New Zealand’s Flaming “A” Badge

Since 1971, Ammunition Technical Officers (ATOs) and Ammunition Technicians (ATs) of the New Zealand Army have proudly worn the Flaming “A” Badge, a symbol of the dangerous and skilful nature of the AT trade. The AT trade evolved from managing powder magazines in the 19th century to managing the full range of ammunition and explosives available to the modern New Zealand Army. The Flaming “A” Badge is more than a symbol of the dangerous and skilful nature of the AT trade but an acknowledgement to those who wear it of their trade’s long and proud whakapapa.

In early Colonial New Zealand, Ammunition and explosives were imported from the United Kingdom and Australia. To safely store and distribute powder and shot, Powder magazines were established at Wellingtons Mount Cook and Auckland’s Mount Albert, with specialist expertise required for the handling and storing of these stocks provided by qualified and experienced individuals from the British Military Stores Department and Royal Artillery and Engineer officers. As the Imperial Forces completed their withdrawal from New Zealand in 1870, full responsibility for New Zealand’s Magazines and Ammunition was passed to the Defence Stores Department.

From 1873 the powder magazines at Mount Albert and Mount Cook were replaced by new facilities at Auckland’s Mount Eden and Wellingtons Kaiwharawhara, both of which remained in use through to the 1920s. Supporting the dispersed Militia and Volunteer Forces, magazines were maintained by the Defence Stores Department at most provincial centres.

With the formation of the permanent Garrison Artillery in 1884, Frederick Silver and Robert George Vinning Parker, Sergeant Majors with considerable experience in the Royal Marine Artillery and Royal Garrison Artillery, then serving as constables in the Armed Constabulary, were transferred to the Garrison Artillery as instructors. Providing a solid base of experience, Silver and Parker were instrumental in mounting much of New Zealand’s Garrison artillery, compiling books and manuals and, in conjunction with the Defence Storekeeper managing the stocks of Artillery ammunition.

With the government’s encouragement, Major John Whitney established Whitney & Sons as an ammunition manufacturing company in Auckland. With additional investors, this company became the Colonial Ammunition Company (CAC) in 1888, the first ammunition manufacturer in New Zealand and the first in Australasia. Entering a contract with the New Zealand Government to produce Small Arms Ammunition (SAA), the deal was that the government provided the powder with the CAC providing the components for manufacturing complete cartridges. The Government retained the right to inspect and conduct quality control inspections on each batch before acceptance by the New Zealand Forces. The testing regime was a simple one which consisted of testing only a small percentage of a batch by test firing. The test results were based on the performance of this percentage that the ammunition is accepted or rejected.

With the production of .577 Snyder Ball Ammunition underway by 1890, the first testing, inspection and acceptance of the initial batches were conducted by Major John Pirie of the New Zealand Militia. Formerly a Major in the Guernsey Militia, Major Pirie immigrated to New Zealand, becoming the Auckland District Musketry Instructor in 1881 and conducting inspections of manufactured Ammunition until July 1891. From July 1891, ammunition inspection was passed to the Officer Commanding the Auckland District, Major Goring. In 1893, Lieutenant J E Hume of the Permanent Militia was responsible for examining ammunition. Hume held this responsibility in addition to his other duties until 1898.

On 6 February 1898, a formal request was placed on the United Kingdom for the recruitment of a suitable Warrant Officer from the Royal Artillery to “Take charge of the testing operations of SAA and the supervision of the manufacture of the same”. Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor Arthur Duvall, Royal Garrison Artillery of the Artillery College, was selected as the Small Arms Testing officer for the New Zealand Forces. To be promoted to 3rd Class Master Gunner on appointment, it was to be a three-year engagement at a rate of Nine Shillings a day with free quarters or a £50 per annum housing allowance. Arriving in New Zealand in July 1898, Duvall was soon at work at the CAC premises at Mount Eden in Auckland. Extending his engagement every three years, Duvall completed twenty years of service with the British Army in 1911. Taking his discharge in New Zealand, Duvall was immediately attested into the New Permanent Staff as an Honorary Lieutenant on 26 April 1912 and then promoted to Honorary Captain on 1 April 1914.

In 1902, Silver was discharged from the Artillery and was appointed as the Assistant Defence Storekeeper. While taking on the duties of Assistant Defence Storekeeper, Silver also retained responsibility for managing all the Artillery’s stores and ammunition. Following the implementation of the Defence Act 1909 and subsequent reorganisation, Silver transferred from the Defence Stores to the office of the Director of Artillery. He was appointed as Quartermaster (Honorary Lieutenant) into the post of Artillery Stores Accountant, retaining responsibility for all artillery stores and ammunition. Retiring in June 1913, Silver was replaced as Artillery Stores Accountant by Parker, who was promoted from Warrant Officer to Quartermaster (Honorary Lieutenant).

With the Colonial Ammunition Company in Auckland manufacturing SAA, thus allowing a measure of self-sufficiency, the same could not be said for artillery ammunition which all had to be imported from overseas. Parker conducted a cost-benefit analysis to assess the virtues of locally made-up artillery ammunition compared to imported items. Parker estimated that by cleaning and refilling casings, inspecting and refurbishing propellant bags, and manufacturing new ones as required, annual savings of £3,333 (2022 NZD$633,605) could be made. To achieve these savings, a recommendation that a specialist Royal New Zealand Artillery Ordnance Corps Section be established to manufacture and modify ammunition was made. General Godley approved the proposal in mid-1914, and on 1 March 1915, authority was granted under New Zealand Defence Forces General Order 90 to raise the New Zealand Army Ordnance Section with effect from 1 April 1915.

