Plan of the Defence Stores Mount Eden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Auckland Defence Store, 1861 – 1903

Throughout the early 1860s, elements from the Militia and Volunteers supported the Imperial troops undertaking the bulk of the military operations in the early years of the New Zealand Wars. In 1861 as George Grey assumed the role of Governor for a second term, Grey undertook a policy of conciliation while also preparing for war.  As General Cameron built up his Imperial forces, Gray reviewed and overhauled the citizen forces of New Zealand. In January 1862, new regulations for the volunteer force were issued, followed on 18 September,  by the Colonial Defence Act of 1862.  This Act saw the formation of the Colonial Defence Force, the first regular Force in New Zealand. Under the Quartermaster General of the Colonial Defence Force, Captain Robert Collins, the Colonial Store Department and the Militia Store Department assumed the store’s responsibility for the Militia, Volunteer and Regular Forces of New Zealand.

In Auckland, the Colonial Store Department and the Militia Store Department initially operated out of offices in Princes Street. However, approval was granted in October 1863 for the erection of a store adjacent to the Imperial Armoury near the Symonds street entrance to the Albert Barracks.[1]  The two Store Departments essentially carried out the same functions, and in 1865 the post of Superintended of Militia Stores held by Mr E.D King was disestablished with the responsibility for colonial defence stores centralised under the Colonial Storekeeper, Captain John Mitchell.

Military Store Albert Barracks 1871

A review of colonial defence with a reliance on local forces taking over from Imperial Forces saw the passing of the Armed Constabulary Act of 10 October 1867. This Act combined police and military functions into the regular Armed Constabulary (AC) Force. The AC Force would be supported by loyal natives, Militia and Volunteer units with Defence Storekeepers in Auckland, Whanganui and Wellington providing the required logistic support.[2]

In April 1869, Lieutenant Colonel Edward Gorton was appointed as the Inspector of Defence Stores, establishing his office at Molesworth Street in Wellington, bringing all New Zealand’s Defence storekeepers under his control.  By January 1869, as the withdrawal of Imperial units became imminent, the dismantling of their central logistic hub at Auckland’s Fort Britomart and Albert Barracks had commenced, with military stores, including guns and ammunition that were not auctioned off to the public or purchased by the New Zealand Government, shipped to the United Kingdom. The departure of the British Military Storekeeper Joseph Osbertus Hamley in July 1870 marked the final withdrawal of Imperial Forces from New Zealand, with the Auckland Defence Store taking over ownership of the Armoury and Magazines located in Albert Barracks.

In May 1869, Captain John Mitchell was suspended as the Auckland Storekeeper due to unauthorised absences. Resigning in July, Mitchell was replaced by Major William St Clair Tisdall as acting Storekeeper. Tisdall was assisted by a small staff, some of whom had served in the stores since 1861, including

  • John Blomfield, Clerk
  • John Price, Clerk
  • D Evitt, Armourer Sergeant
  • Arms Cleaners
    • Mr’s F Gibbons,
    • J Penligan and
    • C.C Rockley

Following the departure of Imperial units, the future of Albert Barracks came under debate. In addition to the Defence Stores, the only other military use of the former barracks was by the local Militia and Volunteers who retained a drill hall and utilised the parade round. The Auckland Improvement (Albert Barrack Reserves) Act 1872 repealed previous Acts relating to the status of Albert Barracks and placed responsibility for the management and disposal of the land under the Auckland Improvement Commissioners.[3] The Auckland Improvement Commissioners would draw up and oversee plans to develop the bulk of the Barracks into a recreational reserve with other areas subdivided into roads and plots of land for further development.

By 1871 the growth of Auckland now placed the ageing powder magazine in the centre of a built-up area, raising concerns about its safety. New powder magazines were constructed at Mount Eden, with the first stocks transferred from Albert Park to Mount Eden in September, following which the Albert Barracks magazines were demolished.[4]  With the Auckland districts supply of ammunition now safety stored at Mount Eden under the care of the Defence Stores magazine keeper, Tisdall and the remaining staff of Storemen and Armourers would remain at Albert Barracks.[5] Initially located in the old Imperial Armoury building at the Symonds Street entrance of Albert Barracks, it was considered an obstruction to the Commissioners projected improvements.[6] To allow the extension of Princes Street and subdivision of the land between Princes and Symonds Street, in July 1873,  the Defence Stores had been moved into the well-constructed stone building that had previously been the Barracks hospital.[7] The new building included ample accommodation for warlike stores, including small workshops and a forge.[8] The only remnant of the site of the old Armoury were two Russian 18-pounder guns taken at the Crimea and presented by the Imperial Government to the colony of New Zealand in the late 1850s.[9]

The Defence Stores building in Albert Park was described by the Auckland Star as the “hideous eyesore in Albert Park’ and considered a blight on the skyline as it obstructed the view from the park that had been established to replace the Barracks.[10]  By 1883 an agreement was reached between the Auckland Council and the Government, with a plot of land in O’Rourke Street provided to allow the relocation of the Defence Stores.[11] 

Queen St with Albert Barracks on the left hillside C1870-1979. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections 898-9969

