RNZASC/CT association newsletter

Copies of the RNZASC/CT association newsletters from issue 92 can be viewed here


Plan of the Defence Stores Mount Eden

This undated plan of the Mount Eden Goal Reserve provides a view of the layout of the long-forgotten Auckland Defence Stores Mount Eden location. Located between the Goal and Auckland Grammar School this plane was drawn up some time between 1907 and 1917

The Defence Stores footprint at Mount Eden started in 1871 when two magazines were constructed to house Defence ammunition, then stored at Albert Barracks in the centre of Auckland.

In 1903 the Defence Stores Office in O’Rourke Street (now Auckland University) was relocated to Mount Eden. Initially, the existing magazines at Mount Eden were thought to be sufficient. However, it was soon found that additional buildings were required, and a Stores building and Armourer’s shop were constructed during 1903/04. Eventually, a house was also built for Captain W.T Beck, the District Storekeeper.

In 1917 the Defence Stores were reorganised into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC), with the Mount Eden Defence Stores becoming the Northern Districts Ordnance Depot.

By 1920, with little space available for expansion to allow the storage of the large number of mobilisation stores required by the Norther District, construction of an alternative site for the Mount Eden Ordnance Depot began at Hopuhopu in the Waikato.

While the Hopuhopu site was still under construction, Stores from the Mount Eden site began to be transferred to Hopuhopu in 1927. The new depot officially opened in 1929, with the Mount Eden Depot closing.

The Store constructed in 1903 was dismantled and re-erected at the Narrow neck Camp on Auckland’s North Shore. The fate of the original magazines is unknown, but they were likely taken over for a time by the nearby Colonial Ammunition Company (CAC).

The closure of the Mount Eden Depot did not totally sever to connection between Mount Eden and the Ordnance Corps, with Ordnance Ammunition staff remaining attached to the CAC until 1967, testing the supply of Small Arms Ammunition provided by that factory.


Behind the scenes at Takapau

It is said that a picture says a thousand words, and this postcard of the Takapau Divisional Camp of April-May 1914 is such a picture. While It tells part of the story of the neatly 4839 Territorials who attended the camp, it also provides an insight into the tremendous logistical effort by the Defence Stores Department to provide the stores and equipment required by the largest Territorial camp ever held in New Zealand.

Between April and May 1914, 18,882 Territorial Soldiers of New Zealand’s citizen army would attend five main camps across New Zealand. 

  • the Auckland Military Districts camp was at Hautapu, near Cambridge,
  • the Canterbury Military Districts camp was split between Kowai, near Springfield, with the Marlborough and Nelson units camping at Tapawera, near Nelson.
  • the Otago Military Districts Camp was at Matarae, in Central Otago
  • The Wellington Military Districts were held at Takapau in Hawkes Bay.

To oversee the management of the Camp Equipment and other Ordnance Stores required, the District Storekeepers of each Military District were appointed as Ordnance Officers for the duration of the camp and provided with a staff of eighteen Territorial Soldiers trained in the duties required of an Ordnance Depot.

The District Storekeepers were

  • Honorary Lieutenant William Thomas Beck, District Storekeeper, Auckland
  • Honorary Lieutenant Arthur Rumbold Carter White, District Storekeeper, Christchurch
  • Honorary Lieutenant Mr Owen Paul McGuigan, District Storekeeper, Dunedin
  • Mr Frank Edwin Ford District Storekeeper, Nelson
  • Honorary Major James O’Sulllian, Defence Storekeeper Wellington

Based on the numbers that attended the Takapau Camp and the Camp Equipment scale of 1913, the following quantities indicate the Camp Equipment required. Provided from the Defence Stores in Wellington, two trainloads were required to move the stores from Wellington to Takapau to pre-position prior to the camp.

  • Axes, felling, helved, 122
  • Axe. Pick, 160
  • Buckets, Water, 1937
  • Basins, Wash hand, 2023
  • Boilers with lid, 20 Gal, 100
  • Boilers with lid, 9 Gal, 100
  • Candlesticks, bayonet, 2023
  • Choppers, Meat, 100
  • Crowbars (if required) 190
  • Dishes, meat, 1711
  • Kettles, camp, 1543
  • Lantern s, stable, 348
  • Racks, arm, tent (Large loop), 1259
  • Spades, 274
  • Shovels, 274
  • Tents, circular, complete, 1773
  • Marquees, 65
  • Ropes, picket, 20 yards  115
  • Brooms, bass, 128
  • Sheets, ground, 8350
  • Rakes, iron 16in ,128

How much of this equipment was available in the District Storehouses is unknown. However, it is known that in 1914 the NZ Military had a sufficient stock of tents to accommodate the whole Territorial Force at the full establishment, including

  • 3651 tents (circular)
  • 181 marquees,
  • 30 operating tents, and
  • 98 bivouac tents

The concept of the Camp Ordnance Depots was that as the unit advance parties arrived, the required number of camp equipment stores would be issued from the Ordnance Depot to the unit Quartermaster Staff, usually under the control of the Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.

On completing the camp, the RQMS would be required to return all the stores to the Ordnance depot and remain available to finalise any accounts for losses and damages. Following the closedown of the camp, the stores would be loaded onto trains and returned to the District Stores, ready for the next activity.

The Ordnance Depots also held a stock of clothing and equipment available as replacements or for sale. For example, the Takapau Camp Ordnance Depot sold 1000 boots and 250 blankets.

The Divisional Camps of 1914 were only the second time Ordnance Depots had been established at annual camps and proved a success. There is no doubt that they would have been stood up again for the planned camps in 1915. However, the logistical framework of the 1914 Divisional Camps served as a dress rehearsal for the August 1914 mobilisation and contributed to the raising and dispatching overseas of the largest, best trained and equipped force to be dispatched from this country in the 20th century.


Auckland Defence Store, 1861 – 1903

Throughout the early 1860s, elements from the Militia and Volunteers supported the Imperial troops undertaking the bulk of the military operations in the early years of the New Zealand Wars. In 1861 as George Grey assumed the role of Governor for a second term, Grey undertook a policy of conciliation while also preparing for war.  As General Cameron built up his Imperial forces, Gray reviewed and overhauled the citizen forces of New Zealand. In January 1862, new regulations for the volunteer force were issued, followed on 18 September,  by the Colonial Defence Act of 1862.  This Act saw the formation of the Colonial Defence Force, the first regular Force in New Zealand. Under the Quartermaster General of the Colonial Defence Force, Captain Robert Collins, the Colonial Store Department and the Militia Store Department assumed the store’s responsibility for the Militia, Volunteer and Regular Forces of New Zealand.

In Auckland, the Colonial Store Department and the Militia Store Department initially operated out of offices in Princes Street. However, approval was granted in October 1863 for the erection of a store adjacent to the Imperial Armoury near the Symonds street entrance to the Albert Barracks.[1]  The two Store Departments essentially carried out the same functions, and in 1865 the post of Superintended of Militia Stores held by Mr E.D King was disestablished with the responsibility for colonial defence stores centralised under the Colonial Storekeeper, Captain John Mitchell.

