Due to its isolated location at the culmination of international trade routes, New Zealand has become a well-known centre of resourcefulness and innovation, inventing leading-edge and world-changing products. Some notable examples are; Disposable syringes and tranquilliser guns, the referee whistle, the eggbeater, the electric fence, jet boats, flexible plastic ear tags for livestock, bungy jumping, flat whites and pavlova. While these products have all had a peaceful intent and provided a valuable contribution to the world, New Zealand’s war experience in the twentieth century has also contributed to military innovation. Discussed here is the Kelsey swivel-stock rifle, a New Zealand invention from the 1950s that allowed a Sten Sub Machin Gun to be fired from behind cover and around corners.
During the latter stages of the Second World War and based on the lessons learnt on their Eastern Front, the German military identified a requirement for aiming and firing weapons around corners and from within Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs). The Germans developed the Krummlauf barrel attachment for the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44) and Maschinengewehr 42 (MG 42) to meet this requirement.
The Krummlauf was produced in two variants:
The “I” variant for infantry use,
The “P” variant for use in AFVs to provide cover over blind spots to defend against assaulting infantry
The “I” and “P” barrels for the StG 44 and MG 42 were produced with bends of 30°, 45°, 60° and 90°. However, only the “I” 30° Barrell for the StG 44 was produced in quantity.
With a very short lifespan—approximately 300 rounds for the 30° variant and 160 rounds for the 45° variant—the Krummlauf barrel was under great stress. Additionally, due to the barrel bend, bullets shattered as they exited the barrel, producing an unintended shotgun effect. Developed too late in the war for testing and refinement by the Germans, postwar testing by the United States Army resulted in some modifications; however, the Krummlauf remained unreliable despite these modifications. The Soviets also experimented with a curved barrel, producing an Experimental PPSh with a curved barrel, but with the curved barrel seen as a novelty, interest in the concept was soon lost.
Despite the concept of a bent barrel to allow the firing around corners, proving impracticable, Lieutenant Colonel John Owen Kelsey had seen the need for such a capability during New Zealand’s streetfighting in Italy and set about finding a solution.
Colonel Kelsey was born in New Plymouth in November 1904. Before World War II, he served as an Engineering Officer for two years with the Royal Navy. This engineering background led to his first New Zealand Army Ordnance posting in 1939 as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 13th LAD New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC). Shortly after he arrived in Egypt in 1940, he was promoted to Lieutenant and posted as the Assistant Senior Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (SOME). He became the SOME and was promoted to Temporary Captain a few months later, and in November of the same year, he became the Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Equipment) (DADOS E) HQ 2NZ Division. He was also promoted to Temporary Major while holding this position and, in April and May 1941, took part in the campaigns in Greece and Crete. On return from Crete, he was transferred to the British Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) Deputy Director Ordnance Services(DDOS) office for a few months and then returned to 2NZEF as the Chief Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (COME) in August 1941. His duties were extended a year later when he became the Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (ADOS) and COME 2NZEF.
After forming a separate Corps of New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) in December 1942, Colonel Kelsey relinquished the appointment of COME and became the ADOS 2NZEF/ADOS 2NZ Division and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
Temporary promotion to Colonel followed from February to March 1944 when Colonel Kelsey was appointed as the DDOS of a Corps for operations in Italy.
He returned home on well-earned leave in April 1944 after four and a half years away but returned to the Middle East in September 1944. He resumed the ADOS 2NZEF and 2NZ Division appointments and maintained these responsibilities until the end of the war, completing six years with the division and taking part in every campaign. For distinguished service, Colonel Kelsey was Mentioned in Despatches.
On his discharge, Colonel Kelsey went into business as an accountant at Whakatane but was not very successful and relocated to Auckland, where he obtained a post in the Public Relations Office in Auckland but was subsequently asked to leave. Setting up a public relations office in Devonport, where he slept on a couch in the office because he could not afford to board, Colonel Kelsey set to work developing his Sten Gun adapted to fire around corners.
In June 1953, The Press announced that a Sten gun adapted to shoot round corners had been developed by Colonel Kelsey, known as the Kelsey swivel-stock rifle and that the army had tested it at Waiouru Military Camp. Following the success of these tests, the device was sent to the War Office in London for further examination.
Colonel Kelsey had adapted the Sten gun to have a swivel butt and a unique sight. Unlike the wartime Krummlauf, it was not a weapon with a bent barrel but a standard Sten Gun. The weapon could be used in the usual way, with shooting a round left or right corners enabled by simply resetting the butt to 90°to the parrel and sighted using a unique sight. The sight was based on the principle of the periscope, using prisms with exact details placed on the secret list.
With no reply from the War Office by the end of 1953 and confident with his design and that it could be adapted for other firearms, Colonel Kelsey took out world patent rights and intended to fly to England or America to try to sell the invention to armaments firms. However, despite being optimistic about his future, Colonel Kelsey struggled with the toll of adjusting to peacetime life, business failures, financial difficulties, a failed marriage and some unhappy love affairs and was discovered by the police on the floor of his office in Clarence Street, Devonport, at 5.30 pm. on 8 February 1954. Under his body was a .22 calibre rifle which he appeared to have been holding.
A letter on the table addressed to whom it may concern said he was experimenting “to try to find the reason for dissipation of recoil in a rifle or submachine-gun. This is immensely important to me, now that the Kelsey swivel-stock rifle has proved successful”, he added “that there was considerable risk in the experiments” with a footnote added that the tests were to be made at training grounds near Whenuapai.
After reading some of Colonel Kelsey’s letters in chambers, the Coroner found that there was ample evidence that Colonel Kelsey had many personal difficulties. If he had intended to test the rifle at the time of his death, he would not have needed to write the letters, in one of which Kelsey stated he was “going to die,” The Coroner said he was forced to conclude that the cause of death was suicide by a self-inflicted bullet wound in the head.
With Colonel Kelsey’s passing, the development of the Kelsey swivel-stock rifle progressed no further.
In the 2012 history of the Sten Gun, by Leroy Thompson, a variant of the Sten Gun matching Colonel Kelsey’s device is precisely described, indicating that the weapon was tested and, although never progressing past the prototype stage, a record of existence along with some photos kept.
No other New Zealand Ordnance Officer has held such a variety of appointments on active service. Colonel Kelsey was an OME, SOME, DADOS(Equipment), COME, ADOS, DDOS, and acting CREME. Despite his wartime service and the award of the MBE and Mention in Dispatches, there was no place for Colonel Kelsey in the regular post-war army. Despite his optimistic belief in the success of the Kelsey swivel-stock rifle, Colonel Kelsey struggled to adjust to the post-war world. Without understanding the effects of wartime stress that exist today now, he fell through the gaps and took his own life. Additionally, given the stigma surrounding suicide that has existed for many years, his wartime service and potential achievement as an inventor have never fully been recognised.
Accounts of New Zealand Ordnance Units’ wartime activities are rare, with one of the few accounts from the Second World War found in the wartime publication Prelude to War.
Prelude To Battle was the first of ten surveys on the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Forces (2 NZEF) produced by the New Zealand Army Board during the Second World War to provide short articles on the activities of 2 NZEF.
Prelude To Battle was published by Whitcombe & Tombs, in 1942 and covers the first Libyan Campaign of June -December 1940. Prelude To Battle includes chapters on
NZASC, 4th NZ Mechanical Transport Company (4RMT), and
New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC), 10 Light Aid Detachment (10 LAD) attached to New Zealand Engineers (NZE), 5 Field Park Company
The chapter Water Supplies covers explicitly the activities 10 LAD during Operation Compass, which was the first significant British military operation of the Western Desert Campaign (1940–1943), during which British, Empire and Commonwealth forces attacked Italian forces in western Egypt and Cyrenaica, the eastern province of Libya, from December 1940 to February 1941.
