Accounts of New Zealand Ordnance Units’ wartime activities are rare, with one of the few accounts from the Second World War found in the wartime publication Prelude to War.
Prelude To Battle was the first of ten surveys on the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Forces (2 NZEF) produced by the New Zealand Army Board during the Second World War to provide short articles on the activities of 2 NZEF.
Prelude To Battle was published by Whitcombe & Tombs, in 1942 and covers the first Libyan Campaign of June -December 1940. Prelude To Battle includes chapters on
NZASC, 4th NZ Mechanical Transport Company (4RMT), and
New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC), 10 Light Aid Detachment (10 LAD) attached to New Zealand Engineers (NZE), 5 Field Park Company
The chapter Water Supplies covers explicitly the activities 10 LAD during Operation Compass, which was the first significant British military operation of the Western Desert Campaign (1940–1943), during which British, Empire and Commonwealth forces attacked Italian forces in western Egypt and Cyrenaica, the eastern province of Libya, from December 1940 to February 1941.
10 LAD was one of 11 LADs, numbered 9 to 19, raised as part of the NZOC in late 1939 to render assistance and repair mechanic transport and the anti-tank units of 2 NZEF. Raised at Hopuhopu Camp, 10 LAD was commanded by Second Lieutenant George D Pollock, and attached to 5 Field Park Company, NZE. 10 LAD sailed as part of the Main Body of 2 NZEF in January 1940, Disembarking in Egypt in February 1940.
In late 1940 New Zealand units, including the Fifth Field Park Company, with 10 LAD attached, Divisional Signals, 4 RMT and other specialist troops, had been seconded to General Archibald Wavell for Operation Compass. The official War History New Zealand Engineers, Middle East states, “but beyond guarding the water pipeline and establishing water points and forward dumps at Charing Cross, the Company was not much affected. The British Army seemed to do very well without its assistance”. However, as this Prelude To Battle chapter describes, 10 LAD played a critical role in ensuring water supply to the advancing allied units.
The Prelude to Battle chapter, Water Supplies, reads:
Concerned with the maintenance of water plants to supply the troops advancing into Cyrenaica and the servicing of Royal Engineers’ equipment, the 10th Light Aid Detachment of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps entered each town almost immediately after its capture to attend to the water installations and pumping appliances.
Before the British assumed the offensive, the 10th LAD has succeeded in drawing water from about ten feet below the surface at Burbeita and in the sandhills at Baggush. When Fort Nibeiwa was attacked on 8 December, the 10th LAD were in caves in the escarpment at Charing Cross, several miles inland from Mersa Matruh. As soon as the last of the Sisi Barrano forts was captured, Major G. D. Pollock, who commanded the 10th LAD went to Sidi Barrani to attend to the water works there. He found in perfect order a Fiat diesel pumping engine capable of 250 litres an hour and a plant for distilling salt water. The remainder of the 10th LAD entered Sidi Barrani two days later. The Italians also left a large pumping station almost at Buqbuq, half way between Sidi Barrani and Sollum .
As the Australians concentrated for the Battle of Bardia, the 10th LAD were filling and working water wagons for Sollim. At this stage they began to operate closely with the 5th Field Park Company and on 10 January they moved with them to the harbour at Bardia. A fortnight later they were in Tobruk at work on the large distilling plant. After the Battle of Derna and the subsequent Italian withdrawal towards Benghazi, the 10th LAD were given a special job. The British command had made the decision to cut across the plateau south of Benghazi: the success of this plan depended on getting a supply of water quickly to Msus, some 500 miles south-west of Derna. it was the responsibility of the 1Oth LAD to have ninety-five tons of water at this point for the armoured division. This was accomplished. The operation succeeded, Benghazi fell, and the whole of Cyrenaica was subsequently occupied. In northern Cyrenaica, the water problem ceased. West of Derna lies a region of small streams, trees and green countryside decorated with fresh white buildings. When the British consolidated in this area in February 1941 the work of the 10th LAD ended and they followed the New Zealand signallers. Transport driver and engineers back to Helwan, where the New Zealand Division had taken up its station preparatory to its departure for Greece.
Prelude to Battle Page 32-34
Following this brief excursion into Libya, 10 LAD continued to be attached to 5 Field Park, NZE for the remainder of the war. In November 1942, the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) was formed as part of 2 NZEF and 10 LAD transferred from the NZOC to the NZEME. 10 LAD was disestablished in late 1945.
Since 1971, Ammunition Technical Officers (ATOs) and Ammunition Technicians (ATs) of the New Zealand Army have proudly worn the Flaming “A” Badge, a symbol of the dangerous and skilful nature of the AT trade. The AT trade evolved from managing powder magazines in the 19th century to managing the full range of ammunition and explosives available to the modern New Zealand Army. The Flaming “A” Badge is more than a symbol of the dangerous and skilful nature of the AT trade but an acknowledgement to those who wear it of their trade’s long and proud whakapapa.
In early Colonial New Zealand, Ammunition and explosives were imported from the United Kingdom and Australia. To safely store and distribute powder and shot, Powder magazines were established at Wellingtons Mount Cook and Auckland’s Mount Albert, with specialist expertise required for the handling and storing of these stocks provided by qualified and experienced individuals from the British Military Stores Department and Royal Artillery and Engineer officers. As the Imperial Forces completed their withdrawal from New Zealand in 1870, full responsibility for New Zealand’s Magazines and Ammunition was passed to the Defence Stores Department.
From 1873 the powder magazines at Mount Albert and Mount Cook were replaced by new facilities at Auckland’s Mount Eden and Wellingtons Kaiwharawhara, both of which remained in use through to the 1920s. Supporting the dispersed Militia and Volunteer Forces, magazines were maintained by the Defence Stores Department at most provincial centres.
With the formation of the permanent Garrison Artillery in 1884, Frederick Silver and Robert George Vinning Parker, Sergeant Majors with considerable experience in the Royal Marine Artillery and Royal Garrison Artillery, then serving as constables in the Armed Constabulary, were transferred to the Garrison Artillery as instructors. Providing a solid base of experience, Silver and Parker were instrumental in mounting much of New Zealand’s Garrison artillery, compiling books and manuals and, in conjunction with the Defence Storekeeper managing the stocks of Artillery ammunition.
With the government’s encouragement, Major John Whitney established Whitney & Sons as an ammunition manufacturing company in Auckland. With additional investors, this company became the Colonial Ammunition Company (CAC) in 1888, the first ammunition manufacturer in New Zealand and the first in Australasia. Entering a contract with the New Zealand Government to produce Small Arms Ammunition (SAA), the deal was that the government provided the powder with the CAC providing the components for manufacturing complete cartridges. The Government retained the right to inspect and conduct quality control inspections on each batch before acceptance by the New Zealand Forces. The testing regime was a simple one which consisted of testing only a small percentage of a batch by test firing. The test results were based on the performance of this percentage that the ammunition is accepted or rejected.
With the production of .577 Snyder Ball Ammunition underway by 1890, the first testing, inspection and acceptance of the initial batches were conducted by Major John Pirie of the New Zealand Militia. Formerly a Major in the Guernsey Militia, Major Pirie immigrated to New Zealand, becoming the Auckland District Musketry Instructor in 1881 and conducting inspections of manufactured Ammunition until July 1891. From July 1891, ammunition inspection was passed to the Officer Commanding the Auckland District, Major Goring. In 1893, Lieutenant J E Hume of the Permanent Militia was responsible for examining ammunition. Hume held this responsibility in addition to his other duties until 1898.
On 6 February 1898, a formal request was placed on the United Kingdom for the recruitment of a suitable Warrant Officer from the Royal Artillery to “Take charge of the testing operations of SAA and the supervision of the manufacture of the same”. Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor Arthur Duvall, Royal Garrison Artillery of the Artillery College, was selected as the Small Arms Testing officer for the New Zealand Forces. To be promoted to 3rd Class Master Gunner on appointment, it was to be a three-year engagement at a rate of Nine Shillings a day with free quarters or a £50 per annum housing allowance. Arriving in New Zealand in July 1898, Duvall was soon at work at the CAC premises at Mount Eden in Auckland. Extending his engagement every three years, Duvall completed twenty years of service with the British Army in 1911. Taking his discharge in New Zealand, Duvall was immediately attested into the New Permanent Staff as an Honorary Lieutenant on 26 April 1912 and then promoted to Honorary Captain on 1 April 1914.
In 1902, Silver was discharged from the Artillery and was appointed as the Assistant Defence Storekeeper. While taking on the duties of Assistant Defence Storekeeper, Silver also retained responsibility for managing all the Artillery’s stores and ammunition. Following the implementation of the Defence Act 1909 and subsequent reorganisation, Silver transferred from the Defence Stores to the office of the Director of Artillery. He was appointed as Quartermaster (Honorary Lieutenant) into the post of Artillery Stores Accountant, retaining responsibility for all artillery stores and ammunition. Retiring in June 1913, Silver was replaced as Artillery Stores Accountant by Parker, who was promoted from Warrant Officer to Quartermaster (Honorary Lieutenant).
With the Colonial Ammunition Company in Auckland manufacturing SAA, thus allowing a measure of self-sufficiency, the same could not be said for artillery ammunition which all had to be imported from overseas. Parker conducted a cost-benefit analysis to assess the virtues of locally made-up artillery ammunition compared to imported items. Parker estimated that by cleaning and refilling casings, inspecting and refurbishing propellant bags, and manufacturing new ones as required, annual savings of £3,333 (2022 NZD$633,605) could be made. To achieve these savings, a recommendation that a specialist Royal New Zealand Artillery Ordnance Corps Section be established to manufacture and modify ammunition was made. General Godley approved the proposal in mid-1914, and on 1 March 1915, authority was granted under New Zealand Defence Forces General Order 90 to raise the New Zealand Army Ordnance Section with effect from 1 April 1915.
