NZAOC in the New Zealand Division – August 1916 to June 1918

The participation of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) as part of the New Zealand Division on the Western Front during the First World War is one that remains mostly forgotten. Under the supervision of the Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) the NZAOC would grow from an initial staff of two men and a horse in 1914, too, by the standards of the day an effective Ordnance organisation of several Officers, Conductors and Soldiers providing Ordnance services on par to their counterparts in the British and other Commonwealth Divisions. This article, through the war diaries of the DADOS Branch of the NZ Division, takes a snapshot view of the activities of the NZAOC between August 1916 to June 1918.

The DADOS was an Ordnance officer attached to the Headquarters of each Division of the British and Dominion Armies during the 1914-18 war and was typically a Lieutenant Colonel or Major of the Army Ordnance Corps.[1]  The DADOS branch of the New Zealand Division Headquarters was constituted on the reorganisation of the New Zealand Division in Egypt in early 1916. From January 1916 to May 1919 the position of NZ Division DADOS would be held by two officers;

  • Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert, NZAOC, Jan 1916 to March 1918.
  • Temporary Captain (Later Major) Charles Ingram Gossage, NZAOC, March 1918 to May 1919.

Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert, NZAOC. Auckland museum/Public Domain

Temporary Major Charles Ingram Gossage

9/39 Temporary Major Charles Ingram Gossage OBE. National Library of New Zealand/public domain

By 1918 the DADOS Branch, also referred to as the NZAOC or NZ Ordnance Department would consist of Officers, Warrant Officers (Conductors and Sub Conductors) and Non Commissioned Offices and Soldiers working as Clerks, Storemen and Armourers.

The role of the DADOS and his Staff[2] was to deal with all matters affecting the Ordnance services of the division. The DADOS would manage the state of the clothing and equipment on the charge of the units composing the division and would from time to time advise the officers in charge of the stores which in all probability would be required for operations.[3]

Ord Manual 1914

It was the duty of the DADOS to bring to notice of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Division any extravagance and waste of Ordnance Stores undertaken by units of the Division. To enable him to judge whether stores were receiving fair treatment it was essential that the DADOS and his staff were fully conversant with the general condition of the equipment in possession of the troops, and the justifications for indents for replacement of additional stores. In the New Zealand Division, the DADOS Staff consisted of men who had obtained experience in Ordnance duties early in the war at Samoa, Gallipoli, or in the New Zealand Ordnance Depots at Alexandria and Zeitoun Camp.

The DADOS and his staff would arrange for the disposal of unserviceable ordnance stores in possession of units. Unserviceable stores would be sent to the nearest ordnance depot for repair, if transport, time and the condition of the articles justified it; otherwise, the DADOS would authorise their destruction or if not likely to be of any value to the enemy, abandoned.

After engagements, the DADOS branch would superintend the Divisional Salvage Company and medical units with the collecting and disposing of arms, equipment, ammunition, accoutrements and personal kit of the killed and wounded, or if a unit was advancing, the collection of material left behind as units advanced.

In conjunction with the Medical services, the DADOS branch would also oversee the establishment and operation of Divisional and Brigade Bathhouses and Laundries and provide management for the stocks of clothing for exchange and laundering.

The New Zealand Division was at the end of a very comprehensive Ordnance network that extended from Base Depots in England to Ordnance Depots and Workshops at Calais (Supporting the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Armies and units of the Northern Lines of Communication) and Le Harve (Supporting the 4th and 5th Armies and units of the Southern Lines of Communication).[4] Despite the Ordnance support available to the New Zealand Division the DADOS branch would also establish its own Ordnance Depots and Dumps to manage the vast quantities of equipment coming and going from the NZ Divisions Area of Operation before and after certain operations and for events such as the changeover from summer to winter clothing scales.

Given the nature of trench warfare, when units were in the line, there was little work for the specialist tradesmen in their ranks to do. As a measure of economy and to some degree self-reliance towards the maintenance of items most important to the soldier on the line, his weapon and his boots, Armourers and bootmakers were brigaded into Divisional Armourers and Boot repair shops. Under the supervision of the DADOS Branch but not officially part of the Division establishment these Divisional workshops ensured substantial savings in transporting goods for repair between the front and the rear. [5]

NZ Division NZAOC Personnel

No complete nominal roll of NZAOC personnel who served in the New Zealand Division exists, and the nominal roll and monthly records which have been added into the monthly War Diary’s on the promotions and movements of NZAOC personnel from August 1916 to June 1918 have been created using the individual’s personnel records.

NZAOC Nominal roll Start of August 1916

  • 11/1079 Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert (DADOS)
  • 7/463 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Bruce MacRae (Officer Commanding Divisional Salvage Company)
  • 9/39 Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor) Charles Ingram Gossage
  • 12/1025 Acting Warrant Officer Class One (Acting Sub-Conductor) William Hall Densby Coltman
  • 23/659 Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant William Henchcliffe Simmons
  • 12/736 Sergeant John Francis Goulding
  • 23/1457 Sergeant Percy Clarence O’Hara
  • 26/1155a Armourer Sergeant Charles Alfred Oldbury
  • 6/1147 Armourer Sergeant Walter Gus Smiley
  • 10/2484 Corporal Harold Gordon Hill
  • 10/1631 Corporal John Joseph Roberts
  • 11/337 Trooper William Alexander Mason
  • 8/584 Private Frank Percy Hutton
  • 6/3459 Private Clarence Adrian Seay
  • 12/944 Private Albert John Walton



Aug 1916 cover

As with any British or Dominion units, the DADOS branch was required to maintain a diary in which all matters connected with the DADOS branch was concisely but clearly recorded. Providing a daily account of the activities of the DADOS branch, many of the entries give the locations of the DADOS branch and a brief description of the key for each day. Many of the entries are listed merely as” Ordinary Routine” with others providing a more detailed account of the branch’s activities.

The following transcripts of the DADOS Diaries have been copied from the original handwritten diaries. Much of the original wording has been retained, but to improve readability, most abbreviated words and phrase have ween include in full. Place names have been checked against other NZ Division Histories, and in some occurrences, the modern place name has been used.

To provide a measure of context to operations driving the work of the DADOS Branch, operational overviews have been included for;

  • August 1916, the Somme,
  • June 1917, the Battle of Messines
  • October 1917, Passchendaele
  • March 1918, German Somme Offensive

Operational Overview August 1916

During August the NZ Division would go into action on the Somme. On 15 September 1916, The New Zealand Division would take part in its first significant action near Flers during the Somme offensive (July-November 1916). Over the next 23 days, the division suffers 7000 casualties, including more than 1500 killed.


Location: Armentières

1 – 11 August – Ordinary routine

12 August – First Issue of Lewis Machine gun carts to the Division. 72 received

13 August

  • Ordinary routine
  • Visit by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS
  • 12/944 Private Albert John Walton admitted to No 8 Casualty Clearing Station before evacuation to England

14 August – Moved to Renescure

Location: Renescure

15 – 17 August – Ordinary routine

  • 12/736 Sergeant John Francis Goulding appointed temporary CSM

16 August – Visit by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS

18 August – On the eve of move, Ordinary routine

19 August – A good deal of inconvenience was caused to this Department owing to units failing to manage their stores, and these had to be returned to Base.

20 August – Personnel proceeded by rail to Army Corps Abbeville and then by road to Hallencourt

Location Hallencourt

21 – 24 August – It has been found that the handing over of the trench mortar batteries to 51st Division has not been satisfactory from our point of view. Practically new Stokes guns were given in exchange for others which had been subjected to a good deal hard work and were not in a satisfactory condition 13 having to be sent to the IOM 10 Corps for overhaul and repair and further that no spare parts were handed to this Division. These have been demanded from the base and issued. A few were also sent forward from the 51st Division and have been received. 51 Trench carts were handed over, and none received in exchange, and it is found that none are available in this area.

24 August – DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS

25 – 31 August – Ordinary routine

27 August – 2/115 Staff Sergeant Fitter Donald Clyde Inglis brought on to the strength of NZ Division DADOS and promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant Fitter

31 August – DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS



Location: Hallencourt

1 – 2 September – Ordinary Routine duties

3 September – Moved from Hallencourt to Belloy Sur Somme

Location: Belloy Sur Somme

4 – 6 September – Ordinary routine

7 September – Move from Belloy Sur Somme to Allonville

Location: Allonville

8 September – Move from Allonville to Sailly-Sur-la-Lys

Location: Sailly-sur-la-Lys

9 – 27 September – Ordinary routine

14 September – DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS

25 September  – Visit by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS

  • 10/2484 Corporal Harold Gordon Hill promoted to Sergeant
  • 6/3459 Private Clarence Adrian Seay promoted to Temporary Sergeant

28 September –

  • DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS
  • During the last fortnight, a great deal of waste has taken place owing to the lack of facilities for the washing of serviceable underclothing which has become dirty and wet and which the men are unable to wash. If laundry was run in conjunction with the Corps Baths where dirty laundry could be handed in and issued clean clothing in lieu a significant saving could be affected, and it would be conducive to the comfort and health of the troops.

29 September – Ordinary routine

30 September – Endeavoured to make arrangements at Corps Baths to exchange clean underclothing for dirty but was unsuccessful.



Location: Sailly-sur-la-Lys

1 October 1916 – 12/736 Sergeant John Francis Goulding appointed as Acting Company Sergeant Major

1 – 5 October – Ordinary routine

3 October – 11/42 Armourer Sergeant Percy William Charles Dement Transferred into NZAOC ex Otago Regt

5 October – DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS

6 October – Left Sailly-sur-la-Lys for Hallencourt, Divisional Artillery remained behind and attached to 12th Division for Ordnance purposes. A Warrant Officer, a Sergeant and a Storeman of the NZAOC left with the Divisional Artillery.

Location: Hallencourt

7 October – Ordinary routine. A Warrant Officer and Storeman sent to 2nd Army Area

8 October – Kits and Blankets stored in “École libre” issued today. Difficulties in delivery owing to the inability of units to provide transport. The four motor lorries attached to Ordnance conveyed the kits etc. to the different Brigade Headquarters.

9 October – Ordinary routine

10 October – Left Hallencourt and entrained at Pont-Remy

Location: Merris

11 October – Arrived at Merris

Location: Bac-Saint-Maur

12 October – Arrived this morning at Bac-Saint-Maur. Taking over from 5th Australian Division. 5th Divisional Artillery AIF is attached. The 5th Australian Divisional Ordnance left a WO to administrate them.

13 – 14 October – Ordinary routine

15 October –

  • Visit by ADOS 2nd ANZAC Corps
  • Indents forwarded to Base for winter clothing

16 – 20 October – Ordinary routine

17 October  – 9/1191 Corporal (Armourer) Percival James Lester Transferred into the NZAOC

21 October –

  • DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS
  • Winter clothing arrived and issued to units

22 – 31 October – Ordinary routine

30 October – Visit by ADOS 2nd ANZAC Corps


Location: Bac-Saint-Maur

1 – 7 November – Ordinary routine

8 November –

  • Visit by ADOS 2nd ANZAC Corps
  • NZ Divisional Artillery re-joined the Division, the 5th Australian Divisional Artillery transferred to their Division

9 November – DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS

10 November – Ordinary routine

11 November – Divisional Artillery arrive minus a large amount of personal and other equipment, that was lost on the Somme front. Winter clothing now been issued to them.

13 November  – 11/1079 Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert Mentioned in Dispatches

16 November – DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS

12 – 23 November – Ordinary routine

22 November – 11/337 Trooper William Alexander Mason promoted to Armourer Sergeant

23 November – DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS

24 November – Winter Clothing issues

25 November – Rubber sponge anti-gas goggles (rubber sponge) issued, also the repair outfits and record book for the box respirators.

26 November – Reinforcements are arriving from the base without blankets much inconvenience is caused as a result of this.  Blankets are not available for them at this end until two or three days later.

27 – 29 November – Ordinary routine

30 November – Issue of two more Lewis Guns per Battalion, bringing the total on charge at present to Battalions to 10


Location: Bac-Saint-Maur

1 December  – 8/584 Private Frank Percy Hutton promoted to Sergeant

1 – 4 December – Ordinary routine

4 December – Visit by ADOS 2nd ANZAC Corps

5 December – A comparative statement showing the issues of all bulk items for December sent to units.

7 December – DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS

8 – 30 December – Ordinary routine

13 December -7/463 2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Bruce MacRae evacuated from Divisional area due to injury and struck off strength

14 December – DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS

15 December – Visit by ADOS 2nd ANZAC Corps

21 December –

  • DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS
  • NZ Div DADOS put in charge of Divisional Laundry

28 December – DADOS attended DADOS Conference hosted by 2nd ANZAC Corps ADOS

31 December –

  • Visit by ADOS 2nd ANZAC Corps
  • The total bulk issued for the quantities 28 Sept/28 Dec show a large increase. This is accounted for by the large loss of equipment at the Somme having to be replaced.


