Puggarees of New Zealand’s Logistic Corps

From 1912 to 1958, the sight of New Zealand Soldiers in felt slouch hats was commonplace. In addition to providing a practical form of headdress, the use of a coloured headband known as a Puggaree allowed easy identification of the Regiment or Corps of the wearer.

Origins

The Puggaree origins lay in the Hindu word, ‘Pagri,’ which is used to describe a wide range of traditional headwear worn by men and women throughout the Indian Sub-Continent, one of the most recognisable being the Dustaar or Sikh turban.

Soldiers, by their nature, are creatures of innovation and British troops serving India soon found that by wrapping a thin scarf of muslin around their headdress, not only could additional protection from sword blows be provided, but the thin cloth scarf could also be unravelled to provide insulation from the heat of the sun. Like many Indian words, “Pagri” became anglicised into Puggaree.

By the 1870s, the practical use of the Puggaree had become secondary, and the Puggaree evolved into a decorative item on British Army headdress, which, when used with a combination of colours, could be used to distinguish regiments and corps. First used by New Zealanders in the South African war, the use of Puggaree on slouch hats was formalised in the New Zealand Army 1912 Dress Regulations. These regulations detailed the colours of the distinctive Puggaree used to indicate different service branches. Although not stated in the 1912 regulations, the design of New Zealand puggarees was based on three pleats of Khaki/Branch colour/Khaki. The exception was the Artillery puggaree. The puggaree colours detailed in the 1912 regulations were

  • Mounted Rifles – Khaki/Green/Khaki)
  • Artillery –Blue/Red/Blue
  • Infantry – Khaki/Red/Khaki
  • Engineers – Khaki/Blue/Khaki
  • Army Service Corps – Khaki/White/Khaki
  • Medical corps –Khaki/Dull-Cheery /Khaki
  • Veterinary Corps – Khaki/Maroon/Khaki[1]

When first New Zealand troops went overseas in 1914, the NZ Slouch hat was a headdress that had been first used in the South Africa War and had a crease running down the crown from front to rear. From 1914 the Wellington Battalion wore their hats with the crown peaked, and after a short period where cork helmets were also worn, General Godley issued a directive that all troops, other than the Mounted Rifles, would wear the slouch hat with the crown peaked, in what became known as the “Lemon Squeezer”.[2]

Worn with both the Mounted Rifles Slouch hat and the Lemon Squeezer, the Puggaree became a distinctive mark of the New Zealand soldier, identifying them as distinct from soldiers from other parts of the Empire, although Australian and Canada would both use coloured Puggaree on their respective headdress, it was not to the same extent as New Zealand.[3] From 1917 the New Zealand puggaree also proved helpful in distinguishing New Zealand troops from the Americans, who wore headwear similar to the New Zealand Lemon Squeezer hat.[4]

Following the First World War, Dress regulations published in 1923 detailed an increased range of puggarees available to identify the other corps added to the army establishment during the war.

  • Permanent Staff – Scarlet
  • Mounted Rifles – Khaki/Green/Khaki)
  • Artillery –Blue/Red/Blue
  • Engineers – Khaki/Blue/Khaki
  • Signal Corps – Khaki/Light blue/Khaki
  • Infantry – Khaki/Red/Khaki
  • Army Service Corps – Khaki/White/Khaki
  • Medical Corps –Khaki/Dull-Cheery /Khaki
  • Veterinary Corps – Khaki/Maroon/Khaki
  • Ordnance Corps – Red/Blue/Red
  • Pay Corps – Khaki/Yellow/Khaki
  • Cadets – Khaki
  • Chaplains – Black/khaki/Black[5]

A common feature of military dress embellishments was that often there was a high-quality version made for officers and a lesser quality version for the Rank and file, with puggarees also adhering to this practice. Requestions for puggarees from 1943 indicate that the following corps and regiments utilised officer puggarees.

  • Artillery
  • Engineers
  • Infantry
  • Army Service Corps
  • Medical Corps
Example of Infantry Officers Puggaree (Top) and Infantry Rank and File Puggaree (Bottom)

The felt slouch hat and Puggaree would remain a fixture of the New Zealand Army until 1958, when the Lemon Squeezer was withdrawn from services and replaced with a new and unpopular Battle Dress cap. The lemon squeezer style felt hat returned serviced in 1977 as a ceremonial item with a plain red puggaree. The Mounted Rifles style slouch hat returned to service with Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles (QAMR) in 1993 with the traditional Mounted Rifles khaki/green/khaki puggaree.

The Mounted Rifles hat with the Mounted Rifles khaki/green/khaki puggaree was adopted as headwear across the New Zealand Army from 1998 to 2012. However, corps puggarees were not reintroduced, becoming the standard army puggaree, with some units utilising coloured patches affixed to the Puggaree as unit identifiers.

In the forty-six years from 1912 to 1958 that puggarees were utilised as a uniform item, each corps adopted different coloured combinations. However, this article focuses on the use and history of Puggarees by New Zealand’s Logistic Corps,

•             The Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps

•             The Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps,

•             The Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and

•             The Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.

Puggarees of the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps

The origins of the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) puggarees are established in the Regulations of 1912. The RNZASC wore the Khaki/White/Khaki puggarees through the First World War and into the interbellum period.

New Zealand Army Service Corps Puggaree. Robert McKie collection

On 1 June 1924, the NZASC was split into the New Zealand Permanent Army Service Corps, consisting of the Regular ASC NCOs and soldiers, and the NZASC consisting of the Territorial Officers, NCOs and Soldiers.[6] The only uniform difference between the NZPASC and NZASC were their respective brass shoulder titles, with both branches retaining the Khaki/White/Khaki Puggaree

During the Second World War, the NZASC Khaki/White/Khaki remained in use throughout the war

In late 1942, 2NZEF placed a requisition on New Zealand to manufacture 50,000 Officer and Rank and File hat bands (puggarees) for all the different units of the NZEF. As the 3rd Division was in the process of standing up in New Zealand, the Ministry of Supply increased the requestion to 60,100, including

  • 10,000 NZASC Rank and File puggarees, and
  • 1000 NZASC Officer puggarees. [7]
NZASC Puggaree Size Ranges ordered 1943

In early 1944 the decision was made by 2NZEF to replace the lemon squeezer hat with more practical forms of dress, and the requirement for puggarees was adjusted. Considering puggarees already manufactured and the requirement for puggarees by forces in New Zealand and the Pacific, 14590 puggarees from the original order of 61,100 were cancelled.[8] 760 Rank and files NZASC puggarees had already been manufactured, so based on revised calculations, the NZASC order was reduced to 6000 Rank and file and 300 Officer puggarees. [9]

The NZPASC and NZASC were reconstituted on 12 January 1947 and a combined regular and Territorial NZASC, retaining the use of the Khaki/White/Khaki puggaree.[10]

The NZASC was granted royal status on 12 July 1947, becoming the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps.[11]

Puggarees of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps

The New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) was formed as a unit of the NZEF in early 1915 and established as a unit of the New Zealand Permanent Forces in 1917. It is assumed that as a new unit, a distinctive puggaree was adopted for the NZAOC, but the limited photographs of NZAOC personnel are black and white, making identification of colours difficult.

