New Zealand Army Berets 1938-1999

NZ Army Berets -1938-1999

The beret is a type of cloth cap with a rich military history that originated in the Basque district of France. Since its adoption by the Royal Tank Regiment in 1924, the beret has become a symbol of military service across the globe. New Zealand is no exception, having adopted its first berets in 1938. The New Zealand military has a long and varied history of using this iconic headdress. In this article, we will explore the history of berets in New Zealand’s military and their significance in various corps and regiments of the New Zealand army.

The Royal Tank Regiment adopted this headdress on 5 May 1924. The decision to choose the beret was made during a dinner in 1917 when officers of the Tank Corps discussed the end of the war and what kind of uniform the corps would wear in peacetime. One of the officers suggested that the corps adopt a headdress of our allies, following the tradition of the British Army adopting some form of headdress belonging to its enemies after most wars.

Initially, the choice was between the Breton beret worn by the Tirailleurs Alpins and the Basque beret worn by the Chars d’ Assault, but neither of these patterns met with favour from the Tank Corps officers. After further consideration, they decided upon the pattern popular among English girls’ schools. Many girls were sent a letter explaining the situation, and many berets of various colours were received in reply. Eventually, the black beret was authorised after a stern contest with the War Office.

Berets were first used as a headdress in New Zealand in 1938 when new uniforms for the Territorial forces were introduced, including a black beret for motorcyclists of the Light Machine Gun Platoons and dispatch riders.[1]

Motorcyclists discontinued the black beret in February 1942 when the NZ Tank Brigade was granted permission to use it as its official headdress.[2]

On 17 February 1942, 2 NZ Tank Battalion Routine Orders posted the following notice, “H.M the King as Colonel in Chief, Royal Tank Regiment, has signified his informal approval to an alliance between this Bde and the Royal Tank Regiment”. The ONLY personnel now authorised to wear black berets and tank patch are Army Tank Bn personnel with the sole exception of AFV School instructors only.[3]

Within the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF), The Divisional Cavalry in Egypt was the first to adopt the black beret. Later on, black berets were issued to most of the 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade personnel in November 1942. A year later, soldiers serving in the 22 Battalion in Italy were issued a khaki beret to replace their field service cap.

4th NZ NZ Armoured Brigade Black Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection.
22 Battalion Khaki Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

In the years following World War II, the New Zealand Army expanded the use of berets to various units. The Royal New Zealand Army Nursing Service (RNZANS) was authorised to wear a light grey beret in 1946, and the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) was permitted to wear the khaki beret. However, the reintroduction of the traditional lemon squeezer as the official headdress of the New Zealand Army in February 1949 marked the end of the widespread use of berets by the NZ Army, with only the RNZAC, NZWRAC, and RNZANS authorised to use the beret as their headdress.

RNZAC Black Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection
RNZANS Grey Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

When Kayforce, the New Zealand military contribution to the Korean War, was mobilised, the khaki beret was reintroduced as the standard headdress for all of Kayforce. However, RNZAC personnel on secondment to British armoured units in Korea continued to wear the black beret. The khaki beret remained the headdress for Kayforce personnel until their withdrawal from Korea in 1955. Initial issues to Kayforce were from existing New Zealand Stocks, with an additional 10000 to provide adequate stocks for replacement and issue to Kayforce and NZWAC purchased from the United Kingdom in 1952.[4]

Kayforce Khaki Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

In 1954, the New Zealand Army Board decided to replace the existing khaki uniform of the New Zealand Women’s Royal Army Corps (NZWRAC) with a new uniform of tartan green with black accessories. The new NZWRAC uniform included a tartan green beret, which was authorised for wear on informal occasions. This change in uniform and the beret helped distinguish the NZWRAC from other units and symbolised their unique role within the army. The tartan green beret became an iconic part of the NZWRAC uniform and was worn with pride by its members.

In 1954, the Cap Battledress (Cap BD), known as the Ski Cap, was introduced as the official army headdress in New Zealand to replace the lemon squeezer hat.[5] However, this type of hat was not popular among the troops, particularly those in tropical climates. Despite the dissatisfaction, the Ski Cap remained the standard headdress until it was withdrawn from service in 1965.

In 1955, the New Zealand Special Air Service was formed, and they adopted the British airborne maroon beret as their official headgear. The adoption of the maroon beret by the NZSAS was a significant moment in the history of the New Zealand military. It reflected not only the elite status of the NZSAS but also the close relationship between New Zealand and the United Kingdom. In May 1955, an initial purchase was made to cover the issue of the maroon berets to selected personnel, as well as wastage and turnover, with the possibility of an increase in the size of the NZSAS. The purchase included 600 maroon berets, 500 anodised aluminium SAS badges, 60 embroidered SAS badges, and 60 sets of SAS collar badges. This move signalled a new era within the New Zealand military, and the maroon beret symbolised the high standards and specialised training of the NZSAS.[6]  Despite the British SAS adopting a beige sand-coloured beret in 1956 and several opportunities to change, the NZSAS retained the maroon beret until 1986.

NZSAS Narron Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

In 1958, a review of beret stock in the New Zealand Army revealed that 3000 new and partially worn khaki berets were sitting idle in Ordnance stocks. The idea of utilising them as part of the No2 Other Ranks Service dress was considered. However, after some discussion by the Army Dress Committee, it was decided that the khaki beret did not match the No2 Other Ranks Service dress, and a Cap Service Dress was provided instead.[7]

Following the reactivation of 16 Field Regiment (16 Fd Regt) after its service in Kayforce, there was a desire to acknowledge the regiment’s service in Korea. In 1960, it was proposed by the headquarters of the regiment to adopt the stock of 3000 khaki berets to maintain the traditions of the original regiment and for their suitability in appearance.[8] However, the Chief of General Staff (CGS), Major General C.E. Weir, was focused on standardising and simplifying army dress and did not support the proposal. He wanted to eliminate multifarious kit and keep the headdress for the army as the Cap BD for walking out and a jungle hat for field service, with no other variations permitted. As a result, the application to wear khaki berets by 16 Fd Regt was declined, and they were asked to propose another way to commemorate their association with Korea.[9]

In Malaya, the 2nd New Zealand Regiment (2NZ Regt) surveyed the suitability of the Cap BD as a headdress for the tropics and found that berets would be more suitable. In October 1960, 2 NZ Regt requested 50 berets of different sizes and styles to test their suitability as a tropical headdress.[10] Concurrently, the Army Dress Committee agreed in principle that berets would replace the Cap BD as the army’s everyday headdress. In March 1961, it was suggested that a scarlet beret would be a suitable colour for the Infantry beret.[11]

The Army Dress Committee reopened the discussion on berets in its 16 June 1961 meeting and recommended that Khaki berets be issued to all corps without berets to replace Caps BD. However, at the 15 June 1961 Infantry Conference, it was pointed out that if berets were to be introduced, the Infantry colour should not be scarlet but a Dark Green.[12]

The Director of the Royal New Zealand Artillery (DRNZA) joined the conversation on 3 July 1961, stating that if the NZ Army adopted berets, the RNZA should adopt the distinctive style of headdress worn by other members of the Royal Regiment, such as the Royal Artillery (RS), Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA), and Royal Australian Artillery (RAA), and adopt a blue beret.[13]

Up to this stage, the colours of berets, if adopted, had not formally been discussed as it was assumed that existing stocks of khaki berets would be utilised alongside the existing berets worn by them.

  • RNZAC – Black
  • NZSAS – Maroon
  • RNZNC – Grey
  • NZWRAC- Dark Green
  • At some stage,  the following were granted coloured berets
    • Royal New Zealand Dental Corps – Dark Green
    • Trentham PT Instructors – Blue[14]

The QMG was concerned about the shortage of khaki berets in stock, as only 6000 were available. As a result, there were not enough berets to equip the entire army or even to dye some to meet the needs of coloured berets for the Infantry and Artillery. In response to the Infantry’s desire for a dark green beret, the QMG expressed confusion and suggested that red was the traditional Infantry colour. The QMG also commented that they could not understand why the Infantry would want to adopt a dark green beret, making them appear like members of the Women’s Royal Army Corps (WRAC) or the Dental Corps.[15]

The Director of Infantry quickly replied that although red was the traditional Infantry colour, it was not traditional for Infantry to wear red berets. British Infantry, for example, wore an assortment of berets (of different colours) and bonnets, with the majority of British infantry regiments wearing berets of dark blue. Although Dark Green had been decided as the preferred Infantry colour, members of the Royal New Zealand Infantry did not wish to be confused with the NZWRAC or Dental Corps and the rifle green beret, as worn by the 3rd Green Jackets with whom the NZ Regt was in an alliance, was the preferred colour for the Infantry beret.[16]

On 17 August 1961, the Dress Committee reconvened and approved using coloured berets to represent Corps distinctions. The committee instructed the secretary to consult with the Corps’ Directors to determine their preferred colours based on the British Colour Council Dictionary of Standards. The type of headband, whether it was to be black or brown, was also to be specified.[17]

Reconvening on 14 November 1961, the Army Dress Committee examined the Corp’s preferences, but due to the DGMG dissenting on the proposed Rifle Green for the NZ Regt failed to reach an agreement. However, after further discussion with the Director Infantry on 16 November, the committee agreed to recommend the adopting of the following colours per the preferences of the various corps.[18]

CorpsColour (BCC designation)Headband
RNZABlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZEBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZ SigsBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZASCBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZAOCBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZEMEBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZDCBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RF CADETSBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZChDBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZACBlack (Jet Black – BCC 220)Black
NZ RegtGreen (Rifle Green – BCC 27)Black
NZSASMaroon (Maroon – BCC 39)Black
RNZAMCDull Cherry (Ruby – BCC 38)Black
RNZ ProBlue (Royal Blue – BCC 197)Black
NZAECKhaki (Khaki – BCC 72)Brown
RNZNCGrey (Grebe – BCC 82)Black
NZWRACGreen (Tartan Green – BCC 26)Black
NZ Regt/ RNZIR Rifle Green Beret (2/1 Badge and backing). Lee Hawkes Collection

In September 1962, the Army Dress Committee met again and agreed that the recommendations made for coloured berets on 16 November 1961 should be cancelled and that the NZ Army should adopt a standard green beret for all corps except those whom Dress Regs already authorise to wear berets in other colours, i.e., Black (RNZAC), Maroon (NZSAS), Grey (RNZNC)and Green (NZWRAC). In support of this proposal, the justification was.

  • The requirement for Corps distinctions in the form of headdress has diminished considerably with the introduction of shoulder titles.
  • Green tones well with current and proposed Army uniforms and is ideal for training activities.
  • Introducing berets in all the colours previously agreed upon would create an unnecessary provisioning problem.[19][20]

The discussion on berets continued into 1963 with the decision made to retain the existing Black (RNZAC), Maroon (NZSAS), Grey (RNZNC)and Green (NZWRAC) but introduce blue berets for all other corps, including the Royal New Zealand Army Medic Corps (RNZAMC), NZ Provost and the New Zealand Army Education Corps (NZAEC) who initially requested Ruby, Royal Blue and Khaki berets.

By October 1964, sufficient stock was received, the policy surrounding the issue of Berets and the withdrawal of the Cap BD was finalised, and the Instruction for the distribution of Berets was released in February 1965.[21]

New Zealand Army Air Corps

In 1963, the New Zealand Army Air Corps (NZAAC) was established, and it became affiliated with the UK Army Air Corps on 6 March 1964. Major General J.H. Mogg, the Colonel Commandant of the Army Air Corps, granted permission for the NZAAC to don the Army Air Corps Light Blue beret and AAC badges.[22]

NZACC Light Blue Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

Regular Force Cadets

In July 1972, a submission was made to the Army Dress Committee to introduce scarlet Berets (BCC 209 – Post Office red) as the authorised headdress for Regular Force Cadets instead of the blue berets worn since 1965. The proposal represented an extension of the present colour distinction of RF Cadets as evidenced in lanyards, chevrons, badges of rank and shoulder titles. [23]

Regular Force Cadet School Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

Redesign of Beret

As a result of questions raised at the 29 November 1983 Army Dress Committee meeting on the design of berets, a study was initiated to be undertaken by the Deputy Director of Ordnance Services and by Army R&D to examine standard samples of berets produced by Hills Hats for the Australian and Singaporean Armies to see if one was of a better design with less cloth in the crown than currently on issue in the NZ Army.[24] This study resulted in introducing a redesigned beret with less cloth in the crown and a cloth headband instead of the traditional leather headband.

Royal New Zealand Military Police

Following the 1981 rebranding of the Royal NZ Provost Corps to the Corps of Royal New Zealand Military Police (RNZMP), a request for a distinctive RNZMP beret in the corps colour of Royal Blue was submitted to the Army Dress Committee in November 1983.[25] This submission was approved, and by the end of 1984, all RF and most TF members of the RNZMP were wearing the new royal Blue beret.[26] As a result of a 1986 CGS directive for the RNZMP to replace their blue regimental belt because of its similarity with the NZSAS belt, the RNZMP director raised a submission to introduce a red belt and beret. Opinion on introducing a red belt and beret for the RNZMP was evenly divided, principally because of the clash with the RF Cadet school belt and beret.[27] This submission for the RNZMP to wear a red beret and belt was rejected by CGS, and the use of the royal blue beret remained extant.[28]

Royal New Zealand Chaplains Department

The Army Dress Committee received a proposal on 31 August 1984 regarding the possibility of Royal New Zealand Chaplains Department (RNZChD) personnel wearing a Royal Purple beret. At that time, Chaplains and fourteen other Corps wore the blue beret, and there was a desire to establish a distinctive beret that would readily identify the Chaplains and align with the colours associated with the Chaplaincy. The proposal suggested using Royal Purple (BCC219), the traditional colour of the Chaplains’ Department. It was proposed that the black leather rim of the beret would remain unchanged. This initiative aimed to complete the rebranding of the RNZChD, which had already commenced with the approval and production of the specifically designed NZ Cap Badge.[29]

However, on 27 November 1984, the recommendation to change the beret colour for the RNZChD was not approved. This decision was made due to the recent approval of a uniquely distinctive badge for the RNZChD, which was considered sufficient for identifying the Chaplains.[30]

Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery

On St Barbara’s Day, 4 December 1984, the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery significantly changed by exchanging their blue berets for khaki ones. A departure from the tradition followed by gunners throughout the Commonwealth, who still wore blue berets. The decision to change the beret came from a feeling among gunners that, as the senior corps, they should have a distinctive headdress.

The Royal New Zealand Artillery believed that the khaki beret had already established a singular tradition since 1940 when 2NZEF wore it during World War II and by Kayforce in the Korean War. 16 Fd Reg, RNZA, was the principal army element of Kayforce, and the modern New Zealand gunners claimed the exclusive right to wear the khaki beret due to their association with this regiment.[31]

RNZA Khaki Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

New Zealand Special Air Service

Following at least two ‘show of hands’ votes by all available members of 1 NZSAS Group, with some resistance to change on historical principles by some unit members, a submission to change the colour of the beret to ‘sand’ was forwarded to the Army Dress Committee 24 May 1985 by the CO 1 NZSAS Group. Supported by the NZ SAS Colonel Commandant, Colonel Frank Rennie, the proposal was to remain consistent with the Australian SASR and UK 22 SAS and change the NZSAS beret colour from maroon to sand. While generally supported by the Army Dress Committee, there were reservations over the possible similarity in colour (should they change) with the new RNZA beret and over the fact that NZSAS, since its formation in the 1950s, had always had a maroon beret and it now considered a uniquely NZ item of dress. The chairman recommended the colour change to the CGS, noting the committee’s reservations.[32]

Concurring with the committee’s reservations, the CGS Major General John Mace did not initially support the change proposal. An original troop commander in 1955 and a squadron commander in 1960-62 and 1965-66. CGS counted that the proposed beret was too similar to the new RNZA beret and that while “the change might serve a purpose overseas, the Gp are permanently NZ based. There is historical and traditional significance in the red beret for NZSAS. The only development that would change my mind would be the finalisation of an airborne element for the NZ Army or a request signed by all serving members of the Gp.”

Taking the proposal back to the unit, the CO 1 NZSAS GP asked the unit members to vote in writing on whether or not they supported the change of beret colour. Cognisant that there were those within the unit who supported the change and those that favoured the traditional status quo. The CO asked the unit to consider the change based on the following considerations.

