Waimarino Defence Training Ground

Not really Ordnance related, but an interesting piece of New Zealand Military history trivia that few know about.

South-east of the New Zealand’s Volcanic Central Plateau under the shadow of Mount Ruapehu, Waiouru is a place familiar to almost every New Zealand Soldier. First used as a training area in the 1930s, Waiouru would become a permanent Camp in 1940 and until the late 1980s would be the largest Military camp in New Zealand, and remains today as the place where all New Zealand Soldiers undergo their initial soldier training. What is less well known is that Waiouru was not the first Military training area on the Central Plateau and was predated by the Waimarino Defence Training Ground. Located Sixty Kilometres north-west of the current Waiouru Training Area, the Waimarino Defence Training Ground would be in existence from 1911 until 1940.

The Defence Act of 1909 replaced the existing Volunteer System with the Territorial Army for the defence of New Zealand.[1] By 1911 the new system was coming to fruition and the need for dedicated training areas in the North and South Islands was identified, leading to the establishment of two large training areas. One would be in the Waimakariri district of the South Island and the other in the Waimarino district of the North Island.[2]


The Waimarino Defence Training Ground would have a final area of 27,486 acres and was situated west of the Tongariro National Park. With the Main Trunk Railway on its western boundary, the training area was ideally situated to receive and dispatch troops and equipment by railway and as such was reserved as a manoeuvre area only with no plans for the erecting of any permanent infrastructure. There is little evidence of the area being used as a training ground during the First World War as Featherston Military Camp and the surrounding environs in the Wairarapa was the principal training camp for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, but it is possible that the Waimarino Defence Training Ground was utilised by the Territorial Army.


Established in October 1887, the Tongariro National Park would be the first National Park in New Zealand and the fourth in the world. From its earliest years, there was a desire to grow the park to encompass as much of the unique flora and fauna of the central plateau that fell outside of the original park. Discussions to absorb parts of the Waimarino Defence Training Ground were held in 1918 followed by the passing of the Tongariro National Park Act in 1922. The Tongariro National Park Act saw the expansion of the Tongariro National Park including the addition of 15312 acres of the Waimarino Defence Training Ground into the National Park. The Tongariro National Park Amendment Act 1927 provided the Minister of Defence the right to use the National Park for training but only on the former Defence land that had existed before the 1922 Act.

The actual use of the Waimarino Defence Training Ground during the 1920s and ’30s is unknown but since the early 1930’s Waiouru to the South East had been used for Artillery training and by 1940 construction had started on permanent infrastructure at Waiouru. Now Surplus to Defence requirements the Waimarino Defence Training Ground declared no longer required for the purposes for which it had been acquired and the land was handed back to the crown for disposal.[3]




[1] I. C. McGibbon, The Path to Gallipoli: Defending New Zealand, 1840-1915 (GP Books, 1991), Non-fiction.

[2] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand: Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces for the Period from 7th December 1910 to 27th July 1911,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1911).

[3] “Waimarino Defence Training Ground,” NZ Gazette, No 118,  P 3440, 21 November 1940.


The Songs We Sang

Base on his book The songs we sang,  musician Les Cleveland accompanied by his group the D Day Dodgers released this collection of often very irreverent songs that were sung by New Zealand Servicemen during the Second World War in 1959.


In World War Two, New Zealand sent two infantry divisions overseas and supplied a great many and sailors for the Allied Forces. Though the war has been over for fifteen years, the songs are still with us.  Many of us have half-forgotten them; others will have heard only a few of them and these in a variety of versions – but all will listen to them with new interest, conscious that the songs speak with unfading humour and sentiment of difficult days, conscious too that they occupy a unique place in New Zealand music and folk-lore. they are sings that deserve to live again.

One of the paradoxes of World War Two was that while at any given moment ferocious struggles would be raging at widely separated points on the combined fronts, there would be thousands and thousands of other men who were uncommitted, killing time in bivouacs, camps and garrisons anywhere from Siberia to the Campbell Islands. Singing was one of the ways to fight boredom and relieve nervous tension.

The New Zealand formation, always a clannish, high spirited lot, soon developed their own unit traditions. A great many ballads and choruses emerged. Some of the most popular have been used on this recording.


This song was heard in units of the 3rd Divison who were stationed on the assorted Pacific Islands. At one stage their 8th Brigade Concert Party – a devoted group which, when not doing defence platoon duties, rattled around with a piano in a truck giving shows in the jungle – used this course as a theme, it was a wry denouement, for the Pacific troops were much given to irony and satire to relive and express the frustration and monotony of their duties.

“We’re the heroes of the night
And we’d rather drink than fight!
We’re the heroes of Bob Semple’s Fusiliers.”

Semple was a labour politician with a pungent, forthright turn of speech. He distinguished himself on the outbreak of the war by causing the Public Works Department, of which he was head to fabricate a tank out of some old steel plate and a crawler tractor. It took part in one military parade, broke down, and was never seen again.


A spirited and celebrated song, popular amongst all the troops in the Middle East, Especially the Kiwis.


This is a satire base on one of the red-hot grievances of the New Zealand Division in the Middle East. The Eighth Army was formed in September 1941. To qualify for a small metal figure eight which was worn on the Africa Star ribbon, it was necessary to have served in the Eighth Army on or after October 23 1942. But the formation had been fighting for a year prior to that arbitrary date so that all these men who had been knocked out with wounds, invalided out with illness or transferred to non-operational units were denied this small nut significant award. Some of them were veterans of the first desert battles, and their remarks were often voluble and loud when they saw less-worthy soldiers – including girls serving ice-cream in army canteen and “those who were in Palestine” wearing “the eight”.


Another sentimental song widely known and sung by troops in Egypt.


A Maori Battalion song which mentions a few of the many places in which they campaigned. Ngarimu was the famous Maori VC.


The adventures of the crew of this fabulous vessel constitute a saga with as many variations as there are singers and audiences.

MY A.25

A humorous piece about the hazard of deck landing on aircraft carriers. It was essentially a song of the Fleet Air Arm, the flying branch of the Royal Navy in which around 1000 New Zeland pilots and navigators served.  The A.25 was an Admiralty form on which a pilot had to attempt to explain away the circumstances of the crash he had walked- or swum – away from.

Other technical terms;

Batsman, the deck landing signals officer who directed planes in to land.
Goofers, a slang reference to a relatively safe vantage point from which it was possible to watch the sport of deck landing.
Cut, the final signal from the batsman to a pilot making a landing.
Barrier, a wire net to protect aircraft on the bow of the aircraft carrier from the over-enthusiastic efforts of pilots landing.
Booster, an accelerator catapult.
Supermarine, the firm of Vickers-Supermarine, makers of the Spitfire and Seafire aircraft.
Wings, an abbreviated term for the senior flying officer on the carrier.
Lee, Lee on Solent, wartime air station of the Fleet Air Arm.

A clever device combing light and a large curved mirror has now replaced the batsman- automation no less! With the advent of the angled deck, barriers are not normally required except in the event of a hook failure. They are now made of nylon.


A song which reflects the bitter feelings of many members of the original Eight Brigade Group which was hastily sent to Fiji when it was thought that Japanese Forces might reach that far in their Pacific drive. This garrison force was none-too-well supplied, it saw no action, and most of the men in it were soon tired of existing miserably in the tropics. Some of the weapons that wnt to Fiji were very old and worn. In the early stages, there were shortages of ammunition and other necessities, the song describes a celebrated incident which many soldiers insist actually occurred- a box of ammunition was open and found to contain lead head nails.


A kiwi variation of a traditional theme which sailors and troops have applied to a long list of warships and troop carriers. This particular one – The Monawai- was a liner which was used a good deal during the war to move troops. Soldiers always hate being on troop-ships. The food is poor, quarters are crowded and stuffy and some starch old naval type is always apt to demand that mess decks be scrubbed, water rationed or kits stowed in a certain way. The troops invariably felt that the regulations were designed for their personal inconvenience rather than the safety of the ship of the general furtherance of the war effort. The fact that the troops were occasionally wrong in the warmth which they objected to this regimentation did not affect their vehemence.



Captian W.S Keegan, No 2 Ordnance Depot

Like many of his age group who were keen to serve, William Saul Keegan was too young to see service in the First World War but would volunteer for service in the Second World War. Serving in the Permanent Forces in the early interwar era, Keegan would be transferred into the civil service in 1931 as part of the force reductions brought on by the great depression. Keegan would continue to serve as a civilian in the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham in the years leading up to the Second World War. Volunteering for service the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Keegan was found to have a medical condition which precluded overseas service but allowed him to serve at home. Commissioned into the New Zealand Temporary Staff and attached to the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, Keegan would continue to serve until 1947. Keegan’s service is significant in the history of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps as he was the wartime Officer Commanding of No 2 Ordnance Depot at Palmerston North and the First Officer Commanding of the Linton Camp Ordnance Depot that would remain a vital unit of the Corps until 1996.

William Saul Keegan was born in Wellington on 23 February 1900 to William and Susan Keegan. Keegan had one sibling Francis Martin Keegan who was born on 10 September 1903. Spending his early years in Wellington, Keegan would move with his parents to Otaki sometime after 1906 where he would attend the Otaki State School. In 1913 Keegan came sixth in the Wellington Education Board examinations, gaining him a scholarship to Wellington College.[1] During his time at Wellington College, Keegan would complete three years in the senior school cadets. In January 1917, Keegan passed the university matriculation examination with a pass in Matriculation, Solicitor’s general knowledge and Medical Preliminary.[2]  Despite passing the university entrance exams, Keegan did not attend university but was mobilised into the Temporary Section of the New Zealand Garrison Artillery (NZGA) where he would spend a year working in the Wellington forts.[3]

Keegan would begin his career in the Ordnance Corps on 30 August 1918, when he enlisted as a private into the Temporary Section of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) at Wellington and allocated the NZAOC Regimental Number 213. With the Armistice on 11 November 1918 ending the war, Keegan would miss out on seeing active service, but with the demobilisation of men, the closing down of training camps and the arrival of New Equipment from the United Kingdom to equip the peacetime army, Keegan’s position in the NZAOC was assured for the foreseeable future. Stuck down with influenza during the 1918 outbreak, Keegan would seem to make a full recovery but later in life developed health problems which might have developed as a result of influenza.

