NZOC Light Aid Detachments, 1939-44

In the period between the world wars Britain analysed the lessons of the Great War and looking forward realised that the next war would not be one of attrition-based warfare, but a war of speed, mobility and surprise utilising modern technologies such as armoured vehicles, motorised transport and communications. By 1939 the British Army had transformed from the horse-drawn army of the previous war into a modern motorised force fielding more vehicles than their potential opponents, the Germans. Britain’s modernisation was comprehensive with not only new weapons and equipment but also robust and up to date doctrine, providing the foundation for the employment of the army.

The modernisation of the British Army included the Logistical services, with both the Army Service Corps and the Army Ordnance Corps on the path to becoming doctrinally prepared, equipped and organised for the upcoming conflict.  New Zealand would take Britain’s lead and from the mid-1930s begin to reorganise and reequip New Zealand’s Military in tune with emerging British doctrine. New Zealand’s entry into the war in September 1939, would initiate a massive transformation of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services with new units raised, and personnel recruited to support New Zealand’s forces at home and overseas. In addition to Ordnance Deports and Workshops, the most numerous Ordnance unit would be the Light Aid Detachments (LAD). Providing the first-line repair to formations and Units, LAD’s would provide the backbone of New Zealand repair and maintenance services keeping the critical material of war operational in often extreme conditions. This article provides background on the role and function of the LAD in overseas and home defence roles between 1939 and 1945.

Throughout the interwar years, the British Military establishment had been hard at work at analysing lessons of the previous war and interpreting contemporary developments. Updating doctrine throughout the 1930s the British Military would progressively transform into a mechanised force armed and equipped with some of the most advance weapons and equipment of the era. The tactical bible of British Commonwealth armies, the Field Service Regulations (FSR) was updated with at least four editions issued proving that the British Army was willing to learn from the mistakes learned in the previous war.[1] Concurrent to the tactical doctrine of the FSR Anticipating the Royal Army Ordnance Corps  (RAOC) spent the 1930s creating the infrastructure and doctrine to support the mechanisation of the British Army by creating essential relationships with the British motor industry that would smooth the path to mobilisation.[2] In addition to the doctrine published in the FSR’s the wartime doctrine for the operation of British and Commonwealth Ordnance Services was detailed in the Ordnance Manual (War) 1939.

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Authorised for use from 13 September 1939 the Ordnance Manual (War) 1939 was intended to “Guide all concerned and particularly to assist, at the beginning of a campaign, those who have no previous war experience of the duties that they are called upon to undertake.”[3] The Ordnance Manual (War) 1939 detailed all the responsibilities that were expected of the British and Commonwealth Ordnance Services, with the repair and maintenance responsibilities as follows;[4]

 

8.   The organisation for carrying out, in the field, repairs (including replacement of component and complete assemblies) to units’ equipment (other than ammunition) consists of:-

(a) Light aid detachments, which are attached to certain units and formations to advise and assist them with their “first line” repair and recovery duties.

(b) Mobile workshop units, equipped with machinery, breakdown and store lorries, which are allotted to certain formations for carrying out “second line” repairs and recovery.

(c) Stationary base ordnance workshops, which are established on a semi-permanent basis at, or adjacent to, the base ordnance depot or depots.

(d) Ordnance field parks from which replacement of components and complete assemblies can be effected. These ordnance field parks also hold a proportion of replacement vehicles.

The Ordnance Manual (War) 1939 then details the role of the Light Aid Detachment:

2.   In order to assist units with their first line repair and recovery work, and to provide- expert diagnosis and technical experience, light aid detachments are permanently attached to certain formations and units, for example:

        • Artillery regiments.
        • Cavalry regiments and Tank battalions, Royal Armoured Corps.
        • Infantry brigades.
        • Machine-gun battalions.
        • Tank battalions.
        • Royal Engineer field parks.
        • Divisional Signals.

The LADs. attached to RE field parks and to divisional signals (whose establishments of vehicles are comparatively small) are required to look after other small mechanised units not provided with LADs.

3.   The personnel of a LAD consists of an Ordnance Mechanical Officer (OME), an armament artificer (fitter), an electrician, and a few fitters, and the necessary storemen, driver mechanics, drivers, etc., for their vehicles. Its transport usually consists of two lorries (one store and one breakdown), a car and a motorcycle.

4.   Its functions are: –

(a) To advise units how best to keep their equipment and vehicles in a state of mechanical efficiency; to help them to detect the causes of any failures or breakdowns, and to assist them in carrying out first line repairs up to their full capacity.

(b) To assist units with first-line recovery of breakdowns.

(c) To maintain a close liaison between the unit and formation workshop.

During rest periods LADs may be able to carry out more extensive repairs. If the time is available, the necessary parts and material can be brought up from the ordnance field park to enable them to carry out jobs which would normally be beyond their capacity when on the move.

In such circumstances, repair detachments of recovery sections may be brought up to assist them).

5.   LADs do not form part of the workshops in any sense. They are definitely an integral part of “B” echelon of the unit to which they are attached, and the OME. is directly under the orders of OC unit, in the same way as the regimental medical officer. The OC unit is the accounting officer for the vehicles and stores of the LAD. When an LAD serves more than one unit, as in the case of an infantry brigade, the OME. is the accounting officer for all purposes.

10 LAD

Members of 10 Light Aid Detachment, New Zealand Ordnance Corps, attached to 5 NZ Fd Park Coy, changing truck engine, probably at Burbeita.  Taken circa 1941 by an official photographer. Ref: DA-01035-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22485028

 

The New Zealand Light Aid Detachments

When New Zealand committed forces to the war effort in 1939, the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, despite having the doctrinal foundations provided by the Ordnance Manual (War) did not have the Regular or Territorial Force personnel available to provide LADs immediately. Therefore, like the United Kingdom, New Zealand would rely on its civilian motor industry to provide the bulk of the tradesmen for the LADs. However, despite the challenges in forming specialised units from scratch, the New Zealand Army would raise fifty-six, Light Aid Detachments, in three distinct tranches between 1940 and 1943 consisting of

  • 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force – Eighteen LAD’s
  • 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Pacific – Seven LAD’s
  • Home Defence – Thirty-One LAD’s.

2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force LAD’s

Created as part of the newly constituted 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF) in 1939, the 2NZEF New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) was described in the Evening Post newspaper as consisting of “11 Light Aid Detachments of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps. These are numbered 9 to 19, and their part is to render assistance and effect repairs to mechanic transport and the anti-tank units”[5].

The was initially some confusion between the use of the designation NZAOC and NZOC in the context of the NZEF. This was clarified in NZEF Order 221 of March 1941 which set NZOC as the title of Ordnance in the NZEF.

NZOC

1942 saw the separation of maintenance and repair functions from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) with the formation of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME) in the Brutish Army.[6] The New Zealand Division followed suit and formed the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) on 1 December 1942 separating the repair, maintenance and ordnance stores functions of the NZOC.[7]

Unit Formation Date
9 LAD 4 Field Regiment 11 Jan 1940[8]
10 LAD 5 Field Park 11 Jan 1940[9]
11 LAD HQ 4 Infantry Brigade 11 Jan 1940[10]
12 LAD 27 NZ (MG) Battalion, Disbanded 15 October 1942 11 Jan 1940[11]
13 LAD 2 NZ Divisional Cavalry 11 Jan 1940[12]
14 LAD Divisional Signals 11 Jan 1940[13]
15 LAD 7 Anti-Tank Regiment 29 Feb 1940[14]
16 LAD 5 Field Regiment
17 LAD HQ 5 NZ Infantry Brigade 29 Feb 1940[15]
18 LAD 6 Field Regiment 7 Mar 1940[16]
19 LAD HQ 6 NZ Infantry Brigade 12 Sept 1940[17]
35 LAD 22 Motorised Battalion
38 LAD 18 Armoured Regiment 16 Feb 1942
39 LAD 19 Armoured Regiment 16 Feb 1942
40 LAD 20 Armoured Regiment 16 Feb 1942
38 LAD

GMC CCKW Truck modelled with the Regimental Markings of 38 LAD, 18th Armoured Regiment. Craig Paddon

NZEF NZ Tank Brigade

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Formation Sign 1 NZ Tank Brigade

The New Zealand Tank Brigade was an NZEF unit formed at Waiouru in October 1941 with the intent of being deployed to the Middle East after Training in New Zealand for six months. The entry of Japan into the war in December 1941 necessitated the rerolling of the NZ Tank Brigade into a home defence role.  After a period of reorganisations, the Brigade was ordered to be redeployed in April 1942, with its Headquarters and Battalions dispersed to the South Island, Northland, Manawatu and Pukekohe.

November 1942 saw further changes which would start the gradual disestablishment of the NZ Tank Brigade.[18]

    • No 1 Tank Battalion and 32 LAD remained in the Home defence roll in the Auckland/Northland area.
    • No 2 Tank Battalion, the Army Tank Ordnance Workshop and Ordnance Field Park were dissolved and became part of 3 NZ Division Independent Tank Battalion Group for service in the Pacific.
    • No 3 Tank Battalion and 33 LAD were deployed to the Middle East for service with the 2ndNZ Division, where it was dissolved, forming the nucleus of the 4th NZ Armoured brigade and 38, 39 and 40 LADs.
    • 34 LAD was stationed with the Independent Tank Squadron at Harewood in the South Island.

By June 1943, the final units of the 1st NZ Army Tank Brigade including 32 LAD and 34 LAD were disbanded.

32 LAD NZ Army Tank Brigade 1 Tank Battalion Oct 1941[19] Waiouru, Pukekohe
33 LAD NZ Army Tank Brigade 2 Tank Battalion Oct 1941[20] Waiouru, Manawatu
34 LAD NZ Army Tank Brigade 3 Tank Battalion Oct 1941[21] Waiouru, Harewood
1 NZ Army Tk Bde Battalion Ordnance unit

Army Tank Ordnance Workshops, OFP and LAD identifying patch. Malcolm Thomas Collection

NZEF in the Pacific

WH2IP-TankTit-2(h280)

As with the NZEF in the Middle East, NZOC units were formed for service with the NZEF in the Pacific (NZEFIP). Initially, 20 LAD was formed to support 8 Infantry Brigade Group in Fiji from November 1940. As the war progressed, the NZOC grew into a Divisional sized organisation of 23 units and detachments supported by an additional six LAD’s serving in on operations in Fiji, New Caledonia, The Solomon Islands and Tonga.[22] The formation of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers 1942 was not followed through in New Zealand and the Pacific, with repair and Maintenance functions remaining part of the Ordnance Corps for the duration of the war.

On conclusion of successful campaigns in the Solomon Islands in 1944, 3 NZ Division and its equipment was returned to New Zealand and formally disbanded on 20 October 1944. On return to New Zealand, many NZOC members were graded unfit due to rigours of the tropical campaign and returned to their civilian occupations. Those fit enough were redeployed as reinforcements to 2NZEF in Italy with the men of the LAD’s joining NZEME units.

Unit Formation Date Locations
20 LAD B Force, 17 Field Regiment 23 Oct 1940[23] Fiji/New Caledonia
36 LAD HQ 8 Brigade Group Jan 1942[24] Fiji
37 LAD HQ 14 Brigade Group Jan 1942[25] Fiji/New Caledonia
42 LAD 38 Field Regiment Jan 1942[26] New Caledonia
64 LAD HQ 8 Infantry Brigade Jan 1943[27] New Caledonia
65 LAD HQ 15 Brigade Group, HQ 3 NZ Division Engineers Jan 1943 New Caledonia
67 LAD HQ 3 NZ Divisional Signals Jan 1943[28] New Caledonia

Territorial Army Home Service  LAD’s

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Badge of NZOC, 1940-46. Robert McKie Collection

With the NZAOC and the New Zealand Permanent Army Service Corps (NZPASC) existing as part of the Permanent Army, only the NZPASC had a Territorial Army component, known as the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC). From the 1930s workshop sections had been included on the establishments of ASC unit for activation on mobilisation. With the onset of war in 1939 and the mobilisation of the Territorial Army in 1940 the Quartermaster General, Col H.E Avery made the decision that LADs were an Ordnance responsibility and the NZOC was established as the Ordnance Component of Territorial Army in December 1940.[29]

By late 1943 the mobilisation of the Territorial Forces had ceased to be necessary, and most units had been stood down and placed on care and maintenance status with a small RF Cadre. By 1 April 1944, all wartime home defence units had been disbanded.[30]  Although not part of the pre-war Territorial Army the NZOC remained on establishments. In 1946 a Reorganisation of New Zealand Military Forces removed the distinction between Regular and non-Regular soldiers, and the NZOC ceased to be a separate Corps with the supply functions amalgamated into the NZAOC and the Workshops functions including the LADs (21, 23, 25, 28, 30 and 53) amalgamated into the NZEME.[31]

 

Northern Military District

Unit Formation Date Locations
21 LAD 1 NZ Division, 1 Field Regiment 19 Dec 1940[32] Whangarei
22 LAD HQ 1 Brigade 19 Dec 1940[33] Papakura
28 LAD 1 NZ Division, 3 LAFV (AECMR)[34] 9 Jan 1942[35] Pukekohe/Warkworth
51 LAD HQ 12 Brigade 9 Jan 1942[36] Kaikohe
55 LAD 1 NZ Division, 15 LAFV (NAMR)[37] 9 Jan 1942[38] North Waimate
56 LAD District Troops, NMD District Signals 9 Jan 1942[39] Ngaruawahia
63 LAD 1 NZ Division, 20 Field Regiment Waimata North
68 LAD District Troops, 4 LAFV (WMR)[40] Ngaruawahia
70 LAD 1 NZ Division, 1 Divisional Signals Avondale

 

Central Military District

Unit Formation Date Locations
23 LAD 4 NZ Division, 2 Field Regiment 19 Dec 1940[41] Linton Camp
24 LAD 2 Infantry Brigade, HQ 2 Brigade 19 Dec 1940[42] Palmerston North
27 LAD 7 Brigade Group, 12 Field Regiment 9 Jan 1942[43] Greytown
29 LAD 7 Brigade Group, HQ 7 Brigade Group 9 Jan 1942[44] Carterton
30 LAD 4 NZ Division, 2 LAFV (QAMR)[45] 19 Dec 1940[46] Wanganui
58 LAD 7 Brigade Group, 9 LAFV (WECMR)[47] 9 Jan 1942[48] Hastings
60 LAD 4 NZ Division, 6 LAFV (MMR)[49] 9 Jan 1942[50] Fielding
71 LAD District Troops, Buckle Street Buckle Street Wellington
72 LAD Fortress Troops, HQ Wellington Fortress Wellington
73 LAD 4 NZ Division, HQ 4 Division Palmerston North

 

Southern Military District

Unit Formation Date Locations
25 LAD 5 NZ Division, 3 Field Regiment 19 Dec 1940[51] Hororata
26 LAD 3 Infantry Brigade, HQ 3 Brigade 19 Dec 1940[52] Burnham
52 LAD 11 Brigade Group, HQ 11 Infantry Brigade 9 Jan 1942[53] Blenheim
53 LAD 5 NZ Division, 1 LAFV (CYC)[54] 9 Jan 1942[55] Blenheim
54 LAD District Troops, 5 LAFV (OMR)[56] 9 Jan 1942[57] Wingatui
57 LAD 10 Infantry Brigade, HQ 10 Brigade 9 Jan 1942[58] Ashburton
59 LAD 11 Infantry Brigade, 10 LAFV (NMMR)[59] 9 Jan 1942[60] Blenheim
61 LAD 5 NZ Division, 18 Field Regiment Unknown
62 LAD 11 Infantry Brigade, 19 Field Regiment Blenheim
74 LAD Fortress Troops, HQ Lyttleton Fortress Lyttleton
75 LAD Fortress Troops, HQ Dunedin Fortress then HQ Area IX Dunedin/Nelson
77 LAD 5 NZ Division,5 Division Signals Riccarton

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2020

 

 

 

Bibliography

Bolton, Major J.S. A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps. Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992.

“Calling out Parts of the Defence Forces for Military Service.” New Zealand Gazette, No 3, 9 January 1942.

Cooke, Peter. Warrior Craftsmen, Rnzeme 1942-1996. Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017.

Cooke, Peter, and John Crawford. The Territorials. Wellington: Random House New Zealand Ltd, 2011.

Fennell, Jonathan. Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War. Armies of the Second World War. Cambridge University Press, 2019. Non-fiction.

Fernyhough, Brigadier A H. A Short History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (First Edition). RAOC Trust, 1965.

“Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Units of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. .” New Zealand Gazette, No 8, 22 January 1942.

“Formation of New Units, Changes in Designation, and Reorganisation of Units of the Territorial Force. .” New Zealand Gazette, No 127, 19 December 1940.

Gillespie, Oliver A. The Tanks: An Unofficial History of the Activities of the Third New Zealand Division Tank Squadron in the Pacific. A.H. and A.W. Reed for the Third Division Histories Committee, 1947. Non-fiction.

“H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding “. Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1 January 1947).

“Hq Army Tank Brigade Ordnance Units, June 1942 to January 1943.” Archives New Zealand Item No R20112168  (1943).

“New Zealand Ordnance Corps “. New Zealand Gazette, No 1, June 11 1940.

“New Zealand Ordnance Corps “. New Zealand Gazette, No 16, February 29 1940.

“New Zealand Ordnance Corps “. New Zealand Gazette, No 18, 7 March 1940.

“New Zealand Ordnance Corps “. New Zealand Gazette, No 98, 12 September 1940.

Ordnance Manual (War). Edited by The War Office. London: His Majestys Stationery Office, 1939.

“Parts of the Defence Forces Called out for Military Service.” New Zealand Gazette, No 128, 19 December 1940.

Plowman, Jeffrey, and Malcolm Thomas. New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45. Kiwi Armour: 2. J. Plowman, 2001. Non-fiction.

“Pwd Tenders.” Evening Post, Volume CXXVIII, Issue 6, 7 July 1939.

“Reorganisation of the Territorial Force.” New Zealand Gazette No 55, 21 October 1948, 1605.

Williams, P.H. War on Wheels: The Mechanisation of the British Army in the Second World War. History Press Limited, 2016.

Notes

[1] This compared with the two editions of German and French doctrine produced during the same period. Jonathan Fennell, Fighting the People’s War : The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War, Armies of the Second World War (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Non-fiction, 32.

[2] P.H. Williams, War on Wheels: The Mechanisation of the British Army in the Second World War (History Press Limited, 2016).

[3] Ordnance Manual (War), ed. The War Office (London: His Majestys Stationery Office, 1939), 9.

[4] Ibid., 17.

[5] “Pwd Tenders,” Evening Post, Volume CXXVIII, Issue 6,, 7 July 1939.

[6] Brigadier A H Fernyhough, A Short History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (First Edition) (RAOC Trust 1965).

[7] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992).

[8] “New Zealand Ordnance Corps “, New Zealand Gazette, No 1, June 11 1940, 19.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] “New Zealand Ordnance Corps “, New Zealand Gazette, No 16, February 29 1940, 324.

[15] Ibid.

[16] “New Zealand Ordnance Corps “, New Zealand Gazette, No 18, 7 March 1940, 360.

[17] “New Zealand Ordnance Corps “, New Zealand Gazette, No 98, 12 September 1940, 2319.

[18] Jeffrey Plowman and Malcolm Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, Kiwi Armour: 2 (J. Plowman, 2001), Non-fiction.

[19] “Hq Army Tank Brigade Ordnance Units, June 1942 to January 1943,” Archives New Zealand Item No R20112168  (1943).

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Oliver A. Gillespie, The Tanks : An Unofficial History of the Activities of the Third New Zealand Division Tank Squadron in the Pacific (A.H. and A.W. Reed for the Third Division Histories Committee, 1947), Non-fiction, 137-227.

[23] Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, Rnzeme 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017), 55.

[24] Ibid., 57.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid., 63.