  • All para, quasi-para or airborne forces, including the Australian female parachute packers, appear to wear the maroon beret.
  • CGS had requested the preparation of a proposal to discuss the formation of an NZ airborne/para-trained force. This proposal would issue them a maroon beret once para qualified.
  • 3 RAR had recently been issued the maroon beret.
  • The sand beret and RNZA beret are similar in colour but easily distinguishable. The badge would be the current embroidered badge which would distinguish the NS SAS from the SASR, which used a metal badge.[33]

In a vote undertaken by all badged serving members of the unit in which they indicated if they previously supported the change and if they now supported the change, the vote was unanimous in support of the change of beret colour. Eleven personnel who had previously not supported the change now supported the proposal.[34] On 24 January 1986, CGS authorised the NZSAS to wear the sand-coloured beret.[35]

NZSAS Sand Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals

At the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals (RNZSigs) September 1986 Triennial Conference at Hopuhopu Camp, seventy RNZ Sigs Officers and Warrant Officers displayed enthusiasm for a change of beret colour and indicated that the new colour they preferred was Rifle Green. The reasoning for this choice of beret colour was based on the RNZSigs corps colours, representing the three media of communications of air, land and sea as represented on the Corps stable belt,

  • Dark Blue (the sea) – Royal Blue (BCC 197) (worn by RNZMP).
  • Green (the land) – Rifle Green (BCC 27)
  • Light Blue (the air) – Spectrum Blue (BCC 86)

A proposal requesting authority for RNZ Sigs pers to wear a Rifle Green beret was submitted to the Army Dress Committee on 29 September 1986.[36]

The recommendation was that the RNZSigs wear a rifle green beret because:

  • it would be a distinctive corps headdress
  • all other ‘teeth’ arms less RNZE have a distinctive beret
  • the colour is traditionally a ‘Signals’ colour

Although D Inf & SAS considered the colour too similar to that worn by RNZIR, most of the Dress Committee supported the change at the 3 November meeting of the Army Dress Committee.[37] Notification of the CGS approval of the RNZSigs beret was noted in the 12 May 1987 minutes of the Army Dress Committee.[38]

RNZSigs Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

New Zealand Intelligence Corps

The New Zealand Intelligence Corps (NZIC) was initially formed as part of the Territorial Force in January 1942 but was disbanded in 1947 as part of the post-war reorganisation. On 15 March 1987, it was re-established as a Regular Force Corps and named the New Zealand Army Intelligence Corps, which later reverted to its original title. Prior to the formation of the NZIC, individuals posted to intelligence positions unofficially wore the British Army Intelligence Corps Cypress Green Beret. When the NZIC was re-established in 1987, the beret was adopted as the official headdress of the NZIC.

One Army Beret

The New Zealand Army boldly moved on 16 August 1999 when CGS Major General Maurice Dodson issued a directive to adopt a “one army” beret. The directive aimed to create a sense of unity and pride among all soldiers and to simplify the number of coloured berets in the NZ Army. This resulted in the rifle green beret, previously reserved for the RNZSigs, becoming the standard beret for all officers and soldiers, except for the NZSAS, who retained their sand beret.

However, the transition to the “one army” beret was met with resistance, with many officers, soldiers, and veterans opposing the change. They were attached to their former beret colours and saw the change as unnecessary. This dissatisfaction was mirrored in 2001 when the United States Army moved to a “one army” beret for all soldiers, highlighting the powerful effect that symbols such as coloured berets can have on morale and unit pride. The NZ Army “one army” beret has endured despite the initial resistance. The New Zealand Cadet Coprs continued to wear the Blue Beret.

One Army Beret with QAMR Badge. Lee Hawkes Collection


[1] “New Army Uniforms and Modern Military Vehicles for Dominion Forces,” New Zealand Herald, Volume LXXV, Issue 23033, 10 May 1938.

[2] “New Zealand Army Instruction 164/1942,”(1942).

[3] “Wearing of Black Beret & Tank Patch,” 2 NZ Tank Battalion R.O. 26/1943  (1942).

[4] Application for Financial Authority, Khaki Berets 14 November 1952. “Clothing – Head Dress – Berets: Povision,” Archives New Zealand No R17187783  (1952 -1965).

[5] Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord, New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches, 1911-1991 (Wellington, N.Z.: M. Thomas and C. Lord, 1995, 1995), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 128-29.

[6] Army 213/6/7/Q Application for Financial Authority, Berets for Special Air Squadron 31 May 1955.Ibid.

[7] Minutes of the 17th meeting of the Army Dress Committee held at Army HQ on 9 October 1958.Ibid.

[8] Army 213/6/7/Arty Headdress – 16 Fd Regt 30 March 1960. Ibid.

[9] 213/6/7/Arty Headdress – 16 Fd Regt 26 April 1960. Ibid.

[10] Q209 Copy from 213/7/40 HQ NZ Army Force GHQ FARELF Tropical Type Headdress 11 October 1960.Ibid.

[11] 219/7/A4 Headdress: Berets 17 March 1960. Ibid.

[12] Minutes of the 28th meeting of the Army Dress Committee at Army HQ on 16 June 1961. Ibid.

[13] Army 213/6/7 Dress Committee Meeting – 16 June 1961 Berets. Ibid.

[14] Army 213/6/7/A4 Berets 4 July 1961.Ibid.

[15] 213/6/7/DQ Berets 6 July 1961ibid.

[16] D Inf Reply to 213/6/7/DQ Berets. Ibid.

[17] Minutes of the 29th meeting of the Army Dress Committee held at Army HQ on 17 August 1961. Ibid.

[18] Minutes of the 32nd meeting of the Army Dress Committee held at Army HQ on 16 November 1961. Ibid.

[19]  Minutes of the 37th meeting of the Army Dress Committee at Army HQ on 12 Sept 1962. “Conferences – New Zealand Army Dress Committee,” Archives New Zealand No R17188110  (1962-67).

[20] Minutes of the 37th meeting of the Army Dress Committee held at Army HQ on13 September 1962. “Clothing – Head Dress – Berets: Provision.”

[21]  Army 213/6/7/Q(A) Army HQ 9 Feb 1965. Ibid.

[22] NZACC Submission 9/84 to Army Dress Committee 7 August 1984. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1984,” Archives New Zealand No R17311893  (1984).

[23] NC 8/2/2/ADC HQ Home Command Amendment to Army Clothing Scales Scarlet Berets: RF Cadets 21 July 1972. “Conferences – New Zealand Army Dress Committee,” Archives New Zealand No R9753141  (1970-73).

[24] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee, 29 November 1983. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1985-86,” Archives New Zealand No R17311895  (1985 – 1986).

[25] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee, 29 November 1983.  Ibid.

[26] RNZMP Submission 3/87 to Army Dress Committee 30 September 1986. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1986-87,” Archives New Zealand No R17311897  (1986 – 1987).

[27] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee 3 November 1986.  Ibid.

[28] RNZMP submission 3/87 to Army Dress Committee 30 September 1986.Ibid.

[29] RNZChD submission 11/84 to Army Dress Committee 31 August 1984. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1984.”

[30] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee 27 November 1984. Ibid.

[31] “St Barbaras Day,” The Press, 5 December 1984.

[32] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee, 24 May 1985. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1985-86.”

[33] NZSAS 5252 Change of Colour for NZSAS Beret 27 September 1985. Ibid.

[34] Correspondence CO SAS to DInf &SAS 15 December 1985.Ibid.

[35] Army 220/5/103 DRESS-NZSAS PERS 24 January 1986. Ibid.

[36] Signals Directorate 1000/1 Submission to Army Dress Committee 29 September 1986. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1986-87.”

[37] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee 3 November 1986.  Ibid.

[38] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee, 12 May 1987. Ibid.

NZ Army Camouflage 1949-1979

In the 1960s, the New Zealand Army introduced a distinct camouflage pattern for its lightweight individual shelters. The pattern was a unique blend of blotches and brushstrokes, featuring dark green and olive-green blotches, russet brushstrokes, and a lime green background. This design remained in use for over two decades and piqued the interest of camouflage enthusiasts. This article will delve into the history of this camouflage pattern.

During the Second World War and through the 1950s, the standard combat uniform of the New Zealand Army was the khaki drill, which proved to be largely ineffective as camouflage in a jungle environment. In response, modifications were made to the standard khaki drill uniforms in 1942 at three different camouflage sections in Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington by manually applying a camouflage pattern using spray equipment. This resulted in a mottled scheme with little recognisable design, which functioned more effectively than the plain khaki drill in the jungle combat zones of the Pacific theatre. Several thousand of these uniforms were in service by 1943 and saw action with the 3rd Division/2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Pacific, specifically in the battle of the Treasury Islands and the action of Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands.

Following the disbandment of the 3rd Division in 1944, no further use was made of these expedient combat suits. In the post-war era, as the New Zealand Army was reorganised and equipped into a Divisional structure supported by a Compulsory Military Training (CMT) scheme, advice was sought from Australia and the United Kingdom on using camouflage clothing for field craft and battle drills in peace and war.

Australia was waiting for the United Kingdom to decide on camouflage clothing before formulating an Australian policy. In October 1949, the United Kingdom clarified their position on camouflage clothing, stating that the new combat clothing for temperate areas would be coloured ‘Olive Drab’ (SCC15). Troop trials of the combat suit in SCC15 were underway in the UK, BAOR and MELF to be completed by 31 March 1950. It was, however, thought that disruptive camouflage may be better than plain SCC15, but no further decision on this point would be taken until the reports of the troop trials had been studied.

As this reply from the United Kingdom was indefinite, New Zealand took the position in November 1949 that dying suits of Khaki Drill uniforms Olive drab would provide a suitable camouflage uniform for New Zealand infantry units undertaking field craft and battle drills. Trials of bulk dying of Khaki Drill uniforms were undertaken by Taylor Drycleaning of Wellington in January 1950, with 2397 camouflage (Olive Drab) jackets and 2393 trousers distributed to the three Military Districts in May 1950, and a further batch of 1488 jackets distributed in February 1952. With the adoption of Drill Green uniforms in December 1955, the requirement for the dyed camouflage suits passed, and they were progressively wasted out of service.

By 1962 the New Zealand Army was embarking on a program of modernisation of its clothing and equipment. Enquiries with industry indicated to the Quartermaster General (QMG) that it was technically possible to manufacture Parkas, Overtrousers, Shelters Lightweight and Bedrolls with a camouflage effect if required.

The advice provided to the QMG from the Directors of Infantry and Training indicated that as Parkas and Overtrousers were primarily used only for training within New Zealand, Olive Green or some other inauspicious shade be used. Although a Recommendation was made that there was no requirement to have a camouflaged bedroll and they too should be Olive Green, there was merit in having camouflaged shelters.

The green New Zealand lightweight Shelter had been developed from the Australian shelter with an initial purchase of 5910 commencing in late 1965 to selected Field Force and District training pools. The New Zealand lightweight shelter was fitted with the same fittings allowing two shelters with the addition of poles and flaps to be joined to form a two-person tent.

It was recommended that a camouflage pattern of irregular shapes about 12 inches in diameter, 12 inches apart, should be printed against the Olive green base colour to break up the outline of the green shelters. Dark Brown was suggested as the camouflage colour. However, further trials were required to determine the best size and colour.

SME Trials

With the requirement to camouflage personal shelters with the suggested pattern of irregular patches of dark brown patches against an Olive Green background, the New Zealand School of Military Engineering (SME) was tasked on 28 March 1963 to investigate the problem to determine the best size and colour for the personal shelters. SME was given until 30 April 1963 to report on their progress. However, to allow the required resources to be purchased and comprehensive trials conducted, SME submitted their report in December 1963.

SME produced samples using a mixture of commercial off-the-shelf paints and paints mixed to meet US Army specifications, the commercial colours of the Interlux brand were.

  • Matt Manilla (Yellow Brown)
  • Matt Venetian Red
  • Matt Almond Green
  • Matt Copper Mist
  • High Gloss Black
  • Blackboard Black

The Interlux colours were hand and spray painted on shelters in the following patterns

  • Disruptive painting using French curves to join adjacent colours
  • Disruptive painting of straight lines to join adjacent colours to produce a triangle effect.
  • Painting by dabbing with a 2-inch paintbrush

The paints to US Army specifications were chosen from US Manual FM5-22 Camouflage Materials and mixed by the International Paint Company Laboratory to obtain the best match possible. The colours were

  • No 6 Earth Brown
  • No 7 Forest Green
  • No 8 Olive Drab
  • No 9 Field Drab
  • No 11 Light Green
  • No 12 Light Stone

The US Colours were hand and spray painted using the following patterns,

  • Three colour overlays by dabbing with a paintbrush
  • Three-colour cam net effect with 7-inch diamonds and 2-inch stripes
  • Two-colour cam net effect with 4-inch diamonds and 1-inch stripes.
  • Two colour disruptive painting.

Each scheme was tested over a month to determine weathering, flexibility and ease of application.

It was found that both types of paint weathered well and remained flexible. The US Colours were found easier to apply with the schemes in the US Colours that had been dabbed with a paintbrush, produced a good camouflage effect.

Each painted shelter was then photographed without regard to the background from a distance of 20 feet which provided an accurate indication of the colour schemes and design, leading to the selection of six schemes for a final test.

 In the final series of tests, the six selected schemes were arranged against as many backgrounds as possible and then photographed from different distances. The No1 Scheme (Interlux Black and Copper Mist Disruptive Pattern) was found to have the best concealment against foliage. The No 3 Scheme (US Colours of Earth Brown, Olive Drab, Light Green, Light Stone in a Dabbed pattern) provided the best concealment against light backgrounds.

Overall, the SME trial found no colour or pattern suitable for all backgrounds. Although all the types of paints trailed were easy to apply, did not fade and were flexible, it was found that the paints specifically mixed to the US Colour specifications were superior to the commercial types. The results of this trial and the practicality of hand painting individual shelters and developments in industrial cloth printing methods did not encourage further development of this idea.

Seeking advice on Australian camouflage developments, it was found that although the Australian Army was developing a camouflage material for use on their Smock Tropical Lightweight and sub-unit command post shelters, there was no intent or Australian requirement for a camouflaged lightweight shelter.

1960’s Australian Army Smock Tropical Lightweight and sub-unit command post shelter Camouflage pattern. Robert McKie Collection

However, the New Zealand Army’s requirement for lightweight camouflaged shelters remained with further development aimed at procuring printed material that could be manufactured into shelters. Based on the SME trial, the desired colours were to be based on a dabbed pattern, including the US colours of Earth Brown, Olive Drab, Light Green, Light Stone Forest Green and Field Drab.

Type A, B C and D Trials

New Zealand industry was approached to provide a polyester cloth printed with a camouflage pattern coated with polythene for durability. In August 1964 agreement was reached between the New Zealand Army and textile agents Read & Gibson Limited and their Japanese principles, the Marubeni-Iida Company Limited, to provide fifty-yard lengths of six different screen-printed designs with the option to roller print the designs in the future if the technical difficulties in roller printing were resolved.

At least four samples of the new cloth and patterns were received in December 1964, from which samples for trial were selected in February 1965. with the two preferred items manufactured for trial as,

  • Type A – Even pattern
  • Type B -Streaky Pattern

The two samples that were rejected and not preferred were also manufactured into shelters for trial as

  • Type C, and
  • Type D.

In addition to the shelters, two designs of capes were manufactured from the same batch of material and labelled as

  • A1 and A2
  • B1 and B2

The A1 and B1 capes were fitted with Velcro fastenings, while the A2 and B2 capes had dome fittings. There is no record of the trials for the cape, and it is assumed that the concept did not progress past the prototype phase.

1RNZIR  were then tasked to determine the best camouflage pattern for use in Southeast, with the brief to test the shelters under varying conditions of terrain, light and climate with the report to indicate,

  • Acceptance of one or other patterns
  • Any alterations required to the shade or shape

By August 1965, 1RNZIR had completed their initial trials on the A, B, C and D types. All four samples were field tested in the primary jungle, secondary growth, padi, rubber and low scrub under a variety of light conditions in Malaya and Sarawak. Sufficient variations in climate, vegetation and light were experienced to allow a thorough test of all the camouflage patterns to be completed. The same two pers trialled all patterns to allow comparisons to be made on the spot.

The most notable point about all patterns was that the primary colour was too dark. This darkness caused the actual pattern to become almost invisible from about 40 yds distance wherever any overhead cover existed, this distance increasing to about 60 yds in open country. This made the whole shelter appear much darker than the surroundings by day, even in the primary jungle, and consequently, the value of any pattern was lost. Viewed from distances less than those stated, the shelters looked like a piece of waterproof material that someone had tried in vain to camouflage instead of blending in with the background. This fault applied equally to all patterns.

  • Type A. Apart from the dark primary colour, this pattern was found to be overly intense. The shapes should be slightly larger, and more spread out. Shadows, which these patterns are doubtless intended to represent, are not found as close as is depicted in this pattern.
  • Type B. As with Type A, allowing for the dark primary colour, the pattern was a little too intense, although not to the same extent as Type A. If this design were more distinct, it would blend in with the surroundings better than any of the other trial designs.
  • Type C. This design failed to blend in well under very few conditions for the reasons mentioned with Type A, and B. Shadows do not form this close together. It must be appreciated that it was not easy to make a fair comparison with a small square of material as opposed to a full-sized shelter, but the comments apply as near as possible.
  • Type D.  Same as Type C, but more suited than Type C as the intensity is modified.