On 31 May 1917, regulations constituting the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC), backdated to 1 February 1917, were approved and published in the New Zealand Gazette of 7 June 1917, concluding forty-eight years of service provided by the Defence Stores Department,

Administrative control of the New Zealand Artillery Ordnance Section was passed to the NZAOC, and Parker was commissioned as Captain in the NZAOD as the Inspector of Ordnance Machinery. However, his time in this post was short, as he retired on 30 September 1919.

On 10 January 1918, Duvall was transferred from the Permanent Staff to the NZAOD, graded as an Ordnance Officer Class 3 with the rank of Captain as the Proof Officer SAA. The post of Proof Officer SAA was to be a continuous appointment in the New Zealand Army ammunition supply chain until 1968, when the CAC shifted its operations to Australia, ending its long relationship with the New Zealand Army.

Experience during the 1914-18 war highlighted the need for specialist officers trained in the technical nature of ammunition. Undertaking several courses of instruction in the United Kingdom, Captain William Ivory, RNZA, returned to New Zealand at the end of 1919 to assume the role of Inspecting Ordnance Officer (IOO). Lieutenant A de T Nevill, RNZA, took the post of Acting IOO in 1925 to allow Ivory to undertake regimental duties within the RNZA, with Ivory reassuming the position of IOO on 2 January 1927. On Ivory’s retirement in 1933, Lieutenant Ivan Roberts Withell, RNZA, assumed the appointment of IOO, a role held until his death on 31 August 1946.

On the formation of the NZAOC in 1917, the Royal New Zealand Artillery (RNZA) Ordnance Section at Fort Ballance passed to NZAOC control, continuing with its task of storing, repairing, and refurbishing ammunition under the control of the RNZA. With The Kaiwharawhara Magazines closed in the early 1920s, Watts Peninsular on the north end of Wellingtons Miramar peninsular became the first large-scale ammunition depot of the NZAOC. The ammunition infrastructure consisted of 19 magazines, one store and a laboratory spread out across the peninsula at Shelly Bay, Kau Point, Mahanaga Bay, Fort Ballance and Fort Gordon. These were not purpose-built ammunition magazines but repurposed submarine mining and coastal artillery fortifications dating back to the 1880s. In the case of Kau Point and Forts Ballance and Gordon, the large six- and eight-inch disappearing guns had been removed in the early 1920s, and the gun pits roofed over, becoming ad-hoc magazines. This accommodation was far from ideal as temperature and moisture control could not be adequately controlled, resulting in potential damage t ammunition stocks.

A smaller Ammunition section was also maintained at Mount Eden in Auckland until 1929, when along with some staff from Fort Balance, the Mount Eden Ammunition Section was transferred to New Magazines at Hopuhopu Camp. Envisaged to be the principal ammunition depot for New Zealand, eleven magazines and a laboratory were constructed between 1925 and 1927. Built into the hillside to contain any blasts, the magazines were made of concrete, with double walls forming an inspecting chamber. The intent of the inspection chamber was for sentries to observe thermometers and adjust the ventilation to maintain the stock at optimal temperatures by consulting a chart.

The NZAOC Ammunition sections were civilianised in 1931 when nearly all of the NZAOC military staff were transferred to the Public Service as civilian staff at a lower rate of pay or placed on superannuation as the result of government budgetary restraints.

When New Zealand entered the Second World War in September 1939, the responsibility for ammunition was shared between the RNZA and the NZAOC.

  • The Director of Artillery was responsible to the General Officer Commanding for.
    • The provision and allocation of gun ammunition,
    • The receipt, storage, and issue of gun ammunition and explosives other than small-arms ammunition
  • The Director of Ordnance Services, assisted by the IOO and the SAA Proof Officer, were responsible to the Quartermaster-General for.
    • The inspection and repair of gun ammunition,
    • The provision, receipt, storage and distribution of small arms ammunition.

NZAOC Ammunition facilities and personnel shared by the RNZA and NZAOC in September 1939 consisted of.

  • The IOO, Captain I.R Withell, RNZA
  • The Proof Officer, SAA Mount Eden Auckland, Honorary Lieutenant J.W Fletcher, NZPS
  • 19 Magazines, 1 Store, and an Ammunition Laboratory at Fort Ballance managed by
    • an RNZA WO1 seconded to the NZAOC
    • five members of the NZAOC civilian staff
  • 11 Magazines and an Ammunition Laboratory at Hopuhopu Camp managed by
    • an RNZA WO1 seconded to the NZAOC and
    • two members of the NZAOC civilian staff.
  • Single SAA Magazines at Trentham and Burnham Camps.

From 1940 as the New Zealand Army moved from a peacetime to a wartime footing, the Ammunition trade grew exponentially as new infrastructure was constructed to accommodate the extensive range of ammunition required for training and home defence, with Modern Explosive Store Houses built at.

  • Burnham – 8 Magazines
  • Ohakea – 6 Magazine
  • Papakura (Ardmore)- 28 Magazines
  • Hopuhopu and Kelms Road – 55 Magazines
  • Waiouru – 45 Magazines
  • Makomako – 39 Magazines
  • Trentham (Kuku Valley) – 22 Magazines
  • Belmont – 62 Magazines
  • Glen Tunnel – 16
  • Mount Somers – 10
  • Fairlie – 9
  • Alexandra – 9

In 1942 a conference of the QMG, DQMG2, AQMG5, COO, DCOO and IOO reset the wartime policy and organisation of New Zealand Military Ammunition services in which,

  • The COO and the Ordnance Ammunition Group were responsible for the management and storage of ammunition
  • the Chief IOO (CIOO) was responsible for all technical management and inspection of ammunition.

