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.

The RNZCT Lanyard

On 12 May 1979, Officers and Soldiers of the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) marched onto paraded grounds on camps and bases across New Zealand and Singapore for the final time as the RNZASC was disbanded and its officers and soldiers split up between the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) and the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT). Following a short ceremony, the RNZASC Butchers, Petroleum Operators and Suppliers exchanged their RNZASC Badges and Stable belts for those of the RNZAOC. The RNZASC Cooks, Drivers, Movements Operators and Stewards, while retaining the RNZASC Stable belt, exchanged their RNZASC cap badge for the new cap badge of the RNZCT and, in recognition of the contribution and history of the RNZASC, fitted on their left shoulder a new gold and blue lanyard. Marching off with a renewed sense of elan, the soldiers of the RNZCT would wear their gold and blue lanyard with pride for the next seventeen years. However, in the years since the RNZCT Lanyard was last worn, its origins have become clouded between myth and reality, which this article will correct.

The word lanyard originates from the French word ‘lanière’, which means ‘strap’, with accounts from the late 15th century French describing how soldiers and privateers utilised ropes and cords found on ships to keep their swords, cutlasses and pistols close at hand whilst working in ships’ rigging and during combat. As with any functional military kit, lanyards evolved, with French Cuirassiers using a braided lanyard to hold their swords in place, with adoption by most militaries following. In British use, lanyards became common, used to attach pistols to uniforms, and Gunners used them to fire Artillery. In widespread use for practical purposes, the adoption of lanyards as a decorative uniform item soon followed, with coloured lanyards denoting regiments and Corps and gold lanyards used to identify senior officers.

The lanyard that the RNZCT adopted was based on the United Kingdom’s Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) lanyard that was worn until the disestablishment of the RASC in 1965. A twisted core lanyard with gold and blue strands with button loops and fixed knots at both ends, its origins have become lost to history, and some separation of myth from reality is required.

G4 – Lanyard. Royal Army Service Corps. Blue and yellow Listed 1954 as Cat No CC 1463.:

Many myths surrounding the RASC lanyards are based on the supposed withdrawal of the Royal Artillery at some unknown battle, with the guns saved by either the RASC (or its earlier equivalents), Royal Engineers, or even the Ordnance Corps. With the guns saved, the Royal Artillery was made to wear a white lanyard, and the Corps that came to the rescue were awarded the privilege of wearing a coloured lanyard. The problem with this myth is that the British Army is an institution steeped in tradition and commemorates its victories and defeats in equal measure, and there is no supporting historical evidence of such an event happening. Although it does make for great barrack-room and mess banter between regiments and Corps, it is similar to the myth of the cannon balls being larger than the cannons placed on the Ordnance cap badge as a mark of shame due to a historic logistic cock up. Like the Ordnance badge, the explanation for the colours on the RASC lanyard is purely heraldic.

The heraldic origins of the RASC lie with the Board of Ordnance, whose colours were Red, Gold and Blue. A British government body established in the Tudor period, the Board of Ordnance’s primary responsibilities were to manage the lands, depots and forts required for the defence of the realm and its overseas possessions, supply munitions and equipment to both the Army and the Navy and maintain and direct the Artillery and Engineer corps. Through the Board of Ordnance. The RASC had a common background with the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers and Royal Army Ordnance Corps. The ASC’s roots as a uniformed military organisation can be traced to the Royal Waggoners.

Established in 1794 and then disbanded in 1799, the Royal Waggoners were reformed in 1802 as the Royal Waggon Train (RWT). Serving with distinction throughout the Napoleonic Wars, the regimental colours of the RWT were white and blue, which featured on the headdress, collars and cuff of the RWT uniform.

Corporal of the Royal Waggon Train,1815 Identifying the soldier as a member of the Royal Waggon Train are the White and Blue regimental cap or ‘chaco’, Collar and cuffs.

The RWT was disbanded in 1833, with its Supply functions (food, forage and Fuel) assumed by the Commissariat. Tarnished by its poor performance during the war in Crimea, the Board of Ordnance was disbanded in 1855. This resulted in the reorganisation of the British Army’s Logistic functions, including the resurrection of the transport functions of the RWT as the Land Transport Corps, which was then renamed the Military Train in 1856.[1] The provision of arms, ammunition and other critical stores was the responsibility of the Military Store Department which in turn would evolve into the Army Ordnance Corps. By 1864, the Commissariat and Military Train uniforms were both blue, with the Military Train continuing the tradition established by the RWT, with its uniform facings (collars, Cuffs and linings) being White.[2]

During the New Zealand Wars, the Commissariat, Military Train and Military Store Department all provided their respective specialist logistic functions in support of Imperial and Colonial units until the final withdrawal of imperial Forces from New Zealand in 1870. From 1869 to 1911, the Defence Stores Department coordinated supply and Transport functions required by the New Zealand Forces.

The Officers of the Commissariat, Military Train and Military Store Department were combined in 1869 into the Control Department, with the other ranks of the three branches combined into the Army Service Corps (ASC). A short-lived experiment in amalgamation, the Control Department was abolished in 1875 and replaced by the Commissariat Transport Department and Ordnance Store Department. In 1880 the Commissariat Transport Department was renamed the Commissariat and Transport Staff, with the ASC split into the Commissariat and Transport Corps and Ordnance Store Corps in 1881. The Commissariat and Transport Staff and Corps retained the Blue and White uniform distinctions with the 1883 Dress regulations noting that lace and cord fittings were to be gold.[3]  In December 1888, the Commissariat and Transport Staff and the Commissariat and Transport Corp amalgamated into a new ASC, with, for the first time, officers and other ranks serving in a single unified organisation. The ASC retained blue and white as its regimental colours, and in recognition of the service provided by the ASC in its first South Africa campaign, gold was included as part of the ASC regimental colours to “represent the gold lace on the tunic and to impart character, distinctiveness and greater beauty”.[4]

In ASC use, lanyards were generally only worn by personnel of Horse Transport companies to carry hoof picks. In 1899, ASC Corps Order 39 permitted Field Glasses and Whistles to be worn and carried by ASC officers. The pattern of the whistle to be used was the same pattern used by the Metropolitan Police attached to a silk lanyard, the colour of the frock, which by this stage was Khaki.[5]

As a result of its service during the First World War, in 1918, the ASC received the “Royal” prefix becoming the RASC and was divided into Transport and Supply Branches.

From 1940 all British army vehicles were allocated Arm of Service (AoS) markings. Located on the offside front bumper or nearby and repeated on the offside rear, the AoS sign was a 9 in (23 cm) square with a background colour specific to each AoS. In the case of the RASC, the AoS sign was diagonal red over green. White digits explained the individual units within that AoS. Adopted by all commonwealth ASC units, including the NZASC, the RASC red over green AoS sign remained in British use until 1950, when replaced by a blue and gold sign.

RASC AoS Signs Red and Green – 1940-50: Bule and Gold – 1950 -1965

In 1941, the British Army introduced coloured AoS strips to be worn on both arms of the Battle Dress uniform, with the primary colour facing forward. The RASC AoS strip was gold and blue, with blue facing forward on both arms. The RASC adopted the RASC AoS Battledress colours for the RASC lanyard, which was approved for wear by all ranks on 1 June 1950.[6]

The RASC continued to wear a gold and blue lanyard until its Supply functions were absorbed by the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC), and its Transport functions reformed into the RCT in 1965.[7] With the RASC gold and blue lanyard retired, the RCT adopted a blue lanyard.[8] A further evolution to British Army logistics occurred in 1993whern the RCT, the RAOC, the Army Catering Corps, The Royal Engineers Postal and Courier Service, and the Royal Pioneer Corps were all disbanded and reformed as the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC). With each foundation Corps of the RLC having values, traditions and dress embellishments, many compromises were made to carry as many as possible into the RLC. For example, the RAOC appointment of the Conductor was retained as a whole of RLC appointment. In the case of the RASC lanyard, it was also retained as the RLC lanyard.[9]

Following the departure of the Imperial Forces from New Zealand, the Defence Stores Department coordinated the Supply and Transport requirements of the New Zealand Forces. Based on the lessons of the War in South Africa, the Defence Act of 1909 laid the framework for a significant reorganisation of New Zealand’s Military Forces, including the formation of the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC) on 12 May 1910 to be organised and trained by ASC Captain Henry Owen Knox.[10] Appointed as a Lieutenant Colonel in New Zealand’s Military Forces, Knox grew and shaped the NZASC in the years leading up to the First World War.

With the New Zealand Forces adopting a standard Khaki field service uniform, a system of distinguishing colour piping on cuffs, collars and epaulettes was introduced with GHQ Circular 10 of 2 February 1911 identifying white as the NZASC colour. The Dress Regulations of 1912 reinforced white as the NZASC distinguishing colour, expanding its use to stripes on trousers, forages caps and puggarees on felt slouch hats.[11]  The use of white piping on Khaki uniforms ceased during World War One. However, the NZASC Khaki/White/Khaki puggaree remained in use until 1960, when the Lemon squeezer hat and Corps puggaree was replaced by the Cap Battledress (Cap BD).

New Zealand Army Service Corps Puggaree. Robert McKie collection

During the Second World War, white continued to be the colour used on NZASC uniform distinguishing patches, except for NZASC units of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Pacific (2NZEF (IP)) who wore an unofficial patch in the RASC vehicle AoS colours of diagonal red over green on their puggarees.[12]  After Serving with distinction in both World Wars, in 1946, the NZASC received the “Royal” prefix becoming the RNZASC. The RNZASC received further accolades for its service in Korea from 1950 to 1955, where the vehicles of 10 Transport Company RNZASC continued to use the diagonal red over green AoS sign with the digits 72.