It was summarised that all the patterns were printed on a background that was too dark and did not make for good camouflaging by day. All patterns were too intense, and any attempt to merge the shelters into shadows or leaves on the ground was lost from relatively short distances. The whole shelter merely became a dark shape which, while more challenging to identify than the Australian equivalent, did not achieve the aim.

The recommendations were to adopt Pattern B with reduced intensity (not so much mosaic per sq. yd) and to make the basic colouring lighter.

Type E, F and G Trials

Taking on board 1RNZIR trial feedback, in October 1965, three other camouflage cloth samples were received from the manufacturer for 1 RNZIR to conduct further trials on. Labelled as E, F and G, insufficient material was available to manufacture shelters suitable for trial. It was considered that local ‘ad hoc’ arrangements could reasonably assess that camouflage effect by 1 RNZIR

Despite the limitations placed on 1RNZIR by the small samples of the material provided, a trial report was submitted in December 1965, with testing carried out for one month in the areas adjacent to Terendak Camp at Malacca.

  • Type E. This pattern failed to achieve a sufficient contrast within itself and consequently contrasted too much with the surrounding foliage. Although the colours were natural, there was insufficient variety. The proportion of camouflage colour to primary colour was good, however.
  • Type F. A good pattern incorporating a suitable balance of light and dark natural colours blended into jungle surroundings well and broke up its outline. The uneven and irregular patches of colour assisted in this, and the proportion of coverage was satisfactory.
  • Type G. This pattern was too vivid and tended to attract attention rather than remain inconspicuous. The shapes and proportions of colours were suitable, but the choice of colours prevented acceptance.

Sample F was recommended as the most satisfactory pattern produced so far, and it was felt that if adopted, it could be suitable for ponchos and shelters and clothing and equipment.

The issue of Camouflaged Combat Clothing was discussed in 1965. However, the general feeling in Army Headquarters was that the Army could not produce camouflaged combat clothing of pattern satisfactory as a walking-out dress. Until then, Jungle Greens and Battle Dress were to remain the standard uniforms. However, any items designed for use in the field, such as parkas, bedrolls and shelters, should be camouflaged with principal development focused on developing suitable camouflage patterns and colours.

Type F Pattern Trials

With the sample pattern Type F accepted by 1 RNZIR, it was proposed to manufacture 12 shelters in the pattern and material for further trials in Malaysia, Borneo, Vietnam and possibly Thailand and 80 yards of material ordered from the manufacturer. By May 1966, the order of 80 yards had been received. However, it was in two parts, 15.5 yards, that had been Auto printed (labelled as A from a material using a cheaper automatic printing process, resulting in a slight difference in the depth of colour but no difference in the pattern. A Proto-type process was utilised to manufacture the remainder of the consignment (labelled as B). For the trial, the current green Lightweight Shelters manufacturer, the National Mortgage & Agency Limited, Jute and Bag Section in Dunedin, manufactured two ‘A’ shelters and six ‘B’ shelters. These were dispatched by the Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) by ait to the following units overseas for trials.

  • 1RNZIR
    • 1 Shelter Lightweight Camouflaged ( Labelled A)
    • 3 Shelter Lightweight Camouflaged ( Labelled B)
    • 4 Shelter lightweight (NZ Current Issue)
  • 161 Battery
    • 1 Shelter Lightweight Camouflaged ( Labelled A)
    • 3 Shelter Lightweight Camouflaged ( Labelled B)
    • 4 Shelter lightweight (NZ Current Issue)

All shelters were dispatched complete with end pieces but did not include poles and pins.

The trial by 1RNZIR and 161 Battery were to address the following questions

  • were the individual colours suitable under all light and background conditions?
  • Was the size and shape of the pattern satisfactory?
  • Did the camouflaged shelter shine under certain weather conditions?
  • Did the camouflage pattern marry up along the join in the material of each shelter?
  • Did the camouflage pattern marry along the join when constructing a two-person shelter?
  • Was there any loss in efficiency due to the ‘Auto-printing’ on the shelter labelled ‘ A’?
  • How did the camouflaged shelter compare to the Australian and current New Zealand green shelters?

The conclusion of the report was to include one of the two following statements,

  • A camouflaged shelter is required for SE Asian combat conditions, and the proto-type camouflaged shelter fully meets this requirement.
  • A camouflaged shelter is required for SE Asian combat conditions, and the proto-type camouflaged pattern and colours need to change in the following ways, stating the required changes.
  • A camouflaged shelter is NOT required for SE Asian combat conditions, as the current New Zealand green shelter fully meets the requirements.
  • A camouflaged shelter is NOT required for SE Asian combat conditions, as the current Australian shelter fully meets the requirements.

1RNZIR and 161 Battery conducted their trials and submitted their trial reports by the end of 1966, with both units stating that a camouflaged shelter was required. 1RNZIR recommended that the yellow base colour was too light and that ends were not required. 161 Battey proposed a dark green colour to replace the yellow base and wanted to retain the ends but of a different design.

Type F (B) Trial pattern

Type H and J Trials

As both 1 RNZIR and 161 Battery considered the background colour of both the Type F pattern shelters inadequate, two new patterns were produced using a darker background colour. In June 1967, two shelters, Type H and J, were issued to 1 RNZIR and 161 Battery for further evaluation. This trial aimed to determine which colour combinations were the most acceptable under operational conditions in SE Asia and whether further minor changes were necessary. The trial conducted was to test the camouflage colours only and not the shelter design, as some non-standard fittings had been included .in the new shelters to ensure the shelters could be produced in the shortest possible time. The reverse side of the material was not as matt as were the previous shelters, but this was to be corrected in the final production of the accepted material.

Trials of the H and J-type shelters were completed by February 1968, with reports from both units inconclusive. However, both units agreed that despite the time limitations of the trial, Type H was the most suitable. In March 1968, satisfied that no further trials were required, Army HQ directed that all trial shelters from 1 RNZIR and V Force be returned to New Zealand.

On 21 March 1968, camouflage material in the type H Pattern was catalogued in the supply systems as 8305-98-102-3124 Cloth, Polyester Coated 2-3oz sq yd, 36in, Camouflage Pattern

In 1971, an initial order was placed for 132,000 yards of new camouflaged material, which was intended to be used to manufacture 10,000 shelters for the New Zealand Forces in Southeast Asia. This order also allowed for the establishment of maintenance and manufacturing reserves, reducing reliance on the Australian supply chain.

The 6,700 green shelters purchased by the New Zealand Forces since 1963 had an annual wastage rate of 270, meaning that they were gradually being depleted. The large-scale distribution of the new camouflage shelters did not occur until 1979 due to a reduction in operational and training commitments after the Vietnam War ended and National Service ceased in 1972.

With the introduction of combat uniforms in British DPM in December 1975, the shelter camouflage material was only extended to two-person tents, bedrolls and mittens. With more modern materials in DPM progressively introduced for field equipment, the New Zealand camouflage material and pattern were wasted out of service from the mid-1990s.

Development of NZ Army Combat Clothing, 1955 – 1980

The New Zealand (NZ) Army entered the 1950s with combat clothing based on the World War Two Battle Dress (BD) and Khaki Drill (KD) uniforms. Both these uniform types had limitations, such as the BDs being too heavy for wear in summer, tropical and jungle climates but too lightweight for the temperate NZ Climate. Combat operations in Southeast Asia from 1955 had further highlighted the inadequacy of NZ combat clothing, leading to NZ soldiers equipped with an eclectic range of United Kingdom (UK), Australian and NZ-manufactured variants throughout the 1950s and 60s. To achieve a measure of sustainability and self-sufficiency when purchasing uniforms, NZ undertook extensive research and development on tropical combat uniforms during the 1960s. However, by the early 1970s, the requirement for temperate climate uniform became a priority leading to the adoption of the UK 1968 Pattern Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) combat uniform. As the NZ Army transitioned from its World War Two legacy combat clothing to the most modern combat uniforms available, the transition was never complete, with elements of the older combat clothing remaining in service to be mixed and matched with the latest items as they were introduced. This article provides an overview of the NZ Army’s combat clothing transition from 1955 to the 1980s and how the requirements and types of combat clothing evolved.

A soldier hands out uniforms and bags to the first batch of 18-year-old army trainees. Photograph taken 29 June 1950 by an Evening Post staff photographer.Ref: 114/164/31-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23010004

Following World War Two, with Ordnance Stores well stocked and NZ industry well positioned to support any surge in demand, the NZ army retained the familiar combination of woollen serge Battle Dress (BD) and KD and Demin range of uniforms that had served it well during the war years. However, by 1955 the high tempo of training required to maintain a division supported by Compulsory Military Training (CMT), operations in Korea, and a likely commitment to ongoing operations in Southeast Asia highlighted deficiencies of the current ranger of uniforms. While the BD uniforms remained suitable for use in temperate and colder climates, the Army Clothing Committee identified a requirement to develop a summer training dress for use in NZ that would also be satisfactory for jungle operations. In response to the Army Dress Committee, Captain J.A Dixie of the Defence Scientific Corps of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) provided a comprehensive report on Tropical Clothing. Reviewing World War Two and post-war scientific research on the problem of tropical clothing by the United States and Commonwealth, Dixie’s report provided the principles that guided the selection of a suitable NZ Army range of tropical uniforms and equipment.[1]

Following the deployment of the NZ Special Air Service (NZSAS) Squadron to Malaya in November 1955, NZ felt obliged to prepare NZ’s forces for service in Southeast Asia. Based on the equipping of the NZSAS from British theatre stocks, the assumption was that initial stocks of tropical clothing for any future deployment would be available from British theatre stocks, with NZ-manufactured tropical uniforms providing long-term sustainment. Therefore, in December 1955, the Army Board approved the transition of uniforms with BDs retained as winter dress in NZ, and KDs phased out in favour of uniforms manufactured in Drill Green (DG) for summer and working dress. The 1955 orders of dress were.

The transition to the new range of DG clothing was in the following sequence:

  • Waste out stock of KD garments by CMT issues, with the first issue to CMT recruits by 1959, with the process completed by 1960.
  • For other uses, convert stocks of KD material (not yet made up into uniforms) and waste out.
  • Undertake all further uniform manufacture (except BD and Greatcoats) in DG.
  • Build up a working reserve sufficient to equip 10,000 soldiers.[2]

NZ’s DG uniform pattern was the 1950 Pattern British Jungle Green (JG) uniform. The 1950 pattern uniform consisted of shirt and trousers made from a green-coloured cotton drill material. Fitted with a cross waist belt fastened by adjustable buckles on each side designed to account for the wearer losing weight in hot climates, the trouser style was known as ‘Gurkha pants.’ The trousers included a twin pleated front, pockets on each hip, twin rear pockets and a map pocket on the left leg.[3]

Jungle greens and Jungle boots as worn by New Zealand Forces in Malaya from 1955. NZ National Library Ref: EP/1956/0031-F

Due to the financial outlay required to provide a measure of fiscal control over future uniform changes, on 9 April 1956, Cabinet decided that “No new items in uniform scales of officers and other ranks are to be introduced or material changes therein made without the prior approval of the Minister of Defence in concurrence with the Minister of Finance to the finance involved.”[4]

Granted approval on 2 August 1958 and deployed to Malaya in October 1957, the 1st Battalion, The NZ Regiment (1 NZ Regt), was NZ’s first regular Infantry battalion and NZ’s land commitment to the Commonwealth’s Far East Land Forces (FARELF). The initial scaling of 1 NZ Regt was from NZ stocks with equipment, including clothing (four sets of NZ DGs), weapons and eighty-nine vehicles and trailers. However, with the approval of the Ministers of Defence and Finance, £59000 (NZD 3,359,047.60 in 2022) was expended to procure additional theatre-specific items not held in the NZ inventory from British theatre stocks in Malaya.[5] Given the distance involved and the complications of holding sufficient clothing stocks to cover all size ranges, it was decided in  September 1957 that NZ-specific uniform items would be maintained from NZ, with the UK supplying and maintaining items on the FARELF clothing scales, managed under a capitation system where NZ reimbursed the UK for the equipment provided.[6] This arrangement was extended to include Australian equipment provided to the NZ Forces and remained in place until 1974. The initial items maintained by NZ with 1 NZ Regt provided with stock to allow 100% replacement were:

Still, a novel item under development as part of the NZ Army inventory, the evaluation and development of the NZ DG uniforms was ongoing. One of the first large-scale user trials in NZ was on Jungle Course No1 at Burnham Camp from 8 September to 31 October 1958. Feedback from Course participants was positive, with observations that DG items were satisfactory for NZ’s temperate conditions.[7] Instructions for distributing DG Uniforms were issued in October 1958, with three sets of KD approved for exchange with three sets of DGs for Regular Force (RF) Officers and Other Ranks.[8]

As the introduction of the DG uniform continued, limitations with the current material and cut of the DG Uniforms were highlighted. Although suitable for training for most conditions found in NZ, it was not suitable for operations in the tropical conditions of Malaya. Under an existing Commonwealth agreement, Australia took the lead in researching a range of tropical clothing and equipment. As Australian research and development continued, NZ continued to rely on the UK and Australia to provide tropical clothing while remaining focused on developing a range of clothing suitable for NZ’s temperate climate and conditions.[9]

The NZ Army Chief of General Staff (CGS) Clothing Conference in February 1960 prompted significant work in developing revised uniform scales and dress orders. A policy statement was issued in November 1960 to remove misunderstandings regarding the proposals under consideration and the obligatory and optional dress orders, with the 1960 orders of dress within NZ being:

The 1960 policy statement on orders of dress was aspirational in that it had identified additions to the winter and summer clothing scales. Driven by the realisation that harsh weather and inadequate clothing led to considerable loss of training time, investigations had identified that lighter materials with water-repellent and quick-drying qualities were available, leading to a proposed new line of uniforms and equipment superior to the current BDs and greatcoats. The proposed uniform and equipment were based on winter and summer uniforms.

The winter training uniform for RF and Territorial Force (TF) all ranks was to consist of Battledress supplemented by added items for introduction from 1962, including

  • Woollen shirt
  • Pullover with drawstring neck
  • Parka
  • Waterproof over trousers.
  • Gaiters

The summer training uniform for all RF and TF all ranks was to consist of the following:

  • Replacement of existing stocks of Summer Drill trousers with a new trouser pattern based on the UK 1960 Pattern Jungle Green trousers. The 1960 pattern trousers were identical to the 1952 Patten but had the addition of belt loops.
  • Replace the DG Shirt with the woollen shirt used in the winter dress.[10]

Troops posted to FARELF were issued in NZ with the standard scales supplemented by items needed for operational training in NZ. Before embarkation, NZ issue items not needed in the FARELF theatre were withdrawn and placed into base kit storage until the soldiers returned from overseas. On arrival in the FARELF theatre, additional items, including lightweight tropical and combat clothing, were issued from UK Stocks.[11]

In addition to clothing items, boots and bivouac equipment designed to provide soldiers with maximum protection against the weather during field training were included in the initial trials from July 1961.[12]  The July 1961 trial provided a proof of concept that led to 1962 approval by the Ministers of Defence and Finance of a new range of basic clothing and clothing scales for the army to meet existing requirements with new scales approved for inclusion in NZ Army Routine and Standing Orders (R&SO) Volume 1 on 13 July 1962.[13][14] The formalisation of this scale was concurrent with the Ministers of Defence and Finance jointly approving the expenditure of £38,657.14.0 (NZD 1,948,037.31 in 2022) to enable payment to be made to GHQ FARELF for items of clothing issued by the UK to the NZ battalions in Malaya since 1957. Approval of further updates of the NZ clothing scales, including the NZ FARELF scale, followed in September 1963.[15]

By July 1964, with a continuing commitment to the Commonwealth FARELF in Malaysia and a growing commitment to the conflict in South Vietnam, the NZ Army convened a special committee to:

  • Define the policy governing all items of clothing and personal equipment for male members of the NZ Army in peace and war, in NZ and overseas.
  • Calculate the immediate and long-term requirements to equip the army and provide for maintenance.
  • Prioritise and select essential and suitable items for use in Southeast Asia and under conditions found in NZ.
  • Acknowledge that clothing and equipment needed to be specifically developed for both NZ and Southeast Asia.
  • Review the NZ Army’s present holdings to determine what was suitable for either permanent or interim use in SE Asia.
  • Base future scales on those already used within NZ and by 1 RNZIR in Malaysia.
  • Recommend maintenance stock levels based on current usage rates experienced by 1 RNZIR in Malaysia.