With the role of the IOO branch now defined, from January 1943, the establishment of the IOO Branch was steadily increased to more robust levels.

From mid-1945, discussions started taking place on the post-war shape of the NZAOC. Some thought was given to returning the NZAOC to its pre-war status as a predominantly civilian organisation. Reality prevailed, and the future of the NZAOC was assured as a permanent component of the post-war Army.

The Proposed establishment of NZAOC Ammunition units saw the first widespread use of Ammunition Examiner (AE) as the ammunition trade name. AEs had existed in the British Army since 1923, evolving from the trade of Military Laboratory Foreman that had been established in 1886. Although the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) authorised the use of a specialist AE badge consisting of an ‘AE in Wreath’ in 1942, permission to wear this badge was not granted to New Zealand AEs.

RAOC Ammunition Examiner Trade Badge 1942 to 1950 with ‘homemade’ Brass Version.

The first New Zealand AE were in the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary (2NZEF), where New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) AEs were included as part of the 2nd New Zealand Division NZASC Ammunition Company establishment. Little information is known about the 2NZEF AEs. They were likely recruited from within 2NZEF, given some rudimentary training by the RAOC and set to work.

From 1 June 1945, the Artillery Headquarters element responsible for managing Gun Ammunition, the Ammunition and Equipment Section, was transferred to the control of the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO), ending the RNZA roles in the management of ammunition that had existed since the 1880s and the employment of Parker and Silver. As a result of the transfer, 11 Officers and 175 Other Ranks of the Royal New Zealand Artillery were absorbed into the NZAOC establishment.

On 15 November 1945, the QMG directed that the care, maintenance, accounting and storage of all ammunition and explosives was the responsibility of the COO. Under the COO, these duties were to be undertaken by

  • The IOO Section
  • The NZAOC Ammunition Section

Under the CIOO, the IOO Section was responsible for.

  • The control of all work on ammunition for all purposes other than accounting and storage,
  • Maintenance of Ammunition and explosives in stock in a serviceable condition and ready for use,
  • Provision of personnel for inspection and repair and for working parties to carry out repairs,
  • Provision of all equipment and stores required for the inspection and repair of ammunition,
  • Provision and accounting for Motor Transport necessary for the transport of stock for inspection and repair,
  • Administration and control of Repair Depot Trentham,
  • Maintenance of buildings at Repair Depot Trentham.

The NZAOC Ammunition Section was responsible for.

  • The accounting, storage and care of ammunition and explosives,
  • Maintenance or magazines areas and of buildings and services connected with the storage of ammunition and explosives,
  • Administration of personnel of the IOO Section, while attached to ammunition depots concerning pay, rations, quarters, clothing and discipline,
  • Transport arrangements for the movement of ammunition not connected with the inspection and repair of ammunition at depots.

The provision of suitably trained personnel was a constant problem for the CIOO. A course for IOOs was conducted over November/December 1945 to provide sufficient Officers to fill the IOO establishment. Graduates included

  • Captain John Gordon Renwick Morley
  • Captain Gerald Arthur Perry
  • Lieutenant Heaphy
  • Lieutenant W.G Dixon
  • Lieutenant Eric Dudley Gerard

On 1 September 1946, Army Headquarters “Q” Branch underwent a significant reorganisation which included the formation of the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) and the reorganisation of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services under the Director of Army Equipment (DAE) which became the senior NZAOC appointment.

Under the DAE, Ordnance Services were divided between the,

  • COO, responsible for Headquarters New Zealand Ordnance Services, including the Provision Group
  • CIOO, responsible for the IOO Group

On the retirement of the incumbent DAE, Lieutenant Colonel C.S.J. Duff, DSO, RNZA, on 3 July 1947, the appointment of DEA was renamed Director of Ordnance Services (DOS), with Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Huia Andrews, RNZAOC, appointed as the first post-war DOS on 1 October 1947.

By 1949 the Ammunition organisation had further evolved, combining the IOO and NZAOC Section into a single ammunition organisation, with

  • The CIOO and staff providing DOS with the required technical advice on ammunition
  • District IOOs appointed to each District Headquarters as the Ammo advisor to the District DADOS
  • District Ammunition Sections now renamed as
    • Northern District Ammunition Depot
    • Central District Ammunition Depot
    • Southern District Ammunition Depot
  • Army Ammunition Repair Depot
  • Army Ammunition Supply Depot

To facilitate the further reorganisation and refinement of the Ammunition functions, the DOS hosted the first conference of Senior Ammunition Officers at Trentham Camp from 21-24 June 1949.

RNZAOC IOOs and AEs 1949

With the role of Inspection Ordnance Officers and Ammunition Examiners now embedded into the structure of the New Zealand Army, The Ammunition trade remained an under-resourced trade, struggling to fill its establishments despite having a high operating tempo. Typical activities supported during the 1950s included,

  • Continuous inspection of wartime ammunition held depots
  • Disposal of surplus and obsolete ammunition by
    • Dumping at sea
    • Destruction within depots
    • Sale to the public (SAA natures)
    • Transfer to allied nations
  • Supply of Ammunition to support Compulsory Military Training
  • Disposal of Blinds and unexploded Ammunition discovered in wartime training areas
  • Trials and introduction into service of new natures of ammunition
  • Technical Ammunition support to the Fiji Military Forces

In the United Kingdom, a competition was held in 1948 to design a new badge for RAOC Ammunition Examiners, with a design by Major Leonard Thomas Herbert Phelps accepted. Rumoured to be based on the Elizabeth Arden Cosmetics Company logo, the new Ammunition Examiner badge, consisting of a 3″ x 2″ Red, Black and Gold Flaming Grenade superimposed with the Letter A in the body of the Grenade signifying the AE trades position as an “A” Class trade, and was the first three-colour trade badge in the British Army.