A Newspaper article from December 1918 does provide evidence that an Ordnance puggaree of red/blue/red existed. The article published in the Press on 5 December 1918 stated, “There are only two units in the New Zealand Division with red in the puggaree. They are the Artillery and Ordnance, and in both units, the colours are red and blue”. This sentence identifies that the Ordnance Puggaree was red and blue.[12]

Ordnance Puggaree, RNZAOC 1947-53 Badge. Robert McKie collection

The NZAOC red/blue/red Puggaree was formalised as the Puggaree of the NZAOC in 1923 when the New Zealand Army updated its Dress Regulations for the first time since 1912.[13]

By October 1939, the expansion of the NZAOC and formation of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) for service with the 2nd NZEF created a requirement for NZAOC puggarees that could not be satisfied from stocks held by the Main Ordnance Depot. An urgent order was raised for 288 NZAOC puggarees

As part of the 2NZEF requestion of 1942, orders to manufacture 2200 NZAOC puggarees were raised.

NZAOC Puggaree Size Ranges ordered 1943

By 1944, 270 NZAOC puggarees had been manufactured and delivered, and despite the order quantities for other corps being reduced, some adjustment was made to the size range required, and the remaining 1930 NZAOC puggarees were manufactured.   

Puggarees of the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

The youngest of the three New Zealand logistic corps, the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME), progressively evolved into a corps from 1942 in three stages.

  • The New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) formed as a unit of the 2nd NZEF in November 1942.[14]
  • The formation of the NZEME as a new unit of New Zealand’s Permanent Forces on 1 September 1946, amalgamating and co-ordinating ordnance workshops, mechanical transport workshops, and armourers’ workshops, which in the past have been under separate command.[15]
  • The granting of “Royal” status on 12 July 1947.[16]

As the RNZEME established itself as a Corps, it utilised three types of Puggaree.

Red/Blue/Red Puggaree

As a corps predominantly drawn from the NZAOC, on its establishment in 1946, the NZEME adopted the existing NZAOC Red/Blue/Red Puggaree and NZOC badge. This was a temporary measure until NZEME Puggaree and badges were manufactured.[17]

NZ Ordnance Puggaree with NZOC Badge

Red/Green/Red Puggaree

By 1948 a distinctive Red/Green/Red puggaree with its origins in the NZEME of 2NZEF had replaced the NZAOC Puggaree.

NZEME pattern Puggaree. Robert.McKie Collection

As part of the 2NZEF requestion of 1942, orders were raised for 3000 puggarees for the NZEME.[18]

NZAOC Puggaree Size Ranges ordered 1943

As the NZEME puggaree was a new pattern, its design was described

  • Shades of red material as per Kaiapoi pattern range 7443x (as used in Artillery and Infantry bands).
  • Shades of green material as per Kaiapoi pattern range 18153B 9 (as used in NZMR bands).

The NZEME puggarees were not included in the reduction and cancellation of the 1943 order, and it can be assumed that the complete order of 3000 was manufactured and placed into storage at the Main Ordnance Depot. [19]  A 1945 report places the cost of a dozen NZEME puggarees at £1.3.0 (2022 NZD $107.07).[20]

Blue/Yellow/ Red Puggaree

By 1948 the RNZEME decided to update their Puggaree with one that reflected their corps colours of blue, yellow and red, with an order for 4000 placed on the Kaiapoi Woollen Manufacturing Company. With competing manufacturing demands, the Kaiapoi Woollen Manufacturing Company could not satisfy this order but could provide the required materials. In June 1949, the War Asset Realisation Board District Officer in Auckland selected a Mrs V.I Banton of 117 Lynwood Road, New Lynn, to manufacture the RNZEME puggarees. At the cost of 1/6 each (2022 NZD $6.65). [21]

RNZEME Puggaree. Robert McKie collection

With the initial order for 4000 paced in June 1949, it was not until January 1950 that Mrs Banton provided suitable samples that met the required specifications to allow her to begin production, with the first batch of 704 provided in April 1950.

With the new RNZEME puggaree becoming available, the question of how to dispose of the 1800 red/green/red pattern NZEME puggarees in the Ordnance clothing stores was raised.

It would not be a case of a new pattern in, old pattern out, but one where the old pattern was to be progressively wasted out as stocks of the new pattern became available. The priority was to be RNZEME Territorials Force units first, then distributed to RNZEME Regular Forces units.[22] Photographic evidence suggests that the transition from the NZEME puggaree to the RNZEME Puggaree had been completed by 1951.

Farewell to the Puggaree

A 1947 survey of New Zealand Soldiers found that the Lemon Squeezer was the most popular form of headdress utilised by the New Zealand Army.[23] However, it was not the most suitable type of headdress, and for many of the same reasons 2NZEF discontinued its use during the war, the army began to look for a replacement.

In 1954 the Cap Battledress (Cap BD), commonly referred to as the Ski Cap, was introduced into service. The Cap BD progressively replaced the Lemon squeezer so that by 1960 except for its use by the New Zealand Artillery Band, the Lemon squeezer ceased to be an official uniform item of the New Zealand Army.[24]

NZ Army Cap Battledress (Cap BD), introduced in 1954, was withdrawn from service in 1964. Robert Mckie Collection

With several thousand unused puggarees sitting in Ordnance Depots as now dead stock, unlikely to ever be issued, Army HQ issued instructions that except for  150 RNZA Puggarees of a balanced size range, all other stocks were to be destroyed.[25]  By August 1961, all stocks of puggarees had been destroyed.[26]

The Lemon Squeezer was reintroduced as a ceremonial headdress in 1977, utilising the red Puggaree utilised by the Staff Corps, Permanent Staff and 1953 Coronation Contingent.