The clothing and personal equipment policy statement was comprehensive and logical, with sound recommendations that identified items of clothing and equipment for use by the NZ Army at home and overseas, with recommendations for new scales, stock and maintenance levels. Approved in principle by Army Headquarters, the clothing and personal equipment policy statement was submitted to the Ministry of Defence for approval in November 1964.[16] Following further analysis by the Ministry of Defence, it was recommended on 15 June 1965 that The Minister of Defence and Minster of Finance approve the new scales of clothing and personnel equipment for the NZ Army based on the expenditure of £1,425,00 ($6,698,087.41 in 2022) over the financial years 1965/66, 1966/67 and 1967/68.[17]

Despite the considerable financial commitment required, following the joint approval of the Ministers of Defence and Finance, on 21 March 1966, Cabinet approved in principle expenditure to allow the provision of clothing and personal equipment for the NZ Army’s future requirements over the next three fiscal years:

  • £1,425,00 ($66,980,874.05 in 2022) over the budget year 1965/66,
  • £430,000 ($19,569,115.53 in 2022) for the budget year 1966/67.
  • £430,000 (18,385,342.62 in 2022) for the budget year 1967/68.[18]

Approved by Cabinet, the clothing and personal equipment programme was a three-year programme to issue to troops and build up stocks over the years 1967 -1969 and was to:

  • Provide an initial issue to the Field Force of ten thousand soldiers, plus a three-month reserve stock at war wastage rates for immediate maintenance in the overseas theatre.
  • Hold sufficient materials and components to allow manufacturers six months of supply at war rates.
  • Additional stock of training clothing to meet needs in NZ.

With the 1961 trials identifying items for training in NZ, experience gained in Malaysia and later South Vietnam saw additional items of tropical combat clothing added to the clothing scales.

The Pullover with a drawstring neck was trialled in 1961 and, although undergoing minor modifications, was ready for introduction into service by March 1964.[19] Based on the British 1960 Pattern tropical shirt and trousers, the NZ-manufactured variants were the base of NZ’s summer and tropical dress orders. Although suitable for summer use, a shirt more suited to NZ’s temperate climate was desired, and from the three types trialled in 1961 with two types selected for further trials:

  • Type A 100% wool.
  • Type B was a wool/nylon mixture.

Introduced into servicer for a year-long trial from April 1965. 3703 type A shirts were Issued to RF personnel, excluding those posted to FARELF. The scale was one Type A Shirt Training per Officer and Soldier in exchange for one Shirt DG.[20] Thirteen Hundred of the marginally more expensive Type B Training shirt introduced for concurrent troop trials in October 1965. A revised Trial instruction was issued in December 1965, detailing the requirements for the trial, for completion by 31 August 1966, with trial reports submitted to Army HQ by 30 September 1966.[21]

The trial reports on both training shirts revealed faults related to the materials used, with the Type B shirt identified as an acceptable item in its current form. With a sufficient stock of the Type B shirt in circulation, trials were extended until 31 October 1966, with the Type B shirt included in the clothing scale by 1967.

As NZ’s commitment to the conflict in South Vietnam increased from mid-1964, the lack of suitable materials or shirts for use in tropical conditions became an issue. To meet the immediate needs of NZ’s overseas forces, continued reliance on the UK with additional items provided by Australia was necessary.

An early contribution to developing an NZ tropical combat shirt was in November 1964 when ten shirts made from a new acrylic fabric (trade name “Cashmillon”) were issued to the First Battalion of the Royal NZ Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR) in Malaysia for initial troop trials.[22] The trial NZ shirt was Intended to be rot-resistant, more robust, quicker drying and less chilling to the body when wet while providing warmth in cooler weather. T 1RNZIR trials were favourable, with the trial shirts preferred to the current British combat shirts and strongly recommended as a future combat shirt.[23]

New Zealand gunners in Saigon, Vietnam, being presented a garland of flowers by a woman from the Vietnamese Army, during an official welcome ceremony for the artillery unit. circa 5 August 1965. Ref: EP-Defence-NZ Army, Vietnam-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22829325

By August 1965, adverse media coverage on the quality of Australian Combat Clothing of the type issued to NZ’s Vietnam Force (V Force) prompted NZ Army Headquarters to approach the United States for samples and specifications of combat clothing used by United States Forces in South Vietnam, with feedback also obtained by HQ NZ V Force from United States Forces in South Vietnam on their satisfaction with their tropical combat uniforms.[24] Feedback from the United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and two United States advisors with the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) identified that United States Army personnel in Vietnam were issued with two sets of Tropical Combat fatigues. The United States uniform was light, comfortable and quick-drying, resistant to rot under tropical conditions, with a combat life of about twelve days. Although having an apparent short operational life, this was comparable with the commonwealth experience with uniforms in jungle operations in Southeast Asia.[25]

The view of the NZ Army was that although the United States tropical uniform material was the best of those in use by allied armies and was supported by a continual improvement programme, prudence directed that based on the preliminary trials of the NZ acrylic cloth by 1RNZIR extended trials were required to be conducted.[26] With the NZ acrylic cloth being potentially superior to other cloths in use and likely to be suitable for NZ training conditions, the Army Development Section proposed that a further 300 yards of the cloth be purchased to enable further trials to be conducted.

However, feedback from the 9th Commonwealth Defence Conference and the flammability risks of the acrylic material ceased meaningful development of this cloth. The UK and Australia both had large stocks of drill cloth, which, while not ideal, were still suitable for use as research to find a replacement material continued. Concurrent with NZ acrylic trials, Australia was in the preliminary stages of experimenting with a cotton/nylon mixture. However, the UK and Canada were concerned with the NZ trial as the cloth had little flame resistance. Based on this feedback, NZ reviewed its requirements and requested that the DSIR and industry undertake further development of the acrylic cloth to improve its fire resistance qualities. NZ’s requirements for tropical uniform material were satisfied by purchasing bulk stocks of the same material used by the UK for tropical clothing.[27]

1 Composite Ordnance Company Officers Ex Logploy Two Linton 6-9 March 1967 Left to Right: 2LT Telfer, 2Lt Watson, 2Lt Wootton, Lt McDonald, Capt Duggan, Maj Golightly, 2Lt Jones, Lt Reid, 2Lt Bowker. All wear 1960 Pattern DG Trousers with various KD, DG and Wollen Shirts. Robert.McKie Collection

By December 1967, the NZ clothing scales and the range of clothing supplied had become complicated. Each NZ soldier was issued clothing and equipment based on the NZ Training scale. Although the NZ Training scale was based on maintaining an integrated RF and TF Field Force, a 1967 study of the training clothing scales found disparities between the combat, training and walking out uniform scales of the RF and TF. To correct and align the RF and TF scales, a two-phase programme started in 1967 to correct the scales. Phase one, initiated in 1967, began the disposal of all wartime-style garments (items from World War One and Two were still in service) and rearranging the scale issue to the National Service Training Unit (NTSU). Beginning in December 1968, NTSU and TF recruits were to be issued the same combat clothing as the RF.[28]

On selection for deployment overseas, additional items were issued as part of the emplacement scale depending on the theatre. Items not required overseas were held in the soldier’s Base kit.

  • NZ Troops to HQ FARELF and 1 RNZIR. NZ Troops posted to HQ FARELF and 1 RNZIR issued from the NZ FARELF Scale with items drawn from stocks supplied by the UK and NZ. The solder retained items such as the UK tropical Shirts (Flannel or Cellular) and Trousers OG on return to NZ.
  • Victor and Whiskey Company troops, drawn from 1RNZIR and deployed to South Vietnam. Items of the FARELF scale not required in South Vietnam were placed into base kits. Additional Australian combat clothing was issued from Australian FARELF stocks, with maintenance provided by the Australian Logistic Support Group (ALSG) in South Vietnam.
  • HQ V Force, 161 Battery, Med Team and other troops deployed directly from NZ. In addition to NZ items, Australian combat clothing was issued, with maintenance provided by the Australian Logistic Support Group (ALSG) in South Vietnam.

The Australian combat clothing issued to NZ troops in Vietnam consisted of two types of uniforms: Shirts and Trousers Tropical Combat (JGs) and Coat and Trousers Mans Field Combat Tropical.

  • The Australian JGs were modelled after the British 1950 pattern tropical uniforms and made from lightweight green fabric. The shirt was long-sleeved with two chest pockets, and the trousers had the crossover “Gurkha” style closure with buckles on the sides and fitted with a single map pocket to the left thigh.
  • The Australian Coat and Trousers Mans Field Combat Tropical was inspired by the United States jungle fatigues and developed over 1965/66 with the Mark 1 version introduced into Australian service by January 1967. The coat (shirt) had pockets on the upper sleeves for shell dressings and slanted breast pockets. This new uniform was soon nicknamed “pixie greens.”
Australian Army jungle green tropical combat jacket.
Australian Army Jungle green cotton tropical combat trousers

In the interests of standardisation and leveraging from the operational experience gained by the Australians in Vietnam, the NZ Army considered adopting the Australian range of combat clothing for use in tropical combat conditions and as a replacement for DG items in NZ. Combat clothing trials were initiated in January 1967, with forty sets of the Australian prototype “Pixi Greens” issued to Waiouru Camp and the 1st Battalion Depot in Burnham.[29]

As a result of the NZ “Pixi Green” trial in September 1967, the Australian design, with modifications, was accepted for use in NZ as a training dress and as a combat dress in the tropics. The modifications required included using UK-sourced DG Cloth and a slight redesign of the trousers. The final acceptability trial report completed on 31 October 1967 established the acceptability of the UK Cloth and decided on a preference between the two slightly different trouser styles; one type had elastic cuffs and cargo pockets on the front of the legs; the other type had draw-cord cuffs and cargo pockets towards the sides of the legs.[30]

User trials established that the UK-type DG material was a satisfactory material for both shirts and trousers in tropical combat conditions and suitable as a replacement for the current heavier NZ DG for summer wear in NZ. A good design for the NZ version of the “pixie greens” shirt and trousers had been achieved, with the trousers having draw-cord cuffs and cargo pockets towards the sides of the legs.[31] Following sizing trials conducted in Vietnam and NZ in 1967, it was established that the Australian size range was compatible with NZ’s needs and was adopted with nine sizes of Shirts and trousers provided.[32]

NZ Purchase Description No 106 was issued on 4 January 1968, providing the minimum requirements for manufacturing Shirt, Man’s, Drill, Green, Field Combat, Tropical 1967 Pattern, the NZ version of the Australian Coat Mans Field Combat Tropical “pixie green”.[33]

The NZ purchase description providing the minimum requirements for manufacturing Trousers, Mens, Drill Green Field Combat, Tropical, (1967 Patt), the NZ version of the Australian Trousers Mans Field Combat Tropical (Pixie), was issued on 5 February 1968.[34]

Although the trouser design was agreed to and was ready for introduction into service, the initial design was a compromise. In some examples, Velcro replaced all buttons and buckles in the waist area. The trials of the Velcro fastenings were not exhaustive, with further trials to evaluate the practicability of using Velcro fastenings under all conditions of tropical combat required facilitated by the dispatch of six pairs of combat tropical trousers with Velcro fastenings to the Infantry elements of NZ’s V Force in March 1968 to allow further trials.[35] With negative feedback from V Force, further development of Velcro fastenings was not continued.

Australia’s development of its tropical combat uniform was ongoing. In August 1968, user dissatisfaction with the Mark 1 version led to the development of the Mark 2 version. Including some minor design improvements, the size range of the Mark 2 versions was increased from each type having nine sizes to twelve shirt sizes and eighteen trouser sizes.[36] Development of the Australian tropical combat uniform continued until its withdrawal from service in the late1980s. Taking note of the Australian developments of the Mark 2 pattern, NZ modified its specifications and introduced the Coat, Mans, Drill Green Field Combat – 1969 Pattern with twelve different sizes into service in October 1969.[37] It remains unknown if 1969 Pattern trousers were concurrently introduced.

Comparison of FARELF Combat Clothing 1965 Left to Right: Shirts Tropical Combat, Shirt OG (UK).Indonesian Camouflage, Shirt KF, HQ FARELF Joint Services Public Relations PR/A/372/4 NZ Archived R17187760 Clothing Tropical Clothing and Personal Equipment 1955-67

As the NZ clothing and personal equipment programme authorised in 1965 was nearing completion, the NZ FARELF Clothing scale was updated in late 1969, replacing most UK and Australian-sourced items with NZ-manufactured items. However, given the scale of the NZ scale changes, it was not envisaged that NZ would not be able to support the new scale until early 1970.[38] With the British intention to withdraw east of Suez by 1971 likely to become a reality, a revaluation of Australian and NZ reliance on British logistical support was undertaken. By October 1969, Australian planning for any future Australia and NZ (ANZ) Force clothing and personal equipment was underway, with Australia aiming to assume responsibility for the whole Australian component by mid-1971.[39] NZ now had a significant clothing and personal items catalogue, although initially unfavourable to NZ maintaining its stocks in the FARELF due to inadequate NZ resources. As NZ allocated adequate resources, Australia soon warmed up to NZ’s plans. Australia eventually had no difficulty supplying NZ troops in the ANZ Force with Australian pattern clothing and personal items if NZ items were not available. To ensure the Supply of NZ items, 5 Advanced Ordnance Depot (5AOD), Singapore, under the NZ items under specially allocated catalogue numbers alongside the equivalent Australian items.[40]

The UK’s east-of-Suez departure was delayed until 1974 when, along with Australia, both nations withdrew their Singapore garrisons, leaving NZ as the only foreign force in Singapore. By the time of the UK and Australian departure in 1974, the NZ supply system had evolved into a sustainable and autonomous system, with most clothing and personal items supplied direct from NZ. However, the NZ Advance Ordnance Depot (NZOAD) in Singapore had inherited British and Australian stock lines that took time to waste out, ensuring that the NZ Force in Southeast Asia (NZFORSEA) remained equipped with a mixture of British, Australian and NZ equipment.

Further review and refinement of the NZ Army clothing scales took place in 1971 with the announcement made to

  • Introduce a Dacron uniform as a summer walking out and, where appropriate, working dress to replace DGs.
  • Replace BDs with a temperate/winter combat working/training uniform.

The Secretary of Defence agreed to the proposal to upgrade DGs and BDs to a new Combat Dress. Authority to cease any further procurement of BD Jackets followed, with existing stocks progressively disposed of. To compensate for the loss of the BD Jacket, an additional Training Jersey was authorised to be issued as a BD jacket replacement. However, pending further justification, the replacement of DGs with Dacron’s as a summer walking out/working dress did not progress. As the winding down of NZ’s commitment to the Vietnam War precluded the widespread introduction of the 1967/69 Pattern Combat uniform, in 1971, a pilot scheme was conducted by units at Papakura camp to evaluate the adequacy of the 1967/69 Pattern Combat Uniform as combat working/training uniform for use in NZ Garrison and training conditions.[41]

The Combat Clothing pilot scheme utilised 1967/69 Pattern Combat uniforms but met with mixed results. Compared to the existing DGs, the 1967/69 Pattern Combat Uniform was unpopular, with variations in colour, texture and strength found. Although a minor redesign of the trousers and remedial work to correct the variation of colours followed, it became accepted that the attempt to follow Australia’s lead in developing a tropical combat uniform had failed. With large stocks of the 1967/69 Pattern Combat uniforms in the NZ Army supply system, the pilot scheme was abandoned, and future development and procurement of the 1967/69 Pattern Combat uniform ceased.

As no suitable alternative clothing item existed, the NZ DG Shirt and Trouser had, by default, been satisfactory as an “in lieu” item for warm weather and tropical training.[42] Although inappropriate and not intended for such use, the DG Shirt and Trousers would continue as NZ’s JGs for warm weather and tropical conditions until the late 1980s. However, the requirement for a modern temperate combat uniform still existed. To identify a temperate combat uniform, the Director of Infantry and SAS (D Inf) initiated formal trials of a combat uniform designed explicitly for temperate use in August 1974. Keen to evaluate a proven uniform pattern, the D Inf requested thirty sets of UK 1968 Pattern DMP temperate climate camouflage uniforms. Up to this period, the use of camouflage uniforms by the NZ Army was rare, with camouflage uniforms used by the 3rd Division of the 2nd NZEF in the Pacific during 1943/44 and the NZSAS and the NZ Army Training Advisory Teams, who had utilised American ERDL and South Vietnamese tiger stripe pattern fatigues during the Vietnam war.