[27] Ibid., 62.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Peter Cooke and John Crawford, The Territorials (Wellington: Random House New Zealand Ltd, 2011), 258.

[30] Ibid.

[31] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding “, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1947).;”Reorganisation of the Territorial Force,” New Zealand Gazette No 55, 21 October 1948.

[32] “Formation of New Units, Changes in Designation, and Reorganization of Units of the Territorial Force. ,” New Zealand Gazette, No 127, 19 December 1940, 3738-39.

[33] Ibid.

[34] 3 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Auckland East Coast Mounted Rifles) Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[35] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,” New Zealand Gazette, No 8, 22 January 1942, 351.

[36] Ibid.

[37] 15 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (North Auckland Mounted Rifles) Plowman

[38] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[39] Ibid.

[40] 4 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Waikato Mounted Rifles) Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[41] “Formation of New Units, Changes in Designation, and Reorganization of Units of the Territorial Force. ,”  3738-39.

[42] Ibid.

[43] “Calling out Parts of the Defence Forces for Military Service,” New Zealand Gazette, No 3, 9 January 1942, 43.

[44] Ibid.

[45] 2 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles)Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[46] “Parts of the Defence Forces Called out for Military Service,” New Zealand Gazette, No 128, 19 December 1940, 3777.

[47] 9 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Wellington East Coast Mounted Rifles)Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[48] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[49] 6 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment ( Manawatu Mounted Rifles)Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[50] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[51] “Formation of New Units, Changes in Designation, and Reorganization of Units of the Territorial Force. ,”  3738-39.

[52] Ibid.

[53] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[54] 1 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry)Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[55] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[56] 5 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Otago Mounted Rifles)Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[57] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[58] Ibid.

[59] 10 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment ( Nelson Marlbough Mounted Rifles) Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[60] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

 

 


Reports on NZ Ordnance Depots in the Pacific, 1943-44

The Second World War would be a period of immense growth for New Zealand’s Ordnance Services. Expanding from a strength of 6 Officers, 28 Permanent Other Ranks and 113 Civilian Staff operating from limited infrastructure in Devonport, Hopuhopu, Trentham and Burnham Camp in May 1939,  New Zealand’s Ordnance Services would have expanded by 1944 into a diverse organisation supporting New Zealand’s Forces at home and abroad.

Armed with the 1939 Ordnance Manual (war), the Ordnance units of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) would be established and adapted for their specific theatres of operation. In the Middle East, New Zealand Ordnance would integrate into the Ordnance Servicers of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. However, with a Brigade Group based in Fiji from late 1940, it would be the Ordnance Services in the Pacific that faced the most significant challenges. As the NZ Brigade Group transitioned and expanded from its garrison duties in Fiji into a Division conducting amphibious combat operations in the Solomon Islands, the supporting Ordnance Services challenges included anticipating the needs of the Division up to six months in advance and relying on fragile lines of communication that stretched back to New Zealand for everyday items and to the United Kingdom for much of the military hardware held by the Division. Additionally, the tropical climate and indigenous fauna encountered in the area of operations would provide additional hurdles to overcome.

After a series of actions in the Solomons, the burden of maintaining two Divisions was unstainable for the limited resources that New Zeland could provide, and by October 1944 the Pacific Divison had been disestablished. Its men were either demobilised to fill critical civilian roles, or retained in the Army, as reinforcements for the Division in Italy or in the case of many of the Ordnance men, absorbed into New Zealand based Ordnance Depots to receive and refurbish the large amount of equipment returned from the Pacific.

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3 NZ Division Tricks and Tanks parked at Main Ordnance Depot, Mangere Bulk Depot on their Return from the Pacific in 1944 (Colourised). Alexander Turnbull Library

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3 NZ Division Tricks and Tanks parked at Main Ordnance Depot, Mangere Bulk Depot on their Return from the Pacific in 1944(Colourised). Alexander Turnbull Library

Based on the experienced gained in the operation of the Base Ordnance Depot in New Caledonia and Advanced Ordnance Depot in Guadalcanal, two Ordnance Officers who had served in the Pacific since 1940, Henry Mckenzie Reid and Stanley Arthur Knight produced reports in 1945 summarising Ordnance operations in New Caledonia and Guadacanal. Both Knight and Reid had been civilians in the Ordnance Corps before the war, Reid at Trentham and Knight at Hopuhopu and commissioned as officers during 1940. Both men would serve in the Base Ordnance Depot in Fiji and then with the Base Ordnance Depot in New Caledonia as Chief Ordnance Officer. Knight would also be the final DADOS of the 3rd NZ Divison. Both officers would remain in the NZAOC after the war with Reid becoming the Director of Ordnance Services from April 1957 to November 1960.

Both reports are similar in overall content with various points on Storage, Packing of Stores, Personnel, Ammunition with each Officer providing varying degrees of detail. The combined purpose of the reports is not only to provide a historical record of this aspect of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services in the Pacific but also to provide a resource for the New Zealand Ordnance Services and assist in planning for future operations in the tropics.

OPERATIONS OF ORDNANCE DEPOTS IN PACIFIC
OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF
LIEUT-COL S.A.KNIGHT N.Z.E.F I.P.

Knight Pic

Lieutenant-Colonel Stanley Arthur Knight

FORWARD

I was appointed Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services immediately prior to the withdrawal of troops from forward areas to base areas in New Caledonia. Shortly after my arrival in Guadalcanal, units commenced preparations prior to evacuation, and my duties as D.A.D.O.S were not onerous since the demand for equipment had dropped to bare essentials. My observations must, therefore, be entirely concerned with an analysis of experiences gained while holding the appointment of Chief Ordnance Officer (COO), Base Ordnance Depot(BOD) New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Pacific(NZEF IP).

ZONE OF OPERATIONS

The Base Ordnance Depor was established in New Caledonia at the beginning of the new year in 1943. Being situated some 30 miles for the port of Nepoui at which the bulk of our stores were unloaded and 100 miles from Noumea, fairly long hauls by road were necessitated.

In August of the same year, an Advanced Ordnance Depot was established in Guadalcanal, staffed by about 50% of the Base Ordnance Dept personnel. A few weeks later a Forward Ordnance Depot staffed by 2 officers and 25 ORs was established a Vella Lavella. The later depot was closed down and personnel withdrawn to Guadalcanal when Divisional Troops move forward to Green Island.

Due account must the taken of the type of operations to be undertaken, but it is my opinion that sub-division must be kept to a minimum. If the Base Depot is situated as close as possible to the fighting troops, then the necessity to establish Advanced Depots can be reduced to a minimum. Each time a Sub-Depot is established, additional personnel are required, and the total quantity of stores must necessarily be increased go provide working margins for each Depot.

STORAGE

It will be generally accepted that few if any permanent buildings will be available for the holding of ordnance store on Pacific Islands unless the Base is established at places such ad Noumea, Suva or Rabaul. Full provision must, therefore, be made for the temporary coverage to provide adequate protection for the initial shipments of stores when a Depot id being established.

Sufficient timber and tarpaulins for the erection of shelters should be forwarded with the first shipment of stores. Well constructed canvas shelters with good ventilation will give satisfactory accommodation for the storage, breaking down and issue of equipment for a period of 3 or 4 months. If the Depot is to remain in one site for a longer period, prefabricated buildings should be provided as early as possible if the loss of stores is to be kept to a minimum. Canvas coverings can only be considered a temporary measure as owing to the high humidity, together with tropical rain and cyclones, deterioration is very rapid.

The effects of a hurricane can be severe, and a poorly constructed Ordnance Depot might easily be completely wrecked with very heavy mortality to stores since hurricanes are usually accompanied by torrential downpours.
I stress the fact that the best type of storage which can be procured, must go forward at the very earliest moment; otherwise, the Depot will be severely hampered, particularly in its infancy.

To meet the requirement of a Base Ordnance Depot serving a Division (including Ammunition) and to provide a small surplus for contingencies 2000 tarpaulins, preferably of the standard 180ft x 13-ft would be required.

In the initial stages of an operation, stores are usually carted to dumps from shops. Every effort should be made to provide dunnage for the stacks and tarpaulins should be arranged, allowing good air circulation.

Stacks of stores covered in this manner require constant attention. For instance, when a stack which has been properly covered allowing good air circulation, is partially broken down, the tarpaulin is allowed to drape on the ground. The air under the tarpaulin arranged in this manner is always saturated in a damp climate and rapid deterioration is the result. The same applies to tentage which should be properly erected, preferably with wooden floors, allowing free air circulation and the maximum benefit of dry sunny days used by removing and drying out damp walls.

Although 1200 Tarpaulins were placed on order for manufacture some weeks prior to the Divisions departure from New Zealand, only about 400 were to hand and available for use when the Ordnance Depot was established in New Caledonia. This number was insufficient to cover all Depot stocks and Ammunition with the result that much damage resulted. On instructions from the A.A. & Q.M.G, 80 tarpaulins had to be removed from ammunition stacks for the issue to A.S.C units. As a result of the Ammunition being exposed to heavy rains, considerable damage was done, and a repair party of 50 men was employed for many weeks at a later date, repairing and cleaning the Ammunition, while some had to be destroyed owing to its unserviceability.

When the Ammunition dump was established at Guadalcanal, every effort was made to provide the best possible storage. Ammunition was stacked on goof platforms with coconut poles for base and Tarpaulins were properly arranged, allowing free ait circulation. As a result, losses were negatable in a striking contrast to the losses in this Ammunition by U.S. Forces, who did not cover Ammunition stacks which were often in damp areas with no dunnage.

As it is not possible, without disastrous results, to open up and expose M.T parts, Signal Equipment and spares, Wireless Equipment and spares, M.G and S.A spares and certain Engineer Stores in other than dry storage, it is recommended that sufficient Stores wagons should be provided to house this equipment until such time s prefabricated buildings can be erected. It is estimated that not less than 24 well-appointed stores wagons would be required and theses should be stocked with spares, most likely to be in early demand.

I may appear to have dwelt on the question of storage, but when the Base Ordnance Depot commenced operations in NECAL, the only stores and office accommodation available in addition to Tarpau1ins, on which I have already documented were 8 I.P.P. Tents, being the balance of 110 shipped and 2 G.S Single Marquees. Although a considerable quantity of dunnage was unloaded from ships and made available to Units for camp construction, very little was made available for dunnage of stores. Timber ordered in NZ by B.O.D. for the dunnage of Ammunition was taken over by the Engineers and very little made available for Ammunition. By the same token, priority was given to the issue of I.P.P. tents for Messes, Orderly Rooms etc., 102 being used for this purpose, leaving a balance of 8 for use in our Depot as Stores and offices.

The construction of storage accommodation for Ordnance Depot should be the responsibility of the Works Construction Coy N.Z.E which in my opinion is an essential unit in any Army formation.

PERSONNEL

Personnel for an Ordnance Depot should be carefully selected to fill the various positions; the following are most suitable: –

Clerks: Men who have been clerks and accountants in civilian life are easily trained to carry out clerical duties in an Ordnance Depot. Qualified accountants are invaluable, and three or four of these in a Depot are worth their weight in gold.

Storeman-General: Men who have worked in retail stores and warehouses and who have good clerical training invariably make good storeman. Farm labourers and navvies are, almost with exception, useless as storemen and cannot be relied on to carry out other than labouring duties. It is agreed that there is a certain amount of labouring work in and Ordnance Depot, but this can be done very efficiently by an intelligent man, while on the other hand, a labourer cannot carry on with the onerous duties of a storeman, should the need arise.

Storeman-M.T: It is essential that M.T. Storeman should have had considerable experience at this trade in civilian life. It is desirable that Senior Storemen should have had at least 8 or 10 years experience in the handling of M.T spares.

Storeman-Wireless: Technical men who have a sound knowledge of wireless equipment appear to be very difficult to procure, but it is highly desirable that at least one very experienced man should be included in the staff of a Depot. It is likely that a Wireless Mechanic who could fill a storeman’s position would be more easily procured.

Storeman-Signals: Signal Storemen from the P&T Dept should prove the most suitable, but again these seem rare.

Storeman-Engineers, Arty & Armd: Key personnel to fill the positions of storemen in these sections should be from Ordnance Depots in NZ and should have some years’ experience. It is extremely unlikely that any suitable personnel could be obtained from other than Ordnance Depots to fill these positions in anything like a satisfactory manner.

The future Defence Policy of this country should include the training of men for Ordnance duties. Even if only an elementary training can be given, men so trained would he much more useful than those who had no training at all. It is also suggested that a good percentage of the men employed during peacetime in Ordnance Depots should be young men fit for Overseas Service should the need arise.

Care should be taken to ensure that the men selected for Ordnance Depots are trustworthy and of good character. It will be found that men who have filled positions of trust in civilian life can be depended upon to carry out their work in a satisfactory manner in the Army.

N.C.O.’s

Almost without exception, N. C. 0′ s are promoted on their technical ability, which naturally is of prime importance in an Ordnance Depot. Quite frequently, these N.C.O’s prove poor disciplinarians and have insufficient training in drill. It is highly desirable that all N.C.O’s should have a short course on discipline and drill, otherwise discipline within the Unit tends to become rather lax.

The importance is stressed, of making provision in the future for sufficient key personnel to be trained particularly in technical sections. In our Base Ordnance Depot with an establishment of 220 NCO’s and 0R’s, we did not have one storeman with any knowledge of Technical stores and had only two men with pre-war Ordnance training.

My experience has convinced me that No Ordnance Depot will function to its fullest capacity unless a D & E platoon is included in the establishment. This Section which should consist of 25 to 30 men including 2 carpenters, would be able to perform the following duties, Guards, Picquets, Camp Maintenance, Maintenance of Stores areas, General Fatigues, and providing working parties to relive pressure at rush periods. This would obviate the necessity of having to detail clerks and storemen, who are often key men, for such duties.

PACKING

The standard packing case used by Ordnance in New Zealand has proved quite satisfactory. A suggested improvement is that all cases should be constructed of tongue and groove timber.

Many of the cases, and in particular those constructed by Army contractors, proved unsatisfactory. Three-ply cases are poor for tropical conditions and should not be used. Cases carrying “every-ready” were not constructed stoutly enough to carry the weight packed in them, with the result that a high percentage arrived broken, with a resultant loss of the contents through pillage etc., which in some cases was very heavy. Old used cases should not be used for stores which may require many handlings. Timber used should not be less the ¾ inch, and in many cases, it is advisable to use 1-inch boards or heavier, if high weight – size ration is involved.

Waterproof lining for cases should be used wherever possible. In packing stores, it should be always born in mind that cases may have to withstand severe conditions during transit. Quite frequently during unloading of ships on beaches or in transit camps where no coverage is available, stores are subjected to torrential downpours of rain. The resultant damage is not always apparent from outside appearances when packages reach their final destinations. If not required for immediate use the total contents may be rendered unserviceable before being unpacked, perhaps some weeks later.

The use of packing such as wood-wool or straw, which retains moisture, causes rapid corrosion of metal articles, particularly if they have not been toughly treated with a rust preventive before packing. Stores packed out from Ordnance Depots in New Zealand, without any rust preventative have been received in an unserviceable condition owing to the ingress of water or moisture during transit. On occasions, the stores received unserviceable have been urgently required for maintenance. These remarks apply in the main to Artillery Stores, Small Arms parts, and tools.

The packing of Bubbles Spirt Glass, Thermometers and Artillery Packings, etc without protection from heavy articles in the same case, must be avoided at all costs. Fragile articles should be packed in a small wooden box before being included with heavy articles in a case. The use of straw or wool-wood as cushioning when packing instruments such as Binoculars, Telescopes, Periscopes, Rangefinders, etc., should be avoided. Any damage retained by such packing induces rapid mould growth.

STORES PROVISIONING

Having due regard to lines of communication, minimum require rents only should be carried forward and held until adequate storage can be arranged. This is of course entirely governed by lines of communication. During operations of 3 Div. the paucity of shipping, particularly
during the first 9 months, made it essential that we should carry at least 6 months stock for all items. On some occasions, stores awaited shipment from N.Z. for 6 or 7 months owing principally to the higher priority placed on U.S. equipment.

It is recommended that in future operations where a full Division has to be maintained, consideration should be given to the chartering of a cargo ship solely for supplying such a force. A ship similar to the ‘Matua’ would do the job admirably. When making this recommendation, I am fully aware that there was a shortage of shipping during the period, but the position may not obtain on another occasion.

TENTS & TARPAULINS

Conditions in the Tropics made the lite of Tentage very short. I.P.P· and I.P. Tents were in general use and proved very suitable. However, due to the high humidity and heavy rainfall, the average life for the Outer Roof was only about 9 months and Inner Roof – 12 months. According to the location and care taken, there were variations. Tents pitched under trees were seldom, if ever, properly dried out and would be unserviceable in 6 months or less, while others pitched in dry exposed areas where the full benefit of drying breezes was obtained, would be serviceable for 12 months or even longer. In combat areas, subject to air attacks, full use has to be made of natural camouflage, and Tents have of necessity to be pitched under trees, where they are available.

Some G.S. Single Marquees which have only a single skin, were used for storage and these were not at all suitable. Besides being unbearably hot, they are not rainproof and should not be used in the Pacific.

The Pyramidal Tent, commonly used for housing troops, by the U.S. Forces is also unsuitable for the tropics, being unbearably hot.

The life of Tarpaulins is also considerably lessened, principally by the tropical heat. Waterproof dressing, which is normally wax bases, melts and runs out of the fabric with the result that frequent dressing is required.·

BOOTS

The Black R. & F. Boot used by the N.Z. Forces gave good service. Due to the conditions, wear on boots was very heavy and the average boot required re-soling every 3 or 4 weeks. Very little trouble was experienced with mould growth, except where boots had become damp during transit or through poor storage.

CLOTHING

Uniforms – Wear and tear on clothing was very heavy. In my opinion, the standard Khaki Drill shirt which can be worn with either shorts or long trousers is the most suitable. The Bush Shirt is not suitable for wear with the shorts and cannot be considered a utility garment such as the K.D. shirt is. The average soldier has to do his own laundering while on Active Service end Bush Shirts look very untidy unless they are well laundered.

Socks – Socks proved quite suitable and gave good service.

Hose, Footless – Footless Hose Proved most unsuitable being much too short and tight-fitting. Soldiers avoided wearing them whenever possible. If it is decided to continue the use of this article, liberal allowance should be made for shrinking.

Underclothing – Vests and Shorts Cotton Under gave good service, but it is suggested that for tropical use, these should be made lighter. The lighter weight garments as used by U.S. Forces are considered to be much more suitable.

Belts – A belt similar to that used by U.S. Forces for general purposes should be issued to each soldier.

Hats S.D – Due to the perspiration and rough conditions, the mortality was very high. However, this hat gave good service. The issue of a Tropical Sun Hat would be a more welcome addition to the kit of soldiers.

SMALL ARMS

I do not propose to report fully on the behaviour of S.A armament or other technical stores since a publication prepared by a Scientific Mission from Australia, who visited New Guinea, covers in detail all the difficulties which confront those who use Army Equipment in the tropics much more fully and scientifically than I could hope to do. I will refer to this publication at the conclusion of my report, but I desire to stress the heavy mortality inflicted on rifles, by the Mason Bee.

This small insect was responsible for the destruction of some hundreds of rifle barrels in the Division. The Mason. Bee will build a nest in a rifle overnight, and corrosion caused by acid immediately sets in and cannot be arrested.

To prevent the Bee entering the nuzzle of a rifle, a covering, preferably of mosquito netting or some such open texture material, should be used as this will allow breathing and thus not induce sweating of the barrel which will occur if it is completely sealed.

Mosquito netting was made available to Units in the Division, but in view of the heavy mortality, it is doubtful that the fullest use was made of this or the repeated warnings issued in Divisional Orders, rigidly enforced by all C.O’s.

