RNZAOC Lanyard

New Zealand’s military usage of lanyards has been practical, with lanyards used for securing pistols, compasses and whistles to a person. Aside from the practical use of lanyards, there are also examples where lanyards have been adopted as a coloured uniform accoutrement by some New Zealand Regiments and Corps, some examples being

  • The Regular Force Cadets’ red lanyard
  • The New Zealand Provost and Military Police white lanyard
  • The Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport blue and gold lanyard

Almost included in this short list of New Zealand Army regimental lanyards was the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC), which applied for permission to adopt a regimental lanyard in the 1960s.

The word lanyard originates from the French word ‘lanière’, which means ‘strap’, with accounts from the late 15th century French describing how soldiers and privateers utilised ropes and cords found on ships to keep their swords, cutlasses and pistols close at hand whilst working in ships’ rigging and during combat.

As with any functional military kit, lanyards evolved with French Cuirassiers using a braided lanyard to hold their swords in place, with adoption by most militaries following. In British use, lanyards became common, used to attach pistols to uniforms, and Gunners used them to fire artillery. In widespread use for practical purposes, the adoption of lanyards as a decorative uniform item soon followed, with coloured lanyards denoting regiments and corps and gold lanyards used to identify senior officers.

In the British Army Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC), a coloured RAOC Lanyard was introduced with the 1960 Pattern No2 Dress, and within a short time, the RNZAOC applied for a similar dress distinction.

On 24 July 1962, the Colonel Commandant of the RNZAOC, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Reid, submitted a proposal to the New Zealand Army Dress Committee to adopt a unique dress embellishment for specific Regular Force RNZAOC personnel. The submission reads

1.         R&SO Vol II paras 3359 refers

2.         I wish to refer the following proposal submitted by 4 Inf Bde Gp OFP, for consideration for the adoption of a special embellishment to the dress for specific Regular Force RNZAOC personnel.

3.        The proposal is that personnel posted to field force units, ie, 4 Inf Bde Gp OFP and 4 Inf Wksps Stores Sec be permitted to wear a lanyard on the left shoulder, with all orders of dress other than numbers 1, 4 and 5.

4.          The proposed lanyard has three cords, twisted, two scarlet and one blue, with a loop at each end. A suggested sample is enclosed.

5.         The reasons for this proposal are as follows:-

a. 4 Inf Bde Gp OFP and 4 Inf Wksps Stores Sec are new RNZAOC RF units, in fact, it is the first time these types of units have been formed within the Regular Force in the

NZ Army. The personnel have been drawn from the older District Ordnance Depots and many of them continue to think in District terms. It is considered that an

embellishment such as the lanyard, would create a high unit feeling and help to raise and maintain high morale in these RNZAOC units within the field force.

b. It is anticipated that the employment of personnel in these units will occasionally be by assisting RNZAOC static depots. Under these circumstances the

embellishment would maintain a unit feeling when the personnel are mixed with other RNZAOC units.

c. During Bde Gp concentrations, when summer dress is worn and thus corps shoulder titles are not worn, the lanyard would further foster unit spirit within the

formation.

6.          The purchase of these lanyards, if approved, would be undertaken entirely from Unit resources, with Public Funds not being involved in any way.

7.         I strongly recommend this proposal and forward it for your favourable consideration

RNZAOC Colonel Commandant, “Request to adopt special embellishment to dress,” Archives New Zealand No R17187826  (24 July 1962).

Replying to the RNZAOC Colonel Commandant on 10 October 1962, the Army Dress committed agreed to the desirability of having a unique dress embellishment to identify Regular Force Field Force Personnel. However, as a universal shoulder patch for all Field Force personnel was under consideration by the Army Clothing Development Section, approval was not granted for an RNZAOC-specific lanyard. However, the proviso was set that if shoulder patches were rejected as a dress embellishment, further consideration of lanyards was possible, and the Dress Committee welcomed the re-submission of the proposal for an RNZAOC lanyard. The Sample provided to Lt Col Reid was returned.[2]

It took a few more years, but on 10 September 1964, approval was given for the wearing of Formation Patches by all ranks, other than 1 RNZIR and 1 Bn Depot, who continued to wear the red diamond. The approved patches were circular 11/2 inch in diameter and dived by operational grouping,

  • Combat Brigade Group – Black
  • Logistic Support Group, 3 NZEF and Base Units – Red
  • Combat Reserve Brigade Troops – Green
  • All others – Blue

The blue Formation patch for other units was discontinued on 3 December 1968. Approval for the wearing of the remaining patches was withdrawn on 6 August 1971.[3]

Regardless of this initial setback, the idea of an RNZAOC lanyard remained a popular one within the RNZAOC. In November 1969, the DADOS(D), on behalf of the RNZAOC, pitched to the Army Dress Committee the desire of the RNZAOC to have a lanyard as a distinctive dress distinction. By 1969 the corps had been reorganised and instead of a lanyard being an item of dress for those Regular Force personnel posted to Field Force units, it was intended to issue lanyards to all RNZAOC personnel. By 1969 Stable belts were starting to become a popular addition to the range of army dress accoutrements. However, the wearing of Stable belts was limited by the dress orders available, leading the RNZAOC to favour a lanyard as a dress distinction with broader utility. As in 1962, a sample was again provided.

The chairman of the Dress Committee was not in favour of lanyards as he wished to avoid a proliferation of dress embellishments. However, based on the argument put forward by the DADOS(A), he reserved his decision until a future meeting of the Army Dress Committee and invited the DOS to attend to support this item on the agenda.[4]

The next meeting of the Army Dress Committee with the discussion on an RNZAOC Lanyard was on 1 March 1971. In this meeting, the DOS again proposed an RNZAOC lanyard, mentioning that most other Corps of the NZ Army had adopted some form of distinctive dress, for example, Stable belts. However, the RNZAOC remained in favour of an RNZAOC lanyard.

The proposed lanyard was not to be purchased at public expense and was to be worn on the left shoulder of no 2,3,6 (except 6D) and 7 orders of dress. Most members of the Army Dress Committee approved the proposal. However, the chairman again reserved his decision until a clear policy directive on Corps Dress Distinctions was issued from Army HQ, as again, he felt that an introduction of an RNZAOC lanyard “might open the door from other corps submissions”.[5]

The proposal for an RNZAOC lanyard was not approved. In 1972 the RNZAOC reconsidered its position on Stable belts and, following a submission to the Army Dress Committee, was granted permission to adopt an RNZAOC specific Stable belt in April 1972.[6]

The sample lanyards were returned to the DOS and eventually found their way into the RNZAOC School memorabilia collection as a reminder of what could have been. Following the disestablishment of the RNZAOC in 1996, the RNZAOC School memorabilia collection was handed over to the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR) for safe keeping and future preservation. Unfortunately, as a nondescript item whose story had been forgotten and a lack of a robust management policy led to these lanyards and many other RNZAOC items finding their way to the open market.


Notes

[1] RNZAOC Colonel Commandant, “Request to adopt special embellishment to dress,” Archives New Zealand No R17187826  (24 July 1962).

[2] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971,” Archives New Zealand No R9753141  (July 1971).

[3] “Clothing – Dress Embellishments: General 1960-1976,” Archives New Zealand No R17187826  (1960).

[4] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971.”

[5] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971.”

[6] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971.”

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