10 LAD was one of 11 LADs, numbered 9 to 19, raised as part of the NZOC in late 1939 to render assistance and repair mechanic transport and the anti-tank units of 2 NZEF. Raised at Hopuhopu Camp, 10 LAD was commanded by Second Lieutenant George D Pollock, and attached to 5 Field Park Company, NZE. 10 LAD sailed as part of the Main Body of 2 NZEF in January 1940, Disembarking in Egypt in February 1940.
In late 1940 New Zealand units, including the Fifth Field Park Company, with 10 LAD attached, Divisional Signals, 4 RMT and other specialist troops, had been seconded to General Archibald Wavell for Operation Compass. The official War History New Zealand Engineers, Middle East states, “but beyond guarding the water pipeline and establishing water points and forward dumps at Charing Cross, the Company was not much affected. The British Army seemed to do very well without its assistance”. However, as this Prelude To Battle chapter describes, 10 LAD played a critical role in ensuring water supply to the advancing allied units.
The Prelude to Battle chapter, Water Supplies, reads:
Concerned with the maintenance of water plants to supply the troops advancing into Cyrenaica and the servicing of Royal Engineers’ equipment, the 10th Light Aid Detachment of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps entered each town almost immediately after its capture to attend to the water installations and pumping appliances.
Before the British assumed the offensive, the 10th LAD has succeeded in drawing water from about ten feet below the surface at Burbeita and in the sandhills at Baggush. When Fort Nibeiwa was attacked on 8 December, the 10th LAD were in caves in the escarpment at Charing Cross, several miles inland from Mersa Matruh. As soon as the last of the Sisi Barrano forts was captured, Major G. D. Pollock, who commanded the 10th LAD went to Sidi Barrani to attend to the water works there. He found in perfect order a Fiat diesel pumping engine capable of 250 litres an hour and a plant for distilling salt water. The remainder of the 10th LAD entered Sidi Barrani two days later. The Italians also left a large pumping station almost at Buqbuq, half way between Sidi Barrani and Sollum .
As the Australians concentrated for the Battle of Bardia, the 10th LAD were filling and working water wagons for Sollim. At this stage they began to operate closely with the 5th Field Park Company and on 10 January they moved with them to the harbour at Bardia. A fortnight later they were in Tobruk at work on the large distilling plant. After the Battle of Derna and the subsequent Italian withdrawal towards Benghazi, the 10th LAD were given a special job. The British command had made the decision to cut across the plateau south of Benghazi: the success of this plan depended on getting a supply of water quickly to Msus, some 500 miles south-west of Derna. it was the responsibility of the 1Oth LAD to have ninety-five tons of water at this point for the armoured division. This was accomplished. The operation succeeded, Benghazi fell, and the whole of Cyrenaica was subsequently occupied. In northern Cyrenaica, the water problem ceased. West of Derna lies a region of small streams, trees and green countryside decorated with fresh white buildings. When the British consolidated in this area in February 1941 the work of the 10th LAD ended and they followed the New Zealand signallers. Transport driver and engineers back to Helwan, where the New Zealand Division had taken up its station preparatory to its departure for Greece.
Prelude to Battle Page 32-34
Following this brief excursion into Libya, 10 LAD continued to be attached to 5 Field Park, NZE for the remainder of the war. In November 1942, the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) was formed as part of 2 NZEF and 10 LAD transferred from the NZOC to the NZEME. 10 LAD was disestablished in late 1945.
Brigadier Andrews was born in New Plymouth on 11 January 1912. He was educated at Thames and New Plymouth Boys’ High School and Canterbury University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree. A talented rugby player, Andrews represented Canterbury and had made the grade for selection as an All Black in 1934. However, as he was nearing the end of his studies, he made the difficult decision to forgo rugby and complete his studies.
Enlisted into the Permanent Force of the New Zealand Army as a cadet on 7 April 1936, Andrews was commissioned into the NZAOC as a Lieutenant on 17 June 1936. As Lieutenant S.B Wallace, the Officer in Charge of the Ordnance Workshops, was on course in England, Andrews was detached from the Main Ordnance Depot to take Charge of the Ordnance Workshops. From September 1937, Andrews was then appointed as the Temporary Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (OME) until Wallace’s return in June 1938. Returning to the Main Ordnance Depot as the Assistant Ordnance Officer, Andrews began work on updating equipment scales and developing plans to equip and support provide an expeditionary force.
On 11 December 1939. Andrews was seconded to the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF) as the Senior OME (SOME), promoted to Captain, and embarked on active service the same day. He was promoted to Major and appointed Deputy Assistant Director Ordnance Services (DADOS) 2 NZEF on 1 August 1940. The appointment of Assistant Director Ordnance Services (ADOS) 2 NZ Division followed in January 1941.
Following the appointment of Colonel King, the ADOS 2 NZEF, as the Deputy Director Ordnance Services (DDOS) lines of Communication (L of C) for the 8th Army, Andrews assumed the responsibilities of ADOS 2 NZEF.
On the formation of the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) as a unit of 2NZEF on 1 December 1942, Andrews was appointed to the position of Commander EME (CEME) 2 NZ Division.
Returning to New Zealand in July 1943, Andrews was appointed as the COME at MOD Trentham and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Based on his experience in the Middle East, he integrated All Arms Military training into the training schedule of the MOD Ordnance Workshops.
Andrews was soon overseas again, first undertaking a tour of duty with 3 NZ Division in the Pacific in early 1944 and in May was again posted back to 2NZEF (Middle East), where he served as CEME 2 NZ Division.
Early in the war, Andrews had been handpicked by General Freyberg to manage the 2nd NZEF Rugby Team on the cessation of hostilities. Under Andrew’s management, a team known as The Kiwis was selected from men completing active service in North Africa and Italy and included several men who had spent lengthy spells in prisoner of war camps in Italy, Austria and Germany.
Andrews completed his task as the manager of The Kiwis with much success, with the Kiwis becoming one of the most famous and successful Rugby teams produced by New Zealand who, in their tour of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and France, played 33 matches for 29 wins, two draws and two losses. They scored 605 points and conceded just 185. They beat the full international sides of England, Wales and France and lost just one international to Scotland. The complete tour results were
07 October 1945 Swansea v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 22-6
30 October 1945 Llanelli v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 18-8
03 November 1945 Neath v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 22 – 15
10 November 1945 Northern Services v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 14-7
14 November 1945 Ulster v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 10-9
17 November 1945 Leinster v New Zealand Army – Draw 10-10
24 November 1945 England v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 18-3
01 December 1945 British Army v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 25-5
08 December 1945 RAF v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 11-0
15 December 1945 Royal Navy v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 6-3
22 December 1945 London Clubs v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 30-0
26 December 1945 Cardiff v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 3-0
29 December 1945 Newport v New Zealand Army – Draw 3-3
05 January 1946 Wales v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 11-3
12 January 1946 Combined Services v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 31-0
19 January 1946 Scotland v New Zealand Army – NZEF Loss 11-6
24 January 1946 Scottish Universities v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 57-3
26 January 1946 North Midlands v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 24-9
31 January 1946 East Midlands v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 14-0
02 February 1946 Northern Counties v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 25-8
09 February 1946 Lancs, Cheshire & Yorks v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 41-0
14 February 1946 Oxford University v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 31-9
16 February 1946 Devon & Cornwall v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 11-3
20 February 1946 Cambridge University v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 15-7
23 February 1946 Gloucs & Somerset v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 11-0
27 February 1946 Monmouthshire v New Zealand Army – NZEF Loss 0-15
02 March 1946 Aberavon v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 17-4
10 March 1946 France v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 14-9
13 March 1946 BAOR v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 12-0
16 March 1946 Combined Services v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 20-3
24 March 1946 France v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 13-10
27 March 1946 France A v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 38-9
31 March 1946 Ile De France v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 24-13
Andrews returned to New Zealand in July 1946 to take up the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO) appointment at the MOD Trentham on completing the tour.