During the 1950s, the RNZASC followed the British lead and ceased using the diagonal red over green AoS sign, replacing it with diagonal and horizontal blue and gold A0S signs, concurrently unit signage emblazoned with backgrounds of blue and gold became commonplace.

Allied with the RASC since 1921 and the RCT since 1965, the RNZASC was one of the last New Zealand Corps to seek approval to adopt a Stable belt. With some individuals already wearing the unauthorised RASC belt that had been discontinued in 1965, the RNZASC requested and granted permission to adopt the RCT pattern stable belt in September 1973.

Following the lead of the United Kingdom and Australia, who had reorganised their Supply and Transport services in 1965 and 1973, the RNZASC began the final planning to transform the RNZASC into the RNZCT in 1978. Eager to ease the restructuring of the Corps by incorporating linkages with the past in a dress embellishment, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Davies, the Director of Supply and Transport (DST) and Major Wally Fraser of the Supply and Transport Directorate introduced the idea of an RNZCT lanyard. Plaiting two samples by hand, Major Fraser provided two samples in the RASC colours of gold and blue for approval by the Army Dress Committee.[13]

Earlier attempts by other Corps to introduce lanyards had been previously rejected as the Army was unwilling to encourage a proliferation of unnecessary dress embellishments.[14]  However, Lt Col Davis and Major Fraser provided a convincing argument with Army General Staff providing authority for wearing lanyards within the RNZCT at public expense in early 1979.[15] The new lanyards were to be manufactured by RNZASC personnel with the cordage provided by the RNZAOC. To allow the manufacture of the lanyards to be completed by 12 May 1979, based on a calculation of 2 meters of navy blue cordage and 1 meter of gold cordage for each lanyard, sufficient cordage was provided to each dependency by 1 April 1979, including sufficient cordage to manufacture 100 lanyards priority mailed to Singapore.[16]  Following a flurry of manufacturing activity within RNAZSC units, sufficient RNZCT lanyards were produced before the change over parades on 12 May 1979, with the lanyard becoming an established RNZCT dress embellishment.

As only the cordage was provided at public expense, with the plating into a lanyard the responsibility of individual RNZCT soldiers, the Director of Transport Movements and Catering (DTMC), Lieutenant Colonel J.M Young was concerned about the differences in quality between lanyards and how that reflected on the RNZCT. The white Military Police and red Regular Force Cadet lanyards were provided and manufactured items, and the DRMC proposed in March 1986 that the RNZCT lanyard also be provided as a manufactured item.[17]

On reviewing the DMTC proposal, the Director of Ordnance Services (DOS), Lieutenant Colonel Terence McBeth, found that there was a discrepancy in the policy surrounding the RNZCT lanyards and that the policy be amended to bring the RNZCT lanyard policy into line with the other Corps that were entitled to lanyards.[18] Army General Staff endorsed the DOS’s recommendations, and from May 1986, the RNZCT Lanyard was provided as a standardised made-up lanyard.[19]

The RNZCT lanyard was worn on the left arm with pride by officers and soldiers of the RNZCT up to 1996 when in a similar initiative to the British Army’s formation of the RLC, the NZ Army also combined its logistic functions into a single Logistic Regiment. The significant difference between the British and New Zealand logistical changes was that the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME) was also disestablished and included in the New Zealand Logistic Regiment.

On 9 December 1996, the Officers and Soldiers of the RNZCT, RNZAOC and RNZEME marched onto parade grounds on each camp and base. Corps flags were lowered, headwear and stable belts exchanged, and the Officers and Soldiers marched off as members of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR). The transition into the RNZALR was bittersweet for the soldiers of the RNZCT. RNZALR leadership took the opposite approach to the RLC, and rather than embracing its foundation Corps’ values and traditions, it divorced itself from the past and abandoned most linkages to the past, including the RNZCT lanyard.

A dress embellishment Intended to ease the formation of the RNZCT by incorporating linkages with the RNZASC, the RNZCT Lanyard was unimaginative and relied on colours representing the traditions of the RASC rather than the RNZASC. For the sixty years from 1911 to 1960, the RNZASC had an exceptional record of service in peace and war, represented by white, red and green. From 1911 to 1960, white was present on RNZASC uniforms as piping, distinguishing patches and puggaree. From 1940 until the mid-1950s, RNZASC vehicles in the Middle East, Pacific, Korea and at home wore the diagonal red and green AoS sign. With Gold and Blue only representing the RNZASC from the mid-1950s to 1979. However, despite its historical irrelevance, the RNZCT Lanyard was an attractive embellishment that provided soldiers of the RTNZCT with a sense of elan on parade and much banter in clubs and messes as they baited gunners with tall stories of how their predecessors had saved guns abandoned by the Artillery.


[1] “The Land Transport Corps,” Hansard 1803-2005  (1858).

[2] Horse Guards Adjutant-General, Dress Regulations for the Army (London: Printed under the Superintendence of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1864).

[3] Dress Regulations for the Army,  (London: Printed under the Superintendence of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1883).

[4] “Yelow of Gold,” The Waggoner: The Journal of the Royal Army Service Corps  (1945): 59.

[5] “Extracts from Corps Orders,” The Waggoner: The Journal of the Royal Army Service Corps  (1899): 299.

[6] Len Whittaker, ” Lanyards,” The Military Historical Society  (1985).

[7] “Formation of the Royal Corps of Transport,” The Waggoner: The Journal of the Royal Army Service Corps  (1965): 7.

[8] “Badges, Chevrons, Titles, Embelishmets and Head Dress,” Clothing Regulations Pamphlet No 5. Table 56- Regimental Lanyards  (1966).

[9] “Lanyard and Whistle Cords,” Army Dress Regulations Part 9 Section 7 Annex D  (2017).

[10] “Captain H.O Knox,” The Waggoner: The Journal of the Royal Army Service Corps  (1911).

[11] New Zealand Military Forces Dress Regulations, ed. New Zealand Military Forces (Wellington1912).

[12] 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, 57.

[13] Julia Millen, Salute to Service : A History of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport and Its Predecessors, 1860-1996 (Wellington : Victoria University Press, 1997, 1997), 415-16.

[14] {, 1971 #1907}

[15] S&T 14/1 dated 22 February 1979. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1985-86,” Archives New Zealand No R17311895  (1985 – 1986).

[16] DOS 109/4/Ord 5 Cordage for RNZCT Lanyard dated 5 March 1979. Ibid.

[17] RNZCT Log Staff 18400/1 RNZCT Lanyards dated 10 March 1986. Ibid.

[18] RNZAOC Directorate Army 1845/Ord 1 RNZCT Lanyards Dated 8 May 1986. Ibid.

[19] DOC 18453/ord 1 RNZCT Lanyards Dated 14 May 1985. Ibid.

New Zealand Military Load Carrying Equipment, 1945 – 1975

Military Personal Load Carrying Equipment, often referred to in the New Zealand vernacular as “webbing”, is the assortment of belts, straps, pouches and other accessories which, when assembled, allows an individual soldier to easily and comfortably carry the tools of their trade, such as ammunition, rations and water to sustain them for short periods. Many period photos of New Zealand soldiers on operations and training from the Vietnam War era to the 1990s provide the impression of an army equipped with an eclectic range of Australian, British and American equipment. This view of New Zealand’s army’s equipment was partly correct. To see how this view was shaped, this article provides an overview of New Zealand’s military load-carrying equipment evolution from 1945 to 1975.

Commander-in-chief, United States Army of the Pacific, General R.E Haines (right) watching weapon training at Waiouru. 2 May 1970 Evening Post

During World War Two, Operations in Malaya, Burma and the Pacific identified many shortfalls in the suitability of training, tactics and equipment, resulting in the Lethbridge Mission to the Far East during the late war. As a result of the report of the Lethbridge Mission, it was decided to modify the standard 37-pattern equipment to make it lighter in weight, rot-proof and more water-repellent and thus more suitable for use in tropical conditions. This development of the 37-pattern equipment led to the approval of a new pattern known as the 1944-pattern.[1] Post-war, further development of the 37 and 44-Pattern equipment led to troop trials of the Z2 experimental Load Carrying Equipment, which transitioned into the 1958-pattern equipment.[2]

Following World War Two, the Load Carrying Equipment in use by the New Zealand Army was the British 1937-pattern equipment. The 37-pattern equipment was introduced into New Zealand service in 1940, replacing the 1908-pattern equipment that had been in service since 1912. As 37-pattern equipment remained the standard web equipment of the New Zealand Army, the deployment of New Zealand troops to Malaya placed New Zealand in the position of deploying troops to a theatre with equipment that had long been identified as unsuitable. To maintain compatibility with other commonwealth forces in Malaya, 44-pattern equipment from British stocks in Malaya was issued to New Zealand troops in Malaya.

Example of 37-pattern equipment. Image: Simon Moore

. Given the environment that New Zealand troops could be expected to operate in and aware of the developments in load-carrying equipment, the New Zealand Chief of General Staff (CGS) requested and received one set of M1956 Web equipment from the United States for trials in 1959.[3]  The American M1956 Load-Carrying Equipment (LCE) had been accepted for United States Army service, with distribution well underway by 1961.

In October 1960, the New Zealand Director of Infantry and Training demonstrated the following web equipment to CGS.

