As a result of service during the First World War, twelve Warrant Officers, Norn-Commissioned Officers and Men of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) were awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
The Meritorious Service Medal was initially instituted by British Royal Warrant on 28 April 1898 as an award for Warrant Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers. Nearly all recipients of this medal have been of the rank of Sergeant or above. However, in the early 20th Century, some awards were made to lower ranks.
In the London Gazette of 9 December 1919, it was announced that His Majesty the King was graciously pleased to approve the awarding of the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) to fifty-six Warrant Officers, Norn-Commissioned Officers and Men of the New Zealand Forces, including two men of the NZAOC.
- Conductor John Goutenoire O’Brien, and
- Conductor Mark Leonard Hathaway
O’Brien’s service would be with the NZEF, serving at Gallipoli, France and the United Kingdom from 1916 until 1920. In contrast to O’Brien’s long service, Hathaway would only serve in Home Service for one year and 274 days, but with his conduct and character described as “Very Good”, he had been recognised for his contribution.
John Goutenoire O’Brien
John O’Brien left New Zealand with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) 6th Reinforcements on 14 August 1915. After service in the Dardanelles, O’Brien was transferred into the NZAOC in February 1916. Serving in France for two years, O’Brien was assigned to London Headquarters in March 1918 as the Chief Clerk. Staff Sergeant John O’Brien was Promoted to Temporary Warrant Officer Class 1 with the Appointment of Acting Sub-Conductor on the 18 October 1918. Gaining Substantive rank as a Warrant Officer Class 1 with Sub-Conductor appointment on 25 November 1918. O’Brien was appointed as a Conductor on 1 February 1919. O’Brien was awarded the MSM and was the senior Warrant Officer NZEF NZAOC when he was demobilised in March 1920. His final duties included indenting new equipment for two divisions and a Mounted brigade that would equip the New Zealand Army until the late 1930s.
After a short stint serving in the NZAOC in New Zealand, O’Brien would return to his pre-war trade of banker. Immigrating to the United States, O’Brien attended De Paul University Law School in Chicago from 1921 to 1924. In 1926 O’Brien took up the appointment of vice-president of the Commercial National Bank in Shreveport, Louisiana. During the Second World War, O’Brien, then a US Citizen, served in the United States Army Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel in the South-West Pacific Theatre of Operations.
Mark Leonard Hathaway
Little is known of Mark Leonard Hathaway’s early life. Born at St Pancras, Middlesex, England, on 31 August 1875, Hathaway married Ethel Ellen Davis in 1903. Census records show that Hathaway was still residing in England in 1911, migrating to New Zealand with his family prior to1915.
On the outbreak of World War One, Hathaway attempted to join the NZEF. However, he was rejected as unfit due to heart troubles. Hathaway then joined the Defence Department as a civilian clerk/typist in the Defence Stores on 5 February 1915. When the Defence Stores Department transitioned into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) in 1917, Hathaway was allotted the Regimental number of NZAOC 48 and appointed a Staff Quartermaster Sergeant. His NZAOC enlistment document states that he had no other previous military service.
Promoted to (Temporary) Conductor on 1 November 1918, Hathaway service file indicated that he was awarded the MSM in 1918. However, his award was not gazetted until 1919. Hathaway was released at his request on 31 March 1919. Working as an accountant, Hathaway passed away on 10 July 1928. Following his death, his wife made inquiries about eligibility to get a military pension and how to apply for a replacement MSM as her husband’s original medal had been lost.