V Force Ordnance

vietnam

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

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

The names on this page have been collated from the Memories of New Zealand and Vietnam Website that can be found at http://www.vietnamwar.govt.nz

Headquarters Vietnam Force (HQ V Force)

The Headquarted element for New Zealand Forces In South Vietnam, HQ V Force was located at Saigon from 1964 to 1972, and during that time had three separate titles:

  • HQ NEWZAD (29 June 1964 – 1 July 1965)
  • HQ NZ V Force (2 July 1965 – 21 December 1972)
  • HQ NZATGV – HQ NZ Army Training Group Vietnam (21 December 1972)

HQ V Force RNZAOC Personnel

  • Corporal Joseph Seymour Bolton,
  • Sergeant John Walter (Boots) Byrom,
  • Corporal Ronald John Henderson,
  • Warrant Officer Class Two John Edward Hancox,
  • Corporal James Nelson Harvey,
  • Cpl Frankie Te Waru Hohepa, served out of US Army Depot Long Binh
  • Lance Corporal Kevin Gerard Moriarty,
  • Lance Corporal Colin William Roulston,
  • Lieutenant Mark David Stuart,
  • Sergeant Bruce Raymond Swain,
  • Corporal Barry James Taylor,
  • Corporal William Douglas Waugh.
Vietnam

ADOS HQ HQ AFV Plaque, Joe Bolton Collection

Vietnam 2

RAAOC Local Purchase, Saigon Plaque, Joe Bolton Collection

1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF)

New Zealanders served in various capacities within the headquarters of 1 ATF in Nui Dat.

1 ATF RNZAOC Personnel

  • Corporal Michael Maurice Barker,
  • Private Colin Robert Von Richenbach.

1st Australian Logistic Support Group (1 ALSG)

 

1ALSG Tac Sign

1 ALSC Tac sign 1965 – 1973

1 ALSG began life as ALSC (Australian Logistic Support Company) with the role of commanding the logistic support units of the Australian Task Force in South Vietnam, From its establishment New Zealanders of all ranks, corps and services served in 1 ALSG in every conceivable role.

 

The Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps elements of the ALSG consisted of ;

Second line support

Third line support

  • Initially know as 1st Composite Ordnance Depot, renamed as 2 Composite Ordnance Depot (1 April 1966 – 15 November 1967) and finally known as 2 Advanced Ordnance Depot (16 November 1967 – 12 March 1972), included the following subunits;
    • 13 Ordnance Supply Control Platoon
    • 14 Ordnance Stores Platoon
    • 15 Ordnance Ammunition Platoon
    • 16 Ordnance Vehicle Platoon
    • 18 Ordnance Depot Laundry and Bath Section
    • 19 Ordnance Supply Control Platoon
    • 20 Ordnance Stores Platoon (9 January 1967)

Workshop Stores Sections

  • 1 Independent Armoured Sqn Workshop Stores Section (29 January – 2 February 1968)
  • 106 Field Workshop Stores Section (took over from 1 Independent Armoured Sqn Workshop Stores Section)
  • 101 Field Workshop Stores Section (1 April 1966 – 5 July 1067
  • 102 Field Workshop Stores Section (2 March 1967 – 12 March 1972)

RNZAOC ALSG Personnel

  • Corporal Brian William Calvey,
  • Major Arthur John Campbell,
  • Corporal Ernest Reichter Clegg,
  • Captain Gary Malcolm Corkin,
  • Lieutenant Ronald Leslie Cross,
  • Staff Sergeant Alfred Stephenson Day,
  • Captain Kevin John Dreyer,
  • Lieutenant James Bernard Finnerty,
  • Sergeant Dennis Leslie Goldfinch,
  • Corporal Laurence Roy Hawkins,
  • Staff Sergeant Tamamarakau Te Kingi Hiini,
  • Sergeant Arthur James Keeler,
  • Staff Sergeant Derek John Keen,
  • Lieutenant Terence David McBeth,
  • Corporal Phillip Ross Miller,
  • Sergeant Terence Norman Morrissey,
  • Lieutenant Maxwell Frederick Newnham,
  • Staff Sergeant Rex Pennell,
  • Lieutenant Piers Martin Reid,
  • Major Malcolm John Ross,
  • Staff Sergeant Roy Harold Staniford,
  • Sergeant Barry Thomas Thompson,
  • Sergeant Darrell Samuel Todd,
  • Staff Sergeant James William Twist.

