The New Zealand Ordnance Puggaree

From 1914 to 1958 the sight of New Zealand Soldiers in felt slouch hats was commonplace. In addition to providing a practical form of headdress,  by the use of a coloured headband, it became easy to identify the Regiment or Corps of the wearer.

This article will provide a brief background on the use and history of Puggarees in New Zealand service with a focus on their use by the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.

 

rnzaoc puggaree

RNZAOC Puggaree. Robert McKie Collection

Origins

The Puggaree origins lay in the Hindu word, ‘Pagri’ which is used to describe a wide range of traditional headdress worn by men and women throughout the Indian Sub-Continent, one of the most recognisable been the Dustaar or Sikh turban.

Soldiers by their nature are creatures of innovation and British troops serving India soon found that by wrapping a thin scarf of muslin around their headdress, not only could additional protection from sword blows be provided, but the thin cloth scarf could also be unravelled to provide insulation from the heat of the sun. Like many Indian words “Pagri” became anglicised into Puggaree.

By the 1870s the functional use of the puggaree had become secondary and the puggaree evolved into a decorative item on British Army headdress, which when used with a combination of colours could be used to distinguish regiments and corps. First used by New Zealanders in the South African war, the use of puggaree on slouch hats was formalised in the New Zealand Army 1912 Dress Regulations. These regulations detailed the colours of the distinctive puggaree used to indicate different branches of the service; [1] [2]

 

 

 

 

World War One

When first New Zealand Troops went overseas in 1914, the NZ Slouch hat was one that had been first used in the South Africa War and had a crease running down the crown from front to rear. From 1914 the Wellington Battalion wore their hats with the crown peaked and after a short period where cork helmets were also worn, General Godley issued a directive that all troops, other than the Mounted Rifles would wear the slouch hat with the crown peaked, in what became known as the “Lemon Squeezer”.[3]

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NZMR

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New Zealand felt “lemon Squeezer” hat with Ordnance Puggaree and NZEF Ordnance Badge. Robert McKie Collection

 

Worn with both the Mounted Rifles Slouch hat and the Lemon Squeezer, the puggaree became a distinctive mark of the New Zealand soldier, identifying them as distinct from soldiers from other parts of the Empire who in general used only plain puggaree on their headdress.[4]  [5] From 1917 the New Zealand puggaree also proved useful in distinguishing New Zealand troops from the Americans who wore headdress similar to the New Zealand Lemon Squeezer hat.[6]

As the war progressed, additional units that did not exist in the pre-war New Zealand Army were created, both as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) and as part of the Home Service forces in New Zealand. This would include the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) which was formed as a unit of the NZEF in early 1916 and as part of the New Zealand Permanent Forces in 1917.[7]

It is assumed that as a new unit a distinctive puggaree was adopted for the NZAOC, but the limited photographs of NZAOC personnel are black and white, making identification of colours difficult. The following photo of NZ Army Service Corps staff at Zeitoun Camp in Egypt taken in either later 1915 or early 1916, shows a soldier wearing a Lemon Squeezer hat with a coloured Puggaree with a British Army Ordnance Corps (AOC) Badge, possibly the first example of an NZ Ordnance Puggaree.

British Army Ordnance Corps 1915_zpsaibxjzox

New Zealand Supply Depot Staff at Zeitoun Camp, 1915. Note Ordnance solder front row 3rd from left. National Army Museum of New Zealand

British Army Ordnance Corps_zpshkmjkhxu

Ordnance Soldier with Lemon Squeezer, Puggaree and AOC Badge, New Zealand Supply Depot Staff at Zeitoun Camp, 1915. National Army Museum of New Zealand

A later photograph of the NZAOC at taken at Buckle Street in 1918 the Puggaree are distinctive.

Ordnance 1918

The New Zealand Ordnance Corps 1918, Buckle Street Wellington. RNZAOC School

1918

Taken from the 1918 Buckle Street picture this blown up image shows two soldiers, on with a Lemon Squeezer Hat the other with a Mounted Rifles slouch hat, both puggarees could be of the NZ Ordnance pattern.

