Sport and NZAOC in the interwar years – an examination of how sport contributed to the military preparedness and community links of the NZAOC

The Military of New Zealand has a proud sporting tradition; a tradition often touted as an example of how sport and the Military have had a complementary partnership credited with the shaping of the unique New Zealand Identify. Accounts of the 1919 “New Zealand Services” tour of the United Kingdom, France and South Africa and “Freybergs All Blacks” in the wake of World War Two have provided much material for articles, books and documentaries, reinforcing the New Zealand Sporting/Military tradition. However, New Zealand’s Military participation in sport in the period between the world wars is one that has remained mostly unrecorded and unknown. Using the example of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC), this essay will examine how the members of the Ordnance Corps participated as administrators and players in sporting competitions during the interwar period of 1918-1939.  This participation, while a general reflection of New Zealand society of the time, was nonetheless significant because it contributed to the Military’s profile in the community and the military preparedness of the NZAOC.

NZ-Army-team-1919-800

Sport has been a constant companion to New Zealand’s Military endeavours. New Zealand service members are well known for taking any opportunity to put their military duties aside and with the full encouragement of the military hierarchy, participate in sporting competition. Sporting participation in the Military is encouraged because it is not only an easy and practical way of encouraging physical fitness but as stated in the New Zealand Army Publication the NZP20 Sport, useful for promoting “the development of unit morale and esprit de corps, the development of leadership, teamwork, skills, dexterity, comradeship, development of personal qualities and character and the enhancement of the image of the Army in the community.”[1] Although the NZ P20 is the latest interpretation of the role of sport, it is an interpretation that has remained constant throughout all of New Zealand Military endeavours.[2] New Zealand’s final campaign of the First World War was not a military campaign, but rather a nineteen match, six-month tour of France, the United Kingdom and South Africa. The N.Z. Services team chosen from the cream of the NZEF were retrospectively considered in 1928 by Percy Day, the manager of the 1919 South African Services side “superior to the best XV the 1928 All Blacks could field. Being ex-soldiers, their teamwork and team spirit were alike admirable, and they blended into a most workmanlike side.”[3] Additional validation of the relationship between sport and military service came in 1920 as France began to rebuild their Military. Based on observations by the French of fighting quality of British Imperial troops, the French War Minister instructed that the development of sport participation throughout the French Army be made compulsory in every regiment. The radical change was made in part by the French wish to emulate the “fine physique and fighting qualities of the Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and Canadians, who are the greatest exponents of football, cricket and general sport in the world”.[4]

In the wake of the First World War, sport would undergo a popular resurgence in New Zealand. The nation was determined to move forward to put the losses of the war behind them and “people were determined to enjoy themselves and to forget, or pretend to forget” the traumatic events to the previous four years.[5] Sport as a national institution had already been well established in the years leading up to the First World War and considered by some in New Zealand society as “a moral and physical training ground for young men and therefore a vital component of soldier-making”. However, by 1915 participation would begin to decline as the war effort began to take priority. The resurgence of sporting competitions began in 1918 and by 1919 was in full swing with Rugby Union, Football, Cricket, Shooting and Bowls competitions flourishing across the nation. However, despite the post-war resurgence of sport as a national pastime, the participation of the Military and the Ordnance Corps is less clear. The focus of most contemporary histories of the New Zealand Army for the period 1918-39 are less on sport but on how, despite the high esteem of the Army, how it faced many challenges and struggled for resources. In a period of growing anti-war sentiments, faith in the League of Nations, financial austerity and global depression, the Army underwent many reorganisations restructures and reductions so that by 1931 it had been reduced to a strength of around five hundred men.[6] However, despite the financial limitations of the era, the Ordnance Corps under the leadership of Major Thomas Joseph King, would not only conduct its military duties but also was an active participant in the sporting community.

As the Army adjusted and found its place in post-war New Zealand Society, the Ordnance Corps undertook a similar journey. In 1919 the Ordnance Corps was a relatively young military organisation, having only been formed as a component of the New Zealand Permanent Forces in 1917.[7] With its headquarters and main depot at Wellington’s Mount Cook, the Ordnance Corps was a nationwide organisation with sub-depots in Auckland, Palmerston North, Featherston, Trentham, Christchurch and Dunedin and was the defence agency vested with the responsibility for the provision, storage, maintenance and repair of all of the Defence Forces stores and equipment.[8] Reorganising to meet the need of the post-war Army, the Ordnance Corps would reduce its presence at Mount Cook when it transferred its warehousing functions to Trentham in 1920, followed by the Ordnance Workshops in 1930. Not immune from the effects of the depression, the Ordnance Corps faced its most significant challenge in January 1931 when massive workforce reductions across the NZ Army saw the Ordnance Corps reduced to a strength of 21 Officers and Soldiers with seventy-four men transferred to the Civil Staff, and the remainder retired. Few records of the sporting participation of the Ordnance Corps during the interwar period remain with one of the few pieces of evidence a photo in Joe Bolton’s 1992 History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps. [9] Bolton dedicates eight pages to the interwar period, but in tune with other publications covering New Zealand Military history during the same era, makes no mention of the NZAOC’s sporting participation, except for a single photograph of the 1934-35 Ordnance Cricket team at Upper Hutt’s Maidstone Park.[10]  The general theme of published military history works covering the period set the narrative of the interwar period of one of the struggles of the Military with much of the focus on the Territorial Army with little written about the small Permanent Forces, leading to the assumption that the Ordnance Corps as a military entity did not participate in any sporting activities. However, newspaper archives and records held by Archives New Zealand provide ample evidence that the Ordnance Corps was the most prominent component of the Permanent Forces that participated in community-based sporting competitions, with members of the Ordnance Corps acting as either administrator’s or players.[11] A search of the Papers Past Database using a combination of search criteria show that the Ordnance Corps was an active participant in many sporting activities in two distinct periods during the interwar years. The first recorded period of sporting activity was from 1918 to 1920, with the second period from 1933 to 1939. The absence in the newspaper record between 1920 and 1932 of any Ordnance Corps participation sporting competitions is unexplained. It could have been that resources and the tempo of work precluded participation, or it could be due to a quirk of editorial choice and sports were just not covered in detail during that period.