Location: Bac-Saint-Maur

1 January – A new system of bulk issues implemented. The Division securing 4 trucks a week instead of seven. The days for submitting demands being altered

2 – 5 January – Ordinary routine

6 January – Received the first issue of bulk stores under an amended timetable. A full truckload has been received.

7 – 9 January – Ordinary routine

10 January – Received 2000 Capes Waterproof from Ordnance Officer Corps Troops

11 – 12 January – Ordinary routine

13 January – Received 24 Lewis Machine Guns, been 2 per Infantry Battalion bringing number now issued to 12.

14 January – Ordinary routine

15 January – 512 boxes carrying for carrying Lewis MG magazines received and issued 40 per Battalion and 32 to Pioneer Battalion. Each box holds 8 magazines in canvas carrier.

16 – 19 January – Ordinary routine

20 January – The Artillery undergoing reorganisation, The new organisation being 2 Brigades each consisting of 3 Batteries 18pdr, each 6 guns and 1 Battery 4.5 Howitzer of 6 guns. The second Brigade forming Army Field Artillery Brigade. The DAC being made up of A and B Echelon. No 1 and 2 sections forming A Echelon, No 4 B Echelon, No 3 Section becomes the Brigade Ammunition Column.

A shortage of Size 8 boots ankle Received 80 in response for 498 pairs.

21 January – The 4th Brigade Artillery returned stores surplus on reorganisation. It is found that a large quantity have not been returned as directed and action has been taken to have this done.

22 – 23 January – Ordinary routine

24 January – Dubbing in short supply. None been received in response to a demand for 424lbs.

  • 23/659 Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant William Henchcliffe Simmons promote to Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor), vice Gossage
  • 9/39 Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor) Charles Ingram Gossage promoted to Second Lieutenant to complete establishment

25 January – Leather for repair of boots in very short supply. Only 10 Bends received out of total demand for 72.[6]

26 – 31 January – Ordinary routine



Location: Bac-Saint-Maur

1 – 3 February – Ordinary routine

4 February – Sent out to OC units a monthly statement showing the bulk issues to his unit. The issues of boots has been above the average owing to a scarcity of leather sole bends during the past month.

5 – 10 February – Ordinary routine

6 February –  2/115 Quartermaster Sergeant Fitter Donald Clyde Inglis marched out of NZ Division to attend Officer Cadet Training unit prior to taking up a commission in the Royal Flying Corps.

11 February – Received Ordnance QF 18pdr No2951 for 13th Battery in replacement of gun no 5028 condemned by IOM.

12 February – Received 5 wooden boxes as a sample for carriage of stores forward.

13 February – Ordinary routine

14 February – Short supply of nib hay. 500 been received in response to a demand for 759. No Tins Mess W.S received 806 demanded.

15 February – DADOS 57th Division sent a representative for instruction before taking over

16 – 17 February – Ordinary routine

18 February – 10 leather bends received in response to demand for 80. Owing to the supply not being available demands for new boots are very high.

19 – 20 February – 24 Lewis Machine Guns received and issued at the rate of two per Battalion. This makes the total per Battalion 14.

22 – 23 February – Ordinary routine

24 February – 11 Wagons limbered GS harnessed received to compete Infantry Battalions to establishment. Handed over our stores to DADOS 57th Division, obtained a receipt in duplicated one of which was forwarded to Q.

25 February – Moved to new dump at B1 D2 .8 (De Seule) and took over trench stores from DADOS 25th Division. This included 300 pairs of Gum Boots, 9 hot food containers etc. 9 Intrenching Battalion, 196 Land Drainage Company, 171 Tunnelling Company and 2nd Platoon Park attached for administration.

Location: De Seule

26 – 27 February – Ordinary routine.

28 February – Received 100 tents from base but no bottoms were available.


Location: De Seule

1 March – Ordinary routine – Shortage of size 8 boots ankle, demanded 309, received 50 leather sole bends.

2 – 3 March – Ordinary routine.

4 March – Sent out to OC units a monthly statement of bulk issues.

5 – 8 March – Ordinary routine.

9 March – Ordinary routine. Shortage of size 8 boots ankle – demanded 738 received 50.

10 March – Ordinary routine. Shortage in Clothing SD.

11 March – Ordinary routine.

12 March – Ordinary routine Received 540 Lamps FS from Base.

13 – 15 March – Ordinary routine.

16 March – Ordinary routine – Shortage in leather bends, hobnails and rivets.

17 – 20 March – Ordinary routine.

21 March – Ordinary routine, Soda short supply, mineral oil and brooms bass no supply.

22 March – Ordinary routine.

23 March – Ordinary routine, Soles half filled received in lieu of leather bends.

24 – 28 March – Ordinary routine.

28 March –

  • 12/736 Sergeant John Francis Goulding promoted to Second Lieutenant and transferred for duty from Div HQ to 4th NZ Rifle Brigade
  • 12/1025 Company Sergeant Major (Acting Sub-Conductor) William Hall Densby Coltman promoted to Second Lieutenant and Transferred to 3rd Battalion the Wellington Regiment as Quartermaster.

29 March – Ordinary routine, Shortages in Soda and Soap Yellow bars, no Brooms Bass, Rugs Horse or Oil Mineral received from Base.

30 March – 24 Lewis Machine Guns received, issued 2 per Battalion – This makes the total in Battalion 16 – full complement as per A1098. Leather sole full supply made.

31 March – Ordinary routine


APRIL 1917

Location: De Seule

1 April – Advice received from IOM  2nd ANZAC that Ordnance OF 18pdr no 1892 on charge to 12th Battery, NZFA was provisionally condemned on account of scouring, new piece was demanded by telegram.

2 April – Ordinary routine.

3 April – Received Ordnance QF 18pdr No 2472 Carriage No 42057 on charge to 7th Battery NZFA, without BM, with sight mounting for dial sight plus carrier.

4 – 5 April – Ordinary routine.

6 April – 107 Pistols received for Machine Gun Corps being last supply of 405 demanded as a first supply to complete establishment.

7 April – Ordinary routine.

8 April – Ordnance QF 18pdr No 6272 without BM received on charge 17th Battery.

9 April – Ordinary routine.

  • 11/1079 Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert Mentioned in Dispatches

10 April – Demanded 3 Lewis Machine Guns for 1st Canterbury Infantry Battalion to replace others out of action for want of bolts, generally worn and depilated parts.

11 April – No soft soap, soap yellow bars or soda received from base. The shortage of these stores makes the running expenses of the Divisional Bath heavy as local purchase are enhanced prices must be resorted to if the baths are to carry on.

Sergeant O’Hara who had been attached to the Headquarters of the 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade  O’Hara passed away due to the effects of Broncho-Pneumonia at 8.25am on the morning of 11 April 1917. O’Hara had been admitted into No 2 New Zealand Field Ambulance on 4 April and  Transferred to No 2 Casualty Clearing Station on the 8th of April.

12 April – Ordinary routine

13 April – Received from base Lewis Machine Guns demanded 10th inst. On charge to 1st Canterbury Infantry Battalion. Demanded 1 Lewis Machine Gun for 2nd Otago Infantry Battalion to replace one condemned- out of action for want of a bolt, worn and depilated parts generally. 208 revolvers colt received completing equipment of no 2 and 3 Machine Gun Corps

14 April – Ordinary routine

15 April – Received from Base on Lewis Machine Gun demanded 13th last for 2nd Otago Infantry Battalion

16 -17 April – Ordinary routine

18 April – Received from Base 1200 Helmets (Trench Pattern) with steel curtain eye protectors – it is not considered that they are an improvement and most units have not uplifted their quota.

19 April – Ordinary routine

20 April – Received from Base our quota of Mk II barrels and cups for Machine Gun Corps – these were issued as soon as possible, and Barrels and Cups Mk I released and sent to Base.

21 April – Ordinary routine

22 April – Two barrel and shroud rangefinders sent to IX Corps Workshops for overhaul and testing, all BRSs on charge are being forwarded as checked by IOM.

23 – 24 April – Ordinary routine.

23 April –  6/1147 Armourer Sergeant Walter Gus Smiley appointed, Temporary Warrant Officer Class One (Acting Sub-Conductor) vice Acting Sub Conductor Coltman

24 April – 6/3459 Temporary Sergeant Clarence Adrian Seay appointed (Acting Sub-Conductor), Temporary Warrant Officer Class vice Simmons

25 April – Nine Sennett periscopes were received on allotment from Base for trial and report by Division

26 – 28 April – Ordinary routine

29 April – Demanded Ordnance Q F 18pdr without BM to replace on condemned by IOM 53 Workshops for wear and scouring, 12th Battery NZFA.

30 April – Took over from 20th Division Neuve-Eglise Baths and Salvage Dumps. An average of 2750 men are now being bathed and supplied with clean underclothing daily by this division.

MAY 1917

Location: De Seule

1 May – Demanded one Vickers Machine Gun for 1 of NZ Machine Gun Company to replace one condemned through wear.

2 May – Ordinary routine.

3 May – Ordinary routine. Advise dispatched to Base of Ordnance QF 18pdr No 1674.

4 May – Received Vickers Gun No 4071 demanded on 1 May. Also demanded Ordnance QF 18pdr for 3rd Battery NZFA replacing No 4456 condemned through enemy shelling.

5 May – Ordinary routine.

6 May – Ordinary routine. Demanded one Vickers Gun for 3rd Machine Gun Company replacing No 7703 condemned through enemy shell fire.

7 May – Received from base 100 Yukon packs being a Division allotment. Also received Ordnance QF 18pdr No 6056 for 12th Battery, 3rd Brigade NZFA demanded on 29 April. Demanded one Lewis Machine Gun for 2nd Wellington Infantry Battalion and one Vickers Gun for 3rd Machine Gun Company replacing others condemned through wear.

8 May – Ordnance routine.

9 May – Received one Lewis Machine Gun No E31755 and two Vickers Machine Guns No 3524 and A3299demanded on 6 and 7 May.

10 May – Demanded Ordnance QF 18pdr for 1st Battery, 1st Brigade NZFA to replace No 5237 condemned through enemy shelling.

11 May – Received from Base Ordnance QF 18pdr No 2696 for 3rd Battery NZFA. Handed over “Pamir” Baths to 25th Division.

12 May – Demanded Ordnance QF 18pdr for 3rd Battery, 1st Brigade, NZFA to replace No 2553 condemned through enemy shelling. Advised dispatch to Base of Ordnance QF 18pdr No 5237.

13 – 17 May – Ordinary routine

18 May – Received Ordnance QF 18pdr No 7877 for 1st Battery.

19 May – Ordinary routine.

20 May – Advised dispatched to base of Ordnance QF 18pdr No 2553 (Condemned). Received Ordnance QF 18pdr No 3989 for 3rd Battery. Advice need of move to NZ Division of 311th Army Field Artillery Brigade – from DADOS 31st Division.

21 – 22 May – Ordinary routine

23 May – Received advice   from ADOS of the following moves;

  • 311th Army Field Artillery Brigade to NZ Division
  • A Battery 38th Army Field Artillery Brigade to NZ Division
  • 242nd Army Field Artillery Brigade to NZ Division

24 May – Above moves confirmed to all concerned. Received 150 Yukon packs for Division, these were issued 50 to each of the three Infantry Brigades.

25 -27 May – Ordinary routine.

28 May – Demanded two Ordnance QF 18pdrs for C Battery 242nd Army Field Artillery Brigade to replace Nos 1983 and 3754 condemned through enemy shellfire. Advised dispatched to base of condemned pieces.

29 -30 May – Ordinary routine.

31 May – Demanded one Vickers for 2nd Machine Gun Company replacing one condemned through wear.


Operational Overview

From 7 June the New Zealand Division would participate in the Battle of Messines, taking all its objectives, including the village of Messines. The New Zealand Division suffered 3700 casualties, including 700 killed during the battle.

JUNE 1917

Location: De Seule

1 June

  • 11/1079 Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert awarded Distinguished Service Order

1 – 6 June – In addition to ordinary routine the issue of special stores for active operations was completed. These included;

  • 13 Carts Water tank with necessary harness,
  • 300 set pack saddlery,
  • 5000 Breakers wire,
  • 3000 cutters wire,
  • 300 Gloves Hedging,
  • 3420 Grenade Carriers, Emergency pattern ammunition carriers for 18pdr/4.5 Howitzer. 8/10 per gun to all Batteries,
  • Tarpaulins for covering ammunition,
  • Yukon pack and carriers for Lewis MG Magazines.

In reference to the making of the Yukon packs in the Division, it is observed that much economy could have resulted had these been made under one command and completed in number to suit the supply of raw material as it became available. These remarks apply also to the making of extra carriers for LMG magazines undertaken by Battalions.

June 7 to 30 – During offensive operations Salvage work was carried out under the direction of Ordnance, and very large quantities of personnel and technical equipment was brought in without delay and ammunition bombs collected, Close on 3000 serviceable rifles alone were cleaned, oiled and tied into bundles and dispatched to Base. Lewis and Vickers guns, magazines and spare parts, enemy machine guns and mortars were salvaged also.

