The Quartermaster trade

From the earliest years of the New Zealand Army, supply at the Regiment or Battalion level has been the responsibility of the unit Quartermaster (QM) and his staff.  Traditionally QMs were commissioned from the ranks and assisted by the Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS) and a staff of clerks and Storeman with Company Quartermaster Sergeants (CQMS) providing support at the sub-unit level.[1] Typically, the QM and associated staff would be drawn from within the ranks the regiment or corps in which they worked, providing an intimate level of knowledge of how the unit worked and thus were well suited to providing the best support. As the New Zealand Army began to take shape in the nineteenth century the “Q” staff of units tended to be older more experienced men who although past their prime in the field had an intimate knowledge of their unit and were able to provide a useful management functions of the units weapons and equipment.   In volunteer units, many of which were more akin to social clubs, annual elections would be held to elect officers and “Q” Staff and as a result many of the unit stores accounts were in disarray with many discrepancies from what had been provided by the crown to what was in unit stores.

Measures to address administrative training across the army was addressed in 1885 with the Army School of Instruction established at the military headquarters at Mt Cook in Wellington. The primary task of this Army School of Instruction was training in musketry, with courses on Tactics and Staff Duties conducted at the School from 1886 onwards.[2] However it is unknown if rudimentary stores accounting was included in the curriculum.[3]

Following the South Africa War, the NZ Army began to undertake a transformation into a force better trained and equipped to participate in the Imperial Defence Scheme. Uniforms, weapons and equipment was standardised, and following the Defence Act of 1909 the Volunteer forces were replaced with a robust Territorial force that would be maintained by compulsory military training.  

In 1905, The New Zealand Military Forces Dress Regulations, authorised for use of an eight-pointed star as a identifying embellishment to be worn by Regimental and Company Quartermaster Sergeants.[4]  The badge would remain in use until 1917.

Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant-Major, 1905-1915. Robert McKie Collection
Company Quartermaster Sergeant, 1905-1917. Robert McKie Collection

Unknown photographer (1910) The Empire’s foremost soldier: Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener. Auckland War Memorial Museum call no. D503 K62

Lord Kitchener who was considered as “”The Empire’s foremost soldier” visited New Zealand in 1910. Kitchener reviewed New Zealand’s Forces and made several recommendations from which several alterations to the NZ Army were made, including the establishment of the New Zealand Staff Corps and Permanent Staff. The New Zealand Staff Corps (NZSC) and New Zealand Permanent Staff (NZPS, when established in 1911 provided a professional cadre of officers (NZSC) and men (NZPS) able to provide professional guidance and administration to the units of the Territorial Force. Kitchener’s visit reinvigorated the military to review itself, with the care, maintenance and responsibility of equipment found to be lacking, and that the current cadre of RQMS not up to the task, and the need for a professional cadre of RQMSs identified.

To rectify the situation, late in 1911 thirty young men, selected from the various military districts spent three weeks undertaking a course of instruction on “Q” matters at the Defence Stores Department in Wellington. Undergoing practical and theoretical instruction in the duties of the office of RQMS. Instruction conducted under the supervision of the Head of the Defence Stores, Major O’Sullivan and the senior staff of the Defence Stores Department as instructors. The course was thorough with instruction including;

  • Armorers providing instruction on weapon storage, inspection, maintenance and accounting,
  • The Saddler providing instruction on the correct methods of storage, inspection and maintenance of leather items such as horse saddlery and harnesses.
  • The Sailmaker providing instruction on the correct methods of storage, inspection and maintenance of canvas and fabric items such as tents, other camp canvas and fabric camp equipment.
  • The Stores Foreman providing instruction on the Packing of stores.
  • The ledger-keeper providing instruction with the keeping of accounts and maintenance of documentation used throughout all the departments.

Examinations were held on the various subjects in which instruction had been given, with records showing that at least 18 of the 30 candidates passed the exams successfully and were appointed Quartermaster Sergeants in the New Zealand Permanent Staff under General Order 112/10.

This course of instruction was notable as although the Army School of Instruction had been established in 1885, this was the first course specifically designed to instruct on the duties of RQMS, and as such was probably the first dedicated “Q Store” trade-related course conducted in New Zealand.