Ordnance 1918

The New Zealand Ordnance Corps 1918, Buckle Street Wellington. RNZAOC School


Promoted to Lance Corporal on 1 July 1919, Keegan would remain at Wellington until 1 April 1921 when as a consequence of the NZAOC shifting the bulk of its services to Trentham Camp, Keegan was relocated to Trentham Camp. It was during this time that Lieutenant C.I. Gossage returned from service as the DADOS of the NZ Division and introduced a modern cost accounting system based upon the best practices learnt during the war, and it is highly likely that in Keegan’s role in the clerical section he was involved in the introduction and upkeep of the new accounting system.

From 1919 in addition to his military duties, Keegan would also be an active participant in the community by serving on the committees of the Wellington College Old Boy Cricket Club, The Wellington College Old Boys Rugby Club and the Hutt Valley Lawn Tennis Association as a member, Treasurer or Auditor.[4] [5] [6] In the late 1930s, Keegan would also be a coach and president of the Upper Hutt Rugby Club [7] and Auditor of the Upper Hutt Cricket Association.[8]

Promote to Corporal on 1 July 1922, Keegan remained posted to the NZAOC Temporary Section until 1 August 1924 when he was enlisted into the Permanent Section of the NZAOC.  Sitting the two papers for promotion to NZAOC Sergeant (Clerical Section) Keegan attained a score of 82 and 83, leading to accelerated promotion to Sergeant on 1 October 1925. Keegan would sit the four examinations for promotion to Staff Sergeant in June 1926 with a score of 78,90,89 and 68, but would not be promoted to Staff Sergeant until 1 September 1929. The delay in promotion could be attributed to Keegan’s appearance in the Upper Hutt court on 18 April 1927 when he was fined £1 and costs of £10  after being found on the premises of the Provincial Hotel after opening hours by the Police.[9] Passing the four examinations for promotion to Staff Quartermaster Sergeant(SQMS) with a score of 98,76,98 and 80 in June 1930. Keegan would not attain the rank of SQMS as on 6 June 1930 he was convicted in the Wellington Magistrates court after been found in a state of intoxication while in charge of a motor-car receiving a fine of £20, costs £10 and mileage £2.  After a period, Keegan probably would have been promoted to SQMS, but the world-wide depression and economic recession led to the implementation of the Finance Act, 1930 would bring a sudden end to his time in uniform

Due to the world-wide depression and economic recession the Government was forced to savagely reduce the strength of the Army by using the provisions of section 39 of the Finance Act, 1930 (No. 2) where military staff could be either;

  • Transferred to the Civil staff, or
  • Retire on superannuation any member of the Permanent Force or the Permanent Staff under the Defence Act, 1909, or of the clerical staff of the Defence Department whose age or length of service was such that if five years was added thereto they would have been enabled as of right or with the consent of the Minister of Defence to have given notice to retire voluntarily.

Using this act, on the 31st of March 1931 the NZAOC lost;

  • Six officers and Thirty-Eight Other Ranks who were retired on superannuation
  • Seventy-four NZAOC staff (excluding officers and artificers) who were not eligible for retirement were transferred to the civilian staff to work in the same positions but at a lower rate of pay.

For the soldiers who were placed on superannuation, the transition was brutal with pensions recalculated at much lower rates and in some cases the loss of outstanding annual and accumulated leave. For the Soldiers such as Keegan who were transferred to the civilian staff, the transition was just as harsh with reduced rates of pay. The 31st of March 1931 was the blackest day in the History of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.

Keegan would continue to serve at the NZAOC Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Trentham in the role of Accountant throughout the 1930s. Keegan would marry Grace Helen Dalton on 27 March 1937 at St. John’s Church, Trentham. The wedding was a double wedding with Graces older sister Margaret.[10]

With the declaration of war in September 1939, Keegan immediate offered up his services, enlisting into the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force(2NZEF) with the rank of Lieutenant t in the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) on 5 October 1940. Selected to be the Ordnance Officer for the Base Ordnance Depot (BOD) for “B” Force (8th Brigade Group) of the NZEF which was destined to provide the garrison in Fiji, Keegan assembled with seven other ranks at Hopuhopu Camp.  A final medical board immediately before departure found evidence of a partially healed tubercular lesion in Keegan’s lungs which made him unfit for active service and he was classified as Grade 2, fit or home service.  Keegan’s appointment of Ordnance Office BOD 8 Brigade group was filled by a co-worker from the MOD, Mr Percival Nowell Erridge who was immediately commissioned as a Lieutenant in the NZEF.

Placed into a holding pattern and still on the strength of the NZEF, Keegan was sent to Waiouru, where he was employed as an advisor on accounting matters to the newly established Motor Transport Branch (MT Branch). Unfit for active Service but with skills that were desirable to the service, Keegan ceased to be seconded to the NZEF on 28 May 1941 and transferred into the New Zealand Temporary Staff (NZTS) and attached to the branch of the Quartermaster General, Army Headquarters Wellington. By April 1942 Keegan had been appointed as the Brigade Ordnance Officer for the 7th Infantry Brigade which had its headquarters at the Carterton showgrounds.

With Japans entry into the war on 7 December 1941, New Zealand mobilised as the threat of invasion loomed. To support the mobilised forces in the lower North Island the Central Districts Ordnance Depot was established at the Palmerston North showgrounds, and as of 1 March 1942 Keegan was appointed Ordnance Officer, Central Military District and Officer Commanding, Central Districts Ordnance Depot. On 1 May 1942 Keegan was promoted to Captain (Temporary) and 20 August 1942 the Central District Ordnance Depot was renamed No 2 Ordnance Depot with an establishment of three officers and eighty-one Other Ranks.

pnorth showgrounds 2

Palmerston North Showgrounds, Cuba Street, 1939. Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services

Keegan would attend along with one other Ordnance Officer, Two Artillery Officers and Thirteen Infantry Officers the General Knowledge Course7/17 in December 1942. The ten-day course run by the Amy School of Instruction covered the following subjects;

  • Weapon Training – Characteristics of all Infantry Weapons
  • Anti-Gas – War gas, equipment, decontamination
  • Map reading – All lessons, night marches
  • Minor Tactics – Patrols, Day and Night
  • Fieldworks – Field Defences, Obstacles
  • P & RT – Bayonet Fighting
  • Drill – Individual, Mutual
  • Engineering – Bridging, Landmines, Traps, Demolition, Camouflage
  • Camp Sanitation – Field Hygiene
  • Demonstrations – Field Cooking, Live fore of all Infantry Weapons
  • Signals – Organisation and intercommunication in the field
  • Movement by MT – lectures and Practical work
  • Security
  • Discipline and Military Law
  • Patrols
  • Movement by road

By the end of 1944, the threat to New Zealand had passed, and the Territorial Army had been stood down, and their equipment returned to Ordnance.  Much of the Central Districts equipment was stored at No 2 Sub Depots premises in Palmerston North when disaster struck on 31 December 1944. Just after midnight, a fire destroyed a large portion of the Palmerston North Showgrounds display halls which housed much of the Ordnance Depot causing stock losses valued at £225700 ($18,639,824.86 2017 value). Keegan provided evidence to the court of enquiry in March 1945 with the court finding that with no evidence found of sabotage, incendiaries, or any interference the cause was judged to be accidental.

pnorth showgrounds

The aftermath of the December 1944 Showground fire. Evening Post

With the MOD in Trentham establishing a satellite Bulk Store at the new Linton Camp a few kilometres from South of Palmerston North, No 2 Sub Depot was seen to have served its wartime purpose and no longer necessary and the depot was closed down on 14 December 1945, and its functions assumed by MOD Trentham,  with some residual responsibility for finalising the accounts of No 2 Sub Depot, Keegan returned to Trentham as an Ordnance Officer at MOD.

From 31 July 1946 Keegan was placed in charge of a four Warrant Officers from MOD, and an SNCO from No 3 Depot, Burnham to stocktake No 10 MT Stores in Wellington before that units’ hand over to the Rehabilitation Department on 1 September 1946. Concurrent to Keegan carrying out this work in Wellington, recommendations that the MOD Bulk Stores located in Linton and Waiouru Camps were to be combined as a standalone Ordnance Depot were made. This proposal was agreed to by Army Headquarters, and No 2 Ordnance Depot was to be reconstituted on 1 October 1946 with the responsibility to provide Ordnance Support to Linton and Waiouru. Keegan was to return to No 2 Ordnance Depot as its first Officer Commanding on 16 September 1946 while also carrying out the duties of the Ordnance Officer of Headquarters Central Military District.

Keegan’s time in Linton would be short; the pressures of service since 1940 were become to have a toll on Keegan’s personal life and health. His wife had filed for legal separation during June 1946, and Keegan’s health was beginning to fail. Keegan’s health issues saw him medically downgraded and he was required to spend an increasing amount of time at Wellington hospital receiving treatment. On 26 April 1947 Keegan handed over command of No 2 Ordnance Depot to Captain Quartermaster L.H Stroud. Keegan would then assume a position with the War Asset Board on 30 April 1947 and was posted to the supernumerary List on 6 December 1947 and to the retired list with the rank of Captain on 11 November 1956.

