gorton, Acting Quartermaster-General was appointed as the Inspector of Defence Stores and Colonial Storekeeper in 1869[24]. With the passing of the Public Stores Act 1871[25], all Colonial Government stores were brought under his audit and inspection. The Public Stores Act 1871 defined the responsibilities of Storekeepers and Sub-Storekeepers, and the term “Colonial Storekeeper” fell into disuse.


Although existing for only just over ten years between 1840 and 1971 the Office of the Colonial Storekeeper is important for a number of reasons. The first iteration under Logie and Tucker established the first Civil/Military stores organisation in New Zealand, and given that Logie was under the employ of the Government of New South Wales it can be said with some certainty that Henry Tucker was the first New Zealand Colonial Storekeeper. The second iteration under Mitchell and then Gorton is just as notably important because the Colonial Storekeeper was the head of the first full-time Defence Stores organisation in New Zealand. The Defence Stores organisation of 1865 would remain a constant fixture of the New Zealand Defence Forces for the next 51 years before becoming the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps in 1917.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018


[1] Malcolm McKinnon, “Colonial and Provincial Government – the Crown Colony, 1840 to 1852,”

[2] “Ordnance Stores and the Ordnance Storekeeper in the Colony of New South Wales,”

[3] “Government Notice,” Sydney Herald (NSW: 1831 – 1842), 03 July 1840 1840.

[4] Letter From Charles Logie Colonial Storekeeper, Bay of Islands To Willoughby Shortland, Esquire, Acting Colonial Secretary Item Id R23629593, Record No 1840/76 (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, 1840).

[5] Jack Lee, Old Russell : New Zealand’s First Capital: A History of the Opanui and Kahikatearoa Blocks at Okiato, Bay of Islands, on Which, in 1840, Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson Established the Town of Russell, His First Seat of Government in New Zealand (Russell, N.Z.: The Society, 1998, 1998), Bibliographies


[6] Way Bill of Stores to Be Conveyed to New Zealand Item Id R23629569 Record No 1840/30 (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, 1840).

[7] Joseph S. Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Wellington: RNZAOC, 1992), 43.

[8] Due to the Ordnance Boards poor performance during the Crimean War, the British Army administration system was reformed in 1855, and the Military Store Department was formed as a result. Brigadier A.H Fernyhough C.B.E. M.C., A Short History of the Raoc (London: RAOC, 1965).

[9] P. Owen Wheatley Chas Ingram, Shipwrecks New Zealand Disasters 1795 to 1950. , 2 ed. (Wellington: AH & AW Reed., 1936).

[10] Stephen Levine, “Capital City,”

[11] “Crown Colony Era,” Ministry for Culture and Heritage,

[12] “Symptoms of Reform,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume I, Issue 29, 1 November 1843.

[13] “Parliamentary Papers for 1843. Encolsure to No 11 Copy of Treasury Minute, Dated March 10, 1843,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume 1, Issue 41, 27 January 1844.

[14] Bolton.

[15] “Militia Act 1845,”  (1845).

[16] “Colonial Defence Force Act 1862,” ed. General Assembly of New Zealand (Wellington1862).

[17] Reporting That the Whole of the Ammunition Has Been Removed from the “Glance” to the Magazine at the Albert Barracks, Item Id R24477365, Record No Dag1862/133 (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, 1862); Rain Coming in through Roof of Armoury, Item Id R24477407, Record No Dag1862/186 (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, 1862).

[18] Pandora Research

[19] “John Mitchell,” Victoria University of New Zealand,

[20] “Nominal Roll of the Civil Establishment of New Zealand on the 1st July 1868,” AJHR D-13 (1868).

[21] “Militia and Volunteer Appointments,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume 2075, Issue XX, 14 March 1864.

[22] John Mitchell, Captain Mitchell, Auckland Resigning His Appointment as Colonial Storekeeper, Item Id R24175549 Record No R24175549 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1869 ).

[23] Suspension of Captain Mitchell Colonial Storekeeper for Absence from Duty. Major Tisdall Is Placed in Temporary Charge of Stores, Item Id R24175550 Record No Cd1869/2824 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1869).

[24] “Arrival of Colonel Gorton in Wellington,” Wanganui Herald, Volume III, Issue 589, 23 April 1869.

[25] “The Public Stores Act 1871,” ed. General Assembly of New Zealand (Wellington1871).