161 Battery Attachments

161 Battery first deployed to Vietnam in June 1965 with its own attached Logistics element to undertake Battery specific servicing and logistical tasks. Known as the Logistic Support Element (LSE). The LSE was detached from the battery in 1966 and located with 1st Australian Logistic Support Group (1 ALSG) at Vung Tau.

RNZAOC 161 Battery Attachments

  • Corporal Laurence Charles Collier,
  • Staff Sergeant Ronald Albert Eveleigh,
  • Lieutenant David Ralph Hughes,
  • Sergeant Maurice John Lynch,
  • Corporal Brian David Moore
  • Corporal Wilford Stuart Neshausen,
  • Gunner Stephen Rex Shepherd.

New Zealand Rifle Companies

RNZAOC personnel recorded as serving in South Vietnam as part of the New Zealand Rifle Companies. Note some of these individuals might not have been members of the RNZAOC at the time of their posting but transferred into the RNZAOC at a later date.

W1

  • Private Peter Chanel Dellabarca,
  • Private Robert James MacDowall,
  • Private Te Ra Nui Ote Tau Te Paenga,
  • Corporal Murray Walters.

W3

  • Lance Corporal David Condon,
  • LCpl Bill Toa Paki

  • Lance Corporal Francis Joseph Ryan.

V4

  • Private Horace Te Hoki Thompson.
  • Private Russell Henry Tulloch.

V5

  • Private Roy Tutewhakaiho Komene,
  • Private Wilson Douglas Simonsen.

V6

  • Pte Graeme Lloyd Hughes

161st (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight

New Zealand Army Air Corps pilots and one RNZAOC Officer flew Sioux helicopters with the Australian 161 Recce Flt.

  • Lt Reginald Ellwood

Visitors

RNZAOC personnel not posted to serve on the posted strength of units in South Vietnam, but spent periods of time there.

  • Corporal Francis Bobby Te Ahuru,
  • Lieutenant Terence John Verrall.

1  New Zealand Army Training Team

  • WO2 Brian Lewis Crafts
Vietnam 3

New Zealand Army Training Group Vietnam. Brian Crafts Collection

Vietnam 4

NZ Army Training Team Vietnam Plaque. Brian Crafts Collection

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Ordnance during the Field Force era 1964 – 1978

To meet SEATO commitments, the New Zealand Army reorganised in 1964, there would be an Infantry Battalion based in Malaysia as part of the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, with the remainder of the Army organised to provide reinforcement of the overseas elements at short notice, and with a more extended notice period. Forces able to meet other commitments outside of the scope of the Strategic Reserve. To achieve this that Army was organised as:

  • Field Force
    • The Combat Brigade Group – Organised as a combat force for commitments outside of the scope of the Strategic Reserve.
    • The Logistic Support Group – Organised to provide support in the field to the Combat Brigade Group.
    • The Combat Reserve Brigade Group – Designed to backfill personnel from the Combat Brigade Group and Logistic Support Group on their mobilisation, to provide trained reinforcements.
  • Static Support Force – all the static non-deplorably units.

RNZAOC Locations and Roles

The RNZAOC maintained units on a regional basis with;

  • Combat Brigade Group units based in the Northern region,
  • Logistic Support Group units based in the Central region,
  • Combat Reserve Brigade Group units based in the Southern region, and
  • Static Support Force units base throughout the country in non-operational support roles.

Units classed as Operating units had a real-time peacetime support role, all others only had training roles.

Up to 1968 Ordnance units, their locations and dependency’s are detailed in the following three tables;

Ordnance In the Northern Military District

1968 NMD

1st COD 1971

1st Central Ordnance Depot – 25 June 1971. RNZAOC School

Ordnance In the Central Military District

1968 CMD

CDOD 1965

Central Districts Ordnance Depot 1965. Dave Morris Collection

Ordnance In the Southern Military District

1968 SMD

Dress Embellishments

Circular Coloured patches 1½ inch in diameter were worn on the shoulder Battledress and then Service Dress just below the Corps Shoulder Title, these patches were discontinued in the mid-1970’s.