  • 44-pattern Equipment
  • 58-pattern Equipment
  • M1956-pattern Equipment

A report by a New Zealand Officer attached to the Australian Jungle Training Centre at Canungra supported this demonstration with a comprehensive report describing the research and development of Infantry clothing and equipment undertaken by the Australians. The New Zealand report described the Australian trials of the M1956 LCE alongside the 58-pattern equipment. The M1956 was chosen by the Australians, who intended to manufacture it in Australia.[4] However, it was considered unlikely that either the 1956 LCE or 58-pattern equipment would be available to New Zealand until at least 1965, when the initial distribution to the United States and British armies was expected to be completed. Aware that all 44-pattern equipment had been earmarked for use in Malaysia and that it was still in production, New Zealand’s CGS approved the purchase of 6000 sets of 44-pattern equipment to re-equip elements of the New Zealand Army.[5]

Example of 44 pattern equipment, British Corporal, Malaya, Early 1950s. Image Simon Moore

Following advice from the UK, the 44-pattern equipment in use with the Fare East Land Forces (FARELF) was to be wasted out as the 58-pattern equipment was introduced, implying that the New Zealand Battalion would need to be equipped with the 58-pattern equipment before the ceasing of maintenance of the 44-pattern by FARELF. With this in mind, a recommendation was made to purchase 6000 sets of 58-pattern equipment instead of the 44-pattern equipment.[6]

Example of 58-pattern equipment. Image Simon Moore.

In a June 1961 memorandum to Cabinet, the Minister of Defence highlighted that the current 37-pattern equipment used by the New Zealand Army was not designed for Jungle operations and was unsuitable for carrying the extra equipment the soldier engaged in this type of warfare required. No longer used by the British Army in any part of the world, the stage had been reached where the replacement of the 37-pattern should be delayed no longer. As the 58-pattern could not be made available to New Zealand for some time and field trials had cast doubt on its suitability for use in the Southeast Asia theatre, it was considered that re-equipping of the New Zealand Army should proceed with the 44-pattern equipment. The 44-pattern equipment had proved itself and was known to be suitable in the theatre where New Zealand troops were most likely to be employed. It was assumed that by the time the 44-pattern equipment needed replacement, the full facts on the suitability of the 58-pattern and the M1956 web equipment would be available to make a more informed decision on its adoption by New Zealand. It was recommended that Cabinet approve £45645 plus freight to purchase 6000 sets of 1944 Pattern equipment. [7]

By October 1961, it became clear that the 58-pattern was to be the standard issue web equipment for all United Kingdom forces worldwide and that distribution to the forces in Malaya was to happen much earlier date than earlier expected. Because of this, the Army secretary desired further investigations on the suitability of 58-pattern web equipment and, if favourable, confirm costs and potential delivery dates. With the requirement for web equipment again in flux, the submission to purchase 6000 sets of 44-pattern equipment was withdrawn pending further research.[8]

By May 1962, plans for reorganising the New Zealand Army from a Divisional to Brigade Structure were under implementation.[9]  With approximately 50000 complete sets of 37-pattern equipment distributed to units or held in stores, this was deemed suitable to equip the bulk of the Territorial Force and Training units. The 58-pattern equipment was now in serial production and was the standard issue for all United Kingdom troops, with distribution to operational units in Malaya and Germany underway. Information received earlier was that because of limited production, stocks of 58-pattern would not be available for release to New Zealand for some years had been revised. It was now possible that the release of 58-pattern equipment to meet New Zealand’s requirements could be achieved earlier than anticipated. Based on this revised information, New Zealand’s Cabinet approved funding of £58750 on 10 October 1961 for 6000 sets of 58-pattern Web Equipment. [10]

Before placing a firm order for New Zealand’s requirements of 58-pattern equipment, reports received from Malaya in late 1962 indicated that the 58-Pattern equipment was, in its present form, unsuitable for use in operational conditions in South-East Asia.[11] It was anticipated that modifying the 58-pattern equipment to suit the conditions would take two to three years, an unacceptable delay in procurement as far as New Zealand is concerned.[12]

As the decision on New Zealand’s web equipment remained in flux, the New Zealand Battalion in Malaysia continued to be equipped with the 44-pattern equipment maintained under a capitation agreement with the United Kingdom. At New Zealand’s expense, one hundred sets of 44-pattern equipment were also maintained at New Zealand Battalion Depot at Burnham Camp to support reinforcements.

M1956 Web Equipment

As the time factor involved in modifying the 58-pattern equipment was unacceptable, and New Zealand was receiving an increasing amount of American equipment, the American M1956 pattern web equipment was decided to trial. The M1956 equipment had already been introduced into the Australian army, so twenty sets were purchased from Australian stocks for New Zealand’s trials.[13]

Following user experience in Malaya revealing that the 58-pattern equipment was falling short of the requirements for jungle operations, a series of investigations and user trials established that the US M1956 pattern equipment was suitable for use by the New Zealand Army. The funding for 6000 sets of 58-pattern Web Equipment was requested to be reprioritised to purchase 10000 sets of M1956 equipment direct from the United States and 400 sets of 44-pattern equipment to equip the increment for the FARELF held in New Zealand.[14]

With funding endorsed by the Minster of Defence and approved by the Cabinet, orders were placed for 10000 sets of M1956 web equipment direct from the United States. The first consignment arrived in New Zealand in early 1964, with 289 sets immediately issued to the New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) and 16 Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery.

Instructions for distributing the M1956 web equipment were issued in June 1964 by the Quartermaster General. The initial purchase of 10000 sets of M1956 web equipment was to be issued to the Combat Brigade Group (CBG) and Logistic Support Group (LSG) units. Units of the Combat Reserve Brigade Group (CRBG) and Static Support Force (SSF) were to continue to use the 37-patten webbing.

 NMDCMDMOD (for CMD Trentham UnitsSMDMOD StockIssued SAS/ 16 Fd Regiment
CBG & LSG312230304012028310289
1st Reinforcement Reserve3162606198  
School of Infantry 40    

As the issue of M1956 equipment progressed, units of the CBG and LSG were to hand back stocks of 37-pattern equipment to their supporting District Ordnance Depot except for

  • 08-pattern packs and straps
  • 37-pattern belt, waist web
  • Frogs bayonet No 5[15]

The 37 Pattern belt, waist web, was to be retained by all ranks as a personal issue authorised by NZP1 Scales 1, 5, 8 or 9. The belt and bayonet frog were to be worn with Nos 2A, 64, 6B, 7A and 7B orders of dress when other equipment items were not required to be worn.

Equipment Maintenance Policy Statement (EMPS) 138/67 issued by Army Headquarters on 20 November 1964 detailed that except for the CBG and LSG, 16000 sets of 37-pattern equipment were to be maintained for use by remaining elements of the New Zealand Army.[16]  EMPS 145/65 was issued on 12 February 1965, detailing the management of 44-pattern equipment in New Zealand. The First Battalion of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR) in Malaysia was to remain equipped with the 44-pattern web equipment maintained by the UK under the existing capitation agreement. Other than 100 sets of 44 Pattern Web equipment maintained at the Battalion Depot in Burnham, there was no provision for equipping 1RNZIR Reinforcements and increments of 31 Medium Radio Sub Troop who could be expected to deploy to Malaysia at any time. EMPS 145/65 rectified this by establishing a stockholding of 400 sets of 44-pattern equipment at the Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Trentham

Approval was granted in November 1965 by Army HQ for the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps (RNZAC) and NZSAS to blacken their M1956 web equipment. The Royal New Zealand Provost Corps (RNZ Pro) was also approved to whiten their M1956 web equipment. This approval only applied to unit holdings, not RNZAC, NZSAS or NZ Pro members attached or posted to other units.[17]

By April 1967, most of the New Zealand Army was equipped with the M1956 equipment. The exceptions were.

  • The New Zealand Forces in Malaysia and South Vietnam, who used both the M1956 and 44-pattern equipment
  • The SSF, National Service Training Unit (NTSU) and New Zeeland Cadet Corps (NZCC), who still retained the 37-pattern equipment

The manufacture of 37-pattern equipment had long been discontinued, and New Zealand stocks had reached the point where although having considerable holdings of individual items, based on the belts as the critical item, only 9500 sets of 37-pattern equipment could be assembled.

Based on the projected five-year supply to the NTSU, Army Schools, Camps and the NZCC plus 10% maintenance per annum, there was a requirement for 12000 sets of 37-pattern equipment. Arranging production to meet the shortfalls was deemed cost-prohibitive, and as continued maintenance could not be guaranteed, it was decided that additional sets of M1956 equipment were to be purchased. The additional sets were to be purchased on a phased program over several financial years, with 5000 sets of 37-pattern retained for the NZCC.

Disposal of the 37-pattern was to be phased over three years.

  • 1967 all items surplus to 9500 sets
  • 1968 3000 Complete sets
  • 1969 all remaining 37 Pattern equipment less 5000 sets for the NZCC.[18]

M1967 Modernized Load-Carrying Equipment (MLCE)

In 1967 the New Zealand Army trialled three sets of the M1967 Modernized Load-Carrying Equipment (MLCE). Not specifically designed to replace the M1956 equipment, the M1967 equipment was designed for use in tropical environments and was introduced into the United States Army service in 1968.

The New Zealand trials found that the M1967 equipment was comfortable and weight-wise was similar to other web equipment in use. The pack worn on the belt was found to be heavy when fully loaded, and a pack similar in size to the 44 Pattern should be introduced, and the belt pack reduced in size by one-third.

It was identified that all the pouches required stiffening and that the plastic fasteners were not firmly attached to the pouches, although easy to operate. While using Velcro was found simple to operate, it was seen as a disadvantage due to noise and its inclination to pull apart when wet or under stress.[19]

Although the M1956 was still being introduced into the New Zealand Army, limited quantities of the M1967 equipment were introduced from 1969-72 with no plans for large-scale procurement. Nevertheless, the design of the M1972 All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) incorporated many of the features of the M1967 equipment, and it was introduced into the New Zealand Army service in the 1980s.