From 1918 to 1920 the Ordnance Corps was active in a range of team and individual sports including Rugby Union, Shooting, Cricket and Bowls. The Evening Post of October 14 1918, provides an account of a Rugby match between Ordnance and Base Records resulting in an 11 to 3 win for Ordnance. The article describes how the winning tries were scored by Captain King and Private Batchelor with Quartermaster-Sergeant McIntyre converted one try.[12] During 1919, prominent Wellington Newspapers such as the Evening Post and Dominion provided extensive coverage of most sporting competitions in the Wellington region which the Ordnance Corps provided teams to including the Wellington Miniature Rifle Association Osmond Challenge Cup.[13] The Osmond Challenge Cup was an intense competition between several Military and civilian teams from across the Wellington region. An exciting feature of this tournament was that the competition was mixed gender with a team of ladies competing, several of whom were the wives of some of the senior Ordnance Staff.[14] Cricket was also anther popular sport with the Ordnance Corps contributing a team into the Wellington Cricket Association Junior Men’s competition.[15] Lawn Bowls was also popular with the Ordnance Corps maintaining a bowling club up to 1918 participating in competitions and one-off matches. The Ordnance Bowling Club merged into the long-established Johnsonville Club in 1918, raising that club’s membership from Twenty-Four to Forty-Two.[16]  Based on the newspaper records Ordnance Corps participation in Wellingtons sporting competitions fell off after 1920. The likely reason for this sudden disengagement could be attributed to the move of the bulk of the Ordnance Corps to Trentham in 1920, and the reduction of Army staffing levels.

Cricket 1919

The second and most crucial period of Ordnance Corps sporting participation began in 1932 when after twelve years at Trentham the Ordnance Corps Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) entered a team into the Upper Hutt Cricket League competition.[17] The Ordnance Corps would provide a single Ordnance team from the 1933/34 season until the end of the 1938/39 season. During the duration of each season, the Evening Post Newspaper would provide a summary of each game detailing the results of the matches and the high scoring players.[18] By following the Newspaper articles, a roster of the teams participating in the competition is identified, with the Ordnance team along with Upper Hutt and Trentham teams identified as one of the anchor teams of the competition. The Newspaper articles also identify twenty of the men who played for the Ordnance team from 1934 to 1939. Having the names allows cross-referencing against other articles and military personnel files, providing further evidence that the Ordnance Cricket team was not only a sports team but an incubator for the future leaders of the Ordnance Corps. A high number of the players would serve in some capacity in all the different theatres that NZ Ordnance units served in during the war.[19] For example two of the players’ Alan Andrews and Henry McKenzie Reid, then both junior officers would rise to senior Ordnance command positions during the war. Andrews in the 2nd NZEF in the Middle East and Reid in the Pacific. After the war, both would be Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) and then Colonel Commandants.[20] Other players such as Leighton, Stroud and Keegan would all be commissioned during the war and end up commanding Ordnance Subunits in Trentham, Palmerston North and Linton into the early 1950s. The war would bring an end to the Upper Hutt cricket competition with the 1938/39 season the final season of the decade. Sports would flourish in Trentham during the war years, as the camp became a major training camp and logistics centre.[21] However, the Ordnance Corps would not place any terms into the local competition until 1950 when Rugby and Cricket teams representing the MOD once again represented the Ordnance Corps in regional sporting competitions.[22]

ord-cricket-team

One of the most interesting aspects of the Ordnance Cricket team is the use of symbology in the team strip. The existing photograph of the 1934/35 team, picture the team dressed in a simple team strip of whites, with each member wearing a blue cheese cutter type hat with a stylised NZAOC Badge.[23] The use of the Ordnance badge is significant as symbols such as a coloured cap, and a badge can represent the values of the organisation and distinguish the wearer from others.[24] The 1930s were a period of economic austerity, and the provision of a cap badge stylised badge could have been seen as a frivolous and necessary expense. However that these items existed demonstrates a level of commitment by the individual team members to represent their organisation, in this case, the Trentham Main Ordnance Depot in the best possible light.

King

Brigadier T J King, CBE, RNZAOC Regimental Colonel 1 Jan 1949 – 31 Mar 1961. RNZAOC School

In addition to the Ordnance Corps personnel participating in sports throughout these two periods, two individuals are prominent in the field of sports administration, Major Thomas Joseph King and William Saul Keegan. As the DOS from 1924, King was the head of the Ordnance Corps until 1939. In addition to his military duties managing the Ordnance Corps, King was also a significant member of the Wellington Rugby Union (WRU) administration. In the lead-up to the Great War, King served in the Territorials while working as a public servant. King had a lifelong passion for sports and was an accomplished swimmer and capable rugby player. Serving in the NZEF King was one of the first two officers promoted into the newly created NZEF Ordnance Corps. King would serve at Gallipoli where he was injured and repatriated back to New Zealand early in 1916. King continued to serve in the Defence Stores in Wellington and commissioned into the NZAOC on its formation as part of the permanent forces in 1917. He was serving as the second in command of the Ordnance Corps until 1924, King then assumed the appointment of DOS.  As a member of the Oriental Rugby Club in Wellington, the club elections of 1923 saw King appointed as a Vice President.[25] King would then be elected to the WRU management committee from 1926 until 1939. King would not only be involved in the day to day operation of Wellington Rugby; he would also be one of the WRU delegates to the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU). [26] On one occasion King’s WRU duties intersected with his military responsibilities when he recruited Alan Andrews into the NZAOC. Studying at Christchurch University, Andrews played rugby for Canterbury and had made the grade for selection as an All Black in 1934. However, as he was at university, Andrews made the difficult decision to forgo rugby and complete his studies. This decision would be a lifelong regret. Andrews moved to Wellington to complete the practical work for his degree, and King had organised a placement for Andrews through the WRU on the proviso that Andrews played rugby for the Hutt. On completion of his degree, King recruited Andrews into the Ordnance Corps and an Ordnance Officer in 1936.[27] Kings decision was a wise choice, Andrews would have an eventful career attaining the rank of Brigadier. Andrews rugby career high would be when he was selected by General Freyberg early in the war to manage the 2nd NZEF Rugby Team on the cessation of hostilities, a task he completed with much success, with the Khaki Blacks becoming one of the most famous and successful Rugby teams produced by New Zealand.[28] Wartime service would see King resign from the management committee of the WRU, however, in recognition of his long and dedicated services to Wellington Rugby; King received the honour of life membership of the union in 1939.[29] King’s passion for rugby continued during his service in the 2nd NZEF, where in addition to his duties as the Deputy Director of Ordnance Services (DDOS) King would put his skills as a rugby administrator and selector to good use organising fixtures for the various 2nd NZEF teams.[30]

Administering at the club level was William Saul Keegan. Keegan had been a regular Ordnance soldier who was transferred to the civil service in 1931 as part of cost reductions across the Army, continuing to work at the MOD as a civilian throughout the 1930s. In addition to playing cricket for the Ordnance team in the Upper Hutt competition, Keegan was also the President of the Upper Hutt Rugby Club. A legacy of Keegan’s time as club President was the institution of the Wylie-Keegan cup, which remained an annual fixture with Otaki for several years.[31]  A highlight of Keegan’s tenure was that he brought he club out of the financial difficulties into a more stable position.[32] Keegan volunteered for war service and was commissioned as an officer in 1940 and would serve in Ordnance Command appointments until 1950.[33]

In conclusion, the participation of the Ordnance Corps in sporting competitions during the interwar years has remained anonymous in the historical narrative of the period. However, the Ordnance Corps participation was far from anonymous with the newspapers of the day, providing a record of the Ordnance Corps sporting participation with teams and individuals as players and administrators throughout the interwar period from 1918 to 1939. The single reaming team photograph offers a view of the team strip, demonstrating a level of commitment and pride in the Ordnance Corps and a desire to promote it to the local community. Given the nature of the sports, it is evident that sporting participation was useful in maintaining morale and esprit de corps during some difficult times while enhancing the image of the Ordnance Corps and the Army within the community. Finally, the leadership and teamwork that sport encourages were to provide inherent benefits to the Ordnance Corps in the World War of 1939-45. Many of the men who participated in sport as either administrators or players would go on to occupy critical leadership positions within the expanded wartime Ordnance organisation.