21 Lewis Machine Guns and 7 Vickers Machine Guns were replaced by new guns and at all times well within 24 hours from time of advice being received here of condemnation or certified loss from shell fire. In this connection the working of the Army Gun Park was found most expeditious; 21 18pdr guns and 10 Carriages, one 4.5 Howitzer were also demanded for various reasons in replacement of others, in one case only was any of these items – an 18pdr demanded without a certificate of condemnation by an IOM. This was reported completely destroyed by hostile shell fire and condemnation not been received within two days messages to confirm were answered to the effect that the carriage in question had been found to be serviceable after been dug out. This again impresses the fact of the necessity of IOM reports in cases of this kind.

10 June

  • 23/659 Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor) William Henchcliffe Simmons promoted Second Lieutenant, vice Bond
  • 12/689 2nd Lieutenant Alfred James Bond Marched in from Sling Camp in the UK and seconded to No 5 (NZ) Light Railway Operating Section.

15 June

  • 9/39 Second Lieutenant Charles Ingram Gossage Marched out to the United Kingdom to attend Ordnance course

On the 23rd June, the 34th, 93rd and 2nd NZ Brigades of Army Field Artillery were moved to this formation for Ordnance Services making in all five Army FA Brigades and one odd Battery in addition to our own Brigades to administer. It is very marked that all Army FA Brigades are very extravagant in their demands on Ordnance and the appointment of an Ordnance representative attached to each Brigade would undoubtfully result in a great economy.

The following enemy stores were handed into Ordnance here by units of this Division as a result of offensive operations and delivered to APM of II Anzac Corps

  • 3 Field Guns (77mm)
  • 23 Machine Guns of 8 trench mountings
  • 6 Machine Guns of new light platform
  • 1 Machine Gun (French)
  • 10 Trench mortars of various calibres
  • 3 Rocket Mortars
  • 3 Grenade throwers

To the Base was despatched;

  • 3 boxes Armour Piercing rifle ammunition
  • 1 box of wine cased
  • 5 boxes of ordinary
  • 2 cases mortar shells
  • 40 boxes belt ammunition with belts


JULY 1917

Location: De Seule

1 – 31 July – Ordinary routine

2109 pairs of Trousers SD were issued to equip men wearing pantaloons contrary to Dress Regulations

6 18pdr Guns and 4 4.5inch Howitzer were demanded to replace others.

3 18pdr carriages and 5 4.5inch Howitzer carriages were demanded to replace others condemned

5 Vickers Machine Guns were issued in replacement of others worn or destroyed by hostile shellfire.


Location: De Seule

1 – 25 August – Ordinary routine. 1600 special tins for conveying water were received to replace petrol tins as now used for this purpose. Five percent of these tins were damaged when received owing to faulty manufacture, handles were broken off, the sharp sprout had punctured holes in many. For the purpose intended it is considered this tin is a failure.

100 roughly made stretches issued to the Division for Messines operation that came to late to be used then were returned to Base after being held in store for two months.

26 August – Moved Ordnance to Caëstre

Location: Caëstre

27 – 28 August Trucked underclothing from Divisional Baths for Lumbres.

Location: Nielles-les-Bléquin

29 August – Moved Ordnance to Nielles-les-Bléquin and opened up again for Ordnance Services

30 – 31 August – Ordinary routine

The Divisional Bath and Laundry at Pont de Nieppe were destroyed by enemy shell fire on the 12th of August, as the position had become untenable it was decided not to put them into working order again. Stock and fittings that were not damaged was removed and on the 18th the Baths at Steenwerck were taken over by the Division and converted into a laundry, which was started satisfactorily by the 20th  It was a going concern when handed over on the 25th to the 8th Division, The Building of Brigade Bathhouses and changing rooms was undertaken at this time also and were ready for use when the Division was relieved.


Location: Nielles-les-Bleguine

1 – 2 September – General routine

3 September – Took over Baths at Balinghem. This was situated in the 2nd NZ Rifle Brigade area.

4 September – General routine

5 September – Opened Baths at Haverskerque for 4th NZ Infantry Brigade.

6 -12 September – General routine.

13 September – Opened Baths at Selles for 1st NZ Infantry Brigade.

14 – 17 September – General routine

18th September – Opened Baths at Merck-Saint-Liévin for Divisional Artillery. These Baths only worked two days owing to the Artillery being moved.

19 – 20 September – General routine

21 – 22 September – Divisional Artillery and Headquarters Company Divisional Train were moved to Ordnance 33rd Division for administration. Our own Ordnance (Artillery) personnel accompanied them with one motor lorry attached.

23 – 24 September – General routine

23 – 20 September

  • 6/1147 Temporary Warrant Officer Class One (Acting Sub-Conductor) Walter Gus Smiley and 10/1631 Corporal John Joseph Roberts detached to DADOS 33rd

25 September – Division on the move to Watou area. Closed Selles and Haverskerque Baths. All our motor lorries were kept exceedingly busy removing camp equipment and clothing. Also removing Ordnance Stores to railhead to be forwarded by rail to the new destination.

26 September – Removing soiled clothing to Blendecques laundry and moved Ordnance Stores to the railhead. Closed Blendecques Baths.

27 September – Moved with 5 Lorries to Poperinghe and established dump in an open field.

28 September – Moved dump to stores at 65 Rue de Boeschepe. Artillery moved back from 33rd Division. Opened two baths in Watou area.

29 September – Clearing Stores sent by rail, stores from Base also received.

30 September – General routine. 59th Division Artillery moved to us for administration with two AOC personnel.

  • 6/3459 Temporary Warrant Officer Class One and Acting Sub Conductor Clarence Adrian Seay promoted to Warrant Officer Class One and (Conductor) vice Simmons on his promotion

Operational overview

On 4 October as part of the third Battle of Ypres the New Zealand 1st and 4th brigades took part in a successful attack on Gravenstafel Spur, which runs off Passchendaele ridge. The attack cost more than 320 New Zealand lives.

On the 12 October on what would be New Zealand’s blackest day the 2nd and 3rd (Rifle) brigades suffered over 3700 casualties in a disastrous attack on Bellevue Spur, Passchendaele. About 845 men were left dead or dying.


Location: Poperinghe

1 October – Established Baths at Vlamertinge and Poperinghe.

2 – 3 October – Special stores for operations coming to hand and being issued to units. The stores referred to were those authorised over and above AFG 1098 and GROs for the offensive in front of Passchendaele Ridge. They comprised Pack-saddlery, Carts Carrying Water, Wire Cutters, Yukon Packs, water tins etc.

4 October – Four German Machine Guns were brought in – three from 1st Otago Battalion and two from the Divisional Salvage Company. These guns had apparently been lying out in the open some considerable time.

5 October – The 59th Division Artillery and Company Army Service Corps which were attached for administration were moved back to 59th Division.

6 October – Stores which were issued to units for special operations being handed in by units. Demanded 1 18pdr on indent NZ0/7192 for 13th Battery NZFA to replace No2841 and 2 18pdrs on indent NZ0/7193 for 1st Battery NZFA to replace 4090 and 318. These three guns were condemned by IOM for scouring.

7 October – 1st Wellington Battalion returned 11 captured enemy machine guns. The 48th Divisional Artillery Company ASC were moved to us for administration.

8 October – Demanded 18pdr on NZ0/7212 for A Battery 241 Brigade RFA to replace No 3987 condemned for scouring. Received captured enemy machine gun from 2nd Machine Gun Company.

9 October – Received 18pdr No 9697 fro 13th Battery off indent NZ0/7192 and 2 19pdrs Nos 6754 and 7103 for 1st Battery NZF off indent NZ0/7193.

10 October – Issuing stores for special operations. Received 18pdr No 2252 off indent NZ0/7212 for A Battery 241st Brigade RFA. Received 5 enemy captured machine guns returned by 1st Auckland Battalion.

11 October- Started issuing winter clothing. Demanded 18pdr on indent NZ0/7269 to replace No 4312 condemned for scouring,

12 October – Demanded carriage 18pdr on indent NZ0/7303 for A Battery 241st Brigade RFA to replace No C/33458 condemned on account of damage on recuperator.

13 October – Received 18pdr No 8042 off indent NZ0/7269 for 12th Battery NZFA. Sent 32 enemy machine guns to Base.

14 October – Received Carriage 18pdr No 35555 off indent NZ0/7303 for A Battery 241st Brigade RFA. Received 3 captured enemy machine guns from 3rd Otago Battalion,

15 October – Established an Ordnance dump at X Camp for the purpose of receiving surplus stores from units in the forward areas.

16 October – 1 enemy machine gun returned by Pioneer Battalion and 3 salved by Divisional Salvage Company.

17 October – 8 captured enemy machine guns returned by 3rd Canterbury Battalion and 4 salved by Divisional Salvage Company. Demanded 18pdr on indent NZ0/7404.

18 October – Established Bathhouse at Canal Bank issued clean clothes to 4th Battalion of 4th Infantry Brigade.

19 October – 2 enemy machineguns returned by Divisional Salvage Company.

20 October – 14 enemy machine guns were returned to Base. Closed Ordnance Dump at X Camp and established forward dump at St Jean (Sint-Jan) crossroads.

21 October – 2 enemy machine guns were returned to Base.

22 October – Moved from Poperinghe and established Ordnance dump at Nielles-les-Bléquin.

23 October – Received 18pdr No 765 off indent NZ0/7404 for 3rd Battery NZFA.

24 October –   Ordinary routine.

25 October – Opened Bathhouse at Haverskerque for 3rd NZ Rifle Brigade and at Selles for 2nd NZ Infantry Brigade.

26 October – Opened Bathhouse at Bayenghem for 1st NZ Infantry Brigade

27 – 29 October – Ordinary routine

30 October – 1 enemy machine gun returned by 4th Battalion NZ Rifle Brigade.

31 October – During the month of October 36 Lewis Machine Guns, 5 Vickers Machine Guns and 1 Stokes 3inch Trench Mortar were demanded by various units to replace lost and destroyed. These were supplied from ones salved by Division Salvage Company which were overhauled and repaired at the Division Armourers shop and made serviceable. Not one single Machine Gun was demanded from Base.



No Dairy for November

15 November – 6/1147 Temporary Warrant Officer Class One (Acting Sub-Conductor) Walter Gus Smiley promoted to Warrant Officer Class One and appointed Conductor



Location: Poperinghe

1 – 7 December – Ordinary routine

8 December -Demanded Lewis guns for 3rd Otago Battalion on indent No NZ0/8549 to replace one destroyed by shellfire, also 3 Lewis guns for 1st Otago Battalion for indent No NZ0/8562 to replace 3 destroyed by shelling.

9 December – Demanded 3” Stokes Trench Mortar for 2nd Light Trench Mortar Battery on indent No NZ0/8581 to replace on destroyed by shellfire.

10 December – Demanded 3” Stokes Trench Mortar for 4th Light Trench Mortar Battery on indent No NZ0/8595 to replace on destroyed by shellfire, also three Vickers Guns on ident NZ0/8604 for 2nd NZ Machine Gun Company to replace three destroyed by shellfire.

11 December – The bulk store which was situated at Palace Camp was moved to ANZAC Camp with the advance Brigade dumps, this was found more convenient as not so much handling of stores was entailed.

12 December – Lewis Gun No 58245 received for 3rd Otago Battalion off indent No NZ0/8549 to replace on destroyed by shellfire.  Received Lewis Guns No 57674 and 57695 for 1st Otago Battalion to replace three destroyed by shellfire. Three Vickers Guns received No 4411, 4441 and 7163 off indent No NZ0/8604 for 2nd NZ Machine Gun Company to replace same number destroyed by shellfire.

13 December – Received Board of Inquiry re the loss of a Limbered Wagon, Horses and Harnesses of the 2nd Wellington Infantry Battalion. The Army Commander concurred with the finding of the Board of the write off of £60 (estimated value) to the public Account. Also the Board in Inquiry re the loss of the Horse Harness of the 1st Wellington Battalion, The Army Commander concurred on the finding of the Board of a write off to the Public Account. Leather Jerkins been issued to Artillery units, Machine Gun Company’s, Salvage Company’s and Light Trench Mortar Batteries.

14 December – Vickers Gun No C4732 received for 4th NZ Machine Gun Company off indent No NZ0/8672 to replace one destroyed by shellfire. Demanded Ordnance QF 18pdr for 11th Battery NZFA on indent No NZ0/8696 to replace 5630 destroyed by hostile fire.

15 – 16 December – Ordinary routine.

17 December – Ordnance QF 18pdr No 4405 received for 11th Battery NZFA on indent No NZ0/8696 to replace one destroyed by shellfire

18 – 20 December – Ordinary routine.

21 December – Ordnance QF 4.5inch Howitzer for 4th Howitzer Battery NZFA on indent NZ0/8858 to replace 1533 condemned for wear.