Elizabeth Arden lipstick

In 1950 The British Army Dress Committee gave authority for AEs of the rank of Sergeant and above to wear the ‘Flaming A’ Trade Badge as a ‘Badge of Appointment’. However, it took time for this badge to be approved for wear by New Zealand’s Ammunition Trades.

Large ‘Ammunition Examiner’ Badge c1950, Brass and Anodized ‘Flaming A’ Badges. https://raoc.websitetoolbox.com/post/ammunition-technicians-badge-1566875?highlight=ammunition%20technician%20badge

In 1959 a comprehensive review of army dress embellishments was conducted to provide a policy statement on the wear embellishments such as

  • Shoulder titles
  • Formation Patches
  • Service Badges
  • Badges of Appointment
  • Instructors Badges
  • Skill-at-Arms Badges
  • Tradesmen’s badges

In reviewing Badges of Appointment, it was found that in comparison with the British Army, some badges of appointment worn by the British Army were also approved for wear by the New Zealand Army. Worn below the rank badge by WOs and above the chevrons by NCOS, examples of British badges of appointment worn by the New Zealand Army included,

  • Gun, worn by WO2s, SSgts and Sgts of the RNZE
  • Grenade, worn by WO2s, SSgts and Sgts of the RNZA
  • Hammer and Pincers, worn by WO2s, SSgts and Sgts of the RNZEME
  • Lyre, worn by Bandsmen

In the case of the RAOC AE flaming “A” badge, it was felt that there was merit in supporting the use of the same badge for wear by RNZAOC ammunition trades, and the adoption of the flaming “A” badge was recommended.

Despite the many recommendations for the army dress embellishment review, the only decision was to adopt shoulder titles and formation patches. The Army Dress Committee invited the Adjutant General to prepare a paper on dress embellishment and draw up a policy on Badges of Appointment, Instructors Badges, Skill-at-Arms Badges and Tradesmen’s badges. The wait for a badge for AE’s was to continue.

As the RNZAOC organisation matured in the late 1950s, it became apparent that the system in place of having separate Ordnance, Vehicle and Ammunition Depots located in the same locations but under different command arrangements was impracticable and not an efficient use of resources. Starting in 1961, a reorganisation was undertaken to consolidate administrative, accounting and store functions under one headquarters. The restructuring resulted in only one RNZAOC depot in each district, which consisting of,

  • Headquarters,
  • Stores Sub-Depot,
  • Ammunition Sub-Depot,
  • Vehicle Sub-Depot
  • Traffic Centre.

To achieve this, all the existing District Ammunition Depots became sub-depots of a District Ordnance Depot, designated as.

  • Ammunition Sub-Depot, Northern Districts Ordnance Depot (NDOD) – Ngāruawāhia,
  • Ammunition Sub-Depot Central Districts Ordnance Depot (CDOD) – Linton,
  • Ammunition Sub-Depot Southern Districts Ordnance Depot (SDOD) – Burnham

Ammunition Sub-Depots now consisted of:

  • Ammunition Inspection Section.
  • Ammunition Repair Section.
  • Non-Explosive Store.
  • NDOD Ammunition Areas.
    • Ardmore
    • Kelm road
    • Ngāruawāhia
  • CDOD Ammunition Areas
    • Waiouru
    • Makomako
    • Belmont
    • Trentham
  • SDOD Ammunition Areas
    • Burnham
    • Glentunnel
    • Fairlie
    • Mt Somers

In 1960 the RAOC renamed their Ammunition Trades, and concurrent with the 1961 reorganisation, the RNZAOC decided to align the Ammunition Trade with the RAOC and adopt the same trade names, making the following changes.

  • Chief Inspecting Ordnance Officer became Chief Ammunition Technical Officer
  • Senior Inspecting Ordnance Officer became Senior Ammunition Technical Officer
  • District Inspecting Ordnance Officer became District Ammunition Technical Officer
  • Inspecting Ordnance Officer became Ammunition Technical Officer
  • Ammunition Examiner became Ammunition Technician

Up to 1961, Ammunition Technical Officers (ATOs) were usually only employed in Ammunition-related duties. However, as a result of this reorganisation, ATOs were now used across all of the RNZAOC and, as such, were required to balance their regular duties with their Ammunition responsibilities.

1968 saw further reorganisation with the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham was renamed 1 Base Ordnance Depot and the District Ordnance Depots renamed

  • Northern District Ordnance Depot to 1 Central Ordnance Depot
  • Central District Ordnance Depot to 2 Central Ordnance Depot
  • Southern District Ordnance Depot to 3 Central Ordnance Depot

A significant aspect of the 1968 reorganisation was the Disestablishment of The Small Arms and Proof Office co-located at Mount Eden when the CAC closed down, ending the ammunition trades’ long relationship with the CAA. Additionally, the Ammunition Proof and Experimental Centre operations at Kuku Valley was closed down, and its operations moved to the new Joint Services Proof Establishment at Kauri Point in Auckland.