Bibliography

Primary Sources

“Army Team Enters H.V.C.A.” Upper Hutt Leader, Volume XII, Number 40, 5 October 1950.

“Compulsory Sport.” Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume 46, Issue 14081, 23 March 1920.

“Dinner and Presentation.” Upper Hutt Weekly Review, Volume III, Issue 39, 16 September 1938.

“Hutt Valley Cricket.” Evening Post, Volume CXVIII, Issue 140, , 11 December 1934.

“Johnsonville Club.” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 9, Page 5, 10 July 1918.

“Junior Competition.” Evening Post, Volume XCVII, Issue 33, 10 February 1919.

“Minature Rifleshooting.” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 14, 16 July 1918.

New Zealand Army. “Role of Army Sport.” NZ P20 Sport Chapter 1, Section 2 (2000).

“New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Regulations.” New Zealand Gazette, No 95, June 7 1917, 2292.

“Regulations for the Equipment of the New Zealand Military Forces.” New Zealand Gazette, June 14 1917, 2369-498.

“Regulations for the Military Forces of the Dominion of New Zealand.”. New Zealand Gazette, 25 May 1927, 1555-600.

“Rifle Shooting.” New Zealand Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 10310, Page 8, 19 June 1919.

“Rugby Football.” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 91, 14 October 1918.

“Rugby, the Oriental Club.” Evening Post, Volume CV, Issue 57, Page 4, 8 March 1923.

“Upper Hutt Club.” Evening Post, Volume CXXIII, Issue 63, Page 5, 16 March 1937.

“War Diary, 2nzef – Ddos [Deputy Director of Ordnance Services], June 1940 to November 1942.” Archives New Zealand Item No R20111233  (1940).

“William Saul Keegan.” Personal File, New Zealand Defence Force Archives, 1918.

Secondary Sources

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

Cape, Peter. Craftsmen in Uniform: The Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers: An Account. Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 1976. Non-fiction.

Clayton, Garry. The New Zealand Army: A History from the 1840s to the 1990s. [Wellington, N.Z.]: New Zealand Army, 1990, 1990. Non-fiction.

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

Elliott, Matt. War Blacks. HarperCollins Publishers, 2016. Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Collective biography.

Kelleher, J. A. Upper Hutt: The History. Cape Catley, 1991. Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Government documents.

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

McKie, Robert. “Ordnance Cricket Team 1934/35.”  https://rnzaoc.com/2020/04/19/ordnance-cricket-team-1934-35/.

Ryan, Greg, and Geoff Watson. Sport and the New Zealanders: A History. Auckland University Press, 2018. Bibliographies, Non-fiction.

Swan, Arthur C., and Gordon F. W. Jackson. Wellington’s Rugby History, 1870-1950. Reed, 1952. Non-fiction.

Van Maanen, John Eastin, and Edgar Henry Schein. “Toward a Theory of Organizational Socialization.”  (1977).

Weddell, Howard. Trentham Camp and Upper Hutt’s Untold Military History. Howard Weddell, 2018. Bibliographies, Non-fiction.

Whatman, Mike. Khaki All Blacks: A Tribute to the ‘Kiwis’: The 2nd Nzef Army Rugby Team. Hodder Moa Beckett, 2005. Bibliographies, Non-fiction.

Notes

[1] New Zealand Army, “Role of Army Sport,” NZ P20 Sport Chapter 1, Section 2 (2000).

[2] I. C. McGibbon and Paul William Goldstone, The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History (Auckland; Melbourne; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, 2000), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 506.

[3] Matt Elliott, War Blacks (HarperCollins Publishers, 2016), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Collective biography, 274.

[4] “Compulsory Sport,” Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume 46, Issue 14081, 23 March 1920.

[5] Greg Ryan and Geoff Watson, Sport and the New Zealanders: A History (Auckland University Press, 2018), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 151.

[6] Garry Clayton, The New Zealand Army: A History from the 1840’s to the 1990’s ([Wellington, N.Z.]: New Zealand Army, 1990, 1990), Non-fiction, 105-10.

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

[8] Less rations and Fuel “Regulations for the Equipment of the New Zealand Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette, June 14 1917.

[9] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 80-88.

[10]  Peter Capes, 1976 Craftsmen in Uniform and Peter Cooke’s 2017 Warrior Craftsmen both, cover the NZAOC during the interwar period, but similarly to the contemporary military histories any mention of the Sporting contribution of the NZAOC is absent  Peter Cape, Craftsmen in Uniform: The Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers: An Account (Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 1976), Non-fiction, 16-34.; Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, Rnzeme 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017), 14-17.

[11] The 1927 Regulation for NZ Military Forces details that the Permanent Forces consisted of the following elements:

  • NZ Staff Corps.
  • NZ Permanent Staff.
  • Royal NZ Artillery.
  • NZ Permanent Air Force.
  • NZ Permanent Army Service Corps.
  • NZ Army Medical Corps.
  • NZ Army Ordnance Corps.
  • NZ Army Pay Corps.
  • General Duty Section of the Permanent Forces.
  • NZ Air Force.
  • NZ Veterinary Corps.
  • NZ Dental Corps.

“Regulations for the Military Forces of the Dominion of New Zealand.,” New Zealand Gazette, 25 May 1927.

[12] “Rugby Football,” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 91, 14 October 1918.

[13] “Minature Rifleshooting,” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 14, 16 July 1918.

[14] “Rifle Shooting,” New Zealand Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 10310, Page 8, 19 June 1919.

[15] “Junior Competition,” Evening Post, Volume XCVII, Issue 33, 10 February 1919.

[16] “Johnsonville Club,” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 9, Page 5, 10 July 1918.

[17] J. A. Kelleher, Upper Hutt : The History (Cape Catley, 1991), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Government documents, 312-13.

[18] “Hutt Valley Cricket,” Evening Post, Volume CXVIII, Issue 140, , 11 December 1934.