  • Combat Brigade Group – Black
  • Logistic Support Group – Red
  • Combat Reserve Brigade group – Green
  • Static Support Force – Blue

 

1968 Reorganisation

In 1968 it was decided to refine the RNZAOC organisation to better suit its outputs, resulting in name changes, roles changes, relocation and disestablishment for some units.

Unit Name Changes

  • The Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham was renamed 1 Base Ordnance Depot.
  • The three District Ordnance Depots were renamed as Central Ordnance Depots
    • Northern District Ordnance Depot – 1 Central Ordnance Depot
    • Central District Ordnance Depot – 2 Central Ordnance Depot
    • Southern District Ordnance Depot – 3 Central Ordnance Depot

Note: It was mooted that ‘Command’ instead of ‘Central’ be used as the name of the Ordnance Depots, and some correspondence does refer to the COD as Command Ordnance Depots.

Roles Changes and Re-locations

  • 1 Infantry Brigade Group Ordnance Field Park based at Trentham and already partly scaled but with no role other than training this was moved to Ngaruawahia, with the task of maintaining the Equipment Tables of Combat Brigade group units.
  • 1COC PLAQUE

    1 Composite Ordnance Company Plaque. Peter Cox collection

    1 Composite Ordnance Company would assume the role as the significant bulk Ordnance stock-holding unit in the Field Force, with responsibility for issuing bulk to 1 Ordnance Field Park and all Workshop Stores Sections and detailed Issues to all Logistic Support Group units. This unit would have a peacetime holding of 60 -90 days of War Reserve stocks which were transferred from 1 Base Ordnance Depot. All Platoons were centralised at Mangaroa, less 4 (Ammo) Platoon which would be located at Makomako and loaned back to 2 Central Ordnance Depot.

  • 3 Infantry Brigade Group Ordnance Field Park situated at Ngaruawahia with no stocks held and performing only a Training Role, this unit was relocated to Burnham where the majority of Combat Reserve Brigade Units were located, and would continue to have no stock-holding responsibility and would only have a training role.

There was no change to the Role and locations of the Workshops Stores section and RNZAOC school.

GEN OUTLINE.jpg

Disestablishment

The Small Arms and Proof Office co-located at Mount Eden with the Colonial Ammunition Company was closed down, and the Army ended its long relationship with the Colonial Ammunition Company when that company closed down.

The Ammunition Proof and Experimental Centre operations were also closed down, and its operations moved to the new Joint Services Proof Establishment, a Tri-service unit established as part of the Naval Ammunition Depot ad Kauri Point in Auckland.

RNZAOC Overseas

Throughout the 1960s the RNZAOC would provided individuals for overseas service, with the bulk serving with the Australians in South Vietnam and 1 RNZIR at Ternadak Barracks in Malaysia.

In 1970 due to a proposed British withdrawal from Singapore, the RNZAOC made a commitment with the RAAOC to form 5 Advanced Ordnance Depot in Singapore. 5 Advanced Ordnance Depot would be the first RNZAOC unit overseas since Kayforce during the Korean War, and the RNZAOC would retain a unit in Singapore until 1989.

Future Reorganisations

The RNZAOC would retain this organisation until the late 1970s when with the gaining of the Rations and Fuel functions on the disestablishment of the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps and the RNZAOC would undergo yet another Reorganisation, which will be covered in another article.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017


5 Advanced Ordnance Depot

5 Advanced Ordnance Depot (5 AOD) was a short-lived  Australian and New Zealand Ordnance Depot located in Singapore from 9 March 1970 to August 1971.

Created as a direct result of Australia’s and New Zealand’s commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements between Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and the United Kingdom, 5 AOD was established to support the Australian and New Zealand Forces remaining in Singapore after the planned British withdrawal.