Keen to provide the Ammunition trade with a suitable trade identifier Major D.H Rollo, the CATO, sent a message to the New Zealand Defence Liaison Staff in London in September 1968 requesting the following information from the UK Chief Inspector of Land Service Ammunition (CILSA) on the RAOC AT Badge

  • Do other ranks and officers wear it
  • Conditions of entitlement to wear
  • Cost of badge
  • Possibility of procuring samples
  • Any other pertinent details which may guide in adopting a similar badge

By the end of November 1968, through the New Zealand Defence Liaison Staff, the UK CILSA provided the following information on the RAOC AT badge to the New Zealand CATO,

  • Worn by all Ammunition Technicians on No 1 and No2 Dress. It is not worn with any other form of dress.
  • Price
    • No1 Dress – 7/6d each,
    • No 2 Dress – 5.1/4d each
  • Samples of each badge to be provided

Armed with this information that the RAOC badge was only approved for wear by ATs and not ATOs, CATO raised a submission to the 77th meeting of the Army Dress Committee in April 1969 for approval to introduce the Flaming “A” badge for New Zealand ATs. However, it was not a robust submission and was declined because it was contended that there was not sufficient justification for the badge, with the following reasons given.

  • Other trades in the Army were equally deserving of such a badge
  • The low standard to qualify for the badge

The Dress Committee agreed to reconsider the matter if further justification could be supplied.

By 1969 developments in the United Kingdom and the troubles in Northern Ireland saw the unofficial wearing of the RAOC AT badge by ATOs, and by 1971 an ATO badge consisting of a small ‘Flaming Circle’ without the superimposed A was introduced in the June 1971 DOS Bulletin.

Moving forward from Major Rollo’s initial submission, New Zealand’s CATO, Major Bob Duggan, reconsidered the earlier proposal and, on 13 July 1970, through the DOS, submitted the following for a combined AT/ATO Badge,

CONSIDERATIONS

6.            R & SO Vol II provides for the wearing of qualification badges, and a study of that publication reveals that a large proportion of Army Corps already have these. Many badges require less effort for qualification than would the exacting trade of Ammunition Technician. In addition, and supporting the acceptance of an ATO/AT Badge, these technicians are frequently required to deal with other services and members of the public.

7.            The low standard required to qualify for this badge has been reconsidered in light of information obtained on similar standards received from overseas. In addition, it was never the intention to cheapen the significance of this badge in the RNZAOC or those of any other Corps. The standard required to qualify for the ATO/AT badge would now be as follows:

a. Technical Officers who have practised for a minimum of one year.

b. All Ammunition Technicians, regardless of rank, who have qualified in all ways for four stars in their trade.

8.            The Public Relations side of the duties of ATO/Ats, as mentioned in paragraph 6 above, is further explained. This aspect concerns the collection and disposal of stray ammunition and explosives as well as involvement with the Police and other Government Departments in bomb scares. The average annual number of items, all natures and types of stray ammunition which have been collected over the last three years is 5750, which represents approximately 450 calls by ATOs or four-star ATs. ATO/ATs are requested by Police Stations throughout New Zealand

a. To visit many private homes to identify-stray ammunition.

b. Assess whether or not the items are in a dangerous state, and

c. Remove such items for disposal. If an item is in an armed state, it could mean disposal in situ’.

9.            The request is therefore not for a trade badge, but one of recognition and identification as to the dangerous and skilful nature of their specialist work.

With the Support of the Army Q Branch, the Army Dress committee approved the introduction of the AT Badge for qualified RNZAOC ATOs and ATs on 31 May 1971

The New Zealand AT badge adopted in 1971 was identical to the RAOC AT Badge. The criteria for being awarded was for Officers to have completed one year of practical experience after graduating from the ATOs Course in Australia or the United Kingdom. For ATs to qualify, they were required to be qualified in all aspects of the trade, which could take up to six years.

The United Kingdom continues to maintain different ATO and AT badges. The Australian Army utilises an RAOC style, ATO badge with a stylised Wattle for ATOs and ATs.

Australian Army Ammunition Technical Officer/Ammunition Technician Badge. https://www.army.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-03/Army%20Dress%20Manual_0.pdf

Examples of New Zealand ATO/AT Badges

1st pattern Ammunition Technician Badge. Robert McKie Collection
1st pattern Ammunition Technician Badge Mess Kit Badge. Robert McKie Collection

In 1988, as part of a New Zealand Army initiative to develop insignia with a unique New Zealand flavour, fern fronds were included across many New Zealand Army badges, including the AT Badge.  The fern fronds represented New Zealand’s national plant, the silver fern, which had been used to represent New Zealand in sports uniforms and military insignia since the 1880s.

New Zealand ATOs and ATs matured into a highly specialised trade that, on the amalgamation of the RNZAOC into the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR) in 1996, had a wide range of responsibilities, including

  • The inspection, storage and maintenance of all ammunition and explosives used by the Army
  • The conduct of technical trials on new ammunition,
  • The conduct investigations into ammunition incidents and accidents,
  • The disposal of unserviceable or obsolete ammunition,
  • The management of Explosive Ordnance Devices and Improvised Explosive Devices.

New Zealand’s Ammunition trade has progressed from storing and managing black powder magazines in the 19th century to managing the many modern ammunition natures available to the 21st century New Zealand Army. Although introduced in 1971 to recognise and identify the specialist, dangerous and skilful nature of the Ammunition trade, the flaming “A” badge is a fitting symbol of the trade’s progress.


RNZAOC Lanyard

New Zealand’s military usage of lanyards has been practical, with lanyards used for securing pistols, compasses and whistles to a person. Aside from the practical use of lanyards, there are also examples where lanyards have been adopted as a coloured uniform accoutrement by some New Zealand Regiments and Corps, some examples being

  • The Regular Force Cadets’ red lanyard
  • The New Zealand Provost and Military Police white lanyard
  • The Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport blue and gold lanyard

Almost included in this short list of New Zealand Army regimental lanyards was the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC), which applied for permission to adopt a regimental lanyard in the 1960s.