UK Pattern DMP

Twenty-Eight sets of UK 68 Pattern DPM uniforms consisting of smocks, liners,  trousers, caps and hods were received in February 1975 and, following the development of evaluation criteria, were released by trial by the NZ School of Infantry and 2/1 RNZIR in March 1975.[43] The DPM uniforms issued to the School of Infantry were distributed to the School of Infantry, the TF Depot and the RF Cadet School. The sets issued to 2/1 RNZIR were issued to Alpha Company (A Coy)

As the D Inf was the sponsor for combat clothing and personal equipment, visits and feedback from units had made the incumbent D Inf aware of deficiencies in certain types and sizes of clothing. Aware that the NZ Army did not have a firm policy regarding combat clothing, D Inf sponsored a review to inform policy and guide future sponsors and provisioners of combat clothing and equipment in 1975. The review found that:

  • Supplies of Shirts DG were adequate, with stocks of trousers DG low, with deliveries of stocks on order slow.
  • With the withdrawal of the BD Blouse, the training Jersey remained a popular item of clothing.
  • Stocks of the Hat Utility were good, and the item remained popular.
  • Developing and introducing a new parka and over trousers remained an ongoing project.
  • An unpopular item of uniform, stocks of the 1967 and 1969 Pattern Combat Trousers were not at authorised levels, with procurement frozen until a firm policy on the future of combat clothing was determined.
  • Stocks of the wool/nylon training shirt were low. However, as an expensive item only scaled for RF issues, procurement was on hold until a firm policy on the future of combat clothing was determined.
  • BD trousers to remain as the Winter Working Dress for RF and TF and the winter walking out dress for the TF.[44]

The initial trials of the DPM uniforms concluded in August 1975 with positive results recommending the adoption of all items of the DPM uniform except for the DPM Cap. Typical feedback echoed in the evaluation reports was that the DPM uniforms were “well-designed, very comfortable uniforms far Superior to anything else in service”.[45]

In summarizing the trial reports and the suitability of the UK Temperate DPM uniform, the D Inf supported the uniform’s introduction, noting that the comparative trials were limited to the current range of unsatisfactory NZ combat clothing. Comparative trials were not possible against similar uniforms from ABCA (American, British, Canadian, Australian) Armies as the UK temperate climate DPM uniform was the only type available.

  • Australia had only accepted a DMP pattern for open eucalyptus terrain, with further studies pending for other terrains. The Australian policy was to provide ‘add-on ‘ garments for work in temperate climates.
  • Canada did not have a DPM Temperate climate uniform and had an ‘add on” policy for cold and article conditions.
  • The United States offered temperate combat uniforms to NZ at a competitive rate. However, these were of the Olive Green variety. The United States Forces did have tropical DPM uniforms, and if NZ considered introducing tropical DPM Uniforms in the future, these should also be included in the evaluation process.

The D Inf highlighted that no modifications to the UK DPM uniforms were required and recommended that they be introduced as is (less the DPM Cap) and that modifications should only be considered after extensive user experience.[46]

In recognition of the requirement’s urgency and dissatisfaction with current dress and clothing standards adversely affecting morale, approval to introduce the UK DPM uniforms into NZ service was granted in December 1975.[47] The procurement of the new range of temperate clothing consisting of Jackets, Hoods and Trousers made from a DMP material and quilted liners was to be implemented in three phases over five years commencing in 1977/78.

  • Phase 1 – 1977/78. The first phase would purchase 1000 Jackets and Hoods, 1800 Trousers and 840 Liners to provide sufficient stock for a reduced strength battalion plus two years of maintenance stocks. Phase One was also to purchase 123,974 meters of DMP material to allow the manufacture of DPM uniforms in subsequent phases.
  • Phase 2 – 1978/79 to 79/80. The NZ manufacture of DPM uniforms to allow.
    • The issue of one set to the RF component of the Filed Force and Army Schools (Strength 2800).
    • TF Depot Pool (800).
    • Annual Camp Pool (4000).
  • Phase 3 – 1979/80 to  80/81. The NZ manufacturer of the UK Pattern temperate DPM uniforms to allow.
    • The establishment of war reserve stocks (1800).
    • The issue of a second set to all RF personnel involved in field training (3500).
    • Increase the size of the Field Force training pool (1000).[48]

On introducing the temperate DPM uniform, phasing out through normal wastage of the following clothing items was planned.

  • Over trousers.
  • The current service parka and commercial lined parkas. On developing a rainproof DPM parka, the replacement of unlined parkas would follow.
  • BD Trousers on a diminishing basis estimated as beyond 1981[49]

The introduction of the first tranche of temperate DPM uniforms began in August 1977 with the initial purchase of made-up uniforms issued to 2/1 RNZIR and Army Schools, with additional sets manufactured In NZ using imported material. However, a change in clothing policy and delays in receiving DPM material from the UK delayed the planned distribution and establishment of loan pools.[50] By 1980, confusion over scales and entitlements and the resulting distribution stagnation was highly emotional, with formations command seeking resolution.[51]

As the temperate DPMs were progressively introduced to NZ-based units, NZ Forces in Singapore were still required to utilise the legacy JG uniforms. As both the Malaysian and Singapore Forces were introducing camouflage uniforms, the Commander of NZFORSEA considered that there would be immense psychological value in considering the issue of a tropical DPM uniform to NZFORSEA.[52]  Since 1972 British Forces in Hong Kong and Brunei utilised the No.9: Tropical Combat Dress, which had replaced the 1950 pattern OG and JG tropical uniforms. In 1980 NZFORSEA submitted a proposal to purchase the UK lightweight DMP material by utilising the UK specification tailored locally to meet the tropical DPM uniform requirements of NZFORSEA.[53]

After considering the NZFORSEA proposal, the NZ Army decided not to approve the NZFORSEA proposal. NZ Forces were to continue using the current JG tropical uniforms range. In justifying the decision, the following reasons were provided.

  • ABCA studies demonstrated that faded JG drill provided the most effective negative response to IR sources.
  • The primary reason for introducing DMP clothing into NZ service was warmth, with the psychological value ensuring its acceptance.
  • The operational effectiveness of DPM uniforms remained questionable.[54]

The upgrading of NZ Army combat clothing from 1955 to 1980 was just one of several clothing and equipment projects intended to keep the army equipped with a high standard of modern equipment compatible with its peers. The practice of adopting off-the-shelf clothing and equipment from allied nations continued, with, where possible, NZ industry manufacturing the foreign patterns, thus providing a measure of self-sufficiency. From 1967 considerable effort was made to develop the Australian Pixie Greens into an NZ tropical combat uniform. The resulting items were unsatisfactory, and the project was considered a failure. JGs introduced in 1958 and upgraded in 1961, remained in service as tropical combat clothing until 1984, when lightweight DPM trousers and shirts began to be introduced. Not wishing to repeat the prolonged and unsuccessful tropical combat clothing experience, the UK DPM temperate combat uniform was introduced with no redesign of the UK uniform with further NZ manufacture based on the UK specifications. A significant improvement on the previous uniforms provided for training in NZ, the introduction was piecemeal, with selected RF field force units fitted out first, followed by issues to the remainder of the RF and TF as stocks were made available, resulting in BD trousers and other legacy combat clothing items remaining in use well into the mid-1980s. While this article provides an overview of NZ Army combat clothing from 1950 to 1980, it provides a starting point for further research.


[1] Army 213/1/92 DSIR Tropical Clothing Dated 3 October 1955. “Clothing – Tropical Clothing and Personal Equipment,” Archives NZ No R17187760  (1955 – 1967); “Clothing – Policy and General – Annual Clothing Review,” Archives NZ No R17311752  (1967-1975).

[2] Army 213/5/320 Provision of Jungle Green Uniforms dated 2 December 1955. “Clothing – Policy and General – Jungle Green Uniforms,” Archives NZ No R17311754  (1955 – 1988).

[3] Army 213/5/1/ORD 7 Trouser Green Drill 1952 5 January 1962.”Clothing – Khaki Dress – Green Drill, Manufacture,” Archives NZ No R17187768  (1962-1967).

[4] CM (56)16 dated 10 April 1956. “Clothing – NZ Army Force Farelf: Policy, Scales, Accounting,” Archives NZ No R17187816  (1968 – 1970).

[5] “H-19 Military Forces of NZ Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1957 to 31 March 1958,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1958).

[6] Army 213/7/40/Q(Org) Clothing replacement – NZ Army Force FARELF. “Clothing – NZ Army Force Farelf: Policy, Scales, Accounting,” Archives NZ No R17187813  (1957 – 1962).

[7] Report on equipment used: Jungle Training Course No1. “Cookers – Jungle Warfare Equipment: General,” Archives NZ No R17189107  (1945-1968).

[8] Cmd 8/2/Q Introduction of New Orders of Dress – RF (Males) Trousers and Shirts, Drill Green Dated 5 November 1958. “Clothing – NZ Regular Forces: Scale of Issue,” Archives NZ No R17187791  (1957-1964).

[9] Army 213/7/4/DQ Dress-NZ Army 16 October 1959. Ibid.

[10] Army 213/10/7/A4 Dress: Male Officers and Soldiers 25 November 1960.”Clothing – Dress: NZ Army Forces, Far East Land Forces,” Archives NZ No R17187820  (1957-1963).

[11] Army 209/3/218/Q(Org) NZ FARELF Clothing Scales 7 March 1960. “Cookers – Jungle Warfare Equipment: General.”

[12] Army 246/6/194/SD Trial Instructions Clothing and equipment designed for use in training 11 July 1961.”Clothing – Clothing and Equipment Trials in Training,” Archives NZ No R9753143  (1961 – 1966).

[13] Army 213/7/40/QMG Maintenance of NZ Army Forces in SEA in Clothing and Personal Equipment November 1968. “Clothing – NZ Army Force Farelf: Policy, Scales, Accounting.”

[14] Army 213/7/4/DQ Basic Clothing Range: RF Males Dated 11 September 1962. “Clothing – NZ Regular Forces: Scale of Issue.”

[15] Army 213/7/40/Q(A) Clothing issues – Male Personnel posted for duty in FARELF dated 8 March 1963.Ibid.

[16] Army 213/7/4/Adm NZ Army Clothing and Personal Equipment Policy Statement dated 10 November 1964. “Clothing – NZ Regular Forces: Scale of Issue,” Archives NZ No R17187792  (1964-1967).

[17] Ministry of Defence 41/3/3 Army Clothing and Equipment Programme Army Submission 213/7/4 of 4.4.65 Dated 16 June 1965. Ibid.

[18] Army 213/7/4 Army Clothing and Personal Equipment Programme Dated 27 May 1966. Ibid.

[19] Army 213/7/4/Q9C) Pullovers Dated 15 August 1963. “Clothing – NZ Regular Forces: Scale of Issue.”

[20] Army 213/5/42/Q(A) Introduction of Shirts Training (CCN 8405-NZ-101-0588/0596) 22 April 1965.”Clothing – Clothing and Equipment Trials in Training.”

[21] Army 213/5/42/Q(D) Trial Instructions – Training Shirts 13 December 1965. Ibid.

[22] Army 213/1/92/Q(D) Shirts, Tropical Combat 20 November 1964. “Clothing – Tropical Clothing and Personal Equipment.”

[23] 1 RNZIR Trial report 28 March 1965. Ibid.

[24] Army 213/1/92 Tropical Combat Clothing 5 August 1965. Ibid.

[25] HQ NZ V Force 213/1/92 Tropical Combat Clothing 17 August 1965. Ibid.

[26] Deputy Secretary of Defence (Army) 213/1/92/OS1 Purchase of cloth for trial combat clothing 15 September 1965. Ibid.

[27] Army 213/1/92/Q(D) Shirting Tropical Combat 10 December 1965. Ibid.

[28] Army 213/7/4 Study: Clothing Scales outer Garments Dated 2 August 1967. “Clothing – NZ Regular Forces: Scale of Issue,” Archives NZ No R17187793  (1967-1976).

[29] Army 246/78/5/Q(D) Trial Instructions Tropical Combat Dress (Aust) 11 January 1967. “Clothing – Clothing and Equipment Trials in Training,” Archives NZ No R9853144  (1966 – 1969).

[30] Army 213/1/106/Q(D) Tropical Combat Clothing Trial 11 September 1967. Ibid.

[31] Army 213/1/106/OS9 Trouser Combat Tropical Trial 4 January 1968.Ibid.

[32] Army 213/1/106/ORD6 Trousers Combat Tropical 18 September 1968.”Clothing – Introduction of Combat Clothing Project,” Archives NZ No R17187753  (1968-1976).

[33] NZ Army Purchase Description No 105 dated 4 January 1968. “Clothing – Men’s Drill Green Field Combat Tropical 1967 Pattern 1970-71,” Archives NZ No R24510756  (1970-71).

[34] NZ Army Purchase Description No 106 dated 5 February 1968. “Clothing – Trousers Men’s Drill Green Field Combat – Tropical 1967 Pattern,” Archives NZ No R24510754  (1968 -1968).

[35] Army 213/1/106/Q899 Trousers: Combat Tropical 28 March 1968

[36] Army 213/1/106/ord6 Trouser Combat Tropical 18 September 1968. “Clothing – Introduction of Combat Clothing Project.”

[37] NZ Army Purchase Description No 105A dated 23 October 1969. “Clothing – Men’s Drill Green Field Combat Tropical 1967 Pattern 1970-71.”

[38] Army 213/7/40/Q Ops Brief for QMG Clothing and Personal Equipment for NZ Army Forces in the Far East Dated 24 September 1969. “Clothing – NZ Army Force Farelf: Policy, Scales, Accounting.”

[39] Commonwealth of Australia 209/B/10 Malaysia and Singapore Planning Clothing and Personal Equipment dated 14 October 1969.

[40] Army 213/7/40/Q Ops Brief for QMG Clothing and Personal Equipment for NZ Army Forces in the Far East Dated 24 September 1969. “Clothing – NZ Army Force Farelf: Policy, Scales, Accounting.”

[41] DOS 106/9 10  Combat Clothing and Army Dress Rationalization, dated 10 September 1973. “Army 220/5/103/Aac Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 March 1971,” Archives NZ No R9753141  (1971).

[42] DEP 213/1/37 Adoption of Disruptive Pattern Uniform Dated 22 September 1975. “Clothing – Introduction of Combat Clothing Project.”

[43] Army 213/1/37/EP Sponsor Evaluation Disruptive Pattern Uniform for use in Temperate climates Date 4 March 1975. Ibid.

[44] Army 213/1/104/Inf Minutes of a meeting on a sponsor review of Combat Clothing sand equipment Dated 7 May 1975.”Clothing – Policy and General – Annual Clothing Review.”

[45] 2/1 RNZIR B5/12/2 Evaluation Report Disruptive Pattern (DPR) Uniforms Dated 15 September 1975. “Clothing – Introduction of Combat Clothing Project.”

[46] D Inf 213/1/37/EP Temperate Disruptive Pattern Uniform Dated 29 September 1975. Ibid.

[47] Army 213/1/37/EP Combat Clothing Dated 9 December 1975. Ibid.

[48] Army Staff Target 08 74/75 Temperate Zone Combat/Training Clothing Dated 16 July 1976. “Clothing – Policy and General – Intro of Combat Clothing Project,” Archives NZ No R17311750  (1977-81).

[49] ACDS (Spt) Minute SP 131/1977 Temperate Climate Combat/Training Clothing for NZ Army Dated 28 April 1977. Ibid.

[50] DEP 157 DPM Clothing Dated 28 May 1981.Ibid.

[51] NZLF 18415/Ord 1 Issue of DPM Smocks/Hoods/Liners Dated 15 July 1981.Ibid.

[52] Army 213/1/39/GS Tropical Weight Disruptive Pattern Material (DPM) Uniform Dated 8 October 1918. Ibid.

[53] NZFORSEA NZF 208.09 DPM Clothing Dated 23 September 1980. Ibid.

[54] NZDEF Army 213/1/39 For Comd from DCGS Dated 28 July 1980. Ibid.

David Galula and his influence on modern military operations

The close of the Second World War saw an evolution of conflict that challenged the principles of military theorists such as Clausewitz or Jomini. Although conflicts where formed armies still faced each outer on the field of battle remained, wars fought as Insurgencies became the predominant form of warfare in the post-1945 world. The early leading theorises on insurgency were Mao Zedong and Che Guevara, who promoted Insurgency and the Frenchmen Fall, and Galula, who promoted some early theories and practices of counterinsurgency based on their observations and experiences in South East Asia. This article examines the experiences and work of David Galula and his influence on modern military operations.

David Galula had been commissioned into the French Army just before the fall of France in 1940. Dismissed from the French Army because he was a Jew, Galula joined the Free French Forces in North Africa, Serving as a Battalion Intelligence officer for the noted sinologist Jacques Guillermaz. Guillermaz became a key mentor and a significant influence on Galula’s life[1]. Accompanying Guillermaz to China in 1945 on his appointment as a military attaché. Galula became immersed in the ongoing Chinese Civil War, observing it close up and from both sides and, for a short period, was a captive of Mao’s Communist Chinese troops[2]. Spending a short spell observing the Greek Civil War during 1948, Galula was soon back in China, replacing Guillermaz as military attaché in Hong Kong from 1952 to 1956. Galula was well positioned in Hong Kong to study the successful counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines and Malaya and the unsuccessful counterinsurgency in Indochina, providing him with valuable lessons that he later applied in Algeria[3].

David Galula. (2022, July 5). In Wikipedia.