On 31 May 1917, regulations constituting the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC), backdated to 1 February 1917, were approved and published in the New Zealand Gazette of 7 June 1917, concluding forty-eight years of service provided by the Defence Stores Department,
Administrative control of the New Zealand Artillery Ordnance Section was passed to the NZAOC, and Parker was commissioned as Captain in the NZAOD as the Inspector of Ordnance Machinery. However, his time in this post was short, as he retired on 30 September 1919.
On 10 January 1918, Duvall was transferred from the Permanent Staff to the NZAOD, graded as an Ordnance Officer Class 3 with the rank of Captain as the Proof Officer SAA. The post of Proof Officer SAA was to be a continuous appointment in the New Zealand Army ammunition supply chain until 1968, when the CAC shifted its operations to Australia, ending its long relationship with the New Zealand Army.
Experience during the 1914-18 war highlighted the need for specialist officers trained in the technical nature of ammunition. Undertaking several courses of instruction in the United Kingdom, Captain William Ivory, RNZA, returned to New Zealand at the end of 1919 to assume the role of Inspecting Ordnance Officer (IOO). Lieutenant A de T Nevill, RNZA, took the post of Acting IOO in 1925 to allow Ivory to undertake regimental duties within the RNZA, with Ivory reassuming the position of IOO on 2 January 1927. On Ivory’s retirement in 1933, Lieutenant Ivan Roberts Withell, RNZA, assumed the appointment of IOO, a role held until his death on 31 August 1946.
On the formation of the NZAOC in 1917, the Royal New Zealand Artillery (RNZA) Ordnance Section at Fort Ballance passed to NZAOC control, continuing with its task of storing, repairing, and refurbishing ammunition under the control of the RNZA. With The Kaiwharawhara Magazines closed in the early 1920s, Watts Peninsular on the north end of Wellingtons Miramar peninsular became the first large-scale ammunition depot of the NZAOC. The ammunition infrastructure consisted of 19 magazines, one store and a laboratory spread out across the peninsula at Shelly Bay, Kau Point, Mahanaga Bay, Fort Ballance and Fort Gordon. These were not purpose-built ammunition magazines but repurposed submarine mining and coastal artillery fortifications dating back to the 1880s. In the case of Kau Point and Forts Ballance and Gordon, the large six- and eight-inch disappearing guns had been removed in the early 1920s, and the gun pits roofed over, becoming ad-hoc magazines. This accommodation was far from ideal as temperature and moisture control could not be adequately controlled, resulting in potential damage t ammunition stocks.
A smaller Ammunition section was also maintained at Mount Eden in Auckland until 1929, when along with some staff from Fort Balance, the Mount Eden Ammunition Section was transferred to New Magazines at Hopuhopu Camp. Envisaged to be the principal ammunition depot for New Zealand, eleven magazines and a laboratory were constructed between 1925 and 1927. Built into the hillside to contain any blasts, the magazines were made of concrete, with double walls forming an inspecting chamber. The intent of the inspection chamber was for sentries to observe thermometers and adjust the ventilation to maintain the stock at optimal temperatures by consulting a chart.
The NZAOC Ammunition sections were civilianised in 1931 when nearly all of the NZAOC military staff were transferred to the Public Service as civilian staff at a lower rate of pay or placed on superannuation as the result of government budgetary restraints.
When New Zealand entered the Second World War in September 1939, the responsibility for ammunition was shared between the RNZA and the NZAOC.
The Director of Artillery was responsible to the General Officer Commanding for.
The provision and allocation of gun ammunition,
The receipt, storage, and issue of gun ammunition and explosives other than small-arms ammunition
The Director of Ordnance Services, assisted by the IOO and the SAA Proof Officer, were responsible to the Quartermaster-General for.
The inspection and repair of gun ammunition,
The provision, receipt, storage and distribution of small arms ammunition.
NZAOC Ammunition facilities and personnel shared by the RNZA and NZAOC in September 1939 consisted of.
The IOO, Captain I.R Withell, RNZA
The Proof Officer, SAA Mount Eden Auckland, Honorary Lieutenant J.W Fletcher, NZPS
19 Magazines, 1 Store, and an Ammunition Laboratory at Fort Ballance managed by
an RNZA WO1 seconded to the NZAOC
five members of the NZAOC civilian staff
11 Magazines and an Ammunition Laboratory at Hopuhopu Camp managed by
an RNZA WO1 seconded to the NZAOC and
two members of the NZAOC civilian staff.
Single SAA Magazines at Trentham and Burnham Camps.
From 1940 as the New Zealand Army moved from a peacetime to a wartime footing, the Ammunition trade grew exponentially as new infrastructure was constructed to accommodate the extensive range of ammunition required for training and home defence, with Modern Explosive Store Houses built at.
Burnham – 8 Magazines
Ohakea – 6 Magazine
Papakura (Ardmore)- 28 Magazines
Hopuhopu and Kelms Road – 55 Magazines
Waiouru – 45 Magazines
Makomako – 39 Magazines
Trentham (Kuku Valley) – 22 Magazines
Belmont – 62 Magazines
Glen Tunnel – 16
Mount Somers – 10
Fairlie – 9
Alexandra – 9
In 1942 a conference of the QMG, DQMG2, AQMG5, COO, DCOO and IOO reset the wartime policy and organisation of New Zealand Military Ammunition services in which,
The COO and the Ordnance Ammunition Group were responsible for the management and storage of ammunition
the Chief IOO (CIOO) was responsible for all technical management and inspection of ammunition.
With the role of the IOO branch now defined, from January 1943, the establishment of the IOO Branch was steadily increased to more robust levels.
From mid-1945, discussions started taking place on the post-war shape of the NZAOC. Some thought was given to returning the NZAOC to its pre-war status as a predominantly civilian organisation. Reality prevailed, and the future of the NZAOC was assured as a permanent component of the post-war Army.
The Proposed establishment of NZAOC Ammunition units saw the first widespread use of Ammunition Examiner (AE) as the ammunition trade name. AEs had existed in the British Army since 1923, evolving from the trade of Military Laboratory Foreman that had been established in 1886. Although the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) authorised the use of a specialist AE badge consisting of an ‘AE in Wreath’ in 1942, permission to wear this badge was not granted to New Zealand AEs.
The first New Zealand AE were in the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary (2NZEF), where New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) AEs were included as part of the 2nd New Zealand Division NZASC Ammunition Company establishment. Little information is known about the 2NZEF AEs. They were likely recruited from within 2NZEF, given some rudimentary training by the RAOC and set to work.
From 1 June 1945, the Artillery Headquarters element responsible for managing Gun Ammunition, the Ammunition and Equipment Section, was transferred to the control of the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO), ending the RNZA roles in the management of ammunition that had existed since the 1880s and the employment of Parker and Silver. As a result of the transfer, 11 Officers and 175 Other Ranks of the Royal New Zealand Artillery were absorbed into the NZAOC establishment.
On 15 November 1945, the QMG directed that the care, maintenance, accounting and storage of all ammunition and explosives was the responsibility of the COO. Under the COO, these duties were to be undertaken by
The IOO Section
The NZAOC Ammunition Section
Under the CIOO, the IOO Section was responsible for.
The control of all work on ammunition for all purposes other than accounting and storage,
Maintenance of Ammunition and explosives in stock in a serviceable condition and ready for use,
Provision of personnel for inspection and repair and for working parties to carry out repairs,
Provision of all equipment and stores required for the inspection and repair of ammunition,
Provision and accounting for Motor Transport necessary for the transport of stock for inspection and repair,
Administration and control of Repair Depot Trentham,
Maintenance of buildings at Repair Depot Trentham.
The NZAOC Ammunition Section was responsible for.
The accounting, storage and care of ammunition and explosives,
Maintenance or magazines areas and of buildings and services connected with the storage of ammunition and explosives,
Administration of personnel of the IOO Section, while attached to ammunition depots concerning pay, rations, quarters, clothing and discipline,
Transport arrangements for the movement of ammunition not connected with the inspection and repair of ammunition at depots.
The provision of suitably trained personnel was a constant problem for the CIOO. A course for IOOs was conducted over November/December 1945 to provide sufficient Officers to fill the IOO establishment. Graduates included
Captain John Gordon Renwick Morley
Captain Gerald Arthur Perry
Lieutenant W.G Dixon
Lieutenant Eric Dudley Gerard
On 1 September 1946, Army Headquarters “Q” Branch underwent a significant reorganisation which included the formation of the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) and the reorganisation of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services under the Director of Army Equipment (DAE) which became the senior NZAOC appointment.
Under the DAE, Ordnance Services were divided between the,
COO, responsible for Headquarters New Zealand Ordnance Services, including the Provision Group
CIOO, responsible for the IOO Group
On the retirement of the incumbent DAE, Lieutenant Colonel C.S.J. Duff, DSO, RNZA, on 3 July 1947, the appointment of DEA was renamed Director of Ordnance Services (DOS), with Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Huia Andrews, RNZAOC, appointed as the first post-war DOS on 1 October 1947.