Keegan would remain in the Wellington area as a public servant and at the time of his death was employed as a clerk for the Ministry of Works. Keegan passed away on 24 December 1963 and was cremated at the Karori Crematorium.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2019


[1] “District News,” Dominion, Volume 7, Issue 1961, 19 January 1914.

[2] “NZ University,” Evening Post, Volume XCIII, Issue 15, 17 January 1917.

[3] “William Saul Keegan,” Personal File, New Zealnd Defence Force Archives 1918.

[4] “Cricket,” New Zealand Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 10396, 29 September 1919.

[5] “Old Boys Football Club,” Evening Post, Volume CI, Issue 59, 10 March 1921.

[6] “Lawn Tennis,” Evening Post, Volume CX, Issue 68, 17 September 1930.

[7] “Annual Meeting Upper Hutt Rugby Club,” Upper Hutt Weekly Review, Volume III, Issue 14, 25 March 1938.

[8] “Upper Hutt Cricket Association Annual Meeting,” Upper Hutt Weekly Review, Volume II, Issue 43, 8 October 1937.

[9] “Upper Hutt Sitting,” Evening Post, Volume CXIII, Issue 90, 18 April 1927.

[10] “Weddings,” Evening Post, Volume CXXIII, Issue 127, 31 May 1937.

Dissection of a 1950s Equipment Tag

A military equipment tag from the1950s is an insignificant and uninspiring piece of military heritage. Mass produced in the thousands, an equipment tag is a disposable item designed to used once and discarded on the completion of its simple task. Now an item of ephemera, this equipment tag which was initially to have a short term use, has been preserved and now provides a snapshot of the activities of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, Central Ordnance Depot during 1955.

Tag 1

AFNZ 513. Robert McKie Collection

The tag examined here is an Army Form NZ-513,[1] and is a tag designed to label small pieces of Army equipment while in transit from one point to another.

The tag measure 122mm long by 60mm high and is constructed of buff coloured manila card. Rectangular in shape the tag has two tapered corners on the edge adjacent to a reinforced aperture allowing the tag to be secured by the use of string or elastic bands.

The tag is divided into three printed areas;

Tag 4

AFNZ 513 -Left side. Robert McKie Collection

  • The left side of the tag is printed with “ARMY DEPARTMENT EQUIPMENT” clearly identifying the Army as the owner of the equipment/item that the tag is affixed to.
Tag 5

AFNZ 513, Top Right. Robert McKie Collection

  • The top right part of the tag is printed with;
    • The Army Form N.Z 513, The system of lumbering military forms is a legacy inherited by the New Zealand Army from Britain where each piece of Army stationery is identified with a unique catalogue number. The inclusion of NZ in the number identifies the form as either a unique New Zealand Army form, or one that has been adopted into New Zealand Army use from British stocks.
    • Following the practice of the time, government departments in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand franked correspondence from government departments with On Her Majesty’s Service, in this case, OHMS is initialised.
    • The remainder of the panel is printed with space for writing the destination/receiver of the item.

      Tag 6

      AFNZ 513, Bottom right. Robert McKie Collection

  • The Bottom right of the tag is printed with From, with space to write the originator.
  • The rear of the tag is blank with no printing.

The tag would have been printed by the hundreds if not thousand in sheets, with tags torn off and used as required, the attachment point to other tags on the sheet can be seen on the bottom left and right corners of the sheet.

This Tag  has been filled out with the following information;

  • The package is addressed; Mr P Eddy of 105 Gallien St, Hastings
  • It is from; ACCOUNTING OFFICER, C.D. ORDNANCE DEPOT, and has the reference number SA/98/1 of 1 written on the bottom of the tag.
    • The ACCOUNTING OFFICER, C.D. ORDNANCE DEPOT has been placed on the tag by a rubber stamp in blue or purple ink, probably a job allotted to a very junior storekeeper on a slow day to keep them occupied.
    • Based in Linton Camp, The Central Districts Ordnance Depot was the Depot responsible to the NZ Army units based in the Central Districts from 1946. Some it’s functions are still carried out by 21 Supply Company, Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.
    • The reference number would able to cross-refer to the documentation relating to the package.
    • The 1 of 1 part of the reference indicates that it is a single package.
  • On the rear the following stamps have been affixed to allow postage;
    • six 1s (Shilling) Stamps and
    • two 3d (Three Pence)

This equates to approximate postage to the value of NZD$14 in 2019 currency.[2]

Tag 2

  • There are also two postmarks from Linton Camp NZ with the barely legible date of 27 (unclear) 55.

Based on the information on the tag the following can be determined; at some time during 1955, the Central Ordnance Depot at Linton Comp dispatched by post a small package to Mr P Eddy in Hastings. At the time Peter Eddy was a surgical bootmaker located in Hastings specialising in the construction and repair of orthopaedic footwear.[3] Given Mt Eddy’s occupation, it can be assumed that the package was either footwear or materials requiring the attention of Mr Eddys services.

Tag 3


This tag is the survivor of thousands of similar tags that were produced, filled out and served their intended purpose and then disposed of. As a survivor, it has become a unique piece of ephemera providing insights into the much larger narrative of the history of the RNZAOC.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2019



[1] Abbreviated to AFNZ

[2] “Inflation Calculator – Reserve Bank of New Zealand,” http://www.rbnz.govt.nz.

[3] “New Zealand, Electoral Rolls, Hawkes Bay, Hastings “,  http://www.ancestry.com.au.

The Pātaka of Ngāti Tumatauenga: NZ Ordnance Corps Locations 1840 to 1996

The New Zealand Army evolved out of the British troops deployed during the 19th century New Zealand Wars into a unique iwi known as Ngāti Tumatauenga – ‘Tribe of the God of War’. While Ngāti Tumatauenga has an extensive and well-known Whakapapa,[1] less well known is the whakapapa of the New Zealand Army’s supply and warehousing services.

Leading up to 1996, the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) was the New Zealand Army organisation with the responsibility in peace and war for the provision, storage and distribution of Arms, Ammunition, Rations and Military stores. As the army’s warehousing organisation, the RNZAOC adopted the Pātaka (The New Zealand Māori name for a storehouse) as an integral piece of its traditions and symbology. On 9 December 1996, the warehousing functions of the RNZAOC were assumed by the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR).

Unpacked on this page and on the attached Web Application “the Pātaka of Ngati Tumatauenga” the evolution of New Zealand’s Army’s Ordnance services is examined. From a single storekeeper in1840, the organisation would grow through the New Zealand Wars, the World Wars and Cold War into an organisation with global reach providing support to New Zealand Forces in New Zealand and across the globe.

Description of Ordnance Units

In general terms, Ordnance units can be described as:

  • Main/Base Depots– A battalion-sized group, commanded by a lieutenant colonel. Usually a significant stock holding unit, responsible for the distribution of stock to other ordnance installations.
  • Central Ordnance Depots/Supply Company– Company-sized units, commanded by a major. Depending on the role of the unit, the following subunits could be included in the organisation:
    • Provision, Control & Accounts
    • Stores sub-depot/platoon
      • Traffic Centre
      • Camp Equipment
      • Technical Stores
      • Expendables
      • Clothing
      • Returned Stores & Disposals
        • Textile Repair
        • Tailors
        • Boot Repair
      • Ammunition Sub-Depot/Platoon
      • Vehicles Sub-Depot/Platoon
      • Services Sub-Depot/Platoon
        • Bath and Shower
        • Laundry
      • Rations Sub-Depot/Platoon (after 1979)
      • Fresh Rations
      • Combat Rations
      • Butchers
      • Petroleum Platoon (after 1979)
      • Vehicle Depots
    • Workshops Stores Sections – In 1962, RNZAOC Stores Sections carrying specialised spares, assemblies and workshops materials to suit the particular requirement of its parent RNZEME workshops were approved and RNZEME Technical Stores personnel employed in these were transferred to the RNZAOC.[2] [3]
    • Workshops. Before 1947, Equipment repair workshops were part of the Ordnance organisation, types of Workshop included:
      • Main Workshop
      • Field/Mobile Workshop
      • Light Aid Detachments

Unit naming conventions

The naming of Ordnance units within New Zealand was generally based upon the unit locations or function or unit.

Supply Depots were initially named based on the district they belonged to:

  • Upper North Island – Northern District Ordnance Depot
  • Lower North Island – Central Districts Ordnance Depot
  • South Island – Southern Districts Ordnance Depot

In 1968 a regionally based numbering system was adopted

  • 1 for Ngaruawahia
  • 2 for Linton
  • 3 for Burnham
  • 4 for Waiouru

Some exceptions were:

  • 1 Base Depot and 1st Base Supply Battalion, single battalion-sized unit, the name were based on role, not location.
  • 1 Composite Ordnance Company, a unique company-sized group, the name was based on function, not location

When the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) became the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT) in 1979, the supply functions were transferred to the RNZAOC with the 1st number signifying the location with the 2nd number been 4 for all Supply Platoons:

  • 14 Supply Platoon, Papakura
  • 24 Supply Platoon, Linton
  • 34 Supply Platoon, Burnham
  • 44 Supply Platoon, Waiouru
  • 54 Supply Platoon, Trentham

Exceptions were:

  • 21 Supply Company – Retained its name as a historical link to the unit’s long history in the RNZASC.
  • 47 Petroleum Platoon, originally 7 Petroleum Platoon RNZASC, when Transferred to the RNZAOC, as it was based in Waiouru it added the Waiouru unit designation ‘4’ and became 47 Petroleum Platoon RNZAOC

Unit locations New Zealand, 1907–1996


9 Magazines Operational from 1943, closed late 1950’s


20 Magazines operational from 1943


There has been an Ordnance presence in Auckland since the 1840s with the Colonial Storekeeper and Imperial forces. The Northern Districts Ordnance Depot was situated in Mount Eden in the early 1900s. In the 1940s the centre for Ordnance Support for the Northern Districts moved to Ngaruawahia, with a Sub depot remaining at Narrow Neck to provided immediate support.