Appointed as the first post-war Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) on 1 October 1947. Relinquishing the appointment of DOS on 11 November 1949, Andrews then attended the Joint Services Command College (JSSC) in the United Kingdom.
On his return to New Zealand, he was appointed the Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) at Army HQ. Promoted to Colonel, Andrews was then posted to Waiouru as the Camp Commandant in 1953.
In 1955, he was promoted to Brigadier as the Commander of the Central Military District.
Another overseas tour followed in late 1956 when he became Senior Army Liaison Officer at the New Zealand Embassy in London. Returning to New Zealand in 1960, Brigadier Andrews then took up the appointment of Commander Southern Military District.
In January 1963, he was again posted to Army HQ as the Adjutant General, an appointment he was to hold until his retirement in 1967.
Appointed as the Colonel Commandant of the RNZAOC on 1 April 1969, he served in that capacity until 30 September 1977.
Throughout his retirement, Andrews maintained a keen interest in all activities of the RNZAOC and published his autobiography, Allan Huia Andrews: a distinguished career, in 2002.
Brigadier Andrews passed away on 28 October 2002 and is buried at Okato Cemetery, New Plymouth, New Zealand.
Mentioned in Dispatches while serving with 2 NZ Division and further recognising his services, he was awarded the OBE in 1943. In the 1964 NewYears’ honours, Andrewes was awarded the CBE.
Hidden in an alcove under some stairs at New Zealand’s Army’s Trade Training School is a surprising item of memorabilia not generally associated with the Army, a Ships Bell belonging to the M.V Rangitata.
With no labels or tags identifying its origins, its mounting cradle indicates that it was mounted in a social club or smoko room and used to call the room to attention for important announcements.
The journey of this bell and why it now rests at Trentham has long been forgotten. However, it does hold a surprising place in the whakapapa of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistics Regiment.
Established in 1873, the New Zealand Shipping Company (NZSC) helped pioneer the trade of frozen goods from New Zealand to England and became one of New Zealand’s premier shipping companies with domestic and international routes.
In the late 1920s, the NZSC undertook a significant investment in its fleet for the Wellington to London route and had three modern diesel-powered passenger/cargo ships built, the Rangitane, the Rangitiki and the Rangitata.
Known as the “Rangi” ships, from 1929, these 16,737-ton diesel-powered vessels dominated the service between England and New Zealand with a four-weekly service, making the voyage via the Panama Canal and Pitcairn Island in 32 days.
All three Rangis served in various war-related roles from 1939.
whilst transiting from New Zealand to England was sunk three hundred miles east of New Zealand by the German surface raiders Komet and Orion on 27 November 1940.
In November 1940, as its sister was facing German raiders in the Pacific, as the largest vessel in the thirty-eight vessel trans-Atlantic convoy HX 84, the Rangitiki encountered the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer, and although eight merchant vessels were lost, the Rangitiki completed the voyage. In December 1940, as part of Trans-Atlantic convoy WS 5, the Rangitiki then survived an encounter with the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. In 1945 the Rangitiki returned to the New Zealand -England route as it undertook repatriation voyages returning Servicemen and War brides home from Europe. Following eighty-seven peacetime return voyages between New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the Rangitiki was retired and broken up as scrap in 1962.
In 1937 the Rangitata transported troops to England for the coronation of King George VI, and in 1939 was requisitioned for war service. During the war, some of the Rangitata’s eventful voyages included transporting 113 child evacuees from England to New Zealand. Later in the war, it transported United States soldiers from the USA to England. Following the war, the Rangitata was fitted out as a war-bride ship and, in 1947, transported the first post-war draft of immigrants to New Zealand. Returning to peacetime service with its sister ship, the Rangitiki, the Rangitata was also scrapped in 1962.
The wartime voyage of significance to the RNZALR is the Rangitata’s participation in carrying the First Echelon of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2nd NZEF) from Wellington to Egypt in January/February 1940.
Six merchant vessels made up Convoy US.1 sailing from Wellington on 4 January 1940, carrying 345 Officers and 6175 other ranks of the Second Echelon of the 2nd NZEF.
As part of Convoy US.1, the Rangitata transported the following units to Egypt.
Divisional Cavalry: A and B Sqns (369 men)
NZANS Nursing Sisters (3)
Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve ratings.
2 NZEF Overseas Base
13 Light Aid Detachment, New Zealand Ordnance Corps (1 Officer + 12 Other Ranks)
13 Light Aid Detachment, New Zealand Ordnance Corps (1 Officer + 12 Other Ranks)
The following members of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps have been identified as sailing on the Rangitata. As the war progressed, several of these men held significant positions in the NZOC and from November 1942, the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME). A small number continued to serve in the post-war NZ Army.
Lieutenant Donald Edward Harper, NZOC, Base Depot,
finished the war as Lieutenant Colonel and the 2nd NZ Div Assistant Director of Ordnance Services.
2nd Lieutenant John Owen Kelsey, NZOC, 13 LAD
Served as an Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (OME), Senior Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (SOME), Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (ADOS) and acting Chief Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (CRÈME). Completed the war as a Colonel and was awarded an MBE and MID
2nd Lieutenant Robert Hassell England, NZOC, 14 LAD
Promoted to Captain and served as OC 3 NZ Field Workshop and NZ Divisional Ordnance Field Park
Warrant Officer Class One Kevin Graham Keith Cropp, Base Depot
Remained in the RNZAOC post-war and retired as a Major in 1955
Warrant Officer Class One Francis Reid, NZOC, Base Depot
He was commissioned and served throughout the war. Remained in the RNZAOC after the war and as a Lieutenant Colonel, was the Director of Ordnance Services from November 1949 to March 1957.
Warrant Officer Class Two Andrew Gunn, NZOC, 13 LAD
KIA Greece. 18 April 1941
Corporal Randal Martin Holmes, NZOC, 14 LAD
Corporal Robert William Watson, NZOC, Base Depot
Private Rodger Langdon Ashcroft, NZOC, Base Depot
Private John Noel Shadwell Heron, NZOC, Base Depot
Private Mark Edwin Ivey, NZOC, Base Depot
Private Edward McTavish MacPherson, NZOC, Base Depot
Private Lionel Edward Campbell, NZOC, 14 LAD
Private Lionel John McGreevy, NZOC, 14 LAD
Although this list is not exhaustive, the few highlighted names indicate the logistical talent onboard the Rangitata during its voyage as part of Convoy US.1. Officers such as Harper, Kelsey and Reid went on and play a significant role in shaping the future of New Zealand Military Supply and Maintenance Support trades.
Although the journey of the MV Rangitata’s Bell and how it ended up in Trentham may never be known, the hope is that given its relationship to the Logisticians of the First Echelon, in the future, the RNZALR will place and display this bell in a position of significance.
In British and Commonwealth military doctrine, there has long been a separation of responsibility for Supplies and Stores
Supplies – The provisioning, storing, and distributing of food for soldiers, forage for animals; Fuel, Oil and Lubricants (FOL) for tanks, trucks and other fuel-powered vehicles and equipment; and the forward transport and distribution of ammunition. In the NZ Army, Supplies were managed by the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC) from 1911 to 1979.
Stores – The provisioning, storage and distribution of weapons, munitions and military equipment not managed by RNZASC. Stores were the Responsibility of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) until 1996.
Despite the separation of responsibilities, the RNZASC and RNZAOC had a long and cooperative relationship.
During early colonial days, the early actions of the New Zealand Wars proved that the New Zealand bush and the elusive tactics of the Māori presented unfamiliar problems of supply and transport. An Imperial Supply and Transport Service was established and operated with the Imperial troops.
From the end of the New Zealand Wars until 1910, there was no unit of ASC in New Zealand, with the supply functions required by the New Zealand Military provided by the Defence Stores Department. However, in 1911 the formation of the Divisional Trains saw the beginnings of the NZASC as part of the Territorial Army. NZASC units served in World War One, during which the NZASC and NZAOC would, especially in the early years of the war, often share personnel, facilities, and transportation.