22 – 25 December – Ordinary routine

26 December – Demanded Lewis Gun for 2nd Otago Battalion on indent No NZ0/8955 to replace on destroyed by enemy shellfire. Also, Ordnance QF 18pdr for 3rd Battery NZFA on indent No NZ0/ 8956 to replace 4478 condemned by IOM.

27 December – Received 3inch Stokes Trench Mortar No 3835 off indent No NZ0/8581 for 2nd Light Trench Mortar Battery, also No 3826 off indent No NZ0/8505 received for 2nd Otago Battalion of indent No NZ0/8955. Issuing leather jerkins to complete all units to winter scale.

28 December – Ordinary routine

29 December – Ordnance QF 18pdr No 6746 received for 3rd Battery NZFA off indent No NZ0/5956 to replace 4478 condemned.

30 December – Demanded Lewis Gun for 3rd Otago Battalion off indent No NZ0/9008 to replace one destroyed by shellfire.

31 December – Demanded Ordnance QF 18pdr for 12th Battery NZFA to replace No condemned for scouring.


Location: Poperinghe

January 1 -2 – Ordinary routine

January 3 – Ordnance QF 18pdr No 6678 received for 12th Battery NZFA off indent No NZ0/9057 replaced No 5397 condemned for scouring.

January 4 – Demanded Ordnance QF 18pdr and carriage for 3rd Battery NZFA on indent No NZ0/9155 to replace No 510 and 14465 destroyed by hostile shellfire.

January 5 – Demanded Vickers Gun for 5th NZ Machine Gun Company on indent No NZ0/9192 to replace one condemned beyond local repair.

January 6 – Ordinary routine

January 7 – Vickers Gun No 8147 received for 5th NZ Machine Gun Company off indent No NZ0/9192.

January 8 – 10 – Ordinary routine

January 11 – Demanded Vickers Gun for 5th NZ Machine Gun on indent No NZ0/9312 to replace one destroyed by hostile shellfire and Ordnance QF 18pdr for 13th Battery NZFA on indent No NZ0/9322 to replace No 2317 condemned for scouring.

January 12 – Slow Precautions imposed: No motor lorries were being used and all transport work was being carried out by GS Wagons and light railway, this means of carting was slow but proved quite satisfactory. Demanded Stokes 3inch Trench Mortar for the 4th Light Trench Mortar Battery on indent No NZ0/9325 to replace on destroyed by shellfire.

January 13 – Vickers Gun No 2679 received for 5th NZ Machine Gun Company off indent No NZ0/9312.

January 14 – Ordinary routine.

January 15 – Slow restrictions removed, and motor transport was reverted to.   Ordnance QF 18pdr No 5215 and carriage No 46329 received for 3rd Battery NZFA off indent No NZ0/9155 to replace Nos 510 and 14465 destroyed by hostile shellfire. Demanded Ordnance QF 18pdr for 13th Battery NZFA on indent No NZ0/9398 to replace No  3584 condemned for scouring.

January 16 – Slow precautions imposed. All transport wortrk was been carried out by horse transport with the exception of the Divisional Laundry which was undertaken with one motor lorry a day.

January 17 – 21 – Ordinary routine

January 22 – Slow restrictions were removed, and motor transport was reverted to.

January 23 – Three 6inch Newton Trench Mortars No 1164, 1034 and 345 received for Medium Trench Mortar Battery. These were ordered up for issue by Headquarters 4th Army.

January 24 – Ordinary routine

January 25 – Demanded Vickers Gun for 1st NZ Machine Gun Company on indent No NZ0/9620 to replace one destroyed by shellfire and Ordnance QF 18pdr for 1st Battery NZFA on indent No NZ0/9639 to replace No182 condemned for scouring.

January 26 – Ordinary routine

January 27 – Vickers Gun No 9678 received off indent No NZ0/9620 for 1st NZ Machine Gun Company to replace one destroyed by shellfire.

January 28-29 – Ordinary routine

January 31 – 5000shirts, 13100 vests woollen, 12450 Drawers Woollen, 12700 Towels and 19000 pairs of socks received from Base. These were authorised by Army at the request of the GOC Division as a pool at the Divisional Baths.

  • 8/1484 Staff Sergeant Edwin Stanley Green Posted to NZ Division Ammunition Column from NZAOC England

During the month five Vickers Guns, 133 Lewis Guns and 158 Rifles were repaired in the Divisional Armourers Shop.



Location: Poperinghe

February 1 – 2 – Ordinary routine

February 3 – Ordnance QF 18pdr No 6755 received off indent No NZ0/9639 for 1st Battery NZFA to replace on condemned for scouring.

February 4 – Ordinary routine

February 5 –

  • Moved stores to new dump at Café Belge. The new store was a most convenient one it been 120’x20’, this provided ample room for all stores to be put under cover.
  • DADOS provided a lecture on Ordnance Services to Officers of the 2nd NZ Inf Bde.

February 6 – 10 – Ordinary routine.

February 11 – Took over Baths at Potijze from 66th Division.

February 12 – Demanded Ordnance QF 18pdr and carriage on indent No NZ0/2 for 11th Battery NZFA to replace No 2979 and 46383 destroyed by shellfire,

February 13 – Demanded 6inch Newton Trench Mortar for X Medium Trench Mortar Battery to replace No 347 destroyed by shellfire.

February 14 – Took over the laundry at Renninghelst from 66th Division. DOS inspected dump accompanied by DDOS 4th Army and ADOS XXII Corps. The General expressed that he was very pleased with everything he saw, particularly the work carried out by the Divisional Armourers.

February 15 – 6inch Newton Trench Mortar No 270 received off indent No NZ0/24 for X Medium Trench Mortar Battery to replace No 347 destroyed by shellfire.

February 16 – Ordinary routine.

February 17 – Ordnance QF 18pdr No 2252 and carriage No 35456 received for 11th Battery NZFA off indent No NZ0/2 to replace 29079 and 46383 destroyed by shellfire.

February 18 – Demanded Vickers MG for 3rd NZ Machine Gun Company on indent No NZ0/119 to replace No L8560 condemned beyond repair by Divisional Armourers.

February 19 – Ordinary routine.

February 20 – Vickers MG No 4244 secure for 3rd NZ Machine Gun Company off indent No NZ0/119 to replace No L8560 condemned.

February 21 – 22 – Ordinary routine.

February 23 – Took over Outtersteene laundry from 49th Division. Receiving surplus stores of units of the 4th NZ Infantry Brigade on been formed into an Entrenching Group.

  • 10/2484 Sergeant Harold Gordon Hill promoted to Temporary Sub Conductor and Warrant Officer Class One vice Goulding

February 24 – Handed over camp to 49th Division Ordnance. The Baths at Café Belge, Bissezeele Cross Roads, Potijze and Ottawa were handed over to 49th Division as a going concern as was the Divisional Laundry at Westoutre.

February 25 – Issued two Lewis MG to each Infantry Battalion and one to each Filed Company NZE and one per Battery of Artillery for Anti-Aircraft defence. These were issued from those handed in by Battalions of the 4th NZ Infantry Brigade.

February 26 – Baths were opened at Hondichen which are capable of bathing 800 men daily.

February 27 – Opened Baths at Staple – Capacity 800 men daily

February 28 – over the month of February three Vickers MG, 53 Lewis MG and 309 Rifles were repaired and overhauled by the Divisional Armourers shop during the Month.

Operational overview

On 21 March a massed German attack tears a hole in the British front, in response on 26 March the New Zealand Division is rushed to fill this gap near the Somme. They fight off several German attacks and hold their line.


Location: Hazebrouck

Baths were opened at Halifax Camp[7] and at Caistre.

During the month 14 Lewis Gun were demanded for various units, nine been issued as a first supply for anti-aircraft defence, 3 were to replace ones damaged by shellfire and two to replace losses to the enemy.

Eight Vickers Guns were received on instructions from Third Army to be fielded as a reserve to meet urgent demand. Two of these were issued the MG Battalion to replace weapons damaged by hostile fire. The balance (six) were returned to Ordnance Officer IV Corps troops.

Seven Gun Hotchkiss were demanded as a first supply and issued to units for Anti-Aircraft defence.

Two 3inch Stokes Trench Mortars were damaged by hostile fire and two to replace were issued

On moving from the rest area to the Somme all Baths were closed and handed over to area commanders. The Divisional laundry at Renninghelst was taken over as a going concern by XXII Corps. Hooge Baths at Ypres which were been worked for the Infantry Brigade and other units left in the line were handed over to 49th Division as a going concern.

The NZ Entrenching Group units were moved to Ordnance Officer XXII Corps Troops and the NZ Divisional Artillery units with Headquarters Company Divisional Train were moved back from DADOS Headquarters 49th Division for Ordnance.

22 March – 12/736 Sergeant (Temp CSM) John Francis Goulding Marched out to England for duty with 4th Infantry Brigade on 22 March 1911

Moved to the Somme on 25 March with four Motor Lorries and established an Ordnance dump at Bus les Artois on 27th March.

Location: Bus-lès-Artois

The 25th Division Artillery were moved from DADOS 25th Division for Ordnance. Their mobilisation stores and equipment suffered in the retreat before the German offensive and in consequence, their demands were exceedingly large. Eight Limbers 18pdr wagon and six wagons ammunition were demanded for them to replace losses to the enemy and one limber 18pdr wagon was issued to replace one condemned.

31 March

  • 6/1147 Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor) Walter Gus Smiley attached to Headquarters 2nd NZ Infantry Brigade
  • 11/1079 Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert relinquished appointment of Officer Commanding NZAOC and DADOS NZ Division to be ADOS XI Army Corps.
  • 9/39 Second Lieutenant Charles Ingram Gossage Marched in from HQNZEF and Promoted to Lieutenant. Appointed DADOS vice Lt Col Herbert and granted the rank of Temporary Captain whilst holding the position.

54 Lewis MG, 21 Vickers MG and 529 Rifles were repaired and overhauled at Divisional Armourers shop during the month.


APRIL 1918

Location: Bus-Les-Artois

4 April

  • 10/536 Armourer Sergeant Clarence Guy Charles Wagg proceeded to England for duty with 4th NZ Infantry Brigade Group

April – Demanded six 18pdr and carriages complete to replace same number lost to the enemy and one 4.5inch Howitzer and carriage to replace one condemned for wear for 25th Division Artillery. The six guns and carriages were later cancelled when the 25th Division Artillery were moved back for administration of Ordnance services to their own formation.

13 Lewis MG were issued to various units – six to replace destroyed by hostile fire, two to cover losses to the enemy, one to replace beyond repair and four to Divisional Artillery for defence against hostile aircraft.

13 Vickers MG were issued, four to replace destroyed by hostile fire, One to replace condemned for wear and eight issued to Machine Gun Battalion to be fielded as a reserve.

Issued one 3inch Stokes Trench Mortar to replace one destroyed by hostile fire.

Issued three 18pdr and carriages, and four 4.5inch Howitzers and one carriage 4.5inch Howitzer. All were to replace other condemned for wear.

Temporary Divisional Baths were opened at Béthencourt on the 6th and at Louvencourt on the 10th. On the 17th the new spacious baths of 18 sprays erected by Divisional Engineers were put into use at Béthencourt, which proved a great boom to the troops from the line. At these Baths the men handed in everything they possessed. Their valuables were taken care of, whilst the man was having a bath his SD clothing was deloused by use of hot irons. He came out of the bath with a complete change of underclothing. The total number of men bathed 28553.

The work undertaken by the Divisional Salvage company for the month was clearing the area generally of stores abandoned by troops in the recent retreat. Items salved of special interest included;

  • One Bristol Airplane,
  • One Triumph Norton Motorcycle,
  • Three Douglas Motorcycles,
  • The following enemy stores;
    • 285 Rifles,
    • 10 Bayonets and scabbards,
    • 25 Steel Helmets,
    • Four Pistol Signal,
    • Three Mountings MG,
    • 62 Belts MG,
    • 32 Belt boxes MG,
    • 95 Gas respirators

Solder recovered from Bully Beef time amounted to 441lbs which was despatched to the Base.

11 Vickers MG, 17 Lewis MG and 1256 rifles were repaired and overhauled at Divisional Armourers Shop for the month.

113 Machine Guns and three Trench Mortars (enemy) Captured by various units were dispatched to Base.

MAY 1918

Location: Bus-Les-Artois

During the month the following Guns, Howitzers, Carriages Field, Trench Mortars and Machine Guns were demanded for various reasons;

  • Ordnance QF 18pdr, three – To replace three condemned by IOM for scouring.
  • Ordnance QF 4.5in Howitzer, One – To replace one condemned by IOM for wear.
  • Carriages field 18pdr, Four – To replace four condemned by IOM for wear.
  • Carriages field 4.5in Howitzer, one – To replace one destroyed by hostile fire.
  • 6” Newton Trench Mortar, one – To replace one destroyed by hostile fire.
  • 3” Stokes Trench Mortar, six – To replace two destroyed by hostile fire and to replace four condemned for wear.
  • Vickers Machine Guns 303, eight – To replace two destroyed by hostile fire and to replace six condemned by Armourers as past repair.
  • Lewis Machine Guns 303, 50 – 28 were issued as first supply to bring Battery’s up to 24 per Battery, exclusive of guns on charge for anti-aircraft defence.

