Tragedy at Tikao Bay

Today Tikao Bay is a calm, peaceful little bay with a laid-back holiday vibe hidden away in Akaroa Harbour with few clues remaining of its military use and the tragic drowning of two Ordnance soldiers.

During World War Two, with the threat of invasion by Japan just over the horizon, the isolated Akaroa Harbour would be fortified to deny its use by the enemy. However, by the time the battery of 6-inch guns,  Naval Armament Depot and controlled minefield was completed in 1943, the threat had diminished, with the defences becoming an expensive white elephant. In early 1944 The controlled minefield was fired, and all the navy stores at the Tikao Bay Naval Armament Depot were transferred to other installations and facilities offered to the army.[1]

Akaroa Harbour Defences. Peter Cooke Defending New Zealand 2000

The extensive facilities at Tikao Bay, including a mine magazine, examination room, primer magazine wharf and accommodation buildings, were taken over by the Southern District’s Ordnance Depot at Burnham Camp in 1944 as a satellite storage depot for Gun and Artillery Equipment.[2] With an initial establishment of seven men in 1944, this had been reduced by 1955 to two soldiers responsible for the storage and maintenance of the equipment held at Tikao Bay.

Former Defence buildings Tikao Bay. Suff.co.nz/Ewen Sargent

Staff Sergeant Frederick Hastings Kirk aged 52, was married with three children and had been the Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of the Tikao Bay depot since 1950. Staff Sergeant Kirk had joined the Ordnance Depot at Burnham in 1939 as a civilian before enlisting into the 2nd NZEF early in 1940. As a Temporary Warrant Officer Class Two in 23 Battalion, Kirk was taken prisoner at Crete in 1941 and would remain a Prisoner of War for four and a half years. On his return to New Zealand, he joined the temporary staff and was posted to the Ordnance Depot at Burnham. In 1948 he became a member of the Regular Force and transferred to Tikao Bay in 1950. 

Private Donald George Dixon was aged 28 and was married with three children. Private Dixon would initially serve with the ammunition inspection branch after his 1953 enlistment and was transferred to the Tikao Bay Depot in October 1953.

On Tuesday, 10 March 1955, on completion of their daily duties, Kirk and Dixon left the depot at about 7 pm to check a set net approximately 200 yards (183 Meters) from the Tikao bay jetty. Having not returned by 11 pm, the police were notified, and Constable Egan of Akaroa and Mr G Brasell undertook an initial search. At 3 am Wednesday, Egan and Brasell located the missing men’s upturned dingy at the high-water mark near the set net, which was still in position. Reinforced with a party from Burnham Camp, local residents, and the police, the search for the missing men, would continue for the rest of the week.[3]

Private Dixon’s body was located and recovered from the harbour on Saturday morning.[4] The search for Staff Sergeants Kirks body would continue with his body found on 18 March.[5] It was assumed that a southerly wind had risen after the two men left the depot, causing the dingy to capsize with the coroner’s report ruling the deaths as asphyxia by drowning due to misadventure.

Tikao Bay would remain as an Army installation and training area into the early 1970s; however, its role as a storage depot would cease in the 1960s as the army progressively disposed of the remaining artillery equipment held there.[6]


Notes

[1] Sydney D. New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs War History Branch Waters, The Royal New Zealand Navy (Wellington, N.Z.: War History Branch, Dept of Internal Affairs, 1956), 229-36.

[2] “Establishments – Ordnance Corps “, Archives New Zealand No R22441743  (1937 – 1946).

[3] “Two Soldiers Missing,” Press, Volume XCI, Issue 27606, , 12 March 1955.

[4] “Unsuccessful Search for Body,” Press, Volume XCI, Issue 27608, , 15 March 1955.

[5] “Soldiers Body Recovered,” Press, Volume XCI, Issue 27612, , 19 March 1955.

[6] “Army Sells Guns,” Press, Volume C, Issue 29469, , 22 March 1961; “Tikao Bay Depot,” Press, Volume XCIX, Issue 29331, , 10 October  1960.


New Zealand Army Logistics Corps Stable Belts

Worn by some New Zealand Army units since the mid-1960s, it would not be until 1973 that wearing of stable belts (commonly referred to as Corps or Regimental Belts in the New Zealand Army) was authorised across the New Zealand Army. In adopting a stable belt, A small number of units would adopt belts of a unique design, however most New Zealand corps, regiments, and infantry battalions would choose designs based the regimental colours of parent or allied units of the British Army. The three Logistics Corps of the NZ Army would adopt stable belts of a British design and it would not be until 1996 and the formation of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR) that a unique New Zealand Logistic stable belt would be adopted.

Stable belts have their origins in the British Army. Cavalrymen (and ASC and AOC personnel from trades associated with horses) found that by modifying a Cavalry “Surcingle,” they would have a belt that was very useful in providing lower back support when cleaning stables and tending horses. As British military uniforms became more utilitarian, lacking the colour and flair of earlier patterns, the wearing of coloured “stable belts” in regimental colours evolved, adding a splash of colour and individuality to the drab khaki working uniforms of the period.

The use of coloured stable belts in regimental colours spread to all branches of the British Army, becoming established as a uniform item following World War Two. Most commonwealth countries would follow the example of the British Army and adopt the coloured stable belt of the Corps or Regiments to which they had links or alliances. The adoption of stable belts by the NZ Army was far from enthusiastic, and it was not until the mid-1960s that stable belts started to make their appearance. It would not be until 1973 that the Army Dress Committee officially approved the universal wearing of stable belts for all Regiments and Corps of the NZ Army.

Stable Belts have generally been manufactured from a 21/2- to 3-inch-wide belt of a heavily woven material with horizontal stripes in two or more colours. Buckle types would vary with six main types used.