In 1917 the NZAOC was established as a permanent component of the New Zealand Military Forces, however, it would not be until 1924 that the Permanent NZASC was formed. The alliance between the NZASC and the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was approved in 1925.
The RASC has its roots much deeper in history. Up to the time of Cromwell, armies lived by plunder. The RASC came into being in 1888. but the work it would perform was being done long before that.
Cromwell and then the Duke of Marlborough, and later Napoleon organised a system of civilian commissaries. The Duke of York established the Corps of Royal Waggoners in 1794. This purely transport organisation continued until 1869 under various names, eventually, as the Military Train, fighting as light cavalry in the Indian Mutiny.
The birth of the Supplies and Transport Service dates from 1869. when the Commissariat and the officers of the Military Train along with the Military Stores Department came under one department called the Control Department, it remained for General Sir Redvers Buller, in 1888, to organise the first Army Service Corps. Since its formation, the RASC has been a combatant corps, trained and armed as infantry and responsible for its own protection. Considered a more technical Corps the NZAOC was not granted the status of a combatant Corps until 1942.
During World War Two, many units and establishments represented the NZASC in all the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) theatres. Again, as in the earlier World War, the NZASC would have a cooperative relationship with New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) Ammunition Examiners (AEs) were on the establishments of the RNZASC Ammunition platoons, with NZASC Warrant Officers attached to the NZ Divisional Ordnance Field Park (OFP) to provide technical advice on vehicle spares. As a tribute to the service of the NZASC in WW2, the title, “Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps,’’ was bestowed in 1946.
In the post-war era, the NZASC and from 1946 the RNZASC would serve with distinction in J Force in Japan and then contribute the second-largest New Zealand contingent to K Force in Korea by providing 10 Transport Company.
Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the RNZASC would be an integral part of the New Zealand Army. Its functions ranging from the everyday task of cooking and serving food to the more spectacular operation of dropping supplies by air.
To purchase, store, rail, ship, and otherwise distribute the amount of food, fuels and oils needed to supply a modern army, the RNZASC maintained Supply Depots and employed many kinds of tradespeople, including Butchers. Supply Depots located in Papakura, Waiouru, Linton, Trentham, Burnham, and Singapore, holding supplies in bulk and distributing them as required. A section of the RNZASC would be a feature of every army camp with smaller Supply and Transport depots to handle goods received from the central supply depots and provide drivers and transport for many purposes at Devonport/Fort Cautley, Hopuhopu, Papakura, Waiouru. Linton. Trentham, Wellington/Fort Dorset, Christchurch/Addington, and Burnham.
Following the Macleod report that recommended the streamlining of logistic support for the British Army, the RASC merged in 1965 with the Royal Engineers Transportation and Movement Control Service to form the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT). This would see the RASC Supply functions transferred to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC). In 1973, following the British lead, the Australians also reformed their Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC) into the Royal Australian Army Corps of Transport (RAACT).
Acknowledging the British and Australian experience, the RNZASC would also undergo a similar transition, and on 12 May 1979, the RNZASC ceased to exist, and its Supply functions transferred to the RNZAOC, while the Transport, Movements and Catering functions were reformed into the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT).
The RNZASC supply functions would be integrated into the RNZAOC, with the Camp Supply Depots becoming NZAOC Supply Platoons numbered as.
14 Supply Platoon, Papakura/Hopuhopu
24 Supply Platoon, Linton
34 Supply Platoon, Burnham
44 Supply Platoon, Waiouru
54 Supply Platoon, Trentham
NZ Supply Platoon, Singapore
In recognition of its long RNZASC service, 21 Supply Company was retained as a Territorial Force(TF) unit, initially as the TF element of 4 Supply Company in Waiouru and later as the TF element of 2 Supply Company, Linton. Today 21 Supply is the main North Island Supply unit of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR).
For a brief period following the RNZAOC assumption of Supply functions, some RF and TF RNZAOC would periodically be employed within the RNZCT transport Squadrons Combat Supplies sections.
The RNZAOC Butcher trade inherited from the RNZASC would be discontinued in the mid-1980s, with the last of the butchers reclassifying as RNZAOC Suppliers. By the mid-1990s, it was decided as a cost-saving measure to allow the RNZCT catering staff to order directly from commercial foodstuff suppliers, effectively ending the RNZAOC foodstuffs speciality. The only RNZASC trade speciality remaining in the RNZAOC on its amalgamation into the RNZALR was that of petroleum Operator.
The RNZASC and RNZCT like the RNZAOC, have passed their combined responsibilities to the RNZALR. However, the RNZASC and RNZCT maintain a strong association that provides many benefits and opportunities for comradeship to RNZASC/CT Corps members and past and present members of the RNZALR. Another role of the RNZASC/CT association is to ensure that the rich and significant history of the RNZASC/CT is not lost to the future generations of the RNZALR.
Copies of the RNZASC/CT association newsletter from issue 92 can be viewed here
Serving the nation for 44 years, Henry Erridge served at Gallipoli before being invalided back to New Zealand. Continuing to serve throughout the interbellum, Erridge assisted in shaping the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps for the Second World War. During the war, Erridge played a significant role in providing New Zealand’s contribution to the collective logistics efforts of the British Commonwealth
Henry Earnest Erridge was born in Dunedin on 18 December 1887 to Henry and Jane Erridge. The fifth of seven children, Henry was educated in Dunedin and received commercial training. A keen military volunteer Erridge had joined the Dunedin Engineer Volunteers as a Cadet in 1904, transferring into the Otago Hussars in 1909, gaining Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Rank. On 6 April 1914, Erridge joined the New Zealand Permanent Staff (NZPS) with the rank of Staff Sergeant Instructor as the Orderly Room and Quartermaster (QM), No 15 Area Group, Oamaru.
On the outbreak of war in August 1915, Erridge was seconded for duty with the NZEF and left New Zealand with the Main Body, Otago Infantry Battalion. As a Signals Sergeant in the Otago’s, Erridge saw service during the Turkish attack on the Suez Canal in February 1915 and later took part in the landings at Gallipoli. Stuck down with enteric fever, Erridge was evacuated from Gallipoli to Alexandria in June and, in August, invalided back to New Zealand for further convalescence.
Returning to duty as a Warrant Officer in the QM Department at Featherston Camp on 10 January 1916, Erridge was appointed Stores Forman responsible for managing the QM Stores accounts for Featherston and its subsidiary camps. Reclassified as Class “A” fit for overseas service on 5 July 1918, it was intended to attach Erridge to a reinforcement draft and returned to the front. Deemed as essential, the Director of Equipment and Ordnance (DEOS) Stores appealed to the Chief of the General Staff, stating that
The accounts of the Camp Quartermaster, Featherston Camp, have not been completed and balanced. The principle causes for this state of affairs are:
(1) The inferior class of clerks posted for Home Service duties. (2) And ever-changing staff, thus throwing the bulk of work on SSM Erridge, who has been employed in the capacity of foreman.
It is essential that SSM Erridge be retained until 1 November at least
Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores to Chief of the General Staff. 14 August 1918
The DEOS appeal was successful, and Erridge was granted authority to delay his placement into a reinforcement draft until November on the proviso that every endeavour was to be made to have all accounts in connection with the QM Branch Featherston and subsidiary camps completed to the satisfaction of the proper authority. Following the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Enridges employment was reassessed, and he was provided orders to remain with the QM Department at Featherston. Seconded to the Ordnance Stores in Wellington in June 1919, Erridge was permanently transferred into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) with Conductor rank on 1 October 1919.
Recommended for the Supplies and Purchasing Officer position with the civil administration in Samoa, Erridge was accepted for service with the Samoan Administration for three years from 24 May 1920. Due to a misunderstanding of the secondment rules, Erridge was discharged from the New Zealand Military. However, this was reviewed, and the discharge was rescinded, allowing Erridge to retain his rank and seniority on return to New Zealand.