LIFTING GEAR

The Depot was considerably handicapped by the total lack of lifting gear, until 3 months before the Depot closed, when a very useful Mobile Crane arrived from N.Z. This was in striking contrast to the U.S.Forces who always had an abundance of lifting gear of all types and sizes. The Depot staff had to manhandle such items as Speedway Stores weighing 1-ton and MT cases of assemblies weighing 1,100 lbs.

Every Ordnance Depot should have on its War Equipment Table three Finger Lifts and two Mobile Cranes. One of the latter should be capable of lifting 2-tons at least.

AMMUNITION

The use of other than steel boxes for the packing of Ammunition should be reduced to an absolute minimum. Wooden boxes, particularly those packed with 3.7 How. Shell and 25-pdr. Shell failed to stand up to the handling and transporting. This was mainly due of course to the deterioration caused to the woodwork by the damp, humid climate and accelerated in some instances by exposure to the weather when coverage was not available, but in any case, the life of wooden boxes is much less than that of steel boxes, which will withstand a good deal of rough handling.

AUTOMATIC MAINTENANCE

The principle of the supply of Automatic maintenance items is considered to be an excellent one. For conditions in the Pacific, there is no doubt that the scales would require a certain amount of revision but owing to the fact that supplies did not come to hand until some 6 months before the Division returned to N.Z, insufficient data was obtained, and time did not permit revision of the schedules. Had Automatic Maintenance been in operation during the whole period, some very valuable
information would have been available.

LIASION WITH N.Z

It is considered that constant Liaison with N.Z. should be maintained. It is considered that an Ordnance Officer should visit the N.N Base from which supplies are drawn, every 3 or 4 months and that an Ordnance Officer from N.Z. should pay frequent visits to Depots overseas when they are so readily accessible by air transport.

GENERAL ADMINISTRATION

It is desired to place on record the valuable assistance rendered to the Base Ordnance Depot by the Officer I/C Administration, (Brig. W. W. Dove) and his staff at his H.Q. ·what was a very difficult job was made considerably lighter by the friendly co-operation and help and advice given at all times. No reasonable request was ever refused, and everything possible was done to promote efficiency in. the Depot.

The Main Depot was divided into Sections as follows:

H.Q.
General Stores and Clothing.
Armament, Engrs and Signals.
M.T.
Ammunition.
Returned Stores.

HQ was controlled by the C.O.O, assisted by an Adjutant and each Section was controlled by an Ordnance Officer.

This arrangement proved quite satisfactory and could well be adopted in future for an Ordnance Depot set up under similar circumstances with the addition of a Provision and Statistical Section, controlled by an Officer.

CONCLUSION

Following a survey carried out in New Guinea by a Scientific Mission from Australia, a pamphlet entitled “Condition of Service Material under Tropical Conditions in New Guinea” was published.

This publication deals exhaustively with the effects of tropical. Conditions or equipment in all its phases and is, in my opinion, applicable to all Pacific Islands to a greater or lesser degree.

It is recommended that the fullest possible use should be made of this publication and no Ordnance Officer proceeding to the Pacific should fail to read this valuable Pamphlet.

(sgd) S.A. KNIGHT

OPERATIONAL REPORT
BASE ORDNANCE DEPOT
MAJOR H.McK. REID  N .Z.E.F I.P.

Reid Pic

Major Henry Mckenzie Reid

The problems of the receipt, custody and issue of Ordnance Stores in the Pacific Area, is much greater than is imagined by the layman, and it is hoped that the following remarks may prove helpful should the occasion ever arise when an Ordnance Depot is again established in the Pacific.

One of the greatest problems which has to be overcome is the time lag which occurs between the placing of an order and the receipt of the stores. It was soon found that estimates had to be prepared covering supplies sufficient for six months, as this was the period which we could expect would elapse before stores would arrive. This occasionally brought about very large shipments which were more difficult to handle than would have been the case had stores arrived, say, at monthly intervals. The problem of shipping is one which would greatly improve, and I would suggest, that with a full Division to be serviced, there would be sufficient cargo to warrant the chartering of a small ship which would be at the sole disposal of NEW ZEALAND Forces. I mention this, as on numerous occasions, stores which were urgently required by us, were short shipped owing to priorities being placed on US Equipment. I would again point out, that any Ordnance Depot operating in the Island areas, should carry not less than six months supplies. For the information of any Ordnance Officers concerned, I will attach to this report, a schedule giving some idea of the quantities of popular items used by this Force. This may prove of some value both in the initial provisioning of a Depot and also in the preparation of maintenance demands.

STORAGE

Early coverage of stores after receipt is one of the greatest importance. I fully appreciate the difficulty in providing permanent or pre-fabricated buildings, but I would emphasise the fact that this type of storage is essential if the Depot is to function for any length of time. The provision of a permanent building for the handling of M.T spares and other technical stores should be an urgent priority, as, in a humid climate such as rules in the Islands, it is essential to have some areas in which these stores can be opened and handled. Loss of M.T stores through decoration was relatively light in NECAL, but this could only be attributed to the acquiring of storage space at the Gendarmerie. However, until this building became available, we found it impossible to open and supply spare parts which were urgently required for the repair of trucks which were suffering heavy damage due to the atrocious condition of the road. I would recommend the use of stores wagons both for M.T. parts and Artillery, Engineer and Signal parts. These wagons could be parked in NEW ZEALAND with a selection of parts which it could be assumed would be required soon after landing. These stores would be available for immediate issue, and when permanent storage space was available, they could be used for the distribution of small stores to Divisional units. Temporary coverage should be available immediately stores are landed, and I would suggest the 2000, 18’x13’ tarpaulins, together with a supply of timber, should be made available for the erection of temporary shelters and for the coverage of ammunition. Prior to leaving NEW ZEALAND, 1200 tarpaulins were ordered, 400 of these were received with an early consignment of stores, but the balance took many months to arrive, due either to the difficulty in obtaining these in NEW ZEALAND and the lack of shipping at that stage. Owing to this short delivery of tarpaulins, quite a quantity of precious stores suffered untold damage. This position was further aggravated by an order from a very responsible officer for the issue of a number of tarpaulins to A.S.C. It was pointed out that the only tarpaulins available were covering ammunition, with the result the considerable damage was done. Heavy repairs were necessary, and a certain amount of unserviceable ammunition had to be dumped.

Dependent on the availability of timber at the site where ammunition is to be stored, I would suggest that a large quantity of heavy dunnage should be provided from NEW ZEALAND for the purpose of correctly storing ammunition clear of ground contact. This dunnage could easily be used for the securing of M.T Trucks during the shipment.

When the Ordnance Depot arrived in NECAL, it was expected to establish itself and commence functioning with as little loss of time as possible, with the result that the Ordnance Depot was not well constructed as possible and that the men had insufficient opportunity to make themselves reasonably comfortable. Owing to the shortage of manpower, it took many months to have the same amenities as other units had in a few days. I would consequently suggest that the site for an Ordnance Depot should be levelled and roads prepared by the engineers so that the ordnance personnel could get on with the establishment their Depot. Assistance should be given by the Engineers in the erection of temporary shelters such as I have previously mentioned.

PACKING OF STORES

The packing and marking of stores received from NEW ZEALAND caused much concern to B.O.D whilst in NECAL. Some cases were much too light for the type of stores which they contained. These were mainly packages received directly from Contractors. As an example, Ever-ready Batteries invariably arrived in a damaged condition owing to the fact that they were packed in light cases. The ideal type of case is that used by the NZAOC for the packing of clothing. This is a standard case in three sizes which proved very satisfactory. The use of this principle should be extended to all types of stores being shipped overseas. It may appear costly to have to provide this type of case, but the amount of stores lost and damaged would be reduced, and would compensate for the outlay. Much damage was done to valuable stores due to faulty packing. For instance, where metal stores are being packed, care should be taken to see that bright surfaces are greased. Quite a number of shipments arrived from NEW ZEALAND in which Small Arms parts, Arty parts and other small items had been just put in a box, with the result that they arrived resembling a heap of rusty metal. Small part such as these, should be greased and packed in greased paper. Glass items such as Spirt Bubbles, should be carefully packed and not be permitted to roll in cases. The use of straw or wood-wool should not be permitted where metal items are being packed, as both of these substances attract moisture, with the result that they become damp and stores begin to sweat.

The marking of stores caused a lot of heartaches to B.O.D, the codesign “P” in a circle, was parked on each side of cases but the scheduled marking was, in many in instances only placed on the top of the case. From an identification point, the local method of marking is for the scheduled mark to be put on both ends of the case. If possible, this could also go on the top. In order to minimise the chance of pillage, I would suggest that the practice of indicating the contents on the outside of the case should cease.

Code signs were used, but were much too obvious to be misunderstood.

Good Paint should be used in marking, as cheap paint or stencil inks fade under tropical conditions. The position was complained of to D.M.T WELLINGTON and was rectified after the visit of D.M.T’s Representatives. Things such as this may appear trivial, but really important to an Ordnance man for the easy identification of stores.

SUB-DIVISION OF B.O.D

Taking into account the type of operations to expected in the Pacific where forces are liable to land on different islands, I am of the opinion that B.O.D. should not establish more than one forward base. In order to provide an Ordnance Detachment with both the 8th and 14th Brigades and to have maintained an Advanced Ordnance Depot at GUADALCANAL, it would have been necessary if these establishments were to function efficiently, to have provided approximately twice the amount of stores and 80% more men. I am of the opinion that prior to leaving NEW ZEALAND, all units should be allowed to carry a reserve stock of, say, 10 to 20% of items such as Boots, Clothing, Camp Equipment and any items considered necessary. The ideal method of supply with an Amphibious Force would be to establish an Advanced Depot such as A.O.D GUADALCANAL. From then on, all units would work on their reserve stocks. This would allow units to requisition stores and still be able to provide the immediate needs of the man. This principle was tried by the Force in GREEN ISLAND and proved very successful. Units were permitted to carry forward this reserve and from then on submitted demands back to A.O.D GUADALCANAL, which was able to forward the stores required. Any time factor due to shipping was cared for by the reserve stores held by the unit. Regarding a move from NEW ZEALAND of a Force, no unit should move without being completely equipped. If for any reason units have to move without full equipment, then it is imperative that Ordnance stores and the Ordnance unit should be one of the first to move. During the move into NECAL, Ordnance received a huge quantity of stores which were landed prior to the arrival of the main body of B.O.D. This entailed many difficulties for the two officers and 30 O.R’s of B.O.D. who had preceded the Main Body. Their worries were increased by units arriving incompletely equipped and requesting the delivery of stores direct from the Dump in the NEPOUI VALLEY. Some units arrived with men short of even clothing, and this alone should back my suggestion that, either unit’s proceed fully equipped, or that the complete Ordnance unit be one of the earliest to move.

TRANSPORT & LIFTING GEAR

Only in the later months of B.O.D’s existence was ample transport available. This in itself is inclined to hamper the activities of a Depot, and I would recommend that transport should be allowed on a very liberal scale. I would also stress the necessity of having some heavy lifting equipment such as the Mobile Crane which arrived at B.O.D about three months prior to its return to NEW ZEALAND. Such items as Speedway Stoves, M.T Engines and other heavy equipment ranging from 3 or 4 cwt, had to be manhandled and this was much more apparent under the conditions in the islands. A mobile Crane should be one of the first items on any Ordnance Depots War Equipment Table.

INSPECTING ORDNANCE OFFICER

I would strongly recommend the appointment of an Inspecting Ordnance Officer whose duties would take him to every unit, where he should be given the right to inspect equipment and report on it. A check could thus be kept on the state in which a unit kept its equipment and also on the fact that they had no more or less entitled to them.

I would also recommend that the return of unserviceable items to B.O.D should discontinue and that a travelling Board of Survey should visit units at pre-arranged times. The I.O.O could function on this board as a permanent member. Items od no Salvage value could be destroyed on the spot whilst items for repair or salvage could be returned to Ordnance. This would obviate the necessity of carting over many miles, large quantities of material whose only fate could be to end in fire. This would minimise the work of the Salvage Section of B.O.D. They would then be in a position to do more repair work than was ever accomplished.

LIASION WITH NEW ZEALAND

Liaison with NEW ZEALAND or source of supply is an extremely desirable thing, but it is suggested that from an Ordnance point of view this can most successfully be carried out by someone conversant with Ordnance. Quite apart from the Divisional Liaison Officer who made several trips to NEW ZEALAND, I am of the opinion that Ordnance should have had closer contact with NEW ZEALAND. I would suggest that an Ordnance Officer should visit NEW ZEALAND or source of supply, at least every three months. I stipulate an Ordnance Officer, as he would be conversant with the general needs of the Depot. For our dealings with U.S. Forces both in NECAL and GUADALCANAL, use was made of two excellent Warrant Officers, and their appointment was more than warranted. Being in close contact with the U.S Forces, they were many times able to procure stores which were urgently required by our Forces.

D&E SECTION

Much working time is lost in an Ordnance Depot due to the necessity of guards and fatigues. I would recommend that a D & E Section should be incorporated in the establishment. This Section need not be officered, but could be administered by Headquarters Section. under the Adjutant. The ideal section would be about 25 to 30 men strong and should include a carpenter and general maintenance man. This would allow Storemen and Clerks to continue with their duties, but I would suggest that any relief for the D & E Section should come from the general personnel during off duty periods.

AMMUNITION

The type of boxes used for the packing of ammunition could be revised. It is common knowledge now, that timber suffers more than anything in the damp, humid conditions found in the islands. I would recommend that all types of ammunition should be packed in metal containers. Not only do wooden boxes deteriorate, but in the number of times they are handled, they cannot stand up to the hard conditions. This is amply demonstrated by the condition in which small arms ammunition in particular, and 3.7 How Shell and some 25 pr Shell arrived back into NEW ZEALAND. Hardly any of the small arms ammunition is in fit condition to travel again.

SELECTION OF PERSONNEL

The selection of personnel for an Ordnance Depot should be given the greatest thought, and every endeavour should be made to ensure that the right type of personnel should be available prior to the Depot’s departure from NEW ZEALAND. The provision of a number of men to make up the full establishment is of no use if personnel with a knowledge of the duties they are expected to carry out are not available. This is stressed particularly in the Technical Sections of a Depot – namely, M. T, Arty, Sigs; Engs and Ammunition. The necessary knowledge to successfully carry out these jobs cannot be gained quickly enough whilst overseas, and an endeavour should be made to see that the bulk of each of these sections should be trained Ordnance personnel. In addition, care should be taken to ensure that men posted to an Ordnance Depot should be of good character and behaviour, as much trust has to be, of necessity, placed in them.

TRAINING OF NCO’S

Of necessity, N.C.O’s in an Ordnance unit are promoted for their ability to carry out the work which they are doing. This will sometimes result in an N.C.O. being extremely efficient at his work, but being a very poor disciplinarian. I would consequently recommend that N. C. 0’s in Ordnance be
given a short course solely on drill and discipline.

AUTOMATIC MAINTENANCE

The supply of spare parts under the system of Automatic Maintenance, is, in itself, an excellent idea. The scales, however, require a certain amount of modification, in that some items are provided for in either too large or too small quantities. Unfortunately, we did not operate the scales for a long enough period to be able to correct them, but in a new Force, this could quite easily be done after, say, six months’ service. In the main, the principle is right, and only minor alterations are necessary.

CONCLUSION

I have read carefully the pamphlet prepared by the Australian Army on the “Condition of Service Material under Tropical Conditions in New Guinea”. Everything contained in this pamphlet is applicable in a greater or lesser degree to conditions as found in NEW CALEDONIA and GUADALCANAL, and I would suggest that this pamphlet should be consulted and acted upon prior to any further Force leaving NEW ZEALAND for service in the tropics. This pamphlet was prepared by a Scientific Mission for the Scientific Liaison Bureau, Melbourne, Australia.

(sgd) H.McK. REID Major,
Chief Ordnance Officer, B.O.D.


Captain W.S Keegan, No 2 Ordnance Depot

Like many of his age group who were keen to serve, William Saul Keegan was too young to see service in the First World War but would volunteer for service in the Second World War. Serving in the Permanent Forces in the early interwar era, Keegan would be transferred into the civil service in 1931 as part of the force reductions brought on by the great depression. Keegan would continue to serve as a civilian in the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham in the years leading up to the Second World War. Volunteering for service the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Keegan was found to have a medical condition which precluded overseas service but allowed him to serve at home. Commissioned into the New Zealand Temporary Staff and attached to the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, Keegan would continue to serve until 1947. Keegan’s service is significant in the history of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps as he was the wartime Officer Commanding of No 2 Ordnance Depot at Palmerston North and the First Officer Commanding of the Linton Camp Ordnance Depot that would remain a vital unit of the Corps until 1996.

William Saul Keegan was born in Wellington on 23 February 1900 to William and Susan Keegan. Keegan had one sibling Francis Martin Keegan who was born on 10 September 1903. Spending his early years in Wellington, Keegan would move with his parents to Otaki sometime after 1906 where he would attend the Otaki State School. In 1913 Keegan came sixth in the Wellington Education Board examinations, gaining him a scholarship to Wellington College.[1] During his time at Wellington College, Keegan would complete three years in the senior school cadets. In January 1917, Keegan passed the university matriculation examination with a pass in Matriculation, Solicitor’s general knowledge and Medical Preliminary.[2]  Despite passing the university entrance exams, Keegan did not attend university but was mobilised into the Temporary Section of the New Zealand Garrison Artillery (NZGA) where he would spend a year working in the Wellington forts.[3]

Keegan would begin his career in the Ordnance Corps on 30 August 1918, when he enlisted as a private into the Temporary Section of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) at Wellington and allocated the NZAOC Regimental Number 213. With the Armistice on 11 November 1918 ending the war, Keegan would miss out on seeing active service, but with the demobilisation of men, the closing down of training camps and the arrival of New Equipment from the United Kingdom to equip the peacetime army, Keegan’s position in the NZAOC was assured for the foreseeable future. Stuck down with influenza during the 1918 outbreak, Keegan would seem to make a full recovery but later in life developed health problems which might have developed as a result of influenza.

Ordnance 1918

The New Zealand Ordnance Corps 1918, Buckle Street Wellington. RNZAOC School

 

Promoted to Lance Corporal on 1 July 1919, Keegan would remain at Wellington until 1 April 1921 when as a consequence of the NZAOC shifting the bulk of its services to Trentham Camp, Keegan was relocated to Trentham Camp. It was during this time that Lieutenant C.I. Gossage returned from service as the DADOS of the NZ Division and introduced a modern cost accounting system based upon the best practices learnt during the war, and it is highly likely that in Keegan’s role in the clerical section he was involved in the introduction and upkeep of the new accounting system.

From 1919 in addition to his military duties, Keegan would also be an active participant in the community by serving on the committees of the Wellington College Old Boy Cricket Club, The Wellington College Old Boys Rugby Club and the Hutt Valley Lawn Tennis Association as a member, Treasurer or Auditor.[4] [5] [6] In the late 1930s, Keegan would also be a coach and president of the Upper Hutt Rugby Club [7] and Auditor of the Upper Hutt Cricket Association.[8]

Promote to Corporal on 1 July 1922, Keegan remained posted to the NZAOC Temporary Section until 1 August 1924 when he was enlisted into the Permanent Section of the NZAOC.  Sitting the two papers for promotion to NZAOC Sergeant (Clerical Section) Keegan attained a score of 82 and 83, leading to accelerated promotion to Sergeant on 1 October 1925. Keegan would sit the four examinations for promotion to Staff Sergeant in June 1926 with a score of 78,90,89 and 68, but would not be promoted to Staff Sergeant until 1 September 1929. The delay in promotion could be attributed to Keegan’s appearance in the Upper Hutt court on 18 April 1927 when he was fined £1 and costs of £10  after being found on the premises of the Provincial Hotel after opening hours by the Police.[9] Passing the four examinations for promotion to Staff Quartermaster Sergeant(SQMS) with a score of 98,76,98 and 80 in June 1930. Keegan would not attain the rank of SQMS as on 6 June 1930 he was convicted in the Wellington Magistrates court after been found in a state of intoxication while in charge of a motor-car receiving a fine of £20, costs £10 and mileage £2.  After a period, Keegan probably would have been promoted to SQMS, but the world-wide depression and economic recession led to the implementation of the Finance Act, 1930 would bring a sudden end to his time in uniform

Due to the world-wide depression and economic recession the Government was forced to savagely reduce the strength of the Army by using the provisions of section 39 of the Finance Act, 1930 (No. 2) where military staff could be either;

  • Transferred to the Civil staff, or
  • Retire on superannuation any member of the Permanent Force or the Permanent Staff under the Defence Act, 1909, or of the clerical staff of the Defence Department whose age or length of service was such that if five years was added thereto they would have been enabled as of right or with the consent of the Minister of Defence to have given notice to retire voluntarily.