When the proposal was first mooted to relocate the Defence Store, plans were prepared in the Auckland Public Works office for a three-storied building equal in space to the present location. However, as it was the intention to centralise the operations of the Defence Stores in Wellington, the original design was countermanded with a design for a smaller building substituted. Tenders for the erection of the new Defence Stores building were published on 10 May 1883 for a building meeting the following specifications,

  • to be constructed of brick, two storeys in height, with concrete foundation,
  • to have a frontage of 25 feet with a depth of 36 feet.
  • the ground floor was to have
    • a passage seven feet wide,
    • two 18×18 apartments,
    • a staircase leading from the ground floor to the upper storey
  • upper floor subdivided into
    • An 18×8 office,
    • compartment with lift,
    • a 14×18 room
    • an 11 x 18 room
  • To the rear of the building
    • a 14×25 shed with an asphalted floor for gun carriages
    • a 6×14 coal shed,
    • a 14×20 Armourer’s shop.

Due to the considerable amount of material accumulated in the old Defence Stores over its many years of operation, Captain Sam Anderson, the Chief Defence Storekeeper, assisted in a stocktake of the old store as it was decommissioned, ensuring only essential materials were transferred to the new building.  Surplus stores were disposed of by tender or redistributed, including over 2000 obsolete muzzle-loading muskets relocated to the Defence Store in Wellington.[12] The old Stores building was soon demolished with much of the material used in the construction of the new building, with the only reminder of the military’s residence of Albert Park being a small portion of the Barracks wall and a few old cannons on display in the new ornamental gardens.

The New Defence Store in O’Rourke Street would be one of the earliest purpose-built Storehouses built for New Zealand’s Military. Up to this period, many of the buildings utilised by the Defence Stores were inherited from the Imperial Forces or requisitioned commercial premises.

By 1888, the cost of maintaining a peacetime military had reached the point where cutbacks and savings across the Defence budget had to be made. As part of several reductions across the Defence Department, the Auckland Defence Store would be drastically downsized, resulting in the retirement or redundancy of most of the staff. The closure of the Auckland Defence Stores was met with dismay with the press questioning it as an absurd decision, with the New Zealand Herald noting in an editorial that the closure of the Auckland Defence Store was” solely arising from the Wellington authorities having a want of local knowledge and of the requirements of the place.” This pushback on the closure of the Auckland Defence Store resulted in a short reprieve for  James Bloomfield, the Defence Storekeeper in Auckland, who had served since 1861, was granted a reprieve from redundancy and allowed to extend his tenure, retiring in December 1888 handing over the responsibilities of Defence Storekeeper for Auckland to Major John William Gascoyne of the New Zealand Permanent Militia.[13] Following Gascoyne’s departure in 1891, the responsibilities of Auckland Defence Storekeeper would be assumed by the Adjutant of the Auckland Brigade Office, who would oversee the duties of the Magazine Keeper at Mount Eden, Mr J Hawthorn.[14]

Concurrent with the Adjutant taking over the Defence Storekeepers responsibilities, the Auckland Brigade Office was moved from its offices in the Auckland Supreme Court into the Defence Store O’Rourke Street building, from where the Adjutant would conduct his duties related to the Auckland Volunteers and the Defence Stores.[15] This shared arrangement would remain in place into the early years of the twentieth century and would even see a telephone installed in 1902.

Routine activities conducted by the Auckland Defence Stores in O’Rourke Street included various tender for the provision of uniforms and repair of equipment. Following the bloodless Dog Tax War of 1898, the Defence Store in O’Rourke street took custody of the surrendered arms, including,[16]

  • one Winchester repeating rifle
  • one Winchester carbine
  • two Green’s American patent Snider breech-loading rifles
  • one Snider rifle
  • one muzzle-loading carbine
  • one Lee Bolt shotgun, single barrel
  • three breech-loading single barrel guns.
  • three double-barrel breech-loaders (nearly new)
  • ten double-barrel muzzle-loading guns
  • two single barrel guns
  • four bundles of ammunition (various)

 In 1903 the Police expressed an interest in taking over the building as accommodation for the Auckland Police Commissioner. Following an inspection by the Defence Storekeeper, Mr James O’Sullivan, arrangements were made to transfer the Defence Stores from the O’Rourke Street Property to Mount Eden and hand the building over to the Police.[17] During 1904 the handover of the Defence Stores building the Police was concluded, ending the sixty-year relationship between Auckland’s Albert Park and the Military.

The Police would fully refurbish the former Defence Store Building into a residential villa. The building would survive into the 1960s when it was demolished to allow the construction of  Auckland University.

1905 view of the refurbished Defence Store building(Center of the photo next to Police Station)

Despite the construction of new buildings for the Defence Stores in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin during the early 1900s, no new permanent buildings would be constructed for the Auckland Defence Stores as the existing powder magazines at Mount Eden constructed in 1871, were deemed sufficient enough to meet current and projected needs. Following the transition of the Defence Stores into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps in 1917, a new Ordnance Depot was constructed for the Northern Region to replace the infrastructure at Mount Eden in the late 1920s. However, it would not be in Auckland but at Hopuhopu in the Waikato. Ordnance Stores would be established in Auckland during World War Two utilising rented commercial premises.  In the post-war era, ordnance warehouses established at Syliva Park utilised buildings constructed for the United States Forces. Other than Explosive Store Houses at Ardmore, no permanent dedicated storage infrastructure would ever be constructed for the RNZAOC in Auckland. 

