DOS visit to NZAOD – January 1986

Established on 1 October 1974, the New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot (NZAOD) was the New Zealand Ordnance Depot supporting the New Zealand Forces that remained in Singapore after the withdrawal of Australian and British forces from the ANZUK alliance.

NZAOD Entrance

The main entrance to NZAOD. Robert McKie Collection

Under the command of Major T.D Mcbeth, NZAOD was established as a self-contained and independent depot, with all the Ordnance functions expected of an Ordnance Depot in New Zealand.  From 1974 to 1989 NZAOD with its two-year posting for both married and single servicemen, would be the most desirable posting for New Zealand Ordnance Officers and Soldiers. At its peak, NZAOD would have a military strength of 25, supported by 75 Locally employed civilians(LEC’s). Many of the civilian staff had been with NZAOD since its formation in 1974, with many already having long service with the British and Australian forces.

NZAOD View 3

The NZAOD building. Robert Mckie collection

NZAOD View 5

Northwest view of NZAOD Building. Robert McKie Collection


HM Naval Base Singapore C1962



HM Naval Base, Singapore. Dockyard area as at January 1942. British Museum

The main NZOAD building consisted of a large two-storied ferroconcrete purpose-built warehouse, constructed in the 1930s as No 2 Store House of His Majesty’s Naval Base Singapore. Paid for in part by New Zealand contributions of £1 Million between 1928 and 1936,[1] the Singapore base was designed to be a bastion of defence against Japan. Weakened by the war in Europe which led to the neglecting of the intended land and air defences in Malaya, Singapore fell to Japanese forces after a short campaign in February 1942, placing the future NZAOD Store under the ownership of the Japanese Navy until 1945. Returned to British ownership in late 1945, the building would be handed over to New Zealand control in 1974. A portion of the north end of the building was shared with Headquarters NZ Force South East Asia with the remainder of the building belonging to NZAOD. NZAOD also had a tenancy of a Cold Store and a transport section to the north of the main warehouse, both of which were constructed in the post-war era.


Major Crafts OCIn January 1986, the NZAOD now under the command of Major B.L Crafts hosted the first Officer Commanding of NZAOD who was now the Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) Lieutenant Colonel Mcbeth.[2] DOS was undertaking a final tour as he prepared to hand over the duties of DOS to Lieutenant Colonel Corkin. It was not uncommon for the sitting DOS to visit, but this particular occurrence is significant, as using the latest video recording technology of the time,a video was produced to record the DOS visit. The resulting video although suffering some degradation provides a revealing snapshot of NZAOD as a January 1986.

With the original recording at an hour long, for ease of viewing it has broken-down into easy to view episodes

Part One

Tour of NZAOD January 1986, Part 1

Part one opens with the OC, Major Crafts and 2IC Captain John Govan, It then shows the Provision Control and Accounts Sections (PC&A). Notable is the absence of desktop computers, but there are typewrites and, in the background, bins containing MD310 ledger cards can be seen. These ledger cards were originally designed to be used with NCR business machines but by 1986 the unreliability of the machines and lack of support had caused them to be withdrawn from service in NZAOD with all ledger transactions carried out manually. The Ledger cards would be replaced by the computer mainframe-based Defence Supply System Development (DSSD) in mid-1987.

The single NZAOD Computer10550078_10152647755912867_7799335649563261586_o10550037_10152647797377867_539603964594090354_o10560366_10152647757222867_6895249663581160794_o10636461_10152647759762867_1401822615340289789_o10636514_10152647758262867_4703075205560893586_o10636631_10152647759112867_3843140255294397404_o10636565_10152647760262867_4172306291580047666_o10629284_10152647759537867_5391386835928625288_oAccomadation Stores 1Ammo SectionWO2 Le Gros10644566_10152647760102867_1081196340042601763_o10644542_10152647760747867_7854169441387760209_o10626310_10152647754592867_2521608283835253088_o10457673_10152647798152867_6508320381834276107_o1926165_10152647758022867_6712424884025133082_o1891427_10152647753807867_2598060697845645015_o1800172_10152647762257867_6593236161189896606_o906658_10152647754132867_3621628787069737802_o

The tour then continues into the Claims showing the use of the only computer in NZAOD. Continuing on into Local Purchase, Orderly room, IAS and Accommodation Section office. The Accommodation section was unique to NZAOD in that it managed the accommodation stores for the entire New Zealand Force South East Asia, cutlery, crockery, furniture, bedding and all other stores required to furnish a married quarter.

Part Two

Tour of NZAOD January 1986, Part 2

Guided by the Stores Warrant Officer (SWO) Warrant Officer Class One Goddard, the ground floor of the NZAOD warehouse is shown as is the spartan office accommodation. The video continues by showing the Returned Stores ad Disposals Section (RSDS) carpenters and rattan workshop, seamstresses and views of pallets of stock and piles of Rattan Chairs finishing with the NZ Force Quartermaster Store.

Part Three

Tour of NZAOD January 1986, Part 3

Part Three concentrates on the Cold Store and shows the staff hard at work undertaking maintenance, the production line for the locally manufactured “Gerber Packs” followed by some general views of the area.

10551457_10152647779252867_4584731409712621041_oCold StoreCold Store (2)

Part Four

Tour of NZAOD January 1986, Part 4

Par Four moves to Dieppe Barracks to the 1RNZIR Light Aid Detachment Stores Section. RNZAOC Stores Sections were attached to all Army workshops to provide the spares support required to enable repairs Although not part of NZAOD the Stores Section it was still an RNZAOC unit.

The video then moves to the Direct Support Section (DSS) in Dieppe Barracks. DSS’s were the RNZAOC units responsible for providing clothing and accessories to dependent units.

Part Five

Tour of NZAOD January 1986, Part 5


Part Five concentrates on the DOAZN Room, which was the social hub of the unit.

Part Six

Tour of NZAOD January 1986, Part 6

Is a view to rousing music of NZOD from the Plunge pool hill.


NZAOD Farewell parade for DOS

NZAOD Farewell parade for DOS, January 1986

This video is on the formal parade for the DOS. Held on the roof of NZAOD, the military are inspected first and then the DOS takes the time to greet the civilian staff, many of whom he would have known from his time as OC.



Social Function

The final video is of an NZAOD social function including some activities that in today’s environment would probably be considered inappropriate.

NZAOD Social Function, Jan 1986


Copyright © Robert McKie 2018


[1] I. C. McGibbon and Paul William Goldstone, The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History (Auckland; Melbourne; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, 2000), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 495.

[2] Lieutenant Colonel Macbeth was DOS from  July 1983 to Jan 1986 Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 251.

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