Using this act, on the 31st of March 1931 the NZAOC lost;

  • Six officers and Thirty-Eight Other Ranks who were retired on superannuation
  • Seventy-four NZAOC staff (excluding officers and artificers) who were not eligible for retirement were transferred to the civilian staff to work in the same positions but at a lower rate of pay.

For the soldiers who were placed on superannuation, the transition was brutal with pensions recalculated at much lower rates and in some cases the loss of outstanding annual and accumulated leave. For the Soldiers such as Keegan who were transferred to the civilian staff, the transition was just as harsh with reduced rates of pay. The 31st of March 1931 was the blackest day in the History of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.

Keegan would continue to serve at the NZAOC Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Trentham in the role of Accountant throughout the 1930s. Keegan would marry Grace Helen Dalton on 27 March 1937 at St. John’s Church, Trentham. The wedding was a double wedding with Graces older sister Margaret.[10]

With the declaration of war in September 1939, Keegan immediate offered up his services, enlisting into the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force(2NZEF) with the rank of Lieutenant t in the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) on 5 October 1940. Selected to be the Ordnance Officer for the Base Ordnance Depot (BOD) for “B” Force (8th Brigade Group) of the NZEF which was destined to provide the garrison in Fiji, Keegan assembled with seven other ranks at Hopuhopu Camp.  A final medical board immediately before departure found evidence of a partially healed tubercular lesion in Keegan’s lungs which made him unfit for active service and he was classified as Grade 2, fit or home service.  Keegan’s appointment of Ordnance Office BOD 8 Brigade group was filled by a co-worker from the MOD, Mr Percival Nowell Erridge who was immediately commissioned as a Lieutenant in the NZEF.

Placed into a holding pattern and still on the strength of the NZEF, Keegan was sent to Waiouru, where he was employed as an advisor on accounting matters to the newly established Motor Transport Branch (MT Branch). Unfit for active Service but with skills that were desirable to the service, Keegan ceased to be seconded to the NZEF on 28 May 1941 and transferred into the New Zealand Temporary Staff (NZTS) and attached to the branch of the Quartermaster General, Army Headquarters Wellington. By April 1942 Keegan had been appointed as the Brigade Ordnance Officer for the 7th Infantry Brigade which had its headquarters at the Carterton showgrounds.

With Japans entry into the war on 7 December 1941, New Zealand mobilised as the threat of invasion loomed. To support the mobilised forces in the lower North Island the Central Districts Ordnance Depot was established at the Palmerston North showgrounds, and as of 1 March 1942 Keegan was appointed Ordnance Officer, Central Military District and Officer Commanding, Central Districts Ordnance Depot. On 1 May 1942 Keegan was promoted to Captain (Temporary) and 20 August 1942 the Central District Ordnance Depot was renamed No 2 Ordnance Depot with an establishment of three officers and eighty-one Other Ranks.

pnorth showgrounds 2

Palmerston North Showgrounds, Cuba Street, 1939. Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services

Keegan would attend along with one other Ordnance Officer, Two Artillery Officers and Thirteen Infantry Officers the General Knowledge Course7/17 in December 1942. The ten-day course run by the Amy School of Instruction covered the following subjects;

  • Weapon Training – Characteristics of all Infantry Weapons
  • Anti-Gas – War gas, equipment, decontamination
  • Map reading – All lessons, night marches
  • Minor Tactics – Patrols, Day and Night
  • Fieldworks – Field Defences, Obstacles
  • P & RT – Bayonet Fighting
  • Drill – Individual, Mutual
  • Engineering – Bridging, Landmines, Traps, Demolition, Camouflage
  • Camp Sanitation – Field Hygiene
  • Demonstrations – Field Cooking, Live fore of all Infantry Weapons
  • Signals – Organisation and intercommunication in the field
  • Movement by MT – lectures and Practical work
  • Security
  • Discipline and Military Law
  • Patrols
  • Movement by road

By the end of 1944, the threat to New Zealand had passed, and the Territorial Army had been stood down, and their equipment returned to Ordnance.  Much of the Central Districts equipment was stored at No 2 Sub Depots premises in Palmerston North when disaster struck on 31 December 1944. Just after midnight, a fire destroyed a large portion of the Palmerston North Showgrounds display halls which housed much of the Ordnance Depot causing stock losses valued at £225700 ($18,639,824.86 2017 value). Keegan provided evidence to the court of enquiry in March 1945 with the court finding that with no evidence found of sabotage, incendiaries, or any interference the cause was judged to be accidental.

pnorth showgrounds

The aftermath of the December 1944 Showground fire. Evening Post

With the MOD in Trentham establishing a satellite Bulk Store at the new Linton Camp a few kilometres from South of Palmerston North, No 2 Sub Depot was seen to have served its wartime purpose and no longer necessary and the depot was closed down on 14 December 1945, and its functions assumed by MOD Trentham,  with some residual responsibility for finalising the accounts of No 2 Sub Depot, Keegan returned to Trentham as an Ordnance Officer at MOD.

From 31 July 1946 Keegan was placed in charge of a four Warrant Officers from MOD, and an SNCO from No 3 Depot, Burnham to stocktake No 10 MT Stores in Wellington before that units’ hand over to the Rehabilitation Department on 1 September 1946. Concurrent to Keegan carrying out this work in Wellington, recommendations that the MOD Bulk Stores located in Linton and Waiouru Camps were to be combined as a standalone Ordnance Depot were made. This proposal was agreed to by Army Headquarters, and No 2 Ordnance Depot was to be reconstituted on 1 October 1946 with the responsibility to provide Ordnance Support to Linton and Waiouru. Keegan was to return to No 2 Ordnance Depot as its first Officer Commanding on 16 September 1946 while also carrying out the duties of the Ordnance Officer of Headquarters Central Military District.

Keegan’s time in Linton would be short; the pressures of service since 1940 were become to have a toll on Keegan’s personal life and health. His wife had filed for legal separation during June 1946, and Keegan’s health was beginning to fail. Keegan’s health issues saw him medically downgraded and he was required to spend an increasing amount of time at Wellington hospital receiving treatment. On 26 April 1947 Keegan handed over command of No 2 Ordnance Depot to Captain Quartermaster L.H Stroud. Keegan would then assume a position with the War Asset Board on 30 April 1947 and was posted to the supernumerary List on 6 December 1947 and to the retired list with the rank of Captain on 11 November 1956.

Keegan would remain in the Wellington area as a public servant and at the time of his death was employed as a clerk for the Ministry of Works. Keegan passed away on 24 December 1963 and was cremated at the Karori Crematorium.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2019

 Notes

[1] “District News,” Dominion, Volume 7, Issue 1961, 19 January 1914.

[2] “NZ University,” Evening Post, Volume XCIII, Issue 15, 17 January 1917.

[3] “William Saul Keegan,” Personal File, New Zealnd Defence Force Archives 1918.

[4] “Cricket,” New Zealand Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 10396, 29 September 1919.

[5] “Old Boys Football Club,” Evening Post, Volume CI, Issue 59, 10 March 1921.

[6] “Lawn Tennis,” Evening Post, Volume CX, Issue 68, 17 September 1930.

[7] “Annual Meeting Upper Hutt Rugby Club,” Upper Hutt Weekly Review, Volume III, Issue 14, 25 March 1938.

[8] “Upper Hutt Cricket Association Annual Meeting,” Upper Hutt Weekly Review, Volume II, Issue 43, 8 October 1937.

[9] “Upper Hutt Sitting,” Evening Post, Volume CXIII, Issue 90, 18 April 1927.

[10] “Weddings,” Evening Post, Volume CXXIII, Issue 127, 31 May 1937.


The Pātaka of Ngāti Tumatauenga: NZ Ordnance Corps Locations 1840 to 1996

The New Zealand Army evolved out of the British troops deployed during the 19th century New Zealand Wars into a unique iwi known as Ngāti Tumatauenga – ‘Tribe of the God of War’. While Ngāti Tumatauenga has an extensive and well-known Whakapapa,[1] less well known is the whakapapa of the New Zealand Army’s supply and warehousing services.

Leading up to 1996, the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) was the New Zealand Army organisation with the responsibility in peace and war for the provision, storage and distribution of Arms, Ammunition, Rations and Military stores. As the army’s warehousing organisation, the RNZAOC adopted the Pātaka (The New Zealand Māori name for a storehouse) as an integral piece of its traditions and symbology. On 9 December 1996, the warehousing functions of the RNZAOC were assumed by the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR).

Unpacked on this page and on the attached Web Application “the Pātaka of Ngati Tumatauenga” the evolution of New Zealand’s Army’s Ordnance services is examined. From a single storekeeper in1840, the organisation would grow through the New Zealand Wars, the World Wars and Cold War into an organisation with global reach providing support to New Zealand Forces in New Zealand and across the globe.

Description of Ordnance Units

In general terms, Ordnance units can be described as:

  • Main/Base Depots– A battalion-sized group, commanded by a lieutenant colonel. Usually a significant stock holding unit, responsible for the distribution of stock to other ordnance installations.
  • Central Ordnance Depots/Supply Company– Company-sized units, commanded by a major. Depending on the role of the unit, the following subunits could be included in the organisation:
    • Provision, Control & Accounts
    • Stores sub-depot/platoon
      • Traffic Centre
      • Camp Equipment
      • Technical Stores
      • Expendables
      • Clothing
      • Returned Stores & Disposals
        • Textile Repair
        • Tailors
        • Boot Repair
      • Ammunition Sub-Depot/Platoon
      • Vehicles Sub-Depot/Platoon
      • Services Sub-Depot/Platoon
        • Bath and Shower
        • Laundry
      • Rations Sub-Depot/Platoon (after 1979)
      • Fresh Rations
      • Combat Rations
      • Butchers
      • Petroleum Platoon (after 1979)
      • Vehicle Depots
    • Workshops Stores Sections – In 1962, RNZAOC Stores Sections carrying specialised spares, assemblies and workshops materials to suit the particular requirement of its parent RNZEME workshops were approved and RNZEME Technical Stores personnel employed in these were transferred to the RNZAOC.[2] [3]
    • Workshops. Before 1947, Equipment repair workshops were part of the Ordnance organisation, types of Workshop included:
      • Main Workshop
      • Field/Mobile Workshop
      • Light Aid Detachments

Unit naming conventions

The naming of Ordnance units within New Zealand was generally based upon the unit locations or function or unit.

Supply Depots were initially named based on the district they belonged to:

  • Upper North Island – Northern District Ordnance Depot
  • Lower North Island – Central Districts Ordnance Depot
  • South Island – Southern Districts Ordnance Depot

In 1968 a regionally based numbering system was adopted

  • 1 for Ngaruawahia
  • 2 for Linton
  • 3 for Burnham
  • 4 for Waiouru

Some exceptions were:

  • 1 Base Depot and 1st Base Supply Battalion, single battalion-sized unit, the name were based on role, not location.
  • 1 Composite Ordnance Company, a unique company-sized group, the name was based on function, not location

When the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) became the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT) in 1979, the supply functions were transferred to the RNZAOC with the 1st number signifying the location with the 2nd number been 4 for all Supply Platoons:

  • 14 Supply Platoon, Papakura
  • 24 Supply Platoon, Linton
  • 34 Supply Platoon, Burnham
  • 44 Supply Platoon, Waiouru
  • 54 Supply Platoon, Trentham

Exceptions were:

  • 21 Supply Company – Retained its name as a historical link to the unit’s long history in the RNZASC.
  • 47 Petroleum Platoon, originally 7 Petroleum Platoon RNZASC, when Transferred to the RNZAOC, as it was based in Waiouru it added the Waiouru unit designation ‘4’ and became 47 Petroleum Platoon RNZAOC

Unit locations New Zealand, 1907–1996

Alexandra

9 Magazines Operational from 1943, closed1962.

Ardmore

20 Magazines operational from 1943

Auckland

There has been an Ordnance presence in Auckland since the 1840s with the Colonial Storekeeper and Imperial forces. The Northern Districts Ordnance Depot was situated in Mount Eden in the early 1900s. In the 1940s the centre for Ordnance Support for the Northern Districts moved to Ngaruawahia, with a Sub depot remaining at Narrow Neck to provided immediate support.

RNZAOC units that have been accommodated at Auckland have been:

Stores Depot

  • Northern District Ordnance Depot, Goal Reserve, Mount Eden 1907 to 1929.[4]
  • Northern District Ordnance Depot, Narrow Neck, 1929 to? [5]
  • 1 Supply Company, from 1989, Papakura
  • 12 Supply Company
  • 12 Field Supply Company
  • 15 Combat Supplies Platoon, 1 Logistic Regiment
  • 52 Supply Platoon, 5 Force Support Company

Vehicle Depot

  • Northern Districts Vehicle Depot, Sylvia Park, 1948-1961
  • Northern Districts Ordnance Depot, Vehicle Sub Depot, Sylvia Park, 1961 – 1968
  • 1 Central Ordnance Depot (1 COD), Vehicle Sub Depot, Sylvia Park, 1968 to 1979
  • 1 Supply Company, Vehicle Sub Depot, Sylvia Park, 1979 to 1989

Ammunition Depot

  • Northern Districts Ammunition Depot, Ardmore

Other Units

  • Bulk Stores Mangere, the 1940s (Part of MOD Trentham)
  • DSS Fort Cautley.

Workshops

Located at the Torpedo Yard, North Head

  • Ordnance Workshop Devonport, 1925-1941
  • No 12 Ordnance Workshop, Devonport, 1941–1946

Workshop Stores Section

  • 1 Infantry Workshop, Stores Section, Papakura 1962–1986
  • 1 Field Workshop Store Section, Papakura
  • 1 Transport Company Workshop, Stores Section, Fort Cautley

Belmont

Operational from 1943

  • MOD Trentham, Ammunition Group, Ammunition Section

Burnham

Stores Depot

1921 saw the establishment of a single Command Ordnance Depot to service all military units in the newly organised Southern Military Command. Before this, Ordnance stores had operated from Christchurch and Dunedin. The new Depot (later renamed the Third Central Ordnance Depot) was established in the buildings of the former Industrial School at Burnham. Re-structuring in 1979 brought a change of name to 3 Supply Company.[6] [7] [8]

  • Stores Depot titles 1921–1996
    • Area Ordnance Department Burnham, 1920 to 1939,
    • Southern Districts Ordnance Depot, 1939 to 1942,
    • No 3 Sub Depot, 1942 – 1948,
    • Southern Districts Ordnance Depot, 1948 – 1968,
    • 3 Central Ordnance Depot (3 COD), 1968 to 1979, [9]
    • 3 Supply Company, 1979 to 1993,
    • Burnham Supply Center,1993 to 1994,
    • 3 Field Supply Company, 1994 to 1996.

Vehicle Depot

  • Southern Districts Vehicle Depot, 1948-1961.

Ammunition Depot

  • Southern Districts Vehicle Ammunition 1954-1961.

Other Ordnance Units

  • Combat Supplies Platoon. 1979 to 19??,
  • Ready Reaction Force Ordnance Support Group (RRF OSG), 19?? To 1992, moved to Linton,
  • 32 Field Supply Company (Territorial Force Unit).

Ordnance Field Parks

  • 3 Infantry Brigade Group OFP Platoon, 21 October 1948 – 28 June 1955.
  • 1 (NZ) Division OFP, Tech Stores Platoon, 28 June 1955 -,

Workshops

  • No 14 Ordnance Workshop, until 1946.

Workshop Stores Section

  • Southern Districts Workshop, Stores Section,
  • 3 Field Workshop, Store Section.

Christchurch

Stores Depot

  • Canterbury and Nelson Military District Stores Depot, King Edwards Barracks, Christchurch, 1907 to 1921.

Workshop Stores Section

  • Southern Districts Workshop, Stores Section, Addington,
  • 3 Infantry Brigade Workshop, Stores Section, Addington,
  • 3 Transport Company Workshop, Stores Section, Addington.

Dunedin

Stores Depot

  • Otago and Southland Military Districts Stores Depot, 1907 to 1921

Fairlie

Nine magazines Operational 1943.

Featherston

Featherston Camp was New Zealand’s largest training camp during the First World War, where around 60,000 young men trained for overseas service between 1916 – 1918. An Ordnance Detachment was maintained in Featherston until 1927 when it functions were transferred to Northern Districts Ordnance Depot, Ngaruawahia.[10]

Glen Tunnel

16 magazines Operational from 1943

Hamilton

Proof Office, Small Arms Ammunition Factory, 1943-1946

Kelms Road

55 Magazines Operational from 1943 to 1976

Linton Camp

RNZAOC units that have been accommodated at Linton have been;

Stores Depot

  • No 2 Ordnance Depot, 1 October 1946  to 1948,
  • Central Districts Ordnance Depot,  1948 to 1968,
  • 2 Central Ordnance Depot (2 COD), 1968 to 16 Oct 1978,[11]
  • 2 Supply Company,  16 October 1978 to 1985,
    • Static Depot
      • Tech Stores Section
    • Field Force
      • 22 Ordnance Field Park
        • General Stores
        • Bath Section
  • 5 Composite Supply Company, 1985 to 1990.
  • 21 Field Supply Company 1990 to 1996

Vehicle Depot

  • Central Districts Vehicle Depot, 1957-1961

Ammunition Depot

 

Ordnance Field Parks

  • 2nd Infantry Brigade Ordnance Field Park Platoon 1948-48
  • 22 Ordnance Field Park

Workshop Stores Section

  • 1 General Troops Workshop, Stores Section
  • Linton Area Workshop, Stores Section
  • 5 Engineer Workshop, Store Section

Other Ordnance Units

  • 24 Supply Platoon
  • 23 Combat Supplies Platoon
  • 47 Petroleum Platoon 1984 to 1996
  • Ready Reaction Force Ordnance Support Group (RRF OSG), from Burnham in 1992 absorbed into 21 Field Supply Company. [12]

Lower Hutt

Ordnance Field Parks

  • 1 (NZ) Division OFP, Tech Stores Platoon, 28 June 1955 –

Mangaroa

First used as a tented camp during the First World War and in the Second World War Mangaroa was the site of an RNZAF Stores Depot from 1943. The depot with a storage capacity of 25,000 sq ft in 8 ‘Adams type’ Buildings was Handed over to the NZ Army by 1949.[13] The units that have been accommodated at Mangaroa have been:

Supply Depot

  • Main Ordnance Depot,1949–1968,
  • 1 Base Ordnance Depot, 1968–1979,
  • 1st Base Supply Battalion, 1979–1985,
    • ACE(Artillery and Camp Equipment) Group

Ordnance Field Parks

  • 4(NZ) Division Ordnance Field Park(OFP), 1950–1963,
  • 1 Infantry Brigade Group, OFP, 1963–1968,
  • 1st Composite Ordnance Company (1 Comp Ord Coy), 1964–1977,
    1 Comp Ord Coy was the Ordnance Bulk Holding unit for the field force units supporting the Combat Brigade Group and the Logistic Support Group and held 60–90 days war reserve stock. 1 Comp Ord Coy was made up of the following subunits: [14]

    • Coy HQ
    • 1 Platoon, General Stores
    • 2 Platoon, Technical Stores
    • 3 Platoon, Vehicles
    • 4 Platoon, Ammo (located at Moko Moko)
    • 5 Platoon, Laundry
    • 6 Platoon, Bath

Mako Mako

39 magazines operational from 1943

  • MOD Trentham, Ammunition Group, Ammunition Section
  • 2 COD Ammunition Section

Mount Somers

10 Magazines operational from 1943, closed 1969

Ngaruawahia

Ngaruawahia also was known as Hopu Hopu was established in 1927, [15] and allowed the closure of Featherston Ordnance Depot and the Auckland Ordnance Depot and was intended to service the northern regions. During construction, Ngaruawahia was described by the Auckland Star as “Probably the greatest Ordnance Depot”[16] Ngaruawahia closed down in 1989, and its Ordnance functions moved to Papakura and Mount Wellington.
RNZAOC units that have been accommodated at Ngaruawahia have been:

Stores Depot

  • Area Ngaruwahia Ordnance Department 1927 to 1940,
  • Northern District Ordnance Depot, 1940 to 1968,
  • 1 Central Ordnance Depot (1 COD), 1968 to 1979,
  • 1 Supply Company, 1979 to 1989,
  • 1 Field Supply Company, 1984, from 1989, Papakura.  [17]

Ordnance Field Parks

  • 1 Infantry Brigade Group, Ordnance Field Park(OFP), 1968 to 1979, support to Combat Brigade Group

Workshop Stores Section

  • 1 Infantry Brigade Group LAD, Stores Section

Other Ordnance Units

  • Northern Districts Ammunition Depot, Kelms Road

 Palmerston North

  • Palmerston North Detachment, NZAOC, Awapuni Racecourse, 1914 to 1921.[18] [19] [20]
  • Depot Closed and stocks moved to Trentham.
  • Ordnance Store, 327 Main Street Circa 1917-1921.[21]
  • No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot, Palmerston North showgrounds, 1942 to 1946 when depot moved to Linton.

