New Zealand’s first experience of Salvage units was during the 1914-18 war. Each British formation (including Dominion forces) was required as part of an army salvage plan to appoint a Salvage Officer for each brigade, and a Division Salvage Company, which in turn was supported a Corps Salvage Company.
Shortly after arriving in France, Lieutenant Colonel Herbert the DADOS of the New Zealand Division was directed to provide one officer, one sergeant and two corporals for the Divisional Salvage Company, with the OC of the Pioneer Battalion providing four Lance Corporals and 24 Other ranks.
Formed on 5 May 1916 the NZ Divisional Salvage Company was under the command of Lieutenant Macrae, NZAOC. The duties of the NZ Divisional Salvage Company were:
“The care and custody of packs of troops engaged in offensive operations; The care of tents and canvas of the Division; The salvage of Government property, and also enemy property, wherever found; The sorting of the stuff salved, and dispatch thereof to base.”Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division, “New Zealand Division – Administration – War Diary, 1 May – 26 May 1916,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487546 (1916)
Although initially reporting to the Corps Salvage Officer, entries in the DADOS war diaries indicate that the Divisional Salvage Company was an integral part of the DADOS responsibilities. During April 1918 the NZ Div Salvage Company recovered the following items.
One Bristol Airplane
One Triumph Norton Motorcycle
Three Douglas Motorcycles
10 Bayonets and scabbards
25 Steel Helmets
Four Pistol Signal
Three Mountings MG
62 Belts MG
32 Belt boxes MG
95 Gas respirators“Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) – War Diary, 1 April – 30 April 1918.” 1918. Archives New Zealand Item No R23487665.
This talk examines the work of the British salvage system from its small beginnings at the battalion level to the creation of a giant corporation controlled by GHQ. It deals with salvage during hostilities and the colossal often forgotten task of the clean-up afterwards.