The significance of the Defence Store building in O’Rourke Street is that excluding smaller unit storehouses and ammunition storehouses, it remains the only purpose-built military warehouse constructed for the New Zealand Army in Auckland.


Notes

[1] Queen’s Redoubt Assistant Military Secretary, “Correspondence Stating That There Is No Objection to the Erection of a Store for Colonial Purposes Adjoining Armoury Albert Barracks,” Archives New Zealand Item No R24075932  (1863).

[2] M. R. Wicksteed, The New Zealand Army: A History from the 1840s to the 1980s ([Ministry of Defence, 1982), Non-fiction, 2-3.

[3] Under the provisions of the Public Domains Act 1860, the Auckland Military Reserves Act 1871 established the land that Albert Barracks occupied as Crown land.

[4] “New Power Magazine at Mount Eden,” New Zealand Herald, Volume VIII, Issue 2377, 7 September 1871.

[5] The Magazine Keeper was Mr J Broughton, Tindall’s other staff consisted of his Clerk Mr J Blomfield. Armourer Mr D Evitt and Three Arms Cleaners Mr’s F Gibbons, J Penligan and C.C Rockley. “D-13 Nominal Roll of the Civil Establishment of New Zealand on the 1st July 1872,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1872); “Nominal Return of Officer in Defence Department and Armed Constabulary Force on 1 July 1872,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1873 Session I, H-24a  (1872).

[6] “Deputation from the Auckland Improvement Commissioners,” New Zealand Herald, Volume X, Issue 2859, , 28 March 1873.

[7] “Militia Store Move,” Auckland Star, Volume IV, Issue 1087, 17 July 1873.

[8] “Wooden Building in Albert Barracks,” New Zealand Herald, Volume X, Issue 09, 30 September 1873.

[9] “Russian Guns,” New Zealand Herald, Volume XI, Issue 3927, , 13 June 1874.

[10] “Albert Park Armoury,” Auckland Star, Volume XII, Issue 3523, 22 November 1881.

[11] Linking Princes and Symonds Streets, O’Rourke Street is now occupied by Auckland University,  Captain Anderson, “Old Defence Store to Be Sold by Tender, All the Muzzle Loading Rifles to Be Sent by “Hinemoa”,” Archives New Zealand Item No R24280543  (1883).

[12] “Flashes,” Wanganui Herald, Volume XVII, Issue 5047, 27 April 1883.

[13] “Reductions in Civil Service,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1888 Session I, H-30, 11 May 1888.

[14] A. H. McLintock, ” Frederick John William Gascoyne,”  http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/1966/gascoyne-or-gascoigne-frederick-john-william.

[15] “Volunteer Gossip,” Observer, Volume XI, Issue 656, (1891).

[16] “The Maori Trouble,” Auckland Star, Volume XXIX, Issue 114, , 16 May 1898.

[17] Wellington Defence Storekeeper, ” Subject: Report of Inspection of Defence Stores Auckland. Again Urges Removal of Store from O’Rourke [O’rorke] Street to Mount Eden Cost to Be Met by Police Department ” Archives New Zealand Item No R24743403  (1903).



New Zealand Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London

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

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

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

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

NZEF in UK
‘NZEF in England 1916-19 map’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/nzef-england-1916-19-map, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Dec-2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20180426_220053-999293972

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

stock

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

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

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

Notes

[1] Army Ordnance Corps

[2] New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps

[3] New Zealand Expeditionary Force

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

[5] Assistant Director of Ordnance Service

[6] Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Service

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

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

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

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

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

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


New Zealand Arms to Afghanistan

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

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

Snider rifles had been introduced into New Zealand service from 1868.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Notes

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

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

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

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



Principle posts of the RNZAOC and its predecessors

The core responsibility of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps and its predecessors was the supply and maintenance of arms, ammunition, accoutrements, clothing, and field equipment to New Zealand’s Military Forces. From 1840 the principal posts of the RNZAOC and its predecessors were.

Colony of New South Wales, Colonial Storekeeper for New Zealand

  • Mr C.H.G Logie                                                15 Jan 1840 – 1 Oct 1840

Colony of New Zealand, Colonial Storekeeper       

  • Mr H Tucker                                                    1 Oct 1840 – 30 Dec 1843

From 1844 the needs of the Militia were facilitated on an ad-hoc basis by the Colonial Secretary based upon requests from provincial magistrates.  