Trentham

Stores Depot

  • Main Ordnance Depot (MOD), 1920 to 1968
  • Base Ordnance Depot (BOD), 1968 to 1979
  • 1st Base Supply Battachedalion (1BSB), 1979 to 1993
  • 5 Logistic Regiment (5LR), 1993 to 8 December 1996 when Transferred to the RNZALR.

Ordnance School

  • RNZAOC School, 1958 to 1994
  • Supply/Quartermaster Wing and Ammunition Wing, Trade Training School 1994 to 1996. [21]

Workshops

  • Main Ordnance Workshop, 1917 to 1946.[22]

Workshop Stores Section

  • 1 Base Workshop, Stores Section

Ordnance Field Parks

  • 4(NZ) Division Ordnance Field Park(OFP), 1950–1963

Vehicle Depot

  • Central Districts Vehicle Depot, 1948 – 1957

Ammunition Units

  • HQ Ammunition Group, sections at Belmont, Moko Moko, Kuku Valley, Waiouru
  • Ammunition Proof and Experimental Centre, Kuku Valley
  • Central Military District Ammunition Repair Depot, Kuku Valley

Waiouru

Ordnance Sub Depots were established at Waiouru in 1940, which eventually grew into a stand-alone Supply Company.[23]

RNZAOC units that have supported Waiouru have been;

Stores Depot

  • Main Ordnance Depot, Waiouru Sub-Depot, 1940–1946, Initially managed as a Sub-Depot of the Main Ordnance Depot in Trentham, Ordnance units in Waiouru consisted of:
    • Artillery Sub Depot
    • Bulk Stores Depot
    • Ammunition Section
  • Central Districts Ordnance Depot, Waiouru Sub Depot (1946–1976).[24] In 1946 Waiouru became a Sub-Depot of the Central Districts Ordnance Depot in Linton, consisting of:
    • Ammo Group
    • Vehicle Group
    • Camp Equipment Group.
  • 4 Central Ordnance Deport, (1976–1979) On 1 April 1976 became a stand-alone Depot in its own right. [25]
  • 4 Supply Company, (1979–1989)
    when the RNZASC was disbanded in 1979 and its supply functions transferred to the RNZAOC, 4 Supply gained the following RNZASC units:[26]

    • HQ 21 Supply Company,(TF element)(1979–1984)
      21 Supply Company was retained as a Territorial unit for training and exercise purposes and was capable of providing a Supply Company Headquarter capable of commanding up to five subunits.
    • 47 Petroleum Platoon (1979–1984)
    • 44 Supply Platoon
  • Central Q, (1989–1993)
  • 4 Field Supply Company, (1993–1994)
  • Distribution Company, 4 Logistic Regiment, (1994–1996)

Workshop Stores Section

  • Waiouru Workshop, Stores Section
  • 4 ATG Workshop, Stores Section
  • 1 Armoured Workshop, Store Section
  • QAMR Workshop, Store Section

Wellington

The Board of Ordnance originally had a warehouse in Manners Street, but after the 1850 earthquake severely damaged this building, 13 acres of Mount Cook was granted to the Board of Ordnance, starting a long Ordnance association with the Wellington area.

Stores Depot

  • Central Districts Ordnance Depot, Alexandra Military Depot, Mount Cook, 1907 to 1920.[27]
  • New Zealand Ordnance Section, Fort Ballance, Wellington, 1915 to 1917.[28]

 Workshops

  • Armament Workshop, Alexandra Military Depot.[29]

Unit locations overseas, 1914–1920

Few records trace with any accuracy New Zealand Ordnance units that served overseas in the First World War. Although the NZAOC was not officially created until 1917.[30] The New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps was constituted as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in 1914 for overseas service only and in 1919 its members demobilised, returned to their parent units or mustered into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (Officers) or New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (other Ranks) on their return to New Zealand.

Egypt

  • Ordnance Depot, Zeitoun Camp, 1914-16
  • Ordnance Depot Alexandra, 1915-16
    • 12 Rue de la, Porte Rosette, Alexandria. [31]
    • New Zealand Ordnance Store, Shed 43, Alexandria Docks.[32]
  • NZ Ordnance Section, NZEF Headquarters in Egypt
    • Qasr El Nil Barracks, Cairo.[33]

Fiji

  • NZAOC Detachment, Fiji Expeditionary Force, Suva – February- April 1920

Germany

  • Ordnance Depot, Mulheim, Cologne

 Greece

  • Ordnance Depot, Sapri Camp, Lemnos Island, October – December 1915

Samoa

  • 1 Base Depot

 Turkey

  • Ordnance Depot, ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli, April – Dec 1915

 United Kingdom

  • New Zealand Ordnance Base Depot Farringdon Street, London
  • Ordnance Depot, Cosford Camp

Unit locations overseas, 1939–1946

Egypt

Headquarters

  • Office of the DDOS 2NZEF, 22 Aig 1941 to Sept 1942
  • Office of the ADOS 2NZEF, Sept 1942 to 1 Sept 1945

Base Units

Supply

  • New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot, Maadi, 1940 to 19 Feb 1944
  • No 1 New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot,  16 Feb 1944 to 1946

Workshops (until Sept 1942 when transferred to NZEME)

  • NZ Base Ordnance Workshop

Laundry

  • NZ Base Laundry, 30 Sept 1942 – 30 Sept 1943

Training

  • Engineer and Ordnance Training Depot, Maadi Camp

Field Units

Supply

  • 2 NZ Divisional Ordnance Field Park, 28 Jul 1941 – 29 Dec 1945
  • NZ Divisional Mobile Bath Unit, 6 Sept 1941  –  30 Sept 1942
  • NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry & Decontamination Unit, 22 Sept 1941 – 27 Mar 1942
  • NZ Divisional Mobile Laundry, 27 Mar 1942 – 30 Sept 1942
  • NZ Salvage Unit, 16 Aug 1941 – 20 Oct 1942

Workshops (until Sept 1942 when transferred to NZEME)

  • 2 NZ Divisional Ordnance Workshops
  • 1 NZ Field Workshop
  • 2 NZ Field Workshop
  • 3 NZ Field Workshop
  • 14 NZ Anti-Aircraft Workshop Section
  • 9 NZ Light Aid Detachment (attached 4 Fd Regt)
  • 10 NZ LAD (attached 5 Fd Pk Coy)
  • 11 NZ LAD (attached HQ 4 NZ Inf Bde)
  • 12 NZ LAD (attached 27 NZ (MG) Bn) Disbanded 15 Oct 1942
  • 13 NZ LAD (attached 2 NZ Div Cav)
  • 14 NZ LAD (attached 2 NZ Div Sigs)
  • 15 NZ LAD (attached 7 NZ A Tk Regt)
  • 16 NZ LAD (attached HQ 5 Fd Regt)
  • 17 NZ LAD (attached HQ 5 NZ Inf Bde)
  • 18 NZ LAD (attached 6 NZ Fd Regt)
  • 19 NZ LAD (attached HQ 6 NZ Inf Bde)

Greece

  • 2 Independent (NZ) Brigade Group Workshop.[34]
  • 5 Independent (NZ) Brigade Group Workshop. [35]
  • Light Aid Detachments x 11
  • 1 Ordnance Field Park (British OFP attached to NZ Division).[36]

Italy

Headquarters

  • Office of the ADOS 2NZEF, 6 Jun 1945 to 1 Sept 1945

Base units

  • No 2 New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot, Bari, 16 Feb 1944 – 2 Feb 1946.[37]
    •  Advanced Section of Base Depot, Senegallia, Sept 44 – Feb 46.
  • NZ Advanced Ordnance Depot,   1943- 14 Feb 1944 (Absorbed into OFP)

Field units

  • NZ Division Ordnance Field Park OFP, – 29 Dec 1945
  • NZ Advanced Ordnance Depot, 27 Oct 1945- 1 Feb 1946
  • NZ Mobile Laundry Unit, 1 Oct 1943 – 16 Feb 1944
  • NZ Mobile Bath Unit, 18 Oct 1943 – 16 Feb 1944
  • MZ Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit, 16 Feb 1944 – 8 Dec 1945
  • NZ Vehicle and Stores Reception Depot, 27 Oct 1944 – 1 Feb 1946
    • Vehicle Depot, Assisi, 27 Oct 1945 – Jan 1946.[38]
    • Stores Depot, Perugia, 27 Oct 1945 – Feb 1946.[39]

Fiji

  • Divisional Ordnance Headquarters
  • Base Ordnance Depot
  • Division Ordnance Workshop
  • ‘A’ Workshop Section
  • ‘B Workshop Section
  • 20th Light Aid Detachment
  • 36th Light Aid Detachment
  • 37th Light Aid Detachment

New Caledonia

  • Base Ordnance Depot
  • Division Ordnance Workshop
  • 20th Light Aid Detachment
  • 36th Light Aid Detachment
  • 37th Light Aid Detachment
  • 42 Light Aid Detachment
  • 64 Light Aid Detachment
  • 65 Light Aid Detachment
  • 67 Light Aid Detachment

Solomon Islands

  • Advanced Ordnance Depot, Guadalcanal. Officer Commanding and Chief Ordnance Officer, Captain Noel McCarthy.

Tonga

  • 16 Brigade Group Ordnance Field Park
  • 16 Brigade Group Workshop

Unit locations overseas, 1945–1996

Japan

  • Base Ordnance Depot, Kure (RAOC unit, NZAOC personnel attached)
  • 4 New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot, November 1945.
  • 4 New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot, November 1946.
  • 4 New Zealand Ordnance Field Park – August 1947 to July 1948 when closed.

ADO Gate

Korea

No Standalone units but individual RNZAOC personnel served in 4 Ordnance Composite Depot (4 OCD) RAOC.

Malaya

No standalone RNZAOC units, but individual RNZAOC personnel may have served in the following British and Commonwealth Ordnance units:

  • 3 Base Ordnance Depot, RAOC, Singapore
  • 28 Commonwealth Brigade Ordnance Field Park, Terendak, Malaysia.

Singapore

Stores Depot

  • 5 Advanced Ordnance Depot, 1970–1971
    5 Advanced Ordnance Depot (5 AOD) was a short-lived Bi-National Ordnance Depot operated by the RAAOC and RNZAOC in Singapore, 1970 to 1971.
  • ANZUK Ordnance Depot, 1971–1974
    ANZUK Ordnance Depot was the Tri-National Ordnance Depot supporting the short-lived ANZUK Force. Staffed by service personnel from the RAOC, RAAOC and RNZAOC with locally Employed Civilians (LEC) performing the basic clerical, warehousing and driving tasks. It was part of the ANZUK Support Group supporting ANZUK Force in Singapore between 1971 to 1974. ANZUK Ordnance Depot was formed from the Australian/NZ 5 AOD and UK 3BOD and consisted of:

    • Stores Sub Depot
    • Vehicle Sub Depot
    • Ammunition Sub Depot
    • Barrack Services Unit
    • Forward Ordnance Depot(FOD)
  • New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot, 1974–1989
    From 1974 to 1989 the RNZAOC maintained the New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot(NZAOD) in Singapore as part of New Zealand Force South East Asia (NZFORSEA).

Workshops Stores Section

  • New Zealand Workshops, RNZAOC Stores Section
  • 1RNZIR, Light Aid Detachment Stores Section

Somalia

The RNZAOC (with RNZCT, RNZEME, RNZSig, RNZMC specialist attachments) contributed to the New Zealand Governments commitment to the International and United Nations Operation in Somalia(UNOSOM) efforts in Somalia with:

  • Supply Detachment, Dec 1992 to June 1993
  • Supply Platoon x 2 rotations, July 1993 to July 1994 (reinforced with RNZIR Infantry Section)
  • RNZAOC officers to UNOSOM headquarters, 1992 to 1995.[40]

South Vietnam

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

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

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

Notes

[1] Whakapapa is a taxonomic framework that links all animate and inanimate, known and unknown phenomena in the terrestrial and spiritual worlds. Whakapapa, therefore, binds all things. It maps relationships so that mythology, legend, history, knowledge, Tikanga (custom), philosophies and spiritualities are organised, preserved and transmitted from one generation to the next. “Rāwiri Taonui, ‘Whakapapa – Genealogy – What Is Whakapapa?’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Http://Www.Teara.Govt.Nz/En/Whakapapa-Genealogy/Page-1 (Accessed 3 June 2019).”

[2] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992).

[3] A.J. Polaschek and Medals Research Christchurch, The Complete New Zealand Distinguished Conduct Medal: Being an Account of the New Zealand Recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal from the Earliest Times of the South African War to the Present Time, Together with Brief Biographical Notes and Details of Their Entitlement to Other Medals, Orders and Decorations (Medals Research Christchurch, 1983).

[4] “Dismantling of Buildings at Mt Eden and Reassembling at Narrow Neck,” New Zealand Herald, vol. LXVI, p. 5, 2 February 1929.

[5] “The Narrow Neck Camp,” New Zealand Herald, vol. LVIII, no. 17815, p. 6, 23 June 1921.

[6] John J. Storey and J. Halket Millar, March Past: A Review of the First Fifty Years of Burnham Camp (Christchurch, N.Z.: Pegasus Press, 1973, 1974 printing, 1973), Non-fiction.

[7] “Camp at Burnham,” Star, no. 16298, p. 8, 13 December 1920.

[8] “RNZAOC Triennial Conference,” in Handbook – RNZAOC Triennial Conference, Wellington,”  (1981).

[9][9] “NZ P106 Dos Procedure Instructions, Part 1 Static Support Force. Annex F to Chapter 1, Rnzaoc Director of Ordnance Services,”  (1978).

[10] ” Featherston Military Training Camp and the First World War, 1915–27,”  https://nzhistory.govt.nz/war/featherston-camp.

[11] “NZ P106 Dos Procedure Instructions, Part 1 Static Support Force. Annex F to Chapter 1, Rnzaoc Director of Ordnance Services.”

[12] “Stockholding for Operationally Deployable Stockholding Units,” NZ Army General Staff, Wellington  (1993.).

[13] L Clifton, Aerodrome Services, ed. Aerodrome Services Branch of the Public Works Department War History (Wellington1947).

[14] “1 Comp Ord Coy,” Pataka Magazine, February 1979.

[15] “D-01 Public Works Statement by the Hon. J. G. Coates, Minister of Public Works,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1 January,”  (1925).

[16] “Great Military Camp,” The Auckland Star, vol. LVI, no. 83, p. 5, 8 April 1925.

[17] “1st Field Supply Company Standing Operating Procedures, 1st Supply Company Training Wing, Dec “,  (1984).

[18] W.H. Cunningham and C.A.L. Treadwell, Wellington Regiment: N. Z. E. F 1914-1918 (Naval & Military Press, 2003).

[19] “Defence Re-Organisation,” Manawatu Times, vol. XLII, no. 1808, p. 5, 5 May  1921.

[20] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces from 25th June 1914 to 26th June, 1915.,” “, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1915).

[21] “NZ Army Ordnance Stores, ,”  https://manawatuheritage.pncc.govt.nz/item/c7681d2d-c440-4d58-81ad-227fc31efebf.

[22] “Pataka Magazine. RNZAOC, P. 52,,”  (1994).

[23] “Waiouru Camp  “, Ellesmere Guardian, vol. LXI, no. 90, p. 2, 12 November 1940

[24] Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] “Ordnance Stores,” Evening Post, vol. c, no. 95, p. 8, 19 October 1920.

[28] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces from 25th June 1914 to 26th June 1915.”

“, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1915).

[29] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces, from 1st June 1916 to 31st May 1917,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1917).

[30] “Colonel Rhodes,” Dominion, vol. 9, no. 2718, p. 9, 13 March 1916. .

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Glyn Harper, Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918, First World War Centenary History (Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand: Exisle Publishing, 2015

[Limited Leather Bound Edition], 2015), Bibliographies, Non-fiction.

[34] A.H. Fernyhough, History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1920-1945 (Royal Army Ordnance Corps, 1958).

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] New Zealand War Histories – Italy Volume Ii : From Cassino to Trieste,  (Victoria University of Wellington, 1967).

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] “Somalia: 1992 – 1995,” NZ Army,” http://www.army.mil.nz/about-us/what-we-do/deployments/previous-deployments/somalia/default.htm.


The New Zealand Ordnance Puggaree

From 1914 to 1958 the sight of New Zealand Soldiers in felt slouch hats was commonplace. In addition to providing a practical form of headdress,  by the use of a coloured headband, it became easy to identify the Regiment or Corps of the wearer.

This article will provide a brief background on the use and history of Puggarees in New Zealand service with a focus on their use by the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.

 

rnzaoc puggaree

RNZAOC Puggaree. Robert McKie Collection

Origins

The Puggaree origins lay in the Hindu word, ‘Pagri’ which is used to describe a wide range of traditional headdress worn by men and women throughout the Indian Sub-Continent, one of the most recognisable been 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 functional 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 branches of the service; [1] [2]

 

 

 

 

World War One

When first New Zealand Troops went overseas in 1914, the NZ Slouch hat was one 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”.[3]

20190518_121151594458500.jpg

NZMR

20190518_121038675710407.jpg

New Zealand felt “lemon Squeezer” hat with Ordnance Puggaree and NZEF Ordnance Badge. Robert McKie Collection

 

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 who in general used only plain puggaree on their headdress.[4]  [5] From 1917 the New Zealand puggaree also proved useful in distinguishing New Zealand troops from the Americans who wore headdress similar to the New Zealand Lemon Squeezer hat.[6]

As the war progressed, additional units that did not exist in the pre-war New Zealand Army were created, both as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) and as part of the Home Service forces in New Zealand. This would include the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) which was formed as a unit of the NZEF in early 1916 and as part of the New Zealand Permanent Forces in 1917.[7]

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. The following photo of NZ Army Service Corps staff at Zeitoun Camp in Egypt taken in either later 1915 or early 1916, shows a soldier wearing a Lemon Squeezer hat with a coloured Puggaree with a British Army Ordnance Corps (AOC) Badge, possibly the first example of an NZ Ordnance Puggaree.