Puggaree of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment

The Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR) was established in 1996 by amalgamating the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport, RNZAOC and RNZEME while also absorbing all the All Arms Quartermaster Storekeepers from every corps of the New Zealand Army. A diverse regiment of officers and soldiers from across the army, a means to shape the regiment’s heritage and acknowledge the importance of its and predecessors’ role, was required. An opportunity to coalesce the RNZALR was provided in 1998.

In 1998, the RNZALR was presented with a banner providing a regimental focal point. Several unique dress items, including a puggaree, were introduced to provide the RNZALR Banner escort party with distinctive RNZALR dress embellishments. Missing the opportunity to adopt a new puggaree that reflected the role that the RNZALR’s predecessors had performed with courage and resilience in the past, the leadership of the RNZALR took the cautious and lazy option of adopting a Puggaree with no connection to the legacy corps. The Puggaree adopted was a  blue puggaree, last been utilised by the NZ Provosts in the First World War.

Also, in 1998 the New Zealand Army reintroduced the Mounted Rifles Felt hat as an item of headdress across the army. Already in service with QAMR since 1993, the Mounted Rifles hat retained the Mounted Rifles Khaki/Green/Khaki puggaree. The reintroduction of the Mounted Rifles hat could also be considered a missed opportunity by the leadership of the RNZALR for not advocating the adoption of a unique RNZALR puggaree to be worn by RNZALR units. A compromise was provided through the adoption of a unit flashed affixed to the left side of the Puggaree. While retained by QAMR, the Mounted Rifles hat was withdrawn from general army use in 2012.

In conclusion, the demise of the coloured Puggaree in 1958 removed a valuable means of identifying soldiers and their units. It was an embellishment that by 1970 was missed, and to fill the gap, some corps lobbied for the introduction of corps lanyards while others introduced regimental stable belts. The opportunity was open to reintroducing regimental Puggarees between 1998 and 2022. However, this was missed. Today Puggarres are a reminder of a time of more colourful uniform embellishments and a curiosity for collectors of militaria.


Notes

[1] New Zealand Military Forces Dress Regulations, ed. New Zealand Military Forces (Wellington, 1912). https://rnzaoc.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/1923-nz-army-dress-regs.pdf; “Formation of New Unit and Corps, Constitution of Generals’ List and Colonels’ List, Amalgamation, Redesignation, and· Disbanding of Corps, New Zealand Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 2, 11 January 1947, http://www.nzlii.org/nz/other/nz_gazette/1947/2.pdf.

[2] D. A. Corbett, The regimental badges of New Zealand: an illustrated history of the badges and insignia worn by the New Zealand Army (Auckland, NZ: Ray Richards, 1980 Revised enl. edition, 1980), Non-fiction, 47-48.

[3] “Local And General,” Dominion, Volume 9, Issue 2610,, 4 November 1915, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DOM19151104.2.38.

[4] “Visit to Paris,” North Otago Times, Volume CV, Issue 14001, 11 December 1917, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NOT19171211.2.58.

[5] New Zealand Military Forces Dress Regulations, ed. New Zealand Military Forces (Wellington, 1923). https://rnzaoc.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/1923-nz-army-dress-regs.pdf.

[6] “Formation of New Zealand Permanent Army Service Corps.,” New Zealand Gazette No 46, July 3 1924, http://www.nzlii.org/nz/other/nz_gazette/1924/46.pdf.

[7] Main Ordnance Depot O.S.56/40/1/2499 Dated 28 June 1943. “Clothing: Felt Hats, Bands: Provision,” Archives New Zealand No R17187892  (1939).

[8] Chief Ordnance Officer 56/40/1/439 Dated 14 April 1944 “Clothing: Felt Hats, Bands: Provision.”

[9] Chief Ordnance Officer 56/40/1/439 Dated 14 April 1944 “Clothing: Felt Hats, Bands: Provision.”

[10] “Formation of New Unit and Corps, Constitution of Generals’ List and Colonels’ List, Amalgamation, Redesignation, and· Disbanding of Corps, New Zealand Military Forces.”

[11] “Designation of Corps of New Zealand Military Forces altered and Title ” Royal ” added,” New Zealand Gazette No 39, 17 July 1947, http://www.nzlii.org/nz/other/nz_gazette/1947/39.pdf.

[12] “Soldiers and Dress – Ordnance Pugaree,” Press, Volume LIV, Issue 16387 (Christchurch), 5 December 1918, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP19181205.2.6.1.

[13] New Zealand Military Forces Dress Regulations.

[14] Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, RNZEME 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017).

[15];”Formation of Unit of the New Zealand Permanent Force,” New Zealand Gazette No 60, 29 August 1946, 1199, http://www.nzlii.org/nz/other/nz_gazette/1946/60.pdf.

[16] “Designation of Corps of New Zealand Military Forces altered and Title ” Royal ” added.”

[17] “New Unit of Permanent Forces,” Press, Volume LXXXII, Issue 24979 (Christchurch), 13 September 1946, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP19460913.2.16.

[18] Main Ordnance Depot O.S.56/40/1/2499 Dated 28 June 1943. “Clothing: Felt Hats, Bands: Provision.”

[19] Chief Ordnance Officer 56/40/1/439 Dated 14 April 1944 “Clothing: Felt Hats, Bands: Provision.”

[20] Ministry of Supply 10/59/367 dated 13 September 1945 “Clothing: Felt Hats, Bands: Provision.”

[21] War Asset Realisation Board SCB.Q900 Dated 14 June 1949.”Clothing: Puggarees and Hat Bands RNZEME,” Archives New Zealand No R22496567  (1950).

[22] MOD 14/1/19 dated 22 Apr 1950.”Clothing: Puggarees and Hat Bands RNZEME.”

[23] “Lemon squeezer Most Popular NZ Army Hat,” Northern Advocate,, 22 December 1947, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NA19471222.2.17.

[24] 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.

[25] Army 213/15/1/OS3, dated 1 April 1961.”Clothing: Felt Hats, Bands: Provision.”

[26] SMD 5/20/1/ORD 13 July 1961, “Clothing: Felt Hats, Bands: Provision.”