Completing his service in Samoa in August 1923, Erridge returned to New Zealand and, following three months leave, resumed duty with the NZAOC, where he was posted to the Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) and placed in charge of the Stores on 1 December 1923. In an example of his experience and utility, Erridge temporally relieved Captain F.E Ford, the Ordnance Officer of Featherston Camp, over the period 4-31 Jan 1924.
During the 1920s, the Quartermaster General (QMG) vested command of the NZAOC to the Director of Ordnance Service (DOS). Assisted by the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO), the Inspecting Ordnance Officer (IOO), and the Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (OME), the DOS was responsible for:
The provision, receipt, storage, distribution, repair, examination, and maintenance of small-arms, machine guns, vehicles, clothing and necessaries, equipment and general stores (including medical and veterinary), and camp and barrack equipment,
The inspection and repair of armament and warlike stores, and the inspection of gun ammunition.
The provision, receipt, storage, and distribution of small arms ammunition.
The receipt, storage, issue, and repair of fixed armament, field armament, and artillery vehicles.
The organisation and control of ordnance workshops
The preparation and periodic revision of Equipment Regulations and barrack and hospital schedules
The organisation, administration, and training of the NZ Army Ordnance Corps Forces
The maintenance of statistics of the Ordnance Department.
The DOS was also the Commanding Officer (CO) of the NZAOC and was responsible for the interior economy, including enlistment, training, pay, promotion, postings transfers, clothing, equipment, and discharges within the unit.
In 1924 the incumbent DOS, Lt Col Pilkington, was appointed QMG in Army Headquarters. Major T.J King, then acting COO, was appointed DOS, with Major William Ivory acting as the IOO and OME. By 1925 King recognised that he could not provide complete justice to both the DOS and COO posts, but with no Ordnance Officers immediately available to fill the COO position, he recommended that the QMG give some relief by granting Erridge an officer’s commission. In his recommendation to the QMG, King noted that
Conductor Erridge is a man of wide experience in Ordnance duties and stores works generally and is eminently fitted for appointment as Ordnance Officer with the rank of lieutenant. He is a man of unblemished character, with a very high regard for the interests of the Corps and the services, and in the last few months gained sufficient insight into the duties I propose transferring him to.
Director of Ordnance Stores to Quartermaster General 11 December 1925
The QMG supported King’s recommendation on the proviso that Erridge pass all the required commissioning examinations. On passing the examinations needed, Erridge was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the NZAOC on 23 July 1926. However, the question then arose of where to place Erridge on to the Army List. Technically the COO appointment was still vacant with Erridge for all intents acting as King’s assistant and only performing part of the COO duties with the work of the COO divided between King and Erridge. It was not desired to add to the establishment an Assistant COO, so it was decided to show Erridge as Ordnance Officer (Provision). Following several years as the Ordnance Officer (Provision), Erridge was appointed to the dual roles of Ordnance Officer MOD and Ordnance Officer Central Military District (CMD) on 14 May 1929.
In December 1930, the incumbent Ordnance Officer Southern Military District (SMD)and Camp Commandant of Burnham Camp, Captain A.R.C White, faced compulsory retirement. To allow some continuity while White’s replacement was decided, Erridge was temporarily sent to Burnham. Although initially only a temporary posting, Erridge remained at Burnham until 1934 in the dual roles of Ordnance Officer SMD and Officer in Charge Burnham Camp (Camp Commandant).
By 1935 in his role of DOS, King was looking forward and preparing his organisation for war. In a submission to the General Headquarters, King requested authority to reorganise his staff. Regarding Erridge, King started.
Owing to the large amount of new equipment that is on order and is likely to be ordered soon, it is essential that the staff of the Ordnance Depot, Trentham, be strengthened to the extent that I should again have the assistance of my most experienced Ordnance Officer.
There is a great deal of work of a technical nature in connection with mobilisation, rewriting of Regulations, etc., which I am unable to find time to carry out myself, and which Mr Erridge, by virtue of his long experience and training, is well qualified to undertake. This work is most necessary and should be put in hand as soon as possible; I have no other Officer to whom I could delegate it.
Again, King’s recommendations were accepted, and on 30 June 1934, Erridge relinquished his Burnham appointments and was appointed as the Ordnance Officer (Provision) at the MOD, with promotion to Captain following on 1 December 1934.
When the war was declared in September 1939, the NZAOC underwent a significant transformation as its mobilisation plans were implemented. The DOS, Lieutenant Colonel King, was seconded to the 2nd NZEF as the Deputy Director of Ordnance Services (DDOS). Accompanying King was a small staff drawn from the military and civilian staff of the NZAOC who formed the nucleus of the Ordnance Corps in the 2nd NZEF. Kings’ responsibilities of DOS and COO were handed over to the Ordnance Officer CMD, Lt Col Burge.
On 2 December 1939, Erridge relinquished the appointment of Ordnance Officer (Provision), was granted the Rank of temporary Major and posted to Army HQ with substantive Major confirmed in February 1940. In June 1940, the NZAOC underwent further reorganisation when Lt Col Burge relinquished the appointment of DOS when he was appointed as Deputy QMG in Army HQ with the position of DOS placed into abeyance for the duration of the war. Appointed as Staff Officer Ordnance and CO of the NZAOC, Erridge took over responsibility for the NZAOC.
With the national economy transitioning from peacetime to a war footing, the Government took a series of initiatives to ensure international trade and commerce security. Representing the New Zealand Military, Erridge accompanied the New Zealand Minister of Supply and a small entourage of officials of the New Zealand Munitions and Supply Delegation on a tour of Australia for a series of talks with their Australian counterparts in July/August 1940.
While the mission of the New Zealand Munitions and Supply Delegation to Australia was focused on strengthening cooperation between New Zealand and Australia, the Eastern Group Conference held in Delhi in October 1940 had the broader goal of organising a joint war supply policy for the countries of the “Eastern Group.” The countries represented at the Eastern Group Conference included the United Kingdom, Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand, East Africa, Palestine, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, and Hong Kong, with the Government of the Netherlands East Indies attending as observers. The New Zealand delegation included.
The Chief of the General Staff, Major-General Sir John Duigan,
Major H. E. Erridge,
Mr F. R. Picot, Director of the Internal Marketing Department,
Mr J. R. Middleton, assistant-Secretary of supply,
Mr B. Taylor, assistant to the chief investigating officer of the Treasury Department.
As a result of the October conference, the Eastern Group Supply Council (EGSC) was established to coordinate and optimise the production and distribution of war materiel in the British colonies and dominions in the Eastern Hemisphere. The New Zealand members of the council who were to be based in New Delhi were.
Mr F.R Picot, Director of Internal Marketing and Food Controller,
Mr W.G.M Colquhoun (Munitions Department).
Mr R.J Inglis (Supply Department).
Mr R.H. Wade (of the Treasury).
A Central Provisions Office (Eastern) was also set up in Delhi, with national offices established in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, East Africa, Southern Rhodesia and the Middle East. The Central Provision Office (Eastern) was a military organisation consisting of about 40 to 50 Army officers from all countries constituting the Eastern Group. Headed by the Controller-General of Army Provisions, who was also the military member of the EGSC and acted as the agent of the Imperial General Staff and various Commanders in Chief. The role of the Central Provision Office (Eastern) was coordinating with the controllers of the national provision offices to obtain military stores to maintain the British and Commonwealth war effort. From March 1941, Two NZAOC Officers, Temporary Major D. L. Lewis and Lieutenant D.I Strickland were attached to the Central Provision Office (Eastern) staff in New Delhi.