With the declaration of war against the Central Powers in August 1914, New Zealand was well prepared and rapidly mobilised and a Expeditionary Force dispatched overseas. To maintain the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF), a reinforcement plan was implemented with Trentham and later Featherston camps established as the principle reinforcement training camps. In late August 1914, Lieutenant (Temp Captain) T McCristell NZSC was appointed as the Camp Quartermaster of Trentham Camp. In his role as Camp Quartermaster, McCristell with a cadre of men from the Permanent Staff held back from the Expeditionary Force, would establish the “Camp Quartermaster Stores”. Established as an distinctive unit with its own Badge the “Camp Quartermaster Stores” had several responsibilities, including;

EVERYTHING movable in Camp, except the A.S.C and its wagons, is kept track of by the Camp Quartermaster—everybody and everything, from a soldier to an electric light bulb. The Camp Quartermaster knows where they all should be; and if they aren’t where they ought to be, he generally knows where they are.”[5]

Another important and essential role of the “Camp Quartermaster Stores” was in the training of suitable men as Quartermasters for service overseas. Within each reinforcement draft, each Regiment was allowed one RQMS and each company was allowed one CQMS.  Based on their civilian occupations and with due regarded to their business ability, McCristell would select suitable men to be trained as RQMS and CQMS. Training would include;

  • Stores Training dealing with every duty related to clothing and equipping the men.
  • Camp Equipment Training, including the methods of constructing field kitchens, incinerators, latrines, washing and cleaning arrangements, striking and pitching camps, making bivouacs, billeting men.
  • Organising ammunition
  • Water supplies, and the drawing and distribution of food to troops.

On completion of the training the candidates were required to pass an examination, which if successful they were deemed qualified for appointment as a RQMS or CQMS.

Camp Quartermaster Stores Badge

McCristell would remain as the Camp Quartermaster until 1916, after which he was transferred to the Defence Stores Department as the Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores. In this role he would oversee the establishment of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) in 1917 as the Chief ordnance Officer.

In 1918 a Conference of Defence Department Officers in response to a report by the Defence Expenditure Commission found that the accounting, care, and custody of stores by units had in the main, been unsatisfactory with units not carrying out their responsibilities as detailed by the Regulations of New Zealand Military Forces.[6] To address the situation, eleven NZAOC Staff Sergeants were seconded for duty as Quartermaster-Sergeants with units. They were appointed to units to make the necessary adjustments and get the units stores accounts onto a working basis. This was a successful arrangement with further audits disclosing few if any deficiencies. It was however evident that the storage accommodation for units was inadequate, with many units having no accommodation where stores could be secured, resulting in the backloading of many items to the regional Stores Depots.[7]

Due to the success of the emergency measures of NZAOC Staff Sergeants into units as Quartermaster-Sergeants, an amendment to Army regulations was published on 3 October 1918 to make the management of Quartermaster Sergeants a NZAOC responsibility. The amendments were as follows;

83. Group and Unit Quartermaster-Sergeants will belong to and be trained by the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, and when posted for duty in districts will be borne as supernumeraries on the establishment of that corps. They will be included in the effective strength of the group or unit in which they are actually serving and will be so accounted for in periodical returns for those groups or units. In so far as the questions of efficiency, leave, and duty are concerned, Quartermaster-Sergeants will be under the direct supervision of the A.Q.M.G. of the district, and will be directly responsible to the Group or Unit Commander, as the case may be, for the performance of their respective duties as Group or Unit Accountants. They will devote the whole of their time to the accounting, care, and custody of public property on issue.[8]

The post war tenure of the NZAOC managing unit Quartermaster accounts would be short and despite the benefits it brought, Force reductions and budget restraints would see Quartermaster system revert to pre-war arrangements with instruction conducted by the General Headquarters School (GHQ School)  that would be established in Trentham camp in 1919.

Established in 1919, and placed on a permanent footing in 1920 the GHQ School in Trentham would  conduct training on a range of subjects for Officers of the NZSC and men of the NZPS who were responsible for the training, equipment, and administration of the Territorial and Senior Cadets.[9]  

In 1937 the Army School at Trentham was established, and was supported by District Schools of Instruction that were established at Narrow Neck, Trentham, and Burnham.[10] Administration instructors at the Army School and at the three District Schools of Instruction were involved in training the following groups of servicemen:

  • Adjutants,
  • Quartermasters,
  • Regimental Sergeant Major,
  • Regimental Quartermaster Sergeants,
  • Ordnance and Company Clerks,
  • Storemen, Storemen-Clerks, and
  • Cooks.

In the lead up to the Second World War the Army School of Instruction would form a separate Administrative Wing staffed by; a Major, two Captains, a Warrant Officer Class One, a Staff Sergeant and a Sergeant.

Officer courses conducted by the Wing were Senior Staff Duties and Adjutants courses, while Senior Non-Commissioned Officers attended drill, duties, and Tactics Courses. Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers could also attend the Quartermaster’s and Quartermaster Sergeant’s courses conducted by the Wing.

After World War II, training for officers, clerks and storemen centred around peacetime administration. Emphasis was placed on the training of Regular Force Staff of the Army, and as a result clerks and storemen recruited through Compulsory Military Training or National Service, received only an introduction to their trades. The policy of decentralisation of training from a central school to the District Schools of Instruction resulted in a reduction in the establishment of the Administrative Wing by 1947 to a Major, a Captain or Lieutenant, a Warrant Officer Class Two and a Corporal who could be WRAC.