The NZ entrenching Group were moved from Ordnance XXII Corps Troops to this formation for administration in Ordnance services on 17 May but were three days later moved to Ordnance Officer IV Corps Troops, under instructions from IV Corps.

On 22 May the 2nd NZ Field Artillery Brigade were moved from Ordnance IV Corps Troops to be under administration of Ordnance this formation, but on 25 May 3rd Army ordered them to be moved back as the movement was contrary to GRO 3783.

Our months works a whole was of a routine nature. Some difficulty was experienced in keeping the Baths going once or twice owing to the water supply giving out when the pumping plant broke down. Water carts were borrowed from neighbouring units and the water was carted and the baths kept going in this formation.

We were much hampered for clean underclothing due to the irregularity of the railway. Trucks were often as long as 6-7 days on road driving the short distance from Abbeville.

A small sock washing depot was established with 16 men. This was found essential so that the soldiers in the front line could have a clean change daily. Socks torn or found with holes were returned to the laundry as the darning could not be coped with. In fine weather, the drying was done outside but when wet the socks were hung on wires from the ceiling of a room and dried by means of coke braziers. Then men did excellent work and coped with 4 to 5 thousand pairs daily and kept up an adequate supply.

Ordnance stores arriving from Base were often very much behind timetable and two or three bulk demands would arrive together. The irregularity was evidently on account of shortages in railway rolling stock.

There was not anything particular to not in the work carried out by the Divisional Salvage Company except the recovery of 2000lbs of salvage from Bully Beef tins.

The Divisional Armourers Shop repaired and overhauled 14 Vickers MG, Seven Lewis MG, One Hotchkiss MG and 335 rifles in addition to special repairs to Bicycles etc.

45425 men passed through the Divisional Baths during the month,


JUNE 1918

Location: 1 – 7 June: Bus-Les-Artois

During the month the following Guns, Howitzers, Carriages Field, Trench Mortars and Machine Guns were demanded for various reasons;

  • Two Ordnance QF 18pdr – To replace two condemned by IOM for scouring.
  • Five Ordnance QF 4.5in Howitzer – To replace five condemned by IOM for wear.
  • Three Carriages field 18pdr – To replace one damaged by shellfire, one condemned by IOM for wear and one for violent recoil.
  • One Carriages field 4.5in Howitzer – To replace one destroyed by shellfire and one condemned by IOM for wear.
  • Six 3” Stokes Trench Mortar – To replace two destroyed by hostile fire and to replace four condemned for wear.
  • Two Vickers Machine Guns 303 – To replace two condemned Beyond Local Repair.
  • 96 Lewis Machine Guns 303 – issued as first supply to bring Infantry Battalions up to scale of 32, exclusive of guns on charge for anti-aircraft defence.

On the 6th Baths at Béthencourt and Louvencourt were handed over to 42nd Division and Baths at Authie, Pas and Henu were taken over from 37th Division. The Baths at Authie were entirely unsatisfactory and extensive alterations were carried out so that system for bathing, delousing SD clothing, issuing and receiving underclothing could be put into force.  These were capital baths when completed and as many as 1500 troops were passed through daily.  The system of delousing the soldiers Service Dress clothing was carried out by means of hot air. As the man passed into the bath he handed in hi garments turned inside out and they were hung up in a small air tight chamber. The air tight compartment was heated up by coke braziers and after the garments had been treated by this method for 15 minutes they were found to be perfectly free form lice and eggs.

Location: 7 -21 June: Pas

On the 7th the Division moved to Pas where Ordnance was established until the 21st when the Division moved to Authie and Ordnance again opened up. The baths at Pas and Henu were handed over to the 37th Division on the 21st.

Location: 21 – 30 June:Authie

A small bath at Nauchelles was taken in hand, another formation had started alterations which were left unfinished. The work was completed by the Division and the baths proved entirely satisfactory and between 700 – 800 troops were bathed daily

The greater part of demand for boots were met by repaired ones and numerous complaints were met from units that the men were unable to wear the boots issued. The matter was referred to 3rd Army who was taking action to prevent further issues of this kind to troops in the field.

Divisional Salvage dumps were established about the areas into which abandoned stores were collected and sorted. 1800lbs of solder were recovered from Bully Beef tins.

The Divisional Armourers shop repaired and overhauled 13 Machine Guns and 153 rifles.

46411 passed through the Divisional Baths during the month.

24 June – 9/39 Temporary Captain Charles Ingram Promoted to Temporary Major while holding the appointment of DADOS. 24 June 1918

NZAOC Nominal Roll End of June 1918

  • 9/39 Temporary Major Charles Ingram Gossage (DADOS)
  • 23/659 2nd Lieutenant William Henchcliffe Simmons
  • 6/3459 Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor) Clarence Adrian Seay
  • 6/1147 Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor) Walter Gus Smiley
  • 8/1484 Staff Sergeant Edwin Stanley Green (NZ Division Ammunition Column)
  • 10/2484 Sergeant Harold Gordon Hill
  • 8/584 Sergeant Frank Percy Hutton
  • 11/42 Armourer Sergeant Percy William Charles Dement
  • 11/337 Armourer Sergeant William Alexander Mason
  • 26/1155a Armourer Sergeant Charles Alfred Oldbury
  • 9/1191 Corporal (Armourer) Percival James Lester
  • 10/1631 Corporal John Joseph Roberts

Copyright © Robert McKie 2019


New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Badge, 1916-1919 (Robert McKie Collection 2017)



[1] United Kingdom – Army Ordnance Department (AOD) until 1918 and then Army Ordnance Corps ((AOC), Australia – Australian Army Ordnance Corps (AAOC), Canada – Canadian Ordnance Corps (COC), South Africa – South African Ordnance Department (SAOD), India – Indian Army Ordnance Department (IAOD) and New Zealand – New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC)

[2] The exact manning and organisation of the New Zealand Division DADOS branch is unknown at this stage, but would have been similar to the organisation of the AAOC Ordnance Staff which was comprised of:

  • 1 Officer as DADOS (MAJ/CAPT)
  • 1 Conductor of Ordnance Stores per Divisional HQ
  • 1 Sergeant AAOC per Divisional HQ
  • 1 Corporal AAOC per Divisional HQ
  • 3 RQMS (WO1) AAOC
  • 3 Sergeants AAOC, 1 to each of 3 Brigades
  • 3 Corporals AAOC , 1 to each of 3 Brigades

As the war progressed additional Ordnance Officers wold be included into the DADOS establishment who along with the Warrant Officer Conductor would manage the Ordnance staff and day to day operations allowing the DADOS the freedom to liaise with the divisional staff, units and supporting AOC units and Ordnance Depots. John D Tilbrook, To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army (Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps Committee, 1989), 78.

[3] Ordnance Manual (War), War Office (London: His Majesties Printing Office, 1914).

[4] P.H. Williams, Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War (History Press, 2018), 126.

[5] Arthur Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services (London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929), 73-74.

[6] Bends is the leatherworking name for Sole leather. Sole Bends are heavily tanned skirting leather that has been compressed by casing with water and then plating, rolling, and pounding the moisture out of it tightening the grain and making it stiffer. It can be oiled, dyed finished much like any other skirting, however there is much less penetration due to the tightness of the fibres.

[7] Southwest from Vlamertinge towards village of Reningelst.

Australian Mobile Laundry Trailers

In the early years of the Second World War, the United Kingdom was unable to provide Australia with the necessary military hardware to equip a rapidly expanding Australian Army.  The following two articles; For Want of Clean Socks: The Australian Mobile Laundry Trailers and And More Clean Socks: The Australian Light Laundry Trailer by Australian military historian and authority on the technical history of vehicles and equipment,  Michael K Cecil, examine how Australian industry stepped up to provide the Australian Army Ordnance Corps with a Mobile Laundry capability. First published in the Australian  Khaki Vehicle Enthusiasts Newsletter the KVE News of March 2013 these articles are Published with the permission of the author, Michael K Cecil.Copyright Michael K Cecil

For Want of Clean Socks: The Australian Mobile Laundry Trailers


Laundry the hard way: scrubbing by hand in a basin of water.

Keeping clothing and bedding clean is only second in importance to good food and clean water when it comes to maintaining an Army’s health and morale. To this end, Laundry Units have been an integral part of the Australian Army’s Order of Battle since the First World War. But the early days of the Second World War heralded a change from the semi-static trench warfare of the First World War to a much more mechanised and fluid war – a war on wheels and tracks where gains or losses might be measured in tens of kilometres in a day. Any unit operating in a forward area had best be prepared to move quickly in response to changes in the tactical situation.

Mobile laundry facilities were first given serious consideration by the 2nd Australian Imperial Force (2AIF) in mid-1940, and by the Australian Military Forces (AMF) later the same year. Initial equipment was to be provided by purchase from Britain in line with the policy of adopting British Army standardised equipment wherever possible. However, Britain was unable to supply the laundry equipment in a timely manner or in the quantities required, so the Army turned to local industry to bridge the gap.

By late 1940, orders had been placed for the supply of various commercially available laundry equipment, in order to assemble a pilot model mobile laundry for trials. Several Australian companies from across the nation were contracted – Robert Bryce for the washing machine, Robert Lilley and Co. for the hydro-extractor and the soap and soda dissolver, Burtons Ltd for the tumble dryer, Cameron and Sutherland supplied centrifugal pumps, and a clarifier was supplied by the Perth-based firm Boltons Ltd. An entirely new device, a continuous drying machine, was being designed by the Land Headquarters Experimental Workshop, who would also assemble the pilot model laundry trailers. Power for each complete laundry was to be supplied by a 25kva, 415 Volt, three-phase AC generator mounted on a four wheel trailer. This was already an issue item, so procuring one for the pilot model laundry did not present a problem.

The equipment had all arrived at the workshop by the close of July 1941, except for the trailers. These were in extremely short supply owing to a higher priority demand for machinery trailers. The workshop went ahead and began assembling the laundry as a static unit – at least the components could be tested and their inter-relationship could be worked out within the trailer’s known dimensions in the interim.

And they were desperately needed. By February 1941, sixteen mobile laundry units were allowed for on the Australian Army’s Order of Battle – six for the 2nd AIF, and ten for a fully mobilised AMF, each one attached to an individual higher formation. Of those for the 2nd AIF, 5 were needed overseas. The 8 th Infantry Division in Malaya were in the greatest need, so the pilot model laundry – still not mounted on trailers – was sent to Malaya, along with some additional commercially available equipment, to provide a static laundry facility. Tropical conditions were already proving to be particularly hard on troops, and regular changes of clothing and bed linen helped keep tropical diseases, particularly skin rashes, in check.

By the time the pilot model’s equipment left for Malaya in September 1941, the mobile laundry design was well advanced. In anticipation of receiving trailers, contracts for the supply of the various major components were issued to suppliers. There was even a contract for the woven rattan trolley baskets, with Lawries Ltd engaged to manufacture enough sets for 11 mobile laundries.

Assembly of the first mobile laundry was to be undertaken by Robert Lilley and Co., but the supply of the trailers was still proving something of a problem. It was overcome by supplying machinery trailers that then had to be converted: hardly an ideal solution, but the only one available under the prevailing circumstances. The stripped machinery trailers were delivered to Lilleys in late April, 1942.


A Mobile Hospital laundry set up, with the boiler trailer set at right angles to the other 4 trailers. The trailer sides are dropped to the horizontal and used as the walkways and working area. The boiler trailer is the specially built McGrath model with the stepped bed construction to provide maximum height for the vertical boiler. AWM140751. Copyright expired.

By mid June 1942, good progress was being made on the construction of the pilot model mobile laundry at Robert Lilley and Co in West Melbourne. Trailer brake modifications were well advanced at Patons Brakes, and the McGrath Trailer Co had completed a new trailer specifically for the boiler assembly after the converted machinery trailer proved unsatisfactory. In anticipation of successful trials, contracts had also been placed with various manufacturers for laundry components, such was the urgent need to supply completed laundries to field units. The contractors list was a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the Australian light manufacturing industry at the time: Andrew & Higgs, Gordon Brothers, Lawries Ltd, Johnsons Tyne Foundry, and L Horscroft & Co., to name a few.

A fully equipped divisional mobile laundry consisted of 9 trailers of equipment, each one towed by a 3- ton truck or lorry. There were four washing machine trailers, two boiler and feed water trailers, two trailers equipped with a generator and tumble dryer (the dedicated generator trailer had been abandoned in favour of combining it with a dryer in a more compact layout), and a continuous drying room trailer. They were designed to be parked in a line and interconnected by the various pipe work and electrical cabling. The trailers’ lower sides were designed to fold out horizontally to provide working room and facilitate movement of staff and trolleys laden carrying washing between trailers. The upper wire mesh sides were hinged at the top, allowing them to be raised to the horizontal to provide an all round awning over the workspace.