Military Store Albert Barracks 1871

A review of colonial defence with a reliance on local forces taking over from Imperial Forces saw the passing of the Armed Constabulary Act of 10 October 1867. This Act combined police and military functions into the regular Armed Constabulary (AC) Force. The AC Force would be supported by loyal natives, Militia and Volunteer units with Defence Storekeepers in Auckland, Whanganui and Wellington providing the required logistic support.[2]

In April 1869, Lieutenant Colonel Edward Gorton was appointed as the Inspector of Defence Stores, establishing his office at Molesworth Street in Wellington, bringing all New Zealand’s Defence storekeepers under his control.  By January 1869, as the withdrawal of Imperial units became imminent, the dismantling of their central logistic hub at Auckland’s Fort Britomart and Albert Barracks had commenced, with military stores, including guns and ammunition that were not auctioned off to the public or purchased by the New Zealand Government, shipped to the United Kingdom. The departure of the British Military Storekeeper Joseph Osbertus Hamley in July 1870 marked the final withdrawal of Imperial Forces from New Zealand, with the Auckland Defence Store taking over ownership of the Armoury and Magazines located in Albert Barracks.

In May 1869, Captain John Mitchell was suspended as the Auckland Storekeeper due to unauthorised absences. Resigning in July, Mitchell was replaced by Major William St Clair Tisdall as acting Storekeeper. Tisdall was assisted by a small staff, some of whom had served in the stores since 1861, including

  • John Blomfield, Clerk
  • John Price, Clerk
  • D Evitt, Armourer Sergeant
  • Arms Cleaners
    • Mr’s F Gibbons,
    • J Penligan and
    • C.C Rockley

Following the departure of Imperial units, the future of Albert Barracks came under debate. In addition to the Defence Stores, the only other military use of the former barracks was by the local Militia and Volunteers who retained a drill hall and utilised the parade round. The Auckland Improvement (Albert Barrack Reserves) Act 1872 repealed previous Acts relating to the status of Albert Barracks and placed responsibility for the management and disposal of the land under the Auckland Improvement Commissioners.[3] The Auckland Improvement Commissioners would draw up and oversee plans to develop the bulk of the Barracks into a recreational reserve with other areas subdivided into roads and plots of land for further development.

By 1871 the growth of Auckland now placed the ageing powder magazine in the centre of a built-up area, raising concerns about its safety. New powder magazines were constructed at Mount Eden, with the first stocks transferred from Albert Park to Mount Eden in September, following which the Albert Barracks magazines were demolished.[4]  With the Auckland districts supply of ammunition now safety stored at Mount Eden under the care of the Defence Stores magazine keeper, Tisdall and the remaining staff of Storemen and Armourers would remain at Albert Barracks.[5] Initially located in the old Imperial Armoury building at the Symonds Street entrance of Albert Barracks, it was considered an obstruction to the Commissioners projected improvements.[6] To allow the extension of Princes Street and subdivision of the land between Princes and Symonds Street, in July 1873,  the Defence Stores had been moved into the well-constructed stone building that had previously been the Barracks hospital.[7] The new building included ample accommodation for warlike stores, including small workshops and a forge.[8] The only remnant of the site of the old Armoury were two Russian 18-pounder guns taken at the Crimea and presented by the Imperial Government to the colony of New Zealand in the late 1850s.[9]

The Defence Stores building in Albert Park was described by the Auckland Star as the “hideous eyesore in Albert Park’ and considered a blight on the skyline as it obstructed the view from the park that had been established to replace the Barracks.[10]  By 1883 an agreement was reached between the Auckland Council and the Government, with a plot of land in O’Rourke Street provided to allow the relocation of the Defence Stores.[11] 

Queen St with Albert Barracks on the left hillside C1870-1979. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 898-9969

When the proposal was first mooted to relocate the Defence Store, plans were prepared in the Auckland Public Works office for a three-storied building equal in space to the present location. However, as it was the intention to centralise the operations of the Defence Stores in Wellington, the original design was countermanded with a design for a smaller building substituted. Tenders for the erection of the new Defence Stores building were published on 10 May 1883 for a building meeting the following specifications,

  • to be constructed of brick, two storeys in height, with concrete foundation,
  • to have a frontage of 25 feet with a depth of 36 feet.
  • the ground floor was to have
    • a passage seven feet wide,
    • two 18×18 apartments,
    • a staircase leading from the ground floor to the upper storey
  • upper floor subdivided into
    • An 18×8 office,
    • compartment with lift,
    • a 14×18 room
    • an 11 x 18 room
  • To the rear of the building
    • a 14×25 shed with an asphalted floor for gun carriages
    • a 6×14 coal shed,
    • a 14×20 Armourer’s shop.

Due to the considerable amount of material accumulated in the old Defence Stores over its many years of operation, Captain Sam Anderson, the Chief Defence Storekeeper, assisted in a stocktake of the old store as it was decommissioned, ensuring only essential materials were transferred to the new building.  Surplus stores were disposed of by tender or redistributed, including over 2000 obsolete muzzle-loading muskets relocated to the Defence Store in Wellington.[12] The old Stores building was soon demolished with much of the material used in the construction of the new building, with the only reminder of the military’s residence of Albert Park being a small portion of the Barracks wall and a few old cannons on display in the new ornamental gardens.

The New Defence Store in O’Rourke Street would be one of the earliest purpose-built Storehouses built for New Zealand’s Military. Up to this period, many of the buildings utilised by the Defence Stores were inherited from the Imperial Forces or requisitioned commercial premises.

By 1888, the cost of maintaining a peacetime military had reached the point where cutbacks and savings across the Defence budget had to be made. As part of several reductions across the Defence Department, the Auckland Defence Store would be drastically downsized, resulting in the retirement or redundancy of most of the staff. The closure of the Auckland Defence Stores was met with dismay with the press questioning it as an absurd decision, with the New Zealand Herald noting in an editorial that the closure of the Auckland Defence Store was” solely arising from the Wellington authorities having a want of local knowledge and of the requirements of the place.” This pushback on the closure of the Auckland Defence Store resulted in a short reprieve for  James Bloomfield, the Defence Storekeeper in Auckland, who had served since 1861, was granted a reprieve from redundancy and allowed to extend his tenure, retiring in December 1888 handing over the responsibilities of Defence Storekeeper for Auckland to Major John William Gascoyne of the New Zealand Permanent Militia.[13] Following Gascoyne’s departure in 1891, the responsibilities of Auckland Defence Storekeeper would be assumed by the Adjutant of the Auckland Brigade Office, who would oversee the duties of the Magazine Keeper at Mount Eden, Mr J Hawthorn.[14]

Concurrent with the Adjutant taking over the Defence Storekeepers responsibilities, the Auckland Brigade Office was moved from its offices in the Auckland Supreme Court into the Defence Store O’Rourke Street building, from where the Adjutant would conduct his duties related to the Auckland Volunteers and the Defence Stores.[15] This shared arrangement would remain in place into the early years of the twentieth century and would even see a telephone installed in 1902.

Routine activities conducted by the Auckland Defence Stores in O’Rourke Street included various tender for the provision of uniforms and repair of equipment. Following the bloodless Dog Tax War of 1898, the Defence Store in O’Rourke street took custody of the surrendered arms, including,[16]

  • one Winchester repeating rifle
  • one Winchester carbine
  • two Green’s American patent Snider breech-loading rifles
  • one Snider rifle
  • one muzzle-loading carbine
  • one Lee Bolt shotgun, single barrel
  • three breech-loading single barrel guns.
  • three double-barrel breech-loaders (nearly new)
  • ten double-barrel muzzle-loading guns
  • two single barrel guns
  • four bundles of ammunition (various)

 In 1903 the Police expressed an interest in taking over the building as accommodation for the Auckland Police Commissioner. Following an inspection by the Defence Storekeeper, Mr James O’Sullivan, arrangements were made to transfer the Defence Stores from the O’Rourke Street Property to Mount Eden and hand the building over to the Police.[17] During 1904 the handover of the Defence Stores building the Police was concluded, ending the sixty-year relationship between Auckland’s Albert Park and the Military.