In July 1950 the Administrative Wing was disbanded and the new School of Army Administration was formed. The School which was still located in Trentham, conducted courses in both peace and war administration, as well as conducting the Regular Force Officers Lieutenant to Captain Promotion Course. At this time the Chief Instructor of the School of Army Administration held a dual appointment as Staff Officer (Administration) on the staff of Headquarters Army Schools.

On 31 Jan 1952 the School of Army Administration moved from Trentham Camp to Waiouru and was located in a building on Foley Street, where Crete Barracks now stand. Although there were established posts for a staff of three officers and four Other Ranks, the School was manned by a staff of; two officers, (one of whom was employed as CI and Staff Officer (Administration) at Headquarters, Army School) and two Other Ranks.

The School workload increased steadily over the years from a total of 13 courses in 1953 to 21 courses in 1961. The establishment was changed to reflect the increase in the number of courses and by 1967 there were established posts for; three officers, five other ranks, and a civilian (clerical assistant) at the School.

The School of Army Administration was later relocated in the building opposite Headquarters Army Training Group, Waiouru. It had established posts for; three officers, seven senior non-commissioned officers, and two civilians.

The School conducted courses for the following personnel:

  • Junior Staff Officers,
  • Accounting Officers,
  • Clerks, and
  • Storeman.

Course Photos

From 1974 the staff of the School of Army Administration, photographed most courses passing through the school, many of these photos can be viewed by clicking on respective course link;

There was little change to the School’s structure until 1992 when a trade review was completed on the Q Storeman trade. This review enabled a more focused aspect in Q Storeman training and outlined a new scope for changes to the training of Q Storeman. Following this review an assessment was then conducted into the viability and implications of an amalgamation of the training of the All Arms Q Storeman and RNZAOC Suppliers, as at that stage both trades had their own individual trade schools.

1993 would be a year of significant change for the Q Storeman trade which would be transformed as a result of the New Zealand Army re-balancing. As consumer units began to come online with the development of the computerised Defence Supply System Detail (DSSD) this change brought about discussions towards a more common supply system.

In 1993 the Quartermaster Wing of The School of Army Administration became part of the RNZAOC School and the All Arms Q Storeman trade and the RNZAOC Supplier trade were merged into one trade known as the Supply-Quartermaster Trade (Sup/QM). However, at this stage despite the RNZAOC School been at Trentham the Quartermaster Wing remained in Waiouru. On 13 December 1993 after a 41-year absence from Trentham, the Quartermaster Wing moved left Waiouru.

In July 1994 the RNZAOC School that had been established in 1959 was disestablished and the Trade Training School (TTS) established in its place. This change saw the amalgamation of the Supply and Quartermaster Wings into the one wing called the Sup/Q Wing. The main aim behind the amalgamation being to foster the development of training required to produce an Army with an effective logistical supply system at all levels with the first combined Sup/Q Courses been conducted in 1995.

In December 1996 all members of the Sup/QM Trade, regardless of Corps were transferred into the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR) on its formation. Given the diverse nature of the Sup/QM Trade, with members drawn from each Corps and represented in almost every unit of the New Zealand Army, the amalgamation of the two trades would not be easy , and would take time to consolidate.

In October 2007 the Sup/QM Trade was renamed as the RNZALR Supply Technician (Sup Tech) Trade, followed by the adoption of a top of trade Supply Technician Badge in 2009.


Notes

[1] Depending on the type of Regiment or Corps, variations of Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS) could also be; Battery Quartermaster Sergeant (BQMS) in artillery units or Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant (SQMS) in Mounted/Calvary units

[2] “The School of Military Instruction,” New Zealand Herald, Volume XXII, Issue 7328, 14 May 1885.

[3] Gary Ridley, “Quartermaster Origins,” Pataka Magazine  (1993).

[4] New Zealand Military Forces Dress Regulations, ed. New Zealand Military Forces (Wellington1905).

[5] Will Lawson, Historic Trentham, 1914-1917: The Story of a New Zealand Military Training Camp, and Some Account of the Daily Round of the Troops within Its Bounds (Wellington1917), 35.

[6] “H-19d Conference of Defence Department Officers (Notes by) on Criticisms, Suggestions and Recommendations as Contained in the Report of the Defence Expenditure Commission,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1918).

[7] “Defence Stores,” Dominion, Volume 12, Issue 10, 7 October 1918.

[8] “Amending the Regulations for the Military Forces of New New Zealand,” New Zealand Gazette No 135, 3 October 1918.

[9] “Ghq School,” Evening Post, Volume XCIX, Issue 23, , 28 January  1920.

[10] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand, Annual Report of the Chief of Thr General Staff,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, (1938).

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