  • Single tongue leather buckle. In NZ only used by the 4th Otago and Southland Battalion
  • Multi tongue leather buckle. Consisting of two leather buckles
  • Single Locket
  • Triple Locket. In NZ only used on the 5th Wellington West Coast Battalion Other Ranks Stable belt.
  • Rectangular plate (Matt colour or Chromed) and Cap Badge design.
  • Web Belt clasp. Used on Interim RNZALR Stable belt.

RNZASC stable belt

Photographic evidence suggests that the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) adopted the British Army Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) stable belt sometime around 1970. However, the exact year is unknown. Until its disestablishment in1965, the RASC had worn a stable belt with a blue base with two central white stripes and two yellow stripes on the borders. A stable belt with a multi tongue leather buckle, the RASC stable belt was worn with two leather buckles worn on the right hip. The same pattern stable belt was worn by the Canadian ASC up to 1968 and continues to be worn by the Malaysian Kor Perkhidmatan Diraja (Royal Logistics Corps).

RASC/RNZASC stable belt. Angus Kirk Collection

In late 1974 early 1975 the RNZASC retired the RASC belt and adopted the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT) stable belt. Adopted by the RCT in 1965 and then by the Royal Australian Corps of Transport (RACT) in 1973.

RCT/RNZCT stable. Robert

RNZCT stable belt

On 12 May 1979, the RNZASC ceased to exist, as its Supply functions were transferred to the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC), while the Transport, Movements and Catering functions were reformed into the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT). The RCT pattern stable belt would continue to serve as the stable belt of the RNZCT throughout the RNZCTs existence within the NZ Army. The only change to the belt throughout its life would be some subtle changes to the design of the buckle.

Early Pattern RCT/RNZASC/RNZCT stable belt. Robert McKie collection
Late Pattern RCT/RNZCT stable belt. Robert McKie collection

RNZAOC stable belt

There is much photographic evidence of RNZAOC officers and soldiers in Singapore unofficially wearing British (Single locket) and Malaysian (multi tongue leather buckle) Ordnance Corps stable Belts during the 1970-72 period. The RNZAOC would initially discuss introducing stable Belts in 1969, with approval for the RNZAOC stable belt granted in 1972. The RNZAOC Belt would be the same pattern as the RAOC belt but would have a rectangular chrome plate mounted with RNZAOC Badge.

RNZAOC stable belt. Robert McKie collection

RNZEME stable belt

With its distinctive dark blue background with red and yellow stripes, the stable belt of the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME)was introduced in 1967 and was based on the Royal and Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME) stable belt. The upper portion of the right-hand buckle carried the Corps motto (Arte et Marte). The right-hand piece had the RNZEME badge.

RNZEME stable belt. Robert.McKie Collection

RLC stable belt

In 1993, in the most significant reorganisation of its Logistic Support since 1965, the British Army formed the Royal Logistic Regiment (RLC) by combining the RCT, RAOC, Catering and Pioneer Corps into the new Regiment. Eager to retain the values and traditions of its foundation Corps and Regiments, the RLC retained many elements of its founding corps Regimental colours and the history they represented in the design of the RLC stable belt. The REME would remain a separate Corps outside of the RLC.

RLC stable belt

RNZALR stable belt

In a similar initiative to the British Army’s formation of the RLC, the NZ Army would also combine its logistic functions into a single Logistic Regiment. The significant difference between the British and New Zealand logistical changes was that the RNZEME would also be disestablished and included in the NZ Logistic Regiment.

On 9 December 1996, the Officers and Soldiers of the RNZCT, RNZAOC and RNZEME marched onto parade grounds on each camp and base. Corps flags were lowered, headwear and stable belts exchanged, and the Officers and Soldiers marched off as members of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR).

With the colourful stable belts of three RNZALR foundation corps and the collective history of service to New Zealand since 1840 that they represented retired, the RNZALR would take a different approach to the RLC in selecting a new stable belt. While the RLC had embraced its foundation Corps’ values and traditions, the RNZALR would divorce itself from the past and adopt a plain navy-blue stable belt

As stock of the new RNZALR stable belt were not available on the formation of the New Regiment, a temporally belt was issued. Consisting of a navy-blue belt with Web Belt clasps, the interim belt would be retired within a year as stocks of the new RNZALR Stable belt became available.

The only distinctive feature of the RNZALRs stable belt is locket style Chrome buckle, which includes the following features

  • The RNZALR Corps badge on the male side of the buckle
  • The RNZALR motto “Ma Nga Hua Tu Tangata”, on the female side of the buckle.


The Cave

As New Zealand’s Army’s central stock holding unit, 1 Base Supply Battalion(1BSB) was responsible for managing and providing depot-level storage of New Zealand’s Military’s stock of land equipment and spares. Despite having this responsibility since 1920, 1BSB and its predecessors had always struggled with providing suitable warehousing infrastructure and made do with the available storage infrastructure.

With no purpose-built storage accommodation, from 1920 to 1940, the NZAOC Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) would utilise up to one hundred camp administrative and accommodation structures as its primary means of warehousing. Relief was provided in 1938 when contracts were issued to construct a modern warehouse utilising the most modern of methods and materials.[1] The New warehouse, later known as Building 73, would be constructed using reinforced concrete and designed with nine bays that allowed the loading and unloading of Trains on one side and Motor Transport on the other. The design and layout of building 73 would be utilised as the model for new warehouses that would later be constructed at Burnham and Waiouru.

Building 73

Although Building 73 provided a considerable increase in storage capability, wartime demands soon necessitated further increases in storage infrastructure, resulting in the construction of Building 74. Building 74 and the warehouses constructed in Burnham and Waiouru were close facsimiles of building 73, with the main exception that it was constructed out of wood instead of reinforced concrete due to wartime constraints.[2]

The wartime expansion of the New Zealand military would see the MOD exponentially expand to cope with the influx of military material with additional buildings constructed in Trentham and sub-depots also established a Mangere, Wanganui, Linton Camp, Gracefield and Wellington.