By 1949 the Ammunition organisation had further evolved, combining the IOO and NZAOC Section into a single ammunition organisation, with
The CIOO and staff providing DOS with the required technical advice on ammunition
District IOOs appointed to each District Headquarters as the Ammo advisor to the District DADOS
District Ammunition Sections now renamed as
Northern District Ammunition Depot
Central District Ammunition Depot
Southern District Ammunition Depot
Army Ammunition Repair Depot
Army Ammunition Supply Depot
To facilitate the further reorganisation and refinement of the Ammunition functions, the DOS hosted the first conference of Senior Ammunition Officers at Trentham Camp from 21-24 June 1949.
With the role of Inspection Ordnance Officers and Ammunition Examiners now embedded into the structure of the New Zealand Army, The Ammunition trade remained an under-resourced trade, struggling to fill its establishments despite having a high operating tempo. Typical activities supported during the 1950s included,
Continuous inspection of wartime ammunition held depots
Disposal of surplus and obsolete ammunition by
Dumping at sea
Destruction within depots
Sale to the public (SAA natures)
Transfer to allied nations
Supply of Ammunition to support Compulsory Military Training
Disposal of Blinds and unexploded Ammunition discovered in wartime training areas
Trials and introduction into service of new natures of ammunition
Technical Ammunition support to the Fiji Military Forces
In the United Kingdom, a competition was held in 1948 to design a new badge for RAOC Ammunition Examiners, with a design by Major Leonard Thomas Herbert Phelps accepted. Rumoured to be based on the Elizabeth Arden Cosmetics Company logo, the new Ammunition Examiner badge, consisting of a 3″ x 2″ Red, Black and Gold Flaming Grenade superimposed with the Letter A in the body of the Grenade signifying the AE trades position as an “A” Class trade, and was the first three-colour trade badge in the British Army.
In 1950 The British Army Dress Committee gave authority for AEs of the rank of Sergeant and above to wear the ‘Flaming A’ Trade Badge as a ‘Badge of Appointment’. However, it took time for this badge to be approved for wear by New Zealand’s Ammunition Trades.
In 1959 a comprehensive review of army dress embellishments was conducted to provide a policy statement on the wear embellishments such as
Badges of Appointment
In reviewing Badges of Appointment, it was found that in comparison with the British Army, some badges of appointment worn by the British Army were also approved for wear by the New Zealand Army. Worn below the rank badge by WOs and above the chevrons by NCOS, examples of British badges of appointment worn by the New Zealand Army included,
Gun, worn by WO2s, SSgts and Sgts of the RNZE
Grenade, worn by WO2s, SSgts and Sgts of the RNZA
Hammer and Pincers, worn by WO2s, SSgts and Sgts of the RNZEME
Lyre, worn by Bandsmen
In the case of the RAOC AE flaming “A” badge, it was felt that there was merit in supporting the use of the same badge for wear by RNZAOC ammunition trades, and the adoption of the flaming “A” badge was recommended.
Despite the many recommendations for the army dress embellishment review, the only decision was to adopt shoulder titles and formation patches. The Army Dress Committee invited the Adjutant General to prepare a paper on dress embellishment and draw up a policy on Badges of Appointment, Instructors Badges, Skill-at-Arms Badges and Tradesmen’s badges. The wait for a badge for AE’s was to continue.
As the RNZAOC organisation matured in the late 1950s, it became apparent that the system in place of having separate Ordnance, Vehicle and Ammunition Depots located in the same locations but under different command arrangements was impracticable and not an efficient use of resources. Starting in 1961, a reorganisation was undertaken to consolidate administrative, accounting and store functions under one headquarters. The restructuring resulted in only one RNZAOC depot in each district, which consisting of,
To achieve this, all the existing District Ammunition Depots became sub-depots of a District Ordnance Depot, designated as.
In 1960 the RAOC renamed their Ammunition Trades, and concurrent with the 1961 reorganisation, the RNZAOC decided to align the Ammunition Trade with the RAOC and adopt the same trade names, making the following changes.
Chief Inspecting Ordnance Officer became Chief Ammunition Technical Officer
Senior Inspecting Ordnance Officer became Senior Ammunition Technical Officer
District Inspecting Ordnance Officer became District Ammunition Technical Officer
Inspecting Ordnance Officer became Ammunition Technical Officer
Ammunition Examiner became Ammunition Technician
Up to 1961, Ammunition Technical Officers (ATOs) were usually only employed in Ammunition-related duties. However, as a result of this reorganisation, ATOs were now used across all of the RNZAOC and, as such, were required to balance their regular duties with their Ammunition responsibilities.
1968 saw further reorganisation with the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham was renamed 1 Base Ordnance Depot and the District Ordnance Depots renamed
Northern District Ordnance Depot to 1 Central Ordnance Depot
Central District Ordnance Depot to 2 Central Ordnance Depot
Southern District Ordnance Depot to 3 Central Ordnance Depot
A significant aspect of the 1968 reorganisation was the Disestablishment of The Small Arms and Proof Office co-located at Mount Eden when the CAC closed down, ending the ammunition trades’ long relationship with the CAA. Additionally, the Ammunition Proof and Experimental Centre operations at Kuku Valley was closed down, and its operations moved to the new Joint Services Proof Establishment at Kauri Point in Auckland.
Keen to provide the Ammunition trade with a suitable trade identifier Major D.H Rollo, the CATO, sent a message to the New Zealand Defence Liaison Staff in London in September 1968 requesting the following information from the UK Chief Inspector of Land Service Ammunition (CILSA) on the RAOC AT Badge
Do other ranks and officers wear it
Conditions of entitlement to wear
Cost of badge
Possibility of procuring samples
Any other pertinent details which may guide in adopting a similar badge
By the end of November 1968, through the New Zealand Defence Liaison Staff, the UK CILSA provided the following information on the RAOC AT badge to the New Zealand CATO,
Worn by all Ammunition Technicians on No 1 and No2 Dress. It is not worn with any other form of dress.
No1 Dress – 7/6d each,
No 2 Dress – 5.1/4d each
Samples of each badge to be provided
Armed with this information that the RAOC badge was only approved for wear by ATs and not ATOs, CATO raised a submission to the 77th meeting of the Army Dress Committee in April 1969 for approval to introduce the Flaming “A” badge for New Zealand ATs. However, it was not a robust submission and was declined because it was contended that there was not sufficient justification for the badge, with the following reasons given.
Other trades in the Army were equally deserving of such a badge
The low standard to qualify for the badge
The Dress Committee agreed to reconsider the matter if further justification could be supplied.
By 1969 developments in the United Kingdom and the troubles in Northern Ireland saw the unofficial wearing of the RAOC AT badge by ATOs, and by 1971 an ATO badge consisting of a small ‘Flaming Circle’ without the superimposed A was introduced in the June 1971 DOS Bulletin.
Moving forward from Major Rollo’s initial submission, New Zealand’s CATO, Major Bob Duggan, reconsidered the earlier proposal and, on 13 July 1970, through the DOS, submitted the following for a combined AT/ATO Badge,
6. R & SO Vol II provides for the wearing of qualification badges, and a study of that publication reveals that a large proportion of Army Corps already have these. Many badges require less effort for qualification than would the exacting trade of Ammunition Technician. In addition, and supporting the acceptance of an ATO/AT Badge, these technicians are frequently required to deal with other services and members of the public.
7. The low standard required to qualify for this badge has been reconsidered in light of information obtained on similar standards received from overseas. In addition, it was never the intention to cheapen the significance of this badge in the RNZAOC or those of any other Corps. The standard required to qualify for the ATO/AT badge would now be as follows:
a. Technical Officers who have practised for a minimum of one year.
b. All Ammunition Technicians, regardless of rank, who have qualified in all ways for four stars in their trade.
8. The Public Relations side of the duties of ATO/Ats, as mentioned in paragraph 6 above, is further explained. This aspect concerns the collection and disposal of stray ammunition and explosives as well as involvement with the Police and other Government Departments in bomb scares. The average annual number of items, all natures and types of stray ammunition which have been collected over the last three years is 5750, which represents approximately 450 calls by ATOs or four-star ATs. ATO/ATs are requested by Police Stations throughout New Zealand
a. To visit many private homes to identify-stray ammunition.
b. Assess whether or not the items are in a dangerous state, and
c. Remove such items for disposal. If an item is in an armed state, it could mean disposal in situ’.
9. The request is therefore not for a trade badge, but one of recognition and identification as to the dangerous and skilful nature of their specialist work.
With the Support of the Army Q Branch, the Army Dress committee approved the introduction of the AT Badge for qualified RNZAOC ATOs and ATs on 31 May 1971
The New Zealand AT badge adopted in 1971 was identical to the RAOC AT Badge. The criteria for being awarded was for Officers to have completed one year of practical experience after graduating from the ATOs Course in Australia or the United Kingdom. For ATs to qualify, they were required to be qualified in all aspects of the trade, which could take up to six years.
The New Zealand AT Badge was approved to be worn with the following orders of dress;
No 2 Dress Mess Kit, No 3 Dress Summer Mess Kit. On the left lower sleeve, 165mm above the bottom of the cuff
.No 4A Dress Service Dress. On the left lower sleeve, 165mm above the bottom of the cuff, except with warrant officers, it was worn immediately above the badge of rank on the left sleeve.
The United Kingdom continues to maintain different ATO and AT badges. The Australian Army utilises an RAOC style, ATO badge with a stylised Wattle for ATOs and ATs.
Examples of New Zealand ATO/AT Badges
On 24 May 1985, the Army Dress Committee endorsed a proposal that all New Zealand Army Qualification Badges eventually conform to a common heraldic motif as an initiative to develop insignia with a unique New Zealand flavour. The common heraldic motif consisted of the qualification badge surrounded by fern fronds providing a badge with a distinct national character.