The Police would fully refurbish the former Defence Store Building into a residential villa. The building would survive into the 1960s when it was demolished to allow the construction of  Auckland University.

1905 view of the refurbished Defence Store building(Center of the photo next to Police Station)

Despite the construction of new buildings for the Defence Stores in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin during the early 1900s, no new permanent buildings would be constructed for the Auckland Defence Stores as the existing powder magazines at Mount Eden constructed in 1871, were deemed sufficient enough to meet current and projected needs. Following the transition of the Defence Stores into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps in 1917, a new Ordnance Depot was constructed for the Northern Region to replace the infrastructure at Mount Eden in the late 1920s. However, it would not be in Auckland but at Hopuhopu in the Waikato. Ordnance Stores would be established in Auckland during World War Two utilising rented commercial premises.  In the post-war era, ordnance warehouses established at Syliva Park utilised buildings constructed for the United States Forces. Other than Explosive Store Houses at Ardmore, no permanent dedicated storage infrastructure would ever be constructed for the RNZAOC in Auckland. 

The significance of the Defence Store building in O’Rourke Street is that excluding smaller unit storehouses and ammunition storehouses, it remains the only purpose-built military warehouse constructed for the New Zealand Army in Auckland.


Notes

[1] Queen’s Redoubt Assistant Military Secretary, “Correspondence Stating That There Is No Objection to the Erection of a Store for Colonial Purposes Adjoining Armoury Albert Barracks,” Archives New Zealand Item No R24075932  (1863).

[2] M. R. Wicksteed, The New Zealand Army: A History from the 1840s to the 1980s ([Ministry of Defence, 1982), Non-fiction, 2-3.

[3] Under the provisions of the Public Domains Act 1860, the Auckland Military Reserves Act 1871 established the land that Albert Barracks occupied as Crown land.

[4] “New Power Magazine at Mount Eden,” New Zealand Herald, Volume VIII, Issue 2377, 7 September 1871.

[5] The Magazine Keeper was Mr J Broughton, Tindall’s other staff consisted of his Clerk Mr J Blomfield. Armourer Mr D Evitt and Three Arms Cleaners Mr’s F Gibbons, J Penligan and C.C Rockley. “D-13 Nominal Roll of the Civil Establishment of New Zealand on the 1st July 1872,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1872); “Nominal Return of Officer in Defence Department and Armed Constabulary Force on 1 July 1872,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1873 Session I, H-24a  (1872).

[6] “Deputation from the Auckland Improvement Commissioners,” New Zealand Herald, Volume X, Issue 2859, , 28 March 1873.

[7] “Militia Store Move,” Auckland Star, Volume IV, Issue 1087, 17 July 1873.

[8] “Wooden Building in Albert Barracks,” New Zealand Herald, Volume X, Issue 09, 30 September 1873.

[9] “Russian Guns,” New Zealand Herald, Volume XI, Issue 3927, , 13 June 1874.

[10] “Albert Park Armoury,” Auckland Star, Volume XII, Issue 3523, 22 November 1881.

[11] Linking Princes and Symonds Streets, O’Rourke Street is now occupied by Auckland University,  Captain Anderson, “Old Defence Store to Be Sold by Tender, All the Muzzle Loading Rifles to Be Sent by “Hinemoa”,” Archives New Zealand Item No R24280543  (1883).

[12] “Flashes,” Wanganui Herald, Volume XVII, Issue 5047, 27 April 1883.

[13] “Reductions in Civil Service,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1888 Session I, H-30, 11 May 1888.

[14] A. H. McLintock, ” Frederick John William Gascoyne,”  http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/1966/gascoyne-or-gascoigne-frederick-john-william.

[15] “Volunteer Gossip,” Observer, Volume XI, Issue 656, (1891).

[16] “The Maori Trouble,” Auckland Star, Volume XXIX, Issue 114, , 16 May 1898.

[17] Wellington Defence Storekeeper, ” Subject: Report of Inspection of Defence Stores Auckland. Again Urges Removal of Store from O’Rourke [O’rorke] Street to Mount Eden Cost to Be Met by Police Department ” Archives New Zealand Item No R24743403  (1903).



Major William Andrew Knox

At approximately 2135 hours on 5 December 1941, an Italian bomber launched a torpedo sinking the SS Chakdina, a vessel evacuating 380 wounded men, including ninety-seven New Zealanders from Tobruk. Included in the list of New Zealanders lost that fateful evening was Major William Andrew Knox, the Officer Commanding of the New Zeland Divisional Ordnance Field Park.

William Andrew Knox was the second of three sons born to William and Jessie Knox in Auckland on 14 November 1893.

Portrait of Major William Andrew Knox, Auckland Weekly News, 21 January 1942. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19420121-29-1. Image has no known copyright restrictions.

From 20 March 1911, Knox would undertake his Compulsory Military service obligation, serving with “A” Battery of the New Zealand Field Artillery (NZFA) until his enlistment into the NZEF on 13 August 1914. Embarking on the Main Body of the NZEF on 15 October 1914, Knox served at Gallipoli, where he was slightly injured. Continuing to serve in the NZFA for the duration of the war,  Knox attained the rank of Lieutenant on 16 October 1916 and was Mentioned in Dispatches. Struck off the Strength of the NZEF on22 May 1919, Knox was transferred to the Reserve of officers but would not undertake any further military training until 1939. Knox’s brother Trevor would serve within the NZ Rifle Brigade during this conflict and passed away due to disease on 9 July 1918. 

Working as a commercial traveller during the interbellum, Knox would apply and be accepted for the Special Force assembled in 1939. Posted as a troop Subaltern in the 5th Field Regiment and despite being a fit and able 46-year-old, unlike most younger officers who had remained current through Territorial service, Knox struggled to learn and adapt to the more modern weapons and gunnery practices. Unable to cope, Knox applied to be released from the Special Force and be reassigned to an administrative role.

As the Special Force was in the early stage of its training Knox was released on 6 December 1939  and was reassigned to the 7th Anti-Tank Regiment as the Quartermaster departing from New Zealand to the Middle East as part of the Second Echelon. Diverted to Britain to strengthen the invasion defences, Knox and the 7th Anti-Tank Regiment did not reach Egypt until February 1941.

Following the Greek Campaign, the New Zealand Division was concentrated together in Egypt, undertaking rebuilding and expansion. As part of the expansion of the Division was the inclusion of an Ordnance Field Park (OFP), which was formally stood up 28 July 1941. The New Zealand OFP had a strength of 4 Officers and 81 Other Ranks. Organised into a Headquarters and three sections, the NZ OFP was equipped with twenty-seven 3-ton Lorries in different configurations optimised for the carriage of OFP Stores. On 4 August 1941 Knox was transferred into the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) as the Officer Commanding of the NZ OFP and granted the rank of Temporary Major whilst holding that appointment.

An OFP was a mobile mini Ordnance Depot with its stock held on vehicles (on wheels) consisting of;

  • Assemblies and spare parts of “A” and “B” vehicles and equipment’s required by mobile workshops for repair purposes, and
  • Advanced holdings of certain “A” and “B” vehicles for replacement purposes

An OFP’s holdings would constitute a forward portion of the stocks of the Base Ordnance Depot.