Colonial Secretaries of New Zealand (30 Dec 1843 to 28 May 1858)

  • Willoughby Shortland 3 May 1841 – 31 Dec 1943
  • Andrew Sinclair                                                 6 Jan 1844 – 7 May 1856
  • Henry Sewell                                                      7 May 1856 – 20 May 1856
  • John Hall                                                           20 May 1856 – 2 Jun 1856
  • William Richmond                                           2 Jun 1856 – 4 Nov 1856
  • Edward Stafford                                               4 Nov 1856 – 12 Jul 1861

Supporting the Imperial Forces in New Zealand since 1840, the Board of Ordnance had established offices in Auckland during 1842, ensuring the provision of Imperial military units in New Zealand with munitions, uniforms and necessities. The Board of Ordnance was reorganised on 1 February 1857 into a new organisation called the Military Store Department. Headquartered at Fort Britomart in Auckland, the Military Store Department principal role alongside the commissariat was to support the Imperial Garrison; however, it would support colonial forces on a cost-recovery basis when necessary.  With the departure of the British Military Storekeeper Joseph Osbertus Hamley in July 1870, the withdrawal of Imperial Forces was completed.

Board of Ordnance, Military Storekeeper

  • Deputy Ordnance Storekeeper W Plummer              1842 – 1 February 1857

Military Store Department

  • Deputy Superintendent of Stores W. Plummer          1 February 1857 – 4 March 1879(Deceased in office)
  • Deputy Superintendent of Stores J.O Hamley           4 March 1858 – 30 July 1870

The passing of the Militia Act of 1858 saw the Militia reorganised, and Volunteer units were authorised to be raised. The Deputy Adjutant General of Militia and Volunteers oversaw the administration, including the supply and distribution of arms, ammunition, accoutrements, clothing, and field equipment to the Militia and Volunteers.

Deputy Adjutant General of Militia and Volunteers

  • Capt H.C Balneavis                                                           28 May 1858 – 18 Sep 1862

On 18 September 1862, the Colonial Defence Act was passed, establishing the first regular military units in New Zealand.  Under the Quartermaster General of the Colonial Defence Force, Captain Robert Collins, the Colonial Store Department under the Colonial Storekeeper, and the Militia Store Department under the Superintended of Militia Stores maintained a separation between the Militia/Volunteers and Regulars absorbing the rudimentary stores’ organisation of the Deputy Adjutant General of Militia and Volunteers. The two departments would be amalgamated into the Colonial Store Department in 1865.

Militia Store Department

  • Superintendent of Militia Stores, Capt E.D King              18 September 1862 – 30 October 1865

Colonial Store Department

  • Colonial Storekeeper Capt J Mitchell                    18 September 1862- 1 April 1869

The Armed Constabulary Act was passed in 1867, which combined New Zealand’s police and military functions into a regular Armed Constabulary (AC) Force, supported by loyal natives, Militia and Volunteer units. The Inspector of Defence store appointment was created in 1869 to manage all New Zealand’s Defence Stores as the single New Zealand Defence Stores organisation.

Inspector of Defence Stores (Defence Stores)                                        

  • Lt Col E Gorton                                                                  1 Apr 1869 – 9 Jan 1877
Lieutenant Colonel Edward Gorton

Defence Storekeeper (Defence Stores)

  • Capt S.C Anderson                                                                9 Jan 1877 – 7 Dec 1899 (Deceased in office)
Captain Sam Anderson
  • Mr J O’Sullivan                                                                  7 Dec 1899 – 1 Jan 1907
CAPTAIN O’SULLIVAN (Storekeeper Defence Department, Wellington).,NZ Truth, Issue 304, 22 April 1911

During the 1880s, New Zealand undertook a rearmament and fortification program that was also a technological leap forward in terms of capability. The Defence Stores armourers and Arms Cleaners had maintained the colony’s weapons since 1861. However, the new equipment included machinery that functioned through pneumatics, electricity and steam power, requiring a skilled workforce to repair and maintain, resulting in a division of responsibility between the Defence Stores and Permanent Militia. The Defence Stores would retain its core supply functions with its armourers remaining responsible for repairing Small Arms.  With some civilian capacity available, the bulk of the repairs and maintenance of the new equipment would be carried out by uniformed artificers and tradespeople recruited into the Permanent Militia.

From October 1888, the Staff Officer of Artillery and Inspector of Ordnance, Stores and Equipment would be responsible for all Artillery related equipment, with the Defence Storekeeper responsible for all other Stores. However, during the late 1890s, the Defence Storekeeper would assume responsibility for some of the Artillery related stores and equipment of the Permanent Militia.

Inspector of Stores and Equipment

  • Maj A.P Douglas                                              24 Aug 1887 – 23 Jan 1891

In 1907 a significant command reorganisation of the Defence Forces defined the responsibilities of the Director of Artillery Services (Ordnance) and Director of Stores.

  • Director of Artillery Services (Ordnance): Responsible for:
    • Artillery armament,
    • Fixed coast defences,
    • Artillery ammunition, and
    • Supplies for ordnance.
  • Director of Stores: Responsible for:
    • Clothing and personal equipment,
    • Accoutrements,
    • Saddlery,
    • Harness,
    • Small-Arms,
    • Machine Guns,
    • Small-arms and Machine gun ammunition,
    • Material,
    • Transport,
    • Vehicles,
    • Camp Equipment,
    • All other stores required for the Defence Forces.