RNZAOC units that have been accommodated at Auckland have been:

Stores Depot

  • Northern District Ordnance Depot, Goal Reserve, Mount Eden 1907 to 1929.[4]
  • Northern District Ordnance Depot, Narrow Neck, 1929 to? [5]
  • 1 Supply Company, from 1989, Papakura
  • 12 Supply Company
  • 12 Field Supply Company
  • 15 Combat Supplies Platoon, 1 Logistic Regiment
  • 52 Supply Platoon, 5 Force Support Company

Vehicle Depot

  • Northern Districts Vehicle Depot, Sylvia Park, 1948-1961
  • Northern Districts Ordnance Depot, Vehicle Sub Depot, Sylvia Park, 1961 – 1968
  • 1 Central Ordnance Depot (1 COD), Vehicle Sub Depot, Sylvia Park, 1968 to 1979
  • 1 Supply Company, Vehicle Sub Depot, Sylvia Park, 1979 to 1989

Ammunition Depot

  • Northern Districts Ammunition Depot, Ardmore

Other Units

  • Bulk Stores Mangere, the 1940s (Part of MOD Trentham)
  • DSS Fort Cautley.


Located at the Torpedo Yard, North Head

  • Ordnance Workshop Devonport, 1925-1941
  • No 12 Ordnance Workshop, Devonport, 1941–1946

Workshop Stores Section

  • 1 Infantry Workshop, Stores Section, Papakura 1962–1986
  • 1 Field Workshop Store Section, Papakura
  • 1 Transport Company Workshop, Stores Section, Fort Cautley


Operational from 1943

  • MOD Trentham, Ammunition Group, Ammunition Section


Stores Depot

1921 saw the establishment of a single Command Ordnance Depot to service all military units in the newly organised Southern Military Command. Before this, Ordnance stores had operated from Christchurch and Dunedin. The new Depot (later renamed the Third Central Ordnance Depot) was established in the buildings of the former Industrial School at Burnham. Re-structuring in 1979 brought a change of name to 3 Supply Company.[6] [7] [8]

  • Stores Depot titles 1921–1996
    • Area Ordnance Department Burnham, 1920 to 1939,
    • Southern Districts Ordnance Depot, 1939 to 1942,
    • No 3 Sub Depot, 1942 – 1948,
    • Southern Districts Ordnance Depot, 1948 – 1968,
    • 3 Central Ordnance Depot (3 COD), 1968 to 1979, [9]
    • 3 Supply Company, 1979 to 1993,
    • Burnham Supply Center,1993 to 1994,
    • 3 Field Supply Company, 1994 to 1996.

Vehicle Depot

  • Southern Districts Vehicle Depot, 1948-1961.

Ammunition Depot

  • Southern Districts Vehicle Ammunition 1954-1961.

Other Ordnance Units

  • Combat Supplies Platoon. 1979 to 19??,
  • Ready Reaction Force Ordnance Support Group (RRF OSG), 19?? To 1992, moved to Linton,
  • 32 Field Supply Company (Territorial Force Unit).

Ordnance Field Parks

  • 3 Infantry Brigade Group OFP Platoon, 21 October 1948 – 28 June 1955.
  • 1 (NZ) Division OFP, Tech Stores Platoon, 28 June 1955 -,


  • No 14 Ordnance Workshop, until 1946.

Workshop Stores Section

  • Southern Districts Workshop, Stores Section,
  • 3 Field Workshop, Store Section.


Stores Depot

  • Canterbury and Nelson Military District Stores Depot, King Edwards Barracks, Christchurch, 1907 to 1921.

Workshop Stores Section

  • Southern Districts Workshop, Stores Section, Addington,
  • 3 Infantry Brigade Workshop, Stores Section, Addington,
  • 3 Transport Company Workshop, Stores Section, Addington.


Stores Depot

  • Otago and Southland Military Districts Stores Depot, 1907 to 1921


Nine magazines Operational 1943.


Featherston Camp was New Zealand’s largest training camp during the First World War, where around 60,000 young men trained for overseas service between 1916 – 1918. An Ordnance Detachment was maintained in Featherston until 1927 when it functions were transferred to Northern Districts Ordnance Depot, Ngaruawahia.[10]

Glen Tunnel

16 magazines Operational from 1943


Proof Office, Small Arms Ammunition Factory, 1943-1946

Kelms Road

55 Magazines Operational from 1943

Linton Camp

RNZAOC units that have been accommodated at Linton have been;

Stores Depot

  • No 2 Ordnance Depot, 1 October 1946  to 1948,
  • Central Districts Ordnance Depot,  1948 to 1968,
  • 2 Central Ordnance Depot (2 COD), 1968 to 1979,[11]
  • 2 Supply Company, 1979 to 1985,
  • 5 Composite Supply Company, 1985 to 1990.
  • 21 Field Supply Company 1990 to 1996

Vehicle Depot

  • Central Districts Vehicle Depot, 1957-1961

Ammunition Depot


Ordnance Field Parks

  • 2nd Infantry Brigade Ordnance Field Park Platoon 1948-48
  • 22 Ordnance Field Park

Workshop Stores Section

  • 1 General Troops Workshop, Stores Section
  • Linton Area Workshop, Stores Section
  • 5 Engineer Workshop, Store Section

Other Ordnance Units

  • 24 Supply Platoon
  • 23 Combat Supplies Platoon
  • 47 Petroleum Platoon 1984 to 1996
  • Ready Reaction Force Ordnance Support Group (RRF OSG), from Burnham in 1992 absorbed into 21 Field Supply Company. [12]

Lower Hutt

Ordnance Field Parks

  • 1 (NZ) Division OFP, Tech Stores Platoon, 28 June 1955 –


First used as a tented camp during the First World War and in the Second World War Mangaroa was the site of an RNZAF Stores Depot from 1943. The depot with a storage capacity of 25,000 sq ft in 8 ‘Adams type’ Buildings was Handed over to the NZ Army by 1949.[13] The units that have been accommodated at Mangaroa have been:

Supply Depot

  • Main Ordnance Depot,1949–1968,
  • 1 Base Ordnance Depot, 1968–1979,
  • 1st Base Supply Battalion, 1979–1985,
    • ACE(Artillery and Camp Equipment) Group

Ordnance Field Parks

  • 4(NZ) Division Ordnance Field Park(OFP), 1950–1963,
  • 1 Infantry Brigade Group, OFP, 1963–1968,
  • 1st Composite Ordnance Company (1 Comp Ord Coy), 1964–1977,
    1 Comp Ord Coy was the Ordnance Bulk Holding unit for the field force units supporting the Combat Brigade Group and the Logistic Support Group and held 60–90 days war reserve stock. 1 Comp Ord Coy was made up of the following subunits: [14]

    • Coy HQ
    • 1 Platoon, General Stores
    • 2 Platoon, Technical Stores
    • 3 Platoon, Vehicles
    • 4 Platoon, Ammo (located at Moko Moko)
    • 5 Platoon, Laundry
    • 6 Platoon, Bath

Mako Mako

39 magazines operational from 1943

  • MOD Trentham, Ammunition Group, Ammunition Section
  • 2 COD Ammunition Section

Mount Somers

10 Magazines operational from 1943


Ngaruawahia also was known as Hopu Hopu was established in 1927, [15] and allowed the closure of Featherston Ordnance Depot and the Auckland Ordnance Depot and was intended to service the northern regions. During construction, Ngaruawahia was described by the Auckland Star as “Probably the greatest Ordnance Depot”[16] Ngaruawahia closed down in 1989, and its Ordnance functions moved to Papakura and Mount Wellington.
RNZAOC units that have been accommodated at Ngaruawahia have been:

Stores Depot

  • Area Ngaruwahia Ordnance Department 1927 to 1940,
  • Northern District Ordnance Depot, 1940 to 1968,
  • 1 Central Ordnance Depot (1 COD), 1968 to 1979,
  • 1 Supply Company, 1979 to 1989,
  • 1 Field Supply Company, 1984, from 1989, Papakura.  [17]

Ordnance Field Parks

  • 1 Infantry Brigade Group, Ordnance Field Park(OFP), 1968 to 1979, support to Combat Brigade Group

Workshop Stores Section

  • 1 Infantry Brigade Group LAD, Stores Section

Other Ordnance Units

  • Northern Districts Ammunition Depot, Kelms Road

 Palmerston North

  • Palmerston North Detachment, NZAOC, Awapuni Racecourse, 1914 to 1921.[18] [19] [20]
  • Depot Closed and stocks moved to Trentham.
  • Ordnance Store, 327 Main Street Circa 1917-1921.[21]
  • No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot, Palmerston North showgrounds, 1942 to 1946 when depot moved to Linton.


Stores Depot

  • Main Ordnance Depot (MOD), 1920 to 1968
  • Base Ordnance Depot (BOD), 1968 to 1979
  • 1st Base Supply Battachedalion (1BSB), 1979 to 1993
  • 5 Logistic Regiment (5LR), 1993 to 8 December 1996 when Transferred to the RNZALR.