Example of M-1967 MLCE. Image Simon Moore

Although the 44-pattern web equipment continued to be used by New Zealand units in Southeast Asia, by October 1967, the decision had been made to standardise the M1956 equipment across the New Zealand Army, and no stocks of the 44-pattern equipment were to be retained in New Zealand.   All stocks of 44-pattern web equipment held by the MOD in Trentham for 1RNZIR Reinforcements and increments of 31 Medium Radio Sub Troop were issued to 1 RNZIR based at Terendak camp in Malaysia. As this stock held by 1RNZIR was wasted out, it would be replaced by M1956 web equipment. [20]

Large Ammunition Pouches

The Australian experience had shown that although the L1A1 Self Loading Rifle (SLR) Magazines fitted inside the M1956 ammunition pouch, it was a tight fit, especially when the webbing was wet. The initial solution was to modify 37-pattern pouches and fit them to the M1956 equipment. By 1967 the Australians had developed an indigenous ammunition pouch for the M1956 equipment., The Australian Ammunition Pouch Large (8465-66-026-1864) was manufactured out of cotton duck material and measured 81/4 inches high by 4 inches wide and 3 inches deep.

Australian Pouch Ammunition Large

To ascertain the suitability of the Australian large ammunition pouch for New Zealand service, fifty Australian pouches were sourced as a standardisation loan in 1968.[21] Feedback for the troop trials identified a lack of stability in the closure of the lid, causing the loss of ammunition and magazines. Following an investigation by the R&D Section, the RNZAOC Textile Repair Sections (TRS) modified the Australian pouches by replacing the lid fasteners with the same fasteners found on the standard American M1956 pouch and stiffing the fastener tabs. The modifications proved satisfactory in further Army Trials, and a new specification (DRDS-ICE-1) was produced with four Standard Samples provided to 1 Base Ordnance Depot (1 BOD).[22]  The modified New Zealand Pouch was codified in the New Zealand supply system as Pouch Ammunition Large (6746-98-103-4039).[23]

Detail of New Zealand Large Ammunition Pouch riveted lid fasteners

Although the R&D Section had ascertained that the manufacture of the pouches was possible in New Zealand using imported components, the initial production run of 20000 pouches was contracted through the Australian Department of Supply to be included in the current Australian production run.[24]  By 1974 the first production run of 20000 had been completed and returned to 1 BOD for distribution, with 2/1 RNZIR in Burnham one of the first units to receive the new pouches. In May 1974, 2/1 RNZIR submitted defect reports stating that the pouches were poorly designed, with the canvas tongue used to secure the lid failing, pouches becoming insecure, and magazines dropping out.[25]

The investigation by the Directorate of Equipment Policy and the R&D Section found that the faults were not a design problem but a quality assurance issue in that the pouches had not been manufactured following the specification.[26]   Comparing the Australian-manufactured pouches against the specification, the R&D Section identified the following visually detected defects.

  1. Canvas used to manufacture strap-holding assembly instead of webbing.
  2. Clip end strap is wrongly sized.
  3. Release tab is of incorrect thickness.
  4. Polypropylene stiffener not inserted in release tab.
  5. The male fastener is not secured to the PVC stiffener.
  6. The reinforcement piece behind the male fastener is not included (between the PVC stiffener and lining).
  7. Additional smaller reinforcement piece inserted between the outer cover and the male fastener.
  8. Broad arrow marked on the outer cover and not specified.

Of these defects, only serials 3 to 7 were directly considered to contribute to the deficiencies and the initial concerns raised by 2/1RNZIR and would require rectification, and a modification instruction was produced.[27]  Modification of the pouches would take until September 1977 to be completed.[28]

Due to the Broad Arrow Mark included on the first batch of 20000 New Zealand Large Ammunition Pouches, collectors often misidentify these items as Australian pouches.

White Web

By 1973, 37-pattern belts, rifle slings and bayonet frogs remained in use as ceremonial items. Whitened using proprietary shoe cleaner and paint, these items were badly worn with the whitener flaking easily and were easily marked by weather, fingerprints and the rubbing of other equipment. The M1956 pattern web belt was not considered suitable as a replacement as it was operational equipment requiring the breaking up of complete web sets to provide items for ceremonial events. Following the British lead, the Army Dress Committee approved a polythene, four-ply woven fabric of similar appearance and texture to the 37-pattern equipment in October 1973 as a replacement for the whitened 37-pattern equipment. The sling and bayonet frog designed for the SLR would be purchased with chromed or brass fittings. The material for the belts was provided on rolls which could be cut to the required size. Buckles and keepers were 37-pattern buckles and keepers drawn from existing stocks that had been chromed and polished.[29]

Combat Pack

By 1974, one of the few pre-1945 items of load-carrying equipment remaining in New Zealand service was the 08-pattern pack. Long identified as an unsuitable item, several trials had been conducted since the mid-1960s to find a replacement combat pack. Although a few alternative items had been investigated as a replacement, the 08-pattern pack remained the principal combat pack of the New Zealand Army.

In 1969/70, the requirement for 15000 combat packs to replace the 08-pattern pack was identified. Following evaluation by the equipment sponsor, the Australian Army Combat Pack was selected as a basis for developing a New Zealand combat pack. The Australian pack was chosen from a wide range of military and civilian packs, with the design modified to meet the particular training requirements of New Zealand. The modifications to the Australian pack were limited to comply with the following:

  • The pack must be compatible with Australian Army equipment.
  • The pack must be compatible with M1956 equipment currently in New Zealand service.

Against the advice of the R&D section, the Australian pack was modified by the New Zealand Army without a proper study being conducted.[30] The decision to bypass the R&D process resulted in a prototype process that extended from 1972 to 1974.[31] By June 1974, trials on the prototypes resulted in the setting of a standard design for a production run of one hundred packs for further trials.[32]

New Zealand modified Combat pack

The New Zealand version of the Australian combat pack was eventually accepted into service in 1975/76. Never a satisfactory pack, the R&D section began investigations to find a replacement in the early 1980s. Hoping to leverage the experience of New Zealand Mountaineers to produce a modern pack, Army R&D embarked on the Onward Pack project. Manufactured by Hallmark Industries of Hamilton, the Onward pack was an innovative modular design that allowed the main pack to be broken down into a patrol pack and a light belt order,

The Basic layout of the Onwards pack was a main compartment divided into a main compartment and a sleeping bag compartment divided by a zip-away divider. The upper compartment was divided into the main storage area and internal space for an AN/PPC-77 set. External access to the main compartment was via a large snow collar with outlets for the radio antenna and handset built into the lid. External access to the lower sleeping bag section was provided by a zip which allowed the bottom half of the compartment to drop down. Internal sleeping mat storage was included as part of the harness and backpack. Three external removal pouches were provided, one on each side attached by domes and a larger pouch mounted on the centre front of the pack by buckles body. Behind the Large centre pouch, securing straps were provided to secure an Entrenching Tool. These three external pouches were fitted with belt loops, which allowed them to be removed and fitted to either the pack’s waist belt or standard pistol belt as a light belt order.

A small patrol pack designed to hold an ANPRC-77 Set was also provided as part of the Onward pack., The patrol pack could be mounted to the top of the Onward Pack or by utilising the pack’s shoulder straps, worn as a standalone pack. The Patrol pack was also fitted with a fluorescent recognition panel in a zip-up compartment.

Despite the host of features and the additional space provided compared to the Australian pack, the Onward Pack was fraught with issues. The proprietary plastic clips were prone to failure, and the body-hugging ‘alpine’ design caused causing severe prickly heat on users in the tropics of Southeast Asia. These and other issues with the Onward Pack contributed to an extended development period as attempts were made to rectify them. As these and other minor faults were addressed to meet the immediate needs of users while the Onward Pack was perfected, the medium American ALICE pack was introduced as an interim replacement in 1984.[33] Eventually, attempts to rectify the Onward Pack were abandoned and the ALICE pack was formally adopted as the New Zealand Army pack.


Entering the Second World War with web equipment of the same pattern used since 1912, New Zealand’s Force soon began to be re-equipped with the most modern British web equipment, the 37-pattern from early 1940. Near the end of the war, New Zealand was kept abreast of the development of web equipment, and when New Zealand troops arrived in Malaya in the early 1950s, they were issued with the most modern type available for jungle warfare, the 44-pattern. As the New Zealand Army reorientated from providing a division to serve in the Middle East to providing a Brigade Group to serve in Southeast Asia, it could not wait for the British to develop their new 58-pattern for tropical conditions and examine other types. Following Australia’s lead, the American M1959 equipment was adopted in 1964, with components of this type serving thought to the early 2000s. With five types of web equipment either adopted or trialled between 1945 and 1974, it is no surprise that components got intermingled. This led to Kiwi soldiers’ preferences and experiences leading them to create webbing sets that they found practicable rather than options prescribed in SOPs or instruction books leading to the outside impression of the New Zealand army been one equipped with an eclectic range of Australian, British and American equipment.


[1] 86/Development/47 (SWV1) Report on the Development of Personnel Fighting and Load Carrying Equipment 1942-48 February 1949. “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern,” Archives New Zealand No R17189098 (1944 -1966).

[2] 86/Dev/54 (SVW1) Instruction for troop trials of Z2 Experimental Load Carrying Equipment ibid.

[3] New Zealand Joint Services Mission Washington DC JSM 1/3/13 ARM US Army Load Carrying Equipment (Web) dated 23 September 1959ibid.

[4] Attachment to JTC – Canungra dated 21 October 1960 “Stores – New Infantry Equipment for New Zealand Army,” Archives New Zealand No R17189007 (1959-1970).

[5] Army 246/60/12/SD Web Equipment dated 20 December 1960 “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern.”

[6] Army 246/60/12/SD Web Equipment dated 20 December 1960ibid.