The NZ OFP war diary for August and September records that those months were spent receiving intakes of scalings from various Base Ordnance Depots and receiving personnel and vehicles.

On 7 October, the NZ OFP deployed from the comfort of Maadi Camp into a new position in the location in the vicinity of Bagush. The NZ OFP undertook routine duties interspaced with rifle and Bren gun training periods for the remainder of October.

During November 1941, the NZ OFP would operate in support of the NZ Division during Operation Crusader. Operation Crusade was a significant allied operation to destroy Axis armoured forces in the Cyrenaica region of Libya and lift the siege of Tobruk.

Attached to the NZ Div Workshops as part of the admin group under the NZ Div CRASC, Operation Crusader was a harsh introduction to the realities of mobile logistics in the harsh terrain and climate of the Western Desert.

NZ OFP on the move. Noel Kreggher Collection

Throughout November, the NZ OFP was on the move every couple of days, and after a final push of seven days of hard desert travel, entered the outer defences of Tobruk at 0730 on 29 November 1941. Under enemy shell fire for two days, Knox placed the NZ OPF into dispersal locations and confirmed with 70 Div HQ the final placement of the NZ OFP.   At about 0930, while conducting a recce of the final dispersal area, Knox’s vehicle ran over a mine. The vehicle was a complete wreck with Knox injured in the leg and immediately evacuated to Casualty Clearing Station and then to 62 General Hospital. At about 1430, the NZ OFP moved to a new location in a derelict vehicle park on the edge of Tobruk township. The NZ OFP remained in Tobruk until 7 December, when it redeployed back to Baghish.

On 5 December 1941, alongside 380 wounded allied soldiers, of whom ninety-seven were New Zealanders, 100 German and Italian Prisoners of War and 120 crew, Knox was evacuated on the SS Chakdina. Unfortunately, several hours after clearing Tobruk, the SS Chakdina was attacked by an Italian S.79 torpedo bomber. A torpedo hit the SS Chakdina, exploding in one of the after holds sinking the vessel in three and a half minutes. Around 400 men were drowned, with only eighteen of the ninety-seven New Zealanders were rescued, with the remainder, including Knox, presumed drowned.

Lost at sea, Knox has no known grave and is commemorated at the Alamein Memorial in Egypt. Listed as a member of the New Zealand Artillery until 2019, he has been recognised as a member of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

For his cumulative WW1 military service, Knox was awarded the following medals.

  • 1914-1915 Star
  • British War Medal, 1914-20
  • Victory Medal, 1914-18 (w.MID)
  • 1939-1945 Star
  • Africa Star
  • Defence Medal
  • British War Medal
  • New Zeland War Service Medal. 1939-1945
  • New Zeland Territorial Service Medal


The Legend of Saint Barbara

A patron saint is an individual who in the Christian tradition is considered to be the heavenly advocate for groups of the faithful (families, parishes, regions, countries).

The tradition of patron saints traces its origins back to the Roman Empire and the building of the first public churches. As many of these churches were built over the graves of martyrs, they were given the name of the martyr, with the expectation that the martyr would act as an advocate for the Christians who worshipped there.

By the Middle Ages, organisations began to adopt patron saints to seek the protection of heaven for the ordinary interests of the organisation and for the health of members of that organisation.

Adopting the tradition of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Saint Barbara was adopted as the Patron Saint of the RNZAOC.

Saint Barbara’s day is commemorated on the 4th of December.

The Legend of Saint Barbara

St. BarbaraLiving during the reign of the Roman Emperor Maximian, (305-311) Saint Barbara was from Heliopolis in the Roman province of  Phoenice, which is now Baalbek in modern Lebanon. Living in the time when the Roman Empire was transitioning between paganism and Christianity, Barbara came from a wealthy merchant family following the beliefs of Roman polytheism.  Her father was a rich and well-known merchant named Dioscorus, who after the death of his wife devoted himself to his only daughter.

Barbara was not only extremely beautiful and extremely intelligent, and her father vowed to protect her from the outside world by imprisoning her in a tower, forbidding her to associate with anyone apart from teachers and servants who had instructions that she be taught how to worship to the pagan gods. The view from the tower was a picturesque one of wooded hills, rivers and fields covered in colourful flowers stretching as far as the eye could see. With such a view Barbara soon questioned the creation of such a beautiful world. Over time, Barbara became convinced that the idols she had been taught about were merely the work of human hands and could not have made the surrounding world. As she was reaching adulthood Dioscorus began to seek out suitors and potential husbands for his daughter. Refusing them all, she warned her father that she was seeking something else and that his insistence on marriage could forever damage their relationship.

Sensing some conflict in his daughter, Dioscorus allowed Barbara some freedom and hoped that by allowing her to leave the tower she would change her attitude. Using the opportunity to meet new people, Barbara was soon mixing with people from the emerging religion of Christianity.  Learning about the message of Jesus, the Holy Trinity and the Christian Church, Barbara was converted and baptized by a priest from Alexandria who to avoid detection was disguised as a merchant.

Accepting Barbara’s new freedom, but still not knowing that she had been baptized Dioscorus took the opportunity to depart on some business travels, leaving instructions for a private bathhouse to be built for his daughter. Originally planned to have only two windows, Barbara inspired by her new religion had the workers add in an additional window, to represent the Christian Holy Trinity. Barbara’s bathhouse became a place of healing, with many miracles occurred there. The 10-century scholar St. Simeon Metaphrastes placed it on an even footing to the stream of Jordan.

Returning from his travels Dioscorus returned to find the bathhouse built to a different design and the news was broken to him by Barbara that she was rejecting the worship of his idols and that she had been baptized as a Christian. Upset with this revelation, knowing the shame it would bring on to him, Dioscorus fell into a fit of rage, taking his sword with the intention of striking Barbara.

Running away before her father could strike her, Barbara headed for the hills with her father in pursuit. Chasing after his daughter, Dioscorus pursuit was cut short when a hill blocked his way. According to legend the hill had opened and hid Barbara within a crevice. Continuing to search for his daughter to no avail, Dioscorus sought the help of two local shepherds. The first, knowing where Barbara was denied any knowledge of her whereabouts, the second knowing of Dioscorus wealth and possible reward, betrayed Barbaras location to her father, for his betray legend has it that he was turned to stone and his flock was turned into locusts.

Kalteysen_St._Barbara_Altarpiece_(detail)

The Torture of Saint Barbara

Finding his daughter, Dioscorus locked her up whilst starving and beating her. Given that being a Christian was then a crime, Dioscorus had little choice but to hand Barbara over to the prefect of the city, Martianus. With the cooperation of Dioscorus, Martianus continued with the beatings and torture. Refusing to renounce her Christian faith, Barbara prayed to Jesus. As the beatings continued during the day, each night her wounds were miraculously healed. Infuriated that her wounds were healing, Martianus subjected her to new tortures to convince her to renounce the Christian faith. Refusing Barbar drew strength from her prayers and stood firm. These tortures were carried out in the public arena and as Barbara was being tortured a virtuous Christian woman in the crowd called Juliana took sympathy on Barbara.  Inspired by Barbara’s voluntary martyrdom on behalf of all Christians, Juliana denounced the torturers in a loud voice, resulting in her seizure and torture alongside Barbara.

saint-barbara-death

The Execution of Saint Barabra

Both women were now being repeatedly tortured with their bodies were raked and wounded with hooks and stripped naked and paraded through the city where they were greeted by derision and jeers.  Holding out and not forsaking their faith, Barbara continued to pray, and legend has it that an angel appeared and covered their nakedness with a splendid robe and extinguished torches that were about to be used to burn the pair.