In the Philippines, Galula saw first-hand how the utilisation of a well-conceived civic action program, mobile striking forces and psychological warfare won the population’s support, causing the Hukbalahap Communist guerrilla movement to lose the protection and support of the local population forcing their surrender in 1954[4]. In Malaya, the fight against the communist insurgency was turning in favour of the British. This success provided Galula with a clear insight into the British approach. Having a precise political aim, with the security forces functioning within the law with the priority to defeat the insurgency by securing the population and providing better governance were all lessons Galula absorbed, and in future years considered the British achievements in Malaya an example of a successful counterinsurgency[5]. Galula continued to maintain personal contact with his fellow officers serving in Indochina. Through them, Galula could see the failures of the French counterinsurgency efforts leading to their defeat in 1954[6]. The French Defeat at Dien Ben Phu in 1945 had a traumatic effect on Galula as twenty of his military academy classmates had died, motivating him to put his observations on combating insurgency into practice in Algeria[7].

A posting as a Company Commander to Algeria in 1956 allowed Galula to test his theories. In the Greater Kabylia district, which at the time was a National Liberation Front (FLN) hotspot. [8] Galula drew upon his earlier experiences and observations to test his theories of counterinsurgency and within six to eight months, claimed to have cleared the district of FLN assets and restored the district to government control[9]. Galula’s success was noticed, earning him a promotion and a transfer to the Headquarters of National Defence in Paris in 1958. With Galula’s transfer to Paris, the situation in his former command soon unravelled as Galua had exaggerated his operational successes, leaving many unresolved issues leading to questions about the validity of his theories which went unanswered against the wider conflict then unfolding in Algeria[10].

Galula continued to lecture on his theories and attended Staff College in the United States. He was headhunted by General Edward Lansdale, who had met Galula in the Philippines and had become an admirer of his theories. Galula resigned from his commission in 1962 and was introduced into the counterinsurgency think tank industry flourishing in the United States. With General William Westmoreland’s assistance, Galua was given an appointment at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs[11]. During this period, Galula published his influential books; Pacification in Algeria (1962) and Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (1964).

In these publications, he drew upon the lessons learnt in the French colonisation of Indochina and Africa in the 19th Century and his theories on defeating communism-inspired insurgency based on his experiences in Asia and Algeria and proposed his four “laws” for counterinsurgency

  • The First Law: The support of the population is as necessary for the counterinsurgent as for the Insurgent.
  • The Second Law: Support Is gained through an active minority
  • The Third Law: Support from the population Is conditional
  • The Fourth Law: Intensity of efforts and vastness of means are essential.[12]

In 1961 the French soldier/academic Bernard Fall published his book, Street without Joy, an essay on the French war in Indochina, Falls book often featured in US military journals and saw the author lecture Special Forces at Fort Bragg in counterinsurgency warfare in Vietnam[13]. As the leading expert on Indochina, Fall endorsed Galulas work as the best “how-to” guide to counterinsurgency warfare[14]. Galula, despite having the potential to become a rising star as a counterinsurgency theorist due to the Kenndy administration embracing counterinsurgency as a military doctrine, fell into the shadow of fall and relative obscurity[15]. If there was an opportunity for cooperation between Galula and Fall, the opportunity was lost with their deaths in 1967. Galula to Cancer and Fall to a landmine in Vietnam, ironically in the area the French knew as the “street without Joy.”[16]

For close to forty years, Galula’s works were forgotten by a few outside of historical circles, and it was not until the United States’ involvement in Iraq that Galula came out of the shadows. Easily winning the conventional war against Iraq in 2003, the United States was unprepared for the insurgency that followed. Finding that the existing Small Wars Handbook, COIN doctrine and Special Forces doctrine was not providing the roadmap to combat and win the insurgency in Iraq. US Forces undertook a significant project while employed on operations and produced FM 3-24, The US Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual. FM 3-24 stressed that to win an Insurgency, political not military solutions were the key[17]. A significant influence in the production of FM 3-24 was that the American military embraced Galula’s theories as the foundation of FM 3-24. The success of the 2007 counterinsurgency “surge” was attributed directly to Galula’s teachings[18], which had been adopted for contemporary use with little due diligence into the historical mismatches between Galula’s theory and his actual practice of counterinsurgency[19].

Due to the implementation of FM 3-24, the United States counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq gained some success giving the United States Forces the upper hand over the insurgents, providing, as Galua had found in Algeria in 1956-59, a reversal of the situation from a few years earlier[20]. As the insurgency in Iraq stabilised, the American forces were able to complete their withdrawal in 2011. As with Galula in Algeria, once the influencing apparatus had been removed, the security and political situation degraded. Daesh emerged as a regional power creating an even worse insurgency for the Iraqi government, as there had been no plan to maintain the stability that the successful counterinsurgency had gained[21].

Gaula was an intelligent and keen observer who was at the right place at the right time to make observations of insurgencies in China, Greece, the Philippines, Malaya and French Indochina, which shaped his ideas on counterinsurgency. In Algeria, he had the opportunity to put his theories into practice at the Company and then Battalion level. Shaping the information to support his narrative created a mismatch between his theory and the reality on the ground, which came undone following his transfer to Paris. Endorsed by Bernard Fall as the producing the best “how-to” guide to counterinsurgency warfare, much of Galula’s theory was adopted by the United States Military in FM 3-24. Used to good effect in the “Surge’ of 2007, much of Galula’s theories found endorsement and praise and worked for a while. After the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq in 2011, the situation rapidly degraded into an insurgency, heralding the rise of Deash as a regional power, with the insurgency continuing today (2018). Galula’s influence on modern military operations has been significant, but Galula’s theories, although beneficial to the short-term goals of the United States counterinsurgency effort, are little more than a fad. A fad implemented without any robust field-testing conducted by its author or an independent authority has not benefited the United States in its long-term strategy against insurgencies.


[1] A.A. Cohen, Galula: The Life and Writings of the French Officer Who Defined the Art of Counterinsurgency (Praeger, 2012).

[2] Ann Marlowe, David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2010. 2010).

[3] David Galula, Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958, Mg (Rand Corporation) (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2006), Book.

[4] Ryan Nebres Severo, “Philippine Counterinsurgency During the Presidencies of Magsaysay, Marcos, and Ramos: Challenges and Opportunities,” (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College 2016).

[5] Galula, Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958.

[6] Bernard B. Fall, “The Theory and Practice of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency,” (2015).

[7] Marlowe, David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context.

[8] P.J Banyard, “FLN: The Fight for Algeria’s Independence,” War in Peace1983.

[9] Galula, Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958.

[10] G. Mathias, Galula in Algeria: Counterinsurgency Practice Versus Theory (ABC-CLIO, 2011).

[11] Marlowe, David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context.

[12] David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Praeger, 2006), Article.

[13] Frances Fitzgerald, “”Lost on the Street without Joy” (Re “the Reporter Who Warned Us Not to Invade Vietnam 10 Years before the Gulf of Tonkin”),” The Nation, 2015 2015.

[14] Robert Tomes, “Relearning Counterinsurgency Warfare,” US Army War College: Parameters, no. Spring 2004 (2004).

[15] Marlowe, David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context.

[16] Fitzgerald, “”Lost on the Street without Joy” (Re “the Reporter Who Warned Us Not to Invade Vietnam 10 Years before the Gulf of Tonkin”).”

[17] Travers McLeod, Rule of Law in War: International Law and United States Counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, 2014).

[18] Michael Evans, “The Shirt of Nessus: The Rise and Fall of Western Counterinsurgency,”

[19] Mathias, Galula in Algeria: Counterinsurgency Practice Versus Theory.

[20] David H. Ucko, The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the U.S. Military for Modern Wars (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2009), Book.

[21] Mathias, Galula in Algeria: Counterinsurgency Practice Versus Theory.


Cohen, A.A. Galula: The Life and Writings of the French Officer Who Defined the Art of Counterinsurgency. Praeger, 2012.
Evans, Michael. “The Shirt of Nessus: The Rise and Fall of Western Counterinsurgency.”
Fall, Bernard B. “The Theory and Practice of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency.” 40, 2015.
Fitzgerald, Frances. “Lost on the Street without Joy” (Re “the Reporter Who Warned Us Not to Invade Vietnam 10 Years before the Gulf of Tonkin”).” The Nation, 2015 2015.
Galula, David. Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. Praeger, 2006. Article.
———. Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958. [in English] Mg (Rand Corporation). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2006. Book.
Marlowe, Ann. David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context. Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College 2010.
Mathias, G. Galula in Algeria: Counterinsurgency Practice Versus Theory. ABC-CLIO, 2011.
McLeod, Travers. Rule of Law in War: International Law and the United States Counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, 2014.
PJ Banyard. “FLN: The Fight for Algeria’s Independence.” War in Peace, 1983, 594-96.
Severo, Ryan Nebres. “Philippine Counterinsurgency During the Presidencies of Magsaysay, Marcos, and Ramos: Challenges and Opportunities.” 117. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: US Army Command and General Staff College 2016.
Tomes, Robert. “Relearning Counterinsurgency Warfare.” US Army War College: Parameters, no. Spring 2004 (2004).
Ucko, David H. The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the US Military for Modern Wars. [in English] Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2009. Book.

NZ Aid to French Indo China 1952-54

Having a traditional reliant on the United Kingdom for military equipment, the rapid expansion of New Zealand’s military and the threat of invasion by Japan during World War Two necessitated New Zealand to seek and receive substantial war material from the United States. As the New Zealand Army reorganised in the post-war era, it soon became apparent that New Zealand’s military warehouses and ammunition depots were overflowing with surplus war material. In a move to enhance New Zealand’s national security by abetting our allies in their efforts to contain Communism in South-East Asia, New Zealand transferred free of charge to the French authorities in Indochina much of the surplus arms and ammunition held in RNZAOC Depots across New Zealand.

The post-war NZ Army was based on the 2nd NZEF of WW2 and consisted of an Infantry Division with integral Artillery, Armoured and Logistics elements. Based on the era’s strategic thinking, it was expected to deploy an NZ Division to the Middle East alongside British formations. Despite the reliance upon the United States for war material in the previous war and the large stock of American equipment in storage, the NZ Army was to remain armed and equipped with British pattern weapons, uniforms and equipment[1] By 1952, France was struggling to hold onto Indochina, and although receiving 7200 tons of material a month from the United States, it was still falling short of its requirements.[2] Realising that large stockpiles of British and American equipment had been declared surplus or abandoned across Asia and Australasia, the French established purchasing missions to acquire this equipment.[3]

French transport regiment train ct515 Hanoi-Nam Dinh convoy 15/17 May 1950 black and white kodak film on kodak camera

Responding to French requests, it was announced in September 1952 that New Zealand was to provide at no cost weapons and ammunition of American origin that were of a different calibre used by New Zealand forces. This shipment of firearms and ammunition were lend-lease weapons that had urgently been provided to New Zealand in 1942 and used by the Home Guard and some New Zealand units in the pacific, notably with RNZAF units co-located with American Forces, been lend-lease in origin, concurrence on the transfer had been sought and obtained from the United States. The Minister of External Affairs, T. C. Webb, stated that a substantial part of the consignment had been delivered to Singapore on HMNZS Bellona and then on shipped to French Indochina. [4] This first shipment included[5]

  • 13000, .30inch calibre Springfield M1903 rifles
  • 700, .30inch calibre Machine Guns, and
  • 670000 rounds of .30inch calibre Small Arms Ammunition (SAA).

Early in 1953, the Chief of the NZ General Staff, Major General Gentry, met with the French Commander-in-Chief, General Henri Navarre, at Saigon and discussed the transfer of surplus military equipment. Following Gentry’s report on this meeting, the NZ Government offered surplus equipment to the French authorities. With the war going badly for the French with the battle of Dien Bien Phu underway, a French Military mission consisting of Lieutenant-Colonel Cathala and Captain Mugg arrived in Auckland on 10 September 1953 for a two-week visit to examine the equipment and consider its suitability for use in Indochina.[6]

Reinforcements occupying positions in the dugouts during the battle of Dien Bien Phu, March 3 1954

With equipment identified and agreed upon, it was concentrated that Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham and following final inspections loaded onto a British vessel at Wellington in early March 1954.[7] Equipment dispatched to Indochina included[8]

  • 500 Revolvers,
  • 3000 .30inch calibre Springfield M1903 rifles
  • 750 .30inch calibre Machine Guns,
  • 50 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft guns and ammunition,
  • 10000 round of 37m armour-piercing shot,
  • Wireless Sets
  • Field Telephones,
  • Charging Sets
  • Assorted Uniform Items
  • 670000 rounds of .30inch calibre SAA
Bofors Guns Trentham, 1 March 1954. Evening Post illustrations file and prints. 1950-2000. (PA-Group-00685). [Series]

With the French surrendered at Dien Bien Phu on 7 May 1954. and the final withdrawal of French Forces from Vietnam concluded by April 1956; it is doubtful that the small New Zealand contribution of weapons and equipment assisted the French in any way. However, it might have found some utility in the new nation of South Vietnam or on some other French colonial battlefield.

Despite the small quantity of material provided, the French Minister to New Zealand, Mr Noel Henry, conveyed the French Government’s gratitude to New Zealand, acknowledging that New Zealand had done all it could do within its limited means.[9]


[1] Damien Fenton, A False Sense of Security: The Force Structure of the New Zealand Army 1946-1978, Occasional Paper / Centre for Strategic Studies: New Zealand: No. 1 (Centre for Strategic Studies: New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington, 1998), Bibliographies, Non-fiction.

[2]N.S. Nash, Logistics in the Vietnam Wars, 1945-1975 (Pen & Sword Military, 2020), 63.

[3] Charles R. Shrader, A War of Logistics: Parachutes and Porters in Indochina, 1945-1954, Foreign Military Studies (University Press of Kentucky, 2015), Non-fiction, 134.

[4] “NZ Gives Arms to French,” Press, Volume LXXXVIII, Issue 26838, 17 September 1952.

[5] New Zealand Foreign Policy: Statements and Documents 1943-1957, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Wellington: Government Printer 1972).

[6] “Arms for Indo China,” Press, Volume LXXXIX, Issue 27192, 9 November 1953.

[7] “Arms Aid for Indo-China,” Press, Volume XC, Issue 27332, 24 April 1954.

[8] Roberto Giorgio Rabel, New Zealand and the Vietnam War: Politics and Diplomacy (Auckland University Press, 2005), Bibliographies, Non-fiction.

[9]“Arms Aid for Indo-China.”

National Service Reminiscences

Military conscription in New Zealand was first introduced in 1910 to build and maintain a credible force that would allow New Zealand to play its part in defence of the British Empire.  Initially intended to feed the Territorial Army, conscription was extended in 1916 to allow men to be conscripted directly into the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF). Conscription would be suspended during the lean post-Bellum years and re-established in 1940 as a wartime measure to satisfy New Zealand’s wartime personnel commitments.

New Zealand’s 1945 post-war commitments required the raising and mounting of a Division for service in the Middle East. The only way the personnel requirements for a Division could be met would be through conscription. A referendum was conducted in1949, resulting in a yes for Compulsory Military Training (CMT), which would commence in 1950.

The CMT scheme would train 63033 men up to 1958 when the Labour Government ceased CMT. In 1961 the National Government introduced a new National Service Act, which would require all males to register with the Labour Department on or before their 20th birthday. Following registration, ballots would be conducted to select individuals to undertake military training.

Training would consist of three months of initial full-time training, during which the men would be given the choice of three weeks part-time training in a Territorial unit for three years or one year’s service in a Regular Force unit. The National Service Scheme would last until 1972, when it was discontinued due to a changing social and economic environment.  

Since 1972 there has been no Military conscription in New Zealand. Since 1972 there have been many calls for the re-introduction of Military conscription to instill a sense of citizenship and discipline to reduce unemployment and youth crime. However, no major political party has made any significant policy statements on the re-introduction of military conscription.

The following are the remanences of John Mudgway, who at the age of 19, was selected by Ballot to undertake National Service as part of the first intake in 1961.

My Military Career by John Mudgway

When the National Government brought back military service in 1961 it was named National Service. We had to register with the Labour Department and the Golden Kiwi lottery marbles were used to draw certain birth dates. The “winners” of these birth dates were ordered into Waiouru Military Camp for 7 weeks basic training and were then posted to a Territorial Unit to complete their 3-year term. This was done in 3 annual camps, plus local parades. They then went to reserves for a further three years.

There was an option offered to us – which was we could serve one-year regular force and then be put on reserve for a further 3 years. I chose the latter.

Waiouru Camp
10 May 1962 – 27 June 1962

I was posted to Waiouru Military Camp and arrived on 9th May 1962, along with 549 other young lads.

Above left – Recruits leaving the train at Waiouru Camp rail siding before entering the camp to begin 14 weeks
training, at the end of which they will be posted to “Territorial Force Units.”
Right – Recruits E L McFeran (left) and R A Shaw sorting out equipment, clothing and bedding in their barrack

I did seven weeks basic training – learning the military way of life, marching, shooting, and cleaning boots and weapons etc. One lasting memory I have is of being told that – in the event of an atomic blast, lay on the ground, cover myself with my greatcoat, have no skin exposed – and I would survive!