British Army Ordnance Corps 1915_zpsaibxjzox

New Zealand Supply Depot Staff at Zeitoun Camp, 1915. Note Ordnance solder front row 3rd from left. National Army Museum of New Zealand

British Army Ordnance Corps_zpshkmjkhxu

Ordnance Soldier with Lemon Squeezer, Puggaree and AOC Badge, New Zealand Supply Depot Staff at Zeitoun Camp, 1915. National Army Museum of New Zealand

A later photograph of the NZAOC at taken at Buckle Street in 1918 the Puggaree are distinctive.

Ordnance 1918

The New Zealand Ordnance Corps 1918, Buckle Street Wellington. RNZAOC School

1918

Taken from the 1918 Buckle Street picture this blown up image shows two soldiers, on with a Lemon Squeezer Hat the other with a Mounted Rifles slouch hat, both puggarees could be of the NZ Ordnance pattern.

In a 1919 Photo of the NZAOC staff taken in Germany, the Puggaree of the Ordnance Staff are less distinctive and look to be a single colour, possibly red or Blue.

NZ Ordnance Staff 1919

New Zealand Ordnance Corps demobilisation Staff at Mulheim, Germany, Febuary1919. Alexander Turnbull Library/Public Domain

t falvey

Ordnance Corporal (Possibly TY Falvey) London 1918

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 states the following;[8]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”. Although slightly incorrect in that only two units of the NZEF wore red in the puggaree, The Infantry also has red in their Puggaree, this sentence does identify that the Ordnance Puggaree was red and blue.

The Inter-War Years

The red/blue/red Puggaree would formally be adopted as the Puggaree of the NZAOC in 1923 when the New Zealand Army updated its Dress Regulations for the first time since 1912.[9]

Ordnance Puggaree would have been a common sight around New Zealand Military establishments up to 1931, where with the virtual disestablished of the NZAOC their use would have shrunk to twenty or so remaining NZAOC Soldiers.

World War Two

The onset of war in 1939 would see an explosive growth of the New Zealand Army from a few hundred personnel to thousands, with articles published in newspapers to educate the public on the different coloured puggaree and which units they belonged to.[10] The red/blue/red Ordnance puggaree would be worn throughout the war years by the NZAOC and the New Zealand Ordnance Corps, the Ordnance component of the NZEF and the Territorial Army.[11]

ww2

Lemon Squeezer as worn by members of the 2nd NZEF NZOC, Middle East, Italy 1939-44.

20171001_205837-65594957.jpg

Ordnance soldier of the NZOC, New Zealand 1942-44.

Post War

The Lemon Squeezer 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 Battle Dress cap and the use of puggaree within the Ordnance Corps would fade away from memory.

tf 3rd intake waikato camp 1951

RNZAOC Territorial Force 3rd intake Ngaruawahia Camp 1951. RNZAOC School Collection

camp commandants bodyguard 1954

RNZAOC Camp Commandants Bodyguard, Trentham Camp 1954. RNZAOC School Collection

Copyright © Robert McKie 2019

Notes:

[1] The original MZ Slouch hat had been first used in the South Africa War and had a crease running from front to rear. From 1914 the Wellington Battalion wore their hats peaked

[2] 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, Part One, 128-29

[3] D. A. Corbett, The Regimental Badges of New Zealand: An Illustrated History of the Badges and Insignia Worn by the New Zealand Army (Auckland, N.Z. : Ray Richards, 1980

Revised end. edition, 1980), Non-fiction, 47-48.

[4] Australian and Canada would both use coloured puggaree on their respective headdress, just not to the same extent as New Zealand.

[5] “Local and General,” Dominion, Volume 9, Issue 2610,, 4 November 1915.

[6] “Visit to Paris,” North Otago Times, Volume CV, Issue 14001, 11 December 1917.

[7] “New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Regulations,” New Zealand Gazette, No 95, June 7 1917.

[8] “Soldiers and Dress – Ordnance Pugaree,” Press, Volume LIV, Issue 16387, 5 December 1918.

[9] Thomas and Lord, New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches, 1911-1991, 35.

[10] “New Zealand Troops Wear Turbans,” Evening Star, Issue 23432  (1939).

[11] The NZOC was formed as a unit of the NZED in 1939 and a unit of the Territorial Army in 1941.


New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot, Egypt and Italy 1940-46

The 2nd NZEF Base Ordnance Depot(BOD) was the primary Ordnance organisation supporting the 2nd NZEF in its operations from Egypt to Italy from 1940 to 1946. Unlike the Infantry, Artillery, Engineers and even the Army Servicer Corps, New Zealand did not have an Ordnance component in the Territorial Army from which to draw upon when establishing the Ordnance services of the 2nd NZEF, this led to the NZ BOD having to be built from scratch. The two senior ordnance officers, King and Andrews were from the regular Army, some of the personnel were drawn from the civilian staff of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) with others having a clerical or warehousing background. With this diversity of experience, the men of the NZ BOD with the assistance of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) Depots in Egypt underwent a crash course in the intricacies of British military stores accounting, warehousing and distribution operations. Initially based at Maadi Camp on the outskirts of Cairo in Egypt, the NZ BOD would eventually grow into two Depots, one in Egypt and one in Italy. Not entirely a Base organisation the NZ BOD would also deploy an Advanced Ordnance Depot and conduct stores convoy operations. This article provides an introduction to the NZ BOD, another forgotten New Zealand Ordnance unit of the Secoend World War.

When given command of the NZDF, General Freyberg as the General Officer Commanding had been given a mandate and authority to “establish such administrative headquarters and base and line of communication units as are necessary for the functions of command, organisation, including training, and administration with which he has been invested”, with “the authority to procure equipment (shown on equipment tables) that cannot be supplied through official channels. Such equipment to be bought through Ordnance channels where possible”,[1]  this included the establishment of a Base Ordnance Depot to support the growing New Zealand Force

As the New Zealand Forces arrived in Egypt, the logistical situation was dire. The Middle East Command was in a period of transition from a peacetime to a wartime footing. The German victory’s in the low countries and France which saw the loss of much of the British Armies equipment in the subsequent evacuation resulting in the Middle East placed on a low priority for personnel and resources as the United Kingdom rearmed and prepared for invasion. The RAOC resources which the NZEF could draw upon were limited and consisted of;[2] [3]

  • A combined Ordnance Depot and Workshop at Abbassia
  • A Clothing and mobilisation sub-depot at Kasr-el-Nil
  • A sub-depot at Alexandra
  • Forward dumps of tentage, accommodation stores and ammunition at El Daba and Mersa Matruh.

The first Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) for the Middle East would not be appointed until late 1940 when Colonel W.W Richards was transferred from France to Egypt as a Brigadier.[4] Cognisant of the supply situation and also the international composition of the Middle East Command, Brigadier Richards would  oversee the rapid upgrade of infrastructure, personnel and capability of the combined Ordnance services of the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa ,India and New Zealand, creating effective Ordnance Field Force units supported by robust base facilities, shaped to meet the national requirements of each contributing nation.

Known as the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC), The embryotic New Zealand Ordnance organisation that arrived in Egypt with the 1st Echelon included;[5]

  • Lieutenant Colonel T.J. King NZAOC, DADOS
  • Captain A.H Andrews NZAOC, Ordnance Mechanical Engineer,
  • Lieutenant D.E Harper NZOC. OO Base Depot
  • Lieutenant G Langslow NZOC, 9 LAD, 4 Field Regiment NZA
  • Lieutenant G.D Pollock NZOC, 10 LAD, 5 Field Park Company, NZE
  • Captain J.H Mander NZOC, 11 LAD, HQ 4 Infantry Brigade,
  • Captain N.P Manning NZOC, 12 LAD, 27 Machine Gun Battalion,
  • Lieutenant J.O Kelsey NZOC, 13 LAD, Divisional Cavalry Regiment,
  • J.H England NZOC, 14 LAD, Divisional Signal Units
  • NZOC tradesmen, Clerks, Storemen and Drivers held under the Base Depot organisation.

The initial Base Depot found in the embarkation rolls was not the Base Ordnance Depot but a convenient use of the War Establishment to place personnel who were not allocated to existing units on the establishment. On mobilisation Army headquarters was sure that a base function would be required, and Base Depot was the only suitable unit that could be found on British War Establishments that could be used for the personnel filling many if the anticipated base roles in the NZEF. Under General Freyberg’s mandate to “establish such administrative headquarters and base and line of communication units” The Base Depot was disestablished in April 1940 and Headquarters NZEF Base formally established as a unit of the NZEF with personnel distributed to functional subunits, including NZOC Stores and clerical staff to the NZ BOD.[6] At this stage, NZ BOD would also manage some of the Base Workshop functions in conjunction with 31 LAD (Base)

Maadi Camp 1941

View of the working area of the Ordnance Depot at Maadi Camp in 1941. Photo H.J Gilbertson

Maadi Camp 1941.1

View of the working area of the Ordnance Depot at Maadi Camp in 1941. Photo H.J Gilbertson

The 2nd NZEF had arrived in Egypt with the bare minimum of equipment, but by August 1940 the NZ BOD was in the routine of receiving and issuing new equipment to the force; and in fact, the equipping of New Zealand Forces was proceeding far better than with comparable United Kingdom units in the area. As the accounting system was still in a peacetime system the British authorities were most generous in providing what equipment was available to the Commonwealth. At this time issues of equipment had to be checked and signed for, with the arrangement with the United Kingdom that the initial issues to the New Zealand Forces would be paid for at the actual value.

The 2nd NZEF had arrived in Egypt with the same uniforms and web equipment as the NZEF of 1918. As stocks became available the NZ BOD began to issue the new 1937 pattern ‘Battledress’ and ’37 pattern webbing’ to all New Zealand Troops. Additionally, as each draft arrived issues of theatre specific clothing and equipment had to be issued to each soldier;

  • Helmets steel 1,
  • Respirators Anti Gas 1,
  • Armbands (white) 1,
  • Shorts Khaki Drill 2,
  • Shirts tropical 2,
  • Drawers cellular short 2,[7]
  • Hosetops (long socks) (prs) 1

This was a considerable amount of clothing and equipment to bring into stock for issues and for stockholding, not forgetting that the old uniforms and equipment that was been exchanged had to be sorted, stored and disposed of. To manage the workload, infrastructure would be required along with additional personnel. To supplement the NZOC military personnel, civilian labour would be utilised. Under the control of a supervisor know as a Rais (Arabic: رئیس‎; also spelled Raees), teams of workers known as Fellaheen (Arabic: فلاحين‎, fallāḥīn) would come into the BOD each day,[8] Over time locally employed civilians would not only carry out labouring work but also more complex warehousing and clerical functions providing a level of continuity that soldiers because of the demands of soldiering are often unable; to maintain.

Liaison with the RAOC depots was the key to the success of the NZ BOD. Held on the establishment of the NZ BOD, NZOC Liaison staff were attached to RAOC depots for the duration of the war, NZOC liaison staff would serve in both clerical and stores positions with a dual role; first the NZOC had no combined corporate history of ordnance procedures so the attachment would enable NZOC members to become familiar with current RAOC procedures, and secondly it allowed NZOC staff in RAOC depots to directly manage and process New Zealand demands.[9]

In June 1940, Lt Col King departed for England where he would facilitate the Ordnance support for the 2nd Echelon of the 2NZEF which had been diverted to England rather than Egypt, this would leave Major Andrews managing all the NZOC maintenance and supply functions in Egypt. With the 3rd Echelon arriving in Egypt in September 1940 planning on the future of the NZ BOD and the overall NZOC commitment to the NZEF with the drafting of new establishments underway. Correspondence between Andrew and King describes the growth of the NZ BOD into a quite large depot.[10]

BOD October 1940

Base Ordnance Depot Staff, Maadi, October 1940. Back Row clerks: Geoffrey Gilbert-Smith, LCpl Walter William Thomas, G Duane, O McKibbon. Front Row Storemen: Mark Edwin Ivey, R Watson, W Mooney. Photo W.W Thomas

By March 1941 the 2nd Echelon had arrived in Egypt from the United Kingdom and the New Zealand Division was complete for the first time. Although some units had been involved in operations against the Italians, the Divisions first real taste of battle would be the disastrous Greek and Crete campaigns. Although ad hoc NZOC workshops would be sent to Greece to support the LAD’s, the NZ BOD would only play a supporting role in these campaigns. In the months after the Greek and Crete campaign, the NZ Division would retrain and reorganise.

From April 1942 the DOS for the Middle East was weighing up the option of pooling all British and Dominion Base Ordnance units into one organisation under the DOS GHQ Middle East. Whilst retaining their national identity’s they world services all units regardless of nationality on a geographic basis. Stocks of common items would be demanded from the main British BOD, provisioned for and demanded by the DADOS (P) from the United Kingdom or the Eastern Supply Group. Items peculiar to each nation would be demanded independently by each national BOD. The NZEF replied that the NZ BOD at Maadi Camp had materially reduced the work of the RAOC Depots and that excellent liaison between the RAOC and NZOC existed and the proposed system was in effect the system in place and working quite satisfactorily.[11]

As a consequence of the NZ Divisions reorganisation, Divisional NZOC units were to be formed, with personnel from the NZ BOD, NZOC reinforcements and transfers from within the 2nd NZEF transferred to the following NZOC Field Force units prior to their formation; [12]

  • The New Zealand Divisional Ordnance Field Park (NZ OFP), formed 28 July 1941,
  • The NZ Divisional Salvage unit, formed 16 August 1941.
  • The New Zealand Divisional Mobile Bath Unit, formed 6 September 1941,
  • The New Zealand Divisional Mobile Laundry and Forward Decontamination unit, formed 22 September 1941.

Concurrent with the reorganisation of the 2nd NZEF after the Greek Campaign, the NZOC maintenance services would start to be formalised into a fully functional workshop system of Base, Divisional and field workshops. Following closely behind the British who with the increased mechanisation of the battlefield reformed its maintenance and repair organisations and form them into a single Corps of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME) on 1 October 1942 assuming responsibility for all RAOC, ASC and Royal Engineer Workshops, Recovery Sections and LADs.  New Zealand and Australian would follow suit on 1 December 1942, followed by India on 1 May 1943 and Canada on 22 February 1944.[13]

Maadi 1941

An Italian trailer put to use in the NZ BOD at Maadi in 1941. Soldier is Jack Thompsom. Photo: H.L Gilbertson

In addition to the Divisional NZOC units, a New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot (NZAOD) was formed as sub-unit of the NZ BOD to facilitate the holding of stock closer to the forward areas. No additional personnel was authorised for the NZAOD, so when raised its personnel and equipment would be drawn from NZ BOD resources.[14]

BOD 41

The NZ AOD was initially located with an RAOC AOD at El Daba during Operation Crusader, [15]  with the NZ Division withdrawn back to Egypt in December 1941 the NZAOD had just unloaded its stock at the Tura caves when it was ordered to move with the Division to Syria where it set up in the vicinity of Baalbeck.

March 1942 would see the establishment of the NZ BOD increased to five Officers and 95 other ranks.

BOD MAR 42

Returning to Egypt with the NZ Division in June 1942, the NZAOD would gradually morph into a mobile depot and accompany the NZ Division the pursuit of the Axis forces into Tunisia.[16] On three occasions it would ground its stocks, at Bardia, Tripoli and Enfidaville. Due to its mobile nature, the NZAOD ended up utilising many of the NZ BOD’s limited holding f vehicles

Replenishment for the NZAOD would be direct from the NZ BOD for NZ specific items of supply. For items of a generic nature, replenishment would be from the closest supporting RAOC AOD, Forward Depot or Dump, if those units were unable to satisfy the indent, it would be pushed to the supporting RAOC BOD. New Zealand liaison staff in the RAOC depots would process the New Zealand indents and forward on the next available transport for delivery.

An example of the efficiency of the replenishment system is that when at Enfidaville the NZAOD sent a signal to RAOC 557 AOD, then at Tripoli, over 600km away. Within five days those stores were being issued to units if the Division.

Sys of Sup

 

October 1943 would see the NZEF begin operations in Italy as part of the 8th Army. The NZAOD would remain deployed forward in support of the NZ Division. Major Harper the DADOS of the NZ BOD also deployed into Italy to conduct an appreciation of the future NZ Ordnance Support required.  At the time of Major Harper’s appreciation, there was only one RAOC depot operating in support to the 8th Army. This was an ad hoc organisation called Eight Army Field Stores and was operating using stocks from the initial Ordnance Beach Detachments. The RAOC 500 AOD was in the process of getting organised at Bari on the Adriatic coast, with its limited stocks steadily been built up, few demands could satisfactory be met.[17] To improve the situation for the NZ Division and the NZEF, Harper recommended that rather rely on already stretched RAOC depots the NZ BOD be reformed into two Depots;

  • One part to service the NZEF in Egypt and to hold reserves of clothing for the whole NZEF,
  • The other part to be in Italy to service the NZ Division and other NZEF units in Italy, such as hospitals and the advance base.

Major Harper envisaged only a small increase in personnel and that the liaison staff with RAOC Depts remain incorporated in the new establishment.

As one of the factors of the NZ Divisions good equipment state was that it had always had its own BOD, which was now located far away in Egypt, and to maintain the NZ Division in a comparable manner as it had been in North Africa, Harper’s recommendation that the BOD be split into two sections was approved by the GOC  2 NZEF on 4 Nov 1942. Major Harper was instructed to make arrangement to obtain the required buildings and stores accommodation in Bari and then return to Egypt to assist in the arrangements to split the NZ BOD for the move to Italy.[18]

From 10 November 1943, the NZ BOD split into three distinct sections

  • Ordnance Depot at Base (Egypt)
  • Ordnance Depot at Advance Base (Italy), and
  • NZAOD

The significant change is that the NZAOD was established as a standalone section, whereas in the previous year’s its personnel and equipment had been taken out of the establishment the NZ BOD, the NZAOD was now recognised separate section with its own personnel and equipment.

A change in the boot repair contract in Maadi had also necessitated an increase on the establishment of Shoemakers and Bootmakers to enable the NZ BOD to become self-sufficient in the area in boot repair.

The NZ BOD would also be the reinforcement depot for the NZOC. Reinforcements from NZ or individuals injured in units and withdrawn to the rear to convalesce would be held in the reinforcement depot until appropriate vacancies became available in forward units.

NZOC personnel on liaison duties with ROAC depots also cease to be held in the establishment of the NZ BOD.

BOD NOV 43

BOD Staff Dec 1943

Main Office Staff, 1 Base Ordnance Depot, Maadi, Egypt, December 1943. Standing: Ike Dabscheck, Stone, Lieutenant Stroud, Major Cordery, Lieutenant Barwick, Unidentified. In front: Jack Picot, Geff Rees, Falloon. Photo: J.D Picot

Early in 1944, it was decided that given the distance between Egypt and Italy that the NZ BOD Ordnance Depot at Advance Base in Bari should be upgraded to full Base Depot Status. With effect 16 February the following changes to establishments were made;

  • NZ BOD was renamed 1 NZ Base Ordnance Depot, (1 NZ BOD)
  • 2 NZ Base Ordnance Depot was formed as a unit of the NZEF (2 NZ BOD)
  • The NZAOD was disbanded.