[7] Memorandum Minister of Defence to Cabinet dated June 1961ibid.

[8] 246/60/12/adm Army Secretary to Minister of Defence 2 October 1961ibid.

[9] 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), 111-20.

[10] Army 246/60/12/Q(E) Brigade Group Equipment Replacement Web Equipment dated 8 May 1962 “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern.” -pattern equipment

[11] BM 2 to FE16002SD General HQ FELF to The War Office (Brig Q Eqpt) 1958 Pattern Web Equipment dated 4 October 1962: ibid.

[12] 57/62 NZ Army Liaison Staff, London to Army HQ dated 17 October 1962 ibid.

[13] Army 246/60/12Q(E) Sample US Pattern Web Equipment dated 12 December 1962 ibid.

[14] 246/60/12/SD Web Equipment for the Field Force dated 18 October 1963 ibid.

[15] Army Reqn 208/63/Q(E) dated 9 June 1964 -Distribution of M1956 Web Equipment “Cookers – Web Equipment: Pattern ’37,” Archives New Zealand No R17189095 (1940-1971).

[16] EMPS 138/64 of 20 Nov 1964 ibid.

[17] Army HQ Army246/60/12/PS3 of 19 Nov 1965 ibid.

[18] Defence (Army) 246/60/2 of 26 April 1967 ibid.

[19] 1 Ranger Squadron NZSAS, Trial Report US Lightweight Equipment dated 21 March 1968″Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern,” Archives New Zealand No R17189099 (1966 -1969).

[20] Army 246/60/12/Q(E) EMPS 145/65 Frist Revise dated 5 October 1967 ibid.

[21] “Cookers  – Web Equipment: Slings, Bandoliers, Ammunition Pouches: Development,” Archives New Zealand No R17189101 (1968-1970).

[22] Def HQ/R&D Section 82/1974 dated 28 Jun 1974.”Equipment Administration: Research & Development – Projects Personal Load Carrying Equipment: Ammunition Pouches,” Archives New Zealand No R17231111 (1972-1977).

[23] 246/60/2 of 122055ZNOV70 NZDWN to 1BOD Trentham “Cookers – Web Equipment: Pattern ’37.”

[24] Army 246/60/70 dated 9 December 1971. “Equipment Administration: Research & Development – Projects Personal Load Carrying Equipment: Ammunition Pouches.”

[25] FF 65/38/18/SD Modification of Ammunition Pouch item 10 May 1974. “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern.”

[26] Army 246/60/17/EP. “Equipment Administration: Research & Development – Projects Personal Load Carrying Equipment: Ammunition Pouches.”

[27] R&D Section Minute no 160/1975 dated 21 November 1975. “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern.”

[28] Army 246/60/17/SP 22 Pouches Ammunition 22 September 1977. “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern.”

[29] “Army Dress Committee Decision – White Web,” Archives New Zealand No R17188112 (1973).

[30]  R&D Section 67/1974 Packs Combat date 13 June 1974. “Equipment Administration: Research & Development – Projects Personal Load Carrying Equipment: Waterproof Pack,” Archives New Zealand No R17231110 (1972-1974).

[31] Army 246/60/12/EP Sponsor Enquiry Field Pack Olive Green 2 July 1972. Ibid.

[32] Army 246/60/12/ EP Minutes of the final meeting on the acceptance of the Combat Pack held at Army General Staff on 8 June 1973. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1984,” Archives New Zealand No R17311893 (1984).

[33] Inf 26.3 Minutes of a meeting to consider Project Foxhound developments held at Army General Staff 8 June 1984. Ibid.

Rhodesia and Nyasaland Army Service Corps 1953-1963

A long-forgotten member of the British Commonwealth Ordnance Corps fraternity is the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Army Service Corps.

The army of the Short-lived Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (1953-1963), unlike other commonwealth armies, was not large enough to maintain separate Army Service Corps, Ordnance Corps and Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. However, in a move repeated in Canada in 1968, the United Kingdom (less REME) in 1993 and New Zealand in 1996, the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Army combined their Logistical function into a single branch known as the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Army Services Corps.

Providing logistical support to the Federal Army, the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Army Services Corps was divided into three branches.

  • The Ordnance & Supply Branch – Tasked with the provisioning of all army arms, supplies, and equipment. 150 soldiers strong.
  • The Workshop Branch – Artificers and mechanics responsible for the good maintenance of vehicles, firearms, and other equipment deployed by the Federal Army. The branch was 270 men strong.
  • The Supply & Transport Branch – Comprised of one Askari Platoon, two coloured Afro-Asian Platoons, and one Eurasian platoon, the Supply & Transport Branch was tasked in delivering the supplies set aside by the Ordnance & Supply Branch to troops in the field. The total size was 180 men.

The badge of the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Army Services Corps drew on the traditions and hereditary of the British army, combining elements of the badges of the Royal Army Service Corps (Star), Royal Army Ordnance Corps (the Ordnance Crest) and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (Horses forcené).

Badge of the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Army Services Corps. Robert McKie collection

The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland officially ended on 31 December 1963. Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland became independent under the names Zambia and Malawi, with Southern Rhodesia declaring unilateral independence from the United Kingdom as the state of Rhodesia in 1965.

New Zealand Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London

The New Zealand Ordnance Corps, in its 80-year history, established and maintained Ordnance Depots in many unique locations. The Base Ordnance Depot in Trentham became acknowledged as the home of the Corps; the New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot in Singapore was the most exotic, and all Corps members have fond memories of the depots in Hopuhopu, Waiouru, Linton and Burnham. This article will examine one of the least known of New Zealand’s Ordnance Depots, the First World War Farringdon Road Depot.

The NZEF of the 1914-1919 war was organised and equipped in such a way so that when mobilised it could comfortably fit into the British Imperial Army alongside British, Australian, Canadian and other troops from throughout the British Empire. In the early days of the war Ordnance support was provided by British AOC[1] Divisional/Corps depots, and although satisfactory the need for the NZEF to have an internal Ordnance organisation to cater for New Zealand specific items was recognised. Subsequently, regulations formally announcing the establishment of the NZAOC[2], as a unit of NZEF[3] were published in February 1916[4]. Moving with the NZEF to Europe the NZAOC consisted of three distinct elements;

  • NZAOC Administrative staff based at the NZEF headquarters at Bloomsbury Square, London consisting of
    • the NZEF Assistant ADOS[5], who was also the Officer Commanding NZEF Ordnance Corps.
    • Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom.
    • A staff of clerks, storekeepers and
  • The New Zealand Division DADOS[6] and Staff, including personnel attached to Brigades.
  • NZAOC Staff of the ANZAC Mounted Brigade in Palestine.

As the NZEF NZAOC staff in the United Kingdom became established, taking under its wing support responsibility for the numerous New Zealand Camps, Hospitals and convalescent facilities dispersed throughout the United Kingdom. To centralise and manage Ordnance support it became necessary to establish a New Zealand Ordnance Depot to support all New Zealand units based in the United Kingdom.

‘NZEF in England 1916-19 map’, URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Dec-2016

What was required was a depot in a central location, near the NZEF Headquarters and with road and railway access to the New Zealand Camps and establishments and the ability to quickly link into the AOC logistic infrastructure and RAOC depots such as;

On the 25th of October 1916, the Officer Commanding, London District Authorised the NZEF, under the Defence of the Realm Act to take over the premises of Mr H Fisher and Mr J Fisher at 30 and 32 Farringdon Road[7] as an Ordnance Store. Located 1.5km from the NZEF Headquarters, the NZ Ordnance Depot was well situated on one of the leading north/south roads through London, with easy access to other arterial routes. Adjacent to the Metropolitan Railway, the Ordnance depot had easy access to Farringdon Passenger station and the Metropolitan Railway Goods Station[8]. The intent was to occupy the building from the 7th of November 1916. Still, due to issues securing the key and having the utilities such as water and electricity connected, the final occupation did not occur until the 27th of November. Records indicate the Depot started operations on the 1st of December 1916.

NOTE:  Originally numbered as part of Farringdon Road, Nos 30 and 32 were renamed as  30 Farringdon Lane in 1979.

Faddingdon 3D
New Zealand Ordnance Depot, 30-32 Farrington Road, London. Map data ©2018 Google, Imagery ©2018 Google

Overall command of the Depot rested with the Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom, Captain (later Major) Norman Levien. The Officer in charge of the Depot for most of its existence was Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor), Arthur Gilmore [9]. Posted to the Depot in November 1916, and apart from a six-month secondment to the Ordnance Depot at Sling Camp and three months of sick leave due to Influenza, Gilmore remained at the Depot until its closure in late1919[10]. Conductor Gilmore was promoted to Second Lieutenant on the 1st of February 1919.

The bulk of the stocks held by the Depot consisted of clothing and necessaries of all descriptions. Clothing was a mixture of;

  • New items purchased from the RACD [11] at Pimlico,
  • New items purchased for civilian manufacturers, often at a cheaper rate than from the RACD; in the year up to December 1917, total savings of £31532.7.10(approximately 2018 NZD$3,763,454.27) were made by establishing contracts for clothing with civilian suppliers rather than purchasing from the RACD.
  • Cleaned and repaired items from Salvage stocks,

As members of the New Zealand Division started leave rotations to the United Kingdom from the front lines in Belgium and France, the condition of their clothing was found to be unsatisfactory. Under the instructions of the NZ General Officer Commanding, further accommodation for the Depot was secured for the reception of troops from the front on leave. This facility allowed troops as they arrived from the front, to rid themselves of their dirty, often vermin-infested uniforms, have a hot bath and receive a fresh issue of underwear and uniforms. As troops arrived on leave with their spare kit, ammunition, arms and equipment, A secure kit store was available for the holding of these items. As this reception store was developed, the New Zealand Soldiers Club and the New Zealand War Contingent Association set up facilities to provide hot drinks and the option to receive instruction on the use of prophylactic outfits[12].