The word lanyard originates from the French word ‘lanière’, which means ‘strap’, with accounts from the late 15th century French describing how soldiers and privateers utilised ropes and cords found on ships to keep their swords, cutlasses and pistols close at hand whilst working in ships’ rigging and during combat.

As with any functional military kit, lanyards evolved with French Cuirassiers using a braided lanyard to hold their swords in place, with adoption by most militaries following. In British use, lanyards became common, used to attach pistols to uniforms, and Gunners used them to fire artillery. In widespread use for practical purposes, the adoption of lanyards as a decorative uniform item soon followed, with coloured lanyards denoting regiments and corps and gold lanyards used to identify senior officers.

In the British Army Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC), a coloured RAOC Lanyard was introduced with the 1960 Pattern No2 Dress, and within a short time, the RNZAOC applied for a similar dress distinction.

On 24 July 1962, the Colonel Commandant of the RNZAOC, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Reid, submitted a proposal to the New Zealand Army Dress Committee to adopt a unique dress embellishment for specific Regular Force RNZAOC personnel. The submission reads

1.         R&SO Vol II paras 3359 refers

2.         I wish to refer the following proposal submitted by 4 Inf Bde Gp OFP, for consideration for the adoption of a special embellishment to the dress for specific Regular Force RNZAOC personnel.

3.        The proposal is that personnel posted to field force units, ie, 4 Inf Bde Gp OFP and 4 Inf Wksps Stores Sec be permitted to wear a lanyard on the left shoulder, with all orders of dress other than numbers 1, 4 and 5.

4.          The proposed lanyard has three cords, twisted, two scarlet and one blue, with a loop at each end. A suggested sample is enclosed.

5.         The reasons for this proposal are as follows:-

a. 4 Inf Bde Gp OFP and 4 Inf Wksps Stores Sec are new RNZAOC RF units, in fact, it is the first time these types of units have been formed within the Regular Force in the

NZ Army. The personnel have been drawn from the older District Ordnance Depots and many of them continue to think in District terms. It is considered that an

embellishment such as the lanyard, would create a high unit feeling and help to raise and maintain high morale in these RNZAOC units within the field force.

b. It is anticipated that the employment of personnel in these units will occasionally be by assisting RNZAOC static depots. Under these circumstances the

embellishment would maintain a unit feeling when the personnel are mixed with other RNZAOC units.

c. During Bde Gp concentrations, when summer dress is worn and thus corps shoulder titles are not worn, the lanyard would further foster unit spirit within the

formation.

6.          The purchase of these lanyards, if approved, would be undertaken entirely from Unit resources, with Public Funds not being involved in any way.

7.         I strongly recommend this proposal and forward it for your favourable consideration

RNZAOC Colonel Commandant, “Request to adopt special embellishment to dress,” Archives New Zealand No R17187826  (24 July 1962).

Replying to the RNZAOC Colonel Commandant on 10 October 1962, the Army Dress committed agreed to the desirability of having a unique dress embellishment to identify Regular Force Field Force Personnel. However, as a universal shoulder patch for all Field Force personnel was under consideration by the Army Clothing Development Section, approval was not granted for an RNZAOC-specific lanyard. However, the proviso was set that if shoulder patches were rejected as a dress embellishment, further consideration of lanyards was possible, and the Dress Committee welcomed the re-submission of the proposal for an RNZAOC lanyard. The Sample provided to Lt Col Reid was returned.[2]

It took a few more years, but on 10 September 1964, approval was given for the wearing of Formation Patches by all ranks, other than 1 RNZIR and 1 Bn Depot, who continued to wear the red diamond. The approved patches were circular 11/2 inch in diameter and dived by operational grouping,

  • Combat Brigade Group – Black
  • Logistic Support Group, 3 NZEF and Base Units – Red
  • Combat Reserve Brigade Troops – Green
  • All others – Blue

The blue Formation patch for other units was discontinued on 3 December 1968. Approval for the wearing of the remaining patches was withdrawn on 6 August 1971.[3]

Regardless of this initial setback, the idea of an RNZAOC lanyard remained a popular one within the RNZAOC. In November 1969, the DADOS(D), on behalf of the RNZAOC, pitched to the Army Dress Committee the desire of the RNZAOC to have a lanyard as a distinctive dress distinction. By 1969 the corps had been reorganised and instead of a lanyard being an item of dress for those Regular Force personnel posted to Field Force units, it was intended to issue lanyards to all RNZAOC personnel. By 1969 Stable belts were starting to become a popular addition to the range of army dress accoutrements. However, the wearing of Stable belts was limited by the dress orders available, leading the RNZAOC to favour a lanyard as a dress distinction with broader utility. As in 1962, a sample was again provided.

The chairman of the Dress Committee was not in favour of lanyards as he wished to avoid a proliferation of dress embellishments. However, based on the argument put forward by the DADOS(A), he reserved his decision until a future meeting of the Army Dress Committee and invited the DOS to attend to support this item on the agenda.[4]

The next meeting of the Army Dress Committee with the discussion on an RNZAOC Lanyard was on 1 March 1971. In this meeting, the DOS again proposed an RNZAOC lanyard, mentioning that most other Corps of the NZ Army had adopted some form of distinctive dress, for example, Stable belts. However, the RNZAOC remained in favour of an RNZAOC lanyard.