[19] Robert McKie, “Ordnance Cricket Team 1934/35,”  https://rnzaoc.com/2020/04/19/ordnance-cricket-team-1934-35/.

[20] Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, 35-35.

[21] Howard Weddell, Trentham Camp and Upper Hutt’s Untold Military History (Howard Weddell, 2018), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 129-67.

[22] “Army Team Enters H.V.C.A,” Upper Hutt Leader, Volume XII, Number 40, 5 October 1950.

[23] The colour of the type is badge is confirmed as an example remains on display in the NZ Army’s Trade Training School at Trentham.

[24] John Eastin Van Maanen and Edgar Henry Schein, “Toward a Theory of Organizational Socialization,”  (1977): 44.

[25] “Rugby, the Oriential Club,” Evening Post, Volume CV, Issue 57, Page 4, 8 March 1923.

[26]. Arthur C. Swan and Gordon F. W. Jackson, Wellington’s Rugby History, 1870-1950 (Reed, 1952), Non-fiction, 187-88.

[27] Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, 257.

[28] Mike Whatman, Khaki All Blacks : A Tribute to the ‘Kiwis’ : The 2nd Nzef Army Rugby Team (Hodder Moa Beckett, 2005), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 18-26.

[29] Swan and Jackson, Wellington’s Rugby History, 1870-1950, 126.

[30] “War Diary, 2nzef – Ddos [Deputy Director of Ordnance Services], June 1940 to November 1942,” Archives New Zealand Item No R20111233  (1940).

[31] “Dinner and Presentation,” Upper Hutt Weekly Review, Volume III, Issue 39, 16 September 1938.

[32] “Upper Hutt Club,” Evening Post, Volume CXXIII, Issue 63, Page 5, 16 March 1937.

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

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2020


Major Joseph Seymour Bolton

Today we mark the passing of a major influence on this website,  Major Rtd Joseph Seymour Bolton (1947-2020).

Joe authored the History of the RNZAOC that was published 1992 and it was with his blessing and encouragement that I have continued on this webpage the expansion of his original research to unpack the history of the RNZAOC.

20171124_082624-166274243.jpg

Joe joined the New Zealand Army as a Regular Force Cadet in the Bennett class of 1963. On completion of his RF Cadet Training,  Joe graduated into the RNZAOC on 2 May 1965.

Joe would have a varied and interesting career as an RNZAOC Soldier and Officer, including;

  • Operational service in South Vietnam during 1970

Vietnam 1Vietnam 2

  • Service in the Solomon Island with the first Tranch of RNZAOC ATO’s and AT’s clearing the islands of WW2 munitions.

Solomons

  • Officer Commanding NZAOD, Singapore: 21 May 1982 to 10 May 1984

NZAOD

  • Chief Instructor, RNZAOC School: May 1985 to December 1986
  • Chief Ammunition Technical Officer: 1986 to 1988

In 1988 Joe was awarded the RNZAOC 20-year certificate for service from  2 May 1965 to 2 May 1988.

In Joe’s post-military career, he would continue to maintain an interest in the RNZAOC and manage the RNZAOC mailing list, sending out notifications on the passing of a Corps member or other such important information.

I never worked with Joe while he was serving, but got to know him when he was working a civilian in the CATO Branch. As I was working upstairs in Ops/Plans as the Policy WO,  I would often refer to Joe as the expert on ammunition policy issues. Often a short question on ammunition would turn into a lengthy conversation about RNZAOC History.  Many years later, as I was beginning to foray into RNZAOC research, we would catch up on the Rembermance Days in Palmerston North as the Poppy Places Charitable Trust, a passion of Joe’s in later years,  unveiled their distinctive street signs. It was at these brief meeting we would discuss the progress of my research and the future direction.

RIP Joe
Sua Tele Tonnti

1592109768278-6ec536ce-0240-44b3-a36f-a49f34da41c6_.jpg

Major Joe Bolton Officer Commanding NZAOD receiving the Higgins Cup RFL Trophy form the New Zealand Director of Ordnance Services LtCol T.D McBeth.

 


The Gruber Ration Pack

Emperor Haile Selassie in 1935 before the Ethiopian Mobilisation order against Mussolini’s Invading Italian forces.

“Everyone will be mobilised and all boys old enough to carry a spear will be sent to Addis Ababa . Married men will take their wives to carry food and cook. Those without wives will take any woman without a husband.”

The supply of rations is not a traditional Ordnance responsibility, however with the rationalisation of New Zealand Army Logistics in 1979, the RNZAOC assumed responsibility from the RNZASC for the Supply of Rations and Fuel. Part of these responsibility’s was the manufacture of Ration Packs, which was carried out by the Ration Pack Production Section (RPPS) in Trentham. In addition to the ration packs produced by the RPPS, the New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot (NZAOD) in Singapore assumed  responsibility in 1979 for the production of the “Gruber Pack” a unique ration pack designed to supplement the standard ration packs in the tropical conditions of South East Asia. Never told before, this article provides the background on the “Gruber Pack”.

It it a necessity for rations to be provided to soldiers on the move or when situated away from their normal home base with the necessary to supply rations on the basis of :

  • the individual,
  • the small group (squad, section, platoon), and
  • the large group (company size or larger).

Dramatic improvements have occurred over the last two hundred years that have seen the improvement of military field rations. led by the the invention of the can and then preservation techniques including drying and freeze-drying to the modern retort pouches that now the staple of modern Military Ration packs.

New Zealand traditionally followed the British lead when it came to military field rations with the British army issue ration biscuit the ‘Huntley & Palmers Army No 4’ and tinned bully beef the staple during the First World War. The Second World War would provide a boost in the technology of military field rations with the United Kingdom developing military field rations for use across the world and the United States in parallel developing 23 different military field rations and ration supplements.

New Zealand would take its first steps in developing a military field ration in 1958 when trials were conducted to develop;

  • 24 hour, four man ration pack for armored units, and
  • a 24 hour, one man for infantry units.

The results of these trial were the development of the following Ration packs

  • One-Man 24 Hour Ration Pack (Canned) – (one man/one day) for use when individual feeding is necessary , e . g . patrols. Suitable for continuous use up to seven days . A combination of tinned and dry items designed for reheating although tinned food can be eaten hot or cold . There were are three different menus related to this ration pack
  • One-Man 24 Hour Ration Pack (Lightweight) – An individual ration (one man/one day) for use when individual feeding is necessary , e . g . patrols. Suitable for continuous use up to seven days . As the items in this pack are dehydrated, it should not be used in areas where water is not available. Designed to provide three meals per ration pack .
  • Ten Man Ration Pack – A composite ration of tinned foods. Designed for reheating in communal feeding in multiples of 10 .
Canned Ration Pack
1986 Individual Contents of the One Man, 24 Hour Ration Pack (Canned)

By 1976 these ration packs had been in service for a number of years with little work carried out in developing them further.  To supplement these rations packs, a habit had evolved where soldiers when deploying into the the field would take additional “Bits and Pieces” such as potatoes, onions, curry etc to supplement the meagre “ration pack”.