Director of Military Stores (Defence Stores)                                                 

  • Capt J O’Sullivan                                                               1 Jan 1907 – 30 Mar 1911

Director of Ordnance and Artillery

  • Maj G.N Johnston                                                            28 Feb 1907 – 31 May 1907
  • Capt G.S Richardson                                                        31 May 1907 – 31 Jul 1908

Director of Artillery

  • Maj J.E Hume                                                                     31Jul 1908 – 31 Mar 1911

In 1911, provisional regulations were promogulated further detailing the division of responsibilities between the Quartermaster Generals Branch (to whom the Defence Stores was subordinate) and the Director of Ordnance and Artillery.  Based on these new regulations, the Director of Artillery (Ordnance) assumed overall responsibility for managing Artillery stores and ammunition on 2 August 1911.

Director of Equipment and Stores (Defence Stores)                        

  • Maj J O’Sullivan                                                 30 Mar 1911 – 10 Apr 1916

Director of Ordnance and Artillery

  • Maj G.N Johnston                                                            11 May 1911- 8 Aug 1914

To maintain and manufacture artillery ammunition, the Royal NZ Artillery established an Ordnance Section in 1915. The section immediately transferred to the NZAOC in 1917, with the RNZA maintaining technical control. By 1929, most artificers and tradespeople had been transferred from the RNZA into the NZAOC. The final RNZA store’s function would be transferred to the NZAOC in 1946 when the RNZA Ammunition and Equipment Section based in Army Headquarters handed over responsibility for artillery ammunition, explosives, coast artillery and specialist equipment and stores, including some staffing to the NZAOC.

The Defence Stores would remain as New Zealand’s military storekeepers until 1 February 1917 when the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) and the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) were established as part of the Permanent Staff of the Defence Forces of New Zealand, assuming the responsibilities Defence Stores.

The NZAOD would be reconstituted into the NZAOC on 27 June 1924.

Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores (Defence Stores & NZAOC) 

  • Maj T McCristell                                                                10 Apr 1916 – 30 Jan 1920          
Major Thomas James McCristell, Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores, 10 April 1916 – 20 January 1920.

Director of Ordnance Stores (NZAOC)

  • Lt Col H.E Pilkington                                                        30 Jan 1920 – 1 Oct 1924
  • Lt Col T.J King                                                                     1 Oct 1920 – 6 Jan 1940
Brigadier T J King, CBE, RNZAOC Regimental Colonel 1 Jan 1949 – 31 Mar 1961. RNZAOC School
  • Lt Col W.R Burge                                                              6 Jan 1940 – 22 June 1940

Chief Ordnance Officer (NZAOC)

  • Maj H.E Erridge                                                                 22 Jun 1940 – 3 Aug 1941
Major H.E Erridge
  • Lt Col E.L.G Bown                                                             5 Aug 1941 – 1 Oct 1947

In the Post-war era, the NZAOC would be granted Royal status on 12 July 1947, becoming the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC). For the next forty-five years, the Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) would be responsible for the personnel, equipment and training of the RNZAOC.

Director of Ordnance Services (RNZAOC)

  • Lt Col A.H Andrews                                                         1 Oct 1947 – 11 Nov 1949
Lt Col A.H Andrews. OBE, RNZAOC Director of Ordnance Services, 1 Oct 1947 – 11 Nov 1949. RNZAOC School
  • Lt Col F Reid                                                                       12 Nov 1949 – 31 Mar 1957
  • Lt Col H Mck Reid                                                             1 Apr 1958 – 11 Nov 1960
  • Lt Col E Whiteacre                                                           12 Nov 1960 – 24 May 1967
  • Lt Col J Harvey                                                                 24 May 1967 – 28 Aug 1968
  • Lt Col G.J.H Atkinson                                                     29 Aug 1968 – 20 Oct 1972
  • Lt Col M.J Ross                                                                 21 Oct 1972 – 6 Dec 1976
  • Lt Col A.J Campbell                                                          7 Dec 1976 – 9 Apr 1979
  • Lt Col P.M Reid                                                                 10 Apr 1979 – 25 Jul 1983
  • Lt Col T.D McBeth                                                            26 Jul 1983 – 31 Jan 1986
  • Lt Col G.M Corkin                                                             1 Feb 1986 – 1 Dec 1986
  • Lt Col J.F Hyde                                                                   2 Dec 1986 – 31 Oct 1987
  • Lt Col E.W.G Thomson                                                  31 Oct 1987 – 11 Jan 1990
  • Lt Col W.B Squires                                                          12 Jan 1990 – 15 Dec 1992

During the early 1990s, the New Zealand Army underwent several “rebalancing” activities, which saw the formation of regional Logistic Battalions and included the demise of the individual Corps Directorates.  

Filling the void left by the demise of the Corps Directorates, the post of Regimental Colonel was approved on 12 December 1992. The role of the Regimental Colonel of the RNZAOC was to.

  • Provide specialist advice when called for
  • Maintain an overview of Corps personnel matters, and
  • Provide a link between the Colonel Commandant of the RNZAOC and the Corps and support the Colonel Commandant.