The proposed lanyard was not to be purchased at public expense and was to be worn on the left shoulder of no 2,3,6 (except 6D) and 7 orders of dress. Most members of the Army Dress Committee approved the proposal. However, the chairman again reserved his decision until a clear policy directive on Corps Dress Distinctions was issued from Army HQ, as again, he felt that an introduction of an RNZAOC lanyard “might open the door from other corps submissions”.[5]

The proposal for an RNZAOC lanyard was not approved. In 1972 the RNZAOC reconsidered its position on Stable belts and, following a submission to the Army Dress Committee, was granted permission to adopt an RNZAOC specific Stable belt in April 1972.[6]

The sample lanyards were returned to the DOS and eventually found their way into the RNZAOC School memorabilia collection as a reminder of what could have been. Following the disestablishment of the RNZAOC in 1996, the RNZAOC School memorabilia collection was handed over to the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR) for safe keeping and future preservation. Unfortunately, as a nondescript item whose story had been forgotten and a lack of a robust management policy led to these lanyards and many other RNZAOC items finding their way to the open market.


Notes

[1] RNZAOC Colonel Commandant, “Request to adopt special embellishment to dress,” Archives New Zealand No R17187826  (24 July 1962).

[2] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971,” Archives New Zealand No R9753141  (July 1971).

[3] “Clothing – Dress Embellishments: General 1960-1976,” Archives New Zealand No R17187826  (1960).

[4] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971.”

[5] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971.”

[6] “Army 220/5/103/AAC Army Dress Committee Meeting 1 MArch 1971.”


1950s Camp Equipment

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

Safes-Meat Portable

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

1593580333743-a8c302f3-e99e-41f3-a516-2eb6c342c01c_.jpg
1593580412555-81576d0d-f35d-41e0-a835-8794273b09a2_.jpg
1593580198943-92f3ab80-c911-45f4-a56e-fa041e792d07_.jpg
1593579984661-7e02b137-700a-45f4-9298-08f6e7c3f91d_.jpg

Stands Ablution Portable

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

Consisting of a sink top with a drain trough and bar to hang towels and mirrors, soldiers washed and shaved using a basin. On completion of their business, the contents of the basin were tipped into the drain from where it flowed into a sump dug into the ground

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

Stand Ablution laid with its compontrs laid out;

  • Bar Towel/Toprail, Qty 1
  • Leg Ablution Stand End, Qty 2
  • Leg Ablution Stand Center, Qty 1
  • Brace Ablution Stand, Qty 2
  • Drain Sink, Trough, Qty 1
  • Drain, Lavartory pipe, Qty 1
  • Bolt securing, Qty 4
1593580055144-87079f80-679e-47de-b471-851f452a81cb_.jpg
The above picture shows the Stand Ablution in the final stages of assembly with the two soldiers about to fir the Bar Towel/Top-rail to the Leg Ablution Stand Ends. Once the Bar Towel/Top-rail was attached, the braces were bolted tight and the Drain Sink, Trough and Drain, Lavatory pipe were attached.
1593579916990-393015e9-3de4-4efb-9e1f-d0ecbbd7958e_.jpg

Mess Kit Washup

1593580567220-74e6002e-ffdd-4a48-b294-98556f2e9ef5_.jpg
1593580498450-bc21fd8a-834e-4122-8258-cdf3b2706182_.jpg

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

This set-up was based on the three-pot cleaning method.

Before washing. plates and utensils were thoroughly scrapped clean into a rubbish bin.

Sink 1: Wash sink – Full of hot soapy water, utensils are given a good scrub with a brush or dishcloth.

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

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

Field Cook House

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


National Service Reminiscences

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Military Career by John Mudgway

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

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

Waiouru Camp
10 May 1962 – 27 June 1962

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

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

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

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

Trentham Military Camp
28 June 1962 – 9 May 1963

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

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

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

During my service in RNZAOC I participated in several events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trentham Camp 26 July 2012

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


581769 Private Mudgway J W.


RNZAOC 1 April 1959 to 31 March 1960

This would be a significant period for the RNZAOC. The RNZAOC School would be established, and challenges with officer recruitment identified. This period would also see the fruition of plans to re-shape the Army into a modern and well-equipped Army with the first tranches of new equipment arriving to replace much of the legacy wartime equipment.

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Temporary Lieutenant Colonel H. McK. Reid

Chief Inspecting Ordnance Officer

  • Major JW Marriot

Officer Commanding Main Ordnance Depot

  • Major Harry White, from 1 May 1959

RNZAOC School

  • Chief Instructor – Major Harry White
  • Regimental Sergeant Major – Warrant Officer Class One Alfred Wesseldine

2nd Battalion, the New Zealand Regiment

Reformed at Waiouru in July 1959, the 2nd Battalion of the New Zealand Regiment would undertake workup and training that would see the Battalion deploy to Malaya in November 1959 to relieve the 1st Battalion. To enable the 2nd Battalion to conduct its training and work up the RNZAOC would equip the Battalion for the ground up with its necessary entitlement of equipment from existing holdings.

Establishment of RNZOAC School

Upper Hutt City Library (29th Jan 2020). Trentham Camp; Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps School sign.. In Website Upper Hutt City Library. Retrieved 14th Jul 2020 11:51, from https://uhcl.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/1335

Under discussion by the Army Board since 1956, the RNZAOC School was established in September 1959. Established within the Peacetime Establishment of the Main Ordnance Depot, the RNZAOC School would be under HQ Ordnance Services’ direct control and independent of the Army Schools.[1]

The initial school organisation would be.