Ordnance School

  • RNZAOC School, 1958 to 1994
  • Supply/Quartermaster Wing and Ammunition Wing, Trade Training School 1994 to 1996. [21]


  • Main Ordnance Workshop, 1917 to 1946.[22]

Workshop Stores Section

  • 1 Base Workshop, Stores Section

Ordnance Field Parks

  • 4(NZ) Division Ordnance Field Park(OFP), 1950–1963

Vehicle Depot

  • Central Districts Vehicle Depot, 1948 – 1957

Ammunition Units

  • HQ Ammunition Group, sections at Belmont, Moko Moko, Kuku Valley, Waiouru
  • Ammunition Proof and Experimental Centre, Kuku Valley
  • Central Military District Ammunition Repair Depot, Kuku Valley


Ordnance Sub Depots were established at Waiouru in 1940, which eventually grew into a stand-alone Supply Company.[23]

RNZAOC units that have supported Waiouru have been;

Stores Depot

  • Main Ordnance Depot, Waiouru Sub-Depot, 1940–1946, Initially managed as a Sub-Depot of the Main Ordnance Depot in Trentham, Ordnance units in Waiouru consisted of:
    • Artillery Sub Depot
    • Bulk Stores Depot
    • Ammunition Section
  • Central Districts Ordnance Depot, Waiouru Sub Depot (1946–1976).[24] In 1946 Waiouru became a Sub-Depot of the Central Districts Ordnance Depot in Linton, consisting of:
    • Ammo Group
    • Vehicle Group
    • Camp Equipment Group.
  • 4 Central Ordnance Deport, (1976–1979) On 1 April 1976 became a stand-alone Depot in its own right. [25]
  • 4 Supply Company, (1979–1989)
    when the RNZASC was disbanded in 1979 and its supply functions transferred to the RNZAOC, 4 Supply gained the following RNZASC units:[26]

    • HQ 21 Supply Company,(TF element)(1979–1984)
      21 Supply Company was retained as a Territorial unit for training and exercise purposes and was capable of providing a Supply Company Headquarter capable of commanding up to five subunits.
    • 47 Petroleum Platoon (1979–1984)
    • 44 Supply Platoon
  • Central Q, (1989–1993)
  • 4 Field Supply Company, (1993–1994)
  • Distribution Company, 4 Logistic Regiment, (1994–1996)

Workshop Stores Section

  • Waiouru Workshop, Stores Section
  • 4 ATG Workshop, Stores Section
  • 1 Armoured Workshop, Store Section
  • QAMR Workshop, Store Section


The Board of Ordnance originally had a warehouse in Manners Street, but after the 1850 earthquake severely damaged this building, 13 acres of Mount Cook was granted to the Board of Ordnance, starting a long Ordnance association with the Wellington area.

Stores Depot

  • Central Districts Ordnance Depot, Alexandra Military Depot, Mount Cook, 1907 to 1920.[27]
  • New Zealand Ordnance Section, Fort Ballance, Wellington, 1915 to 1917.[28]


  • Armament Workshop, Alexandra Military Depot.[29]

Unit locations overseas, 1914–1920

Few records trace with any accuracy New Zealand Ordnance units that served overseas in the First World War. Although the NZAOC was not officially created until 1917.[30] The New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps was constituted as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in 1914 for overseas service only and in 1919 its members demobilised, returned to their parent units or mustered into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (Officers) or New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (other Ranks) on their return to New Zealand.


  • Ordnance Depot, Zeitoun Camp, 1914-16
  • Ordnance Depot Alexandra, 1915-16
    • 12 Rue de la, Porte Rosette, Alexandria. [31]
    • New Zealand Ordnance Store, Shed 43, Alexandria Docks.[32]
  • NZ Ordnance Section, NZEF Headquarters in Egypt
    • Qasr El Nil Barracks, Cairo.[33]


  • NZAOC Detachment, Fiji Expeditionary Force, Suva – February- April 1920


  • Ordnance Depot, Mulheim, Cologne


  • Ordnance Depot, Sapri Camp, Lemnos Island, October – December 1915


  • 1 Base Depot


  • Ordnance Depot, ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli, April – Dec 1915

 United Kingdom

  • New Zealand Ordnance Base Depot Farringdon Street, London
  • Ordnance Depot, Cosford Camp

Unit locations overseas, 1939–1946



  • Office of the DDOS 2NZEF, 22 Aig 1941 to Sept 1942
  • Office of the ADOS 2NZEF, Sept 1942 to 1 Sept 1945

Base Units


  • New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot, Maadi, 1940 to 19 Feb 1944
  • No 1 New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot,  16 Feb 1944 to 1946

Workshops (until Sept 1942 when transferred to NZEME)

  • NZ Base Ordnance Workshop


  • NZ Base Laundry, 30 Sept 1942 – 30 Sept 1943


  • Engineer and Ordnance Training Depot, Maadi Camp

Field Units


  • 2 NZ Divisional Ordnance Field Park, 28 Jul 1941 – 29 Dec 1945
  • NZ Divisional Mobile Bath Unit, 6 Sept 1941  –  30 Sept 1942
  • NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry & Decontamination Unit, 22 Sept 1941 – 27 Mar 1942
  • NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry, 27 Mar 1942 – 30 Sept 1942
  • NZ Salvage Unit, 16 Aug 1941 – 20 Oct 1942

Workshops (until Sept 1942 when transferred to NZEME)

  • 2 NZ Divisional Ordnance Workshops
  • 1 NZ Field Workshop
  • 2 NZ Field Workshop
  • 3 NZ Field Workshop
  • 14 NZ Anti-Aircraft Workshop Section
  • 9 NZ Light Aid Detachment (attached 4 Fd Regt)
  • 10 NZ LAD (attached 5 Fd Pk Coy)
  • 11 NZ LAD (attached HQ 4 NZ Inf Bde)
  • 12 NZ LAD (attached 27 NZ (MG) Bn) Disbanded 15 Oct 1942
  • 13 NZ LAD (attached 2 NZ Div Cav)
  • 14 NZ LAD (attached 2 NZ Div Sigs)
  • 15 NZ LAD (attached 7 NZ A Tk Regt)
  • 16 NZ LAD (attached HQ 5 Fd Regt)
  • 17 NZ LAD (attached HQ 5 NZ Inf Bde)
  • 18 NZ LAD (attached 6 NZ Fd Regt)
  • 19 NZ LAD (attached HQ 6 NZ Inf Bde)


  • 2 Independent (NZ) Brigade Group Workshop.[34]
  • 5 Independent (NZ) Brigade Group Workshop. [35]
  • Light Aid Detachments x 11
  • 1 Ordnance Field Park (British OFP attached to NZ Division).[36]



  • Office of the ADOS 2NZEF, 6 Jun 1945 to 1 Sept 1945

Base units

  • No 2 New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot, Bari, 16 Feb 1944 – 2 Feb 1946.[37]
    •  Advanced Section of Base Depot, Senegallia, Sept 44 – Feb 46.
  • NZ Advanced Ordnance Depot,   1943- 14 Feb 1944 (Absorbed into OFP)

Field units

  • NZ Division Ordnance Field Park OFP, – 29 Dec 1945
  • NZ Advanced Ordnance Depot, 27 Oct 1945- 1 Feb 1946
  • NZ Mobile Laundry Unit, 1 Oct 1943 – 16 Feb 1944
  • NZ Mobile Bath Unit, 18 Oct 1943 – 16 Feb 1944
  • MZ Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit, 16 Feb 1944 – 8 Dec 1945
  • NZ Vehicle and Stores Reception Depot, 27 Oct 1944 – 1 Feb 1946
    • Vehicle Depot, Assisi, 27 Oct 1945 – Jan 1946.[38]
    • Stores Depot, Perugia, 27 Oct 1945 – Feb 1946.[39]


  • Divisional Ordnance Headquarters
  • Base Ordnance Depot
  • Division Ordnance Workshop
  • ‘A’ Workshop Section
  • ‘B Workshop Section
  • 20th Light Aid Detachment
  • 36th Light Aid Detachment
  • 37th Light Aid Detachment

New Caledonia

  • Base Ordnance Depot
  • Division Ordnance Workshop

Solomon Islands

  • Advanced Ordnance Depot, Guadalcanal. Officer Commanding and Chief Ordnance Officer, Captain Noel McCarthy.


  • 16 Brigade Group Ordnance Field Park
  • 16 Brigade Group Workshop

Unit locations overseas, 1945–1996


  • Base Ordnance Depot, Kure (RAOC unit, NZAOC personnel attached)
  • 4 Forward Ordnance Depot, supporting NZ 9 Inf Brigade Group, later renamed 4 Advanced Ordnance Depot
  • 4 Advanced Ordnance Depot


No Standalone units but individual RNZAOC personnel served in 4 Ordnance Composite Depot (4 OCD) RAOC.


No standalone RNZAOC units, but individual RNZAOC personnel may have served in the following British and Commonwealth Ordnance units:

  • 3 Base Ordnance Depot, RAOC, Singapore
  • 28 Commonwealth Brigade Ordnance Field Park, Terendak, Malaysia.


Stores Depot

  • 5 Advanced Ordnance Depot, 1970–1971
    5 Advanced Ordnance Depot (5 AOD) was a short-lived Bi-National Ordnance Depot operated by the RAAOC and RNZAOC in Singapore, 1970 to 1971.
  • ANZUK Ordnance Depot, 1971–1974
    ANZUK Ordnance Depot was the Tri-National Ordnance Depot supporting the short-lived ANZUK Force. Staffed by service personnel from the RAOC, RAAOC and RNZAOC with locally Employed Civilians (LEC) performing the basic clerical, warehousing and driving tasks. It was part of the ANZUK Support Group supporting ANZUK Force in Singapore between 1971 to 1974. ANZUK Ordnance Depot was formed from the Australian/NZ 5 AOD and UK 3BOD and consisted of:

    • Stores Sub Depot
    • Vehicle Sub Depot
    • Ammunition Sub Depot
    • Barrack Services Unit
    • Forward Ordnance Depot(FOD)
  • New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot, 1974–1989
    From 1974 to 1989 the RNZAOC maintained the New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot(NZAOD) in Singapore as part of New Zealand Force South East Asia (NZFORSEA).