Peace in 1945 would bring little respite as stocks were centralised at the MOD, requiring further expansion of the MOD warehousing infrastructure. To meet this need, five warehouses that were built for the United States Forces at Lower Hutt, were disassembled and re-erected at Trentham by September 1945.[3] Additionally, the RNZAF Stores Depot constructed at Mangaroa in 1943 was handed over to the MOD in 1949.

Over the next forty years, the warehousing infrastructure at Trentham would change little, with a 1985 NZDF report identifying many deficiencies leading to significant upgrading of Trentham’s warehousing infrastructure.[4]

Main Ordnance Depot 1966

In one of the most significant warehousing infrastructure investments since 1939 and the first modern warehouse built for the RNZAOC since 1972, Building 75, a high stud warehouse capable of holding 3700 pallets,  opened in 1988. Although a significant advancement in warehousing capability, the new warehouse had limited space for outsized items. Additionally many other warehousing functions such as packing and traffic remained in Building 73, so further work was required to enhance the functionality of 1BSBs entire warehousing capability.

Building 73 (left), Building 74 (Right)

With trains no longer utilised for the delivery and dispatching of stores, the rail lines between Building 73 and 74 had long been redundant. By removing the rail line and raising the ground level between the two buildings, additional storage spect of almost two square kilometres, protected from the elements by a 200 x 13-meter roof, was created. At the southern end, a loading ramp was constructed to allow the loading and unloading of trucks, with angled ramps at either end allowing the movement of vehicles along the length of the new storage area.  Opened on 2 November 1989, the new warehouse was christened as “the Cave.” The Cave allowed the more efficient transfer of stores to and from the storage areas in  Buildings 73, 74 and 75 to the receipt, selecting, packing and issue bays in Building 73.

Lieutenant Colonel P.P Martyn, Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps. Commanding Officer 1 Base Supply Battalion January 1988 – December 1990, Officially opening “The Cave”

The additional storage space allowed the storage of outsized items which had previously been stored at the Mangaroa Depot, which was subsequently decommissioned and handed over to NZDF Property Services.

The optimisation of storage space between the two buildings was so successful a similar modification would be constructed between two of 21 Supply Company’s 1950s era Warehouses at Linton, creating much-needed storage and office space.


Notes

[1] “New Army Ordnance Block Now under Construction at One of the Military Camps,” Evening Post, Volume CXXVIII, Issue 65, 14 Sept 1939.

[2] F Grattan, Official War History of the Public Works Department (PWD, 1948).

[3] “Organisation – Policy and General – Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1946-1984,” Archives New Zealand Item No R17311537  (1946).

[4] “Assessment and Audit – Audit Files – [1995] – Nzdf Bulk Warehousing,” Archives New Zealand Item No R24596003  (1985).


1950s Camp Equipment

Publicity photos from the 1950s showing a range of portable Camp Equipment managed by the RNZAOC

Safes-Meat Portable

A required item to preserve meat in Field Kitchens in the days before portable refrigeration.

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Stands Ablution Portable

This item is designed so that soldiers when in a field camp environment can have a place to carry out their daily ablutions.

Consisirtng of a sink top with a drain trough and bar to hang towels and mirrors, soldier would wash in shave using a basin. OIn completion if their business the contents of the basin wold be tipped into the drain from where it would flow into a sump dug into the ground

1593580122840-9565c613-7945-4f21-a0a0-40135baa0f52_.jpg
Stand Ablution Components. Robert McKie Collection

Stand Ablution laid with its compontrs laid out;

  • Bar Towel/Toprail, Qty 1
  • Leg Ablution Stand End, Qty 2
  • Leg Ablution Stand Center, Qty 1
  • Brace Ablution Stand, Qty 2
  • Drain Sink, Trough, Qty 1
  • Drain, Lavartory pipe, Qty 1
  • Bolt securing, Qty 4
1593580055144-87079f80-679e-47de-b471-851f452a81cb_.jpg
The above picture shows the Stand Ablution in the final stages of assembly with the two soldiers about to fir the Bar Towel/Top-rail to the Leg Ablution Stand Ends. Once the Bar Towel/Top-rail is attached, the braces would be bolted tight and the Drain Sink, Trough and Drain, Lavatory pipe attached.
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Mess Kit Washup

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Used in conjunction with a kerosene heater, theses tubs would be assembled over a small trench with the chimney device drawing heated air under the tubs heating them up.

This set up was base on the three pot cleaning method.

Prior to washing. plates and utensils would have to be thoroughly scrapped clean into a rubbish bin.

Sink 1: Wash sink – Full of hot soapy water, utensils would be given a good scrub with a brush r dish cloth.

Sink 2: Hot-rinse sink -,Filled with clear, hot water, utensils would be rinsed in this sink.

Sink 3: Cold-rinse sink – Utensils would undergo a final rinse in water which would have had a few drops of bleach or other sanitising argent added to it

Field Cook House

In the background to these photos a Field Cook House can be seen. This was a portable building designed to be used as a Field Cookhouse which could easily be assembled from components.


Bryan Nelson Jennings Memorial Trophy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warrant Officer Class One Bryan Nelson Jennings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nominations for the award were graded against the following attributes:

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

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

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

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


NZ Military 1st Generation Vehicles

The recent announcement that the New Zealand Defence Force is purchasing the Australian Bushmaster 5.5 protected mobility vehicle provides the right opportunity to look back at the first generation of specialist military vehicles utilised by the New Zealand Military.