Change to 1BOD

2 BOD Formed

Changing from NZ BOD to 1 NZ BOD, this unit’s establishment would be reduced to two Officers and 37 Other ranks, retaining responsibility as the bulk holding depot for items peculiar to NZ and the reaming base units in Egypt, No1 NZ BOD would be the Reinforcement Depot for NZOC and would also include Includes a Officers shop detail.  An Officers Shop detail was also added to the responsibilities of 1 NZ OFP. Officers shops were an organisation developed by the British in North Africa. Centrally provisioned by the Central Provision Office, Officers Shops allowed Offices to buy at reasonable rates, authorised items of kit such as clothing, camp kit, travel bags, Leather jerkins and shoes.[19]

The NZAOD would be also disbanded and its functions absorbed into the NZ OFP mobile AOD section.[20]

NZAOD DISBANDED FEB 1944

From the existing NZ BOD Ordnance Depot at Advance Base in Bari, 2 NZ BOD would be formed as a unit of the NZEF. Carrying out the same role as the NZ BOD in North Africa 2 NZ BOD would be a Reinforcement Depot for NZOC Personnel and include a Stores Convoy Unit.

Stores Convoy Units were a capability that was generated by the early lessons of the desert war, and although utilised by both the NZ OFP and NZAOD during 1942/43 the system was not formally organised as a unit in the NZEF until 1944. The supply and transportation of Ordnance Stores is something which was not always understood and more complex than the supply and transportation of Rations, Fuel and Ammunition. Except for a small range of fast moving items, Ordnance stores consist of a very large range of stores, for which the actual need of the users cannot be anticipated with any certainty. It is impractical to hold stocks close to the forward units as the assets required to move these stocks are not realistic, therefore a reliable and fast service was required to supply urgent requirements from the nearest stock holding unit – often the BOD. Rail had many limitations which made urgent deliveries impactable as was the use of Army Service Corps (ASC) assets who on regular runs failed to meet the delivery requirements. Therefore, it became necessary to introduce a road convoy service dedicated to the transportation of Ordnance Stores. Originally operated by using reserve vehicles from the RAOC 1 OFP and 1st Cavalry Division OFP, the system originally operated between Cairo and Mersa Matruh supplementing the existing rail system. The system proved successful and was extended to the delivery of vehicles other urgent fighting stores direct to divisional OFP’s across the Middle East theatre form Persia to Tunisia. [21]  The New Zealand Stores Convoy Unit would operate from 1944 into 1945 along the entire axis of the New Zealand’s Divisions advance through Italy from Bari to Trieste.

2NZEF Ordnance

A group of NZAOD personnel Italy 1944. Front Row: H.D Bremmer, R.G James, 2nd Lieuteant H.J Mackridge, N.G Hogg, G.P Seymour. Back Row: WO2 Worth, D.S Munroe, G Caroll, Charles Joseph Moulder, Francis William Thomas Barnes, H Rogers, C.W Holmes, W Wallace, N Denery Photo: Defence Archive Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library.

As the NZ Division advanced up the Italian peninsular HQ 2 NZEF also wised to shorten the lines of communication and remain close to the Division, and on 11 September HQ 2 NZEF relocated to Senigallia. The headquarters move to Senigallia was soon followed by many of the administrative units including 2NZ BOD which established an Advanced Section of Depot of one Officer and 20 Other Ranks.

2 BOD OCT 44

Although the Officers shop details have been active since February 1944, formal approval for the establishment of Officers shops was not granted in April 1945 with the following officer’s shops to be added to establishments;

  • 1 NZ BOD – One Officer Shop Detail
  • 2 NZ BOD – Two Officer Shop details, (Bari and Senigallia)
  • NZ OFP, AOD Section – One Officer Shop Detail.

Germany surrendered on 7 May 1945, bringing hostility’s in Europe to a close, but in the Pacific and South East Asia the war against Japan was still in progress and discussion of the future of the NZEF and its future in the war was underway. By June 1945 the decision had been made to maintain NZOC units in the NZEF at full strength to facilitate the handing back of vehicles and equipment by Divisional units as they were demobilised or reorganised for service against Japan. In June 1945 103 personnel from Divisional NZOC units were placed on the establishment of 2 NZ BOD but attached to RAOC units, the bulk to the RAOC 557 BOD at Naples to facilitate the handing back of equipment and also the distribution of new equipment for the force been raised for operations against Japan

2 BOD NOV 45

The August atomic bombing of Japan and their subsequent surrender in September 1945 brought what was going to be a long war to a sudden end. Japan would be occupied by allied forces and New Zealand would contribute a Brigade group (J Force) based on the 9th Infantry Brigade of the 2nd NZEF.[22]

By November the 2 NZ BOD Advanced Section of Depot at Senigallia had been disbanded and the establishment of 2 NZ BOD reduced to five Officers and 42 Other ranks. The personnel of the 2 NZ BOD Advance Section of Depot were transferred to Florence where they married up with the NZ OFP to form a final NZAOD to support the demobilisation of the 2nd NZEF. The liaison staff to the RAOC depots had also been reduced from the original 103 to five Officers and thirty-eight Other Ranks.[23]

Both 1 and 2 NZ BOD would spend the remaining months of 1945 packing and returning equipment to New Zealand, clearing Depots and returning stocks to the ROAC. By 1 February 1946 after close to six years of providing Ordnance support to the 2nd NZEF the Base Ordnance Depots and the NZAOD of the NZOC were formally disbanded and the final NZOC troops headed for home or to Japan for service with J Force.

1946

Like all of the NZOC units of the 2nd NZEF, the role that the NZ BOD played in supporting the 2nd NZEF has hardly rated a mention in many of the contemporary histories of the 2nd NZEF. But considering that it was a unit started from scratch and had to learn its trade on the job under wartime conditions it is a unit worthy of recognition. Providing the 76000 New Zealand Troops that passed through Maadi Camp, and maintaining the NZ Division over vast distances with all manner of war material was a huge achievement and one never to matched in the history of the New Zealand Army.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

Notes

[1] W. G. Stevens, Problems of 2 Nzef, Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939-45 (Wellington, N.Z: War History Branch, Dept of Internal Affairs, 1958, 1958), Non-fiction, 93.

[2] Brigadier A.H Fernyhough C.B.E. M.C, History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1920-1945 (London: Royal Army Ordnance Corps, 1965), 110-11.

[3] 1939-1948 New Zealand Army WWII Nominal Rolls, “Roll 1: 1939 – 31 Mar 1940,”  https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1832/31839_224118__0001-00003?backurl=https%3a%2f%2fsearch.ancestry.com%2fsearch%2fdb.aspx%3fdbid%3d1832%26path%3d&ssrc=&backlabel=ReturnBrowsing#?imageId=31839_224118__0001-00042.

[4] Frank Steer, To the Warrior His Arms: The Story of the Raoc 1918–1993 (London: RAOC, 2005), 73.

[5] Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, Rnzeme 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017), 72.

[6] Stevens, Problems of 2 Nzef, 21-22.

[7] Short cellular drawers or underwear were issued to British and Commonwealth troops for wear in summer and for general wear in tropical areas. They were white open-weave ‘cellular’ fabric, featuring a two-button fastening to the front opening and a pair of horizontal cloth loops to either side of the front waistband.

[8] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 106.

[9] Ibid., 102-03.

[10] 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Base, Item Idr20107591 Record No  Da 1/9/Sd81/22 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1941).

[11] Ibid.

[12] 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Field Item Idr20107590 Record No  Da 1/9/Sd81/21 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1941).

[13] Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, Rnzeme 1942-1996, 72-122.

[14] 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Base.

[15] Listed in some records as the RAOC 508 AOD it might actually be 500 AOD as no record exists of an RAOC 508 AOD.

[16] It is assumed that the NZAOD was co-located with the NZ OFP when in the mobile role.

[17] Brigadier A.H Fernyhough C.B.E. M.C, History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1920-1945, 243.

[18] 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Base.

[19] History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1920-1945, 205.

[20] 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Field

[21] History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1920-1945, 120.

[22] Matthew Wright, Italian Odyssey: New Zealanders in the Battle for Italy 1943-45 (Auckland, N.Z: Reed, 2003, 2003), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 166.

[23] 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Base.


NZ Divisional Salvage Unit 1941-1942

20170929_150757-740050609.jpg

Badge of the 2nd NZEF

During the Second World War, the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) provided a variety of Ordnance Services to the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF). The most well know of the Ordnance Service proved are those of the Base Ordnance Depot, Advanced Ordnance Depot. Ordnance Field Park, Laundry and Bath Units, and up to the end of 1942, the Base and Field Workshops and Light Aid Detachments which separated from the NZOC to form the New Zealand Electrical And Mechanical Engineers (NZEME). However, there remains one Ordnance unit which although appearing on the 2nd NZEF Order of Battle, only rates a very obscure mention in only one of nine official campaign histories published after the war, and has mostly been forgotten; this is the NZ Divisional Salvage Unit.

World War One Origins

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.  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.
events-WW1-salvage-v2a

WW1 salvage dump notice. Photo by British Pictorial Service; public domain image taken from The Business of War at the Internet Archive website

An indication of the type of work carried out by the NZ Division Salvage Company can be found in the work of the British Army’s 34th Divisional Salvage Company which was active on the Somme during July 1916. During this period the 34th Divisional Salvage Company recovered;1

Rifles – 12,998
Bayonets – 6,050
Revolvers – 8
Very Pistols – 28
Machine Guns – 51
Trench Mortars – 12
Small Arms Ammunition – 1,580,000 rounds
S.A.A. fired cases – 145,000
Bombs – 40,000
Sets of equipment complete – 5,500
Groundsheets – 700
Steel Helmets – 9,869
Gas Masks – 13,280
Picks & shovels – 2,000
Wire Cutters – 950
Bully Beef Tins – 16,000
Bagpipes – 6 sets

Total value of one months salvage = £1,500,000.

events-WW1-Salvage-of-the-battlefield-near-Bapaume

Salvage of the battlefield near Bapaume: Photo by David McLellan; taken from the National Library of Scotland’s First World War ‘Official Photographs’ website; adapted, used and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence

American author Isaac F Marcosson, writing in 1918, described this recycling operation in some detail.2

“At the ‘sharp end,’ there was “Battle Salvage, which deals with the debris of actual fighting and includes all trench materials such as wood and iron, shell-cases, guns, rifles, equipment, clothing, tools and other stores that have been damaged in actual fighting.” There was also “so-called Normal Salvage, which is material such as empty packing cases, [fuel] cans and other articles which never reach the battlefield.”

The Salvage system proved to be a success with statistical records published of what each unit had recovered, with competition between units not uncommon. To outdo the New Zealand Division, one of the Australian Divisions went to the effort of stealing copper appliances and hardware from a derelict brewery to accrue additional credits.3 Following the success of the Salvage system in the First World War, provision was made on war establishments for Salvage units on a ratio of one Salvage unit per Division and one Salvage unit as Corps troops.

Western Desert 1941

As the New Zealand Divison became established in Egypt in early in 1941, General Headquarters (GHQ) the Middle East requested information on 2 April 1941 on the establishment of the New Zealand Divisional Salvage Unit and when its equipment would be ready. With no Salvage Unit yet formed an establishment for an NZ Salvage Unit, consisting of 1 Officer and 43 Other Ranks was published on 18 April 1941, with no further action towards the formation of the NZ Divisional Salvage Unit taken until August of 1941.4

Estab 18 April 41

NZEF, NZ Divisional Salvage Unit Establishment 18 April 1941

The role of Field Salvage Units was to sort salvage. All RASC motor transport units serving divisions and corps were tasked with carrying salvage on the return journey. This included containers which could be reused, small equipment which could be recycled and ammunition that had been unpacked but not used. T

With Australian and SouthAfrican Salvage units already operating in the Middle East and with Indian and New Zealand units expected to begin operating shortly, GHQ Middle East called a conference to define the relationship of these units with the Salvage Directorate GHQ.

At the conference held on 13 August 1941, it was established that the Dominion  Divisions were formed with a war establishment of one Salvage unit per Division and one per Corps troops. No Salvage units were provided for at present for British Divisions, or Corps, although they were allowed for in the War Establishment.

The pressing question of the conference was if the Dominion Salvage units would be part of the Middle East Salvage Organisation, or regarded as separate units working under their own headquarters.

The Australians were satisfied with existing arrangements and stated that full cooperation from the AIF could be expected.

The representatives the  1st and 2nd South African Divisions stated that they were willing to cooperate and that the available Salvage units should be used for the common good, but wished that the SA Salvage units remain administered by their Headquarters, and the unit s should accompany their Divisions into action.

The Representatives of 4 and 5 Indian Division stated that when formed, they would prefer it to be used as a GHQ asset rather than as Div troops.

New Zealand, represented by its DDOS Colone King, stated that a New Zealand Salvage unit was not yet formed, but could be if requested. As a Divisional unit, it was expected that the unit would remain with the Division, but the Salvage Directorate could rest assure that the NZ Division would cooperate in every possible way.

Base Salvage Depots under the control of GHQ would receive all Salvage irrespective of the unit that it was collected from. GHQ would conduct all sales with the proceeds credited to His Majestys Government. The War Office would be approached to take into account the value of salvage collected in the future when setting capitation rates for equipment.

The consensus was that Salvage Units would remain with their Divisions but that the Salvage Directorate would exercise technical control.

Armed with the knowledge that the Salvage unit would remain with the New Zealand Divison, approval for the formation of the NZ Divisional Salvage unit as a unit of the NZEF was granted by Headquarters 2 NZEF on 16 August 1941. The NZ Divisional Salvage unit was to be a unit of the NZOC and the NZEF DDOS in conjunction with the Military Secretary, HQ NZEF and HQ Maddi Camp were to arrange for a suitable officer and Other Ranks to be posted to the unit and equipment to be assembled.

Formation

On 12 September 1941 the New Zealand Division begun to move into Baggush in the Western Desert as it began to assemble for the upcoming Operation Crusader. On 11 November the New Zealand Division together for the first time joined at an assembly point near the Matruh-Siwa road. On 18 November Operation Crusader began with the New Zealand Division crossing the Libyan frontier into Cyrenaica and after some hard fighting linking up with the garrison at Tobruk on 26 November. It is in Tobruk that the Salvage unit would get it only mention in the New Zealand War history series of books in the volume “The Relief of Tobruk” it stares: 5

“The NZASC companies provided working parties at the ammunition depot, and the docks, Workshops and Ordnance Field Park overhauled vehicles, and the Salvage Unit for the first time found plenty of work to do.”

On 23 December 1941 the NZ Salvage Unit lost a member of the unit when Private Leo Gregory Narbey died as the result of an accident. Private Narby now rests in the Commonwealth War Grave Commission Alamein cemetery.6

3920030

Western Desert, Egypt, 12 August 1942. Men of the 9th Australian Divisional Salvage Unit checking over captured arms at El Alamein. Public Domain Australian War Memorial

Operation Crusader was a success but one that inflicted heavy losses on British and Dominionarmour and Infantry, as the Axis forces withdrew under pressure, large quantities of enemy equipment and war material was abandoned leaving the battlefield to the battered 8th Army. Due to the magnitude of the Salvage work to clear the battlefield, GHQ request that all Divisional Salvage units be placed under 8th Army control as Army troops to allow their coordinated use. This request was agreed to by the GOC 2 NZEF on 1 January 1942 on the condition that the Salvage would be released back to the NZ Divison if required. As the NZ Salvage unit was at Baggush, its transfer to 8th Army control was immediate.

Libya and Syria 1942

Badly mauled in Operation Crusader and the subsequent operations, the New Zealand Division had suffered 879 dead, and 1700 wounded and was withdrawn from Libya back to Egypt and then at the instance of the New Zealand government moved to Syria during February to recover but also prepare defences for a possible German offensive through Turkey.

As the NZ Divison rebuilt itself in Syria the NZ Divisional Salvage unit remained in Libya under 8th Army command. During March the delay in receiving reinforcements from New Zeland hastened the need to make estimates for replacement drafts, and HQ 2NZEF approached GHQ Middle East with an enquiry on the expected release dates of 2NZEF units including the NZ Salvage Unit who were under direct 8th Army command. The presumption was that the detached units would remain under 8th Army control until the operational situation would allow their release.

013351

Australian 9th Div Salvage Unit under fire 5th October 1942. El Alamein, Egypt. image 013351 Australian War Memorial.

Remaining detached from the Division the NZ Salvage units establishment was increased to a strength of 1 Officer and 45 Other Ranks, its transport assets were also increase to include one car and five trucks and given the tactical situation ammunition allocation per man was increased from 20 rounds of .303 to 50 rounds per man.

Estab 28 May 42

NZEF, NZ Divisional Salvage Unit Establishment 28 May 1942

With the NZ Divison rushed back into the fight in the Western Desert in June 1942, the NZ Salvage unit remained detached. August 1942 would find the NZ Salvage Unit in Syria and under the command of the 9th Army and operating as Army Troops rather than a Divisional unit as initially intended.  On 24 August 1942, the ADOS of 2 NZ Div sent a submission to HQ 2NZEF recommending the disbanding of the NZ Salvage unit. The main point of the submission was that the NZ Salvage Unit since its formation had always been employed as Arny troops outside of the Division. Also given the reinforcement situation its personnel could be better employed within the main NZOC Divisional organisation.  The GOC 2NZEF approved the proposal in principle but felt that the NZ Salvage Unit might still be usefully employed by the 8th Army in the current theatre. 8th Army rejected the offer, and the decision was made by HQ NZEF to recall the unit from Syria to Maadi Camp while a decision could be made on its future employment or disbandment.

Rolling through to September 1942 the NZ Salvage Unit was still detached to the 9th Army in Syria when on 19 Sept HQ NZEF sent a warning order to Headquarter 9th Army of the interesting to recall the NZ Salvage unit to Egypt for disbandment. Final Order instructing the Unit to return to Egypt was issued on 3 October 1942 with the NZ Divisional Salvage Unit formally disbanded as a unit of the NZEF on 20 October 1942.7

Disbandment

After 15 months of service, the NZ Divisional Salvage Unit was disbanded and its men distributed to other NZEF and NZ Divison Ordnance Units. The Salvage units contribution to the war effort in the Middle East alongside the other Dominion Salvage Units provided an essential function, collecting, sorting and dispatching battlefield salvage, captured allied and enemy equipment to Workshops and Salvage Depots for repair, recycling and redistribution fighting units. It is unfortunate that this crucial administrative war work carried out by one of New Zealand forgotten Ordnance units have been forgotten and it is hoped that future research into this unit will expand on their story.

Video

British Pathe Newsreel providing an example of Salvage work carried out in the Western Desert.  Desert Salvage

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

 Notes

1 Marc Barkman-Astles, “The Archaeology of Star Wars Strikes Back!,”  https://www.heritagedaily.com/2016/05/the-archaeology-of-star-wars-strikes-back/111007.

2 Steve Atcherley, “Llewellyn Atcherley’s World War One,”  http://www.atcherley.org.uk/wp/remembrance-day-seven/.

3 Arthur Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services (London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929), 76.

4 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Field Item Idr20107590 Record No  Da 1/9/Sd81/21 (Wellington: New Zealand Archives, 1941).

5 473W. E. Murphy, The Relief of Tobruk, Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939-45 (Wellington, N.Z.: War History Branch, Dept. of Internal Affairs, 1961, 1961), Non-fiction.

6 “Leo Gregory Narbey,”  http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph/record/C30146?n=Leo%20Gregory%20Narbey&ordinal=0&from=%2Fwar-memorial%2Fonline-cenotaph%2Fsearch.

7 2nzef – Organisation and War Establishments – Ordnance – Field


Gordon Cumming Bremner

Gordon Cumming Bremner was born at Wanganui on 30 October 1891. Completing his schooling, Gordon took up a career as a farm hand in the central North Island of New Zealand. Fulfilling his obligation to participate in Compulsorily Military Training, Gordon enlisted in the 6th (Manawatu) Mounted Rifles of the Territorial Army on 1 March 1911. Serving in the Territorial Army for three years Gordon would enlist in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in January 1915.