Before the Central Provision Office (Eastern) assumed complete provision control, it was necessary for all the controllers of the national provision offices to meet to ensure that uniform procedures were adopted. A coordination conference for the various Provision Group Controllers was held at New Delhi in July 1941, with Erridge attending as New Zealand’s military representative. Based on this conference, on 5 August 1941, the New Zealand War Cabinet approved the establishment of the New Zealand Defence Servicers Provision Officer (DSPO), with Erridge appointed as its Controller with the rank of Temporary Lieutenant Colonel. Relinquishing the appointment of Staff Officer Ordnance and handing over the Commanding Officer NZAOC duties to Major E.L.G Bown, the COO MOD.
By April 1945, the DSPO thought Central Provision Group (Eastern) had shipped for the British Ministry of Supply equipment to the value of £10,000,000 (2021 NZD $8,988,577,362.41) with additional equipment to the value of £8,520,761 (2021 NZD $765,895,194.35) that was surplus to the requirements of NZ Forces overseas transferred to the War office. During a visit to New Zealand in January 1946, Major-General R.P Pakenham-Walsh, CB, MC., a member of the Eastern Group Supply Council and the Central Provision Office(Eastern), stated that “Stores from New Zealand which had been made available to the Eastern Group Supply Council had been of great importance in the prosecution of the war” adding that “the Dominion’s contribution had compared more than favourably with that of various larger countries.” Following the surrender of Germany in April and Japan’s defeat in August 1945, the Eastern Group Supply Council and Central Provision Office, although serving their purpose well, had become irrelevant and were dissolved on 31 March 1946. However, it took two years for the DSPO to transition to a peacetime footing. Seconded to the War Asset Realisation Board (WARB) on 1 May 1947, Erridge started to wind down the work of the DSPO while also coordinating the disposal of equipment through the WARB. On 17 December 1948, Erridge handed over the remaining stocks to the WARB and closed the DSPO.
At 62 years of age and following 45 years of volunteer, Territorial and Regular service, Erridge retired from the New Zealand Army and was placed onto the Retired List with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 29 May 1949. Never marrying, Erridge spent his retirement in his hometown of Dunedin. On 30 March 1962, a resident of the Dunedin’s Ross Home, Erridge, passed away at 74. Following his wishes, he was cremated, and his ashes scattered.
Throughout his service, Erridge was awarded the following decorations
NZ Long Service and Efficient Service (1925)
British War Medal
War Medal 1939-45
NZ War Medal, 193-45
 Archives New Zealand, “Henry Earnest Erridge- Ww1 8/1004, NZAOC 888, Ww2 800245, 30293,” Personal File, Record no R24097640 (1904-1948): 2708.
 “Regulations for the Military Forces of the Dominion of New Zealand,” New Zealand Gazette, May 19, 1927.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Resignations and Transfers of Officers of the NZ Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 61, 19 July 1926.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Resignations and Transfer of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 48, 27 June 1929.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 16, 5 March 1931.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 55, 19 July 1934.;”Appointment, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers from the NZ Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 87, 29 November 1935.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 1, 11 Jan 1940.;”Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 75 (1940).
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 70 (1940).
 “Unity in War Effort,” Evening Star, Issue 23622, 8 July 1940.
 East Africa consisting of the territories of (Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, Nyasaland; Bertram Stevens, “The Eastern Group Supply Council,” The Australian Quarterly 13, no. 3 (1941).
 “Eastern Group Supply Council,” Otago Daily Times, Issue 24640, 23 June 1941.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Retirements of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces.,” New Zealand Gazette, No 30, 9 April 1941.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Retirements of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces.,” New Zealand Gazette, No 74, 11 September 1941.
 “War Supplies,” Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 126, 30 May 1945.
 “Production Problems,” Evening Star, Issue 25690, 14 January 1946.
 “Supplies – the Eastern Group Supply Council,” Northern Advocate, 1 April 1946, 1 April 1946.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army “, New Zealand Gazette No 37, 16 June 1949.
This article is republished with the permission of the Facebook page “Upper Hutt War Stories“. Upper Hutt War Stories is a Facebook page dedicated to commemorating the war service of Upper Hutt’s citizens and those with strong connections to the City. It remembers those who put their lives on the line for the defence of our Nation.
Buried beneath a weathered brass plaque in the graveyard of Trentham’s St John’s church is a former Commander of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps. A veteran of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force North Africa and Italian campaigns, he was wounded in action and continued to serve as a Territorial Force officer after the War.
Born in Petone, Don Harper attended Wellington College, where he was exposed to military life as a member of the school’s cadet corps for six years. After leaving school and graduating from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in accounting, he joined the public service as a clerk with the National Provident Fund in 1932.
When the Second World War broke out Don was living with his parents in Russell Street, Upper Hutt and working as an auditor with the Government’s Audit Department. He enlisted straight away, entering camp at Trentham on 3 October 1939 as a Private with the 4th Reserve Motor Transport Company. A week later he was sent on the Potential Officers Course, and after six weeks training was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
Don was subsequently posted to the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham for training and departed Wellington for the Middle East on 5 January 1940. He was attached to the headquarters of the 2nd New Zealand Division as they established themselves at Maadi in Egypt, and at the beginning of June 1940 was promoted to Lieutenant.
The New Zealand Division had seen little action up to this point and Don was active helping establish the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force’s Base Ordnance Depot at Maadi Camp in September 1940. Promoted to Temporary Captain to fill the Base Ordnance Officer post, he remained with the Depot in Egypt for almost a year, missing out on the campaigns in Greece and Crete.
Then at the beginning of August 1941, Don was posted back to the headquarters of the 2nd New Zealand Division to be Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) in the rank of Temporary Major. This was a critical logistics role resupplying the Division and marked a stunningly quick progression from private to major in less than two years.
Don experienced the realities of warfare for the first time in November 1941, when the Division was attached to the newly formed 8th Army and attempted to relieve the beleaguered garrison at Tobruk. Despite losing all their tank support the Kiwis succeeded in reaching Tobruk, but suffered horrendous casualties in what was described as some of the hardness fighting of the War at Sidi Rezegh and Belhamed, when Rommel’s Africa Corps counterattacked.
Withdrawn to Suez to recover and retrain, Don and the 2nd New Zealand Division were subsequently rushed to Syria in February 1942, to protect against an Axis invasion of the Northeastern flank. But in April he was back in Cairo, where he married Elisabeth Rothschild in a short ceremony. Don and Elisabeth were fortunate to be able to spend time together, as in May he was posted back to Maadi.
Don took over command of the New Zealand Engineers and Ordnance Training Depot, where he was responsible for training reinforcements. Then two months later he was posted as Deputy Director Ordnance Services with 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force headquarters and base depot. His efforts in helping establish and maintain the New Zealand contribution to the campaign were recognised with a mention in despatches on 15 December 1942.
After the fighting in North Africa came to a close, Don was deployed to Italy in October 1943. He arrivied at Taranto as the Kiwis began operations against the Germans, and was tasked with conducting a review of New Zealand Division ordnance support. He recommended a significant reorganisation, including establishing a new base deport at Bari, as an extension of the main depot back in Egypt.
Promoted to temporary Lieutenant Colonel, Don was appointed Assistant Director Ordnance Services in March 1944, and worked in resupplying the 2nd New Zealand Division in action at Cassino. In early June he was caught in an enemy artillery barrage and received shrapnel wounds in his back. Fortunately, the wounds were light, and once the small chunks of metal were removed under local anesthetic he returned to his unit.
At the end of 1944 Don was told that due to his lengthy war service and changes to the furlough scheme he would be returned home. Appointed commander of the returning draft he boarded ship with his wife and their young child, arriving in New Zealand on 3 January 1945, where he reverted in rank to Major.
Don was advised that his services were no longer required and that he could return to civilian life. However, he chose instead to be the posted to the New Zealand Temporary Staff in the rank of Captain in April 1945 and continued contributing to the war effort. In July he was advised he had received a second mention in despatches, this time for his services in Italy.