Tiring of the lack of progress with the torture, Martianus ordered the execution of the pair. Barbara and Juliana were beheaded on the 4th of December, with the final blow to Barbara delivered by Dioscorus. Another Christian, Valentinus buried Barbara with her tomb becoming the site of many miracles.  Dioscorus and Martianus were also punished, as it is said that shortly after the execution they were struck down and killed by lightning, seen by many as God’s revenge for the killings.

Patronage

Barbara seems to have been canonized by the seventh century and her story introduced to Britain during the time of the Crusades.

Saint Barbara’s association with the lightning that killed her father established her association with lightning and fire. As Christianity became firmly established, Saint Barbara was invoked as a protectress against the perils of lightning. When gunpowder was introduced in the Western world, this led to her adoption as the patroness of artillerymen. Eventually, her patroness would be extended to many who were in danger of sudden death, including firefighters, sailors, armourers, military engineers, gunsmiths, tunnellers, miners and warehouse workers.

Given the Royal Army Ordnance Corps association with explosives and artillery, Saint Barbara was adopted as the Patron Saint of the RAOC, a tradition that was carried over to many of the Commonwealth Ordnance Corps including the RNZAOC.

A New Zealand Ordnance Connection to Saint Barbara

Surprisingly, there is a connection between the New Zealand Ordnance Corps and Saint Barbara. During the Second World War, C Section of the New Zealand Divisional Ordnance Field Park and the NZ Advanced Ordnance Depot would spend a brief time deployed in the vicinity Baalbek in modern-day Lebanon, which is the attributed as the place where St Barbara lived.

St. Barbara

Saint Barbara of Heliopolis of Phoenicia

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017


Plastic Royal Army Ordnance Corps Badge

Tales from the Supply Depot

By far the biggest users of plastic cap badges in World War II were the Corps units, such as the Royal Army Service Corps, Royal Corps of Signals and the subject of today’s post, the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. These units were all very large when compared to the size of infantry regiments and so the initial investment in tooling up moulds to make plastic cap badges from was well rewarded by the large number of badges that would be needed. This also ensured the maximum saving in brass, as these units would have eaten up far more of this precious resource in cap badges than any infantry unit. The badges were generally copied directly from the standard brass badges, albeit thicker to allow the necessary depth of material to keep the badge’s strength and give enough material to attach the fixing lugs to. The badge of the RAOC consisted…

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New Zealand Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London

The New Zealand Ordnance Corps in the course of its 80-year history established and maintained Ordnance Depots in many unique locations. The Base Ordnance Depot in Trentham became acknowledged as the home of the Corps; the New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot in Singapore the most exotic, and all Corps members have fond memories of the depots in Ngaruawahia, Waiouru, Linton and Burnham. This article will examine one of the least known of New Zealand’s Ordnance Depots, the First World War Farringdon Road Depot.

The NZEF of the 1914-1919 war was organised and equipped in such a way so that when mobilised it could comfortably fit into the British Imperial Army alongside British, Australian, Canadian and other troops from throughout the British Empire. In the early days of the war Ordnance support was provided by British AOC[1] Divisional/Corps depots, and although satisfactory the need for the NZEF to have an internal Ordnance organisation to cater for New Zealand specific items was recognised. Subsequently, regulations formally announcing the establishment of the NZAOC[2], as a unit of NZEF[3] were published in February 1916[4]. Moving with the NZEF to Europe the NZAOC consisted of three distinct elements;

  • NZAOC Administrative staff based at the NZEF headquarters at Bloomsbury Square, London consisting of
    • the NZEF Assistant ADOS[5], who was also the Officer Commanding NZEF Ordnance Corps.
    • Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom.
    • A staff of clerks, storekeepers and
  • The New Zealand Division DADOS[6] and Staff, including personnel attached to Brigades.
  • NZAOC Staff of the ANZAC Mounted Brigade in Palestine.

As the NZEF NZAOC staff in the United Kingdom became established, taking under its wing support responsibility for the numerous New Zealand Camps, Hospitals and convalescent facilities dispersed throughout the United Kingdom. To centralise and manage Ordnance support it became necessary to establish a New Zealand Ordnance Depot to support all New Zealand units based in the United Kingdom.

NZEF in UK
‘NZEF in England 1916-19 map’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/nzef-england-1916-19-map, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Dec-2016

What was required was a depot in a central location, near the NZEF Headquarters and with road and railway access to the New Zealand Camps and establishments and the ability to quickly link into the AOC logistic infrastructure and RAOC depots such as;

On the 25th of October 1916, the Officer Commanding, London District Authorised the NZEF, under the Defence of the Realm Act to take over the premises of Mr H Fisher and Mr J Fisher at 30 and 32 Farringdon Road[7] as an Ordnance Store. Located 1.5km from the NZEF Headquarters, the NZ Ordnance Depot was well situated on one of the leading north/south roads through London, with easy access to other arterial routes. Adjacent to the Metropolitan Railway, the Ordnance depot had easy access to Farringdon Passenger station and the Metropolitan Railway Goods Station[8]. The intent was to occupy the building from the 7th of November 1916. Still, due to issues securing the key and having the utilities such as water and electricity connected, the final occupation did not occur until the 27th of November. Records indicate the Depot started operations on the 1st of December 1916.

NOTE:  Originally numbered as part of Farringdon Road, Nos 30 and 32 were renamed as  30 Farringdon Lane in 1979.

Faddingdon
Faddingdon 3D
New Zealand Ordnance Depot, 30-32 Farrington Road, London. Map data ©2018 Google, Imagery ©2018 Google

Overall command of the Depot rested with the Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom, Captain (later Major) Norman Levien. The Officer in charge of the Depot for most of its existence was Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor), Arthur Gilmore[9]. Posted to the Depot in November 1916 Conductor Gilmore would, apart from a six-month secondment to the Ordnance Depot at Sling Camp and three months sick leave due to Influenza would remain at the Depot until its closure in late1919[10]. Conductor Gilmore was promoted to Second Lieutenant on the 1st of February 1919.

The bulk of the stocks held by the Depot consisted of clothing and necessaries of all descriptions. Clothing was a mixture of;

  • New items purchased from the RACD[11] at Pimlico,
  • New items purchased for civilian manufactures, often at a cheaper rate than from the RACD, In the year up to December 1917 total savings of £31532.7.10(approximately 2018 NZD$3,763,454.27) were made by establishing contracts for clothing with civilian suppliers rather than purchasing from the RACD.
  • Cleaned and repaired items from Salvage stocks,

As members of the New Zealand Division started leave rotations to the United Kingdom from the front lines in Belgium and France, the condition of their clothing was found to be unsatisfactory. Under the instructions of the NZ General Officer Commanding, further accommodation for the Depot was secured for the reception of troops from the front on leave. This facility allowed troops as they arrived from the front, to rid themselves of their dirty, often vermin-infested uniforms, have a hot bath and receive a fresh issue of underwear and uniforms. As troops arrived on leave with their spare kit, ammunition, arms and equipment, A secure kit store was available for the holding of these items. As this reception store was developed, the New Zealand Soldiers Club and the New Zealand War Contingent Association set up facilities to provide hot drinks and the option to receive instruction on the use of prophylactic outfits[12].