RNZAOC Lanyard

New Zealand’s military usage of lanyards has been practical, with lanyards used for securing pistols, compasses and whistles to a person. Aside from the practical use of lanyards, there are also examples where lanyards have been adopted as a coloured uniform accoutrement by some New Zealand Regiments and Corps, some examples being

  • The Regular Force Cadets’ red lanyard
  • The New Zealand Provost and Military Police white lanyard
  • The Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport blue and gold lanyard

Almost included in this short list of New Zealand Army regimental lanyards was the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC), which applied for permission to adopt a regimental lanyard in the 1960s.

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.

In the British Army Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC), a coloured RAOC Lanyard was introduced with the 1960 Pattern No2 Dress, and within a short time, the RNZAOC applied for a similar dress distinction.

On 24 July 1962, the Colonel Commandant of the RNZAOC, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Reid, submitted a proposal to the New Zealand Army Dress Committee to adopt a unique dress embellishment for specific Regular Force RNZAOC personnel. The submission reads

1.         R&SO Vol II paras 3359 refers

2.         I wish to refer the following proposal submitted by 4 Inf Bde Gp OFP, for consideration for the adoption of a special embellishment to the dress for specific Regular Force RNZAOC personnel.

3.        The proposal is that personnel posted to field force units, ie, 4 Inf Bde Gp OFP and 4 Inf Wksps Stores Sec be permitted to wear a lanyard on the left shoulder, with all orders of dress other than numbers 1, 4 and 5.

4.          The proposed lanyard has three cords, twisted, two scarlet and one blue, with a loop at each end. A suggested sample is enclosed.

5.         The reasons for this proposal are as follows:-

a. 4 Inf Bde Gp OFP and 4 Inf Wksps Stores Sec are new RNZAOC RF units, in fact, it is the first time these types of units have been formed within the Regular Force in the

NZ Army. The personnel have been drawn from the older District Ordnance Depots and many of them continue to think in District terms. It is considered that an

embellishment such as the lanyard, would create a high unit feeling and help to raise and maintain high morale in these RNZAOC units within the field force.

b. It is anticipated that the employment of personnel in these units will occasionally be by assisting RNZAOC static depots. Under these circumstances the

embellishment would maintain a unit feeling when the personnel are mixed with other RNZAOC units.

c. During Bde Gp concentrations, when summer dress is worn and thus corps shoulder titles are not worn, the lanyard would further foster unit spirit within the

formation.

6.          The purchase of these lanyards, if approved, would be undertaken entirely from Unit resources, with Public Funds not being involved in any way.

7.         I strongly recommend this proposal and forward it for your favourable consideration

RNZAOC Colonel Commandant, “Request to adopt special embellishment to dress,” Archives New Zealand No R17187826  (24 July 1962).

Replying to the RNZAOC Colonel Commandant on 10 October 1962, the Army Dress committed agreed to the desirability of having a unique dress embellishment to identify Regular Force Field Force Personnel. However, as a universal shoulder patch for all Field Force personnel was under consideration by the Army Clothing Development Section, approval was not granted for an RNZAOC-specific lanyard. However, the proviso was set that if shoulder patches were rejected as a dress embellishment, further consideration of lanyards was possible, and the Dress Committee welcomed the re-submission of the proposal for an RNZAOC lanyard. The Sample provided to Lt Col Reid was returned.[2]

It took a few more years, but on 10 September 1964, approval was given for the wearing of Formation Patches by all ranks, other than 1 RNZIR and 1 Bn Depot, who continued to wear the red diamond. The approved patches were circular 11/2 inch in diameter and dived by operational grouping,

  • Combat Brigade Group – Black
  • Logistic Support Group, 3 NZEF and Base Units – Red
  • Combat Reserve Brigade Troops – Green
  • All others – Blue

The blue Formation patch for other units was discontinued on 3 December 1968. Approval for the wearing of the remaining patches was withdrawn on 6 August 1971.[3]

Regardless of this initial setback, the idea of an RNZAOC lanyard remained a popular one within the RNZAOC. In November 1969, the DADOS(D), on behalf of the RNZAOC, pitched to the Army Dress Committee the desire of the RNZAOC to have a lanyard as a distinctive dress distinction. By 1969 the corps had been reorganised and instead of a lanyard being an item of dress for those Regular Force personnel posted to Field Force units, it was intended to issue lanyards to all RNZAOC personnel. By 1969 Stable belts were starting to become a popular addition to the range of army dress accoutrements. However, the wearing of Stable belts was limited by the dress orders available, leading the RNZAOC to favour a lanyard as a dress distinction with broader utility. As in 1962, a sample was again provided.

The chairman of the Dress Committee was not in favour of lanyards as he wished to avoid a proliferation of dress embellishments. However, based on the argument put forward by the DADOS(A), he reserved his decision until a future meeting of the Army Dress Committee and invited the DOS to attend to support this item on the agenda.[4]

The next meeting of the Army Dress Committee with the discussion on an RNZAOC Lanyard was on 1 March 1971. In this meeting, the DOS again proposed an RNZAOC lanyard, mentioning that most other Corps of the NZ Army had adopted some form of distinctive dress, for example, Stable belts. However, the RNZAOC remained in favour of an RNZAOC lanyard.

The proposed lanyard was not to be purchased at public expense and was to be worn on the left shoulder of no 2,3,6 (except 6D) and 7 orders of dress. Most members of the Army Dress Committee approved the proposal. However, the chairman again reserved his decision until a clear policy directive on Corps Dress Distinctions was issued from Army HQ, as again, he felt that an introduction of an RNZAOC lanyard “might open the door from other corps submissions”.[5]

The proposal for an RNZAOC lanyard was not approved. In 1972 the RNZAOC reconsidered its position on Stable belts and, following a submission to the Army Dress Committee, was granted permission to adopt an RNZAOC specific Stable belt in April 1972.[6]

The sample lanyards were returned to the DOS and eventually found their way into the RNZAOC School memorabilia collection as a reminder of what could have been. Following the disestablishment of the RNZAOC in 1996, the RNZAOC School memorabilia collection was handed over to the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR) for safe keeping and future preservation. Unfortunately, as a nondescript item whose story had been forgotten and a lack of a robust management policy led to these lanyards and many other RNZAOC items finding their way to the open market.


Notes

[1] RNZAOC Colonel Commandant, “Request to adopt special embellishment to dress,” Archives New Zealand No R17187826  (24 July 1962).