The following items are an example of the types and quantities of the stores received by the Farringdon Road Depot over the Period 1 December 1916 to 1 August 1919;


With the Armistice in November 1918, the activities of the Depot started to wind down. Undergoing a full audit in July 1919, outstanding orders cancelled, stocks either returned to New Zealand, returned to RAOC Depots for credits, sold or destroyed with the Depot closed by November 1919 ending an early chapter of the New Zealand Ordnance story.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

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


[1] Army Ordnance Corps

[2] New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps

[3] New Zealand Expeditionary Force

[4] “Road to Promotion “, Evening Post, Volume XCI, Issue 29, 4 February 1916.

[5] Assistant Director of Ordnance Service

[6] Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Service

[7] Now Farrington Lane  “Insurance Plan of London Vol. Vi: Sheet 128,” ed. British Library (Chas E Goad Limited, 1886).

[8] “Farringdon Road,” in Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell, Ed. Philip Temple (London: London County Council, 2008), 358-384. British History Online, Accessed April 25, 2018, Http://Www.British-History.Ac.Uk/Survey-London/Vol46/Pp358-384..”

[9] “Personnel Records “Arthur Gilmore”,”  (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, Archive Reference AABK 18805 W5568 0135616).

[10] Arthur Gilmore, “Audit Farringdon Road Ordnance Stores for Period Ended 17 July 1919,” (Wellington: Archives New Zealand Record Group WA1 Record No 2/13, 1919).

[11] The Royal Army Clothing Depot, Pimlico, was the main supplier of Uniforms for the British Army from 1855 until 1932.

[12] Captain Norman Levien, “Report of Ordnance Officer on Administration of Ordnance Department for 1917,” (Wellington: Archives New Zealand Record Group WA1 Record No 2/13, 1918).

The Wombles on the Western Front: BEF salvage development 1914-1919

New  Zealand’s first experience of Salvage units was during the 1914-18 war. Each British formation (including Dominion forces) was required as part of an army salvage plan to appoint a Salvage Officer for each brigade, and a Division Salvage Company, which in turn was supported a Corps Salvage Company.  

Shortly after arriving in France, Lieutenant Colonel Herbert the DADOS of the New Zealand Division was directed to provide one officer, one sergeant and two corporals for the Divisional Salvage Company, with the OC of the Pioneer Battalion providing four Lance Corporals and 24 Other ranks.

Formed on 5 May 1916 the NZ Divisional Salvage Company was under the command of Lieutenant  Macrae, NZAOC. The duties of the NZ Divisional Salvage Company were:

“The care and custody of packs of troops engaged in offensive operations; The care of tents and canvas of the Division; The salvage of Government property, and also enemy property, wherever found; The sorting of the stuff salved, and dispatch thereof to base.”

Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division, “New Zealand Division – Administration – War Diary, 1 May – 26 May 1916,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487546  (1916)

Although initially reporting to the Corps Salvage Officer, entries in the DADOS war diaries indicate that the Divisional Salvage Company was an integral part of the DADOS responsibilities. During April 1918 the NZ Div Salvage Company recovered the following items.

One Bristol Airplane

One Triumph Norton Motorcycle

Three Douglas Motorcycles

285 Rifles

10 Bayonets and scabbards

25 Steel Helmets

Four Pistol Signal

Three Mountings MG

62 Belts MG

32 Belt boxes MG

95 Gas respirators

“Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) – War Diary, 1 April – 30 April 1918.” 1918. Archives New Zealand Item No R23487665.

This talk examines the work of the British salvage system from its small beginnings at the battalion level to the creation of a giant corporation controlled by GHQ. It deals with salvage during hostilities and the colossal often forgotten task of the clean-up afterwards.

Henry Earnest Erridge

Serving the nation for 44 years, Henry Erridge served at Gallipoli before being invalided back to New Zealand. Continuing to serve throughout the interbellum, Erridge assisted in shaping the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps for the Second World War. During the war, Erridge played a significant role in providing New Zealand’s contribution to the collective logistics efforts of the British Commonwealth

Henry Earnest Erridge was born in Dunedin on 18 December 1887 to Henry and Jane Erridge. The fifth of seven children, Henry was educated in Dunedin and received commercial training. A keen military volunteer Erridge had joined the Dunedin Engineer Volunteers as a Cadet in 1904, transferring into the Otago Hussars in 1909, gaining Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Rank.   On 6 April 1914, Erridge joined the New Zealand Permanent Staff (NZPS) with the rank of Staff Sergeant Instructor as the Orderly Room and Quartermaster (QM), No 15 Area Group, Oamaru.[1]

On the outbreak of war in August 1915, Erridge was seconded for duty with the NZEF and left New Zealand with the Main Body, Otago Infantry Battalion. As a Signals Sergeant in the Otago’s, Erridge saw service during the Turkish attack on the Suez Canal in February 1915 and later took part in the landings at Gallipoli. Stuck down with enteric fever, Erridge was evacuated from Gallipoli to Alexandria in June and, in August, invalided back to New Zealand for further convalescence.

Returning to duty as a Warrant Officer in the QM Department at Featherston Camp on 10 January 1916, Erridge was appointed Stores Forman responsible for managing the QM Stores accounts for Featherston and its subsidiary camps. Reclassified as Class “A” fit for overseas service on 5 July 1918, it was intended to attach Erridge to a reinforcement draft and returned to the front. Deemed as essential, the Director of Equipment and Ordnance (DEOS) Stores appealed to the Chief of the General Staff, stating that

The accounts of the Camp Quartermaster, Featherston Camp, have not been completed and balanced. The principle causes for this state of affairs are:

(1) The inferior class of clerks posted for Home Service duties.
(2) And ever-changing staff, thus throwing the bulk of work on SSM Erridge, who has been employed in the capacity of foreman.

It is essential that SSM Erridge be retained until 1 November at least

Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores to Chief of the General Staff. 14 August 1918

The DEOS appeal was successful, and Erridge was granted authority to delay his placement into a reinforcement draft until November on the proviso that every endeavour was to be made to have all accounts in connection with the QM Branch Featherston and subsidiary camps completed to the satisfaction of the proper authority. Following the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Enridges employment was reassessed, and he was provided orders to remain with the QM Department at Featherston. Seconded to the Ordnance Stores in Wellington in June 1919, Erridge was permanently transferred into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) with Conductor rank on 1 October 1919.

Recommended for the Supplies and Purchasing Officer position with the civil administration in Samoa, Erridge was accepted for service with the Samoan Administration for three years from 24 May 1920. Due to a misunderstanding of the secondment rules, Erridge was discharged from the New Zealand Military. However, this was reviewed, and the discharge was rescinded, allowing Erridge to retain his rank and seniority on return to New Zealand.

`Administration Headquarters. “Apia”‘. Moore, Robert Percy, 1881-1948 :Panoramic photographs of New Zealand. Ref: Pan-0422-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/32050069

Completing his service in Samoa in August 1923, Erridge returned to New Zealand and, following three months leave, resumed duty with the NZAOC, where he was posted to the Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) and placed in charge of the Stores on 1 December 1923. In an example of his experience and utility, Erridge temporally relieved Captain F.E Ford, the Ordnance Officer of Featherston Camp, over the period 4-31 Jan 1924.

During the 1920s, the Quartermaster General (QMG) vested command of the NZAOC to the Director of Ordnance Service (DOS). Assisted by the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO), the Inspecting Ordnance Officer (IOO), and the Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (OME), the DOS was responsible for:[2]

  • The provision, receipt, storage, distribution, repair, examination, and maintenance of small-arms, machine guns, vehicles, clothing and necessaries, equipment and general stores (including medical and veterinary), and camp and barrack equipment,
  • The inspection and repair of armament and warlike stores, and the inspection of gun ammunition.
  • The provision, receipt, storage, and distribution of small arms ammunition.
  • The receipt, storage, issue, and repair of fixed armament, field armament, and artillery vehicles.
  • The organisation and control of ordnance workshops
  • The preparation and periodic revision of Equipment Regulations and barrack and hospital schedules
  • The organisation, administration, and training of the NZ Army Ordnance Corps Forces
  • The maintenance of statistics of the Ordnance Department.

The DOS was also the Commanding Officer (CO) of the NZAOC and was responsible for the interior economy, including enlistment, training, pay, promotion, postings transfers, clothing, equipment, and discharges within the unit.

In 1924 the incumbent DOS, Lt Col Pilkington, was appointed QMG in Army Headquarters. Major T.J King, then acting COO, was appointed DOS, with Major William Ivory acting as the IOO and OME.  By 1925 King recognised that he could not provide complete justice to both the DOS and COO posts, but with no Ordnance Officers immediately available to fill the COO position, he recommended that the QMG give some relief by granting Erridge an officer’s commission. In his recommendation to the QMG, King noted that

Conductor Erridge is a man of wide experience in Ordnance duties and stores works generally and is eminently fitted for appointment as Ordnance Officer with the rank of lieutenant. He is a man of unblemished character, with a very high regard for the interests of the Corps and the services, and in the last few months gained sufficient insight into the duties I propose transferring him to.