During 1976,  Warrant Officer Class Two J.A Gruber, the Catering Warrant Officer, 1 RNZIR in Singapore took note and decided to design a New Zealand supplementary pack based on tropical needs to enhance the 24 Hour Ration Pack used by soldiers living in the field for weeks on end and the “Gruber Pack” was developed.

The origins of the Gruber Pack date back to the Vietnam era where the idea of a supplementary ration pack originated. In those days the United States Army provided a Combat Composite Pack monthly to each company. The Combat Composite Pack contained extra “goodies” such as cigarettes, gum, fruit juice, tins of fruit, etc today termed jack rats.  The supplementary pack that WO2 Gruber designed was intended to supplement the existing 24-hour ration pack and was to be consumed on the ration of one Gruber to five 24-hour packs.

The actual components of the Gruber Pack would vary from time to time, but were a combination tinned and dry items and based on the daily nation allowance for Singapore which in 1986 was SDG $6.11.

Designed to be eaten by an individual over 24 hours, Gruber Packs needed half a litre of water to reconstitute the beverages, and had a nutritional value of 2433Kcals. Given the climate and components used, a Gruber Pack had a shelf life to two years.

Gruber Packs were assembled on an as required basis from locally purchased components by work parties from 1RNZIR, initially under the control of the NZ Supply Platoon, RNZASC until 1979 and then by the NZAOD until 1989.

The components would be carefully packed into plastic bags to keep them dry and safe, with individual packs packed, ten to a fiberboard carton.

Technical Data for the Gruber pack was;

  • Gross weight 10.2 Kg per carton of ten.
  • Individual pack measurement 40.6mm x 21.4mm x 33mm.
  • Volume .028m3 or 1.14 cu ft.

MENU

  • Chicken Curry/Beef curry/Mutton Curry 170gm. Tin: 1
  • Pea/Mixed Vege 184gm Tin: 1
  • Fruit Cocktail 248gm Tin: 1
  • Cornflakes 60gm Pkt: 1
  • Instant Noodles 85gm Pkt: 1
  • Herring in Tomato sauce/Pork in Tin/Luncheon Meat 98gm Tin: 1
  • Tea Bags Bags: 2
  • Instant Coffee Sachet: 3
  • Milo Sachet: 2
  • Raisins 42gm Pkt: 1
  • Chewing Gum Packet: 2
  • Non-Dairy Creamer 3gm Pkt: 6
  • Toilet Paper Sheets: 5
  • Salt Sachet: 2
  • Pepper Sachet: 2
  • Sugar Sachet: 6
  • Fruit Drink Container: 1
  • Tomato Sauce Sachet: 2
  • Chilli Sauce Sachet: 2
  • Matches Packet: 1
  • Kleenex Tissues Packet: 1

The Gruber Pack was unique to the New Zealand Forces in Singapore. Following the withdrawal of New Zealand Forces from Singapore in 1989, the Gruber Pack disappeared from the New Zealand Military ration menu. However, trials to upgrade the in service ration packs had been underway since 1986, and many of the lessons learnt from the Gruber pack were absorbed into the new ration packs that began to be manufactured by the RNZAOC from 1990.


Central Districts Vehicle Depot

The RNZAOC established Vehicle Depots in 1948 when the RNZAOC absorbed the stockholding responsibilities of the wartime Mechanical Transport Branch(MT Branch). Three Vehicle Depots were established as standalone Ordnance units, separate of the regional Ammunition and Ordnance depots;

  • Northern Districts Vehicle Depot (NDVD), at Sylvia Park, Auckland,
  • Central Districts Vehicle Depot (CDVD), Trentham Camp,
  • Southern Vehicle Depot (SDVD), Burnham Camp.

The role of the Vehicle Depot was to manage;

  • a fleet of a “CL” and “GS” vehicles for use during training periods and Annual Camps,
  • a pool of “CL” vehicles for admin use, new vehicles pending distribution,
  • and BER/BLR vehicles pending repair of disposal.

A typical RNZAOC Vehicle Depot consisted of:

  • A Vehicle Park,
  • A Kit Kit Store, and at times
  • an RNZEME Maintenance Section.

Having the CDVD Located at Trentham was not the ideal location as Linton and Waiouru housed the bulk of its customer units. The movement of vehicles and personal between these locations to uplift and return vehicles from the CDVD pool was time-consuming and a significant administrative effort. Therefore in 1957, the decision was made to relocate the CDVD to Linton by the end of 1958.

The move to Linton would see the CDVD relocated to the Battalion Block between the ASC Supply and Transport unit by the Linton railhead and the Central Districts Ordnance Depot (CDOD) in the North West of Linton Camp. Occupying purpose-built facilities ad Dante Road at Trentham, the move of the CDVD would see the construction of storage sheds, complete with servicing pits and a headquarters building at Linton to complement the existing WW2 Era buildings.

Not all the CDVD functions would be relocated to Linton. The Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) would establish a Vehicle Sub Depot with responsibility for;

  • The receipt, processing and issue of all new vehicles,
  • Custody of vehicles considered part of the Army reserve
  • Custody and disposal of surplus vehicles held by CDVD that were declared or about to be declared for disposal.

The CDVD remained a standalone Ordnance unit until 1961 when it became a sub-unit of the Central DIstricts Ordnance Depot.

Selection of Vehicles held by CDVD Linton1957-61

The following photos illustrate a variety of WW2 Era vehicles held by the CDVD at around 1957-61. These could be pool vehicles for the Central Districts, or as the NZ Army was introducing into service the RL Bedford and Series 2 Landrover, these could be vehicles for disposal.

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck

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GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

D0F5515b

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5515c

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

 

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck (Binned Stores)

DoF5589a

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5589c

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5589b

GMC CCKW 2½-ton 6×6 truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

 

CMP Ford GS 4 X4

 

DoF5633A

3/4 front view of NZ Army Ford truck. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5633b

Side view of CMP Ford GS 4 X4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5633c

Rearview  CMP Ford GS 4 X4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

CMP Chevrolet GS 4×4

DoF5514a

3/4 front view CMP Chevrolet GS 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

DoF5514b

Rearview CMP Chevrolet GS 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

DoF5514c

Side view of CMP Chevrolet GS 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

CMP Chevrolet 4×4

DoF5588a

3/4 front view of CMP Chevrolet 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

DoF5588b

Side view of CMP Chevrolet 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

DoF5588c

Rearview of CMP Chevrolet 4×4. Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

CMP Chevrolet 15-cwt

D0F5604b

CMP Chevrolet 15-cwt. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5604a

CMP Chevrolet 15-cwt. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

CMP Chevrolet 3 -ton 4 x 4 Wrecker

DoF5582c

CMP Chevrolet 3 -ton 4 x 4 Wrecker. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5582b

CMP Chevrolet 3 -ton 4 x 4 Wrecker. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5582a

CMP Chevrolet 3 -ton 4 x 4 Wrecker. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

AEC MATADOR

DoF5580b

Side view of NZ Army AEC Matador. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5580a

Side view of NZ Army AEC Matador. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

Ambulances

DoF5584b

Side view of Ford V8 ambulance. Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5537c

Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5537b

Air Force Museum of New Zealand

DoF5537a

Air Force Museum of New Zealand

 

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Linton Camp, March 1962

CDVD Legacy

As the NZ Army vehicle fleets changed the need for dedicated Vehicle Sections decreased, with the vehicle sections within the RNZAOC Supply Companys shadows of the Vehicle Depots of the 50’ and ’60s.