20180426_220053-999293972

The following items are an example of the types and quantities of the stores received by the Farringdon Road Depot over the Period 1 December 1916 to 1 August 1919;

stock

With the Armistice in November 1918, the activities of the Depot started to wind down. Undergoing a full audit in July 1919, outstanding orders cancelled, stocks either returned to New Zealand, returned to RAOC Depots for credits, sold or destroyed with the Depot closed by November 1919 ending an early chapter of the New Zealand Ordnance story.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

20180605_195417-190082474.jpg
New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Badge, 1916-1919 (Robert McKie Collection 2017)

Notes

[1] Army Ordnance Corps

[2] New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps

[3] New Zealand Expeditionary Force

[4] “Road to Promotion “, Evening Post, Volume XCI, Issue 29, 4 February 1916.

[5] Assistant Director of Ordnance Service

[6] Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Service

[7] Now Farrington Lane  “Insurance Plan of London Vol. Vi: Sheet 128,” ed. British Library (Chas E Goad Limited, 1886).

[8] “Farringdon Road,” in Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell, Ed. Philip Temple (London: London County Council, 2008), 358-384. British History Online, Accessed April 25, 2018, Http://Www.British-History.Ac.Uk/Survey-London/Vol46/Pp358-384..”

[9] “Personnel Records “Arthur Gilmore”,”  (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, Archive Reference AABK 18805 W5568 0135616).

[10] Arthur Gilmore, “Audit Farringdon Road Ordnance Stores for Period Ended 17 July 1919,” (Wellington: Archives New Zealand  Record Group WA1 Record No 2/13, 1919).

[11] The Royal Army Clothing Depot, Pimlico, was the main supplier of Uniforms for the British Army from 1855 until 1932.

[12] Captian Norman Levein, “Report of Ordnance Officer on Administration of Ordnance Department for 1917,” (Wellington: Archives New Zealand Record Group WA1 Record No 2/13, 1918).


New Zealand Arms to Afghanistan

Following the war in South Africa, the British Empire was at the height of its power and prestige. The Royal Navy ruled the oceans, and if British interests were threatened on land, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had proven their commitment to support the empire by contributing men and materiel. As the economic powerhouse of the empire, British India was the most significant jewel in the British Imperial crown. However, British India’s confidence that it had the support of British dominions was put to the test in 1909 when it was discovered that firearms from Australia and New Zealand were being provided to tribes on the North-West Frontier who were actively opposed to the interests of British India. So how did firearms from New Zealand end up in the hands of Pathan Tribesmen on the borders of modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan?

As the New Zealand military reorganised and reequipped following the war in South Africa, new uniforms and equipment would be introduced and the .303inch cartridge adopted as the standard calibre for rifles, carbines and machine guns, resulting in the Defence Stores holding over 17,000 Snider, Martin-Henry and Remington Lee rifles, carbines and accoutrements and just under a million rounds of obsolete ammunition. The disposal of this stockpile was the most significant disposal of Arms and Ammunition undertaken by the Defence Stores throughout its existence which would have the unintended consequence of arming Pathan tribesmen on the borders of British India.

Snider rifles had been introduced into New Zealand service from 1868.

Top: Snider Long Rifle, Middle: Snider Medium (Hay) Rifle, Bottom: Snider Short (Sword) Rifle Photo J Osborne New Zealand Arms Register. http://www.armsregister.com/

The Sniders would serve thru to 1890 when they began to be superseded by Martini-Henry rifles and carbines.

Rifle, Martini-Henry, 1896, Enfield, by Royal Small Arms Factory. Gift of the Police Department, date unknown. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Te Papa (DM000372)

The introduction of cordite or smokeless powder ushered in the introduction of the .303 Martini-Enfield rifle leading to the progressive withdrawal of the Sniders and Martini-Henrys following the introduction of bolt action Lee Metford and Enfield rifles. With sufficient .303 calibre Martini-Enfield’s and an increasing amount of bolt action, magazine-fed Lee Metford and Enfield rifles available to arm the forces and provide a reserve, the Defence Council authorised a Board of Survey to be formed to investigate the disposal of the obsolete Sniders and Martinis in store.[1] In addition to Sniders and Martinis, there was also a quantity of .340 Remington-Lee rifles. In a bold move to provide New Zealand’s forces with the most modern of rifles, these were imported into New Zealand in 1887. However, due to unsatisfactory ammunition, the Remington-Lees were withdrawn from service in 1888.

Sitting in early 1907 and consisting of three officers, the Board of Survey weighed up the options for the disposal of the stockpile of obsolete weapons. Dumping the entire stock at sea was considered, but an anticipated outcry from the New Zealand press, who would have viewed this means of disposal as another example of needless government waste, ruled out this option. A small but guaranteed financial benefit resulted in sale by tender being decided upon as the most practical means of disposal.[2]

The early 20th Century was a turbulent time in world history. The late 19th-century race by the European powers had left them all fighting colonial bush wars to suppress opposition and maintain control in their various colonial possessions. In Eastern Europe, the Balkans were aflame as the former European vassals of the Ottoman empire fought the Turks and each other as they struggled to gain their independence. Closer to New Zealand, as the emerging American and Japanese empires undertook colonial expansion in the Philippines and Korea, conflict and insurrection ensured and would only be quelled by the most brutal measures.

In this environment, the New Zealand Government was cognisant that there was a ready market for firearms, however as the Arms Act of New Zealand limited the bulk export of weapons from New Zealand, the conditions of the tender were clear that for any arms not purchased for use in New Zealand, the remainder were not to be exported to any country or place other than Great Britain.

The entire stock of firearms was stored at the Defence Stores at Wellington and packed 50 to 90 weapons per case. The tender terms allowed tenderers to quote for not less than 100 of any weapon. The quantities and types of weapons were,

  • .577 Snider rifles, short sword bayonets with scabbards – 6867
  • .577 Snider rifles, long – 978
  • .577 Snider carbines, artillery; sword bayonets with scabbards – 1957
  • .577 Snider carbines, cadet – 849
  • .577 Snider carbines, cavalry – 669
  • .577/450 Martini-Henry rifles, sword bayonets with scabbards – 4686
  • .577/450 Martini-Henry carbines – 520
  • Enfield carbines, Sword bayonets and scabbards – 103
  • .340 Remington Lee Rifles – 840
  • Swords, cavalry, with scabbards – 600

The ammunition was all of the black powder types, which, when fired, created a large amount of smoke exposing the rifleman’s position. An interesting ammunition type included in the tender was 106,000 rounds of Gardner-Gatling ammunition. This ammunition had been imported in the late 1880s as part of a demonstration lot, resulting in the purchase of a single Gardiner Machine Gun by the New Zealand Government. The ammunition was stored in the magazines at Wellington and Auckland, with the tender terms allowing bids of less than 50,000 rounds of any mixture of ammunition. The ammunition types tendered were.

  • .577/450 Martini-Henry, ball, rifle, solid case – 189000 rounds
  • .577/450 Martini-Henry, ball, rifle, rolled case – 170000 rounds
  • .577/450 Martini-Henry, ball, carbine, rolled case – 120000 rounds
  • .577/450 Martini-Henry, blank – 240000 rounds
  • .577 Snider Ball – 150000 rounds
  • .45 Gardner Gatling, ball – 106,000 rounds

Notice of the tender was published by the Director of Military Stores, Captain James O’Sullivan, in the New Zealand press from 4 June 1907, with 14 June set as the final day for bids.[3]

The Tender Board accepted the highest tender in July 1907 with all the arms purchased by a Manchester firm through their New Zealand agents.