NZ Bushmaster 5.5

For many years New Zealand’s military relied upon a small number of civilian horse-drawn carts and wagons to move personnel and equipment, with the Commandant of the Forces noting in 1905 that “Supply and transport equipment was wanting.”[1]

During 1906/1907, New Zealand’s Military undertook a significant reorganisation, and for the first time a defined equipment policy was adopted. It was recommended in the Commandant’s report to Parliament that a minimum number of vehicles, including saddles and harnesses, be provided for the force, including;[2]

  • telegraph-carts
  • ambulance wagons
  • medical water-carts
  • carts for small-arms ammunition supply
  • General Service (GS) field service wagons

The experience gained in the recent South Africa war impressed on the military the importance of equipment standardisation. So along with the weapons, uniforms and equipment used by New Zealand, these Carts and Wagons were as much as possible to be of a standard Imperial pattern.

To initiate the purchase of Carts and Wagons £1000 (2021 NZD 177,225.38) was provided in the 1907-08 Defence estimates for the 1908 appropriations. It was anticipated that some could be made in New Zealand with the balance purchased overseas.[3]  Ongoing appropriations up to 1913 would be,

  • 1908-09 – £1500 (2021 NZD 267-986.26)
  • 1909-10 – £1500 (2021 NZD 268-891.62)
  • 1910-11 – £2500 (2021 NZD$451,816.08)
  • 1911-12 – £2500 (2021 NZD$447,246.12)
  • 1912-13 – £1841 (2021 NZD$330,242.79)
  • 1913-14 – £2350 (2021 NZD$408,030.13)

To provide some context to these amounts, the cost of a Mark X G.S Wagon in 1905 was £61(2021 NZD$11,421.09) with a Wagon Ambulance Mark V costing £136 (NZD$25,517.45) in 1903.

The outcome of this spending was that in time for the 1908 Easter camps; the following equipment was issued to the Military Districts, complete with harnesses from the Defence Stores.[4]

  • Five locally made Colonial Pattern Ambulance-wagons. These were assessed to be superior to the three Mark V Imperial pattern carts already on issue, which were considered too heavy for colonial requirements.[5] 
  • Five Colonial Pattern GS wagons
  • Five Small Arms Ammunition Carts
  • Five water-carts

In 1909 a Maltese cart and a Mark V General Service Wagon were ordered from the United Kingdom. On arrival in New Zealand, these pieces of equipment were to be utilised as samples to manufacture this type in New Zealand. Arrangements for the supply of four additional local pattern water carts were also put into place.[6]

The roster of transport Vehicles available to the NZ Miltary in 1912 was;[7]

  • Five Colonial Pattern Ambulance Wagons
  • Three Mark V Imperial Ambulance Wagons
  • Five Colonial Pattern GS wagons
  • Five Small Arms Ammunition Carts
  • Nine Water Carts
  • One Mark V GS wagon as a sample for manufacture
  • One Cable Cart, with four on order

By 1913 the inventory of Transport vehicles had mildly increased with some specialist carts for the Field Engineers.[8]

  • Five Colonial Pattern Ambulance Wagons
  • Three Mark V Imperial Ambulance Wagons
  • Five Colonial Pattern GS Wagons
  • Five Small Arms Ammunition Carts
  • Nine Water Carts
  • One Mark V GS Wagon as a sample for manufacture
  • Four Cable Carts
  • Six Carts (Royal Engineer), double
  • Four Pontoon Wagons (Complete with pontoons)
  • One Maltese cart as a sample for manufacture

With the standing up of the Army Service Corps(ASC) Companys, the lack of Field Transport was highlighted in the 1913 camps. It was recognised that maintaining all of the ASC Companys with their war or even peace requirements was impossible in the current fiscal environment. To reduce the ASC reliance on hiring civilian wagons and carts, It was recommended that each ASC company have at least two wagons and carts to allow training and camp use.[9] In the Director of Stores Annual Report for 1913/14, it was noted that provision for Thirty Two Colonial Pattern GS Wagons had been made in the estimates for 1913/1914, but tenders for their purchase had not yet been issued.[10]

Following the mobilisation of the NZEF in 1914, much of the available transport was dispatched overseas. Requirements for Carts and Wagons for the NZEF and Territorial Camps were met by hiring or impressing equipment into service. By late 1916/1917, hiring and impressing of field transport had ceased with the latest pattern Horse Ambulance, Water Cart and General Service wagons in use with medical and ASC units.[11]

Examples of three types of the latest pattern Military Wagons of the New Zealand Military pictured at Trentham Camp C1917.

  • Mk X GS wagon
  • Wagons, Limbered, GS
  • Mark II Horse Ambulance

Mk X GS Wagon

The British military had developed the General Service wagon over many years of research and development based on operational experience with ten “marks” of General Service wagons designed between 1862 and 1905. The Mark 1 GS Wagon was a versatile platform that could easily transport 1.5 tons on fair roads with a team of two horses. If the terrain demanded it, additional horses could easily be added to assist. The final iteration before the introduction of motor transport was the Mark X GS wagon introduced in 1905. [12] The first standardised military transport vehicle, the Mark X, would be manufactured in England, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Wagon GS

Wagons, Limbered, GS

Wagons, Limbered GS were two-wheeled carts (limbers) linked by a short pole or perch and drawn by horses. Their articulated design created an agile vehicle that, although unable to carry the same load as a GS Wagon, was the preferred cart for mobile units.[13]

Wagon Limbered GS

Mark II Horse Ambulance

Any injured horse needing care could be evacuated by this Horse Ambulance. The Mk II Horse Ambulance is a reversible vehicle, allowing loading from either end. The arch over the body is part of the axle and, when necessary, could provide sturdy support to an injured horse.[14]

Mark II Horse Ambulance

 


Notes

[1] “Defence Forces of New Zealand (Report by the)  by Major-General J.M Babington, Commandant of the Forces,” Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives  ( 1 August 1905), https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1905-I.2.4.2.31.