[2] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971,” Archives New Zealand No R9753141  (July 1971).

[3] “Clothing – Dress Embellishments: General 1960-1976,” Archives New Zealand No R17187826  (1960).

[4] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971.”

[5] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971.”

[6] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971.”


Defence Preparations – New Zealand Defence Stores 1911

The passing of the Defence Act 1909 heralded a transformation of the Defence Forces of New Zealand, establishing a military system that influenced the organisation, training and recruitment of the New Zealand Army into the early 1970s. Coming into effect on 28 February 1910, The Act abolished the existing Volunteer system, in its place creating a citizen-based Territorial Army from the units, regiments and Corps of the Volunteer Army.[1]  The Territorial Army’s personnel needs would be maintained by a system of Compulsory Military Training (CMT), requiring the registration of all boys and men between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one years of age.[2] The challenge for Captain James O’Sullivan and the staff of the Defence Stores, an organisation already markedly transformed since 1900, was to meet the material need needs of the growing citizen army that New Zealand was creating.

At Buckle Street, Wellington, during the 1913 waterfront strike. Smith, Sydney Charles, 1888-1972: Photographs of New Zealand. Ref: 1/2-048786-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22820606

The following article published in the New Zealand Times on 8 December 1911 provides an eyewitness account of the activities of the Defence Stores in support of the growing citizen army.[3]

While politicians are prating about the cost of the defence scheme, and its more direct enemies are peregrinating from street corner to street corner with soap boxes, the scheme itself is being steadily proceeded with. Some people probably fail to realise what it means to inaugurate an entirely new system of military defence. The necessary legislation came first, then the mapping out of the requirements in men and money, then the excitement of enrolling, and now there is proceeding the part, of which the public see little and hear little, but which perhaps is the most troublesome of all, and materially the most important, viz., the arming and the equipment of themen.

This task is being carried out at the Defence Stores in Buckle Street, Wellington. It requires a visit there to realise the thought, the work, the experience, that are necessary to carry out a big work of this description. When you enter the Buckle Street stores and see the busy toilers and the preparations for the distribution of arms and clothing over the Dominion, you realise that a big work is in progress.

For instance, the uniforms for the territorials have for the past week or two been arriving. So far the outfits for about nine thousand men in a more or less state of completion, have come, to hand. These all have to be sorted out and shelved. They are in graded in sizes, an ingenious system of measurement, the product of the brain of Captain O’Sullivan, Director of Defence Stores, has been applied, whereby almost any sized youth be fitted. Measuring has been proceeding in the various centres. A form is filled up by the regimental quartermaster for each recruit, and these forms are now arriving at the depot. Next weak commences the task of sending out the uniforms. Each man also gets an overcoat, a felt hat, and a forage cap. Every branch of the service will wear putties instead of leggings. The uniforms in hand at present fill multitudes of shelves—indeed, the place wears the appearance of a busy warehouse. Every article of clothing is the product of New Zealand mills. There is a absolute uniformity of colour, so that the whole New Zealand defence force, from the North Cape to the Bluff, will on mobilisation, present no spectacle of detached units, but one uniform whole. Distinguishing colour badges and trouser stripes will mark the branches of the service, green denoting the mounted, men, and red the infantry. The senior cadets will have neat blouses and long trousers. So far the uniforms in stock comprise only a small portion of what yet remains to be handled. A new brick building is in the later stages of completion for their safer storage. The felt hats are the product of the National Hat Mills, Wellington, and are really a very excellent article. Many large packing cases are stacked in the yards waiting to be dispatched with these goods to the territorial centres.

But this is only one branch of the industry. In other sheds are stacked camp paraphernalia, tents, marching outfits of the latest pattern, containing, in addition to bayonet, water-bottle, overcoat, etc., a handy trenching tool, bandoliers, field outfits, including telephones and heliographs; much leather goods; service boots, which the department is selling, at option, to the men at a low fee, and many other requisites.  Outside in the yard is a new pontoon bridge, lately come to hand, a rather bulky apparatus that has not yet been used. Elsewhere are stored transit water tanks, a sample transport waggon (from which others will be manufactured in the Dominion). Necessary appliances for the eighteen-pounder guns have also been coming to hand, though the guns themselves have not yet arrived.

In other sheds are many large black cases. These contain the service rifles. It is not permitted that the public should know what stock of these is kept. It is a state secret that not even an Opposition order for a “return” could cause to be divulged. Recently, however, ten thousand were added to the stock. Just at present workmen are spending busy hours cleaning up and inspecting the rifles that have been received from the old volunteer corps. Every Government arm in the Dominion has been called in, and as a result every, man will have issued to him a nice clean rifle. It will be a new start over the whole Dominion. It would grieve the heart of the military enthusiast to see the condition in which some of the rifles have been sent In. There is undoubtedly great need for the new quartermasters in the various regiments, to see that this sort of thing does not recur. Some of the Wellington corps have been rather bad offenders. The comparatively slow process of cleaning these arms has been the cause of the delay in their reissue. Every rifle has 104 parts, and these parts are stocked in large quantities.

Of the Dominion’s ammunition store, also, the outsider can know nothing. This much, however, is for public information, that every Saturday morning the Director of the Defence Stores produces his ammunition balance book, to the Commandant, who then known from glancing over the pages exactly how every packet has been distributed and how each part of the Dominion is served.

The Buckle Street stores do not yet present the aspect of a Woolwich Arsenal, but things are very busy there; the will of the people is being given effect to at as rapid a rate as opportunity will permit; evidences are offered of the effective defence scheme now in active operation; and pleasing, indeed, is the outstanding fact that local industries are benefiting to an enormous degree from a new departure in defence that after all, is an admitted necessity.

Arms and Uniforms,” New Zealand Times, Volume XXXIII, Issue 7978, 8 December 1911

Defence Stores, Bunny Street, Wellington. Goggle Maps/Public Domain
Former Defence Stores Compound, Buckle Street, Wellington The building on the right of the photo is the original 1911 Defence Stores building. The building on the left is the 1916 extension.
Former Defence Stores Compound, Buckle Street, Wellington.
Former Defence Stores Compound, Buckle Street, Wellington The building on the right of photo is the original 1911 Defence Stores building. The building on the left is the 1916 extension.