Much of the powder within the ammunition had caked and was unsuitable for use, leading to a significant part of the stocks being broken down into salvageable components in New Zealand. Under the supervision of Captain O’Sullivan, a record of each weapon was taken, recording the brands and serial numbers stamped on each weapon. As the weapons were packed into cases, the contents of each case were also recorded. The entire consignment was loaded onto the S.S. Mamari at Wellington, which sailed directly to London via the New Zealand Shipping Company’s usual route.  Included in the mail carried on the same voyage was a notification to the War Office in England providing complete shipment details. Providing these details to the War Office was not obligatory and only made on Captain O’Sullivan initiative. Four months later, the War Office received a reply asking why they had been sent all that information.

Approximately £6000 (2021 NZ$1,095,722) was realised by the entire sale of arms and ammunition.

Captain O’Sullivan’s attention to detail in dispatching the New Zealand firearms to England would prove wise when in May 1909, the Calcutta Englishman, the leading daily newspaper in India, published an article stating that Weapons bearing Australian and New Zealand markings had been smuggled across the Pathan border.[4]

Rifle, Martini-Henry, 1896, Enfield, by Royal Small Arms Factory. Gift of the Police Department, date unknown. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Te Papa (DM000372)

While the Calcutta Englishman was accurate in its report that weapons bearing Australian and New Zeland Military markings had been found in the hands of Pathan tribesmen. The path the New Zealand weapons had taken to India was not the result of poor accounting by New Zealand’s Defence Stores, but rather the shady dealing of British second-hand arms dealers.


Notes

[1] “Defence Forces of New Zealand: Report by the Council of Defence and Extracts from the Report of the Inspector-General of the NZ Defence Forces, for the Year Ended 28th February 1908,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1909 Session II, H-19  (1909).

[2] “The Smuggled Rifles,” Star (Christchurch), Issue 9546, 19 May 1909.

[3] “Obsolete Arms,” New Zealand Times, Volume XXIX, Issue 6231, 10 June 1907.

[4] “Australasian Arms Smuggled into India,” Evening News (Sydney, NSW ) 12 May 1909.



Principle posts of the RNZAOC and its predecessors

The core responsibility of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps and its predecessors was the supply and maintenance of arms, ammunition, accoutrements, clothing, and field equipment to New Zealand’s Military Forces. From 1840 the principal posts of the RNZAOC and its predecessors were.

Colony of New South Wales, Colonial Storekeeper for New Zealand

  • Mr C.H.G Logie                                                15 Jan 1840 – 1 Oct 1840

Colony of New Zealand, Colonial Storekeeper       

  • Mr H Tucker                                                    1 Oct 1840 – 30 Dec 1843

From 1844 the needs of the Militia were facilitated on an ad-hoc basis by the Colonial Secretary based upon requests from provincial magistrates.  

Colonial Secretaries of New Zealand (30 Dec 1843 to 28 May 1858)

  • Willoughby Shortland 3 May 1841 – 31 Dec 1943
  • Andrew Sinclair                                                 6 Jan 1844 – 7 May 1856
  • Henry Sewell                                                      7 May 1856 – 20 May 1856
  • John Hall                                                           20 May 1856 – 2 Jun 1856
  • William Richmond                                           2 Jun 1856 – 4 Nov 1856
  • Edward Stafford                                               4 Nov 1856 – 12 Jul 1861

Supporting the Imperial Forces in New Zealand since 1840, the Board of Ordnance had established offices in Auckland during 1842, ensuring the provision of Imperial military units in New Zealand with munitions, uniforms and necessities. The Board of Ordnance was reorganised on 1 February 1857 into a new organisation called the Military Store Department. Headquartered at Fort Britomart in Auckland, the Military Store Department principal role alongside the commissariat was to support the Imperial Garrison; however, it would support colonial forces on a cost-recovery basis when necessary.  With the departure of the British Military Storekeeper Joseph Osbertus Hamley in July 1870, the withdrawal of Imperial Forces was completed.

Board of Ordnance, Military Storekeeper

  • Deputy Ordnance Storekeeper W Plummer              1842 – 1 February 1857

Military Store Department

  • Deputy Superintendent of Stores W. Plummer          1 February 1857 – 4 March 1879(Deceased in office)
  • Deputy Superintendent of Stores J.O Hamley           4 March 1858 – 30 July 1870

The passing of the Militia Act of 1858 saw the Militia reorganised, and Volunteer units were authorised to be raised. The Deputy Adjutant General of Militia and Volunteers oversaw the administration, including the supply and distribution of arms, ammunition, accoutrements, clothing, and field equipment to the Militia and Volunteers.

Deputy Adjutant General of Militia and Volunteers

  • Capt H.C Balneavis                                                           28 May 1858 – 18 Sep 1862

On 18 September 1862, the Colonial Defence Act was passed, establishing the first regular military units in New Zealand.  Under the Quartermaster General of the Colonial Defence Force, Captain Robert Collins, the Colonial Store Department under the Colonial Storekeeper, and the Militia Store Department under the Superintended of Militia Stores maintained a separation between the Militia/Volunteers and Regulars absorbing the rudimentary stores’ organisation of the Deputy Adjutant General of Militia and Volunteers. The two departments would be amalgamated into the Colonial Store Department in 1865.

Militia Store Department

  • Superintendent of Militia Stores, Capt E.D King              18 September 1862 – 30 October 1865

Colonial Store Department

  • Colonial Storekeeper Capt J Mitchell                    18 September 1862- 1 April 1869

The Armed Constabulary Act was passed in 1867, which combined New Zealand’s police and military functions into a regular Armed Constabulary (AC) Force, supported by loyal natives, Militia and Volunteer units. The Inspector of Defence store appointment was created in 1869 to manage all New Zealand’s Defence Stores as the single New Zealand Defence Stores organisation.

Inspector of Defence Stores (Defence Stores)                                        

  • Lt Col E Gorton                                                                  1 Apr 1869 – 9 Jan 1877
Lieutenant Colonel Edward Gorton

Defence Storekeeper (Defence Stores)

  • Capt S.C Anderson                                                                9 Jan 1877 – 7 Dec 1899 (Deceased in office)
Captain Sam Anderson
  • Mr J O’Sullivan                                                                  7 Dec 1899 – 1 Jan 1907
CAPTAIN O’SULLIVAN (Storekeeper Defence Department, Wellington).,NZ Truth, Issue 304, 22 April 1911

During the 1880s, New Zealand undertook a rearmament and fortification program that was also a technological leap forward in terms of capability. The Defence Stores armourers and Arms Cleaners had maintained the colony’s weapons since 1861. However, the new equipment included machinery that functioned through pneumatics, electricity and steam power, requiring a skilled workforce to repair and maintain, resulting in a division of responsibility between the Defence Stores and Permanent Militia. The Defence Stores would retain its core supply functions with its armourers remaining responsible for repairing Small Arms.  With some civilian capacity available, the bulk of the repairs and maintenance of the new equipment would be carried out by uniformed artificers and tradespeople recruited into the Permanent Militia.

From October 1888, the Staff Officer of Artillery and Inspector of Ordnance, Stores and Equipment would be responsible for all Artillery related equipment, with the Defence Storekeeper responsible for all other Stores. However, during the late 1890s, the Defence Storekeeper would assume responsibility for some of the Artillery related stores and equipment of the Permanent Militia.

Inspector of Stores and Equipment

  • Maj A.P Douglas                                              24 Aug 1887 – 23 Jan 1891

In 1907 a significant command reorganisation of the Defence Forces defined the responsibilities of the Director of Artillery Services (Ordnance) and Director of Stores.