In the modern New Zeland Army, the concept of managing vehicles in pools was reinvented in 2011 with the creation of the Managed Fleet Utilisation (MFU) programme. The MFU programme was several equipment fleets managed as a loan pool on behalf of the New Zealand Defence  Force by a civilian contractor.

In 2020 the same WW2 Era buildings alongside the building erected in 1958  thas served the CDVD in 1958 are still utilised by the MFU and the legacy RNZALR Supply Company.

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Storage sheds built for the CDVD in 1958, the middle shed is an extension added in the late 1990s. Robert Mckie Collection

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WW2 Era buildings on the edge of what was the CDVD Vehicle Block. Robert McKie Collection

 

 

 


Memories of Service – Ron Cross

Memories of Service

 

Lieutenant Colonel Ron Cross is a military man through and through, A Regular Force Cadet, Artilleryman, Infantryman, a Graduate of the Officer Cadet School, Portsea and RNZAOC Officer, including a stint as Chief instructor of the Ordnance School from November 1972 to August 1974 and Officer Commanding of the NZAOD from April 1976 to May 1978, Ron is a  proud soldier.

In this Memories of Service video produced by the New Zealand Returned Services Associaton.  Ron recounts the experiences that shaped his life. Joining up as a regular Army Cadet, Ron served in both the Malayan conflict and the Vietnam War. From the comedy of preparing for jungle warfare in snow-covered hills around Tekapo to the tension of being fired on at close range on the roads of Vietnam, Ron’s vivid recollections are captivating.

Click on the attached link to view the video:

https://www.nzonscreen.com/title/memories-of-service-ron-cross-2017


Ordnance Cricket Team 1934/35

Sport within the military is promoted as a method of sustaining morale, encouraging fitness and keeping troops occupied and out of trouble. During the 1930s, when the world was in the depths of the great depression, sport became a useful distraction for the staff of the NZAOC Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Trentham Camp. Sport also became a useful tool for developing leadership and teamwork and as a way of contributing to the local communities that the  MOD belonged too. Using the team photo of the 1934/35 Ordnance Cricket team, this article will examine the NZAOC participation in sport as a member of the community and look at the stories of the men in the photo.

As the anchor unit at Trentham Camp, the staff of the MOD would be active participants in the sporting life of Upper Hutt and the wider Wellington Region. The Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) Major T.J King, a keen sportsman was very active in sports administration as a member of the Wellington Rugby Union and New Zealand Rugby Union. Most sporting codes in Upper Hutt would have their membership boosted by the staff of the MOD, who in an individual capacity contributed as players, coaches and administrators.

An example of the MODs participation in Upper Hutt sport is with the participation of the Ordnance Cricket Team in the Upper Hutt Cricket Association competition from 1933 to 1939. With the cricket season running from October to April, the Upper Hutt Cricket Association competition consisted of average participation of six teams per season, playing at Maidstone Park on Saturdays and Sundays. The anchor teams that would participate throughout the competition were Upper Hutt, Trentham and Ordnance.

Upper Hutt Teams

The onset of war in 1939, would lead to the end of the Upper Hutt Cricket Association, with many of the participating clubs absorbed into the Hutt Cricket Association and participation in local sports competitions by the MOD went into abeyance for the duration of the war. The MOD would not provide teams and re-join the local competitions until 1950.

The photo of the 1934/35 Ordnance Cricket team is one of the few remaining relics of that period and provided a snapshot to the Ordnance Team of 1934/35. They are posing before or after a match at Maidstone Park the eleven members of the team are in their Cricket Whites with blue caps emblazoned with an Ordnance Badge.

ord-cricket-team

Based on available information, the team from left to right are:

Back Row

George Leslie

Date of Birth: 29 April 1891 – George Leslie has served for two years as an Infantryman during the First World War. Wounded in action in 1917, Leslie was repatriated to New Zealand to recover from his wounds. On 1 November 1919 Leslie enrolled into the Dental Detachment of the Temporary Employment Section (TES). On 1 January 1920 was appointed as a temporary member of the New Zealand Army Medical Corps (NZAMC) at the Army Medical Stores at Wellington. On 9 June 1924, Leslie was sent to Trentham Camp to unpack the Divisional Medical Equipment received from England at the end of the war. With the closure of the Medical Stores in Wellington, the stocks at Trentham would become the medical stocks for New Zealand’s Military Forces, with Leslie appointed the NCO In Charge (NCOIC).

Appointed to the NZAMC (Permanent) on 19 April 1925, Leslie would remain with the MOD as the NCOIC Medical Stores until 1940 when responsibility for Army Medical Stores was Transferred from the NZAOC in November 1940 to the New Zealand Medical Corps(NZMC), and the Medical Stores at Trentham relocated to 42 Victoria Street in Wellington. Responsibility for Medical Stores would return to the Chief Ordnance Officer on 1 April 1947.

April 1942 saw Leslie promoted to Warrant Officer Class Two and transferred to the Advanced Depot Medical Stores at Palmerston North as the SNCO in charge. The Advanced Depot Medical Stores closed in 1944 and Leslie was placed under the strength of No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot at the Palmerston North Showground’s, supernumerary to that unit’s establishment. Promoted to Warrant Officer Class One in April 1945, Leslie transferred back to the MOD in Trentham in July 1947, taking his discharge in February 1948.

David Brown

No information other than he was employed as a civilian in the MOD.

E Hughes

Hughes was a soldier at the MOD until 1931 when his position was civilianised, and he was transferred into the Civil Service.

Lionel Herbert Stroud

Date of Birth: July 1902 – Lionel Herbert Stroud enlisted into the NZAOC as a Soldier at the MOD on 21 October 1928. Like most NZAOC Solders his position was civilianised in January 1931, and he was transferred into the Civil Service doing the same job but at much a much-reduced rate of pay. By 1935 Stroud had been reinstated as a soldier at continued to serve at the MOD.