Although a scroll could be included, if this was not necessary, the fronds continued and stopped just short of the centre point.
Approved for adoption by the CGS on 6 November 1985, the request went out to trade sponsors to prepare drawings of the current qualification badges encompassing a surround of fern fronds for consideration by the Army Dress Committee.
Although tasked with providing a design of the AT badge incorporating the common motif, on 1 April 1987, CATO provided a submission including the current AT Badge with the common motif, as well as an alternative design in keeping with the requirement to ‘New Zealandise’ qualification badges.
At the Army Dress Committee meeting on 12 May 1987, it was agreed that to ensure uniformity of design, the AT badge design incorporating the fern fronds was recommended for approval by CGS. This badge was introduced into service in 1988.
In April 1987, the New Zealand AT Badge was approved for wear with Sumer Dress (Dacrons) on the left arm 50mm below the point of the shoulder
New Zealand ATOs and ATs matured into a highly specialised trade that, on the amalgamation of the RNZAOC into the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR) in 1996, had a wide range of responsibilities, including
The inspection, storage and maintenance of all ammunition and explosives used by the Army
The conduct of technical trials on new ammunition,
The conduct investigations into ammunition incidents and accidents,
The disposal of unserviceable or obsolete ammunition,
The management of Explosive Ordnance Devices and Improvised Explosive Devices.
New Zealand’s Ammunition trade has progressed from storing and managing black powder magazines in the 19th century to managing the many modern ammunition natures available to the 21st century New Zealand Army. Although introduced in 1971 to recognise and identify the specialist, dangerous and skilful nature of the Ammunition trade, the flaming “A” badge is a fitting symbol of the trade’s progress.
Of all the photos published on this website, this photo is one of the most significant. First published in the New Zealand Graphic on 29 November 1911, the picture is titled ”. This photo is significant in that it is
A photographic record of the first batch of New Zealand regular soldiers to be trained explicitly in Quartermaster duties, providing one of the foundation legs of the modern Supply Technician Trade of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.
It is the only know photo capturing the images of the principal staff of the Defence Stores Department, who in 1917 became the foundation officers of New Zealand’s Army Ordnance Services.
Following the South Africa War, New Zealand’s military forces began to undertake a transformation into a force better trained and equipped to participate in the Imperial Defence Scheme. Uniforms, weapons and equipment were standardised, and following the Defence Act of 1909, the Volunteer forces were replaced with a robust Territorial force maintained by Compulsory Military Training.
In 1910, Field Marshall Lord Kitchener, the British Empire’s foremost soldier, reviewed New Zealand’s military forces and made several recommendations, including establishing the New Zealand Staff Corps (NZSC) and the New Zealand Permanent Staff (NZPS). Established in 1911, the NZSC and NZPS were to provide a professional cadre of officers (NZSC) and men (NZPS) able to provide guidance and administration to the units of the Territorial Force.
Since the 1860s, the Defence Stores Department provided storekeeping and maintenance support to New Zealand’s military forces from its main Depot in Wellington, supported by District Stores in Auckland, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin. Since the 1880s, duties had been separated between the Defence Stores and the Permanent Militia, with the Artillery maintaining Artificers and Storekeepers to manage guns, stores and ammunition of New Zealand’s Garrison and Field Artillery units. Prior to implementing the Defence Act of 1909 and the transition to the territorial army, volunteer units had maintained Quartermaster Staff to receive and manage stores issued from the Defence Stores. However, in many units, quartermaster positions were elected and varied in the value they added to the maintenance and custody of military stores under their care. As the military transitioned from Volunteer Force to Territorial Army, the existing cadre of quartermaster staff inherited from the volunteer system was identified as not up to the task, and the need for a professional quartermaster cadre was identified.
Establishing a professional quartermaster cadre with the required knowledge became a priority. By late 1911, 29 soldiers with the right qualities from the Territorial Army and Permanent Forces had been selected for training in Quartermaster duties. Reporting to the Defence Stores Department, Buckle Street Depot in Wellington in November 1911, these soldiers undertook three weeks of practical and theoretical instruction in Quartermaster duties under the Director of Stores, Honorary Major James O’Sullivan and the senior staff of the Defence Stores Department.
The course curriculum included instruction on,
Weapon storage, inspection, maintenance and accounting, supervised by Chief Armourer of the New Zealand military forces, Armourer Sergeant Major William Luckman.
The correct storage methods, inspection and maintenance of leather items such as horse saddlery and harnesses were conducted by the Defence Stores Department Saddler Mr H McComish.
The correct storage methods, inspection and maintenance of canvas and fabric items such as tents, other camp canvas, and fabric camp equipment, conducted by the Defence Stores Department Sailmaker.
Stores Packing, provided by the Defence Stores Department Foreman, Mr D McIntyre.
Keeping accounts and maintaining documentation used throughout all the departments, conducted by the Defence Stores Department Accountant Mr R.H Williams and Defence Stores Department Clerks Mr C.P Hulbert and Mr J Hopkinson
The course was not just an attendance course but one where all students were required to complete examinations on all the subjects covered.
Records indicated that all candidates completed the examinations and, under General Order 112/10, were appointed as Quartermaster Sergeants in the NZPS and posted to each various regiments of the territorial army.
The training graduates are the soldiers standing in the three rows behind the QMG and Defence Stores Staff sitting in the front row.
4th Row (Rear) Left to Right
Quartermaster Sergeant G.C Black – 5th Mounted Rifles (Otago Hussars)
Quartermaster Sergeant J.D Stewart – 11th (North Auckland) Mounted Rifles
Quartermaster Sergeant A Collins – 11th Regiment (Taranaki Rifles)
Quartermaster Sergeant B.E Adams – 15th (North Auckland) Regiment
Mr H McComish – Saddler, Defence Stores Department
1st Row (Front)
– Clerk Defence Stores Department
Lieutenant A.R.C White – District Storekeeper, Defence Stores Department, Christchurch
Lieutenant O.P McGuigan – District Storekeeper, Defence Stores Department, Dunedin
Mr E.P Coady – Assistant Director of Stores, Defence Stores Department
Major J. O’Sullivan – Director of Stores, Defence Stores Department
Colonel H.O Knox, QMG
Captain H.H Browne – AQMG and Director of Supply and Transport
Lieutenant W.T Beck – District Storekeeper, Auckland
Mr F.E Ford – Assistant Defence Storekeeper, Nelson
Mr R.H Williams – Accountant Defence Stores Department
Significant foundation members of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services
Lieutenant Arthur Rumbold Carter White – District Storekeeper, Defence Stores Department, Christchurch
Served in the Permanent Militia from 1897 to 1907
appointed as the Defence Storekeeper for the Canterbury District in 1906
granted the Honorary Rank of Lieutenant September 1911
Reclassified as the Assistant Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores Canterbury Military District as an Honorary Captain in the NZSC in February 1916
Commissioned as Captain in the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) in 1917.
1921 Transferred the Canterbury Ordnance Stores from King Edward Barracks, Christchurch, to Burnham Camp, establishing the Southern Districts Ordnance Depot.
First Camp Commandant of Burnham Camp from 20 June 1921 until his retirement on 19 December 1930
Lieutenant Owen Paul McGuigan – District Storekeeper, Defence Stores Department, Dunedin
McGuigan was a West Coaster of considerable administrative ability, served in the Permanent Artillery from 1896 to 1908
Appointed as the District Storekeeper in Dunedin in 1908
Granted the Honorary Rank of Lieutenant in September 1911.
Reclassified as the Assistant Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores Otago Military District as an Honorary Captain in the NZSC in February 1916,
Commissioned as Captain in the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) in 1917.
Closed the Dunedin Ordnance Depot in 1921, transferring with its staff and stores to Burnham Camp.
Retired 15 October 1922
Major James O’Sullivan – Director of Stores, Defence Stores Department
Enlisted into the Armed Constabulary in 1878,
Transferred into the Defence Store as a clerk in 1884
Appointed as Defence Stores Chief Clerk in March 1886
Appointed as Defence Storekeeper in 1900
Confirmed as the Director of Stores in New Zealand’s military forces headquarters staff as Quartermaster and an Honorary Captain in the New Zealand Militia in 1906.
Promoted to Honorary Major as the Director of Equipment and Stores in September 1911 as a subordinate of the Quartermaster General
Appointment in the Quartermasters General department retitled as QMG-3
Appointed as Deputy Inspector, Equipment and Ordnance Stores in March 1916
Retired in January 1917
Lieutenant William Thomas Beck – District Storekeeper, Auckland
Entered the Torpedo Corps on 5 March 1891 and continued to serve in the Permanent Militia until 23 December 1903
Placed in charge of the Auckland Defence Stores in 1903
Appointed as the District Storekeeper in Auckland in 1908
Granted the Honorary Rank of Lieutenant in September 1911
Seconded to the NZEF as the Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services in 1914 and sailed with the main body to Egypt
Was the first New Zealander of Godley’s force ashore at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915
Evacuated from Gallipoli and Repatriated to New Zealand in August 1915
Mentioned in Dispatches and awarded the DSO for his services in Gallipoli
Reclassified as the Assistant Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores Auckland Military District as an Honorary Captain in the NZSC in February 1916
Commissioned as Captain in the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) in 1917.
Retired from the NZAOC in March 1918.