Workshops Stores Section

  • New Zealand Workshops, RNZAOC Stores Section
  • 1RNZIR, Light Aid Detachment Stores Section


The RNZAOC (with RNZCT, RNZEME, RNZSig, RNZMC specialist attachments) contributed to the New Zealand Governments commitment to the International and United Nations Operation in Somalia(UNOSOM) efforts in Somalia with:

  • Supply Detachment, Dec 1992 to June 1993
  • Supply Platoon x 2 rotations, July 1993 to July 1994 (reinforced with RNZIR Infantry Section)
  • RNZAOC officers to UNOSOM headquarters, 1992 to 1995.[40]

South Vietnam

During New Zealand’s commitment to the war in South Vietnam (29 June 1964 – 21 December 1972). The Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps did not contribute a standalone unit but provided individuals to serve in New Zealand Headquarters units, Composite Logistic units or as part of Australian Ordnance Units including:

  • Headquarters Vietnam Force (HQ V Force)
  • 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF)
  • 1st Australian Logistic Support Group (1 ALSG)
  • 161 Battery Attachments (161 Bty Attached)
  • New Zealand Rifle Companies
  • 161st (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018


[1] Whakapapa is a taxonomic framework that links all animate and inanimate, known and unknown phenomena in the terrestrial and spiritual worlds. Whakapapa, therefore, binds all things. It maps relationships so that mythology, legend, history, knowledge, Tikanga (custom), philosophies and spiritualities are organised, preserved and transmitted from one generation to the next. “Rāwiri Taonui, ‘Whakapapa – Genealogy – What Is Whakapapa?’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Http://Www.Teara.Govt.Nz/En/Whakapapa-Genealogy/Page-1 (Accessed 3 June 2019).”

[2] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992).

[3] A.J. Polaschek and Medals Research Christchurch, The Complete New Zealand Distinguished Conduct Medal: Being an Account of the New Zealand Recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal from the Earliest Times of the South African War to the Present Time, Together with Brief Biographical Notes and Details of Their Entitlement to Other Medals, Orders and Decorations (Medals Research Christchurch, 1983).

[4] “Dismantling of Buildings at Mt Eden and Reassembling at Narrow Neck,” New Zealand Herald, vol. LXVI, p. 5, 2 February 1929.

[5] “The Narrow Neck Camp,” New Zealand Herald, vol. LVIII, no. 17815, p. 6, 23 June 1921.

[6] John J. Storey and J. Halket Millar, March Past: A Review of the First Fifty Years of Burnham Camp (Christchurch, N.Z.: Pegasus Press, 1973, 1974 printing, 1973), Non-fiction.

[7] “Camp at Burnham,” Star, no. 16298, p. 8, 13 December 1920.

[8] “RNZAOC Triennial Conference,” in Handbook – RNZAOC Triennial Conference, Wellington,”  (1981).

[9][9] “NZ P106 Dos Procedure Instructions, Part 1 Static Support Force. Annex F to Chapter 1, Rnzaoc Director of Ordnance Services,”  (1978).

[10] ” Featherston Military Training Camp and the First World War, 1915–27,”  https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/featherston-camp.

[11] “NZ P106 Dos Procedure Instructions, Part 1 Static Support Force. Annex F to Chapter 1, Rnzaoc Director of Ordnance Services.”

[12] “Stockholding for Operationally Deployable Stockholding Units,” NZ Army General Staff, Wellington  (1993.).

[13] L Clifton, Aerodrome Services, ed. Aerodrome Services Branch of the Public Works Department War History (Wellington1947).

[14] “1 Comp Ord Coy,” Pataka Magazine, February 1979.

[15] “D-01 Public Works Statement by the Hon. J. G. Coates, Minister of Public Works,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1 January,”  (1925).

[16] “Great Military Camp,” The Auckland Star, vol. LVI, no. 83, p. 5, 8 April 1925.

[17] “1st Field Supply Company Standing Operating Procedures, 1st Supply Company Training Wing, Dec “,  (1984).

[18] W.H. Cunningham and C.A.L. Treadwell, Wellington Regiment: N. Z. E. F 1914-1918 (Naval & Military Press, 2003).

[19] “Defence Re-Organisation,” Manawatu Times, vol. XLII, no. 1808, p. 5, 5 May  1921.

[20] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces from 25th June 1914 to 26th June, 1915.,” “, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1915).

[21] “NZ Army Ordnance Stores, ,”  https://manawatuheritage.pncc.govt.nz/item/c7681d2d-c440-4d58-81ad-227fc31efebf.

[22] “Pataka Magazine. RNZAOC, P. 52,,”  (1994).

[23] “Waiouru Camp  “, Ellesmere Guardian, vol. LXI, no. 90, p. 2, 12 November 1940

[24] Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] “Ordnance Stores,” Evening Post, vol. c, no. 95, p. 8, 19 October 1920.

[28] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces from 25th June 1914 to 26th June 1915.”

“, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1915).

[29] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces, from 1st June 1916 to 31st May 1917,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1917).

[30] “Colonel Rhodes,” Dominion, vol. 9, no. 2718, p. 9, 13 March 1916. .

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Glyn Harper, Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918, First World War Centenary History (Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand: Exisle Publishing, 2015

[Limited Leather Bound Edition], 2015), Bibliographies, Non-fiction.

[34] A.H. Fernyhough, History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1920-1945 (Royal Army Ordnance Corps, 1958).

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] New Zealand War Histories – Italy Volume Ii : From Cassino to Trieste,  (Victoria University of Wellington, 1967).

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] “Somalia: 1992 – 1995,” NZ Army,” http://www.army.mil.nz/about-us/what-we-do/deployments/previous-deployments/somalia/default.htm.

The Historiography of the New Zealand Wars and the Military Store Department

The study of the New Zealand Wars has created an extensive Historiography focused on the political and warfighting aspects of the campaign, providing much information on the causes, effects, commanders, battles and units that participated in the New Zealand Wars. If the narrative has chosen to include the logistic services, the general Historiography has been biased towards the larger of the Logistic Services- the Commissariat – while neglecting to cover the contribution of the Military Store Department. This essay will examine the Historiography of the New Zealand Wars as it relates to the logistics and the activities of the Military Store Department from 1857 to 1870.

The Military Store Department was the department of the British Army responsible for providing weapons, munitions and military equipment to the British Army and Colonial Forces from 1857 to 1870.[1]  The origins of the Military Store Department lie with the Board of Ordnance, which under the Master General of the Ordnance existed between 1597 and 1855. The Crimean War (16 October 1853 – 30 March 1856) had seen the British Army suffer many privations due to the failure of its Logistic Services, including the Ordnance Board, which saw their functions placed under the supervision of the War Office while reformation of the British Army’s administrative system took place.[2] By 1857 the reforms had resulted  in the formation of specialised departments to manage the British Army’s logistics:[3]

  • The Commissariat, responsible for land transport services and the provision of food and fuel for soldiers and forage for animals;
  • The Purveyors Department, responsible for the setting up, equipping and the maintenance of hospitals and;
  • The Military Store Department, responsible for Weapons, Munitions and Military equipment not managed by the other departments.[4]

The Ordnance Board had existed in New Zealand since the 1840s, in 1857 its staff and infrastructure were amalgamated into the Military Store Department and would support the Imperial Forces for the duration of the conflict.[5]

Much of the Historiography about the New Zealand War Logistics is related to General Cameron and his staff and how they had learnt the lessons of the Crimean War and were determined not to make the same mistakes. Matthew Wright describes Cameron as a veteran General, “with a reputation for, discipline, ‘reticent and auster’ who understood Logistics.[6]  James Belich agrees with Wright on Cameron’s Logistical appreciation and expands on the logistical challenges that the Imperial Forces faced, such as the length of the Supply Chain and the reliance on imports from England and Australia.[7] Wright and Belich do not delve deeply into the organisational structures of the Imperial Forces, so the omission of the Military Store Department is to be expected.

The Military Store Department is noticeably missing from Tim Ryan and Bill Parham’s book on the New Zealand Wars, which furnishes a full chapter on the British Regiments and Corps involved in the New Zealand Wars from 1845 to 1870. Despite detailing all the Imperial Units, including the Medical and Commissariate units, Ryan and Parham neglect to mention the Military Store Department.[8]  Richard Taylor’s 2004 thesis, ‘British Logistics in the New Zealand Wars, 1845-66’ provides a comprehensive review of British Logistics during the New Zealand Wars. Taylor does mention in brief, the activities of the Board of Ordnance in the 1840s and 50s, but provides no mention of their successor, the Military Store Department. Focused on the Medical, Commissariat, and Transports Corps, Taylor’s work provides little understanding of mechanisms responsible for the supply of arms, munitions and other military stores.

Adam Davis, in his 2004 thesis, ‘The Imperial Garrison in New Zealand, 1840-1870 with Particular Reference to Auckland’, examines the social interactions between the Imperial Forces and New Zealand Colonial Society. Drawing on many primary sources such as newspapers, Davis examines the activities of the Board of Ordnance before 1857 and then the Military Store Department post-1857. Davis states how the Military Store Department was existing in 1861 and includes it in a list detailing the distribution of Imperial units in 1864.[9]  Davis also mentions several times in his text that the Military Store Department was also the primary occupant of Britomart Barracks.

