Call Sign Rickshaw

In New Zealand Ordnance vernacular, Rickshaw is a name related to a variety of Ordnance related activities. Ordnance associated exercises would be given names with Rickshaw in the title, Unit social clubs and their bars would be called the Rickshaw Club. In the post-Ordnance Logistic Regiment, a Lecture room at the Trade Training School would be called the “Rickshaw’ room alongside the “Playtime’ room for Transport and the “Bluebell” room for the Equipment Support (EME) trades.

What is a Rickshaw?

imagesA Rickshaw is a wheeled passenger cart, pulled by one man carrying either a passenger or freight. Originating in Japan in 1869, Rickshaws soon became a popular form of transportation throughout Asia until the mid-Twentieth Century.

The origin of the word Rickshaw is from the Japanese word jinrikisha (人力車, 人 which means “human-powered vehicle.”

  • jin= human, 力
  • riki= power or force, 車
  • sha= vehicle),.

What is the Ordnance Connection?

The use of Rickshaw was inherited from the British Army by the New Zealand Army during the Second World War as radio communications underwent a revolution. Transitioning from morse to voice systems as the war of movement was unfolding in the Western Desert. It became apparent the enemy was listening in and intercepting communications, so Radio Telephone Procedure (RTP) developed to keep radio communications brief and limited. Part of the development of PTP was the adoption of Appointment Titles.

Appointments Titles were specific word chosen to indicate the holder of a particular appointment as an aid to concealing the level of command, familiar appointment titles were;

SUNRAY Commander
ACORN Intelligence
MOLAR Quartermaster
IRONSIDE Armour
SHELDRAKE Artillery
HOLDFAST Engineer
PRONTO Signals
FOXHOUND Infantry
STARLIGHT Medical
PLAYTIME Supply and Transport
BLUEBELL Electrical  & Mechanical Engineering
WATCHDOG Provost
GOLDFINGER Paymaster
SKYPILOT Padre
RICKSHAW Ordnance

 

Appointment titles themselves were intended to be meaningless so not to be associated with any arms or corps.

downloadAccording to the REME history and journal, the REME appointment title “Bluebell” originated with the formation of REME in 1942, and the need for a new title identified for the new Corps. Because it was ‘New, bright and shiny’ the nickname for EME would be “Bluebell” after the then popular “Bluebell Polish” a product similar to ‘Brasso.’   Although this story is convincing it is not confirmed, and anyone who can give the definitive answer is guaranteed free entry into the R.E.M.E. museum for life.

The origin of the appointment title “Rickshaw” for Ordnance use is unclear. A hypothesis is that like a Rickshaw driver who was a beast of burden carrying large loads in his carriage, Ordnance was identifed as the combination of driver and carriage with the responsibility of supplying the whole army, in essences the Armys Rickshaw carriage?

In the 1970’s the name, Felix was adopted by the British Army in Northern Ireland as the appointment title for RAOC Bomb disposal teams.

Use of Radio Appointment titles was discontinued in the early 1990s as they were not compatible with NATO STANAGs, but their general usage remained. The usage of “Rickshaw” in New Zealand usage started to fall off after the establishment of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment in 1996, but its use was maintained by the Supply Wing of the Trade Training School who use “Rickshaw” as the name of Supply Wing exercises and activities.

 

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Call Sign Rickshaw

    • rneilmckie

      Hi Wayne, it is a popular story amongst some within the EME community that Bluebell was the name of the horse used a the model for the badge, but I suspect that it is just an origin explanation that was created after the design of the badge and does not fit in with the timeline of the badge. The modern EME badge depicts a horse rearing with a coronet of fleur-de-lis around its neck and a chain attached to the coronet over its back. The horse stands on a globe and above it is a scroll inscribed depending on the nation with ‘REME’ ‘RAEME’, ‘RCAME’ or ‘RNZEME’ surmounted by a crown. Behind the horse there is a lightning flash. This symbolises electrical engineering while the globe stands for the world-wide role of the unit. The chained horse symbolises power under control. This badge is the second pattern EME Badge, the first been in use from 1942 to 1947, with the modern badge adopted by the REME from 1947 and adopted by the commonwealth nations soon afterwards. Given that “Bluebell” was in use as a radio callsign from 1942, that throws some doubt on the myth that the horse on the 1947 was named ‘Bluebell’.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.