Feeding the laundry boiler to provide hot water and steam for washing, and heat for the continuous dryer. The boiler had the versatility to be fired by wood or, in the tropics where dry wood was not available, quickly converted to a petrol-fed ‘hydra burner’. AWM055382 Copyright expired.


Baskets full of linen waiting to be washed. A mobile laundry’s work was never done! The near trailer houses the drum-type washing machine and to its right, a ‘hydro-extractor’ is being loaded from the trolley basket. The hydro-extractor was a machine that performed the ‘spin’ cycle of a modern washing machine. AWM026376. Copyright expired.

The Unit was manned by 3 officers and 118 other ranks, and the washing capacity was 400 pounds weight (181 kilograms) of dry clothing and linen per hour. Manning was based upon a sustained operation of two 8 hour shifts per day, 6 days per week, but greater output was possible if operated with more staff on a three shift rotation. For attachment to hospitals, a Hospital Mobile Laundry Unit was created. This was essentially a ‘half laundry’, consisting of five trailers: 2 washing machine, 1 each boiler and generator/tumble dryer trailer, and a drying room.

By early 1943, mobile laundry equipment manufactured by Australian industry was flowing to field units. Divisional Units were attached to higher formations located across Australia and in New Guinea, and Hospital laundry units were taking over from the older and far less efficient technology being employed at General Hospitals and Casualty Clearing Stations in Northern Australia and New Guinea.


A ‘flat head’ V8 working hard to spin the generator to provide all the power needs of the Mobile Laundry Unit. The other end of the same trailer housed a tumble dryer unit. AWM027631. Copyright expired

While these large capacity laundries were hard at work satisfying the never-ending requirements for clean linen and uniforms in larger formations and medical facilities, experience in the tropics during 1942 had demonstrated a need to constantly provide front line troops with clean clothes whenever possible, both for health and morale reasons. But the Mobile and Hospital laundries were just too far in the rear and too unwieldy to be safely moved further into the combat zone. Consequently, there was a desperate need for a lighter, more compact laundry for deployment as far forward into the combat zone as possible. Consequently, there was a desperate need for a lighter, more compact laundry for deployment as far forward into the combat zone as possible. The following article covers the Australian ‘Light Laundry’,


And More Clean Socks: The Australian Light Laundry Trailer

While the multi-trailer Mobile and Hospital laundries served the rear areas well, there was still a desperate need for a lighter, more compact laundry for deployment as far forward into the combat zone as possible. Troops operating anywhere need to maintain their clothes and equipment, but suffice to say, combat conditions often preclude anything more than the most basic of attention to this. While troops could survive quite well operating in the dry conditions of the Middle East, Greece and North Africa, the tropics meant dealing with a whole new regime of endlessly wet, muddy and humid conditions, together with the prevalence of some debilitating tropical diseases. Such conditions could rapidly reduce an army’s fighting effectiveness. Hence, the provision of clothes washing and decontamination facilities for front line troops and forward medical facilities such as Casualty Clearing Stations became almost as important as good food and shelter.

To provide washing facilities, the mobile showering unit, wholly mounted in a ¼ ton truck, was invented. To wash and decontaminate their clothes, the Australian Light Laundry was devised. The design work commenced in earnest in December 1942, and a pilot model was put together during January 1943. It was a somewhat radical design, as it dispensed with the steam pressure boiler altogether, opting for a direct-fired water heater to provide the hot water directly to the washing machine. This had the advantage that a qualified pressure vessel (boiler) attendant was not required: the simple system could be operated by almost anyone with a minimum of training. The drying system was also a departure from the conventional, as it too used a system of direct firing to heat the air exchanger that forced heated air into the tumble dryer. The complete laundry was mounted on a single four-wheeled 14 foot x 7 foot flat bed trailer. Initial trials of the pilot model during January and February 1943 proved the rugged simplicity of the design.


The Light Laundry (Aust) used a radical design to achieve compactness, but not sacrifice efficiency. Built by L. Horscroft, they were an instant success in forward areas. (Image reproduced from the MGO Equipment Memorandum)

The US Forces had also come to the realisation that a light mobile laundry was needed, but when shown the Australian pilot model, expressed some dismay at its unconventional features. The US Army Services of Supply (USASOS) opted for a different, more conventional design much to the disappointment of the Australian authorities. This design, which utilised a conventional 100 psi steam pressure boiler, was to be manufactured in Australia under the Reciprocal Lease Lend agreement. By refusing to standardise, Australian industry would effectively be required to split their efforts and produce two light laundry designs in parallel. Australian authorities considered this division a waste of precious manufacturing resources, but the USASOS were not to be swayed.

The Light Laundry (Aust) was geared toward the washing needs of a small hospital or casualty clearing station of up to 200 beds. With this capability, it could also be used for the washing and decontamination of the clothing of front line units when withdrawn to secure areas a short distance behind the lines. In addition to consumables such as soap and fuel, all the Light Laundry (Aust) needed was a reliable supply of water. Delivery of water to the washer and water heater was handled by a small petrol engine driven pump which was included as part of the laundry’s basic equipment.

The oil-fired water heater provided hot water to the washing machine, with the residual heat used to provide the primary supply of warm air to the tumble dryer. A booster burner was also provided to heat the air-exchanger for times when the water heater was not in full operation. Power to operate the dryer and washer was provided by a 10hp Ford petrol engine connected to a counter-shaft running the full length of the trailer. Flexible couplings enabled any one part of the system to be temporarily disengaged, such as when emptying or filling the dryer or washing machine, and power was transferred from the countershaft by belts and pulleys. The fully integrated system was designed to wash 60 lbs dry weight of clothing per hour, but early trials exceeded all expectations by consistently processing more than 70 lbs per hour, and an experienced crew could complete more than 80 lbs per hour for short periods if needed.

With the success of the pilot model, and in anticipation of an early delivery of the production equipment, Army Headquarters authorised the addition of 22 Light Mobile Laundry Units onto the Order of Battle in February 1943. The units were designed to operate with any type of formation or unit as required, and were manned by members of the Australian Army Ordnance Corps (AAOC). To equip them, contracts were raised with L Horscroft and Co. for 25 Light Laundries (Aust) in April 1943, which was later raised to 40. L. Horscroft and Co. were experienced in the manufacture of laundry and oven equipment, and were already handling several military contracts for cleaning and drying equipment, including ovens for heating explosives. Within a few months, Light Mobile Laundry Units AAOC were in operation within Australia and on their way to several locations in New Guinea.

The Light Laundry (Aust) was one of the more successful collaborative projects undertaken by Australian industry during the Second World War. From the Army’s articulation of the requirement in late 1942, it took only until mid-1943 to equip, raise and deploy the new units into forward areas. Truly a fantastic effort.

Copyright Michael K Cecil


Biographical Details Michael K Cecil

Michael K. Cecil was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1955. His tertiary studies were at Monash University (Clayton campus) where he graduated with two degrees: a Batchelor of Science with Honours and a Batchelor of Arts. He later studied at Canberra Institute of Technology, where he graduated with a Certificate IV in Museum Practice.

Following graduation from Monash University, he held various positions in both the public service and in private consulting. These included research assistant to the ‘Atlas of Victoria’ project, various tertiary teaching positions, and technical administration appointments.

Always passionate about history, he has been researching Australian military history – particularly the technical history of vehicles and equipment – since the early 1970s. This translated into publication of articles in the late 1980s, and his first book in the early 1990s.

Mobile Laundry and Bath Equipment 1914-1990

Laundry and Bath Units have played a significant role in the ultimate success of many of the conflicts that New Zealand has participated in since the First World War.  Troops from the fighting units, filthy after weeks of chasing the enemy through the desert, muddy fields and primary jungle would find it slightly surreal to emerge in their filth and greeted by a unit offering them a hot shower and a complete change of clothing. Such was the effect on the morale of our fighting soldiers that it is reasonable to assume that on many occasions, the enemy specifically targeted Laundry and Bath units for elimination. The Identity of many Laundry and Bath operators is unknown. This is, of course, for security reasons. Some soldiers got the wrong laundry back. Moreover, as you all well know, when it comes to personal kit, soldiers just don’t forget things like that!

This article will provide some historical context on field baths and laundry’s and examine the primary Mobile and Bath equipment used by the New Zealand Army from 1914 to 1996

The provision of laundry and Bath functions in commonwealth armies was a function that was shared by the Medical and Ordnance Corps. The RAMC would provide facilities and Hospitals and bases and Ordnance mobile facilities for deployment into the field. [1] The Ordnance role of Laundry and Bath Units was to:[2]

  • Decontaminate men and their equipment after a gas attack.
  • Laundry and bath facilities to forward units.
  • Laundry facilities for supported Medical Unit.

First World War 1914-18

Managed as a Divisional unit under the Divisional Bath and Laundry Officer, Divisional Bathhouses were established in facilities such as breweries of fabric processing plants, which with their vats and water supply were easily repurposed. Typically able to provide bathing, washing, disinfecting, drying and repair functions for up to 1200 men a day, the Staff of the Divisional Bathhouse was provided by a combination of civilian staff, medical Corps personnel and soldiers deemed not fit for front-line service.[3]

In the New Zeland Division, the responsibility for the Divisional Bath and Laundry Officer was placed under the Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Stores(DADOS) from December 1916.

Despite the availability of Divisional Bath Houses, units would at time make their own arrangements as described by WHA Groom “First of all, we had to have a clean up with a shower bath and clean underclothing, which would however again be lousy within a few hours; so with eager anticipation we marched off and after about a mile we came to the baths. There they were in a field – some baths! It was a corrugated iron compound, almost wide open to the elements and this housed an authentic Heath Robinson or Emmett contraption which consisted of a boiler with the hot water going through a small elevated tank from which the water flowed to pipes having small water can roses at intervals so in groups of twelve we stood shivering and at a signal from the corporal in charge on came the hot water – usually too damned hot and quick was the word as the shower did not last long. The slow ones were left with soap and no more water – a sorry predicament, but damned funny for those not caught”.[4]

 The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, better known as the FANY’s, attempted to provide opportunities for soldiers to bath by bringing close to the frontline a mobile bath unit nicknamed ‘James’. This unit carried ten collapsible baths and used the motor engine of their truck to heat water so that about 40 men an hour could have the rare luxury of a bath.[5]

will's cigarette cards published in 1916 illustrating military motors

” Every possible care is taken of the health and comfort of our brave soldiers. After being relieved from a spell of duty in the trenches, they are frequently given a hot bath and served out with a clean change of underclothing: their own clothing being dried, cleaned and disinfected in the meantime “.Will’s cigarette cards published in 1916 illustrating military motors

WW1 Equipment

Serbian Barrels

Developed by the British military medical mission to Serbia, the Serbian barrel was developed to heat water to allow the disinfection of clothing and bedding, destroying lice and their eggs preventing the spread of diseases such as typhus.  The initial design used metal barrels that had water on the bottom and were put on fire, heating the water and creating steam. A basket in the inner part of the barrel prevented contact with water on which the clothes and bedding were placed. Given the scarcity of metal barrels, modifications were made to the design with clothing was put in an empty wooden barrel whose bottom had been drilled. A container with water was placed over a fire and above it was placed the wooden barrel. The hot steam from the container penetrated through the barrel holes, disinfecting the clothing.[6] This new invention soon was named “Serbian barrel” and it has contributed greatly to minimize the epidemic of typhus in 1915 and would be widely used by British and allied forces in the Great War. Normally allotted on a basis of four per battalion or unit of a similar size, owing to transport shortfalls they were left behind in base areas and frequently not utilised. Normally allotted on a basis of four per battalion or unit of a similar size, owing to transport shortfalls they were left behind in base areas and frequently not utilised.

A network of Serbian Barrels ©The National Museum of Valjevo

A mobile thresh disinfector left, on wheels and Serbian barrel delousers, used by the 2nd Australian Sanitary Section to kill lice in uniforms, blankets and so on. Neither of these methods were adequate for speedy, large-scale disinfection, which required high-pressure steam. Lice infestation was heavy among troops in the desert, opportunities for washing were limited. AWM A02718.


Men of the Army Ordnance Corps disinfecting clothing in improvised disinfectors, known as Serbian barrels. Imperial War Museum


Thresh Disinfector Delousing Chambers

The Thresh Disinfector Company took out a patent for a Disinfector in 1904. The disinfecting device utilised low-pressure steam to disinfect bedding and clothing. Hot air was also created within the appliance. enabling the drying of the contents to also take place.  These disinfectors were allocated to Divisions on a basis of one Foden steam wagon variant (Two Thresh chambers) and two horse-drawn variants (One Thresh chamber).[7]

Both variants of the Thresh Disinfector consisted of a horizontal steam chamber around which there was an outer jacket which is assembled as a unit with a boiler. Clothing was placed loosely in a basket so that the steam was able to penetrate. After the clothing, was placed in the disinfestor, the doors were shut and sealed and a vacuum of 10 to 15 inches [254 to 381 mm of Mercury] created, after which the steam is turned on until a positive pressure of 15 pounds [6.8 kg] was attained [corresponding to a water temperature of 165 °C], this would be held for about twenty minutes. At the end of this time the steam is released and a vacuum of 10 to 15 inches is produced in order to dry the clothing. This vacuum is held for about five minutes.