Mr Frank Edwin Ford – Storekeepers Assistant, Nelson
Served in the Permanent Artillery from 1901 to 1908
Appointed as the Mobilisation Storekeeper Nelson in 1908
Reclassified as the Assistant Defence Storekeeper, Nelson in 1911
Appointed as District Storekeeper Wellington Military District, Palmerston North in 1915
Attached to the NZSC Corps as an Honorary Lieutenant on 13 February 1916,
Commissioned as Captain in the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) in 1917.
Closed the Palmerston North Ordnance Depot and appointed as the Ordnance Officer Featherston Camp in 1921
The NZAOD was reconstituted into the NZAOC in 1924
Appointed as Ordnance Officer Northern Command at Mount Eden on 12 September 1926
Transferred the Norther Command Ordnance Depot from Mount Eden to Hopuhopu camp In the Waikato in1927
Remained as the first Commandant of Hopuhopu Camp until his retirement on 30 January 1931
Quartermaster General of New Zealand’s Military Forces, Colonel Henry Owen Knox.
Although an Army Service Corps Officer, Knox through his position as Quartermaster General influenced the development of New Zealand’s Army Ordnance Services. Knox was a British Army Service Corps officer seconded to New Zealand in 1911 to organise the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC). Appointed as the first Director of Supply and Transport (DS&T), over the next three years, Knox laid the foundations of the NZASC so that by 1914 the NZASC was able to field ten companies and be in a position to provide a significant contribution to the NZEF. At New Zealand’s military reorganised in 1912, the position of Adjutant General and Quartermaster General was split with Knox in addition to his DS&T duties and assumed the role of Quartermaster General of New Zealand’s Military Forces.
Knox concluded his New Zealand secondment in April 1914, returning to the United Kingdom and retiring in August 1917. Still on the Reserve list, Knox was recalled for war service and was appointed as the AQMG for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during the Gallipoli Campaign, where he was responsible for the supply arrangement (Rations, Fuel and Forage) of the ANZAC Corps.
Following the Gallipoli Campaign, Knox served in several roles in the British Army ASC for the remainder of the war, attaining the rank of Honorary Brigadier General.
Many thanks to the relatives of Lieutenant Owen Paul McGuigan who provided me with the links to the original photo.
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.
In British and Commonwealth military doctrine, there has long been a separation of responsibility for Supplies and Stores
Supplies – The provisioning, storing, and distributing of food for soldiers, forage for animals; Fuel, Oil and Lubricants (FOL) for tanks, trucks and other fuel-powered vehicles and equipment; and the forward transport and distribution of ammunition. In the NZ Army, Supplies were managed by the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC) from 1911 to 1979.
Stores – The provisioning, storage and distribution of weapons, munitions and military equipment not managed by RNZASC. Stores were the Responsibility of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) until 1996.
Despite the separation of responsibilities, the RNZASC and RNZAOC had a long and cooperative relationship.
During early colonial days, the early actions of the New Zealand Wars proved that the New Zealand bush and the elusive tactics of the Māori presented unfamiliar problems of supply and transport. An Imperial Supply and Transport Service was established and operated with the Imperial troops.
From the end of the New Zealand Wars until 1910, there was no unit of ASC in New Zealand, with the supply functions required by the New Zealand Military provided by the Defence Stores Department. However, in 1911 the formation of the Divisional Trains saw the beginnings of the NZASC as part of the Territorial Army. NZASC units served in World War One, during which the NZASC and NZAOC would, especially in the early years of the war, often share personnel, facilities, and transportation.
In 1917 the NZAOC was established as a permanent component of the New Zealand Military Forces, however, it would not be until 1924 that the Permanent NZASC was formed. The alliance between the NZASC and the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was approved in 1925.
The RASC has its roots much deeper in history. Up to the time of Cromwell, armies lived by plunder. The RASC came into being in 1888. but the work it would perform was being done long before that.
Cromwell and then the Duke of Marlborough, and later Napoleon organised a system of civilian commissaries. The Duke of York established the Corps of Royal Waggoners in 1794. This purely transport organisation continued until 1869 under various names, eventually, as the Military Train, fighting as light cavalry in the Indian Mutiny.
The birth of the Supplies and Transport Service dates from 1869. when the Commissariat and the officers of the Military Train along with the Military Stores Department came under one department called the Control Department, it remained for General Sir Redvers Buller, in 1888, to organise the first Army Service Corps. Since its formation, the RASC has been a combatant corps, trained and armed as infantry and responsible for its own protection. Considered a more technical Corps the NZAOC was not granted the status of a combatant Corps until 1942.
During World War Two, many units and establishments represented the NZASC in all the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) theatres. Again, as in the earlier World War, the NZASC would have a cooperative relationship with New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) Ammunition Examiners (AEs) were on the establishments of the RNZASC Ammunition platoons, with NZASC Warrant Officers attached to the NZ Divisional Ordnance Field Park (OFP) to provide technical advice on vehicle spares. As a tribute to the service of the NZASC in WW2, the title, “Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps,’’ was bestowed in 1946.
In the post-war era, the NZASC and from 1946 the RNZASC would serve with distinction in J Force in Japan and then contribute the second-largest New Zealand contingent to K Force in Korea by providing 10 Transport Company.
Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the RNZASC would be an integral part of the New Zealand Army. Its functions ranging from the everyday task of cooking and serving food to the more spectacular operation of dropping supplies by air.
To purchase, store, rail, ship, and otherwise distribute the amount of food, fuels and oils needed to supply a modern army, the RNZASC maintained Supply Depots and employed many kinds of tradespeople, including Butchers. Supply Depots located in Papakura, Waiouru, Linton, Trentham, Burnham, and Singapore, holding supplies in bulk and distributing them as required. A section of the RNZASC would be a feature of every army camp with smaller Supply and Transport depots to handle goods received from the central supply depots and provide drivers and transport for many purposes at Devonport/Fort Cautley, Hopuhopu, Papakura, Waiouru. Linton. Trentham, Wellington/Fort Dorset, Christchurch/Addington, and Burnham.
Following the Macleod report that recommended the streamlining of logistic support for the British Army, the RASC merged in 1965 with the Royal Engineers Transportation and Movement Control Service to form the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT). This would see the RASC Supply functions transferred to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC). In 1973, following the British lead, the Australians also reformed their Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC) into the Royal Australian Army Corps of Transport (RAACT).
Acknowledging the British and Australian experience, the RNZASC would also undergo a similar transition, and on 12 May 1979, the RNZASC ceased to exist, and its Supply functions transferred to the RNZAOC, while the Transport, Movements and Catering functions were reformed into the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT).
The RNZASC supply functions would be integrated into the RNZAOC, with the Camp Supply Depots becoming NZAOC Supply Platoons numbered as.
14 Supply Platoon, Papakura/Hopuhopu
24 Supply Platoon, Linton
34 Supply Platoon, Burnham
44 Supply Platoon, Waiouru
54 Supply Platoon, Trentham
NZ Supply Platoon, Singapore
In recognition of its long RNZASC service, 21 Supply Company was retained as a Territorial Force(TF) unit, initially as the TF element of 4 Supply Company in Waiouru and later as the TF element of 2 Supply Company, Linton. Today 21 Supply is the main North Island Supply unit of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR).
For a brief period following the RNZAOC assumption of Supply functions, some RF and TF RNZAOC would periodically be employed within the RNZCT transport Squadrons Combat Supplies sections.
The RNZAOC Butcher trade inherited from the RNZASC would be discontinued in the mid-1980s, with the last of the butchers reclassifying as RNZAOC Suppliers. By the mid-1990s, it was decided as a cost-saving measure to allow the RNZCT catering staff to order directly from commercial foodstuff suppliers, effectively ending the RNZAOC foodstuffs speciality. The only RNZASC trade speciality remaining in the RNZAOC on its amalgamation into the RNZALR was that of petroleum Operator.
The RNZASC and RNZCT like the RNZAOC, have passed their combined responsibilities to the RNZALR. However, the RNZASC and RNZCT maintain a strong association that provides many benefits and opportunities for comradeship to RNZASC/CT Corps members and past and present members of the RNZALR. Another role of the RNZASC/CT association is to ensure that the rich and significant history of the RNZASC/CT is not lost to the future generations of the RNZALR.
Copies of the RNZASC/CT association newsletter from issue 92 can be viewed here
Due to the reorganisation of the New Zealand Army Headquarters “Q” branch and the formation of the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME), new establishment tables for the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) were approved for use from 1 October 1946.
Under discussion since 1944, the 1 October 1946 Establishments provided the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps with a framework within the interim post-war New Zealand Army that woud allow future growth.
Responsibility for the NZ Army’s Logistic Functions fell to the Quartermaster-General who delegated responsibility for Ordnance Services to the Director of Army Equipment (DAE).
Under the DAE the NZ Army Ordnance Services were organised as;
Headquarters NZ Ordnance Services
Chief Ordnance Officer (COO) & Staff
Main Ordnance Depot, Trentham
Three District Sub-Depots
No 1 Ordnance Sub-Depot, Hopuhopu
No 2 Ordnance Sub- Depot, Linton
No 3 Ordnance Sub-Depot, Burnham
Inspection Ordnance Group, comprising:
Ammunition Repair Depot, Kuku Valley
IOO Section Northern Military District (NMD), Hopuhopu
IOO Section Central Military District (CMD), Trentham
IOO Section Southern Military District (SMD), Burnham
Rickshaw Military Research specialises in the research and transcription of New Zealand Military Service Records to allow families to learn of their families military experience in peace and war. Services offered by Rickshaw Military Research include;
Interpretation of military records,
Assistance with military research,
Identification of medals, badges and insignia, and sourcing of replacements.