In a 1919 Photo of the NZAOC staff taken in Germany, the Puggaree of the Ordnance Staff are less distinctive and look to be a single colour, possibly red or Blue.

NZ Ordnance Staff 1919

New Zealand Ordnance Corps demobilisation Staff at Mulheim, Germany, Febuary1919. Alexander Turnbull Library/Public Domain

t falvey

Ordnance Corporal (Possibly TY Falvey) London 1918

A Newspaper article from December 1918 does provide evidence that an Ordnance puggaree of red/blue/red existed. The article published in the Press on 5 December 1918 states the following;[8]There are only two units in the New Zealand Division with red in the puggaree. They are the Artillery and Ordnance, and in both units, the colours are red and blue”. Although slightly incorrect in that only two units of the NZEF wore red in the puggaree, The Infantry also has red in their Puggaree, this sentence does identify that the Ordnance Puggaree was red and blue.

The Inter-War Years

The red/blue/red Puggaree would formally be adopted as the Puggaree of the NZAOC in 1923 when the New Zealand Army updated its Dress Regulations for the first time since 1912.[9]

Ordnance Puggaree would have been a common sight around New Zealand Military establishments up to 1931, where with the virtual disestablished of the NZAOC their use would have shrunk to twenty or so remaining NZAOC Soldiers.

World War Two

The onset of war in 1939 would see an explosive growth of the New Zealand Army from a few hundred personnel to thousands, with articles published in newspapers to educate the public on the different coloured puggaree and which units they belonged to.[10] The red/blue/red Ordnance puggaree would be worn throughout the war years by the NZAOC and the New Zealand Ordnance Corps, the Ordnance component of the NZEF and the Territorial Army.[11]

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Lemon Squeezer as worn by members of the 2nd NZEF NZOC, Middle East, Italy 1939-44.

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Ordnance soldier of the NZOC, New Zealand 1942-44.

Post War

The Lemon Squeezer Hat and puggaree would remain a fixture of the New Zealand Army until 1958 when the Lemon Squeezer was withdrawn from services and replaced with a new Battle Dress cap and the use of puggaree within the Ordnance Corps would fade away from memory.

tf 3rd intake waikato camp 1951

RNZAOC Territorial Force 3rd intake Ngaruawahia Camp 1951. RNZAOC School Collection

camp commandants bodyguard 1954

RNZAOC Camp Commandants Bodyguard, Trentham Camp 1954. RNZAOC School Collection

Copyright © Robert McKie 2019

Notes:

[1] The original MZ Slouch hat had been first used in the South Africa War and had a crease running from front to rear. From 1914 the Wellington Battalion wore their hats peaked

[2] Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord, New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches, 1911-1991 (Wellington, N.Z.: M. Thomas and C. Lord, 1995, 1995), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Part One, 128-29

[3] D. A. Corbett, The Regimental Badges of New Zealand: An Illustrated History of the Badges and Insignia Worn by the New Zealand Army (Auckland, N.Z. : Ray Richards, 1980

Revised end. edition, 1980), Non-fiction, 47-48.

[4] Australian and Canada would both use coloured puggaree on their respective headdress, just not to the same extent as New Zealand.

[5] “Local and General,” Dominion, Volume 9, Issue 2610,, 4 November 1915.

[6] “Visit to Paris,” North Otago Times, Volume CV, Issue 14001, 11 December 1917.

[7] “New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Regulations,” New Zealand Gazette, No 95, June 7 1917.

[8] “Soldiers and Dress – Ordnance Pugaree,” Press, Volume LIV, Issue 16387, 5 December 1918.

[9] Thomas and Lord, New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches, 1911-1991, 35.

[10] “New Zealand Troops Wear Turbans,” Evening Star, Issue 23432  (1939).

[11] The NZOC was formed as a unit of the NZED in 1939 and a unit of the Territorial Army in 1941.

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