John Mudgway (Hastings), Ned Kinita (Waipukurau)
and Robyn Gunderson (Dannevirke).

Trentham Military Camp
28 June 1962 – 9 May 1963

When I arrived in camp, RSM Ordnance Schools, School Sergeant Major Alfred Wesseldine, decided they would not run the school for just me, so I was posted direct to MT Spares for the duration of my service.

Myself (Pte John Mudgway) (on left) and Dennis Leslie Goldfinch (who retired as a WO1). We are facing the main building of MT Spares in the MOD Compound. August 1962. Behind us in part of the wavy roof building, was the Uniform Store and smoko room.
On our left is a large, grassed area that was covered in 25 pounder artillery pieces that were being cut up for scrap by a private contractor. Further to the left was the Tyre Store that “Goldie” was in charge of.

Below is the two of us in 2012 (50 years later)

During my service in RNZAOC I participated in several events.

I was part of a Guard of Honour for the Chief of the Imperial General Staff at Wellington Airport when he flew in.
I was also in a Guard of Honour for the NZ Chief of Staff at Wellington Airport when he flew in.

I was part of the street lining contingent that paraded on the streets of Wellington City for the Queen when she visited in February 11 & 12 1964. (I saw her 23 times). We drove the streets of Wellington in 2 RL Bedfords, to places in streets she was to move through, detrucked and stood at attention on the road-sides while she passed, back to the trucks and on to our next destination. She must have thought there were a lot of handsome young lads in our army.

Escorted a prisoner the Ardmore Prison, by overnight train in 1964. I was the junior escort.

I was dragged out of the barracks at 2am one morning and trucked over to Mangaroa, Whitemans Valley Tent Loft to drag tents from a burnt-out building.

One of my jobs during my service was to sit out between two of the stores buildings and empty the brass fire extinguishers that had been returned to us from all the other stores round the country. These extinguishers were filled with carbon-tetrachloride and after spraying the contents into buckets for several days we were quite “high” ourselves. I presume the brass containers went for scrap.

During my time in M T Spares I worked with Staff Sgt Kevin Anderson, Goldie of course, and Pte’s Vic Fletcher and Tammy Tamihana. Our Stores Officer was Geoff Atkinson first, then latterly Captain R G H Golightly. Our C S M was WO 1 Maurie Bull. We also had some civilian workers in our stores, one of whom was retired Sgt Bert Royal. Also there were a group of prisoners from Waitako Prison that used to come and do the “dirty jobs” that we didn’t have to do.

I also did a couple of Camp Patrols in the MOD Compound. We had to patrol the compound several times during the night and were supposed to sleep in the Gate House.

Trentham Camp 26 July 2012

Not a bad years work for a 19/20 year old Hastings lad.

581769 Private Mudgway J W.

Statistical Analysis of the RNZAOC in K Force

From 1950 to 1957, about 4700 New Zealand service personnel served with K Force, New Zealand’s contribution to the United Nations as part of the Korean War. Placed into a Commonwealth Division alongside units from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and India, the bulk of New Zealand’s soldiers served with the two core units that composed New Zealand contribution to the Commonwealth Division: 16 Field Regiment and 10 Transport Squadron. However, many men also served in the many administrative and support units required to maintain the Commonwealth Division.

As part of this administrative tail, from 1950 to 1956, the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) provided twenty-eight men who were distributed across the Ordnance Units of the Commonwealth Division in South Korea and Japan, including;[1]

  • The NZ Ordnance Section,
  • Base Ordnance Depot,
  • Ordnance Field Park and
  • Forward Ammunition Points.
British Commonwealth Forces Korea, Base Ordnance Depot, Pusan, South Korea on 2 October 1952. The RAOC are in the dark berets, the RCOC in the ski caps, the RAAOC sport their familiar slouch hats and the RNZAOC are in the light-coloured uniforms.

K Force was an emergency force raised by calling for volunteers from New Zealand’s Regular Force and Civil population, with 5982 men volunteering.[2] It was a mixture of Regular Soldiers, World War Two Veterans and Civilians with little military experience. This article provides a statistical analysis of the twenty-eight RNZAOC men who served in K Force from 1950 to 1956.

The RNZAOC contribution consisted of.

  • Fourteen men already serving in the RNZAOC, comprising of.
    • Eleven Other Ranks and
    • Three Officers
  • Fourteen direct civilian entries into K Force.


The Twenty-Eight RNZAOC Men did not all serve in K Force at the same time. The peak of the RNZAOC contribution was in December 1952, when fifteen RNZAOC men were serving in K Force.

The Average annual strength of the RNZAOC in K Force was.

  • 1950 – Six men
  • 1951 – Six men
  • 1952 – Twelve men
  • 1953 – Thirteen men
  • 1954 – Twelve men
  • 1955 – Five men
  • 1956 – One man

Length of RNZAOC Service in K Force

The Average RNZAOC service in K Force was One Year and Five Months

  • The shortest length of service in K Force by an RNZAOC soldier was ten months
  • Twenty RNZAOC Soldiers served in K Force for two years or less
  • Five RNZAOC Soldiers served in K Force for three years or less
  • Two RNZAOC Soldiers served in K Force for four years or less
  • One RNZAOC Soldier served in K Force for four years and four months


On Deploying to Korea, the RNZAOC K Force soldier’s average age was twenty eight years of age. The youngest RNZAOC Soldiers were twenty-one years of age, and the oldest was thirty-eight years of age.

The break down of ages of RNZAOC Soldiers on deployment to K Force was;

  • 21 – Six Soldiers
  • 22– One Soldier
  • 23– Two Soldiers
  • 24– Four Soldiers
  • 25– One Soldier
  • 26– One Soldier
  • 27– Two Soldiers
  • 28– Four Soldiers
  • 29– Three Soldiers
  • 30– Two Soldiers
  • 31– One Soldier
  • 37– One Soldier

Martial Status

Of the Twenty eight men that served in K Force, only one man was married.

Military Experience

Fourteen had WW2 Service in the following forces

  • Seven in the RNZAF
  • One in the NZASC and RNZAF
  • Two in 28 Bn of the 2nd NZEF
  • One in the British Army
  • One in the British and Indian Armies
  • Two in the Australian Army

Seven had served in the immediate Post War Period with the British Occupation Forces in Japan (BCOF)

  • Six with New Zealands J Force
  • One with the Australian Army

One had completed Compulsory Military Training (CMT)

Three had no military experience.

The fourteen men who were regular RNZAOC Officers and Soldiers had Regular Force service from 1947;

  • One from 1947
  • Nine from 1949
  • Four from 1951

Civilian Occupations

The Civilian Occupations of the Civilian RNZAOC K Force recruits were;

  • One Clerk
  • One Freezing Worker
  • One General Duties Worker, Hydro Dept
  • One Grocery Manager
  • One Labourer
  • One Mill Worker
  • One Painter
  • One Railway Porter
  • One Shop Assistant
  • Three storeman
  • Two  with Occupations Not State

Military Service After K Force

On completion of service with K Force, some men remained in the military, others returned to their civilian occupations.

Of the Fourteen Regular Force RNZAOC men who served in K Force;

  • The three Officers remained in the Army as career officers.
    • Patrick William Rennison – Retired as a Major in 1958.
    • Geoffrey John Hayes Atkinson – Retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1972.
    • John Barrie Glasson – Retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1972.
  • Barry Stewart remained a career soldier in the RNZAOC, retiring as a Captain in 1982
  • Thomas Allan (Tom) Hill remained a career soldier in the RNZEME, retiring as a Warrant Officer Class One in 1982
  • Desmond Mervyn (Des) Kerslake remained in the RNZAOC until 1961
  • Six soldiers took their discharge on completion of their 5-year engagement
    • Leonard Ferner (Len) Holder
    • Owen (Chook) Fowell
    • Neville Wallace Beard
    • James Adams (Snowy) Donaldson
    • Richard John Smart
    • Edward Tanguru
  • Two soldiers took their discharge on payment before the end of their 5-year engagement.
    • Keith Robert Meynell Gamble
    • Harold Ernest Strange (Harry) Fry

Of the fourteen civilians who joined the RNZAOC for service in K Force.

  • Twelve did not pursue military careers.
    • Dennis Arthur Astwood
    • Wiremu Matenga
    • Bruce Jerome Berney
    • Thomas Joseph Fitzsimons
    • Gane Cornelius Hibberd
    • James Russell Don
    • James Ivo Miller
    • Gordon Winstone East
    • Alexander George Dobbins
    • Abraham Barbara
    • John Neil Campbell
    • Philip Hayhurst (Tony) Kirkman
  • Joseph James Enright Cates joined the RNZAOC, retiring as a Sergeant in 1978
  • Ernest Radnell entered the Australian Army.

This is just an initial snapshot of the RNZAOC men that served in K Force from 1950 to 1956 and provides a start point for further research into this very small yet essential component of K Force.


[1] Howard E. Chamberlain, The New Zealand Korea Roll : honouring those who served in the New Zealand Armed Forces in Korea 1950-1957 ([Waikanae]: Howard Chamberlain, 2013).

[2] Michael King, New Zealanders at war, Rev. and updated ed ed. (Penguin, 2003), Non-fiction, 277.

Rickshaw Military Research

Rickshaw Military Research specialises in the research and transcription of New Zealand Military Service Records to allow families to learn of their families military experience in peace and war. Services offered by Rickshaw Military Research include;

  • Interpretation of military records,
  • Assistance with military research,
  • Identification of medals, badges and insignia, and sourcing of replacements.
  • Regiment and unit identification.

Often, descendants of New Zealand Servicemen have some inkling that their ancestors served in the military. Knowledge of a relative’s service will often be a source of pride with some evidence such as photos of the relative in uniform, medals, unit badges, diaries, and other souvenirs existing. However, for many, any connection to their relative’s military service is long-forgotten and a mystery. For some, the only link to a relative is an inscription on one of New Zealand’s many War Memorials.

For all those interested in discovering more about their ancestors military service, accessing the individual’s service record and understanding what is written in it can be a daunting exercise,first in gaining the service record and then interpreting the peculiar language used by the military and making sense of the many abbreviations used, reading a service record often leads to more questions than answers.

Rickshaw Military Research provides a service where we work with the family and after some preliminary questions, access the relevant military service record from the archives and produce a transcript of the relative’s service record into an easy to read format, including;

  • Personal details of the individual.
  • Brief description of activities prior and after service.
  • Record of service, from enlistment to demobilisation, including;
    • Formations/Units served in.
    • Campaigns and battles that were participated in.
    • Locations visited.
  • Record of Promotions.
  • Record of Illness and Injuries.
  • Records of medals and awards, including citations.
  • Brief description of post-service activities.
  • Illustrations will be provided where possible and could include;
    • Photos of the serviceman.
    • Medals.
    • Badges and patches worn.
    • Maps.
    • Equipment used, i.e. if a serviceman was a tank driver, an illustration of the type of tank driven.

Services offered

Pre 1921 Records

Service records prior to 1921 including the South Africa and First World War.

  • Basic one-page summary of service: $100*
    • Basic service information from attestation to discharge edited to fit on a single A4 sheet.
  • Full transcript of service : $250*
    • Transcript of service relating to target serviceman with additional information on units served in and campaigns participated in presented as a booklet or interactive Web App.

Post 1921 Records

Service records from 1921 including the Second World War, Korea, Malaya, Borneo, South Vietnam, CMT & National Service, Peacekeeping and Territorial and Regular service in New Zealand)

  • Basic one-page summary of service: $150*
    • Basic service information from attestation to discharge edited to fit on a single A4 sheet.
  • Full transcript of service : $300*
    • Transcript of service relating to target serviceman with additional information on units served in and campaigns participated in presented as a booklet or interactive Web App.

Other Research

Other research outside the scope of researching Personnel Records is charged at a rate of NZD$30 per hour.

*All prices are GST inclusive.

Interested in knowing more? Feel free to contact Rickshaw Military Research and let us know how we can assist.

RNZAOC 1 April 1959 to 31 March 1960

This would be a significant period for the RNZAOC. The RNZAOC School would be established, and challenges with officer recruitment identified. This period would also see the fruition of plans to re-shape the Army into a modern and well-equipped Army with the first tranches of new equipment arriving to replace much of the legacy wartime equipment.

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Temporary Lieutenant Colonel H. McK. Reid

Chief Inspecting Ordnance Officer

  • Major JW Marriot

Officer Commanding Main Ordnance Depot

  • Major Harry White, from 1 May 1959


  • Chief Instructor – Major Harry White
  • Regimental Sergeant Major – Warrant Officer Class One Alfred Wesseldine

2nd Battalion, the New Zealand Regiment

Reformed at Waiouru in July 1959, the 2nd Battalion of the New Zealand Regiment would undertake workup and training that would see the Battalion deploy to Malaya in November 1959 to relieve the 1st Battalion. To enable the 2nd Battalion to conduct its training and work up the RNZAOC would equip the Battalion for the ground up with its necessary entitlement of equipment from existing holdings.

Establishment of RNZOAC School

Upper Hutt City Library (29th Jan 2020). Trentham Camp; Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps School sign.. In Website Upper Hutt City Library. Retrieved 14th Jul 2020 11:51, from

Under discussion by the Army Board since 1956, the RNZAOC School was established in September 1959. Established within the Peacetime Establishment of the Main Ordnance Depot, the RNZAOC School would be under HQ Ordnance Services’ direct control and independent of the Army Schools.[1]

The initial school organisation would be.

  • A Headquarters,
    • Chief Instructor – Major Harry White
    • School Sergeant Major – Warrant Officer Class One Wesseldine
  • Ammunition Wing
  • Stores and Vehicle Wing

The function of the RNZAOC School would be to run courses and training for RF and TF personnel of the RNZAOC, including

  • Star Classification Courses – particularly for Storeman/Clerks RNZAOC and Ammunition Examiners.
  • Promotion courses for both officers and ORs.
  • Recruit training RNZAOC Personnel, including Recruit training for Group 2 personnel.
  • Advanced training for both officers and ORs, in all types of Ordnance activities.
  • Technical training in ordnance subjects, e.g. Inspecting Ordnance Officer courses.
  • Preservations and packing etc.
  • Refresher training for qualified personnel.
  • Other course notified in the annual Forecast of Courses.

Additionally, as directed by DOS, the RNZAOC School was required to.

  • Plan and hold conferences and training exercises.
  • Draft procedure instructions.
  • Test, or comment on new procedures, materials, or equipment.
  • Research various aspects of Ordnance activities.

The first course conducted by the RNZAOC School would be an Instructors Course conducted in late 1959.

First Instructors Course, 1959. Chief Instructor Major Harry White is seated 3rd from left. Officer in the front Centre id Makor K.G Cropp. Robert Mckie RNZAOC Collection

Officer Shortfall

 A forecast of the planned retirement of RNZAOC Officers up to 1962 showed that Seventeen officers would be retiring. Up to this period, the principal means of filling RNZAOC officer posts had been thru the commissioning of Other Ranks with Quartermaster Commissions, with only three officers joining the RNZAOC as Officers since November 1956. When the planned Officer retirements had been balanced against the RNZAOC officer establishment, it was found that the RNZAOC was deficient six Officers with two significant problems identified.

  • The RNZAOC Officer Corps was becoming a Corps of old men, with 83% of Officers in the 39 to 54 age group
  • The RNZAOC Other Ranks Structure was denuded of the best SNCO’s and Warrant Officers.

To rectify the situation, the following recommendations were made.

  • The RNZAOC press for an increased intake from Duntroon and Portsea of graduates to the RNZAOC.
  • Suitable officers no older than 30 years of age, and in the two to four-year Lieutenant bracket, be encouraged to change Corps to the RNZAOC.
  • Further commissioning of QM officers be strongly resisted unless there was no other alternative.


Over the period 1 -3 September 1959, DOS hosted a conference at Army HQ for the District DADOS, Officer Commanding MOD, and the Ordnance Directorate members. The general agenda of the meeting included.[2]

  • Local purchase of stores by DADOS
  • Training of group 2 Personnel
  • RNZAOC School
  • Provision Problems
  • Surplus Stores
  • Personnel – postings and promotions
    • DADOS and OC MOD were required to provide in duplicate, personnel lists by unit containing.
      • Regimental No, rank, and name
      • Marital Status
      • Establishment statue, either PES, CSS or HSS
      • Present posting
  • Purchases for RF Brigade Group
  • District Problems

Small Arms Ammunition

The 7.62mm rifle introduction would require the Colonial Ammunitions Company to convert manufacture from the current 303 calibre to the new 7.62mm calibre. The CAC had been the supplier of Small Arms Ammunition to the Defence Force since 1888 and to maintain this long relationship had purchased and installed the required tools and machinery to allow the production of 7.62 ammunition, with the first production run completed during this period. Although the NZ Army had sufficient stocks of .303 ammunition for the foreseeable future, CAC would retain the capability to manufacture 303 ammunition if required.