 In 1939 Stroud was transferred into the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) as a Warrant Officer Class One. During his time in the 2nd NZEF Stroud would serve in Egypt and England helping to establish the Ordnance systems required to support the NZEF, and for his efforts, commissioned as an officer. Returned to New Zealand and posted out of the 2nd NZEF in February 1943, Stroud was commissioned into the New Zealand Temporary Staff (NZTS) as a captain and would serve in a variety of Ordnance roles for the remainder of the war. In 1947 Stroud was transferred from the NZTS into the NZAOC as a Captain and Quartermaster (Temporary Major and Quartermaster). For the remainder of his military career, Stroud would serve at the MOD and as the Officer Commanding of No2 Ordnance Depot at Linton. By 1954 Stroud had retired from the Army and took a new career as a wine merchant.

James Danby

Date of Birth: 17 Feb 1909 – James Danby joined the NZAOC in the early 1930s as an instrument repairer. A keen sportsman who in addition to playing Cricket for the Ordnance Team was also a coach/player for the Upper Hutt Rugby Team. During World War Two Danby was commissioned as an Officer in January 1943. Serving with the Divisional Workshops with the NZEF in the Pacific (NZEFIP) Danby would also run the sports committee.

After the war, Danby would remain in the Army as an officer in the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME) at Trentham.

Front Row

Edward Gavin Lake

Date of Birth: September 1907 – Edward Gavin Lake worked as a fruiter/storeman and would serve as an Infantryman during the war.

John Keep Wilson

Date of Birth: Jan 1888 – John Keep Wilson had been a long-term employee of the Defence Department and serving as a soldier in the NZAOC until 1931 when he was transferred into the Civil Service. Reinstated as a soldier by 1935, Wilson would remain at the MOD until his retirement in 1947.

Kevin Graham Keith Cropp

Date of Birth: 1916 – Kevin Graham Keith Cropp was a clerk in the MOD. He was appointed as a Warrant Officer Class One into the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in 1939 where he embarked with the 1st Echelon. 1941 saw Cropp Commissioned as an officer into the Artillery.

Allen Dudley Leighton

Date of Birth: 20 September 1898 – Allen Dudley Leighton had served with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade in the First World War. Joining the NZAOC Permanent Staff on 17 March 1925 and would be a Lance Corporal at the MOD when he was transferred to the Civil Staff on 31 January 1931. Remaining at the MOD as a civilian clerk, Leighton was appointed as the Ordnance Officer (Provision) and commissioned into the NZTS as a Lieutenant on 2 December 1939. He was promoted to Captain on 14 October 1940 and Temporary Major on 1 February 1942. Leighton assumed the appointment of Ordnance Officer Commanding and Accounting Officer of the MOD on 30 September 1946 with the rank of Major and Quartermaster. Leighton would remain the Ordnance Officer Commanding MOD until 31 March 1951 when he proceeded onto retiring leave. Recalled from his retiring leave 55 days later Leighton would eventually retire on 20 September 1954.

Charles Fred Ecob

Date of Birth: 1908 – Charles Fred Ecob had emigrated to New Zealand as an Eighteen-year-old in 1926. Ecob was a civilian clerk at the MOD during the 1930s and would later be a soldier at the MOD until his retirement in the early 1950s.

Henry McKenzie Reid

Date of Birth: December 1910 – Henry McKenzie Reid was a civilian clerk at the MOD. Commissioned in 1940, Reid would serve as an Ordnance Officer with the 8 Brigade in Fiji. Reid would see further operational ordnance service with the NZEFIP in New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. Reid would remain in the NZAOC after the war with Reid becoming the Director of Ordnance Services from April 1957 to November 1960.

Most of these men would play for the Ordnance team all the way through to 1939, other men who appear in the records of the team at different times throughout this period are;

    • Ivan Douglas Allardyce
    • William Saul Keegan
    • James Dalton
    • Alan Hui Andrews
    • Hunter
    • Dudding
    • Abbot
    • Harrington

During the 1930s the MOD at Trentham was a significant contributor to the sporting community of Upper Hutt. At the individual level, men of the MOD were players, coaches and administrators for many of the sporting codes in Upper Hutt.  The MOD cricket team was an anchor team in the Upper Hutt Cricket association Cricket competition, providing a level of stability in uncertain times which contributed to the success of the competition. What is significant is that despite having no opportunity to exercise together as a unit in the inter-war years, when war came, the NZAOC had a cadre of potential leaders who had honed their skills on playing fields to help guide the NZAOC in its wartime expansion.

 

 

 

 

 


Colourised Pictures

Until 22 April 2020, the genealogical website Myheritage.com  is providing free access to an application on their website which automatically colourises old photos.

The examples provided on this page have been processed through the application and the results are varied. Some of the images do look a little washed out, and some of the interpretation of the colours is a bit off with khaki processed as blue and details such as hat puggarees not coming out correctly. However considering that the processing is automatic with no human intervention, the results are not too bad with many of the photos brought to life with details previously unseen in the original highlighted.

 

 



WO1 David Andrew Orr, RNZAOC

Much of this article is published with the permission of the author of Service Lives Remembered, The Meritorious Service Medal in New Zealand and Its Recipients: 1895-1994, Howard (Clas) Chamberlain.Copyright Howard (Clas) Chamberlain

David Orr was born in Wellington on 13 January 1935 a son of John and Elizabeth Agnes Orr (nee Graham) who came from Ballymena and Randalstown, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Dave’s father was a policeman and at the time of Dave’s enlistment was stationed at Kaponga near Hawera. Dave shared his home life with two brothers and a sister and was educated at the Hawera Technical High School. He left after reaching Form Five to be employed as a concrete worker by Mr J.A. Stenning of Hawera. Dave was called up for service under the Compulsory Military Service scheme and after the initial training became a Territorial Force soldier. He reached the rank of Lance Corporal before joining the Regular Force. On 1 August 1957, Dave married Beverly Ann Barnett at Taumaranui. Dave would have three children, Gary John (b. 20 Jan 1958, Taumaranui), Susan Beverly (b. 22 Nov1959) and Debra Kay (b. 21 Feb 1961, Palmerston North).

1 Regt

Plaque of 1 Battalion the New Zealand Regiment. Robert McKie collection

Dave enlisted into the Regular Army in August 1957 and after a basic refresher training course, followed by advanced corps training at Waiouru was posted to the 1st Battalion, New Zealand Regiment. This Battalion was the replacement for the Special Air Service Squadron which had been in Malaya from 1955. The Battalion paraded through Wellington in November 1957 prior to its departure for Malaya. It was transported to Singapore on board the troopship TSS CAPTAIN COOK (which had been used for bringing migrants to New Zealand after WW2) arriving in December. On arrival in Malaya many of its personnel were sent just across the causeway from Singapore to Johore State for acclimatisation and jungle training mainly at the Jungle Warfare School at Kota Tingi. In March 1 NZ Regiment moved to Ipoh, and relieved the 1st Battalion the Royal Lincoln Regiment which had been on operations in North Malaya in the State of Perak.