5AOD 1970

5 Advanced Ordnance Depot Plaque. Courtesy of Peter Cox

5 AOD was officially raised on 9 March 1970 with an advance party made up of:

  • Major N.W  Spenser  RAAOC    OC
  • Capt J.H Short RAAOC   OC BKS SVCS
  • Capt D.J Spreadbury RAAOC ATO
  • Capt L.G Gittins RAAOC LPO
  • WO2 A.J Morton RAAOC Chief Clerk
  • WO2 A.C Phillips RAAOC Control Office
  • WO2 W.s Eaglesham RAAOC Traffic
  • WO2 R.R Robertson RAAOC AT
  • WO2 J Twiss RNZAOC Control Office
  • SSgt J.A Green RAAOC LP
  • Sgt K.L Dodds RAAOC Documentation
  • LCpl S Shepherd RNZAOC Machine Operator

Set up from scratch in March 1970, initially finding working accommodation was a priority and problematic. The Singapore authorities were unwilling to provide suitable accommodation in any of the recently vacated British facility’s, so as a temporary measure 5 AOD was housed with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, 3 Base Ordnance Depot (3 BOD) at Alexandria and Keat Hong.  A lack of accommodation plus political wranglings forced a change of location to the H.M Naval Base at Sembawang where the unit occupied Transit Shed No 4 on 15 July 1970.

 

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Transit Shed 4

Transit shed 4 was an iron framed Building with corrugated iron walls with a concrete floor. The total area of the building was 112500SqFtt, of which 70500 sq ft was initially available to 5AOD.

The building was located on the dockside in very close proximity to the water, with a circuit for vehicles around the building with access to the east and west sides, Sliding walls made up the West side with one door available on the east side.

The ceiling clearance was 25ft, and the building was served with natural lighting from skylights, electrical lighting was available but not suitable for detailed tasks.

on the establishment off 5 AOD the temporary Control, Stores and traffic Office and Orderly Room was a curtained area in the main warehouse set up for the clerical and administrative functions

 

In-scaling of stores was achieved by assuming the responsibilities of the Australian Cell of 3 BOD and their existing stocks. Additional stocks were delivered directly from Australia by HMAS Jeparit. By October 1970 5 AOD was functioning as a unit.

 

The Strength of 5 AOD in September 1970 was:

  • 10 Officers
  • 38 Other Ranks
  • 58 Locally Employed Civilians (LECs)

Although 5 AOD was established in March 1970, the New Zealand contribution would not start to be in place until June/ July/August 1970 with the arrival of the advance party, including;

  • Captain Ian Ross
  • WO2 Jim Twiss
  • Sgt B Kukutai
  • Cpl Neilson
  • Cpl TT Smith
  • LCpl PP Reti
  • LCpl Shepard

During its short existence, New Zealand strength within 5 AOD averaged two Officers and 18 Other Ranks, including members of the advance party, soldiers such as:

  • Peter Cox
  • Ray Bennseman
  • Max Mclean
  • Terence Sharpe
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Officer Commanding Board, Now located at the NZ Army Trade Training School Trentham. Robert McKie collection

Due to elections in the United Kingdom in 1971, the UK decided to not wholly withdraw as initially planned, but to retain reduced forces in Singapore as part of the newly constituted ANZUK Force.  Succeeding the Far East Strategic Reserve which had been in place since the 1950’s, ANZUK Force was a tripartite force based in Singapore and was formed by Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to provide military support in the Asian Pacific region while the nations of Malaysia and Singapore grew their Armed Forces.

As a valid economy measure, a combined Australian, New Zealand and UK Ordnance Depot are later known as the ANZUK Ordnance Depot was organised to take over the responsibility’s of the UK 3BOD and 5 AOD.

Ceasing to exist in Aug 1971 5AOD  responsibility’s, personnel and stock were absorbed by the new ANZUK Ordnance Depot.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017


ANZUK Ordnance Depot 1971-1975

ANZUK Flag

ANZUK Flag. Wikipedia Commons

The ANZUK Ordnance Depot was the Ordnance component of the ANZUK Support Group supporting the Singapore Based ANZUK Force from August 1971 to September 1974.

The last of several post-war Commonwealth Ordnance Depots, the ANZUK Ordnance Depot was comprised of service personnel from the RAOC, RAAOC and RNZAOC, supported by a large complement of locally employed civilians. The ANZUK Ordnance depot was located in the premises vacated by the Royal Navy Victualling Depot on the dockside at Sembawang Naval Base.

12 (2)

Command and Organisation of the Depot

During its short duration as a unit, the Depot had four Commanding officers, two from the RAOC and two from the RAAOC, it was planned to rotate the command amongst all the nations, but the Depot would close before New Zealand had the opportunity to command.

ANZUK CO

ANZUK Ordnance Depot, Commanding Officers Aug 1917-Mar 1975. Robert McKie collection 2017.