Notes

[1] Peter Cooke and John Crawford, The Territorials (Wellington: Random House New Zealand Ltd, 2011), 153.

[2] I. C. McGibbon and Paul William Goldstone, The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History (Auckland; Melbourne; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, 2000), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 109-10.

[3] “Arms and Uniforms,” New Zealand Times, Volume XXXIII, Issue 7978, 8 December 1911.


Plan of the Defence Stores Mount Eden

This undated plan of the Mount Eden Goal Reserve provides a view of the layout of the long-forgotten Auckland Defence Stores Mount Eden location. Located between the Goal and Auckland Grammar School, this plane was drawn up sometime between 1907 and 1917

The Defence Stores footprint at Mount Eden started in 1871 when two magazines were constructed to house Defence ammunition, then stored at Albert Barracks in the centre of Auckland.

In 1903 the Defence Stores Office in O’Rourke Street (now Auckland University) was relocated to Mount Eden. Initially, the existing magazines at Mount Eden were thought to be sufficient. However, it was soon found that additional buildings were required, and a Stores building and Armourer’s shop were constructed during 1903/04. Eventually, a house was also built for Captain W.T Beck, the District Storekeeper.

In 1917 the Defence Stores were reorganised into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC), with the Mount Eden Defence Stores becoming the Northern Districts Ordnance Depot.

By 1920, with little space available for expansion to allow the storage of the large number of mobilisation stores required by the Norther District, construction of an alternative site for the Mount Eden Ordnance Depot began at Hopuhopu in the Waikato.

While the Hopuhopu site was still under construction, Stores from the Mount Eden site began to be transferred to Hopuhopu in 1927. The new depot officially opened in 1929, with the Mount Eden Depot closing.

The Store constructed in 1903 was dismantled and re-erected at the Narrow neck Camp on Auckland’s North Shore. The fate of the original magazines is unknown, but they were likely taken over for a time by the nearby Colonial Ammunition Company (CAC).

The closure of the Mount Eden Depot did not totally sever to the connection between Mount Eden and the Ordnance Corps, with Ordnance Ammunition staff remaining attached to the CAC until 1967, testing the supply of Small Arms Ammunition provided by that factory.


Behind the scenes at Takapau

It is said that a picture says a thousand words, and this postcard of the Takapau Divisional Camp of April-May 1914 is such a picture. While it tells part of the story of the neatly 4839 Territorials who attended the camp, it also provides an insight into the tremendous logistical effort by the Defence Stores Department to provide the stores and equipment required by the largest Territorial camp ever held in New Zealand.

Between April and May 1914, 18,882 Territorial Soldiers of New Zealand’s citizen army attended five main camps across New Zealand. 

  • the Auckland Military Districts camp was at Hautapu, near Cambridge,
  • the Canterbury Military Districts camp was split between Kowai, near Springfield, with the Marlborough and Nelson units camping at Tapawera, near Nelson.
  • the Otago Military Districts Camp was at Matarae, in Central Otago
  • The Wellington Military Districts were held at Takapau in Hawkes Bay.

To oversee the management of the Camp Equipment and other Ordnance Stores required, the District Storekeepers of each Military District were appointed as Ordnance Officers for the duration of the camp and provided with a staff of eighteen Territorial Soldiers trained in the duties required of an Ordnance Depot.

The District Storekeepers were

  • Honorary Lieutenant William Thomas Beck, District Storekeeper, Auckland
  • Honorary Lieutenant Arthur Rumbold Carter White, District Storekeeper, Christchurch
  • Honorary Lieutenant Mr Owen Paul McGuigan, District Storekeeper, Dunedin
  • Mr Frank Edwin Ford District Storekeeper, Nelson
  • Honorary Major James O’Sullivan, Defence Storekeeper Wellington

Based on the numbers that attended the Takapau Camp and the Camp Equipment scale of 1913, the following quantities indicate the Camp Equipment required. Provided from the Defence Stores in Wellington, two trainloads were required to move the stores from Wellington to Takapau to pre-position before the camp.

  • Axes, felling, helved, 122
  • Axe. Pick, 160
  • Buckets, Water, 1937
  • Basins, Wash hand, 2023
  • Boilers with lid, 20 Gal, 100
  • Boilers with lid, 9 Gal, 100
  • Candlesticks, bayonet, 2023
  • Choppers, Meat, 100
  • Crowbars (if required) 190
  • Dishes, meat, 1711
  • Kettles, camp, 1543
  • Lantern s, stable, 348
  • Racks, arm, tent (Large loop), 1259
  • Spades, 274
  • Shovels, 274
  • Tents, circular, complete, 1773
  • Marquees, 65
  • Ropes, picket, 20 yards 115
  • Brooms, bass, 128
  • Sheets, ground, 8350
  • Rakes, iron 16in ,128

How much of this equipment was available in the District Storehouses is unknown. However, it is known that in 1914 the NZ Military had a sufficient stock of tents to accommodate the whole Territorial Force at the full establishment, including

  • 3651 tents (circular)
  • 181 marquees,
  • 30 operating tents, and
  • 98 bivouac tents

The concept of the Camp Ordnance Depots was that as the unit advance parties arrived, the required number of camp equipment stores were issued from the Ordnance Depot to the unit Quartermaster Staff, usually under the control of the Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.

On completing the camp, the RQMS was required to return all the stores to the Ordnance depot and remain available to finalise any accounts for losses and damages. Following the closedown of the camp, the stores were then loaded onto trains and returned to the District Stores, ready for the next activity.

The Ordnance Depots also held a stock of clothing and equipment available as replacements or for sale. For example, the Takapau Camp Ordnance Depot sold 1000 boots and 250 blankets.

The Divisional Camps of 1914 were only the second time Ordnance Depots had been established at annual camps and proved successful. There is no doubt that they would have stood up again for the planned camps in 1915. However, the logistical framework of the 1914 Divisional Camps served as a dress rehearsal for the August 1914 mobilisation and contributed to the raising and dispatching overseas of the largest, best trained and equipped force to be dispatched from this country in the 20th century.


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 UK
‘NZEF in England 1916-19 map’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/nzef-england-1916-19-map, (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
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].

20180426_220053-999293972

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;

stock

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

20180605_195417-190082474.jpg
New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Badge, 1916-1919 (Robert McKie Collection 2017)

Notes

[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).