Horse-drawn Thresh Disinfector Delousing Chambers

The horse-drawn variant was a single thresh disinfector chamber mounted on a single axis horse-drawn wagon. Fitted with a self-contained burner unit under the chamber, the horse-drawn variant could generate its own heated water to power the unit.


British Soldiers with a horse-drawn unit at L’Etuve.



US Army Horse Drawn Disinfector. Historic Military Vehicle Forum

Foden Steam Wagons ‘Thresh’ Disinfector Delousing Chambers

Used by many of the allied forces including the United States and Australia 100 Foden Steam Wagons were each mounted with two ‘Thresh’ Disinfector Delousing Chambers. The Foden Steam Wagon provided a supply of steam from its engine, dispensing with the burner unit found on the horse-drawn variant.

Both variants of the Thresh Disinfectors were well suited to deal with the delousing of lice infections which were an unfortunate by-product of trench warfare and with the added advantage of mobility able to be deployed thee proved invaluable to maintaining the fighting forces health and hygiene.

Foden steam wagon with Thresh disinfector at Langres, France Jun 2, 191post-63666-0-85967000-1404653615_thumbpost-63666-0-68498500-1404652730_thumb


This Foden steam delousing vehicle is unit marked YD, the US 26th Yankee Division. The crew is assisted by German prisoners in one of the pictures. The 101st Sanitation Train was part of the 26th Division which arrived in France on September 21, 1917. Historic Military Vehicle Forum

Q 29222

Foden Steam Wagon with two ‘ Thresh ‘ Delousing Chambers in Corbie 1917. Copyright: IWM (Q 29222)


Australian troops are seen using the Foden Delousing Wagons, note the extension fitted to the funnel of one of the Foden Steam Wagons. AWM This image is reproduced strictly for non-commercial research and private study purposes as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended and revised.


American servicemen from the U.S. ‘ Yankee Division ‘, using a Foden Steam Wagon fitted with ‘ Thresh ‘ Disinfectors. LF This image is reproduced strictly for non-commercial research and private study purposes as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, as amended and revised.

Disinfector Delousing Chamber Videos

  • Work of the NZ Medical Corps: In June 1917, when this film was shot by NZEF Official Photographer Lt H. A. Sanders, the New Zealand Division was in the line south of the River Douve with the front line forward of Ploegsteert Wood, in Northern France.  At 15.38 on the video, it shows the operation of the New Zealand Medical Corps sanitary section. Men are seen entering the Divisional baths and handing their clothing and blankets to men running Fodden Lorry Disinfector with two Thresh Chambers which could each deal with thirty blankets an hour (twenty minutes in heating, twenty minutes in steaming and twenty minutes in drying). This was to kill the lice which infected most front-line soldiers and which were responsible for much of the disease and scabies found in the trenches. View Here
  • US troops having their clothing deloused by steam during World War: Viedo clip showing  Foden Lorry Disinfector with two Thresh Chambers in use with US Troops. View Here


Second World War 1939-45

As New Zeland did not have a large peacetime army, there was a reliance on the use on the use of contracts with commercial laundries to mee the laundering needs of the forces, a system which the British army referred to as “Dhobies”. With the arrival of the Main body units of the NZEF at Maadi Camp on the outskirts of Cairo in Egypt in 1940, responsibility for the base laundering requirements of the NZEF was provided by civilian contractors or “Dhobies”, in facilities constructed within Maadi camp under the supervision of the NZEF Hygiene Section. The downside of the Dhobie system was that it did not extend to them following the units into the desert and alternative laundering solutions had to be found.[8]


Structured along British lines, the NZEF included as part of its organisational structure and war establishment Laundry and Bath units. An unfamiliar capability that the New Zealand Military Ordnance leadership had no experience in, there was much uncertainty if this was even an Ordnance responsibility of a Medical Corps responsibility leading to delays in the formation of the Laundry and Bath units. Confirmation that it was an Ordnance responsibility was received from the NZEF liaison staff in London on 15 November 1940. Discussion continued for much or 1941on the formation of the Laundry and Bath units, with the main concern being whether the units be formed, equipped and trained in New Zealand and then sent to the Middle East or formed from within the existing structure of the NZEF.[9]

As the decision in the formation of the Laundry and Bath units continued the NZEF Order of Battle was updated on 17 April 1941 and included as part of the NZEF, a:

  • Divisional Mobile Laundry and Forward Decontamination Unit, and a
  • Divisional Mobile Bath unit.

Authority for the formation of these units as part of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC)[10] was granted on 31 August 1941, with the formation of the Mobile Bath unit set for 3 September 1941 and the Mobile Laundry and Forward Decontamination unit formation set for 22 September 1941.[11]

bath 42laundry 1941

With available equipment drawn from British Army stocks, equipping of the laundry unit would drag out until March 1942 when the balance of its transport and trailers were received. Finding the required number of personnel to man the units was a challenge, with available personnel drawn from the NZOC reinforcements and Training Group reinforcements. Remaining under the command of HQ Maadi Camp the Laundry and Bath Units undertook their training and familiarisation with the new equipment and when ready, were transferred to the command of the New Zealand Divison.

On 27 March 1942, it was suggested by the 2 NZEF DDOS that as the title of the NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry and Forward Decontamination Unit was rather long-winded and considering that the decontamination function of the unit was not functional, the units name be shortened to the NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry. The name change was published soon afterwards as NZEF order 935.

rename mar 42

NZ Division Mobile Laundry (1941)

Vehicle Tactical Sign, NZ Division Mobile Laundry (1941)

The Mobile laundry would have its operational baptism when it was deployed to support the New Zealand Division which was at the time deployed to Syria. Establishing itself at an old flour mill adjacent to the small village of Burj al-Arab in northwestern Syria, the Mobile laundry Unit would spend a week in May 1942 coming to grips with the new equipment it had only received two months previously. The unit was working with three shifts a day washing and drying over 7000 blankets and all the division’s winter clothing. By the end of the week’s operations, the unit was easily able to process two thousand five hundred sets of battle dress a day, with the assistance of three hundred and fifty locally employed civilians to carried out mending and ironing duties., By the end of this initial operation, the capacity of the unit had increased markedly.[12]

NZ Division Mobile Bath Unit (1940)

Vehicle Tactical Sign, NZ Division Mobile Bath Unit (1940)

Working in support of the NZ Division the Mobile Bath an Laundry units would deploy forward to assist in the control of typhus in Lybia,[13] and would also provide welcome relief to soldiers in the forward areas such as a Whangarei soldier in the NZ Divisional Cavalry who wrote home in a letter to his parents that.  “We are now back out of the firing line at long last. We were up there far longer than any other New Zealanders, and from all accounts have done a good job of work. We did not think we had done much ourselves, but we have had several letters from different Generals congratulating us on our work—and they ought to know. Yesterday we had a hot shower from a mobile bath unit. It was grand and a lot of dirt was shifted: that was the first real wash we had had for just on nine weeks. I had a couple of rough sponges in about a mugful of water at different times but that was all. I didn’t have any clothes off for over five weeks”[14]

In June 1942 the necessity of the decontamination functionality was questioned as finding the additional fifty-two Other Ranks was proving to challenge and unless the unit would be required for service in the near future, that the enabling of this capability be delayed. In August 1942 the utility of both the Bath and laundry was questioned. It was felt that the effectiveness of the units was dependent on the location of the Division and the availability of water. Since the unit’s inception, they had only provided four months of service to the Divison, and the indications were that they would be no more effective in the future. Given the narrow front found in North Africa, it was decided that laundry services could be provided by RAOC facilities or local contracts. Bath services could also be provided by RAOC assets, natural sources, existing or temporary installations constructed as required and the NZEF laundry and Bath units would be disbanded.

The Laundry equipment due to its specialist and technical nature was intended to be returned to British Ordnance for a full credit to the New Zealand Government for its full cost. The Bath equipment would be retained as a New Zealand assets and stored at the NZ Base Ordnance Depot in anticipation of future employment in other theatres.

Forty-Seven other ranks from the Laundry Unit and eleven other ranks from the Bath Unit were transferred back to their respective Depots on 22 August 1942. The two Officers and twenty-five Other Ranks of the laundry Unit and the Other Ranks of the bath unit were to be transferred to other branches of the NZOC, with the understanding that if the capabilities were to be regenerated, they would be released to train personnel and have the unit functioning in a matter of days.

The NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry Unit, and NZ Divisional Mobile Bath unit were both formally disbanded on 30 Sept 1942.

disbamdment sept 42

1942 -1943

With wartime conditions causing difficulties in obtaining new stocks of battledress, blankets, greatcoats, shirts and woollen underwear it was considered utilising the mobile field laundry to provide economies by renewing part worn articles. Therefore, on 30 Sept 1942 as the NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry Unit was disbanded the NZ Bas Laundry was established as a unit if the NZEF.[15]

base launder forming

Taking over equipment of the disbanded Div Mobile Laundry unit the NZ Base Laundry was located at Maadi camp in Cairo Egypt,[16] with an establishment of one officer and 20 Other Ranks. It was estimated the over a twelve-month period the following items could be processed through the Base Laundry for Non-Divisional and Divisional units of the NZEF;

  • Battledress – 120000 pieces,
  • Blankets – 100000pieces,
  • Greatcoats 20000 pieces,
  • Shirts and swollen underwear – 180000 pieces.

With the fall of Tripoli in January 1943, the NZ Base Laundry Unit received an additional ten personnel and deployed a laundry section from Maadi to Lybia, a distance if 1600Miles (2574.95 Kilometers). The forward section would wash and replaced much of the NZ Divisions clothing and bedding. It had just become established when the division was hurriedly moved to continue the campaign. However, many men of the NZ Division had been re-equipped with clean battle-dress which had been brought forward to do this, and the withdrawn battle-dress was washed and mended ready for further use.[17] The Base Laundry Unit would continue to support the NZ Division as it went into a period of refit and reorganisation following the Axis defeat.

The NZ Base Laundry Unit was disbanded on 30 September 1943,[18] and the following day the NZ Mobile Laundry was formed as a unit of the NZEF. During October 1943 the NZ Division, including the NZ Mobile Laundry Unit moved secretly from Egypt to southern Italy, and on the 18th of October 1943, the NZ Mobile Bath unit was formed in Italy as a unit of the NZEF.[19]

Mobile laundry 1943


2 NZ Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit (1944)

Vehicle Tactical Sign 2 NZ Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit (1944)

In November 1943 the NZ Division ADOS stated his intent to place the Mobile Bath Unit under the Officer Commanding of the Mobile Laundry Unit, allowing both units to be administered economically.

NZ MLBUThe NZ Mobile Bath Unit was disbanded on 16 February 1944 with the NZ Mobile Laundry Unit renamed as the NZ Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit. The New Zealand organisation of its Laundry and Bath units brought the New Zealand organisation into line with British Army War Establishment II/293/1 of December 1943, as a Type B: Mobile Field Laundry and Bath Unit, and became known as 2NZ Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit (2NZ MLBU). 2NZ MLBU served with distinction in support of the NZ Division throughout the Italian campaign, often with detachments providing support to units on the front line.[20] 2NZ MLBU was disbanded as a unit of the NZEF on 8 December 1945.

MLBU dec 1945

Mobile Laundry Equipment

Mounted on 9 Trailers, the mobile equipment of the laundry consisted of;[21]

    • Four Trailer Type A – This was the washing trailer which carried the following equipment;
      • 1 X Bradford Rotary washing machine,
      • 1 X hydro extractor,
      • 1 X soap boiler,
      • 1 X ventilation fan,
      • hot and cold water, steam and electrical equipment.
    • One Trailer Type B – This was a drying trailer and carried the following equipment;
      • 1 x Rotary Dryer,
      • steam, condenser and electrical equipment.
    • One Trailer Type C – This was a drying trailer and carried the following equipment;
      • 1 X continuous drying machine -The continuous drying machine was a line which went through a series of pulleys. Items to be dried were pegged to the line which was slowly pulled through a chamber which blew hot air in one end and extracted it at the other. No ironing was done,
      • steam, condenser and electrical equipment.
    • Two Trailer Type D – With two of these per unit these trailers provided hot water and hot air. It carried the following equipment;
      • 1 X Clarkson steam boiler,
      • 1 X calorifier,
      • 1 X cold water tank,
      • 1 X feed water tank,
      • 1 X oil storage tank,
      • 1 X centrifugal pump,
      • 1 X feed pump,
      • piping, fittings and electrical equipment.
    • One Generator Trailer – This was a standard generator trailer with;
      • 1 X Fowler Sanders or Lister 22/24Kw Fowler Sanders diesel Generator
      • 1 X switchboard
      • 2 X distribution boxes
    • Distributed amongst all the vehicles for water supply and disposal was;
      • 2 X 205 litre (45 gallons) per minute pumps with motors
      • effluent tanks
      • piping
      • water testing apparatus

The Washing machine and Dryer trailers were positioned back to back alongside another pair. Platforms were mounted between the trailers, with a canvas canopy over the top, this can be seen in the picture below.

ww2 brit laundry

For operation the Mobile laundry required;

  • firm standing with an area of 19 meters (60 foot) by 19 meters (60 foot)
  • a water supply of 163659 litres (36,000 gallons) a day
  • a good access road
  • as much cover as possible although the laundry section was designed to operate in the open air

The Mobile laundry could wash 16000 blankets or 12000 sets of personal clothing a week.

ordnance laundry at work

RAOC Mobile Laundry at work 1944/45 (RAOC,public domain)

Mobile Laundry Video

  • Canadian Army Newsreel No.3: A short video showing a Canadian Ordnance Corps Laundry unit in action in Northwest Europe 1944/45.   View Here

Mobile Bath Equipment

The Mobile Bath Unit consisted of two pieces of equipment;

  • The Mobile Bath equipment, and
  • The Disinfestor equipment.

