From 1950 to 1957, about 4700 men would serve with K Force, New Zealand’s contribution to the United Nations as part of the Korean War. Placed into a Commonwealth Division alongside units from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and India, the bulk of New Zealand’s soldiers would serve with the two core units that composed New Zealand contribution to the Commonwealth Division; 16 Field Regiment and 10 Transport Squadron. However, many men would also serve in the many administrative and support units required to maintain the Commonwealth Division.
As part of this administrative tail, from 1950 to 1956, the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) would provide twenty eight men who would be distributed across the Ordnance Units of the Commonwealth Division in South Korea and Japan, including;
- The NZ Ordnance Section,
- Base Ordnance Depot,
- Ordnance Field Park and
- Forward Ammunition Points.
K Force was an emergency force raised by calling for volunteers from New Zealand’s Regular Force and Civil population, with 5982 men volunteering. It was a mixture of Regular Soldiers, World War Two Veterans and Civilians with little military experience. This article provides a statistical analysis of the twenty-eight RNZAOC men who served in K Force from 1950 to 1956.
The RNZAOC contribution consisted of;
- Fourteen men already serving in the RNZAOC, comprising of;
- Eleven Other Ranks and
- Three Officers
- Fourteen direct civilian entries into K Force.
The Twenty Eight RNZAOC Men did not all serve in K Force at the same time. The peak of the RNZAOC contribution would be in December 1952 when fifteen RNZAOC men were serving in K Force.
The Average annual strength of the RNZAOC in K Force was;
- 1950 – Six men
- 1951 – Six men
- 1952 – Twelve men
- 1953 – Thirteen men
- 1954 – Twelve men
- 1955 – Five men
- 1956 – One man
Length of RNZAOC Service in K Force
The Average RNZAOC service in K Force was One Year and Five Months
- The shortest length of service in K Force by an RNZAOC soldier was ten months
- Twenty RNZAOC Soldiers served in K Force for two years or less
- Five RNZAOC Soldiers served in K Force for three years or less
- Two RNZAOC Soldiers served in K Force for four years or less
- One RNZAOC Soldier served in K Force for four years and four months
On Deploying to Korea, the RNZAOC K Force soldier’s average age was twenty eight years of age. The youngest RNZAOC Soldiers were twenty-one years of age, and the oldest was thirty-eight years of age.
The break down of ages of RNZAOC Soldiers on deployment to K Force was;
- 21 – Six Soldiers
- 22– One Soldier
- 23– Two Soldiers
- 24– Four Soldiers
- 25– One Soldier
- 26– One Soldier
- 27– Two Soldiers
- 28– Four Soldiers
- 29– Three Soldiers
- 30– Two Soldiers
- 31– One Soldier
- 37– One Soldier
Of the Twenty eight men that served in K Force, only one man was married.
Fourteen had WW2 Service in the following forces
- Seven in the RNZAF
- One in the NZASC and RNZAF
- Two in 28 Bn of the 2nd NZEF
- One in the British Army
- One in the British and Indian Armies
- Two in the Australian Army
Seven had served in the immediate Post War Period with the British Occupation Forces in Japan (BCOF)
- Six with New Zealands J Force
- One with the Australian Army
One had completed Compulsory Military Training (CMT)
Three had no military experience.
The fourteen men who were regular RNZAOC Officers and Soldiers had Regular Force service from 1947;
- One from 1947
- Nine from 1949
- Four from 1951
The Civilian Occupations of the Civilian RNZAOC K Force recruits were;
- One Clerk
- One Freezing Worker
- One General Duties Worker, Hydro Dept
- One Grocery Manager
- One Labourer
- One Mill Worker
- One Painter
- One Railway Porter
- One Shop Assistant
- Three storeman
- Two with Occupations Not State
Military Service After K Force
On completion of service with K Force, some men would remain in the military, others would return to their civilian occupations.
Of the Fourteen Regular Force RNZAOC men who served in K Force;
- The three Officers would remain in the Army as career officers;
- Patrick William Rennison – Retired as a Major in 1958.
- Geoffrey John Hayes Atkinson – Retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1972.
- John Barrie Glasson – Retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1972.
- Barry Stewart would remain as a career soldier in the RNZAOC, retiring as a Captain in 1982
- Thomas Allan (Tom) Hill would remain as a career soldier in the RNZEME, retiring as a Warrant Officer Class One in 1982
- Desmond Mervyn (Des) Kerslake would remain in the RNZAOC until 1961
- Six soldiers would take their discharge on completion of their 5-year engagement
- Leonard Ferner (Len) Holder
- Owen (Chook) Fowell
- Neville Wallace Beard
- James Adams (Snowy) Donaldson
- Richard John Smart
- Edward Tanguru
- Two soldiers would take their discharge on payment before the end of their 5-year engagement.
- Keith Robert Meynell Gamble
- Harold Ernest Strange (Harry) Fry
Of the fourteen civilians who joined the RNZAOC for service in K Force;
- Twelve would not pursue military careers
- Dennis Arthur Astwood
- Wiremu Matenga
- Bruce Jerome Berney
- Thomas Joseph Fitzsimons
- Gane Cornelius Hibberd
- James Russell Don
- James Ivo Miller
- Gordon Winstone East
- Alexander George Dobbins
- Abraham Barbara
- John Neil Campbell
- Philip Hayhurst (Tony) Kirkman
- Joseph James Enright Cates would join the RNZAOC, retiring as a Sergeant in 1978
- Ernest Radnell would enter the Australian Army.
This is just an initial snapshot of the RNZAOC men that served in K Force from 1950 to 1956 and provides a start point for further research into this very small yet essential component of K Force.
 Howard E. Chamberlain, The New Zealand Korea Roll : honouring those who served in the New Zealand Armed Forces in Korea 1950-1957 ([Waikanae]: Howard Chamberlain, 2013).
 Michael King, New Zealanders at war, Rev. and updated ed ed. (Penguin, 2003), Non-fiction, 277.