New Zealand Arms to Afghanistan

Following the war in South Africa, the British Empire was at the height of its power and prestige. The Royal Navy ruled the oceans, and if British interests were threatened on land, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had proven their commitment to support the empire by contributing men and materiel. As the economic powerhouse of the empire, British India was the most significant jewel in the British Imperial crown. However, British India’s confidence that it had the support of British dominions was put to the test in 1909 when it was discovered that firearms from Australia and New Zealand were being provided to tribes on the North-West Frontier who were actively opposed to the interests of British India. So how did firearms from New Zealand end up in the hands of Pathan Tribesmen on the borders of modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan?

As the New Zealand military reorganised and reequipped following the war in South Africa, new uniforms and equipment were introduced, and the .303inch cartridge adopted as the standard calibre for rifles, carbines and machine guns, resulting in the Defence Stores holding over 17,000 Snider, Martin-Henry and Remington Lee rifles, carbines and accoutrements and just under a million rounds of obsolete ammunition. The disposal of this stockpile was the most significant disposal of Arms and Ammunition undertaken by the Defence Stores throughout its existence which had the unintended consequence of arming Pathan tribesmen on the borders of British India.

Snider rifles were introduced into New Zealand service starting from 1868.

Top: Snider Long Rifle, Middle: Snider Medium (Hay) Rifle, Bottom: Snider Short (Sword) Rifle Photo J Osborne New Zealand Arms Register. http://www.armsregister.com/

The Sniders served thru to 1890, when they began to be superseded by Martini-Henry rifles and carbines.

Rifle, Martini-Henry, 1896, Enfield, by Royal Small Arms Factory. Gift of the Police Department, date unknown. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Te Papa (DM000372)

The introduction of cordite or smokeless powder ushered in the introduction of the .303 Martini-Enfield rifle leading to the progressive withdrawal of the Sniders and Martini-Henrys following the introduction of bolt action Lee Metford and Enfield rifles. With sufficient .303 calibre Martini-Enfield’s and an increasing amount of bolt action, magazine-fed Lee Metford and Enfield rifles available to arm the forces and provide a reserve, the Defence Council authorised a Board of Survey to be formed to investigate the disposal of the obsolete Sniders and Martinis in store.[1] In addition to Sniders and Martinis, there was also a quantity of .340 Remington-Lee rifles. In a bold move to provide New Zealand’s forces with the most modern of rifles, these were imported into New Zealand in 1887. However, due to unsatisfactory ammunition, the Remington-Lees were withdrawn from service in 1888.

Sitting in early 1907 and consisting of three officers, the Board of Survey weighed up the options for the disposal of the stockpile of obsolete weapons. Dumping the entire stock at sea was considered, but an anticipated outcry from the New Zealand press, as this means of disposal, would have been seen as another example of needless government waste, and this option was ruled out. A small but guaranteed financial benefit resulted in sale by tender being decided upon as the most practical means of disposal.[2]

The early 20th Century was a turbulent time in world history. The late 19th-century race by the European powers had left them all fighting colonial bush wars to suppress opposition and maintain control in their various colonial possessions. In Eastern Europe, the Balkans were aflame as the former European vassals of the Ottoman empire fought the Turks and each other as they struggled to gain their independence. Closer to New Zealand, as the emerging American and Japanese empires undertook colonial expansion in the Philippines and Korea, conflict and insurrection followed and were only quelled by the most brutal measures.

In this environment, the New Zealand Government was cognisant that there was a ready market for firearms, however as the Arms Act of New Zealand limited the bulk export of weapons from New Zealand, the conditions of the tender were clear that for any arms not purchased for use in New Zealand, the remainder were not to be exported to any country or place other than Great Britain.

The entire stock of firearms was stored at the Defence Stores at Wellington and packed 50 to 90 weapons per case. The tender terms allowed tenderers to quote for not less than 100 of any weapon. The quantities and types of weapons were,

  • .577 Snider rifles, short sword bayonets with scabbards – 6867
  • .577 Snider rifles, long – 978
  • .577 Snider carbines, artillery; sword bayonets with scabbards – 1957
  • .577 Snider carbines, cadet – 849
  • .577 Snider carbines, cavalry – 669
  • .577/450 Martini-Henry rifles, sword bayonets with scabbards – 4686
  • .577/450 Martini-Henry carbines – 520
  • Enfield carbines, Sword bayonets and scabbards – 103
  • .340 Remington Lee Rifles – 840
  • Swords, cavalry, with scabbards – 600

The ammunition was all of the black powder types, which, when fired, created a large amount of smoke exposing the rifleman’s position. An interesting ammunition type included in the tender was 106,000 rounds of Gardner-Gatling ammunition. This ammunition had been imported in the late 1880s as part of a demonstration lot, resulting in the purchase of a single Gardiner Machine Gun by the New Zealand Government. The ammunition was stored in the magazines at Wellington and Auckland, with the tender terms allowing bids of less than 50,000 rounds of any mixture of ammunition. The ammunition types tendered were.

  • .577/450 Martini-Henry, ball, rifle, solid case – 189000 rounds
  • .577/450 Martini-Henry, ball, rifle, rolled case – 170000 rounds
  • .577/450 Martini-Henry, ball, carbine, rolled case – 120000 rounds
  • .577/450 Martini-Henry, blank – 240000 rounds
  • .577 Snider Ball – 150000 rounds
  • .45 Gardner Gatling, ball – 106,000 rounds

Notice of the tender was published by the Director of Military Stores, Captain James O’Sullivan, in the New Zealand press from 4 June 1907, with 14 June set as the final day for bids.[3]

The Tender Board accepted the highest tender in July 1907 with all the arms purchased by a Manchester firm through their New Zealand agents.

Much of the powder within the ammunition had caked and was unsuitable for use, leading to a significant part of the stocks being broken down into salvageable components in New Zealand. Under the supervision of Captain O’Sullivan, a record of each weapon was taken, recording the brands and serial numbers stamped on each weapon. As the weapons were packed into cases, the contents of each case were also recorded. The entire consignment was loaded onto the S.S. Mamari at Wellington, which sailed directly to London via the New Zealand Shipping Company’s usual route.  Included in the mail carried on the same voyage was a notification to the War Office in England providing complete shipment details. Providing these details to the War Office was not obligatory and only made on Captain O’Sullivan initiative. Four months later, the War Office received a reply asking why they had been sent all that information.