Taking his attestation on 11 January 1915, Gordon would spend three months training at Trentham before embarking on Troopship No 23 the SS Waitoma on 17 April 1915 as part of the 4th Reinforcements for the voyage to Egypt. Disembarking at Suez on 25 May 1915, Gordon would undergo further training at Zeitoun Camp. Early in June Gordon departed Alexandra, joining the 11th (Taranaki) Company of the Wellington Battalion in the Dardanelles on 9 June.

Bremner GC 01 B Coy 4th Reinfs

Gordon Bremner with B Company 4th Reinforcements, Norm Lamont Collection

Bremner GC 01a B Coy 4th Reinfs

Gordon would have spent the uncomfortably hot months of June and July with the Taranaki Company rotating between Courtney and Quinn’s Posts at Gallipoli as the Wellington Battalion consolidated its position. Participating in the Battle of Chunuk Bair and wounded in action on 8 August,  the injury saw Gordon evacuated from Gallipoli on HMS Alaunia.  Gordon arrived back in Alexandra on 13 August and admitted to the 1st Australian (No.3 Auxiliary) Hospital at Heliopolis on 14 Aug where in addition to his battle injuries Gordon received treatment for appendicitis. Diagnosed with neurasthenia, the term used to describe “shell shock” or what is referred to in modern times as a Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) saw the transfer of Gordon to the New Zealand General Hospital at Abbassia on 13 September. With Gordon’s condition classifying him as unfit for service, he was transferred to the Lady de Walden’s Hospital at Alexandria on 8 October in preparation for his repatriation to New Zealand, departing on the SS Tahiti on 20 November. Arriving in New Zealand on boxing day 1915 and admitted to a convalescent home at Rotorua, Gordon would spend several months recuperating. Recovery was slow, and although his health had improved, Gordon remained classified as medically unfit for military service resulting in his discharge from the NZEF on 19 April 1916.

Bremner GC 07a Otago Witness Sep 1915

Motivated to continue serving, Gordon re-joined the Territorial Army on 1 June 1916 and applied for enlistment into the NZEF on 10 December, but his C2 medical grading precluded his reenlistment into the NZEF. Gordons records do not record his activities during 1917, but in February 1918 Gordon was medially reclassified as C1 – Likely to become fit for active service after special training. Gordon’s medical upgrading was well timed, as on 15 September 1917 authorisation for men medically unfit for active service was granted so they could replace Territorials who remained on duty at the coast defence forts in the main centres. Gordon was ordered to report to the Officer Commanding of the RNZA Wellington on 26 Feb 2018 and on 27 February 1918, Gordon was enlisted as a guard with the Garrison Artillery at Fort Ballance at Wellington.

Bremner GC 09 Garrison Artillery

Gordon Bremner Garrison Artillery. Norm Lamont Collection

On 31 December 1918 Gordon married Irene Pearl Williams at Wellington. Their marriage would see the birth of eight children and the adoption of another;

  • Zita Millicent (adopted), born 27 Dec 16 Christchurch,
  • Jean Kathleen, Born 21 Sept 20 Wellington,
  • James Alexander Gordon, born 31 Jan 22 Taumarunui,
  • Allan Duff, born 21 Apr 24 Wellington,
  • Jessie Elizabeth, born 20 Sept Wellington,
  • Louise Gladys, born 29 Sept Wellington.
  • Nancy Irene, born 1930,
  • John Keith, born 1934,
  • Joyce Kay, born 9 Feb 1936

After four years, the armistice of 11 November 1918 brought the First World War to a close, and by late 1919 Gordon was at a crossroads regarding his future. As a Bombardier (Corporal) in the Artillery, he was well placed to transfer from the Territorials into the Permanent Force and with his savings purchase a comfortable house and pursue a career in the peacetime army, or he could take his discharge and seek fresh pastures. Gordon chose to seek fresh pastures and with his pre-war experience as a farm hand decided to become a farmer. Utilising the Soldiers Resettlement Scheme, Gordon invested his savings in a farm in the King Country. With marginal and isolated land allocated to returned servicemen, Gordons attempt to develop and farm the land was an experience shared by many other returned servicemen and was a futile and hopeless endeavour. After two years of backbreaking and heartbreaking work, Gordon and his family abandoned their farm and now homeless with savings expended returned to Wellington in October 1922.

Attempting to find work with the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham in October 1923 and again in March 1924, Gordon was initially unsuccessful, but did secure work at the Trentham Racecourse and later as a foreman with the Public Works Department in Trentham Camp. Gordon eventually secured a position as the relieving Camp Firemaster and in charge of the night patrol, with accommodation for his family provided in a target shed adjacent to the rifle range. The delivery of the first motorised ambulance to Trentham Camp saw Gordon appointed as the driver. In July 1925 Gordon’s luck changed as he was accepted for service into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) and was attested as a Private into “E” Section of the Main Ordnance Depot on 21 July. Up to his enlistment in the NZAOC Gordon had remained efficient in the Territorial Army with his service between 1916 and 1925 equalling four years and 211 days.

Bremner GC 14

Gordon Bremner as Trentham Camp Ambulance Driver C1925. Trentham News 1 September 1955 Norm Lamont Collection

Gordon’s enlistment into the NZAOC would in normal circumstances allowed him to retire at the age of 55 with a comfortable pension, but this was not to be. Due to the world-wide depression and economic recession the government was forced to savagely reduce the strength of the Army by using the provisions of section 39 of the Finance Act, 1930 (No. 2)  military staff could be either;

  • Transferred to the Civil service, or
  • Retired on superannuation.

Using this act, Gordon was discharged out of the NZAOC and transferred to the Civil Service on 31 January 1931 to work in the same position as a lorry driver but at a lower rate of pay.

Discharge 1930

Less than a week after Gordon’s transfer to the NZAOC Civilian staff, a disastrous earthquake struck Napier and Hastings on 3 February 1931. The NZAOC was called upon at short notice to supply tents, blankets, bedding, cooking and eating utensils, for use in the stricken areas. As part of the civilian ordnance staff, Gordon’s skills as a lorry driver were put to full use delivering these stores and equipment to Napier and Hastings. All military employees including the civilian staff such as Gordon who engaged in the relief effort were deserving of great credit for the manner in which they carried out their duties under trying conditions.

Gordon’s wounds continued to cause him issues, and in February 1933 Gordon was admitted to hospital for an operation on a duodenal ulcer which was causing him some discomfort. As a result of the surgery a souvenir of Chunuk Bair, a piece of Turkish shrapnel was removed from Gordon’s stomach.

Gordon would continue to serve with the NZAOC in a civilian capacity for the remainder of the 1930’s. Although New Zealand entered the Second World War in 1939, the NZAOC would not transition into a full wartime footing until 1942 when, with the threat of invasion by Japan perceived as possible, saw the mobilisation of the full military potential of New Zealand. The NZAOC would transition from an organisation primarily staffed by civilians into one with a predominately military establishment, with many of the NZAOC civilian staff including Gordon returning to uniform. Gordon was attested into the Temporary Service of the NZAOC at Trentham on 24 August 1942 and allocated the service number 814628. Promoted to Corporal on 1 September 1942 with promotion to Sergeant following on 1 August 1944.

 

Bremner GC 15 1950s

Gordon Bremner. Norm Lamont Collection

Bremner GC 14b

Gordon Bremner. Norm Lamont Collection

With the end of the Second World War, Gordon transitioned into the post-war Interim Army as a Sergeant on 26 June 1946 and then into the Home Service Section (HSS) of the Regular Force as a Sergeant in the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC). As a driver in the Receipts and Issues Group of the Main Ordnance Depot, Gordon would often be out on runs around the Wellington region collection and delivering store to units and to transports agencies such as the railway, his pleasant manner, willingness to oblige and friendly ways ensured that he was a respected and popular member of Trentham Camp. Gordons activities were not limited to Trentham Camp and throughout his post-war service at Trentham, he would undertake many tours of duty to the other Ordnance depots at Linton, Waiouru and Hopuhopu. Receiving three extensions to his service Gordon would serve throughout the 1950’s.

Bremner GC 14 1950s

Gordon Bremner. Norm Lamont Collection

In 1955 a review of Gordon’s service was undertaken, and in acknowledgement of his Sixteen Years and Nineteen days qualifying service in the Territorial Army, NZEF and NZAOC from 1911 to 1931, Gordon was awarded the New Zealand  Long & Efficient Service Medal on 12 May 1955. The New Zealand Long and Efficient Service Medal was rendered obsolete with the standardisation of awards on 23 September 1931 and Gordons award of this medal is notable as due to its late claim, Gordon’s award was the last one of this type awarded.

LSES Medal Bremner

Reaching retiring age in 1956, Gordon was discharged from the New Zealand Army on 6 August 1956 after close to Forty-Five years service, the majority of which spent at Trentham Camp to which he had been a witness of its growth form a rudimentary Training Camp in 1915 to a modern Military Camp.

Gordon retired in Upper Hutt and passed away at the age of 76 on 28 November 1967. Gordon now rests at the Wallaceville Cemetery, Upper Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand.

Tombstone

Gordon Bremner Tombstone, Wallaceville Cemetery, Upper Hutt. Courtesy Dave Morris

During his service Gordon was awarded the following medals;

  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal War Medal 1939-45
  • New Zealand. War Service Medal.
  • New Zealand Long & Efficient Service Medal

Gordon had also been issued with the Silver War Badge. The Silver War Badge, also known as the “Wound Badge” or “Services Rendered Badge” was issued during the First World War to personnel who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness from military service.

In August 1967 Gordon received his Gallipoli lapel badge in the post with a letter apologising for the delay in sending out the Medallion. Gordons Gallipoli medallion would arrive a  week after his funeral.

Gordon’s son James would also pursue a military career in the Ordnance Corps. Working a civilian storeman at the Main Ordnance Depot in Trentham, James would be attested into the Army on 12 June 1940. Serving in Italy with the New Zealand Ordnance Corps with the 2nd NZEF from 1943 to 1945. Remaining in the NZAOC at the Main Ordnance Depot, James would retire from the RNZAOC as A Warrant Officer Class Two on 21 April 1961.

MOD Cricket 1952

 

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

 

.


Dunedin Ordnance Depot Fire

A warehouse is usually a building of ample space, filled with commodities of all descriptions packed high and often close together, making them conducive to the spread of fire. In the short history of the New Zealand Army Ordnance services, the risk of warehouse fires has always been taken seriously. As a small army at the end of a very long supply chain, the loss of expensive and hard to replace stores is something the Army could ill afford, not to mention the loss and replacement of infrastructure. Shortly after the formation of the New Zealand Ordnance Services in 1917, the Dunedin Ordnance Depot experienced a fired which although destroying some stock, was prevented by the fast response of the Dunedin Fire Brigade from becoming a catastrophic event.

The Dunedin Ordnance Depot started its life in 1907 as a purpose-built Mobilisation Store at 211 St Andrews Street. With a Civilian storekeeper Mr O.P McGuigan employed under the technical control of the Defence Stores organisation, the store was under the day to day control of the Officer Commanding of the Otago and Southland Military District, becoming part of the new Ordnance organisation on its formation in 1917.[1]  Mr McGuigan was granted Honorary rank as a Captain in 1914 and commissioned as a Captain in the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) in 1917, holding the appointment of Assistant Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores for the Otago and Southland Military District. This position had the responsibility for the Territorial Army units, the various army establishments in the Otago and Southland Military District and the providing of Ordnance Stores to troopships.[2] The Dunedin Ordnance Depot is known to have a staff of at least 6 Other Ranks.

mob store Dunedin

Dunedin Mobilisation Stores, 211 St Andrews Street, Dunedin. Google Maps/ Public Domain

At around 5 pm on Monday the 11th of June 1917, Captain M’Guigan conducted a final check of his ordnance store, ensuring that all the fireplaces had been extinguished and satisfied that the building was safe to secure for the night, locked the doors. At approximately 5 am on the morning of the 12 of June, a policeman on his rounds passed the building and saw nothing suspicious. At 5.15 am the alarm was raised from the alarm on the corner of St Andrews street that there was a fire underway in the upper floors of the Defence building.[3]

At the time the Dunedin Fire Brigade consisted of the central fire-station and substations at Maori Hill, Roslyn, and Mornington. The Dunedin Brigade had retired its horse-drawn appliances in 1913 and had just recently received three modern Dennis 60 h.p. motor hose-tenders, each fitted with a telescopic trussed ladder and first-aid pumping outfits and was at the time was a well-equipped brigade.[4],[5] As the central station was located less a Kilometer from the defence buildings, it fell upon Superintendent Napier and the men of the central fire station to respond to the fire alarm.

Old Picture-124

Dunedin Fire Brigade appliance No5 C1917. Courtesy of Dunedin Fire Brigade Restoration Society

Old Picture-171

Dunedin Fire Brigade appliance No6 C1917. Courtesy of Dunedin Fire Brigade Restoration Society

Promptly arriving at the defence buildings, the responding fire brigade found an active fire emerging from the front portion of the second floor of the Defence Stores. The ferocity of the fire indicated that it had been alight for some time and had a firm grip of the contents. Described as “a very hot and Stubborn little fire”, the blaze proved challenging to overcome requiring three lines of hose and an hour and a half of hard and smart work by the fire brigade to bring the fire under control and extinguish the blaze.[6]

Postfire examinations revealed severe damage to the stock including;

  • Khaki overcoats,
  • forage caps,
  • saddlery,
  • uniform jackets, and other assorted

The damaged stock was confined to items stacked close to the window on the second floor, while stock close to the fireplace located on the rear wall was limited to smoke damage, eliminating embers from the fireplace as the cause. Surprisingly the damage to the building was superficial except for the roof which was beyond repair. With a total loss valued at £1237 (NZD 155422.62).[7] The Cause of the blaze was never determined, and as there was no insurance on the property, the cost was born by the crown with final appropriations for the losses made in 1921.[8]

How the fire affected the work at the Dunedin Ordnance Depot is unknown, but it would continue to service the Otago and Southand Military district until 1921 when the South Island military districts amalgamated into the Southern Military Command. To support the new Southern Military Command, a single Ordnance Depot was established at Burnham Camp, combining the stores and staff of the Ordnance Depots of Christchurch and Dunedin.[9] The Dunedin fire was a close call, with the risk of fire to Ordnance stores well recognised by the Ordnance leadership fire pickets would remain an essential regimental duty for Ordnance Other Ranks in Ordnance Depots for many years.[10] The most severe fire to strike a New Zealand Ordnance Store was the 1944/45 New Year’s Eve fire which resulted in the loss of £225700 (2017 NZD 18,639,824.86) of stock from No2 Ordnance Depot in Palmerston North.[11] The Palmerston North fire led to a review of all New Zealand Ordnance Depots to ensure the robustness of fire prevention measures.[12]

Despite the initial fire in Dunedin in 1917 and the Palmerston North fire in 1944 the spectre of fire would remain constant. Fire prevention and precautions would remain a continuous component of Ordnance training and procedures until the amalgamation to the RNZAOC into the RNZALR in 1996, and because of such diligence, there would be few fire-related incidents in New Zealand Ordnance Depots.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

 

Notes

[1] Joseph S. Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Wellington: RNZAOC, 1992), 53.

[2] “Annals from a Forgotten Ordnance Depot (Author Unknown),”  https://rnzaoc.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/no-2-72.pdf.

[3] “Fire at Dunedin Defence Store,” Evening Star, Issue 16448,, 12 June 1917, 4.

[4] “H-06a Fire Brigades of the Dominion (Report on the) by the Inspector of Fire Brigades for the Year Ended 30 June 1917,” AJHR  (1917): 4.

[5] Shawn McAvinue, “Party Time for Old Dennis Fire Engines,” Otago Daily Times, 28 March 2016.

[6] “Fire at Dunedin Defence Store,”  4.

[7] “Appropriation Act,” General Assembly of New Zealand  (1920): 29.

[8] Ibid.

[9] John J. Storey and J. Halket Millar, March Past: A Review of the First Fifty Years of Burnham Camp (Christchurch, N.Z.: Pegasus Press, 1973, 1974 printing, 1973), Non-fiction, 127.

[10] “Ordnance Corps Circulars 1928-1940  Ad1 1235 /256/10/4,” Defence Archives, Archives New Zealand  (1928).

[11] “Fire in Army Stores,” Press, Volume LXXXI, Issue 24524, 24 March 1945.

[12] “Army Stores in Christchurch Fire Protection Report,” Press, Volume LXXXI, Issue 24515, 14 March 1945.


RNZAOC First Day Covers

A first-day cover is a postage stamp on a cover, franked on the first day that the stamp is authorised for use. First Day Covers are also produced to commemorate events with a design on the left side of the envelope (a “cachet”) explaining the event or anniversary being celebrated.

To commemorate the RNZAOC Corps Day in 1978, Military Covers of Christchurch produced two First Day Covers for the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC).

20180212_101115-987816883.jpg

Cachet

Based on a standard postal envelop the RNZAOC First day cover consisted of an RNZAOC themed Cachet on the left-hand side. The Cachet consists of the RNZAOC Badge set in a square divided into four quarters, each illustrating aspects of the RNZAOC.

  • Top left  – the Crest of the Board of Ordnance e representing the British military heritage of the RNZAOC
  • Top Right – A warehouse forklift representing the warehousing responsibilities of the RNZAOC
  • Bottom right – Lcpl/Cpl Gina Pirikahu in the Machine Room at 1 Base Ordnance Depot Trentham, Operating an NCR Accounting Machine, representing the advanced accounting systems utilised by the RNZAOC at the time.
  • Bottom left – A display of ammunition representing that ammunition management which is a key RNZAOC responsibility.
Cachet

RNZAOC First Day Cover Cachet

Stamps

The RNZAOC First Day Cover uses a 1 and 2 Cent Stamp that was designed for use with ‘Coin-in-slot’ machines, and 5 and 10 cent stamps designed for use in ‘postafix’ machines. The stamps are simple ones with a left-hand side profile of Queen Elizabeth II, the stamps were coloured as follows

  • 1 Cent – Violet on White
  • 2 Cent – Orange on white
  • 5 Cent – Brown on white
  • 10 Cent – Blue on white

Issued for use on the 13th of June 1978, the 1, 2 and 5 cent stamps were phased out after only five months due to increases in postal rates.

stamp

Franking Marks

Two franking marks are used on the RNZAOC First Day cover.

The first franking mark is an RNZAOC stamp based on the RNZAOC Badge, with “CORPS DAY” printed above the badge. Below the badge is the continuity Number AZAFC 16 and “ROYAL NEW ZEALAND ARMY ORDNANCE CORPS”

NZAFC is used on all NZ Military First Day Covers up to 1979 with a different number allocated for each unit. Covers after 1979 use NZFPO.

RNZAOC Stamp
Franking Mark RNZAOC Corps Day

The second franking mark is a  for Trentham Camp, New Zealand and is dated 12 July 1978.

Trentham post mark

Franking Mark, Trentham Camp NZ

 

Signed Covers

The RNZAOC First Day Cover with the 2 and 10 Cent stamp was signed by;

  • Brigadier A.H Andrews, CBE. Colonel Commandant of the RNZAOC, 1 April 1969 to 30 September 1977
  • Lieutenant Colonel J Harvey, MBE. Colonel Commandant of the RNZAOC, 1 October 1977 to 31 March 1979

20180212_101001-805068418.jpg

Another version of the The RNZAOC First Day Cover with the 1 and 10 Cent stamp was signed by;

  • Lieutenant Colonel A.J Campbell, Director of Ordnance Services, 7 December 1976 to 9 April 1979

Ordnance 2

Inserts

The RNZAOC First Day Covers were issued with insert cards detailing the history of the RNZAOC up to 1977.

20180220_143217-1885010383.jpg20180220_143240-1865800185.jpg

 

 

 

Examples of similar New Zealand Military Covers

 

RNZCTRnzct2

 

Army MuseumHMS Welligton 1978

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018