  • Director of Artillery Services (Ordnance): Responsible for:
    • Artillery armament,
    • Fixed coast defences,
    • Artillery ammunition, and
    • Supplies for ordnance.
  • Director of Stores: Responsible for:
    • Clothing and personal equipment,
    • Accoutrements,
    • Saddlery,
    • Harness,
    • Small-Arms,
    • Machine Guns,
    • Small-arms and Machine gun ammunition,
    • Material,
    • Transport,
    • Vehicles,
    • Camp Equipment,
    • All other stores required for the Defence Forces.

Director of Military Stores (Defence Stores)                                                 

  • Capt J O’Sullivan                                                               1 Jan 1907 – 30 Mar 1911

Director of Ordnance and Artillery

  • Maj G.N Johnston                                                            28 Feb 1907 – 31 May 1907
  • Capt G.S Richardson                                                        31 May 1907 – 31 Jul 1908

Director of Artillery

  • Maj J.E Hume                                                                     31Jul 1908 – 31 Mar 1911

In 1911, provisional regulations were promogulated further detailing the division of responsibilities between the Quartermaster Generals Branch (to whom the Defence Stores was subordinate) and the Director of Ordnance and Artillery.  Based on these new regulations, the Director of Artillery (Ordnance) assumed overall responsibility for managing Artillery stores and ammunition on 2 August 1911.

Director of Equipment and Stores (Defence Stores)                        

  • Maj J O’Sullivan                                                 30 Mar 1911 – 10 Apr 1916

Director of Ordnance and Artillery

  • Maj G.N Johnston                                                            11 May 1911- 8 Aug 1914

To maintain and manufacture artillery ammunition, the Royal NZ Artillery established an Ordnance Section in 1915. The section immediately transferred to the NZAOC in 1917, with the RNZA maintaining technical control. By 1929, most artificers and tradespeople had been transferred from the RNZA into the NZAOC. The final RNZA store’s function would be transferred to the NZAOC in 1946 when the RNZA Ammunition and Equipment Section based in Army Headquarters handed over responsibility for artillery ammunition, explosives, coast artillery and specialist equipment and stores, including some staffing to the NZAOC.

The Defence Stores would remain as New Zealand’s military storekeepers until 1 February 1917 when the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) and the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) were established as part of the Permanent Staff of the Defence Forces of New Zealand, assuming the responsibilities Defence Stores.

The NZAOD would be reconstituted into the NZAOC on 27 June 1924.

Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores (Defence Stores & NZAOC) 

  • Maj T McCristell                                                                10 Apr 1916 – 30 Jan 1920          
Major Thomas James McCristell, Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores, 10 April 1916 – 20 January 1920.

Director of Ordnance Stores (NZAOC)

  • Lt Col H.E Pilkington                                                        30 Jan 1920 – 1 Oct 1924
  • Lt Col T.J King                                                                     1 Oct 1920 – 6 Jan 1940
Brigadier T J King, CBE, RNZAOC Regimental Colonel 1 Jan 1949 – 31 Mar 1961. RNZAOC School
  • Lt Col W.R Burge                                                              6 Jan 1940 – 22 June 1940

Chief Ordnance Officer (NZAOC)

  • Maj H.E Erridge                                                                 22 Jun 1940 – 3 Aug 1941
Major H.E Erridge
  • Lt Col E.L.G Bown                                                             5 Aug 1941 – 1 Oct 1947

In the Post-war era, the NZAOC would be granted Royal status on 12 July 1947, becoming the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC). For the next forty-five years, the Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) would be responsible for the personnel, equipment and training of the RNZAOC.

Director of Ordnance Services (RNZAOC)

  • Lt Col A.H Andrews                                                         1 Oct 1947 – 11 Nov 1949
Lt Col A.H Andrews. OBE, RNZAOC Director of Ordnance Services, 1 Oct 1947 – 11 Nov 1949. RNZAOC School
  • Lt Col F Reid                                                                       12 Nov 1949 – 31 Mar 1957
  • Lt Col H Mck Reid                                                             1 Apr 1958 – 11 Nov 1960
  • Lt Col E Whiteacre                                                           12 Nov 1960 – 24 May 1967
  • Lt Col J Harvey                                                                 24 May 1967 – 28 Aug 1968
  • Lt Col G.J.H Atkinson                                                     29 Aug 1968 – 20 Oct 1972
  • Lt Col M.J Ross                                                                 21 Oct 1972 – 6 Dec 1976
  • Lt Col A.J Campbell                                                          7 Dec 1976 – 9 Apr 1979
  • Lt Col P.M Reid                                                                 10 Apr 1979 – 25 Jul 1983
  • Lt Col T.D McBeth                                                            26 Jul 1983 – 31 Jan 1986
  • Lt Col G.M Corkin                                                             1 Feb 1986 – 1 Dec 1986
  • Lt Col J.F Hyde                                                                   2 Dec 1986 – 31 Oct 1987
  • Lt Col E.W.G Thomson                                                  31 Oct 1987 – 11 Jan 1990
  • Lt Col W.B Squires                                                          12 Jan 1990 – 15 Dec 1992

During the early 1990s, the New Zealand Army underwent several “rebalancing” activities, which saw the formation of regional Logistic Battalions and included the demise of the individual Corps Directorates.  

Filling the void left by the demise of the Corps Directorates, the post of Regimental Colonel was approved on 12 December 1992. The role of the Regimental Colonel of the RNZAOC was to.

  • Provide specialist advice when called for
  • Maintain an overview of Corps personnel matters, and
  • Provide a link between the Colonel Commandant of the RNZAOC and the Corps and support the Colonel Commandant.

Regimental Colonel (NZAOC)

  • Col T.D McBeth                                                                 15 Dec 1992 – 19 Sept 1994
  • Col L Gardiner                                                                   19 Sept 1994 – 9 Dec 1996

On 9 December 1996, the RNZAOC was amalgamated into the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR).

New Zealand Ordnance Corps during wartime

During the Frist World War, a New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps was established as a unit of the 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF)  

Officer Commanding NZEF NZAOC

  • Capt W.T Beck,                                                                  3 Dec 1914 – 31 Jan 1916
William Thomas Beck Circa 1921
  • Lt Col A.H Herbert,                                                          1 Feb 1916 – 31 Mar 1918
Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert, NZAOC. aucklandmuseum/Public Domain
  • Lt Col H.E Pilkington, RNZA                                           30 Jun 1918- 22 Jan 20
  • Temp Capt W.H Simmons,                                             20 Feb 20 – 13 Oct 1920

The Second World War would see all the Ordnance functions of the 2nd NZEF organised as the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC).

Officer Commanding 2nd NZEF NZOC in the Middle East and Europe

  • Lt Col T.J King                                                                     5 Jan 1940 – 10 Jul 1942
  • Maj A.H Andrews                                                             10 Jul 1942 – 1 Dec 1942
  • Lt Col J.O Kelsey                                                              1 Dec 1942 – 1 Feb 1946

Officer Commanding 2nd NZEF in the Pacific NZOC

  • Lt P.N Erridge                                                                   22 Nov 1940 – 9 May 1941
  • Lt S.A Knight                                                                       9 May 1941 – 8 Jan 1942
Lieutenant-Colonel Stanley Arthur Knight
  • Lt Col M.S Myers                                                              8 Jan 1942 – 24 Apr 1944
  • Lt Col S.A Knight                                                             24 Apr 1944 – 30 Oct 1944