Sergeant Two Bob and Corporal Jenny

24 February is the memorial day set aside as “Purple Poppy Day” the day on which we honour our war animals.

Complementing the traditional Red Poppy which is worn on ANZAC and Rembermanace day, the Purple Poppy symbolises all animals who have served during times of conflict.

Thousands of animals have provided support to New Zealand’s Forces, either as working animals or as mascots and providing companionship and comfort to service personnel.

One of the most famous animals in New Zeland Military History is Ceaser,, the bulldog who was awarded the Blue Cross Medal on 27 May 2019  for his service and bravery during the First World War.

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Portrait of ‘Caesar’ (misspelt as Ceaser) with ‘4th Battalion Mascot, NZ Rifle Brigade and ‘Oliver Varley, photo’ written on the photograph. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira. WW1 487.

 

Sergeant Two Bob

Like many other units of the 2nd New Zealand Divison during the Second World War, the Divisional Ordnance Field Park (OFP) had its own mascot, a small dog. The dog had been purchased as a pup from a local vendor in Tripoli for two shillings and named “Sergeant Two Bob”.

The name “Sergeant Two Bob” was a play in on the slang of the time where Bob was the common term for a shilling, with twelve shillings making up a pound,  “Two Bob” equalled two shillings which at the time was a common lighthearted insult where one would essentially say that something was worthless, in this case, it was a term of affection for a unit mascot.

Records indicate that “Sergeant Two Bob” would move with the OFP from North Africa to Italy in early 1944 and remained a member of that until the end of the war.  As the NZ Division demobilised, New Zealand’s strict quarantine regulations forbade the return to New Zealand of  “Sergeant Two Bob”, and it is assumed that he was found a new home with some Italian owners.

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Harry Gilbertson of the New Zealand Divisional Ordnance Field Park with the section mascot “Sergeant Two Bob” at Maddi September 1943. Photo H.J Gilbertson

Corporal Jenny

“Sergeant Two Bob” was not the only Ordnance Mascot during the Second World War.  In the Pacific, Ordnance in the 3rd New Zealand Division adopted ‘Jenny the fawn’.

Orphaned as the result of a deer-hunting expedition, Jenny was hand-reared on a diet of powdered milk and guava leaves and soon promoted to the rank of substantive corporal.

Corporal Jenny’s duties included representing the Ordnance team at football matches, resplendent in its Khaki cover decorated in Ordnance colours and regulation corporal’s stripes.  Later Jenny’s appetite extended to include tea-leaves, the unit’s laundry and mail.  On the NZ Divisions departure from New Caledonia in 1944 Jenny was presented to a local family.

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Jenny the Fawn, 1943. War History Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library


2020 RNZAOC Reunion

A reunion is a meeting of former colleagues. A meeting where those attending reminisce about their days together, bring each other up to date on how their lives have progressed and also remember those who are unable to attend.

The RNZAOC has in the past held three major reunion events;

  • 1965 – The 50th Corps Celebration (based on the 1915 foundation of the NZAOC)
  • 1983 – National Corps Reunion, and
  • 1992- The 75th Corps Celebration (based on the 1917 foundation of the NZAOC)

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Note the disparity between the anniversaries that the 1965 and 1992 reunions were commemorating, both dates are in fact accurate as 1915 saw the formation of the NZAOC as part of the NZEF and the Ordnance Section as part of the RNZA, with the NZAOC as part of the New Zealand Permanent Forces gazetted in 1917.

Since the amalgamation of the RNZAOC into the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment in 1996, RNZAOC reunions have become rare and apart from the occasional informal gathering organised around the 12th of July to celebrate the RNZAOC Corps day, formal RNZAOC reunions have been few in number. A successful reunion was held in at the Ngaruawahia RSA in 2016 followed by a small gathering in Palmerston North in 2017 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the NZAOC in 1917.

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2016 RNZAOC Reunion, Ngawahaiwa

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2016 Corps Day reunion, Palmerston North Rear Left to Right: Tony (Wingnut) Rogers, Terry McBeth, Richard Tyler, Rob Mckie, Merv Hutley, Kevin Sigglekow, Peter Cox, Brian Crafts, Peter Dellabarca, Front Row Left to Right: Ray Benseman, Willie Simonsen, Phil Blundell, Dave Morris.

The great news is that former Corps member, Georgina Tupara has taken up the initiative and is organising an RNZAOC Corps reunion for Labour Weekend 2020. Planned to be held in Whanganui over the period 24-16 October 2020, which in New Zealand’s Labour Weekend, the details of the reunion are yet to be confirmed but the weekend will consist of a Friday night meet up, Saturday night function and Sunday breakfast.

To pre-register for this event and keep up with its progress, please contact Georgina through the Facebook page she has established for this event at the  RNZAOC Reunion 2020 Facebook page; alternatively, Georgina can be approached by EMail at georgietupara@yahoo.com.au.