Regiment and unit identification.
Often, descendants of New Zealand Servicemen have some inkling that their ancestors served in the military. Knowledge of a relative’s service will often be a source of pride with some evidence such as photos of the relative in uniform, medals, unit badges, diaries, and other souvenirs existing. However, for many, any connection to their relative’s military service is long-forgotten and a mystery. For some, the only link to a relative is an inscription on one of New Zealand’s many War Memorials.
For all those interested in discovering more about their ancestors military service, accessing the individual’s service record and understanding what is written in it can be a daunting exercise,first in gaining the service record and then interpreting the peculiar language used by the military and making sense of the many abbreviations used, reading a service record often leads to more questions than answers.
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Personal details of the individual.
Brief description of activities prior and after service.
Record of service, from enlistment to demobilisation, including;
Formations/Units served in.
Campaigns and battles that were participated in.
Record of Promotions.
Record of Illness and Injuries.
Records of medals and awards, including citations.
Brief description of post-service activities.
Illustrations will be provided where possible and could include;
Photos of the serviceman.
Badges and patches worn.
Equipment used, i.e. if a serviceman was a tank driver, an illustration of the type of tank driven.
Pre 1921 Records
Service records prior to 1921 including the South Africa and First World War.
Basic one-page summary of service: $100*
Basic service information from attestation to discharge edited to fit on a single A4 sheet.
Full transcript of service : $250*
Transcript of service relating to target serviceman with additional information on units served in and campaigns participated in presented as a booklet or interactive Web App.
Post 1921 Records
Service records from 1921 including the Second World War, Korea, Malaya, Borneo, South Vietnam, CMT & National Service, Peacekeeping and Territorial and Regular service in New Zealand)
Basic one-page summary of service: $150*
Basic service information from attestation to discharge edited to fit on a single A4 sheet.
Full transcript of service : $300*
Transcript of service relating to target serviceman with additional information on units served in and campaigns participated in presented as a booklet or interactive Web App.
Other research outside the scope of researching Personnel Records is charged at a rate of NZD$30 per hour.
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This would be a significant period for the RNZAOC. The RNZAOC School would be established, and challenges with officer recruitment identified. This period would also see the fruition of plans to re-shape the Army into a modern and well-equipped Army with the first tranches of new equipment arriving to replace much of the legacy wartime equipment.
Director of Ordnance Services
Temporary Lieutenant Colonel H. McK. Reid
Chief Inspecting Ordnance Officer
Major JW Marriot
Officer Commanding Main Ordnance Depot
Major Harry White, from 1 May 1959
Chief Instructor – Major Harry White
Regimental Sergeant Major – Warrant Officer Class One Alfred Wesseldine
2nd Battalion, the New Zealand Regiment
Reformed at Waiouru in July 1959, the 2nd Battalion of the New Zealand Regiment would undertake workup and training that would see the Battalion deploy to Malaya in November 1959 to relieve the 1st Battalion. To enable the 2nd Battalion to conduct its training and work up the RNZAOC would equip the Battalion for the ground up with its necessary entitlement of equipment from existing holdings.
Establishment of RNZOAC School
Under discussion by the Army Board since 1956, the RNZAOC School was established in September 1959. Established within the Peacetime Establishment of the Main Ordnance Depot, the RNZAOC School would be under HQ Ordnance Services’ direct control and independent of the Army Schools.
The initial school organisation would be.
Chief Instructor – Major Harry White
School Sergeant Major – Warrant Officer Class One Wesseldine
Stores and Vehicle Wing
The function of the RNZAOC School would be to run courses and training for RF and TF personnel of the RNZAOC, including
Star Classification Courses – particularly for Storeman/Clerks RNZAOC and Ammunition Examiners.
Promotion courses for both officers and ORs.
Recruit training RNZAOC Personnel, including Recruit training for Group 2 personnel.
Advanced training for both officers and ORs, in all types of Ordnance activities.
Technical training in ordnance subjects, e.g. Inspecting Ordnance Officer courses.
Preservations and packing etc.
Refresher training for qualified personnel.
Other course notified in the annual Forecast of Courses.
Additionally, as directed by DOS, the RNZAOC School was required to.
Plan and hold conferences and training exercises.
Draft procedure instructions.
Test, or comment on new procedures, materials, or equipment.
Research various aspects of Ordnance activities.
The first course conducted by the RNZAOC School would be an Instructors Course conducted in late 1959.
A forecast of the planned retirement of RNZAOC Officers up to 1962 showed that Seventeen officers would be retiring. Up to this period, the principal means of filling RNZAOC officer posts had been thru the commissioning of Other Ranks with Quartermaster Commissions, with only three officers joining the RNZAOC as Officers since November 1956. When the planned Officer retirements had been balanced against the RNZAOC officer establishment, it was found that the RNZAOC was deficient six Officers with two significant problems identified.
The RNZAOC Officer Corps was becoming a Corps of old men, with 83% of Officers in the 39 to 54 age group
The RNZAOC Other Ranks Structure was denuded of the best SNCO’s and Warrant Officers.
To rectify the situation, the following recommendations were made.
The RNZAOC press for an increased intake from Duntroon and Portsea of graduates to the RNZAOC.
Suitable officers no older than 30 years of age, and in the two to four-year Lieutenant bracket, be encouraged to change Corps to the RNZAOC.
Further commissioning of QM officers be strongly resisted unless there was no other alternative.
Over the period 1 -3 September 1959, DOS hosted a conference at Army HQ for the District DADOS, Officer Commanding MOD, and the Ordnance Directorate members. The general agenda of the meeting included.
Local purchase of stores by DADOS
Training of group 2 Personnel
Personnel – postings and promotions
DADOS and OC MOD were required to provide in duplicate, personnel lists by unit containing.
Regimental No, rank, and name
Establishment statue, either PES, CSS or HSS
Purchases for RF Brigade Group
Small Arms Ammunition
The 7.62mm rifle introduction would require the Colonial Ammunitions Company to convert manufacture from the current 303 calibre to the new 7.62mm calibre. The CAC had been the supplier of Small Arms Ammunition to the Defence Force since 1888 and to maintain this long relationship had purchased and installed the required tools and machinery to allow the production of 7.62 ammunition, with the first production run completed during this period. Although the NZ Army had sufficient stocks of .303 ammunition for the foreseeable future, CAC would retain the capability to manufacture 303 ammunition if required.
Introduction of New Equipment
As new equipment was introduced, the RNZAOC would play an essential role in the acceptance processes. Upon delivery from the supplier, the equipment, accessories, and spares would be received into the Main Ordnance Depot. The equipment would be inspected and kitted out with all its accessories before distribution to units. Several examples may have been retained in RNZAOC Depots as War Reserve/Repair and Maintenance Stock depending on the equipment. Maintenance stocks of accessories and spares were maintained as operating stock in RNZAOC depots. If the new equipment contained a weapon system, ammunition specific to the equipment was managed by RNZAOC Ammunition Depots. During this period, the following equipment was introduced into service;
110 Land Rover Series 2a 109.
144 Truck 3-Ton Bedford RL, 48 fitted with winch
3 Ferret Mark 1/1 Scout Car
270 Wireless Sets. C45 – VHF transceiver,
2000 9mm Sub Machine Gun Sterling Mk4 L2A3.
500 7.62 mm Self Loading Rifle, L1A1 (SLR).
The Clothing and Equipment Committee accepted as the basic training uniform for New Zealand soldiers in all conditions in NZ to be;
Boots (Fory types under trial and development)
Anklets (Australian pattern)
Shirt (light wool)
Trouser ( Green drill material cut to UK pattern)
Hat (Jungle Type)
In August 1958 a new disposal organisation was established within the Army to manage the declaration and disposal of surplus and obsolete equipment. Since August 1959 over 9000 lines covering thousands of items had been declared to the Government Stores Board for Disposal through this new disposal’s organisation.
The disposal of dangerous or obsolete ammunition continued with over 900 tons of obsolete ammunition dumped at sea. An additional 130,000 rounds of dangerous artillery ammunition were destroyed by burning or detonation.
Where possible the maximum amount of recyclable metal was salvaged, with around £10000 (2020 NZ$243,276) received for the scrap and containers sold.
Following successful user trials, the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) assembled 24000 one-person 24-hour ration packs during 1959. Along with new solid fuel cookers, these new ration packs were extensively used by the 2nd Battalion the NZ Regiment in the build-up Training for Malaya and the Territorial Force during the Annual Camp.
Staff Sergeant I.G Campbell, RNZAOC was selected by the National Rifle Association as a team member representing New Zealand at 91st Annual Prize Meeting at Bisley in the United Kingdom, 4- 20 July 1960.
Award of Army Sports Colours
In recognition of his contribution to Army Sport, Major D.E Roderick of Auckland was a recipient of the 1960 Army Sports Colours. Major Roderick has represented Army at cricket, hockey and badminton and was instrumental in developing the sports facilities at Trentham Camp. Within the RNZAOC Major Roderick had been a long-term member of the Upper Hutt Cricket Club and a player and administrator of the MOD Cricket team. 
Honours and Awards
British Empire Medal
Sergeant (Temporary Staff Sergeant) Maurice William Loveday, Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Regular Force), of Trentham.
Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, Resignations, and Retirements of Officers of the RNZAOC
Major Ronald Geoffrey Patrick O’Connor is transferred to the Reserve of Officers, General List, Royal NZ Army Ordnance, in Major’s rank, 4 May 1959.