[2] “Defence Forces of New Zealand report by the Council of Defence and by the Inspector-General of the New Zealand Defence Forces for the year 1907.,” Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives  ( 1 January  1907), https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1907-I.2.4.2.28.

[3] “Appropriations chargeable on the consolidated fund and other accounts for the year ending 31st March 1908,” Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives, 1907 Session 1, B-07  ( 1 August 1907), https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1907-I.2.1.3.7/3.

[4] “Defence Forces of New Zealand: Report by the Council of Defence and extracts from the report of the Inspector-General of the NZ Defence Forces, for the year ended 28th February 1908,” Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives, 1909 Session II, H-19  (28 February 1909), https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1909-II.2.4.2.28.

[5] James O’Sullivan, “Correspondence from Surgeon General, New Zealand Forces,” Archives New Zealand Item No R24752338  (8 May 1902-1908).

[6] “Defence Forces of New Zealand: Report by the Council of Defence, for the year ended 28th February 1910,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1910 Session I, H-19  (28 February 1910), https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1910-I.2.3.2.29.

[7] “Defence Forces of New Zealand: Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces for the period 28 July 1911 to 27th June 1912,” Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives, 1912 Session II, H-19  (27 June 1912), https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1912-II.2.4.2.37.

[8] “H-19 Report on the  Defence Forces of New Zealand for the period 28 June 1912 to 20 June 1913,” Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representatives  (1 January 1913), https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1913-I.2.5.2.34.

[9] “H-19 Report on the  Defence Forces of New Zealand for the period 20 June 1913 to 25 June 1914,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1 January 1914), https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/parliamentary/AJHR1914-I.2.3.2.29.

[10] James O’Sullivan, “Report of the Director of Equipment & Stores for the year ending 31 March 1914,” Archives New Zealand Item No R22432126  (8 May 1914).

[11] “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  (1 January 1917).

[12] Ernest Ryan, “Army horse transport: General Service, Ambulance and other vehicles from the Crimean war to Mechanization,” Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 42, no. 171 (1964), http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.massey.ac.nz/stable/44223504.

[13] Ryan, “Army horse transport: General Service, Ambulance and other vehicles from the Crimean war to Mechanization.”

[14] “Mark II Horse Ambulance,” RLC Horse-Drawn Heritage, 2019, accessed 18 August 2021, https://www.rlcheritage.co.uk/page7.html.



Belmonts Chemical Weapon Stockpile

Of all the Ammunition magazine areas constructed in New Zealand during the Second World War, the Belmont magazine area was nestled in the hills north of Wellington between the Hutt and Porirua was the largest and closest to a large population area. In the early 1970s, following the removal, disassembly for scrap, and destruction of its stocks, Belmont’s life as an magazine area concluded with the land was reverting to civilian use.   As with any retired military facility kept out of the public eye during its operational life, urban legends and rumor’s thrive about secret tunnels and forgotten caches of buried military material.  In this respect, Belmont is no different as items such as empty 3.7-inch Anti-Aircraft projectiles are occasionally discovered, fueling such rumor’s. Although there is little evidence to support the stories and urban legends, Belmont does have some secrets from its wartime past. The most significant is that Belmont was the home to the bulk of New Zealand’s chemical weapon stockpile.

As the threat of war with Japan became inevitable in 1940, the New Zealand Government would begin a progressive mobilisation of New Zealand’s home defence forces. By early 1942 this mobilisation would see two Infantry Brigades deployed to Fiji and Three Divisions and several independent Brigades mobilised for home defence.

This massive mobilisation initiated a rearmament program resulting in vast amounts of war material from the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States being delivered to New Zealand. Included as part of the infusion of new weapons and equipment was the required scales of ammunition required for each type of weapon system. Ammunition scales used by New Zealand were based upon the standard British scales. They included all the ammunition natures needed by New Zealand for use in the Pacific and home defence, including Anti-Tank, High-Explosive, Smoke and a stockpile of Chemical rounds consisting of,

  • 112,770 25-Pounder Chemical rounds, and
  • 10,300 4.2-inch B4 (Tear) and Y4(Blister) chemical mortar bombs.

With consignments of ammunition due to arrive in New Zealand from late 1942, construction of the new ammunition magazine areas had been initiated in 1940, with the construction of the Belmont Magazine Area beginning in September 1942.[1]  The Belmont Magazine Area would consist of sixty-two Magazine buildings, with buildings 28 and 29 dedicated to holding chemical rounds from late 1943.

All the 4.2inch Bombs were stored at Belmont with the recommended distribution of the 25-Pounder chemical rounds been,[2]

  • 30,000 rounds to the Northern Military District
  • 30,000 rounds to the Southern Military District
  • 52,770 rounds to the Central Military District Belmont Depot

However, records are uncertain if this distribution occurred, so it is quite probable that the entire stock of 25-Pounder ammunition was held at Belmont.

The New Zealand Stockpile was significant as a lethal percutaneous dose of mustard was 4.5 gm. With 300 tons of the agent in the NZ stockpile, the potential lethal doses held in Belmont was approximately 60 million. To put the size of the stockpile in context, it was equal to 5% of the United States Stockpile in 1993.

The use of Chemical Weapons was highly controlled and only to be used in retaliation if the enemy used it first. Although US forces on Guadalcanal had captured some Japanese Chemical Weapons, the NZ Deputy Chiefs of Staff was confident that there did ‘not appear to be any other or greater evidence that the Japanese propose to use gas in this area’. However, it is believed that 3 NZ Div did deploy with Chemical rounds for their 25-pounders just in case.

If Chemical rounds were deployed with the 3 NZ Div, they would have been returned to New Zealand in 1944 and stored at the Kelms Road Depot at Ngaruawahia alongside the other natures of ammunition utilised by the Division.