Considered unfit for deployment to the tropics due to service induced hearing loss, Don served at the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham Camp until the end of the War, when he was posted to the retired list in the Rank of Major. He then returned to his life as an accountant and auditor, and moved his family to Lower Hutt.
Continuing to serve in the Territorial Army, Don was formally promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 1 December 1948 and appointed Commander Royal New Zealand Ordnance Corps. He served in this part time role with the headquarters of the 1st New Zealand Division based out of Linton until October 1951, when the death of his business partner and failing health forced his resignation.
Don remained proud of his time in the military throughout his life, and after passing away in 2002 he was buried in a family plot at St John’s Church with his wife, under a plaque commemorating his war service. A key member of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force for an extended period of the North Africa and Italy campaigns, his grave gives little indication of the scale of this contribution. Lest we forget.
In the period between the world wars, Britain analysed the lessons of the Great War and, looking forward, realised that the next war was not to be one of attrition-based warfare but a war of speed, mobility and surprise utilising modern technologies such as armoured vehicles, motorised transport and communications. By 1939 the British Army had transformed from the horse-drawn army of the previous war into a modern motorised force fielding more vehicles than their potential opponents, the Germans. Britain’s modernisation was comprehensive with new weapons and equipment and robust and up-to-date doctrine, providing the foundation for the employment of the army. The modernisation of the British Army included Logistical services, with both the Army Service Corps and the Army Ordnance Corps on the path to becoming doctrinally prepared, equipped and organised for the upcoming conflict. New Zealand took Britain’s lead and, from the mid-1930s, began reorganising and reequipping New Zealand’s Military in tune with emerging British doctrine. New Zealand’s entry into the war in September 1939 initiated a massive transformation of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services with new units raised and personnel recruited to support New Zealand’s forces at home and overseas. In addition to Ordnance Deports and Workshops, the most numerous Ordnance unit was the Light Aid Detachments (LAD). Providing first-line repair to formations and Units, LADs provided the backbone of New Zealand repair and maintenance services keeping the critical material of war operational in often extreme conditions. This article provides background on the role and function of the LAD in overseas and home defence roles between 1939 and 1945.
Throughout the interwar years, the British Military establishment analysed the lessons of the previous war and interpreted contemporary developments. Updating doctrine throughout the 1930s, the British Military progressively transformed into a mechanised force armed with some of the era’s most advanced weapons and equipment. The tactical bible of British Commonwealth armies, the Field Service Regulations (FSR), was updated with at least four editions issued, proving that the British Army was willing to learn from the mistakes learned in the previous war. Concurrent to the tactical doctrine of the FSR Anticipating, the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) spent the 1930s creating the infrastructure and doctrine to support the mechanisation of the British Army by creating essential relationships with the British motor industry that smoothed the path to mobilisation. In addition to the doctrine published in the FSRs, the wartime doctrine for the operation of British and Commonwealth Ordnance Services was detailed in the Ordnance Manual (War) 1939.
Authorised for use from 13 September 1939, the Ordnance Manual (War) 1939 was intended to “Guide all concerned and particularly to assist, at the beginning of a campaign, those who have no previous war experience of the duties that they are called upon to undertake.” The Ordnance Manual (War) 1939 detailed all the responsibilities that were expected of the British and Commonwealth Ordnance Services, with the repair and maintenance responsibilities as follows;
8. The organisation for carrying out, in the field, repairs (including replacement of component and complete assemblies) to units’ equipment (other than ammunition) consists of:- (a) Light aid detachments, which are attached to certain units and formations to advise and assist them with their
“first line” repair and recovery duties. (b) Mobile workshop units, equipped with machinery, breakdown and store lorries, which are allotted to certain
formations for carrying out “second line” repairs and recovery. (c) Stationary base ordnance workshops, which are established on a semi-permanent basis at, or adjacent to, the
base ordnance depot or depots. (d) Ordnance field parks from which replacement of components and complete assemblies can be effected. These
ordnance field parks also hold a proportion of replacement vehicles.
The Ordnance Manual (War) 1939 then details the role of the Light Aid Detachment:
2. In order to assist units with their first line repair and recovery work, and to provide- expert diagnosis and technical experience, light aid detachments are permanently attached to certain formations and units, for example: • Artillery regiments. • Cavalry regiments and Tank battalions, Royal Armoured Corps. • Infantry brigades. • Machine-gun battalions. • Tank battalions. • Royal Engineer field parks. • Divisional Signals. The LADs. attached to RE field parks and to divisional signals (whose establishments of vehicles are comparatively small) are required to look after other small mechanised units not provided with LADs.
3. The personnel of a LAD consists of an Ordnance Mechanical Officer (OME), an armament artificer (fitter), an electrician, and a few fitters, and the necessary storemen, driver mechanics, drivers, etc., for their vehicles. Its transport usually consists of two lorries (one store and one breakdown), a car and a motorcycle.
4. Its functions are: – (a) To advise units how best to keep their equipment and vehicles in a state of mechanical efficiency; to help them to
detect the causes of any failures or breakdowns, and to assist them in carrying out first line repairs up to their full
capacity. (b) To assist units with first-line recovery of breakdowns. (c) To maintain a close liaison between the unit and formation workshop.
During rest periods LADs may be able to carry out more extensive repairs. If the time is available, the necessary parts and material can be brought up from the ordnance field park to enable them to carry out jobs which would normally be beyond their capacity when on the move.
In such circumstances, repair detachments of recovery sections may be brought up to assist them).
5. LADs do not form part of the workshops in any sense. They are definitely an integral part of “B” echelon of the unit to which they are attached, and the OME. is directly under the orders of OC unit, in the same way as the regimental medical officer. The OC unit is the accounting officer for the vehicles and stores of the LAD. When an LAD serves more than one unit, as in the case of an infantry brigade, the OME. is the accounting officer for all purposes.
The New Zealand LADs
When New Zealand committed forces to the war effort in 1939, the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, despite having the doctrinal foundations provided by the Ordnance Manual (War), did not have the Regular or Territorial Force personnel available to provide LADs immediately. Therefore, like the United Kingdom, New Zealand relied on its civilian motor industry to provide the bulk of the tradesmen for the LADs. However, despite the challenges in forming a specialised unit from scratch, the New Zealand Army raised fifty-six LADs in three distinct tranches between 1940 and 1943, consisting of
2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force – Ninteen LADs
2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Pacific – Seven LADs
Home Defence – Thirty-One LADs
Created as part of the newly constituted 2NZEF in 1939, the 2NZEF NZOC was described in the Evening Post newspaper as consisting of “11 Light Aid Detachments of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps. These are numbered 9 to 19, and their part is to render assistance and effect repairs to mechanic transport and the anti-tank units”.
The was initially some confusion between the use of the designation NZAOC and NZOC in the context of the NZEF. This was clarified in NZEF Order 221 of March 1941, which set NZOC as the title of Ordnance in the NZEF.
1942 saw the separation of maintenance and repair functions from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) with the formation of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME) in the Brutish Army. The New Zealand Division followed suit and formed the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) on 1 December 1942, separating the repair, maintenance and ordnance stores functions of the NZOC.
The New Zealand Tank Brigade was an NZEF unit formed at Waiouru in October 1941 to be deployed to the Middle East after Training in New Zealand for six months. The entry of Japan into the war in December 1941 necessitated the rerolling of the NZ Tank Brigade into a home defence role. After reorganisations, the Brigade was ordered to be redeployed in April 1942, with its Headquarters and Battalions dispersed to the South Island, Northland, Manawatu and Pukekohe.
November 1942 saw further changes which saw the gradual disestablishment of the NZ Tank Brigade.
No 1 Tank Battalion and 32 LAD remained in the home defence roll in the Auckland/Northland area.
No 2 Tank Battalion, the Army Tank Ordnance Workshop and Ordnance Field Park were dissolved and became part of the 3 NZ Division Independent Tank Battalion Group for service in the Pacific.