The lack of the Military Store Department in the historiography of the New Zealand Wars it not surprising. The Regimental history of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT) records the history of the Commissariat and Transports Corps.[10] The Successors to the Military Store Department, the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps(RNZAOC), discusses the New Zealand Wars in their regimental history but makes no mention if the Military Store Department.[11] The History of the British Royal Army Ordnance  Corps (RAOC) makes no specific mention of the New Zealand Wars, but does describe how department officers would be attached to flying columns and clerks, artificers and labourers would be provided to accompany the force.[12] This description of responsibilities is supported by news articles relating to the Military Store Department found in the Papers Past Website. A 2018 article in the New Zealand Military History Society of New Zealand Journal, the Volunteers: ‘Ordnance Services in Colonial New Zealand 1840 to 1871’ weaves together a variety of primary and secondary sources outlaying the history of the Military Store Department in New Zealand and identifies many of its essential personnel and locations that it occupied.[13]

It is surprising that the Military Store Department does not have a broader profile in the Historiography of the New Zealand Wars. Given its responsibility for the provision and maintenance of weapons, munitions and military equipment, it was a key enabler for the maintenance of the Imperial and Colonial Forces in the field. There are many examples in the media of the day of the high esteem in which the Miliatry Store Department was held. At the Colonial level, Chapman’s New Zealand Almanac of 1860 lists the Military Store Department and its Staff as part of the Imperial Military Hierarchy,[14] whereas similarly the Royal Kalanders issued between 1860 and 1862 provide listings of the Military Store Department Officers. Hart’s Army list also provides a wealth of information on the officers of the Military Store Department. Hart’s Army list was produced annually and provided detailed information on each officer of the British Army including the Military Stores Department. [16] The notes contained in the Army list also provide biographical details which add to the Historiography of the New Zeland Wars, for example, the Army List of 1869 shows the following:[17]

  • Mr Hamley served in New Zealand from 1846 including two Native Wars;
  • Mr Haldane served during the late war in New Zealand;
  • Mr Le Geyt served in the New Zealand War of 1863-66 and was present at the attack of the Orakau Pah, assault and capture of the Gate Pa, and action at Te Ranga;
  • T. Timbrell and James White served in the New Zealand War in 1864-06.

The Historiography provided by these primary sources contrasts with the database held on the Soldiers of Empire Website.[18]  The Soldiers of Empire website contributes a digital element to the Historiography of the New Zealand Wars. With a database of Imperial troops who served in New Zealand and several interactive articles detailing different aspects of the conflict. At this stage, despite being a gazetted unit of the British Military,[19] the Military Store Department has not been included on the Soldiers of Empire database. While continuing the trend of not including the Military Store Department, the Soldiers of Empire Website includes in its articles many of the watercolours painted by Joseph Osbertus Hamley who in his duties as Head of the Military Store Department took part in many of the Imperial Military Operations.[20] Moreover, Hamley would also be the last Imperial officer to depart New Zealand in 1870.[21]

The absence of the Military Store Department from much of the Historiography is an enigma, and can be attributed to its small size, and also the successful conduct of its duties with little or no fuss. Davis stated that in 1864 the department consisted of four staff and ten sergeants,[22] collaborated by the list of the Department collated by Mckie.[23]  Given its small numbers, the Military Store Department seldom operated independently outside of Auckland, and the men of the department for administrative and tactical reasons were often attached to the strength of the Commissariat while in the field and hence appeared in many records as part of the Commissariat,[24] which has helped to keep the department out of the historiography. Despite the size of the department and the vagueness of its existence in the historiography, in the 1860s the work of the department was well known and appeared regularly in the media of the time. An 1864 article in the New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian describes in detail the duties and organisation of the department, and also the praise it had received from General Cameron for its contribution to the war.[25]

In conclusion, the Historiography of the New Zealand Wars is in a state of continual evolution and although the narrative has generally remained  focused on the causes, effects, commanders, battles and forces that participated in the New Zealand Wars, modern advances in archival management have opened up access to many records which have previously remained out of reach. Until recently the Military Store Department was not part of the New Zealand Wars Historiography, for some accounts, this is acceptable as such details do not add to the narrative. However, any New Zealand War history discussing details of Imperial and colonial units and the logistics required is only telling a portion of the history if they do not include the Military Store Department.  Despite there being a raft of primary sources providing positive information on the existence of the Military Store Department, the Department is a victim of its success and as such has become unknown. If it had made a few errors or failed to provide ammunition on time the historiography might be different.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2019


[1] Arthur Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services (London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929), 149.

[2] Many on the Officers and men who had served in the Crimean war, would also serve in the New Zealand Wars applying many of the tactical and Logistical lessons learnt to good effect.

[3] J.M. War office Bannatyne, Royal Warrants, Circular, General Orders and Memoranda, Issued by the War Office and Horse Guards, Aug. 1856- July 1864 (1864), 302-10.

[4] Brigadier A H Fernyhough, A Short History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (First Edition) (RAOC Trust 1965), 14-15.

[5] Robert McKie, “Ordnance Services in Colonial New Zealand 1840-1871,” The Volunteers: New Zealand Military Historical Society 44, no. 2 (2018): 42. , H.G Hart, “Annual Army List as at December 1857,”  https://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/102696001.

[6] Matthew Wright, Two Peoples, One Land: The New Zealand Wars (Reed, 2006), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 113.

[7]James Belich, The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict, This edition 2015 ed. (Auckland University Press, 2015), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 127.

[8] Tim Ryan and W. T. Parham, The Colonial New Zealand Wars, Rev. ed. (Grantham House, 2002), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 159-64.

[9] Adam Davis, “The Imperial Garrison in New Zealand, 1840-1870 with Particular Reference to Auckland” (University of Bedfordshire, 2004), 79.

[10] Julia Millen, Salute to Service: A History of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport and Its Predecessors, 1860-1996 (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1997, 1997), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 15-30.

[11] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 44-49.

[12] Fernyhough, A Short History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (First Edition), 15.

[13] McKie, “Ordnance Services in Colonial New Zealand 1840-1871,” 36 – 53.

[14] Chapman’s New Zealand Almanac – New Zealand Official Directory,  (1860).

[15] The Royal Kalendar, and Court and City Register for England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Colonies,  (1860)., The Royal Kalendar, and Court and City Register for England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Colonies,  (1861)., The Royal Kalendar, and Court and City Register for England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Colonies,  (1862).

[16] Colonel H.G Hart, “Hart’s Army Lists – 1839-1915,” National Library of Scotland,, https://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/100739612.

[17] H.G Hart, “Annual Army List as at  December 1868,”  https://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/archive/102696001.

[18] Victoria University of Wellington, “Soldiers of Empire,”  http://www.soldiersofempire.nz/database.html.

[19] “Commissions Granted to Officers Serving in the Military Store Department,” London Gazette No 22567, 19 November 1861.

[20] Una Platts, Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists: A Guide & Handbook (Christchurch, N.Z.: Avon Fine Prints, 1980, 1980), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Collective biography.

[21] “Projected Departure of Mr Hamley,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXVI, Issue 4007, 25 June 1870.

[22] Davis, “The Imperial Garrison in New Zealand, 1840-1870 with Particular Reference to Auckland.”

[23] McKie, “Ordnance Services in Colonial New Zealand 1840-1871.”

[24] Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Stores  A.R Tribe served in NZ from 1861 to 1866 and although confirmed as an officer in the Military Store Department in the London Gazette and Harts Army List is listed in the Soldier of Empire Database as belonging to the Military Train. soldiersofempire.nz, “Imperial Soldiers Serving in New Zealand Database: A.R Tribe Record Info,”  http://www.soldiersofempire.nz/database.html.

[25] “Fort Britomart,” New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, Volum XIX, Issue 1942, 12 March 1864.

K Force Ordnance

The New Zealand contribution of Kayforce has been written about often and the actions of 16 Field Regiment and 10 Transport Company which are rightly held in high esteem, have overshadowed the efforts and achievements of the minor Kayforce units including the small RNZAOC contribution.


1st Commonwealth Division Patch. Wikipedia Commons

New Zealand contribution to the United Nations Forces in Korea was Kayforce.  A volunteer force raised explicitly for service in Korea, Kayforce was composed of 16 Field Regiment, RNZA with a Light Aid Detachment, a Signals troop, a Transport Platoon and many smaller ancillary units including an Ordnance Section.

Authorised in July 1950, and comprising 1056 men,  Kayforce was recruited from:

  • members of the Regular Force,
  • men with previous military experience from the Second World War and
  • men too young to have served during the last war, and had prior little military experience.

The Ordnance Section, comprising 1 officer and six men was commanded by Captain Geoffrey John Hayes Atkinson with three soldiers recruited directly into Kayforce, and three regular RNZAOC soldiers;

  • Lance Corporal Neville Wallace Beard,
  • Lance Corporal Bruce Jerome Berney,
  • Lance Corporal James Ivo Miller,
  • Private Keith Robert Meynell Gamble,
  • Private Thomas Allan (Tom) Hill.

Captain Atkinson, LCpl Beard and Private Hill had all previously served with Jayforce in Japan and would have experience of the systems used by the Commonwealth Ordnance Depot which would become invaluable shortly.

While the Force was  busy  training, the Staff at the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham had been preparing Kayforce’s equipment against the G1098  (War Equipment Table) including:

  • 35 – 25 Pounder guns
  • 345 – Vehicles
  • 62 –  Gun trailers
  • Ammunition and stores to support initial operations

These were non-tactically loaded onto the charted freighter the SS Ganges which departed for Korea in late November with an advance party of 1 officer and 14 other ranks with Lance Corporal Berney representing the RNZAOC.