Following the war, the disposal of wartime ammunition would become a standing task for the RNZAOC Ammunition functions as damaged, obsolete, and surplus stocks were disposed of by a variety of methods.

Ammunition that was damaged would often be disposed of by demolition, with, for example, the destruction of 3.7-inch Anti-Aircraft ammunition issued to units and returned to Depots would take up to 1957 to complete.[3]

The stockpile of chemical munitions would be dumped at sea, with two dumping operations found in archival sources.[4]

  • Two hundred tons of chemical shells scuttled on the tug Maui Pomare at the 100-fathom line in the Hauraki Gulf in April 1946.
  • One thousand five hundred tons of 25-Pounder chemical shells and twenty tons of bombs had been dumped by the Marine Department steamer Matai off the Wellington coast by October 1946.

Stock from the Belmont magazine area was delivered by Army personnel to the wharf at the RNZAF base at Shelly Bay in lots of 250 Tons and loaded onto the Marine Department steamer Matai. All possible safety precautions were applied with each crew member was issued protective capes, respirators and gloves. With special chutes constructed, cases of shells were jettisoned fifty Nautical miles off the Wellington coast in the Cook Strait Canyon, which reaches depths of three kilometres.[5]

N Z Government S S Matai, on patent slip at Evans Bay, Wellington. Smith, Sydney Charles, 1888-1972: Photographs of New Zealand. Ref: 1/2-049255-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22744146

The dumping of the Chemical munitions was well publicised with newspaper articles describing the disposal operation;[6]

Stored since 1943, 1500 tons of gas shells are to be dumped at sea by the Matai.  Fuses have been removed from the 25lb shells that contain the gas, but to ensure that there is no risk to those carrying out the work, full Admiralty and War Office safeguards will, be taken. The gas is of the blister variety. The boxes containing the shells will be filled with sand to guard against possible leakages. Each box is painted with a substance that will indicate even a pinpoint of escaped gas.

Northern Advocate, 18 September 1946

Although the archival records that at least 15,220 tons of Chemical munitions had been dumped at sea by the end of 1946, there is no accurate reconciliation of the actual number of rounds disposed of. However, it would be a reasonable assumption that New Zealand had no desire to maintain a contingency stock of Chemical weapons and that all wartime stocks were disposed of by the end of 1946.


Notes

[1] F Grattan, Official War History of the Public Works Department (PWD, 1948).

[2] “Defence Works – Magazine – Belmont Hills,” Archives New Zealand Item No R22435088  (1942).

[3] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for period 1 April 1957 to 31 March 1958,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (3 July 1958 1958).

[4] “Ammunition – Disposal of unserviceable ammunition 1945-1952,” Archives New Zealand Item No R21465842  (1945).

[5] A Hubbard, “Chemical War: Our seabed legacy,” New Zeland Listner, 16 January 1993.

[6] “Gas Shells to be Dumped at Sea,” Northern Advocate, 18 September 1946, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NA19460918.2.17.


National Service Reminiscences

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Military Career by John Mudgway

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

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

Waiouru Camp
10 May 1962 – 27 June 1962

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

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

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

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

Trentham Military Camp
28 June 1962 – 9 May 1963

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

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

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

During my service in RNZAOC I participated in several events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trentham Camp 26 July 2012

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


581769 Private Mudgway J W.


MT Stores – 1939-1963

The Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) and its predecessor’s primary storekeeping responsibility was providing Clothing, Camp Equipment, Ammunition, Arms and Accessories to New Zealand’s Military Forces. From the Second World War, the technical nature of military Storekeeping evolved to include a host of military equipment such as vehicles, communications equipment and mechanical plant. These new types of equipment were utilised in large quantities, and all required accessories and a complex range of repair parts to keep them operational. To provided a comprehensive and optimal measure of control from 1963, RNZAOC Stores Sections were raised as part of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (RNZEME) workshops. The Stores Sections were complimented by the standing up of the Auto Parts trade in 1965. This article provides a broad and introductory overview of how the Motor Transport Branch (MT Branch) and the RNZAOC managed Motor Transport Stores (MT Stores) from 1939 to 1963.

As in the First World War, the New Zealand Army mobilised in 1939 would be equipped and organised to allow near-seamless integration into a larger British army. The British army of 1939 was one whose doctrine had embraced modern technology so that. ‘By the time of the invasion of Poland, the British Army in Europe was rather more motorised than the German Army.’[1] Aspects of the advanced British doctrine had filtered through to New Zealand in the later 1930s, with modern equipment such as Bren Guns and Universal carriers arriving in New Zealand and some rudimentary experiments in motorising the Army had taken place. However, as a legacy of interwar defence policies and financial constraints, the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC), unlike the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) in the United Kingdom, was not organised effectively and, as a result, unprepared to function effectively when the war began. It could be said that during the Second World War, New Zealand maintained two separate armies. First, the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2nd NZEF), with its combat units, supporting arms and logistic units, organised against modified War Office Establishment tables with G1098 stores directly drawn from British Stocks.[2] Secondly, there was the NZ Army at home. Although also organised against War Office Establishment tables, its equipment needs, and G1098 Stores would be provided from a New Zealand Logistical base.