Command of the Subunits was a shared by the three counties with New Zealand officer Captain Ian Ross commanding the Vehicle Sub Depot in the early years of the Depot.

In 1971 the Depot was organised into functional groups and Sub Depots, and had a Staff of more than 440 from the contributing and host nations as follows;

  • RAOC – 60 pers.
  • RAAOC – 60 pers.
  • RNZAOC – 20 pers.
  • LEC’s – 300 pers.
ANZUK ORG CHART

ANZUK Ordnance Depot 1971

FB_IMG_1505801062645

Vehicle Sub Depot, ANZUK Ordnance Depot, Singapore – 25th June 1972 (Left to Right) Sitting: SGT Matthews RAEME, SGT Carr REME, SSGT Slater RAAOC, CAPT Ross RNZAOC, WO2 Chapman RAOC, SGT Ball RAAOC, SGT Holmes RAOC Middle row: CPL Harrison REME, CPL McDonald RAOC, PTE Bensemann RNZAOC, LCPL McLean RNZAOC, CPL ? RAAOC, CPL Leach REME Top row: LCPL Peters RAOC, CPL Williams (?) RAAOC, CPL Picket RAOC, PTE Richmond RAAOC, CPL Ferris RAOC

 

 

ANZUK ORD DEPOT PLAQUE

ANZUK Ordnance Depot Plaque. Peter Cox Collection

Stockholding

The initial stocking of the ANZUK Ordnance depot was achieved by the transferring of stocks from the soon to be closed 3 Base Ordnance Depot, RAOC and from 5 Advanced Ordnance Depot,  the combined Australian and New Zealand Ordnance depot established a year earlier. In 1972 the depot had a stock holding of around 45000 line items spread over the different sub-depots.

The cost management of the force was on a percentage basis, 40% each for the United Kingdom and Australia with the remaining 20% of costs picked up by New Zealand. The reimbursement process was very complicated and managed by the ADOS staff in HQ ANZUK Support Group.   All stock received into the Ordnance Depot was costed, billed with the reimbursement arranged with the participating countries as items were issued.

National billing was only affected for principle items such as vehicles, controlled stores, major unit assemblies and the like, and reimbursement would only be made if the items were issued to a national unit (e,g, 1RNZIR). This resulted in 1RNZIR demanding routine stocks from the Depot at no extra charge, but if major items were issued New Zealand would only pay 80% of the cost. There was no cost involved when an item was issued to an integrated ANZUK unit.

 

Uniforms and Dress Embellishments

Troops from contributing nations wore their standard national uniforms with the addition of the ANZUK Force patch, which was worn on each shoulder.

ANZUK Force patch

ANZUK Force patch. Robert McKie Collection.

 

By 1973 the political climate was changing in both Australia and the United Kingdom, and the ANZUK force days were numbered.  By mid-1974 the remaining British element had split and became RAOC Ordnance Services Singapore for the duration of the final British Withdraw.

The New Zealand component of the ANZUK Force would become New Zealand Force South East Asia,  with the New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot coming into being on 31 January 1974 and the ANZUK Ordnance Depot ceased to exist on the 30th of Sept 1974.

By 1977 NZFORSEA was the sole remaining foreign presence in Singapore until its departure in 1989.


ANZUK Supply Platoon

 

These are a series of photos from an album I was surprised to discover in a Wellington second-hand shop. The collection spans from 1971 to 1979 and provides a photographic history of the ANZUK Supply Depot (1971-74) and the New Zealand Supply Platoon (1974-89).

 

RFA Tideflow

RFA Tideflow. Robert McKie collection

ANZUK Supply Platoon

The ANZUK Supply Platoon was the ANZUK unit responsible for the provision of foodstuffs and POL (petrol oil lubricants) to the ANZUK Force (1971-1974). Under the command of the Commander Royal Australian Army Service Corp (CRAASC), it was a tri-nation unit, with members drawn from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

It was formed at a time when the three different armies were rationalising their Supply functions from an Army Service Corp Responsibility to an Ordnance Corp responsibility, and as a result, the unit was a mix of Royal Army Ordnance Corp and Australian and New Zealand Army Service Corp personnel. The United Kingdom had made the change in 1965, Australia would follow in 1973 and New Zealand in 1979.