Director of Ordnance Stores to Quartermaster General 11 December 1925

The QMG supported King’s recommendation on the proviso that Erridge pass all the required commissioning examinations. On passing the examinations needed, Erridge was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the NZAOC on 23 July 1926.[3] However, the question then arose of where to place Erridge on to the Army List. Technically the COO appointment was still vacant with Erridge for all intents acting as King’s assistant and only performing part of the COO duties with the work of the COO divided between King and Erridge. It was not desired to add to the establishment an Assistant COO, so it was decided to show Erridge as Ordnance Officer (Provision). Following several years as the Ordnance Officer (Provision), Erridge was appointed to the dual roles of Ordnance Officer MOD and Ordnance Officer Central Military District (CMD) on 14 May 1929.[4]

In December 1930, the incumbent Ordnance Officer Southern Military District (SMD)and Camp Commandant of Burnham Camp, Captain A.R.C White, faced compulsory retirement. To allow some continuity while White’s replacement was decided, Erridge was temporarily sent to Burnham. Although initially only a temporary posting, Erridge remained at Burnham until 1934 in the dual roles of Ordnance Officer SMD and Officer in Charge Burnham Camp (Camp Commandant).[5]

By 1935 in his role of DOS, King was looking forward and preparing his organisation for war. In a submission to the General Headquarters, King requested authority to reorganise his staff. Regarding Erridge, King started.

Owing to the large amount of new equipment that is on order and is likely to be ordered soon, it is essential that the staff of the Ordnance Depot, Trentham, be strengthened to the extent that I should again have the assistance of my most experienced Ordnance Officer.

There is a great deal of work of a technical nature in connection with mobilisation, rewriting of Regulations, etc., which I am unable to find time to carry out myself, and which Mr Erridge, by virtue of his long experience and training, is well qualified to undertake. This work is most necessary and should be put in hand as soon as possible; I have no other Officer to whom I could delegate it.

Again, King’s recommendations were accepted, and on 30 June 1934, Erridge relinquished his Burnham appointments and was appointed as the Ordnance Officer (Provision) at the MOD, with promotion to Captain following on 1 December 1934.[6]

When the war was declared in September 1939, the NZAOC underwent a significant transformation as its mobilisation plans were implemented. The DOS, Lieutenant Colonel King, was seconded to the 2nd NZEF as the Deputy Director of Ordnance Services (DDOS). Accompanying King was a small staff drawn from the military and civilian staff of the NZAOC who formed the nucleus of the Ordnance Corps in the 2nd NZEF. Kings’ responsibilities of DOS and COO were handed over to the Ordnance Officer CMD, Lt Col Burge.

On 2 December 1939, Erridge relinquished the appointment of Ordnance Officer (Provision), was granted the Rank of temporary Major and posted to Army HQ with substantive Major confirmed in February 1940.[7]  In June 1940, the NZAOC underwent further reorganisation when Lt Col Burge relinquished the appointment of DOS when he was appointed as Deputy QMG in Army HQ with the position of DOS placed into abeyance for the duration of the war. Appointed as Staff Officer Ordnance and CO of the NZAOC, Erridge took over responsibility for the NZAOC.[8]

With the national economy transitioning from peacetime to a war footing, the Government took a series of initiatives to ensure international trade and commerce security.  Representing the New Zealand Military, Erridge accompanied the New Zealand Minister of Supply and a small entourage of officials of the New Zealand Munitions and Supply Delegation on a tour of Australia for a series of talks with their Australian counterparts in July/August 1940.[9]

While the mission of the New Zealand Munitions and Supply Delegation to Australia was focused on strengthening cooperation between New Zealand and Australia, the Eastern Group Conference held in Delhi in October 1940 had the broader goal of organising a joint war supply policy for the countries of the “Eastern Group.” The countries represented at the Eastern Group Conference included the United Kingdom, Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand, East Africa, Palestine, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, and Hong Kong, with the Government of the Netherlands East Indies attending as observers.[10]  The New Zealand delegation included.

  • The Chief of the General Staff, Major-General Sir John Duigan,
  • Major H. E. Erridge,
  • Mr F. R. Picot, Director of the Internal Marketing Department,
  • Mr J. R. Middleton, assistant-Secretary of supply,
  • Mr B. Taylor, assistant to the chief investigating officer of the Treasury Department.

As a result of the October conference, the Eastern Group Supply Council (EGSC) was established to coordinate and optimise the production and distribution of war materiel in the British colonies and dominions in the Eastern Hemisphere. The New Zealand members of the council who were to be based in New Delhi were.

  • Mr F.R Picot, Director of Internal Marketing and Food Controller,
  • Mr W.G.M Colquhoun (Munitions Department).
  • Mr R.J Inglis (Supply Department).
  • Mr R.H. Wade (of the Treasury).

A Central Provisions Office (Eastern) was also set up in Delhi, with national offices established in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, East Africa, Southern Rhodesia and the Middle East.   The Central Provision Office (Eastern) was a military organisation consisting of about 40 to 50 Army officers from all countries constituting the Eastern Group. Headed by the Controller-General of Army Provisions, who was also the military member of the EGSC and acted as the agent of the Imperial General Staff and various Commanders in Chief. The role of the Central Provision Office (Eastern) was coordinating with the controllers of the national provision offices to obtain military stores to maintain the British and Commonwealth war effort.[11] From March 1941, Two NZAOC Officers, Temporary Major D. L. Lewis and Lieutenant D.I Strickland were attached to the Central Provision Office (Eastern) staff in New Delhi.[12]

Before the Central Provision Office (Eastern) assumed complete provision control, it was necessary for all the controllers of the national provision offices to meet to ensure that uniform procedures were adopted. A coordination conference for the various Provision Group Controllers was held at New Delhi in July 1941, with Erridge attending as New Zealand’s military representative. Based on this conference, on 5 August 1941, the New Zealand War Cabinet approved the establishment of the New Zealand Defence Servicers Provision Officer (DSPO), with Erridge appointed as its Controller with the rank of Temporary Lieutenant Colonel. Relinquishing the appointment of Staff Officer Ordnance and handing over the Commanding Officer NZAOC duties to Major E.L.G Bown, the COO MOD.[13]

By  April 1945, the DSPO thought Central Provision Group (Eastern) had shipped for the British Ministry of Supply equipment to the value of £10,000,000 (2021 NZD $8,988,577,362.41) with additional equipment to the value of  £8,520,761 (2021 NZD $765,895,194.35) that was surplus to the requirements of NZ Forces overseas transferred to the War office.[14]  During a visit to New Zealand in January 1946, Major-General R.P Pakenham-Walsh, CB, MC., a member of the Eastern Group Supply Council and the Central Provision Office(Eastern), stated that “Stores from New Zealand which had been made available to the Eastern Group Supply Council had been of great importance in the prosecution of the war” adding that “the Dominion’s contribution had compared more than favourably with that of various larger countries.”[15]  Following the surrender of Germany in April and Japan’s defeat in August 1945, the Eastern Group Supply Council and Central Provision Office, although serving their purpose well, had become irrelevant and were dissolved on 31 March 1946.[16]  However, it took two years for the DSPO to transition to a peacetime footing. Seconded to the War Asset Realisation Board (WARB) on 1 May 1947, Erridge started to wind down the work of the DSPO while also coordinating the disposal of equipment through the WARB. On 17 December 1948, Erridge handed over the remaining stocks to the WARB and closed the DSPO.

At 62 years of age and following 45 years of volunteer, Territorial and Regular service, Erridge retired from the New Zealand Army and was placed onto the Retired List with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 29 May 1949.[17] Never marrying, Erridge spent his retirement in his hometown of Dunedin. On 30 March 1962, a resident of the Dunedin’s Ross Home, Erridge, passed away at 74. Following his wishes, he was cremated, and his ashes scattered.

Throughout his service, Erridge was awarded the following decorations

  • OBE (1946)
  • NZ Long Service and Efficient Service (1925)
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • War Medal 1939-45
  • NZ War Medal, 193-45


[1] Archives New Zealand, “Henry Earnest Erridge- Ww1 8/1004, NZAOC 888, Ww2 800245, 30293,” Personal File, Record no R24097640 (1904-1948): 2708.

[2] “Regulations for the Military Forces of the Dominion of New Zealand,” New Zealand Gazette, May 19, 1927.

[3] “Appointments, Promotions, Resignations and Transfers of Officers of the NZ Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 61, 19 July 1926.

[4] “Appointments, Promotions, Resignations and Transfer of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 48, 27 June 1929.

[5] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 16, 5 March 1931.

[6] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 55, 19 July 1934.;”Appointment, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers from the NZ Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 87, 29 November 1935.

[7] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 1, 11 Jan 1940.;”Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 75 (1940).

[8] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 70 (1940).

[9] “Unity in War Effort,” Evening Star, Issue 23622, 8 July 1940.

[10] East Africa consisting of the territories of (Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, Nyasaland; Bertram Stevens, “The Eastern Group Supply Council,” The Australian Quarterly 13, no. 3 (1941).

[11] “Eastern Group Supply Council,” Otago Daily Times, Issue 24640, 23 June 1941.

[12] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Retirements of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces.,” New Zealand Gazette, No 30, 9 April 1941.

[13] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Retirements of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces.,” New Zealand Gazette, No 74, 11 September 1941.

[14] “War Supplies,” Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 126, 30 May 1945.

[15] “Production Problems,” Evening Star, Issue 25690, 14 January 1946.

[16] “Supplies – the Eastern Group Supply Council,” Northern Advocate, 1 April 1946, 1 April 1946.

[17] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army “, New Zealand Gazette No 37, 16 June 1949.

Bryan Nelson Jennings Memorial Trophy

The Bryan Nelson Jennings Memorial Trophy would, for a short period in the 1990s, be a coveted trophy awarded to the most outstanding Automotive Parts and Accessories Merchandising Apprentice of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps(RNZAOC).

Apprenticeships for the Automotive Parts and Accessories Merchandising Trade (AP Trade) had been established in 1965 to provide the RNZAOC with skilled tradespeople for employment in RNZAOC Workshops Stores Sections that had been established as part of Royal New Zealand Electrical Mechanical and Electrical Engineers(RNZEME) Workshops and Light Aid Detachments in 1962.