The NZAOC of 1939 was a Corps that had suffered under the defence restraints of the interwar years and was primarily concerned with the supply and maintenance of clothing, equipment, ammunition, and weapons. Although the army had 56 vehicles, the NZAOC had little experience supporting Motor Transport (MT) on a scale required by a growing army.  A significant factor limiting the growth of the NZAOC in the critical early wartime years was that nearly all its senior leadership had been seconded to the 2nd NZEF. Given the need to rapidly expand and manage the capacity of the Army’s MT fleet, the Quartermaster General (QMG) decided in a significant break from the doctrine that to allow the NZAOC to focus on its key responsibilities, a separate MT Branch would be established.[3]

New Zealand Temporary Staff. Robert McKie Collection

The MT Branch was established in late 1939 to manage and maintain the thousands of purchased or impressed vehicles required by the military. Taking a similar approach to the RAOC in the United Kingdom, the MT Branch would leverage off the experience of the New Zealand Motor industry.[4]  Many of the MT Branch’s staff would be directly recruited from the motor industry into the New Zealand Temporary Staff (NZTS). By December 1942, the MT Branch consisted of,[5]

  • MT Workshops
    • 1 MT Workshops, Trentham
    • 2 MT Workshop, Waiouru
    • 3 MT Workshops, Papakura
    • 4 MT Workshops, Whangarei
    • 5 MT Workshops, Palmerston North
    • 6 MT Workshops, Wellington
    • 7 MT Workshops, Blenheim
    • 8 MT Workshops, Burnham
    • 9 MT Workshop, Dunedin
  • MT Depots providing pools of vehicles
    • 1 MT Depot, Auckland
    • 2 MT Depot, Hamilton
    • 3 MT Depot, Napier
    • 4 MT Depot, Wanganui
    • 5 MT Deport, Christchurch
  • MT Stores Depots providing MT spares, tools and equipment for MT Workshops and Depots
    • 1 Base MT Stores Depot, Wellington
    • 2 MT Stores Depot, Auckland
    • 3 MT Stores Depot, Wellington
    • 4 MT Stores Depot, Christchurch
    • 7 MT Stores Depot, Blenheim

As most vehicles utilised by the NZ Military in the early years of the war were impressed from civilian service, initial scaling of MT spares were achieved by simply purchasing the existing stock held by New Zealand motor manufacturers and dealerships. As the war progressed, new vehicles, equipment and spares arrived from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States, requiring further expansion of the MT Branch.

Freed from the burden of managing MT, the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO) with NZAOC, Territorial units of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) and personnel from the NZTS would provide.

  •  All natures of stores and equipment other than rations, forage, and fuel.
  • The repair and maintenance of armaments and equipment, including
    • Light Aid Detachments and mobile workshops providing 1st and 2nd line support across Field Force Units
    • Armament and General Engineering Workshops.
      • Main Ordnance Workshop, Trentham
      • 11 Ordnance Workshop, Whangarei
      • 12 Ordnance Workshop, Devonport
      • 13 Ordnance Workshop, Blenheim
      • 14 Ordnance Workshop, Burnham
      • 15 Ordnance Workshop, Dunedin

Post War Developments

Before the war, the NZAOC had not been organised to carry out its functions effectively. The conclusion of the war provided the opportunity for the NZAOC to be reorganised to bring it into line with RAOC organisational structures and procedures, including the management of vehicles and MT Spares. The MT Branch, which had only been intended as a temporary wartime organisation, would, as a result, have its wartime responsibilities absorbed into a reorganised NZAOC and newly established NZEME. [6] When the MT Branch was established in 1939, it had 62 vehicles at its disposal. By the end of the war the Branch had handled over 30000 vehicles, with 21000 disposed of by March 1946.

MT Workshops

The MT Branch Workshops along the Ordnance Workshops would, from 1 September 1946, be absorbed into a new organisation, the NZEME.[7]

MT Vehicle Depots

With many of the vehicles impressed earlier in the war returned to their original owners or disposed of during the war, the MT Vehicle Deports still held thousands of military vehicles. From 1 September 1947, responsibility for the MT Vehicle Depots was transferred to the RNZAOC, establishing the RNZAOC Vehicle Depots at Sylvia Park, Trentham, and Burnham.[8]

MT Spares Depots

Following several audits and stocktakes, spare parts, tools, and accessory s were handed over from MT Stores to the RNZAOC on 1 April 1948. To continue the management of MT Stores, the RNZAOC established MT Spares Groups at the Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Trentham and at the Northern and Southern District Ordnance Depots. The system of supply for MT Stores was that the RNZEME workshops held a small stock managed by RNZEME Stores Staff. Replenishment was by either Local Purchase or through the supporting District Ordnance Depot, MT Group. The exception was that the Central Districts Workshops at Waiouru and Linton demanded off the MOD MT Stores Group at Trentham. This anomaly was rectified in 1954 when the Central Districts Ordnance Depot at Linton was authorised to establish an MT Stores Depot.

By 1961 the NZ Army vehicle fleet was in transition as the older World War Two era fleet of vehicles, including Chevrolets, Fords and GMCs, where been replaced with a fleet of modern Bedford’s and Land Rovers. As the vehicle fleet transitioned, the management MT Stores were also reviewed, and several changes would be implemented during 1961and 1962.

Workshop Stores Sections

RNZAOC Workshop Stores Sections were to be raised at the following RNZEME Workshops,

•             Northern Districts Workshops,

•             Central Districts Workshops,

•             Central Districts Armament and General Workshops

•             Central Districts MT Workshops

•             Southern District Workshops

50% of the staff for the new Stores Sections would be RNZEME personnel transferred into the RNZAOC.[9]

Ordnance Deport MT Stores Groups

With raising the RNZAOC Stores Sections, the District Ordnance Depot MT Stores Groups were rerolled as Technical Stores Groups and ceased to hold MT Stores. Stock of MT Stores was redistributed to the new Stores Sections whose initial scaling for 1962 was to have six months of inventory; this was reduced to three months after January 1963. The balance of the District Ordnance Depots stock not required by the Stores Sections was to be transferred to the MOD.

By the end of 1963, RNZAOC Stores Sections had been firmly established as part of the RNZEME Workshops, providing not only MT Spares but the full range of repair parts and spares required by the workshops. Developing their own unique culture within the RNZAOC, the stage was set to introduce an RNZAOC Auto Parts and Accessories trade in 1965.