Bath Unit

The Bath Unit was mounted in a 1 ton 2 wheeled trailer, and consisted of the means to heat water and pipe it to the showers, and included;

  • Hot water boiler,
  • oil burner,
  • semi-rotary pump,
  • couplings and fitting

The showers consisted of;

  • tubular metal shower trestles,
  • five or six shower heads,
  • pipework and fittings

The capacity was based on each man taking five minutes to shower,

  • A Subsection could bathe 60 to 70 men in an hour,
  • A section could wash 120 to 140 men in an hour,

The shower equipment was designed to be used in the open, but tents were provided for the showers, and for changing rooms if necessary. Commonly showers would be sited where changing could be in a building. A bath section requires a firm site 18 meters (60 foot) by 12 meters (40 foot) and a water supply of 38641 litres (8,500 gallons) of water a day.


Canadian Army mobile bath. Wouenhaus, 8 April 1945. Photo by Alexander M. Stirton. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada, PA-198131.

Disinfestor equipment

The disinfestor’s purpose is to kill lice. In the austere base and field conditions field that soldiers had to live in the risk of infestation by lice was a constant problem. Bathing and the laundering of underwear was not sufficient to handle infestations and disinfecting of outer garments with steam was necessary to kill the lice and their eggs.

Mounted on the deck of a ton 4 X 2 lorry with drop sides, the disinfector equipment consisted of two disinfecting cylinders with an oil fired heater and a water supply mounted between the cylinders.

The disinfecting cylinders were designed with a hinged at their centre, allowing them to be pivoted 90 degrees to allow them to be loaded and unloaded while horizontal and then rotated until they were vertical for the disinfecting process.  Clothing would not be wetted but placed into the cylinders dry, and when the process was completed was ready to wear almost immediately.


Truck 3-ton 4 x 2 Disinfector (Morris commercial)

Mobile Bath Video

  • Mobile Bath Unit (Western Desert): A short video showing a Mobile Bath unit in action in the Western Desert. View Here

Postwar the 1950’s

The postwar New Zealand Army was committed to providing a Division for service in the Middle East, the RNZAOC Commitment to this was the provision of Ordnance Divisional Troops commanded by the Chief Royal Army Ordnance Corps (CRAOC).

The Order of Battle of the NZ Army in 1953, details that under the NZ Division HQ CRAOC  the Ordnance organisation was;

  • an  Infantry Division Ordnance Field Park, and
  • a Mobile Laundry and Bath Company, consisting of;
    • An HQ,
    • Five Laundry Sections and
    • Five Bath Sections.

Org Chart from “Org & Duty of RNZAOC in NZ Div” CRAOC 5.1 of 1 Sept 1959.  National Archives of New Zealand

The Mobile Laundry and Bath Company intended to provide bathing facilities and wash soldiers underclothing. The laundry function was supported by carrying a stock of underclothing from which a set could be issued to each man after bathing. Cast off underclothing was then washed and returned to stock for subsequent reissue. Sewing machines would be provided as part of the Company’s equipment to allow “Stich in time” repairs as part of the clothing exchange process.

The Company was structured to allow the use of double shifts. Apart from the normal considerations of accessibility to troops and hard standing then main siting consideration was accessibility to water. the Bath subsection as a requirement of 400 gallons (1800 Litres) per hour and a Laundry Subsection a requirement of 300 Gallons (1360 Litres) per hour.

At this stage, it unknown what equipment was used but some assumptions would be that it was either equipment from the 2nd World War or locally manufactured material.

20170314_083546 (002)

Members of 1 Battalion, Wellington Regiment enjoying a field Shower, Daba Camp, Waiouru, Summer 1952-53 (7WnHb Regt, Public domain)


Showering in Korea, May 1952. Alexander Turnbull Library

The 1960’s and 70’s

In the 1960’s 1st Composite Ordnance Company (1 Comp Ord Coy), RNZAOC had two dedicated platoons for Laundry and Bath services;

  • 5 (Laundry) Platoon,  and
  • 6  (Bath) Platoon.

Laundry unit, single, trailer-mounted. M-532

1 Comp Ord Coy, 5 (Laundry) Platoon,  was equipped with the American  Laundry unit, single, trailer-mounted. M-532.  The M-532 was a self-contained trailer mounted unit which consisted of ;

  • A 2½-ton capacity, 2-wheel trailer;
  • A washer-extractor,
  • A Tumble Dryer,
  • A  water heater,
  • An electric generator,
  • An air compressor, and
  • water pump.

The unit was able to furnish a complete (wash and dry) laundering cycle at a capacity of 120 pounds (54kg) per hour.

Two M-532 units were used by the New Zealand Army, of which one unit is now held by the National Army Museum at Waiouru, New Zealand.


LAUNDRY UNIT, M532 (US Army, public domain)

m532 Laundry Trailers

LAUNDRY UNIT, M532 (US Army, public domain)

Laundry 3

Sgt Brian Quinn instructing National Servicemen on the Laundry Unit in the mid-1960’s. Photo taken in Kuku Valley Ammunition area, Trentham Camp. RNZAOC School.

Bath Unit, Portable, 8-Showerhead M1958

1 Comp Ord Coy, 6 (Bath) Platoon,  was equipped with the American Bath Unit, Portable, 8-Showerhead M1958. The M1958  was a compact unit that included;

  • A 20-gallon (75 litre) water heater,
  • A 3/4-horsepower water pump,
  • Two shower stands with four nozzles each,
  • A 3-k.w. generator set,
  • A 55- gallon (209 litre) fuel drum,
  • moreover, all the necessary ancillary equipment including hoses and fires extinguishers.

The M1958 used approximately 960 gallons (3600 litres) of water per hour, which could be drawn from a tank, mains or a water source such as a river or pond. It is capable of providing continuing support for 3,000 troops.

m1958 layout

M1958 Bath Unit Equipment layout (US Army, public domain)

The January 1972 edition of the RAOC Gazette made mention of the M1958 in service with the ANZUK Force.

” ANZUK Ordnance Depot” The unit has raised a Field Support Detachment, and under the command of Capt J Clarke supported by SSgt’s Ashdown and Shepard, it is supporting 28 ANZUK Brigade in the Mersing area of Malaysia.

The bath unit of the detachment is using an amazing American equipment which requires a brave man to peer through a peephole until combustion. Fortunately, the unit has such a man in Corporal Smith of the RNZAOC”

and this from the February 1972  issue of the RAOC Gazette:[22]

” The Bath section apparently run by Corporal Smith RNZAOC, succeed in bathing all comers and, in spite of water shortages, operated almost nonstop for twelve days.”


ANZUK Ordnance Depot, Forward Ordnance Detachment, setting up a shower unit, Malaysia 1972 (Copyright © Robert McKie 2017)

Shower Schematic

Schematic view of shower equipment from 1 Field Supply Company, RNZAOC, Standing Operating Procedures, December 1984


M1958 set up receive water upstream of the unit, with the wastewater disposited downstream of the unit. (practice long discontinued due to environmental concerns). The two buried bucket like items in the foreground were known as ‘Chufffers’. Chuffers were a Diesel/Kerosene fuelled device for heating water in this case probably for shaving purposes. Robert Mckie Collection


The 1980’s and 90’s

With the retirement of the Laundry unit,  M-532 in the early 1980’s, leaving the Bath Unit M1958 to although in need of replacement due to support and maintenance issues, soldier on until the later years of the 1980’s. The last time I saw one in action was on the Triad Exercise of 1984 when I was operating on at Baggush Camp at Waiouru under the tutelage of WO2 Smith.

FW-37 Trailer Mounted Field Laundry Unit

Laundry 2

FW-37 Mobile Laundry Equipment. RNZAOC School

Laundry 1

FW-37 Mobile Laundry Equipment. RNZAOC School

The Replacement for the Laundry unit,  M-532 was purchased in the early 80’s, it was the West German FW-37 Trailer Mounted Field Laundry Unit.

The FW-37 was a self-contained field laundry unit mounted on two trailers;

  • Washer Trailer, the washer trailer consisted of;
    • Two washing machines,
    • Hydro extractor,
    • Water pump,
    • Two Diesel/Oil Burners,
    • Hoses, electrical cables and other ancillary connections
  • Dryer Trailer, the Dryer trailer consisted of;
    • A single drying machine,
    • One Diesel/Oil Burner,
    • 3 Phase generator,
    • Hoses, electrical cables and other ancillary connections.

The FW-37 and could be run by either mains power or by its own generator, Water could be supplied from a mains supply, water tank or local water supply such as a river or a pond.


Suggested Layout 1984

The suggested layout of Laundry Unit from 1 Field Supply Company, RNZAOC Standing Operating Procedures, December 1984



Kerrick Shower Unit

As the M1958 Bath Units became worn out in the mid-1980’s, a replacement item was provided by Kerrick Industries. Utilising many of the M1958 Bath Units components, such as the hoses and shower stands the Kerrick was an electric powered, Kerosene fed unit.


Karcher Shower System

In the early 1990’s the NZ Army procured several Karcher Multi-Purpose Decontamination Systems (MPDS). Essentially a high tech Steam Cleaner the NZ Army systems were configured as either a;

  • A shower system, or
  • A decontamination System (used only by RNZE units, not RNZAOC).

Karcher MPDS (Karcher, public domain)

The Karcher-fieldshower 15 Person, was designed to give a shower for personal hygiene or decontamination for 15 persons at the same time. The  Karcher-fieldshower was an entirely self-contained system, powered by its own engine and able to suck water from a local source such as a river or from a holding tank fed by mains water. The shower system was capable of showering 15 persons at the same time.


General Plan of Karcher Fieldshower. Karcher Fieldshower Operating Instructions


Copyright © Robert McKie 2018


[1] The War Office, Ordnance Manual (War) (London: His Majestys Stationery Office, 1939), Appendix 1.

[2] “Administration within the Division,” in Administration in the Field (London: War Office, 1951).

[3] A. D. Carbery, The New Zealand Medical Service in the Great War, 1914-1918: Based on Official Documents (Uckfield, East Sussex: Naval & Military Press, [2006?], 2006), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 176.

[4] W.H. Groom, Poor Bloody Infantry: A Memoir of the First World War (W. Kimber, 1976).

[5] C N Trueman, “First Aid Nursing Yeomanry,”

[6] “History of the Great War, Medical Services, Diseases of the War, Vol. I,” American Journal of Public Health (New York, N.Y. : 1912) 13, no. 6 (1923): 138.

[7] Gregory M. Anstead, “Historical Review: The Centenary of the Discovery of Trench Fever, an Emerging Infectious Disease of World War 1,” The Lancet Infectious Diseases 16 (2016): 168.

[8] A.H. Fernyhough, History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1920-1945 (Royal Army Ordnance Corps, 1958), 121.

[9] 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Field Item Idr20107590 Record No  Da 1/9/Sd81/21 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1941).

[10] The New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps was the permanent Corps in New Zealand and the NZOC the tile of the Expeditionary Force Ordnance Corps.

[11] 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Field

[12] “Mobile Laundry,” Auckland Star, Volume LXXIII, Issue 109, 11 May 1942.

[13] “Fit Division,” Otago Daily Times, Issue 24908, 6 May 1942.

[14] “Divisional Cavalryman’s Adventures,” Northern Advocate, 25 June 1942.

[15] 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Base, Item Idr20107591 Record No  Da 1/9/Sd81/22 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1941).

[16][16] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992).

[17] “Clothing for NZ Troops,” Press, Volume LXXIX, Issue 24011, 28 July 1943.

[18] 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Base.

[19] 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Field

[20] Robin Kay, “From Cassino to Trieste,” in Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45 (Wellington: Historical Publications Branch, Department of Internal Affairs 1967).

[21] WWIIReenacting, “Mobile Bath and Laundry Unit Raoc,” in WWIIReenacting (2006).

[22] RAOC, “Anzuk Ordnance Depot,” RAOC Gazette, January 1972.