The main body, Including Lance Corporal Beard and Privates Gamble and Hill. left from Wellington on 10  Dec 1950 on the SS Ormonde. The remaining members of the advance party, Captian Atkinson and Lance Corporal Miller departed for Korea by RNZAF Dakota

The main body arrived at Pusan, Korea on New Year’s Eve,   the Ganges had arrived some days earlier and already discharged much of Kay Forces equipment onto the Pusan docks. HQ K Force and the advance party had wasted little time and acquired accommodation for the Headquarters in downtown Pusan, and had shelter for the main body prepared at an abandoned school on the outskirts of the city.

It was immediately to the task of unpacking the stores and preparing it all for action. A difficult task considering that the stores had been loaded on the Ganges non-tactically and consequently, locating and matching up equipment to subunits was a slow process. For example,  finding wireless sets and all their vital parts and then mounting them on vehicles was challenging because they had been packed into a number of cases which required tracking down from a myriad of packing cases unloaded onto the Pusan docks.  Guns had to have wax and grease protective coatings removed before they could be ready for action, add to his the sub-zero temperatures of a Korean winter in clothing designed for temperate New Zealand, it was a challenging task, which with no doubt a good deal of kiwi ingenuity, was accomplished in good time.

16 Field Regiment joined the  27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade on 21 January 1951, and four days later was in action for the first time.

Commonwealth Ordnance Support in Korea

The Commonwealth Forces were fortunate to have the  British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF) Base Ordnance Depot (BOD) at Kure in Japan from which Ordnance Support could be coordinated. In the Process of winding down, the BCOF had shrunk from a strength of over 20000 to less than 2000 and the BOD had shrunk from a combined RAOC, RNZAOC, RIAOC, RAAOC Depot to a single RAAOC depot. The war in Korea gave it a further lease of life, and it provided sterling service in the early years of the war.

National Items such as uniforms would be supplied from contributing counties, items such as Arms and Ammunition were provided from 3 BOD in Singapore and the UK on a 4 monthly automatic resupply.

The following is a snapshot of Ordnance Support in Korea consisted of;

  • Base Ordnance Depot, RAOC (Pusan),
  • 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Ordnance Field Park,
  • 28th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade Ordnance Field Park,
  • 29th Independent Infantry Brigade Ordnance Field Park,
  • RAAOC Forward Ordnance Laundry (Seoul),
  • RAAOC Base laundry Detachment (Pusan),
  • RAAOC Salvage Depot (Pusan),
  • 4 Ordnance Composite Depot (4 OCD) RAOC,
  • 4 Advanced Ordnance Depot, RAOC,
  • NZ Base Ordnance Section, RNZAOC.

4 OCD was an ad-hoc unit made up with RAOC elements from COD Didcot and CAD Bramley in the UK and was scaled to support the 29 Brigade OFP with 14 Officers and 327 Soldiers, of whom 45% were reservists with some skill fade. Organised into three Sub Depots and an ASD.  4 OCD had been at Taegu in Korea since 20 November 1950, but the Chinese advances had prompted its evacuation to Pusan in January 1951. With some elements later evacuated to Kure in February, leaving elements such as port handling at Pusan and the Ammunition Section at Haeundae.  27 Brigade (later to become 28th Commonwealth Infantry Brigade)was added to its dependency, followed by the entire 1st Commonwealth Division in mid-1951.


Showering in Korea, May 1952. Alexander Turnbull Library

With the business of outfitting 16 Field Regiment completed, it was down to routine business for Captain Atkinson and his Ordnance Section. Too small to be an independent unit, the Ordnance Section staff and stocks were absorbed into the British 4 Ordnance Composite Depot RAOC.


K Force Ordnance Section, Pusan, Korea. Colonel Atkinson/Public Domain

The New Zealand Ordnance Section was a welcome addition to 4 OCD, The British were stretched, they were still suffering from the immediate post-WW2 Defence cuts and now were now not only fighting the Chinese in Korea but also fighting a communist insurgency in Malaya. This was placing huge demands on the RAOC organisation and infrastructure. Captain Atkinson was initially placed in command of one of 4 OCD stores sub depots as well as being appointed the Pusan Port Officer for the Commonwealth Forces. Eventually, Captain Atkinson was then appointed second in command and then Officer Commanding of 4 OCD.

The New Zealand Other Ranks were employed throughout 4 OCD, Some were employed at the Ammunition Section at Haeundae, which initially held 60 days of supply of 25 Pounder Ammunition, this was later increased to 90 days. Some of the New Zealand Ordnance personnel were employed across Korea from the Forward Ordnance units at Inchon and Seoul and also at the BOD in Kure, Japan.

On the 10th of February 1951, sparks from a shunting engine in the rail yards adjacent to the 4 OCD location caused a fire which engulfed several tents. Unfortunately, these tents contained not only the ledgers for 4 OCD but also all the Ordnance records for Kayforce. The timing could not have been worse.  4 OCD had only just relocated from Taegu, during which the ledger cabinets had also been lost, losing all the previous month’s issue history.  4 OCD was also busy back-loading stock to Japan as a precaution if the Chinese broke through,  both Brigades were involved in heavy fighting against the Chinese and to complicate matters more, the 4 monthly automatic issues from Singapore had arrived in  Japan. Much stocktaking under trying conditions was required, but diligent work prevented any loss of support to dependencies.

1st Commonwealth Division

With the arrival of the Canadian 25th Canadian Infantry Brigade, in May 1951, the 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade was redesignated as the 28th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade, and with the 29th Independent Infantry Brigade, the 1st Commonwealth Division was formed in July 1951.

Under the Division Chief of Royal Army Ordnance Corps (CRAOC), Lt Col M.F McLean, the OFPs were divisionlised into a single unit. The Canadian static unit was added tot he establishment of the BOD in Japan.

In December 1951, with the peace treaty with Japan finalised, the decision was made to close the BCOF BOD in Japan, and transfer its responsibilities to 4 OCD at Pusan, which was then renamed 4 Commonwealth Ordnance Depot (4 COD).

Captain Atkinson was promoted to Major and appointed as Second in Command HQ CRAOC. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Atkinson was then appointed the Commonwealth Division CRAOC. Awarded the MBE for his services in Korea, Lt Col Atkinson returned to New Zealand in 1953.

Records indicated that there was at least two or three rotations of Ordnance Officers and Other Ranks between 1950 and 1956, including;

  • Captain Geoffrey John Hayes Atkinson, 1950 to 1953,
  • Lance Corporal Neville Wallace Beard, 1950 to 1952,
  • Lance Corporal Bruce Jerome Berney, 1950 to 1954,
  • Lance Corporal James Ivo Miller, 1950 to 1952,
  • Private Keith Robert Meynell Gamble, 1950 to 1952,
  • Private Thomas Allan (Tom) Hill, 1950 to 1952,
  • Private Desmond Mervyn Kerslake, 1951 to 1953,
  • Corporal Leonard Ferner Holder, 1952 to 1953,
  • Lance Corporal Owen Fowell, 1952 to 1953,
  • Private Dennis Arthur Astwood, 1952 to 1953,
  • Corporal Wiremu Matenga, 1952 to 1954,
  • Warrant Officer Class Two Barry Stewart, 1952 to 1955,
  • Lance Corporal Thomas Joseph Fitzsimons, 1952 to 1954,
  • Private Gane Cornelius Hibberd, 1952 to 1953,
  • Staff Sergeant James Russell Don, 1952 to 1956,
  • Corporal Gordon Winstone East, 1952 to 1956,
  • Sergeant Harold Ernest Strange (Harry) Fry, 1952 to 1954,
  • Captian Patrick William Rennison, 1952 to 1954,
  • Lance Corporal Alexander George Dobbins, 1953 to 1954,
  • Private Richard John Smart, 1953 to 1954,
  • Private Ernest Randell, 1953 to 1956,
  • Private Abraham Barbara, 1953 to 1955,
  • Corporal Edward Tanguru, 1954 to 1955,
  • Gunner John Neil Campbell, 1954 to 1955,
  • Lieutenant John Barrie Glasson, 1954 to 1956.



Corporal Harry Fry and Private Owen ‘Chook’ Fowell at the R&R centre, Tokyo, early 1953. O Fowell/Public Domain

With the Armistice in place, the 1st Commonwealth Division was deactivated in 1954 and reduced to a Commonwealth Brigade Group until 1956, when then, in turn, was replaced with a Commonwealth Contingent of battalion strength until its final withdrawal in 1957.


Major G.J.H Atkinson, RNZAOC, Korea 1951. Colonel Atkinson/Public Domain

The New Zealand Ordnance Contribution was small.  Atkinson, who started as a Captain commanding 6 men in 1950, had by 1954  become a Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the entire Ordnance Services of the Commonwealth Division provides an excellent example of New Zealander’s punching above their weight on the international stage. 

Dress Embellishments

Members of the Ordnance Section wore the standard new Zealand khaki beret of the time, with the corps badge with a black diamond backing.


Initially, distinguishing patches were not worn. On the 1st Commonwealth Divisions formation, a patch of a blue shield with a Tudor crown and the words ‘Commonwealth’ in yellow was initially worn.  Following Queen Elizabeth II coronation, the crown was changed to the St Edwards crown.


1st Commonwealth Division patch, 1st pattern with Kings crown © canadiansoldiers.com

Commonwealth Div_zpseaxnomie

1st Commonwealth Division patch, the 2nd pattern with King’s crown. Courtesy David M Kellock



1st Commonwealth Division Patch, 3rd pattern with Queens Crown. Wikipedia Commons

Although probably not worn by members of the New Zealand Ordnance Section, Troops not serving directly in the Commonwealth Division wore a version of the square Commonwealth Forces patch.


Copyright © Robert McKie 2017