No 3 Tank Battalion and 33 LAD were deployed to the Middle East for service with the 2nd NZ Division, where it was dissolved, forming the nucleus of the 4th NZ Armoured brigade and 38, 39 and 40 LADs.
34 LAD was stationed with the Independent Tank Squadron at Harewood in the South Island.
By June 1943, the final units of the 1st NZ Army Tank Brigade, including 32 LAD and 34 LAD, were disbanded.
NZOC units also were formed for service with the NZEF in the Pacific (NZEFIP). Initially, 20 LAD was formed to support the 8 Infantry Brigade Group in Fiji in November 1940. 14 Infantry Brigade Group reinforced the force in Fiji with 36 and 37 LAD formed to provide additional support. With the redeployment of the New Zealand Brigade from Fiji in late 1942, 36 LAD remained as the LAD for the new Fiji Brigade that was about to be formed. In March 1943, eight members of 36 LAD deployed with the Fijian Brigade to Bougainville. On 1 May 1944, 36 LAD was renamed the Recovery Section, Brigade Mobile Workshops, Fiji Military Forces.
The bulk of the NZEFIP was reorganised as the 3rd New Zealand Division, with the NZOC commitment expanding into 23 units and detachments, including six LADs serving in operations in New Caledonia, The Solomon Islands and Tonga. The formation of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1942 was not followed through in New Zealand and the Pacific, with repair and Maintenance functions remaining part of the Ordnance Corps for the duration of the war.
On concluding successful campaigns in the Solomon Islands in 1944, 3 NZ Division and its equipment were returned to New Zealand and formally disbanded on 20 October 1944. On return to New Zealand, many NZOC members were graded unfit due to the rigours of the tropical campaign and returned to their civilian occupations. Those fit enough were redeployed as reinforcements to 2NZEF in Italy, with the LAD men joining NZEME units.
With the NZAOC and the New Zealand Permanent Army Service Corps (NZPASC) existing as part of the Permanent Army, only the NZPASC had a Territorial Army component, known as the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC). From the 1930s, workshop sections had been included on the establishments of ASC unit for activation on mobilisation. With the onset of war in 1939 and the mobilisation of the Territorial Army in 1940, the Quartermaster General, Col H.E Avery, made the decision that LADs were an Ordnance responsibility, and the NZOC was established as the Ordnance Component of Territorial Army in December 1940.
By late 1943 the mobilisation of the Territorial Forces had ceased to be necessary, and most units had been stood down and placed on care and maintenance status with a small RF Cadre. By 1 April 1944, all wartime home defence units had been disbanded. Although not part of the pre-war Territorial Army, the NZOC remained on establishments. In 1946 a Reorganisation of New Zealand Military Forces removed the distinction between Regular and non-Regular soldiers, and the NZOC ceased to be a separate Corps with the supply functions amalgamated into the NZAOC and the Workshops functions, including the LADs (21, 23, 25, 28, 30 and 53) amalgamated into the NZEME.
 This compared with the two editions of German and French doctrine produced during the same period. Jonathan Fennell, Fighting the People’s War : The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War, Armies of the Second World War (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Non-fiction, 32.
 P.H. Williams, War on Wheels: The Mechanisation of the British Army in the Second World War (History Press Limited, 2016).
Ordnance Manual (War), ed. The War Office (London: His Majestys Stationery Office, 1939), 9.
 Robert A. Howlett, The History of the Fiji Military Forces, 1939-1945 (Published by the Crown Agents for the Colonies on behalf of the Government of Fiji, 1948), Non-fiction, Government documents, 257-8.
 Oliver A. Gillespie, The Tanks : An Unofficial History of the Activities of the Third New Zealand Division Tank Squadron in the Pacific (A.H. and A.W. Reed for the Third Division Histories Committee, 1947), Non-fiction, 137-227.
 Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, Rnzeme 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017), 55.
 “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 June 1949 to 31 March 1950 “, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives (1950).;”Reorganisation of the Territorial Force,” New Zealand Gazette No 55, 21 October 1948.
 “Formation of New Units, Changes in Designation, and Reorganization of Units of the Territorial Force. ,” New Zealand Gazette, No 127, 19 December 1940, 3738-39.
Released in 1959 and based 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 World War Two, New Zealand sent two infantry divisions overseas and supplied a great many sailors and airmen 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.
RED WHITE AND NAVY BLUE
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.
MY AFRICA STAR
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 Victora Cross awardee.
THE GOOD SHIP “VENUS
The adventures of the crew of this fabulous vessel constitute a saga with as many variations as there are singers and audiences.
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.
THE ARMY IN FIJI
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.
THE FIGHTING KIWI, SIDE SIDE MONOWAI SIDE AND THIS IS MY STORY
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.
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 volunteered for service in the Second World War. Serving in the Permanent Forces in the early interwar era, Keegan transferred into the civil service in 1931 as part of the force reductions brought on by the great depression. Keegan continued 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 in 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 continued 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 remained 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 two siblings Francis Martin Keegan who was born on 10 September 1903, and Nora Constance Keegan, born on 29 December 1906 at Te Horo. Spending his early years in Wellington, Keegan moved with his parents to Otaki sometime after 1906, where he attended the Otaki State School. In 1913 Keegan came sixth in the Wellington Education Board examinations, gaining him a scholarship to Wellington College. While at Wellington College, Keegan completed 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. 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 spent a year working in the Wellington forts.
Keegan began 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 was allocated the NZAOC Regimental Number 213. With the Armistice on 11 November 1918 ending the war, Keegan missed 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 near future. Stuck down with influenza during the 1918 outbreak, Keegan made a full recovery but later in life developed health problems which might have developed because of influenza.
The New Zealand Ordnance Corps 1918, Buckle Street Wellington. RNZAOC School
Promoted to Lance Corporal on 1 July 1919, Keegan remained at Wellington until 1 April 1921, when the NZAOC shifted the bulk of its services to Trentham Camp; Keegan was relocated to Trentham Camp. It was during this time that Lieutenant Charles Ingram 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 was also 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. In the late 1930s, Keegan was also coach and president of the Upper Hutt Rugby Club and auditor of the Upper Hutt Cricket Association. 
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 sat the four examinations for promotion to Staff Sergeant in June 1926 with a score of 78,90,89 and 68 but was not 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. Having passed 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 being 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 would have been promoted to SQMS, but the worldwide 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 worldwide 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 the 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 pay rate.
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 pay rates. The 31st of March 1931 was the blackest day in the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps History.
Keegan continued to serve at the NZAOC Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Trentham in the role of Accountant throughout the 1930s. Keegan married Grace Helen Dalton on 27 March 1937 at St. John’s Church, Trentham. The wedding was a double wedding with Grace’s older sister Margaret.
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 to 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 Japan’s 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 on 20 August 1942, the Central District Ordnance Depot has renamed No 2 Ordnance Depot with an establishment of three officers and eighty-one Other Ranks.
Palmerston North Showgrounds, Cuba Street, 1939. Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services
Keegan attended, 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
Demonstrations – Field Cooking, Live fore of all Infantry Weapons
Signals – Organisation and intercommunication in the field
Movement by MT – lectures and Practical work
Discipline and Military Law
Movement by road
No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot. Group of soldiers – Elmar Studios, 459 Main Street, Palmerston North circa 1942 to circa 1945, No Known Restrictions
By the end of 1944, the threat to New Zealand had passed, 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 substantial portion of the Palmerston North Showgrounds display halls, which housed much of the Ordnance Depot. This resulted in 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.
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 was 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 four Warrant Officers from MOD, and an SNCO from No 3 Depot, Burnham, to stocktake No 10 MT Stores in Wellington before that unit’s 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 was short as the pressures of service since 1940 were becoming to have a toll on Keegan’s personal life and health. His wife had filed for legal separation in June 1946, and Keegan’s health was also beginning to fail. Keegan’s health issues saw him medically downgraded, and he had to spend 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 then assumed 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 remained 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.