Regimental Colonel (NZAOC)

  • Col T.D McBeth                                                                 15 Dec 1992 – 19 Sept 1994
  • Col L Gardiner                                                                   19 Sept 1994 – 9 Dec 1996

On 9 December 1996, the RNZAOC was amalgamated into the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR).

New Zealand Ordnance Corps during wartime

During the Frist World War, a New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps was established as a unit of the 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF)  

Officer Commanding NZEF NZAOC

  • Capt W.T Beck,                                                                  3 Dec 1914 – 31 Jan 1916
William Thomas Beck Circa 1921
  • Lt Col A.H Herbert,                                                          1 Feb 1916 – 31 Mar 1918
Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert, NZAOC. aucklandmuseum/Public Domain
  • Lt Col H.E Pilkington, RNZA                                           30 Jun 1918- 22 Jan 20
  • Temp Capt W.H Simmons,                                             20 Feb 20 – 13 Oct 1920

The Second World War would see all the Ordnance functions of the 2nd NZEF organised as the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC).

Officer Commanding 2nd NZEF NZOC in the Middle East and Europe

  • Lt Col T.J King                                                                     5 Jan 1940 – 10 Jul 1942
  • Maj A.H Andrews                                                             10 Jul 1942 – 1 Dec 1942
  • Lt Col J.O Kelsey                                                              1 Dec 1942 – 1 Feb 1946

Officer Commanding 2nd NZEF in the Pacific NZOC

  • Lt P.N Erridge                                                                   22 Nov 1940 – 9 May 1941
  • Lt S.A Knight                                                                       9 May 1941 – 8 Jan 1942
Lieutenant-Colonel Stanley Arthur Knight
  • Lt Col M.S Myers                                                              8 Jan 1942 – 24 Apr 1944
  • Lt Col S.A Knight                                                             24 Apr 1944 – 30 Oct 1944                                           

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Bristol Airplane

One Triumph Norton Motorcycle

Three Douglas Motorcycles

285 Rifles

10 Bayonets and scabbards

25 Steel Helmets

Four Pistol Signal

Three Mountings MG

62 Belts MG

32 Belt boxes MG

95 Gas respirators

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

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


The bell of the M.V Rangitata

Hidden in an alcove under some stairs at New Zealand’s Army’s Trade Training School is a surprising item of memorabilia not generally associated with the Army, a Ships Bell belonging to the M.V Rangitata.

With no labels or tags identifying its origins, its mounting cradle indicates that it was mounted in a social club or smoko room and used to call the room to attention for important announcements.

The journey of this bell and why it now rests at Trentham has long been forgotten. However, it does hold a surprising place in the whakapapa of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistics Regiment.

Established in 1873, the New Zealand Shipping Company (NZSC) helped pioneer the trade-in frozen goods from New Zealand to England and became one of New Zealand’s premier shipping companies with domestic and international routes.

In the late 1920s, the NZSC undertook a significant investment in its fleet for the Wellington to London route and had the three modern diesel-powered passenger/cargo ships built, the Rangitane, the Rangitiki and the Rangitata.

MV Rangitata

Known as the “Rangi” ships, from 1929, these 16,737-ton diesel-powered vessels would dominate the service between England and New Zealand with a four-weekly service, making the voyage via the Panama Canal and Pitcairn Island in 32 days.

All three Rangis would serve in various war-related roles from 1939.

The Rangitane

whilst transiting from New Zealand to England, was sunk 300 miles east of New Zealand by the German surface raiders Komet and Orion on 27 November 1940.

The Rangitiki

In November 1940, as its sister was facing German raiders in the Pacific, as the largest vessel in the 38 vessel Trans-Atlantic convoy HX 84, the Rangitiki would encounter the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer, and although eight merchant vessels were lost, the Rangitiki completed the voyage. In December 1940, as part of Trans-Atlantic convoy WS 5, the Rangitiki would survive an encounter with the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. In 1945 the Rangitiki would return to the New Zealand -England route as it undertook repatriation voyages returning Servicemen and War brides home from Europe. Following 87 peacetimes return voyages between New Zealand and the United Kingdom, the Rangitiki was retired and broken up as scrap in 1962.

The Rangitata

In 1937 the Rangitata would transport troops to England for the coronation of King George VI, and in 1939 would be requisitioned for war service.  During the war, some of the Rangitata’s eventful voyages would include transporting 113 child evacuees from England to New Zealand and later in the war. It would transport United States soldiers from the USA to England. Following the war, the Rangitata would be fitted out as a war-bride ship and in 1947 would transport the first post-war draft of immigrants to New Zealand. Returning to peacetime service with its sister ship, the Rangitiki, the Rangitata would also be scrapped in 1962.

The wartime voyage of significance to the RNZALR is the Rangitata’s participation in carrying the First Echelon of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2nd NZEF) from Wellington to Egypt in January/February 1940.

Six merchant vessels would make up Convoy US.1 sailing from Wellington on 4 January 1940, carrying 345 Officers and 6175 other ranks of the Second Echelon of the 2nd NZEF.

As part of Convoy US.1, the Rangitata would transport the following units to Egypt.