Notes

[1] 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]  Army Form G1098, the Unit Equipment Table giving the entitlement to stores and equipment.

[3] The Ordnance Manual (War) 1939 and mobilisation regulations stated that all A and B Vehicles less those driven by the RASC were to be maintained by the RAOC, RASC vehicles were to be maintained by the RASC. Ordnance Manual (War), ed. The War Office (London: His Majestys Stationery Office, 1939), 12.

[4] P.H. Williams, War on Wheels: The Mechanisation of the British Army in the Second World War (History Press Limited, 2016), 42-54.

[5] “Staff – Motor transport branch,” Archives New Zealand Item No R22438851  (1942).

[6] “Organisation – Policy and General – Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1946-1984,” Archives New Zealand Item No R17311537  (1946).

[7] The NZEME would gain royal status in 1947 as the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME).

[8] Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, RNZEME 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017), 189.

[9] “Organisation – Policy and General – Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1946-1984.”


One Hundred Years at Burnham

June 2021 is a significant month for the New Zealand Army, the RNZAOC, and its successor, the RNZALR. June 2021 commemorates the One-Hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Burnham Camp. It also celebrates that one unit has had a continuous footprint in Burnham since 1921, the NZAOC Ordnance Depot, now the RNZALR 3 Catering and Supply Company.  

The site on which Burnham Camp now sits had since 1875 been the Burnham Industrial School for neglected and delinquent children. Utilised by the Territorials as a training site from 1914, it was recommended in 1918 that the school and grounds continue to be used as a site for future Territorial Force Annual Camps.

Burnham Industrial School | Burnham Industrial School was op… | Flickr
Burnham Industrial School. Archives New Zealand Reference: photographs CH438/1

The Industrial School closed in 1918, and with wartime training ceasing, the need for a permanent army camp to act as a mobilisation centre in the South Island was recognised. With the facilities at Burnham serving the Army well during the war, negotiations for transferring the Industrial School buildings and land from the Education Department to the Defence Department began in earnest.

On 11 September 1920, the Education and Defence Departments had reached an agreement on the handover of the Burnham Industrial School to the Defence Department for use as a Military training camp and Ordnance Depot.

The NZAOC had since 1906 maintained two Mobilisation and Ordnance Stores in the South Island to support the Southern Military districts.  Located at King Edward Barracks in Christchurch was the store responsible for the Canterbury and Nelson Military District. The Otago and Southland Military Districts store was in St Andrew Street Dunedin. However, as part of a post-war reorganisation of the New Zealand Military Forces and the receipt of new military equipment delivered from the United Kingdom , the decision was made to establish a South Island Ordnance Depot at Burnham. This led to the NZAOC on 15 November 1920, taking over the existing Education Department buildings at Burnham for an Ordnance Depot. Concurrently, approval for a new North Island Ordnance Depot at Hopuhopu to serve the Northern Military District was approved.

With the closure of the Dunedin Store and the transfer of Stores from the North island imminent, the establishment of the new Ordnance Depot took on a sense of urgency. Accordingly, £500 (2021 NZD 48,639.23) was approved in November 1920 for the purchase and erection of shelving, with a further £600 (2021 NZD 58,367.07) approved for the erection of new buildings, including twenty-five from Featherston Camp and the removal and reassembly of Buckley Barracks from Lyttelton for use by the Ordnance Depot.

As the Canterbury and Nelson Military District and the Otago and Southland Military Districts were combined into the Southern Military Command, Captain Arthur Rumbold Carter White was appointed as Ordnance Officer Southern Command on 27 May 1921. White had been appointed as the Defence Storekeeper for the canterbury District in 1906. Reclassified as the Assistant Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores and granted honorary rank in February 1916 and then commissioned as Captain in the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) in 1917.

With the formalities of the transfer between the Education Department and Defence Department finalised on 31 May 1921, Major E Puttick, NZ Staff “Q” Duties formally received the property and buildings of Burnham Camp from the Education Department. Confirming the status of Burnham as a New Zealand Military Camp, General Order 255 of 20 June 1921 appointed Captain A.R.C White NZAOD as the first Commandant of Burnham Camp, a position he would hold until 1930.

Captain A.R.C White NZAOC. M.Dart/Public Domain

The Ordnance Depot would remain in the Industrial School buildings until 1941, when construction of a purpose-built warehouse and ammunition area was completed. Since 1921, Burnham Camp has undergone many transformations and remains one hundred years on as the South Island home of the NZ Army.

Despite many units coming and going from Burnham Camp, the only unit to retain a constant footprint in Burnham Camp has been the Ordnance Depot. As the nature of logistic support and how it is delivered has developed and changed over the last one hundred years, the original Ordnance Depot had undergone many re-organisations to keep pace, and since 1921 has been known as

  • 1921-1942, Southern Districts Ordnance Depot
  • 1942-1948, No 3 Ordnance Sub Depot.
  • 1948 renamed and split into.
    • Southern Districts Ordnance Depot (SDOD).
    • Southern Districts Ammunition Depot (SDAD) and
    • Southern Districts Vehicle Depot (SDVD)
  • 1961 SDOD reorganised to include the SDVD and SDAD
  • 1968 Renamed 3 Central Ordnance Depot (2 COD)
  • 16 October 1978 Renamed to 3 Supply Company
  • 1990 Renamed to 3 Field Supply Company
  • 9 December 1996 becomes 3 Supply Company, Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR)., and later renamed as 3 Catering and Supply Company, RNZALR

Although other Corps and Regiments have been tenants at Burnham Camp, it is the Ordnance Store which from 1921, first as an NZAOC and then RNZAOC unit and now as an RNZALR unit has been a constant and unbroken tenant of Burnham Camp. A record of service in one location unmatched by any other unit of the New Zealand Army.


Burnham Ordnance Depot 1942