The role of RNZAOC Stores Sections was to carry and manage the specialised holdings of spares, assemblies & workshop materials (Class 9 stores) of their parent workshops.

Administered by the New Zealand Trade Certification Board (now the New Zealand Qualifications Authority), the Automotive Parts and Accessories Merchandising apprentice training scheme consisted of 9000 working hours of study and on the job training with three Trade Board examinations required to gain the trade qualification.

Initially, apprentices would begin their training as 16-year-old Regular Force Cadets (RF Cadets), who, on graduation, would complete their apprentice training at the Main Ordnance Depot, MT Spares Section at Trentham Camp. However, during the 1970s, RNZAOC direct entry recruits were also accepted as apprentices.

Further progression in the AP trade was achieved by qualified apprentices undertaking the New Zealand Management Certificate in Automotive Parts & Accessories Merchandising. the first two Certificate level qualifications were awarded in 1988 To;

  • Sergeant M Wilson (0001)
  • Sergeant S O’Brien (0002)

The final AP Trade Apprentice would be recruited in 1996, following which the apprentice scheme would cease as the foundation for the AP Trade.

Warrant Officer Class One Bryan Nelson Jennings

Bryan was born in Wellington in 1926. Too young to see active service in WW2, Bryan served with the Melrose Battalion, Wellington South Home Guard unit from 1 April 1943 to 1 April 1944, attaining the rank of Corporal.

Volunteering for service with ‘J ‘ Force, the New Zealand component of the British Occupation Forces (BCOF) in Japan, Bryana would be posted to 4 New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot (later renamed to 4 NZ Ordnance Field Park) in August 1946. Completing his engagement, Bryan would return to New Zealand on 14 September 1947. Following a short period posted to the Main Ordnance Depot in Trentham as part of the post-war Interim Army, Bryan was soon discharged and returned to civilian life.

Enlisting into the Regular Forces RNZAXCO on1 April 1948, Bryan undertook a short period of refresher training at the Army School of Instruction at Trentham before being posted to the Main Ordnance Depot as a storeman in the Technical Spares Group and later in the Tyre Store.

Temporarily posted to 10 Coastal Regiment RNZA at Fort Dorset, Bryan, like many of his contemporaries, would be employed on the wharves during the 1951 Waterfront Workers strike.

Promoted to Temporary Sergeant on 25 November 1953, Bryan would be promoted Staff Sergeant on 13 October 1958. Poste to 1 Composite Ordnance Company n loan back in 1964, Bryan would remain at the Main Ordnance Depot.

Posted to 1 General Troops Workshops, Stores Section, Linton Camp as a Warrant Officer Class Two in 1965, Bryan would soon find himself loaned back to the Central Districts Motor Transport Workshops at Trentham.

Seconded to the New Zealand Cadre (Fiji) of the Fijian Military Forces in 1968 as a Temporary Warrant Officer Class One in 1968, Bryan would spend the next two years assisting in the training and development of the Fiji Military Forces.

Returning to New Zealand in January 1971, Bryan was posted to 1 Base Workshops, Trentham and promoted to Warrant Officer Class One. Bryan would remain at 1 Base Workshops and the IC Stores section until his release from the army on n 21 April 1981.

During Bryans more than thirty-two years of service, he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal on 25 March 1965, followed by the Meritorious Service Medal on19 April 1978.

Following his retirement, Bryan would remain in Upper Hurt. Staying engaged with the community, Bryan was an active member of the Lions organisation and a member of the School Board of the Heretaunga College.

Bryan passed away on 9 August 1989 at Upper Hurt after a long illness.

In his memory, The Bryan Nelson Jennings memorial trophy was instituted in 1991. Although not an AP Trade Apprentice himself, Bryan was a mentor to many apprentices and was described as a legend in the trade.

The object of the award was to provide a tangible mark of achievement and was intended to encourage junior soldiers of the AP trade to reach and maintain a high standard of professional competence and personnel integrity.

Nominations for the award were graded against the following attributes:

  • Basic Soldier Skills
  • Loyalty
  • Sportsmanship
  • Enthusiasm
  • Dress, bearing and personnel appearance
  • Trade Skills

Personnel eligible for consideration for the trophy were to meet the following requirements

  • Not be above the rank of Substantive Lance Corporal
  • Must have attended either 1st, 2nd or 3rd qualifying examinations in the past 12 Months
  • Must still be serving their apprenticeship.

The Trophy now resides at the Trade Training School of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.

New Zealand Installation Auxiliary Police Force

The New Zealand military presence in Singapore is an established chapter of New Zealand’s military historiography. Material related to the background and history of the ANZUK Force, the New Zealand Force South East Asia, and 1 RNZIR is readily available. However, information on many of the New Zealand sub-units is more challenging to locate. One unit that was an integral component of the NZ Force of the 1970s and 80s and continues to serve as part of the residual force maintained by New Zealand in Singapore is the Installation Auxiliary Police Force (IAPF).

Upon the 1989 closure of New Zealand Force South East Asia (NZFORSEA), the New Zealand Defence Support Unit (NZDSU) was created to maintain New Zealand’s military presence in Singapore.  Located at the Sembawang Naval Installation (SNI), the NZDSU provides Singapore-based deployable support to NZ Forces throughout Southeast Asia. The NZDSU also contributes to the security of allied (US, UK and Australian) forces in Singapore through the provision of the IAPF. The NZDSU commands the IAPF, whose principal responsibility is the provision of Physical security to the SNI, including checks of all personnel and vehicles entering and leaving the Installation.

The IAPF is a small force 56 Singapore Auxiliary Police Officers (APO) and operates under the authority of Section 92(1) or (2) of the Police Force Act 200. Under the provision of this Act the IAPF is vested with all the power, protection and immunity of a Singapore police officer of corresponding rank. As Singapore APO’s, members of the IAPF are licensed to carry firearms when carrying out their duties.

NZ IAPF Insignia set C1989. Robert McKie Collection

The NZ IAPF originally wore colonial-era Khaki uniforms with the iconic “Kiwi” patch. From around 2000, the uniforms of the IAPF were modernised and standard Singapore police uniforms adopted. The uniform is worn with A IAPF and Kiwi patch worn on each sleeve.

In 1987 RNZAOC Warrant Officer Class Two Wayne Le Gros, wrote the following article on the history of the IAPF for the Journal of the New Zealand Military Society, who have granted permission for it to be reprinted here .


Provided by W.Le Gros

The Installations Auxiliary Police Force was formed on I December 1971 as a result of withdrawal of UK Forces from Singapore. The creation of the lAPF was legalised vide Singapore Government Gazette Notification No. 171 dated 21 January 1972.

Prior to the creation of the IAPF, the MOD (UK) maintained huge military bases for its navy, army and air force. Each had its own police force to maintain security of the installations. Although the exact size of its own police forces is not known, it is estimated that there were about 2,000 people employed as policemen. These 2,000 policemen were not all Singapore citizens. Many were Malaysians, Indians and Pakistanis. Some possessed UK Citizenship. This was permissible because Singapore was then a British colony.

With the disbandment of MOD(UK) police forces following the withdrawal of UK Forces from Singapore, all the foreign nationals were retrenched and they either returned to UK or to their own countries. The few hundred policemen that remained were Singapore citizens and in the final stage of the military withdrawal, these Singapore citizens did not escape the retrenchment exercise which ended on 30 November 1971. Singapore citizens who were under 45 years at that time were absorbed into the newly created IAPF.

It is interesting to note here that although the Navy, Army and Air Force had its own police forces, not all police personnel received the same training. The Navy sent its police recruits to the Singapore Police Training School for 9 months of basic police training. The Army and Air Force had their own training schools, but they concentrated more on physical security. Hence when the IAPF started in 1971, IAPF personnel had different police training background. This was however streamlined when the IAPF organised refresher courses for all its personnel.

All IAPF personnel carry warrant cards issued by the Commissioner of Police Singapore. They have the same powers, protection and immunities of a Singapore police officer of corresponding rank within the area under the jurisdiction of NZ Force S.E. Asia providing also that they have the same powers etc outside the area when in fresh pursuit of or in charge of any person who has committed or is suspected of having committed an offence within the limits of such an area or within view outside such an area.

All IAPF personnel are subject to discipline under the Auxiliary Police Regulations and have a right of appeal to the Commissioner of Police, Singapore on disciplinary matters. The promotion of any IAPF personnel is subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Police. Before any personnel can be promoted, he must present himself before a 3-member Joint Promotion Board convened by the Commissioner of Police. The Chairman of the Joint Promotion Board will be a senior Singapore Police Officer while the other two members are OC IAPF and NZ CEPO, the employing authority.

The IAPF when first established in 1971 under the ANZUK Command had 400 personnel and was commanded by Supt. SK. Sundram, (equivalent to Lt. Col. Rank) a retired Singapore Police Officer. It had 1 Asst. Supt, 9 Inspectors and the rest was made up of constables, corporals and sergeants. In 1975, when Australia and UK withdrew from the ANZUK Command,  62 personnel made up of 2 officers and 60 rank and tile were transferred 10 NZ Force S.E Asia and formed the NZ IAPF. Today, the strength is reduced to 50 personnel as a result of an overall review carried out in 1984.

He NZ IAPF is responsible with the:-

  • Protection of life and property within the NZ/UK Forces installations
  • Control of entry of all persons to NZ/UK Forces installations
  •  Cash/ammunition escorts

Although the IAPF is a small auxiliary police force, it performs a variety of duties .As most of its personnel have given many years of faithful service, the loyalty and devotion of these personnel have always remained steadfast to this date.