With the withdrawal of the British and Australians form Singapore, the ANZUK Supply Depot would change ownership and become the NZ Supply depot In 1974, continuing under RNZASC control until 1979 and then RNZAOC control until 1989 when the New Zealand withdrew its forces from Singapore.

Located in the northeastern section of the former HM Naval Dockyard, Sembawang, Singapore, the ANZUK Supply Depot occupied the cluster of buildings that were the former Royal Navy Victualling and Storing Office and Victualling Depot (SVSO and Vict Depot).

Originally announced in 1923, construction of the Naval Dockyard was completed in 1939, at a staggering cost of £60 million – equivalent to £2½ billion in 2006 paid for by the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The base covered 21 square miles (54 km2) and had the most significant dry dock in the world, the third-largest floating dock, fuel tanks to support the entire British Navy for six months and a host of workshops, warehouses and accommodation. With the withdrawal of British forces from Singapore starting in 1968, most of the Naval Base was handed over to the Singapore government, with the area adjacent to the Stores basin retained for use by the residual Commonwealth, then New Zealand Forces

Royal Navy Dockyard, Singapore

Map of Royal Navy Dockyard, Singapore. Robert McKie Collection

3

Map of Store Basin, Royal Navy Dockyard, Sembawang, Singapore. Robert McKie Collection

 DRY STORE

2

Dry provision store 1971. Robert McKie collection

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Enter a caption

1

Current dry store area, proposed as office accommodation, 1971. Robert McKie collection

Cold Store

8

Aerial view of ANZUK Supply Depot Cool-store, 1971. Robert McKie Collection

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Cool-store area entrance, 1971. Robert McKie Collection

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Cool-store area and waiting area, 1972. Robert McKie collection

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Cool-store refrigeration plant and operators, 1972. Robert McKie Collection

POL Store

7

Main bulk dry store – POL Store, proposed new petrol point site, 1971. Robert McKie collection

4

The site for proposed area for petrol pumps, 1971. Robert McKie collection

ANZUK Supply Depot 1972

ANZUK SUPPLY DEPOT STAFF 1972

ANZUK SUPPLY DEPOT STAFF 1972 Robert McKie Collection

Standing L to R: Cpl Parker, RAASC. Cpl Olderman, RAASC, Cpl Mcintyre, RAOC. Sgt Frank, RAOC. Cpl Rangi, RNZASC. Sgt Locke, RNZASC. Sgt Bust, RAOC. Pte Mag, RAASC. Cpl David, RAASC.

Sitting L to R: Sgt Kietelgen, RAASC. WO2 West, RAOC. Capt Mcnice, RAOC. Maj Hunt, RAASC. Lt Fynn, RAASC. WO2 Cole, RAASC. WO2 Clapton. RAASC

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WO2 John West (Master Butcher) RAOC, Inspecting live goats before issue to Gurkha Regt at Nee Soon for Sacrificial Purposes. 1972 . Robert McKie Collection

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Checking fresh fish consignment, 1973, Left to right: Cpl Mcintyre, RAOC; WO2 John West, RAOC; Cpl Olderman, RAASC, 1973. Robert McKie collection

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Supply of provisions to RFA Tideflow, 1973. Robert McKie collection

Checking ‘Live’ consignment of produce to issue to Gurkha Regt at Nee Soon,

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Sgt Bill Donaghue, RNZASC; Cpl Mcintyre, RAOC: Cpl Olderman, RAASC; WO2 John West RAOC. Robert McKie collection

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Cpl Mcintyre, RAOC; WO2 John West, RAOC. Robert McKie collection

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WO2 John West, RAOC; Locally Employed Civilian; Cpl Mcintyre, RAOC. Robert McKie collection

HMY Britannia

Robert McKie Collection

signal

Robert McKie Collection


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 Medical corps supervision, 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]

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.

Disinfecting-clothesEDITED

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.

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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.

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British Soldiers with a horse-drawn unit at L’Etuve. http://beamishtransportonline.co.uk

 

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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

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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

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

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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.

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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]

1941-42

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

1943-1945

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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

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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

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.”

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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

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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

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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.

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Suggested Layout 1984

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

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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).
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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.

Karcher

General Plan of Karcher Fieldshower. Karcher Fieldshower Operating Instructions

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

Notes:

[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,”  https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/the-role-of-british-women-in-the-twentieth-century/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.