Major and Quartermaster K. A. Bailey, M.M., having reached retiring age for rank, is transferred to the Supernumerary list, and granted an extension of his engagement until 12 January 1960, 11 August 1959.
Captain Frederick George Cross is transferred to the Reserve of Officers, General List, Royal NZAOC, in the rank of Captain, 1 September 1959. 
Captain L. C. King is re-engaged for a period of one year, as from 4 October 1959.
Captain (temp. Major) J. Harvey relinquishes the temporary rank of Major, 6 March 1960.
Regular Force (Supernumerary List)
Major and Quartermaster K. A. Bailey, MM., is granted an extension of his engagement for one year from 13 January 1960.
Captain and Quartermaster S. H. E. Bryant is re-engaged for one year as from 28 October 1959.
Captain and Quartermaster R. P. Kennedy, E.D., is re-engaged for a period of one year as from 13 April 1960.
Lieutenant and Quartermaster George Witherman McCullough is posted to the Retired List, 12 February 1960.
2nd Lieutenant J. T. Skedden to be Lieutenant, 12 December 1959.
Lieutenant and Quartermaster R. H. Colwill to be temporary Captain and Quartermaster, 9 February 1960.
Captain Keith Stothard Brown relinquishes the appointment of OC, Technical Stores Platoon, 1st Divisional Ordnance Field Park, RNZAOC and is posted to the Retired List, 4 August 1959.
Reserve of Officers
Captain Hugo Sarginsone posted to the Retired List, 10 July 1959.
Captain Noel Lester Wallburton posted to the Retired List, 10 August 1959.
Captain Sidney Paxton Stewart posted to the Retired List, I September 1959. 
Major Percival Nowell Erridge, MBE posted to the Retired List, 25 December 1959.
Major Alexander Basil Owen Herd, from the British Regular Army Reserve· of Officers, to be Major, 3 October I 959.
Major Frank Owen L’Estrange, from the British Regular Army Reserve of Officers, to be Major, 11 November 1959.
Captain Cyril Peter Derbyshire, from the British Regular Army Reserve of Officers, to be Captain, 1 January 1960.
Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, Resignations, and Retirements of Warrant Officers, Senior Non-Commissioned Officers, and men of the RNZAOC
H594833 Private David Orr NZ Regiment Transferred into the RNZAOC, November 1959.
B31685 Staff Sergeant Ian McDonald Russell promoted to Temporary Warrant Officer Class Two, 23 June 1959.
 “Charter for the Rnzaoc School,” in Organisation – Policy and General – RNZAOC (Archives New Zealand No R173115371960); Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 176-77, 252.
Conferences – Ordnance Officers, Item Id R17188101 (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, 1950).
 “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1959 to 31 March 1960,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives (1960).
This period would see a significant shift in the focus of the Army’s effort. The Government had decided to retain the force structure to meet the requirements of a global war and transform the regular Army into a force capable of meeting the needs of limited War. This would see Compulsory Military Training end, and Territorial Training becoming Voluntary and the Regular Force’s operational framework modified, with recruiting initiated to build up the force and new equipment purchased within the limits of available finances.
Director of Ordnance Services
Lieutenant Colonel H. McK. Reid.
Commanding Officer Main Ordnance Depot
Major O.H Burn to 21 July 1958
Major G.J.H Atkinson from 21 July 1958
United Nations Posting
Major O.H Burn took up a posting as a United Nations military observer in the Middle East from July 1958 as a Temporary Lieutenant Colonel. Due to a typographical error, Major Burn was listed in the New Zealand gazette as promoted to Lieutenant General and New Zealand’s only peacetime Lieutenant General. Correction of the typographical error, demoting Lieutenant-General Burn to the correct rank of temporary lieutenant-colonel would be published in the Gazette. However in the meantime, many messages of congratulation were sent to Lt Col Burn by facetious friends, but they were likely to have puzzled him as he left New Zealand before the Gazette notice appeared.
Compulsory Military Training
During this period one CMT intakes marched in with the RNZAOC recruits posted to 1 (NZ) Division Ordnance Field Park on completion of initial training;
27th intake of 1542 recruits on 1 May 1958
28th intake planned for August 1958 but not held
After 63,033 men were trained under the CMT Scheme, the Labour Government halted the CMT scheme and replaced the 1949 Military Training Act with the National Service Registration Act 1958 in early 1958.
DOS Conference 27-29 May 1958
Hosted by the DOS at Army HQ, the agenda for this meeting included.
Survey of Stores – Army 246/37/1/Q(Org) of 6 October 57.
Identification of items
Bright Steel nuts and bolts
Trade names and trade equivalents
Vapour proof packaging of stores
Use of export cases
Further Army HQ problems if necessary
During this period, RNZAOC ordnance Depots and clothing stores would introduce the following new uniform types.
Males Other Rank Service Dress – this uniform was issued to all-male soldiers of the Regular Force.
Jungle Green Drill – the issue of Jungle Green uniforms to replace uniforms previously produced in Khaki Drill also commenced.
NZWRAC Uniform – The issue of new summer dress consisting of a green short-sleeved frock commenced. Production of a new pattern green went into production.
One hundred ninety-five vehicles from 5-ton trucks to motorcycles were declared surplus to the Government Stores Board.
By the end of December 1958, the Makomako, Waiouru and Belmont Ammunition areas had concluded the destruction of 317,440 items of ammunition ranging from detonators to 9.2in Cartridges; this included the detonation of 108 tons of Explosives with an additional 1217 tons of ammunition dumped at sea. Makomako was cleared of dangerous ammunition.
Move of Central Districts Vehicle Depot to Linton
As part of the Central Districts Vehicle Depot (CDVD) move to Linton during 1958, consideration was given to retaining some of the functions of the CDVD within the Main Ordnance Deport. To this end, the MOD Vehicle group was established. The MOD Vehicle group took over the existing CDVD compound at Trentham and had the following responsibilities:
Receipt, processing, and issue of all new vehicles.
Custody of vehicles that were considered as part of the Army Reserve Stocks.
Custody and disposal of vehicles held by CDVD Trentham that were considered surplus or had or been declared for disposal.
This ensured that when the CDVD completed its move to Linton, only the vehicles and equipment needed to operate were transferred to Linton.
Linton Camp Ordnance Depot Issues
Since its establishment in 1946, the Central Districts Ordnance Depots had occupied accommodation buildings in the North West corner of Linton Camp in what had initially been the wartime RNZAF Base Linton. Two additional warehouses had been assembled in 1949; however, storage space remained at a premium. Some example of the issues faced by the Ordnance Depot was; 
Block 1 Clothing Store – unable to be heated and uncomfortable for staff due to the risk of fire caused by the large quantity of clothing packaged with Naphthalene. This created a potential fire risk due to the Salamander heaters used for heating buildings.
S&T Block Tent Store – a multi-purpose building, used as a tent Store, repair shop and Traffic Centre. This building required repairs and was in such a state that it could not be secured against illegal entry. As the MOW estimated repairs to this building to cost at least £2000 (2020 NZ$49,882.32), the authority to repair would require approval from the DCRE. However, the DCRE had advised that this building was not worth repairing, with no alternative accommodation the Ordnance Depot was in a difficult position.
It was advised in December 1958 that because of the preliminary site investigation for a new Ordnance Depot conducted the previous year, a new building covering 125,000 sq. ft be constructed for the Ordnance Depot over the next three years.
Pending decision on the new Ordnance Depot building, the decision was made that the number of prefabricated buildings then been erected for the CDVD be increased from three to Four with the additional structure allocated to the Ordnance Depot as storage accommodation.
Over the period of the1959 annual camp, the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) conducted trials of a four-person, 24-hour rations pack that had been specifically designed to simplify the feeding of Armoured units. Manufactured by items readily available on the commercial market, feedback from 1 and 4 Armoured Regiments was favourable.
Based on the NZ SAS’s and NZ Regiments experience Malaya, operations in the jungle required the individual soldier to carry and cook his rations. To meet this developing requirement, the RNZAOS was also developing a lightweight 24-hour ration pack.
In February 1959 the RNZAOC would host a cricket tour to New Zealand by the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps (RAAOC). Major Derrick Roderick, a leading player for the RNZAOC tour to Australian in 1955, would act as the RNZAOC Liaison Officer for the RAAOC tour.
Over a period of three weeks, the RAAOC Cricket team would tour New Zealand, playing matches at;
Devonport Oval vs Ordnance Northern Military District, NZ Lost by 20 Runs
Linton Camp vs Ordnance Central Military District, Draw
Trentham camp vs RNZAOC XI, NZ lost by 11 Runs
Burnham Camp vs Ordnance Southern Military District, NZ Lost
Trentham Camp vs Main Ordnance Depot, NZ lost
The tour was finalised on 19 February with a farewell Ball at the Trentham Camp Badminton Hall. The New Zealand Director of Ordnance Services, Lt-Col H. McK. Reid made presentations to all Australian tour members on behalf of the RNZAOC. The Australian team manager, Colonel C. V. Anderson, OBE, on behalf of the RAAOC team thanked the RNZAOC for the hospitality and entertainment provided throughout the tour, presenting magnificent silver salvers to the Trentham Officers and Sergeants messes. The visitors were farewelled the following day, returning to Australian on the MS Wanganella.
Honours and Awards
Long Service and Good Conduct
31259 Warrant Officer Class One Maurice Sidney Phillips, 26 March 1959
Secondment to British Army
On 27 March 1958 Major Francis Anness Bishop RNZAOC began a secondment with the British Army. Attached to the 17th Gurkha Division/Overseas Commonwealth Land Forces (Malaya), Major Bishop would be the Divisions Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General (DAQMG).
