RNZAOC 1 April 1950 to 31 March 1951

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Lieutenant Colonel F Reid, OBE

Compulsory Military Training

The first intake of CMT consisted of 1846 recruits marched into the three district training camps on 3 May, followed by the second intake of 4053 recruits on 4 January 1951.[2]

For the First CMT intake Captain S.M King from the Main ordnance depot at Trentham was seconded to Burnham Camp to act as an instructor.[3]

Emergency Force (Kayforce)

Following the North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950, the New Zealand Government announced on 26 July 1950 the commitment to raise a force for Service in Korea. With a brief recruiting period closing on 5 August 1950, 5982 men volunteered their service, with those selected marching into the District Training Camps on 29 August 1950. On completing the four-week basic training, the majority of the Force concentrated at Waiour to continue training, with the specialist of Signals, EME and Ordnance competing their trader specific training at Trentham.[4]

The Ordnance Section of the Force would be small and consist of one Officer and five Other Ranks. Commanded by Captain Geoffrey John Hayes Atkinson, an officer with recent operational Ordnance experience gained in J-Force during the post-war occupation of Japan, the five OR’s would all be serving RNZAOC Soldiers;

  • Lance Corporal Neville Wallace Beard,
  • Lance Corporal Bruce Jerome Berney,
  • Private Keith Robert Meynell Gamble,
  • Lance Corporal James Ivo Miller,
  • Private Thomas Allan (Tom) Hill.
  • Private Desmond Mervyn Kerslake

The Ordnance effort on equipping the forces was considerable two sets of equipment for Kayforce had to be concentrate and issued from existing stocks or withdrawn from regular units;[5]

  • One set of approximately 1000 tons for loading on the freighter SS Ganges, including;
  • 35 Twenty Five Pounder guns,
  • 345 Vehicles
  • 62 Gun trailers
  • 10 Tones of tentage
  • 170 Tones of Ammunition
  • Various other stores to support initial operations

A second set of equipment in equal proportions was also prepared and issued to the contingent to facilitate its training.

Lance Corporal Berney represented the RNZAOC as part of Advance Party No 2 of 1 officer and 14 OR’s that accompanied the stores on the SS Ganges, which departed Wellington on 25 November 1950.

Captian Atkinson and Lance Corporal Miller departed for Korea by RNZAF Dakota as part of Advance Party No 1 on 7 December 1950

The main body, Including Lance Corporal Beard and Privates Gamble and Hill, departed from Wellington on 10 December 1950 on the SS Ormonde.

The main body arrived at Pusan, Korea, on 31 December 1950. The Ganges had arrived some days earlier and already discharged much of Kay Forces equipment onto the Pusan docks. HQ K Force and the advance party had wasted little time and acquired accommodation for the Headquarters in downtown Pusan and had shelter for the main body prepared at an abandoned school on the city’s outskirts.

New Zealand Army Act, 1950

The New Zealand Army Act received Royal assent on 1 November 1950. This Act replaced the outdated Defence Act 1909, the Army Board Act 1937, the Army Act (Imperial) and the King’s Regulations. The NZ Army Act established the New Zealand Army as a Military Force independent of United Kindom legislation and under the legislative control of the New Zealand Government in both peace and war, serving within and beyond New Zealand.[6]

Ordnance Conference 24 -26 May 1950

The Director of Ordnance Services hosted a conference of the Districts DADOS and the Officer Commanding Main Ordnance Depot(MOD) at Army Headquarters over 24-26 May 1950.[7]

Items discussed at the conference included;

  • Ordnance staff establishments
  • CMT intakes 1,2 and 3 anticipated Ordnance problems in supporting and improvements
  • Payment of Accounts
  • Combined Indent and Voucher forms
  • Clothing;
    • Provision Supply
    • Sizing for CMT
  • Vehicles A & B
  • MT Provision
  • Army estimates in relation to Ordnance
  • Progress returns
  • Ammunition
  • Equipment for TF Units
  • Distribution of Artillery Stores

Ordnance Conference 26 -28 September 1950

The Director of Ordnance Services hosted a conference of the Districts DADOS and the Officer Commanding Main Ordnance Depot(MOD) at Army Headquarters over 26-28 September 1950.[8]

Items discussed at the conference included;

  • General Ordnance Policy
  • K Force
  • Personnel
  • A Vehicles and spares
  • B Vehicles and spares
  • Clothing
  • Camp Equipment
  • Technical Stores
  • Ammunition
  • Provision
  • Estimates
  • Authorisation of expenditure

Industrial Disputes

Early in March, the Army,  Navy and the Air Force were called upon to assist in maintaining essential services as a consequence of the waterside industrial dispute. Ordnance Soldiers played their part and assisted in the continual operation of the wharves.[9]

Routine Ordnance Activities

Over this period, the RNZAOC, in addition to its regular duties of provision, holding, and the issue of multitudinous stores required by the Army and Kayforce, had undertaken several other significant tasks;

The relocation of stores from Waiouru and Seaview to Mangaroa.

As Waiouru was to be used more extensively for training, the large quantities of stores held in troop accommodation were rationalised and relocated to the newly established depot at Mangaroa. This depot also received large amounts of stores from the wartime warehouses at Seaview, resulting in 48000 Square feet (4460 Square meters) of space at Seaview released to other Government Departments.

Inspection of Ammunition

The inspection and repair of Small Arms and Gun ammunition conducted by the Inspection Ordnance Officers Group (IOO Gp) had continued as staffing levels permitted. However, due to staff restrictions, much repair work on Gun Ammunitions and the disposal of unserviceable rounds led to the deferral of this work.

Ammunition Course

Staff Sergeant Arthur James from Trentham Camp attended a five month Ammunition course at the RAAOC School at Broadmeadows, Melbourne from July to December 1950. The only New Zealander on the course, SSgt James topped the course.

Break-in in at Belmont

On 18 May, the police were called in following the discovery that two magazines at the Belmont Ammunition Depot had been broken into and two more interfered with. It was believed that the break-in had occurred between the end of March and 18 May. Five live 40mm Anti-Aircraft shells were thought to be missing from a steel box of 24, which had been in a magazine that was entered by removing a padlock. In another magazine entered through a ventilator, a box of grenades was opened, but none of these was removed. An officer and 20 men permanently staffed the depot, and regular tours were made with close inspections of the buildings conducted less at less frequent intervals. Following the discovery of interference to one store on 18 May, all others were subjected to scrutiny.[10]

Enlistments into the RNZAOC

  • Robert J Sontgen – 15 July 1950

Promotions

  • Sergeant Alick Dick Doyle to Staff Sergeant – 1 April 1950
  • Sergeant Maurice Sidney Phillips to Staff Sergeant – 23 May 1950
  • Sergeant Murry Alexander Burt to Staff Sergeant – 8 January 1951

Notes

[1] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1954 to 31 March 1955 “, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1955).

[2] Peter Cooke, Fit to Fight. Compulsory Military Training and National Service in New Zealand 1949-72 (Auckland: David Ling Publishing, 2013), 539.

[3] “Instructors Fr Trainees,” Press, Volume LXXXVI, Issue 26086, , 13 April v.

[4] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1954 to 31 March 1955 “.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Conferences – Ordnance Officers, Item Id R17188101 (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, 1950).

[8] Ibid.

[9] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 176.

[10] “Warning of Danger in Shells Missing from Army Depot,” Gisborne Herald, Volume LXXVII, Issue 23257, 19 May 1950.

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