Approximately £6000 (2021 NZ$1,095,722) was realised by the entire sale of arms and ammunition.

Captain O’Sullivan’s attention to detail in dispatching the New Zealand firearms to England proved wise when in May 1909, the Calcutta Englishman, the leading daily newspaper in India, published an article stating that Weapons bearing Australian and New Zealand markings had been smuggled across the Pathan border.[4]

Rifle, Martini-Henry, 1896, Enfield, by Royal Small Arms Factory. Gift of the Police Department, date unknown. CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Te Papa (DM000372)

While the Calcutta Englishman was accurate in its report that weapons bearing Australian and New Zeland Military markings had been found in the hands of Pathan tribesmen. The path the New Zealand weapons had taken to India was not the result of poor accounting by New Zealand’s Defence Stores, but rather the shady dealing of British second-hand arms dealers.


Notes

[1] “Defence Forces of New Zealand: Report by the Council of Defence and Extracts from the Report of the Inspector-General of the NZ Defence Forces, for the Year Ended 28th February 1908,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1909 Session II, H-19  (1909).

[2] “The Smuggled Rifles,” Star (Christchurch), Issue 9546, 19 May 1909.

[3] “Obsolete Arms,” New Zealand Times, Volume XXIX, Issue 6231, 10 June 1907.

[4] “Australasian Arms Smuggled into India,” Evening News (Sydney, NSW ) 12 May 1909.



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.


Anti-Aircraft Ammunition Disposal 1955-57

During the Second World War, New Zealand had utilised approximately one hundred and thirty British Ordnance QF Mk 3 3.7inch Mark 3 Anti-Aircraft guns.[1]

Deployed across New Zealand at fixed and mobile sites with wartime scales of ammunition, these guns sat ready during the wartime years in anticipation of Japanese Air raids. New Zealand’s anti-aircraft defences were never tested, and with the immediate threat removed, the guns were placed into storage with the ammunition returned to ammunition depots for refurbishment. However, due to the considerable amount of ammunition returned to New Zealand’s Ammunition depots at the war’s end, the capacity to hold all of the returned stock soon be outstripped with large amounts required to be stored under tarpaulins in field conditions.

Valentine Tank at Trentham, stacks of Ammunition can be seen in the background. NZ National Library Ref EP/1955/1794-F

By 1954, 17000 rounds of 3.7-inch anti-aircraft ammunition had been stored in unsuitable conditions at the Liverpool Range outside Trentham Camp. With sufficient 3.7-inch stocks available to meet training needs in other depots, the Liverpool range stocks were considered surplus. Although initially intended to be inspected and refurbished at the Kuku Valley Ammunition Repair Depot, inspections revealed that the Liverpool Range stocks had deteriorated to the state where destruction was the only option.

Examination of deteriorated shell at Trentham, Upper Hutt. National Library of New Zealand Ref: EP/1955/1792-F

A plan was formulated to transport the 17000 rounds of unstable 3.7-inch ammunition from its storage area at the Liverpool range across the valley approximately 1.4 kilometres to the demolition area at Seddon Range, where the explosive content was destroyed, and recoverable components such as the brass casings recovered and sold as scrap.

To create a safe working area around the stacks and provide access between the Liverpool and Seddon ranges, the Royal New Zealand Engineers undertook the engineering task of creating access to the stacks and constructing a road between the ranges.

Due to the detonation of the ammunition and its storage containers and the likelihood of an explosion, a modified armoured truck and trailer was constructed to facilitate the transportation.

Army vehicles at Trentham, Upper Hutt. Ref: EP/1955/1793-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23078184

The 3.7-inch round was a 12.7kg single piece of ammunition consisting of a cast steel projectile with a tapered nose filled with Amatol, TNT or RDX/TNT explosives, mounted in a brass casing. The brass case consisted of an explosive primer and a cordite propellant charge that could propel the projectile to a maximum ceiling of 9000 meters or a horizontal range of 15000 meters. Each 3.7-inch round was packed in a fibre cylinder, with two rounds packed into a C235 steel case.[2]

Examples of 3.7-inch rounds
C235 Ammunition Tin (2 x 3.7-inch rounds per tin)

With 17000 rounds in 8500 cases, ten cases (twenty rounds) were transported from the Liverpool range to the Demolition area at a time. The cases were the unloaded at the demolition range, and in batches of four, the rounds were detonated.

From June 1955, five or six detonations occurred daily, with the frequency and strength of the explosions causing some distress to local residents, with the Upper Hutt Council questioning the Army on the reasons for the explosions.[3] Another resident forwarded a strongly worded protest letter to the editor of the Upper Hutt Leader Newspaper.[4]

Letters to the Editor

Dear Sir, The terrific explosions at the Trentham Camp which have wrecked our nerves for some considerable time, are the subject of this letter. Mr Editor. The world is at peace, yet we are at war (by the sound of things) in this beautiful valley in which we live. Every day these loud blasts shake our houses, waken our babies end sleeping little ones also elderly people having an afternoon nap, have a rude awakening, It takes very little imagination to realise the effect this bombing has on the nerves of bed-ridden patients at the Silverstream hospital. I ask you to publish this letter in the hope that the authorities will cease-fire, or at least explain why and how long this blasting is to be endured.

I am etc.,

ATOMIC BOMB

However, the explosive destruction of the old ammunition continued with the daily explosions becoming an accepted and routine feature of life in Upper Hutt.[5]

The demolition of the 17000 rounds of unsafe 3.7inch ammunition was concluded in December 1957. The destruction had proceeded without incident, with the local residents thanked for their considerable forbearance in putting up with the noise of explosions nearly every day.


Notes

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

[2] Great Britain. War Office, Anti-Aircraft Ammunition: User Handbook (War Office, 1949).

[3] “The “Boom” from Trentham Camp,” Upper Hutt Leader, Volume XII, Number 28, , 28 July 1955.

[4] “Letters to the Editor,” Upper Hutt Leader, Volume XII, Number 29, , 4 August 1955.

[5] Howard Weddell, Trentham Camp and Upper Hutt’s Untold Military History (Howard Weddell, 2018), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 187-88.


NZ Aid to French Indo China 1952-54

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

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

French transport regiment train ct515 Hanoi-Nam Dinh convoy 15/17 May 1950 black and white kodak film on kodak camera http://www.indochine.uqam.ca/fr/la-galerie.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9]“Arms Aid for Indo-China.”