Staff College, Camberley
Captain C.L Sanderson, RNZAOD represented the New Zealand Army on the 1959 Staff College Course at Camberley in the United Kingdom.
Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, Resignations, and Retirements of Officers of the RNZAOC
Lieutenant and Quartermaster A.F James to be Captain and Quartermaster, 1 April 1958.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 36, 12 june 1958.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 52, 21 August 1958.;”Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 56, 11 September 1958.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 58, 25 September 1958.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 68, 6 November 1958.
Situated just north of the small Waikato town of Ngāruawāhia, the Military Camp at Hopuhopu was, for Sixty-Two years, the home of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps in the Upper North Island.
Located on the banks of the Waikato River and adjacent to the Main Trunk Railway line, at a glance Hopuhopu, in its remote rural location south of Auckland seems a strange place to locate an Ordnance Depot. However, despite its location, the Ordnance Depot at Hopuhopu was significant in the histography of the RNZAOC.
The significance of Hopuhopu was that it was the first purpose-built Ordnance Depot for the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, with, at the time of its construction, the most modern Warehousing and Ammunition Storage infrastructure in use by the New Zealand Military.
Purpose-built Military storage infrastructure had been constructed early in the 20th Century at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin; however, this infrastructure had been built on a small scale to service the pre-war military districts. The Post-Bellum New Zealand Army was in an advantageous position; it had an experienced cadre of men to draw upon to train the building blocks of any future force. Additionally, the Army was flush with enough new and modern equipment to form and sustain an Expeditionary Force of at least one Infantry Division, a mounted Rifle Brigades, Artillery Regiment and Line of Communications troops.
The bulk of the equipment was held by Ordnance at Trentham and Featherston Camps, utilising wartime infrastructure designed to accommodate soldiers and not large quantiles of military material. Smaller amounts to support training and initial mobilisation were distributed to the new mobilisation camp at Burnham in the South Island and the Mount Eden depot in Auckland. Whilst both Trentham and Burnham had room for expansion, the existing infrastructure at those camps was deemed with a few additions, adequate for the time being with no purpose-built infrastructure constructed until 1939/40. However, in Auckland, the depot at Mount Eden was inadequate and unable to support the Northern districts and more robust mobilisation, and storage infrastructure was required.
Storage of ammunition was another concern. Existing ammunition storage across New Zealand consisted of many 19th-century era powder magazines and converted coastal defence batteries, with the bulk of New Zealand’s ammunition supply stored at Wellingtons Fort Balance. These existing ammunition storage arrangements were unsatisfactory, and a more permanent solution was needed in the form of a purpose-built facility.
By 1921 the site of a new Mobilisation and Ordnance Depot to support the Northern Districts had been decided upon, and in one of the largest defence infrastructure projects undertaken in New Zealand, construction of the new camp at Hopuhopu continued throughout the 1920s with the Ordnance Depot opening in 1927. A significant project at the time the progress of construction at Hopuhopu was widely reported on with this Auckland Star article from 1925 describing the plans for the camp;
GREAT MILITARY CAMP
WORK AT HOPUHOPU
DOMINIONS’ AMMUNITION DEPOT
A SPLENDID TRAINING GROUND
Midway between Ngaruawahia and Taupiri, bounded by the railway and the Waikato River, is a long strip of land, some 500 acres in area, level excepting for an extensive hill that rises to an elevation of some ninety feet. This is Hopuhopu, site of the old mission station of the name. Once the home of peace, it is now being transformed by the engineers and men of the Public Works Department into a camp of training for war. Acquired by the Defence Department about three years ago, the Hopuhopu mission site has already been used as a camp for trainees, but it is in the rough, and the plans on which the engineers are now working aim at its conversion into a thoroughly equipped permanent military depot, to be officially known as the Ngaruawahia Mobilisation Base. When the plans are completed, it will be the chief military magazine, for the Dominion, and probably the greatest ordnance depot.
Through the courtesy of the Defence authorities and Mr E. K. James, the engineer in charge of the work, a “Star” representative was permitted to inspect the camp in the making yesterday. The site at once suggests itself as an ideal one for the purpose intended, and this idea is backed by expert engineering and military opinion. There has been some criticism of the area on the ground that it is damp, but this has proved to be a matter that can and will be easily overcome. After heavy rain, there is a degree of surface damp, caused by the matting of thick vegetable growth, but the sinking of a number of test holes has revealed a porous, sandy soil beneath, which, when the “matting” is removed, will readily allow all moisture to percolate and leave a dry surface. In fact, the site lends itself readily to perfect draining. About one hundred men are engaged in the work of clearing and building, and they have been greatly hampered in their preliminary operations by the amount of furze and blackberry that ‘successive owners of the land (including the Government) have allowed to grow on it. The furze is not so hard to clear, but an instance of the pertinacity of the blackberry was shown in a patch that was again springing to vigorous growth two months after it had been cut. Over one hundred acres have been cleared, and there remains another 150 acres to be dealt with by hook and fire.
A Varied Terrain
The great value of the Hopuhopu site is that it is adaptable to every branch of military training. A detraining platform a quarter of a mile long will be constructed on the main railway line for the embarkation and disembarkation of troops; there are large level areas for parade grounds; there are hills for reconnoitre and signalling; there is the river for bridge-train and pontoon drill, and in fact, the contour of the country will enable training in every department of military tactics. When the camp is completed, its huge stores, magazines and hutments will spread over an area of 200 acres. It is proposed to provide sanitary drainage from the latrines by a large pipe running along the railway into septic tanks, and thence into the river. The first part of the plan provides for the accommodation of a full battalion, and this will gradually be extended to mobilise and house a brigade of about 5000 men. Next year trainees of the Northern Command will sleep beneath the roofs of solid huts, instead of in tents.
In arriving at the decision to construct this great camp at Hopuhopu, the authorities were doubtless influenced by other considerations additional to the natural suitability of the site for training purposes. It is a reasonable distance from the city; yet not too near. It is not advisable that men in training should have the temptations of a city that is in too close proximity, and it is essential really that a camp containing immense stores of ammunition should be out of range of shelling by a possible hostile fleet operating, for instance, in the Hauraki Gulf. Besides, Hopuhopu is a very handy site for the mobilisation of the thousands of trainees who reside in the closely settled districts of the Waikato.
Some acres of the campsite, between the Old South Road and the river, have been reserved for residences for officers of the permanent staff, the building of which has already been commenced in the corner adjacent to the railway, line. These houses are being constructed of concrete. The whole of the ordnance department is to be transferred to the camp, which will take over a great deal of the stores now housed at Featherston. The extent of the future ordnance department at the new base may be gauged from the fact that the plans provide for five sheds measuring 40 x 500 ft, 40 x 300 ft, 40 x 200 ft, 40 x 100 ft, and 40 x 350 ft. These will lie alongside the camp railway, which runs into the camp for a distance of half a mile from, the mainline, so that stores may be received and dispatched with a minimum of labour and a maximum of speed. From the terminus of this extension, a wooden tramway is to be constructed to the foot of the hill along the base of which the magazines are being built.
The Magazine Section
No fewer than ten magazines for the storage of explosives and ammunition are provided for, and several of these are nearing completion while excavating and banking is being carried out on the site of the great laboratory to be attached to this department. The magazines are built into the hillside. They are constructed of concrete, with double walls, in between which are formed the inspecting chambers. From these chambers’ sentries may see through observation windows the thermometers which register the temperature inside and by this guide check or increase ventilation, as needed, for the explosives must be kept at a certain degree Fahrenheit. Also, the double-wall is a protection against fire. Between each magazine, a pyramid is erected from the spoil taken from the excavation. These are eave high with the roofs of the magazines and are designed to break the force of any possible explosion of one magazine, so that others may not be exploded also. The magazines are also faced by a long embankment, and are, of course, backed by the hill, so that an explosion would be confined as far as possible to the magazine area.
On top of the hill, there has been constructed an 80,000-gallon reservoir for the camp water supply. The water is pumped by a 30 hp motor from a settling tank alongside the river and ten feet below the level of its bed. The water is well filtered and regarded as pure after it has percolated into its tank, but as an additional safeguard, a chlorinating plant is to be installed.
Negotiations are proceeding with landowners on the other side of the river for the acquirement of land for a rifle range.
“Great Military Camp,” The Auckland Star, vol. LVI, no. 83, p. 5, 8 April 1925.
The Ordnance Depot opened in 1927. The original plan called for five warehouses measuring 40 x 500 ft, 40 x 300 ft, 40 x 200 ft, 40 x 100 ft, and 40 x 350 ft; what was eventually construed was a single large warehouse measuring 100 x 322 ft.
An additional Ordnance warehouse was constructed adjacent to the original building during the Second World War. The wartime era also saw the nationwide expansion of the NZ Army’s Ammunition infrastructure with additional magazines added to the existing ten magazine at the Hopuhopu Storage area and a new Ammunition Depot established outside of Hopuhopu Camp at the nearby Kelm Road.
Hopuhopu and its Ordnance Depot survived until 1989, when as part of many rationalisations taking place across the New Zealand Defence Forces, Hopuhopu camp was closed, and its functions passed on to other locations.
 Mark McGuire, “Equipping the Post-Bellum Army,” Forts and Works 2016.
 “Great Military Camp,” The Auckland Star, vol. LVI, no. 83, p. 5, 8 April 1925.