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ANZAC Day Sobraon Camp 1958. Left to Right: Alkie McAlpine, Sam Peleti, Dave Orr, Bill Roden, Max Handley, Dave Wilson. 1Bn NZ Regiment Newsletter Nov 2011.

Dave was posted to active service as the Battalion was employed on counter-insurgency duties in an effort to round up remaining terrorists which were the hardcore members of the Malayan Communist Party. The Battalion was involved in deep jungle patrols of up to platoon size as the Emergency was still being fought. Apart from other duties, Dave was involved with setting up the Pipe Band of 1 NZ Regiment whilst in Malaya. (During this tour, while on patrol, one of the members of the band was hauled out of his bed in the jungle by a tiger and severely injured.) On 5 August 1959 Dave Orr emplaned on an RNZAF Hastings aircraft at Singapore and returned to New Zealand. For his service in Malaya Dave was awarded the General Service Medal 1918 clasp ‘Malaya’

RNZAOC GILT, annodised plain 1955-1996

Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1955-1996 badge Gilt, anodised plain. Robert McKie Collection

Dave Orr changed Corps to RNZAOC upon his return to New Zealand in 1959, became a Storeman/Clerk and was posted to Central District Ordnance Depot (CDOD), Linton, where he was also involved with forming the Linton Camp Pipe Band which now no longer exists. He was promoted Corporal during August 1962 and Sergeant during April 1967. He was next posted to Waiouru Sub-Depot of CDOD, promoted Staff Sergeant in 1967 and WO2 in 1970. WO2 Orr was posted back to Linton Camp in 1974 to 1 General Troops Workshops (RNZEME) stores section before returning to CDOD in 1975 when he was promoted WO1.

conductor SD

RNZAOC Conductor Badge. Robert Mckie Collection

WO1 Orr was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal (Military) on 1 August 1975. He was posted to Trentham Camp during 1977, firstly to 1 Base Ordnance Depot (later 1 Base Supply Battalion then 5 Logistics Regiment) then to the appointment of RSM, the RNZAOC School. He was later appointed a Conductor in the RNZAOC, a distinction much prized and not granted lightly within the RNZAOC. During 1977 he initiated the setting up of the RNZAOC Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ silver collection now valued at thousands of dollars.

While posted to the New Zeland Advanced Ordnance Depot in Singapore, WO1 Orr was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal on 29 April 1982

The citation for the Meritorious Service Medal reads in part as follows, “Warrant Officer Orr has given dedicated and reliable service not only to his Corps but also the Army as a whole. He has shown his ability to understand and communicate with soldiers at all levels and has portrayed an image of a “Soldier Friend”. Young soldiers find WO1 Orr easy to approach and always willing to help. In all his dealings WO1 Orr puts others needs before those of his own. His exceptional service and conduct were recognised in 1975 when he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

Warrant Officer Orr has been actively involved in many activities including Chief Marshal, Napier Military Pageant, Directing Staff Wanganui Military Pageant, Palmerston North, New Plymouth and Hamilton Military Pageant, for which he has received noted commendations…

In recognition of an outstanding career WO1 Orr has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. This medal is only awarded to senior NCOS with at least 21 years service. Only 20 serving personnel may be awarded it at any one time and then only those soldiers who have performed good, faithful, valuable and meritorious service and possessed of an irreproachable conduct throughout the qualifying period. The Meritorious Service Medal admirably compliments his earlier award of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.”

Dave Orr 2

Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor) Dave Orr receiving his MSM from the Commander NZ Force SEA, Brigadier Burrows 1982. Joe Bolton Collection

Dave was actively involved with Camp and Corps sport during his career both as a player and administrator. Dave Orr retired from the Army in 1985 and was employed as the Property Officer (a civilian appointment) at Trentham Camp until his retirement.

Dave passed away on the morning of 26 March 2020 after a long illness.

 


Sergeant Two Bob and Corporal Jenny

24 February is the memorial day set aside as “Purple Poppy Day” the day on which we honour our war animals.

Complementing the traditional Red Poppy which is worn on ANZAC and Rembermanace day, the Purple Poppy symbolises all animals who have served during times of conflict.

Thousands of animals have provided support to New Zealand’s Forces, either as working animals or as mascots and providing companionship and comfort to service personnel.

One of the most famous animals in New Zeland Military History is Ceaser,, the bulldog who was awarded the Blue Cross Medal on 27 May 2019  for his service and bravery during the First World War.

caesar-anzac-dog-WW1-487-700x467

Portrait of ‘Caesar’ (misspelt as Ceaser) with ‘4th Battalion Mascot, NZ Rifle Brigade and ‘Oliver Varley, photo’ written on the photograph. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira. WW1 487.

 

Sergeant Two Bob

Like many other units of the 2nd New Zealand Divison during the Second World War, the Divisional Ordnance Field Park (OFP) had its own mascot, a small dog. The dog had been purchased as a pup from a local vendor in Tripoli for two shillings and named “Sergeant Two Bob”.

The name “Sergeant Two Bob” was a play in on the slang of the time where Bob was the common term for a shilling, with twelve shillings making up a pound,  “Two Bob” equalled two shillings which at the time was a common lighthearted insult where one would essentially say that something was worthless, in this case, it was a term of affection for a unit mascot.

Records indicate that “Sergeant Two Bob” would move with the OFP from North Africa to Italy in early 1944 and remained a member of that until the end of the war.  As the NZ Division demobilised, New Zealand’s strict quarantine regulations forbade the return to New Zealand of  “Sergeant Two Bob”, and it is assumed that he was found a new home with some Italian owners.

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Harry Gilbertson of the New Zealand Divisional Ordnance Field Park with the section mascot “Sergeant Two Bob” at Maddi September 1943. Photo H.J Gilbertson

Corporal Jenny

“Sergeant Two Bob” was not the only Ordnance Mascot during the Second World War.  In the Pacific, Ordnance in the 3rd New Zealand Division adopted ‘Jenny the fawn’.

Orphaned as the result of a deer-hunting expedition, Jenny was hand-reared on a diet of powdered milk and guava leaves and soon promoted to the rank of substantive corporal.

Corporal Jenny’s duties included representing the Ordnance team at football matches, resplendent in its Khaki cover decorated in Ordnance colours and regulation corporal’s stripes.  Later Jenny’s appetite extended to include tea-leaves, the unit’s laundry and mail.  On the NZ Divisions departure from New Caledonia in 1944 Jenny was presented to a local family.

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Jenny the Fawn, 1943. War History Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library