  • Divisional Cavalry: A and B Sqns (369 men)
  • NZANS Nursing Sisters (3)
  • Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve ratings.
  • 2 NZEF Overseas Base
  • 13 Light Aid Detachment, New Zealand Ordnance Corps (1 Officer + 12 Other Ranks)
  • 13 Light Aid Detachment, New Zealand Ordnance Corps (1 Officer + 12 Other Ranks)

The following members of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps have been identified as sailing on the Rangitata. As the war progressed, several of these men would hold significant positions in the NZOC, and from November 1942, the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME). A small number would continue to serve in the post-war NZ Army.

  • Lieutenant Donald Edward Harper, NZOC, Base Depot
    • Would finish the war as Lieutenant Colonel and the 2nd NZ Div Assistant Director of Ordnance Services.
Lieutenant Colonel Donald Harper Bull, George Robert, 1910-1996. Lieutenant Colonel D E Harper – Photograph taken by George Bull. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch :Photographs relating to World War 1914-1918, World War 1939-1945, occupation of Japan, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency. Ref: DA-05919-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23233849
  • 2nd Lieutenant John Owen Kelsey, NZOC, 13 LAD
    • Would serve as an Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (OME), Senior Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (SOME), Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (ADOS) and acting Chief Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (CRÈME). Completed the war as a Colonel and was awarded an MBE and MID
  • 2nd Lieutenant Robert Hassell England, NZOC, 14 LAD
    • Would be promoted to Captain and serve as OC 3 NZ Field Workshop and NZ Divsional Ordnance Field Park
  • Warrant Officer Class One Kevin Graham Keith Cropp, Base Depot
    • Would remain in the RNZAOC post-war and retire as a Major in 1955
  • Warrant Officer Class One Francis Reid, NZOC, Base Depot
    • Would be commissioned and serve throughout the war. Would remain in the RNZAOC after the war and as a Lieutenant Colonel would be the Director of Ordnance Services from November 1949 to March 1957.
  • Warrant Officer Class Two Andrew Gunn, NZOC, 13 LAD
    • KIA Greece. 18 April 1941
  • Corporal Randal Martin Holmes, NZOC, 14 LAD
  • Corporal Robert William Watson, NZOC, Base Depot
  • Private Rodger Langdon Ashcroft, NZOC, Base Depot
  • Private John Noel Shadwell Heron, NZOC, Base Depot
  • Private Mark Edwin Ivey, NZOC, Base Depot
  • Private Edward McTavish MacPherson, NZOC, Base Depot
  • Private Lionel Edward Campbell, NZOC, 14 LAD
  • Private Lionel John McGreevy, NZOC, 14 LAD

Although this list is not exhaustive, the few highlighted names indicate the logistical talent onboard the Rangitata during its voyage as part of Convoy US.1. Officers such as Harper, Kelsey and Reid would go on and play a significant role in shaping the future of New Zealand Military Supply and Maintenance Support trades.

Although the journey of the MV Rangitata’s Bell and how it ended up in Trentham may never be known, the hope is that given its relationship to the Logisticians of the First Echelon, in the future, the RNZALR will place and display this bell in a position of significance.


Anti Aircraft Ammunition Disposal 1955-57

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letters to the Editor

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

I am etc.,

ATOMIC BOMB

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

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


Notes

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

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

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

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

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


NZ Aid to French Indo China 1952-54

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9]“Arms Aid for Indo-China.”


Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps

In British and Commonwealth military doctrine, there has long been a separation of responsibility for Supplies and Stores

  • Supplies – The provisioning, storing, and distributing of food for soldiers, forage for animals; Fuel, Oil and Lubricants (FOL) for tanks, trucks and other fuel-powered vehicles and equipment; and the forward transport and distribution of ammunition. In the NZ Army, Supplies were managed by the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC) from 1911 to 1979.
  • Stores – The provisioning, storage and distribution of weapons, munitions and military equipment not managed by RNZASC. Stores were the Responsibility of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) until 1996.

Despite the separation of responsibilities, the RNZASC and RNZAOC had a long and cooperative relationship.

During early colonial days, the early actions of the New Zealand Wars proved that the New Zealand bush and the elusive tactics of the Māori presented unfamiliar problems of supply and transport. An Imperial Supply and Transport Service was established and operated with the Imperial troops.

From the end of the New Zealand Wars until 1910, there was no unit of ASC in New Zealand, with the supply functions required by the New Zealand Military provided by the Defence Stores Department. However, in 1911 the formation of the Divisional Trains saw the beginnings of the NZASC as part of the Territorial Army. NZASC units served in World War One, during which the NZASC and NZAOC would, especially in the early years of the war, often share personnel, facilities, and transportation.

In 1917 the NZAOC was established as a permanent component of the New Zealand Military Forces, however, it would not be until 1924 that the Permanent NZASC was formed. The alliance between the NZASC and the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was approved in 1925.

The RASC has its roots much deeper in history. Up to the time of Cromwell, armies lived by plunder. The RASC came into being in 1888. but the work it would perform was being done long before that.