Introduction of New Equipment

As new equipment was introduced, the RNZAOC would play an essential role in the acceptance processes. Upon delivery from the supplier, the equipment, accessories, and spares would be received into the Main Ordnance Depot. The equipment would be inspected and kitted out with all its accessories before distribution to units. Several examples may have been retained in RNZAOC Depots as War Reserve/Repair and Maintenance Stock depending on the equipment. Maintenance stocks of accessories and spares were maintained as operating stock in RNZAOC depots. If the new equipment contained a weapon system, ammunition specific to the equipment was managed by RNZAOC Ammunition Depots. During this period, the following equipment was introduced into service;[3]

  • 110 Land Rover Series 2a 109.
  • 144 Truck 3-Ton Bedford RL, 48 fitted with winch
  • 3 Ferret Mark 1/1 Scout Car
  • 270 Wireless Sets. C45 – VHF transceiver,
  • 2000 9mm Sub Machine Gun Sterling Mk4 L2A3.
  • 500 7.62 mm Self Loading Rifle, L1A1 (SLR).


The Clothing and Equipment Committee accepted as the basic training uniform for New Zealand soldiers in all conditions in NZ to be;

  • Boots (Fory types under trial and development)
  • Anklets (Australian pattern)
  • Shirt (light wool)
  • Trouser ( Green drill material cut to UK pattern)
  • Hat (Jungle Type)


In August 1958 a new disposal organisation was established within the Army to manage the declaration and disposal of surplus and obsolete equipment. Since August 1959 over 9000 lines covering thousands of items had been declared to the Government Stores Board for Disposal through this new disposal’s organisation.

Ammunition Disposal

The disposal of dangerous or obsolete ammunition continued with over 900 tons of obsolete ammunition dumped at sea. An additional 130,000 rounds of dangerous artillery ammunition were destroyed by burning or detonation. 

Where possible the maximum amount of recyclable metal was salvaged, with around £10000 (2020 NZ$243,276) received for the scrap and containers sold.[4]

Ration Packs

Following successful user trials, the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) assembled 24000 one-person 24-hour ration packs during 1959. Along with new solid fuel cookers, these new ration packs were extensively used by the 2nd Battalion the NZ Regiment in the build-up Training for Malaya and the Territorial Force during the Annual Camp.

Shooting Competition

Staff Sergeant I.G Campbell, RNZAOC was selected by the National Rifle Association as a team member representing New Zealand at 91st Annual Prize Meeting at Bisley in the United Kingdom, 4- 20 July 1960.

Award of Army Sports Colours

In recognition of his contribution to Army Sport, Major D.E Roderick of Auckland was a recipient of the 1960 Army Sports Colours. Major Roderick has represented Army at cricket, hockey and badminton and was instrumental in developing the sports facilities at Trentham Camp. Within the RNZAOC Major Roderick had been a long-term member of the Upper Hutt Cricket Club and a player and administrator of the MOD Cricket team. [5]

Honours and Awards

British Empire Medal

Sergeant (Temporary Staff Sergeant) Maurice William Loveday, Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Regular Force), of Trentham.[6]

Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, Resignations, and Retirements of Officers of the RNZAOC

Regular Force

  • Major Ronald Geoffrey Patrick O’Connor is transferred to the Reserve of Officers, General List, Royal NZ Army Ordnance, in Major’s rank, 4 May 1959.[7]
  • Major and Quartermaster K. A. Bailey, M.M., having reached retiring age for rank, is transferred to the Supernumerary list, and granted an extension of his engagement until 12 January 1960, 11 August 1959.[8]
  • Captain Frederick George Cross is transferred to the Reserve of Officers, General List, Royal NZAOC, in the rank of Captain, 1 September 1959. [9]
  • Captain L. C. King is re-engaged for a period of one year, as from 4 October 1959.[10]
  • Captain (temp. Major) J. Harvey relinquishes the temporary rank of Major, 6 March 1960.[11]

Regular Force (Supernumerary List)

  • Major and Quartermaster K. A. Bailey, MM., is granted an extension of his engagement for one year from 13 January 1960.[12]
  • Captain and Quartermaster S. H. E. Bryant is re-engaged for one year as from 28 October 1959.[13]
  • Captain and Quartermaster R. P. Kennedy, E.D., is re-engaged for a period of one year as from 13 April 1960.[14]
  • Lieutenant and Quartermaster George Witherman McCullough is posted to the Retired List, 12 February 1960.[15]
  • 2nd Lieutenant J. T. Skedden to be Lieutenant, 12 December 1959.[16]
  • Lieutenant and Quartermaster R. H. Colwill to be temporary Captain and Quartermaster, 9 February 1960.[17]

Territorial Force

  • Captain Keith Stothard Brown relinquishes the appointment of OC, Technical Stores Platoon, 1st Divisional Ordnance Field Park, RNZAOC and is posted to the Retired List, 4 August 1959.[18]

Reserve of Officers

  • Captain Hugo Sarginsone posted to the Retired List, 10 July 1959.[19]
  • Captain Noel Lester Wallburton posted to the Retired List, 10 August 1959.[20]
  • Captain Sidney Paxton Stewart posted to the Retired List, I September 1959. [21]
  • Major Percival Nowell Erridge, MBE posted to the Retired List, 25 December 1959.[22]
  • Major Alexander Basil Owen Herd, from the British Regular Army Reserve· of Officers, to be Major, 3 October I 959.[23]
  • Major Frank Owen L’Estrange, from the British Regular Army Reserve of Officers, to be Major, 11 November 1959.[24]
  • Captain Cyril Peter Derbyshire, from the British Regular Army Reserve of Officers, to be Captain, 1 January 1960.[25]

Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, Resignations, and Retirements of Warrant Officers, Senior Non-Commissioned Officers, and men of the RNZAOC

Regular Force

  • H594833 Private David Orr NZ Regiment Transferred into the RNZAOC, November 1959.
  • B31685 Staff Sergeant Ian McDonald Russell promoted to Temporary Warrant Officer Class Two, 23 June 1959.


[1] “Charter for the Rnzaoc School,”  in Organisation – Policy and General – RNZAOC (Archives New Zealand No R173115371960); Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 176-77, 252.

[2] Conferences – Ordnance Officers, Item Id R17188101 (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, 1950).

[3] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1959 to 31 March 1960,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1960).

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Army Sports Colours,” Upper Hutt Leader, Volume XVII, Number 11, 24 March 1960.

[6] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 35, 18 June 1959.

[7] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 31, 28 May 1959.

[8] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 56, 17 September 1959.

[9] Ibid.

[10] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 59, 1 October 1959.

[11] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 23, 7 April 1960.

[12] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 63, 22 October 1959.

[13] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 68, 4 November 1959.

[14] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 4, 21 January 1960.

[15] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 15, 3 March 1960.

[16] Ibid.

[17] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 41, 7 July 1960.

[18] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”

[19] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 51, 27 August 1959.

[20] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 53, 3 September 1959.

[21] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”

[22] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”

[23] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 70, 19 November 1959.

[24] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 78, 17 December 1959.

[25] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 8, 11 February 1960.

RNZAOC 1 April 1957 to 31 March 1958

This period would see the RNZAOC continue to support Regular, Territorial and Compulsory Military Training. This period would also see the formation and deployment to the 1st Battalion, the New Zealand Regiment to Malaya

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Temporary Lieutenant Colonel H. McK. Reid from 1 April 1957.[1]

Commanding Officer Main Ordnance Depot

  • Major O.H Burn

Inspecting Ordnance Officer, Northern Military District

  • Captain J.H Doone, from 19 July 1957.

Inspecting Ordnance Officer, Southern Military District

  • Captain E.D Gerrard, from 19 July 1957.

Compulsory Military Training

During this period three CMT intakes marched in with the RNZAOC recruits posted to 1 (NZ) Division Ordnance Field Park on completion of initial training;[2]

  • 24th intake of 1775av recruits on 2 May 1957
  • 25th intake of 1300av recruits on 22 August 1957
  • 26th intake of 1300av recruits on 3 January 1958

1st Battalion, the New Zealand Regiment

Reformed at Waiouru in July 1957, the 1st Battalion of the New Zealand Regiment would undertake workup and training that would see the Battalion deploy on operations in Malaya on 28 November 1957.[3]

The RNZAOC would equip the Battalion from the ground up with its necessary entitlement of equipment provided from existing holdings, including Eighty-Nine vehicles and trailers. However £59000 (2020 NZD $ $2,999,351.94) was expended to procure additional theatre specific items not held in the New Zealand inventory from the United Kingdom authorities in Malaya.[4]

In addition to providing the stores and equipment for the Battalion, RNZAOC Officer Major Jack Harvey was seconded to the 1st Battalion NZ Regiment for the duration of its Malaya tour as the Officer Commanding of C Company. [5]

Major Jack Harvey, RNZAOC Officer Commanding C Company, 1st Battalion, New Zealand Regiment, 1957-59

Members of the 1st Battalion who would later serve with the RNZAOC included;

  • Brian Crafts
  • David Orr

Fiji Military Forces

Warrant Officer Class One Murray Alexander Burt was posted on 15 July 1957, on an accompanied posting with his family to the New Zealand Cadre at Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Suva. WO1 Burt and Family would depart Auckland on the Union Steam Ship Company vessel the MV Tofus on 31 August 1957. WO1 Burt would return to New Zealand on 15 December 1959 and be posted to Hopuhopu camp.[6]


A new Service Dress uniform similar to the Officer pattern Service Dress was approved for Other Ranks by the Army Board in 1954  had is design finalised and placed into production during this period. This uniform’s approval satisfied a long-standing requirement for a ceremonial and walking out order of dress to replace the existing Battle Dress.[7]

Manufacture of the new uniforms was well advanced by closing this period with the District Ordnance Depots in a position to issue the new uniforms by the end of 1958.

With this new Service Dress uniform, Battle Dress would become winter working dress with Khaki Drill the summer working dress.

Other Ranks Service Dress


The demolition of the 17000 rounds of unsafe 3.7inch Anti Aircraft Ammunition that had been initiated in June 1955 was concluded in December 1957. The destruction had proceeded without incident with the local residences thanked for their considerable forbearance in putting up with the noise of explosions nearly every day.

During this period, demolitions were also successfully conducted at the Makomako Ammunition area to dispose of a large quantity obsolete and unsafe ammunition and explosives.[8]

Move of Central Districts Vehicle Depot to Linton

The move of the Central Districts Vehicle Depot (CDVD) was planned to occur during 1958. Before the move could happen, adequate storage had to be constructed at Linton Camp, and this was to be achieved by re-locating war surplus buildings from other locations. By June 1957 the second “W” Type prefabricated building for the CDVD was re-located from Fort Dorset to Linton Camp.[9]

Construction Of New Ordnance Depot for Linton Camp

Since its establishment in 1946, the Central Districts Ordnance Depots had occupied accommodation buildings in the North West corner of Linton Camp in what had initially been the wartime RNZAF Base Linton. Two additional warehouses had been assembled in 1949; however, storage space remained at a premium. In June 1957 Army HQ authorised the expenditure of £100 (2020 NZ$5,059.84) to conduct a preliminary site investigation for a new Ordnance Depot for Linton Camp. Given the deficiencies of adequate Storage accommodation and the erection of buildings for the CDVD, the Linton Camp Command issued instructions that the CDOD were not to utilise the new buildings, even temporarily as this would become permanent and prejudice the business case for constructing a new Ordnance Depot.[10]

Honours and Awards

Meritorious Service Medal

  • Warrant Officer Class One Bernard Percy Banks, 13 June 1957. [11]
  • Warrant Officer Class One Athol Gilroy McCurdy, 10 October 1957. [12]

Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, Resignations, and Retirements of Officers of the RNZAOC

Regular Force

  • Regular Force Major H. McK. Reid to be temp. Lieutenant-Colonel, and is appointed Director of Ordnance Services, dated 1 April 1957.[13]
  • Captain E.C Green, MBE, is re-engaged for one year, as from 1 April 1957.[14]
  • Lieutenant-Colonel F. Reid, OBE, relinquished Director of Ordnance Services’ appointment, pending retirement, 31 March 1957.[15]
  • Captain P.N Erridge, MBE., transferred to the Reserve of Officers, General List, The Royal N.Z. Army Ordnance Corps, in the rank of Major, 2 May 1957.[16]
  • Captain A.B West to be Major, 1 July 1957,[17]
  • Lieutenant F.G Cross to be Captain,  13 August 1957.[18]
  • Lieutenant Colonel F Reid, O.B.E., posted to the Retired List, 16 August 1957.[19]
  • Captain H.P White to be Major. Dated 18 October 1957.[20]
  • Captain and Quartermaster R.P Kennedy, E.D., granted an extension of his engagement for a period of one year as from 13 April 1958.[21]
  • Captain (Temporary Major) F.A Bishop to be Major. Dated 12 December 1957.[22]
  • Lieutenant and Quartermaster (on probation) L.E Autridge is confirmed in his present rank and seniority.[23]
  • Lieutenant and Quartermaster (on probation) 0.C Prouse is confirmed in his present rank and seniority.[24]
  • Lieutenant and Quartermaster (on probation) D.H Rollo, MBE., is confirmed in his present rank and seniority.[25]

Regular Force (Supernumerary List)

  • Captain and Quartermaster R.P Kennedy, E.D, re-engaged in the Regular Force for one year from 13 April 1957.[26]
  • Captain and Quartermaster E.R. Hancock posted to the Retired List, 30 March 1957.[27]
  • Major and Quartermaster I.S. Miller, E.D., is posted to the Retired List, 20 April 1957.[28]
  • Captain and Quartermaster G.A Perry, E.D.,  re-engaged for one year from 1 April 1957.[29]
  • Captain and Quartermaster A.A Barwick posted to the Retired List, 3 August 1957.[30]
  • Captain and Quartermaster A Gollan granted an extension of his engagement for one year, as from 19 December 1957.[31]

Reserve of Officers

  • Lieutenant-Colonel Maurice Salam Myers. posted to the Retired List, 1 January 1958.[32]

Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, Resignations, and Retirements of Warrant Officers, Senior Non-Commissioned Officers and men of the RNZAOC

Regular Force

  • 31266 Warrant Officer Class One, Cyril Austin Baigent to be Lieutenant and Quartermaster, 15 July 1957.[33]
  • 33297 Warrant Officer Class Two, Henry Williamson to be Lieutenant and Quartermaster, 15 July 1957.[34]
  • 33635 Warrant Officer Class Two, William Edwin Smith to be Lieutenant and Quartermaster, 15 July 1957.[35]
  • 31261 Staff Sergeant Ernest Maurice Alexander Bull, Promoted to Warrant Officer Class Two, 30 October 1957.[36]
  • 31257 Warrant Officer Class Two  Murray Alexander Burt, Promoted to Warrant Officer Class One, 15 July 1957.[37]
  • B31695 Sergeant Ian McDonald Russell promoted to Staff Sergeant, 23 April 1957.[38]


[1] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 35, 2 May 1957.

[2] Peter Cooke, Fit to Fight. Compulsory Military Training and National Service in New Zealand 1949-72 (Auckland: David Ling Publishing, 2013), 539.

[3] Brian Clamp and Doreen Clamp, 1st Battalion the New Zealand Regiment (1957-59) Association 50th Anniversary. The First of the First (B. Clamp, 2007), Non-fiction.

[4] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1957 to 31 March 1958,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1958).

[5] Clamp and Clamp, 1st Battalion the New Zealand Regiment (1957-59) Association 50th Anniversary. The First of the First.

[6] Howard E. Chamberlain, Service Lives Remembered : The Meritorious Service Medal in New Zealand and Its Recipients, 1895-1994 ([Wellington, N.Z.]: H. Chamberlain, 1995), 69-70.

[7] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1957 to 31 March 1958.”

[8] Ibid.

[9] John Mitchell, Buildings, Linton Camp, Central Ordnance Depot, Item Id R9428308 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1955 – 1968 ).

[10] Ibid.

[11] Chamberlain, Service Lives Remembered : The Meritorious Service Medal in New Zealand and Its Recipients, 1895-1994.

[12] Ibid., 283.

[13] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”

[14] Ibid.

[15] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 38, 16 May 1957.

[16] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 42, 30 May 1957.

[17] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 45, 1 August 1957.

[18] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 62, 29 August 1957.

[19] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 66, 12 September 1957.

[20] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 3, 16 January 1958.

[21] Ibid.

[22] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 13, 20 February 1958.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 27, 4 April 1957.

[27] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”

[28] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”

[29] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 46, 20 June 1957.

[30] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”

[31] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 86, 14 November 1957.

[32] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”

[33] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 60, 15 August 1957.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Chamberlain, Service Lives Remembered : The Meritorious Service Medal in New Zealand and Its Recipients, 1895-1994.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid., 410-11.