Cromwell and then the Duke of Marlborough, and later Napoleon organised a system of civilian commissaries. The Duke of York established the Corps of Royal Waggoners in 1794. This purely transport organisation continued until 1869 under various names, eventually, as the Military Train, fighting as light cavalry in the Indian Mutiny.

The birth of the Supplies and Transport Service dates from 1869. when the Commissariat and the officers of the Military Train along with the Military Stores Department came under one department called the Control Department, it remained for General Sir Redvers Buller, in 1888, to organise the first Army Service Corps. Since its formation, the RASC has been a combatant corps, trained and armed as infantry and responsible for its own protection. Considered a more technical Corps the NZAOC was not granted the status of a combatant Corps until 1942.

During World War Two, many units and establishments represented the NZASC in all the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) theatres. Again, as in the earlier World War, the NZASC would have a cooperative relationship with New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) Ammunition Examiners (AEs) were on the establishments of the RNZASC Ammunition platoons, with NZASC Warrant Officers attached to the NZ Divisional Ordnance Field Park (OFP) to provide technical advice on vehicle spares. As a tribute to the service of the NZASC in WW2, the title, “Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps,’’ was bestowed in 1946.

In the post-war era, the NZASC and from 1946 the RNZASC would serve with distinction in J Force in Japan and then contribute the second-largest New Zealand contingent to K Force in Korea by providing 10 Transport Company.

Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the RNZASC would be an integral part of the New Zealand Army. Its functions ranging from the everyday task of cooking and serving food to the more spectacular operation of dropping supplies by air.

To purchase, store, rail, ship, and otherwise distribute the amount of food, fuels and oils needed to supply a modern army, the RNZASC maintained Supply Depots and employed many kinds of tradespeople, including Butchers. Supply Depots located in Papakura, Waiouru, Linton, Trentham, Burnham, and Singapore, holding supplies in bulk and distributing them as required. A section of the RNZASC would be a feature of every army camp with smaller Supply and Transport depots to handle goods received from the central supply depots and provide drivers and transport for many purposes at Devonport/Fort Cautley, Hopuhopu, Papakura, Waiouru. Linton. Trentham, Wellington/Fort Dorset, Christchurch/Addington, and Burnham.

ANZUK Supply Platoon, Singapore – 1972 Standing L to R: Cpl Parker, RAASC. Cpl Olderman, RAASC, Cpl Mcintyre, RAOC. Sgt Frank, RAOC. Cpl Rangi, RNZASC. Sgt Locke, RNZASC. Sgt Bust, RAOC. Pte Mag, RAASC. Cpl David, RAASC. Sitting L to R: Sgt Kietelgen, RAASC. WO2 West, RAOC. Capt Mcnice, RAOC. Maj Hunt, RAASC. Lt Fynn, RAASC. WO2 Cole, RAASC. WO2 Clapton. RAASC

Following the Macleod report that recommended the streamlining of logistic support for the British Army, the RASC merged in 1965 with the Royal Engineers Transportation and Movement Control Service to form the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT). This would see the RASC Supply functions transferred to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC). In 1973, following the British lead, the Australians also reformed their Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC) into the Royal Australian Army Corps of Transport (RAACT).

Acknowledging the British and Australian experience, the RNZASC would also undergo a similar transition, and on 12 May 1979, the RNZASC ceased to exist, and its Supply functions transferred to the RNZAOC, while the Transport, Movements and Catering functions were reformed into the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT).

The RNZASC supply functions would be integrated into the RNZAOC, with the Camp Supply Depots becoming NZAOC Supply Platoons numbered as.

  • 14 Supply Platoon, Papakura/Hopuhopu
  • 24 Supply Platoon, Linton
  • 34 Supply Platoon, Burnham
  • 44 Supply Platoon, Waiouru
  • 54 Supply Platoon, Trentham
  • NZ Supply Platoon, Singapore

In recognition of its long RNZASC service, 21 Supply Company was retained as a Territorial Force(TF) unit, initially as the TF element of 4 Supply Company in Waiouru and later as the TF element of 2 Supply Company, Linton. Today 21 Supply is the main North Island Supply unit of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR).

For a brief period following the RNZAOC assumption of Supply functions, some RF and TF RNZAOC would periodically be employed within the RNZCT transport Squadrons Combat Supplies sections.

The RNZAOC Butcher trade inherited from the RNZASC would be discontinued in the mid-1980s, with the last of the butchers reclassifying as RNZAOC Suppliers. By the mid-1990s, it was decided as a cost-saving measure to allow the RNZCT catering staff to order directly from commercial foodstuff suppliers, effectively ending the RNZAOC foodstuffs speciality. The only RNZASC trade speciality remaining in the RNZAOC on its amalgamation into the RNZALR was that of petroleum Operator.

The RNZASC and RNZCT like the RNZAOC, have passed their combined responsibilities to the RNZALR. However, the RNZASC and RNZCT maintain a strong association that provides many benefits and opportunities for comradeship to RNZASC/CT Corps members and past and present members of the RNZALR. Another role of the RNZASC/CT association is to ensure that the rich and significant history of the RNZASC/CT is not lost to the future generations of the RNZALR.

Copies of the RNZASC/CT association newsletter from issue 92 can be viewed here