  • A Headquarters,
    • Chief Instructor – Major Harry White
    • School Sergeant Major – Warrant Officer Class One Wesseldine
  • Ammunition Wing
  • Stores and Vehicle Wing

The function of the RNZAOC School would be to run courses and training for RF and TF personnel of the RNZAOC, including

  • Star Classification Courses – particularly for Storeman/Clerks RNZAOC and Ammunition Examiners.
  • Promotion courses for both officers and ORs.
  • Recruit training RNZAOC Personnel, including Recruit training for Group 2 personnel.
  • Advanced training for both officers and ORs, in all types of Ordnance activities.
  • Technical training in ordnance subjects, e.g. Inspecting Ordnance Officer courses.
  • Preservations and packing etc.
  • Refresher training for qualified personnel.
  • Other course notified in the annual Forecast of Courses.

Additionally, as directed by DOS, the RNZAOC School was required to.

  • Plan and hold conferences and training exercises.
  • Draft procedure instructions.
  • Test, or comment on new procedures, materials, or equipment.
  • Research various aspects of Ordnance activities.

The first course conducted by the RNZAOC School would be an Instructors Course conducted in late 1959.

First Instructors Course, 1959. Chief Instructor Major Harry White is seated 3rd from left. Officer in the front Centre id Makor K.G Cropp. Robert Mckie RNZAOC Collection

Officer Shortfall

 A forecast of the planned retirement of RNZAOC Officers up to 1962 showed that Seventeen officers would be retiring. Up to this period, the principal means of filling RNZAOC officer posts had been thru the commissioning of Other Ranks with Quartermaster Commissions, with only three officers joining the RNZAOC as Officers since November 1956. When the planned Officer retirements had been balanced against the RNZAOC officer establishment, it was found that the RNZAOC was deficient six Officers with two significant problems identified.

  • The RNZAOC Officer Corps was becoming a Corps of old men, with 83% of Officers in the 39 to 54 age group
  • The RNZAOC Other Ranks Structure was denuded of the best SNCO’s and Warrant Officers.

To rectify the situation, the following recommendations were made.

  • The RNZAOC press for an increased intake from Duntroon and Portsea of graduates to the RNZAOC.
  • Suitable officers no older than 30 years of age, and in the two to four-year Lieutenant bracket, be encouraged to change Corps to the RNZAOC.
  • Further commissioning of QM officers be strongly resisted unless there was no other alternative.

Conferences

Over the period 1 -3 September 1959, DOS hosted a conference at Army HQ for the District DADOS, Officer Commanding MOD, and the Ordnance Directorate members. The general agenda of the meeting included.[2]

  • Local purchase of stores by DADOS
  • Training of group 2 Personnel
  • RNZAOC School
  • Provision Problems
  • Surplus Stores
  • Personnel – postings and promotions
    • DADOS and OC MOD were required to provide in duplicate, personnel lists by unit containing.
      • Regimental No, rank, and name
      • Marital Status
      • Establishment statue, either PES, CSS or HSS
      • Present posting
  • Purchases for RF Brigade Group
  • District Problems

Small Arms Ammunition

The 7.62mm rifle introduction would require the Colonial Ammunitions Company to convert manufacture from the current 303 calibre to the new 7.62mm calibre. The CAC had been the supplier of Small Arms Ammunition to the Defence Force since 1888 and to maintain this long relationship had purchased and installed the required tools and machinery to allow the production of 7.62 ammunition, with the first production run completed during this period. Although the NZ Army had sufficient stocks of .303 ammunition for the foreseeable future, CAC would retain the capability to manufacture 303 ammunition if required.

Introduction of New Equipment

As new equipment was introduced, the RNZAOC would play an essential role in the acceptance processes. Upon delivery from the supplier, the equipment, accessories, and spares would be received into the Main Ordnance Depot. The equipment would be inspected and kitted out with all its accessories before distribution to units. Several examples may have been retained in RNZAOC Depots as War Reserve/Repair and Maintenance Stock depending on the equipment. Maintenance stocks of accessories and spares were maintained as operating stock in RNZAOC depots. If the new equipment contained a weapon system, ammunition specific to the equipment was managed by RNZAOC Ammunition Depots. During this period, the following equipment was introduced into service;[3]

  • 110 Land Rover Series 2a 109.
  • 144 Truck 3-Ton Bedford RL, 48 fitted with winch
  • 3 Ferret Mark 1/1 Scout Car
  • 270 Wireless Sets. C45 – VHF transceiver,
  • 2000 9mm Sub Machine Gun Sterling Mk4 L2A3.
  • 500 7.62 mm Self Loading Rifle, L1A1 (SLR).

Uniforms

The Clothing and Equipment Committee accepted as the basic training uniform for New Zealand soldiers in all conditions in NZ to be;

  • Boots (Fory types under trial and development)
  • Anklets (Australian pattern)
  • Shirt (light wool)
  • Trouser ( Green drill material cut to UK pattern)
  • Hat (Jungle Type)

Disposals

In August 1958 a new disposal organisation was established within the Army to manage the declaration and disposal of surplus and obsolete equipment. Since August 1959 over 9000 lines covering thousands of items had been declared to the Government Stores Board for Disposal through this new disposal’s organisation.

Ammunition Disposal

The disposal of dangerous or obsolete ammunition continued with over 900 tons of obsolete ammunition dumped at sea. An additional 130,000 rounds of dangerous artillery ammunition were destroyed by burning or detonation. 

Where possible the maximum amount of recyclable metal was salvaged, with around £10000 (2020 NZ$243,276) received for the scrap and containers sold.[4]

Ration Packs

Following successful user trials, the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) assembled 24000 one-person 24-hour ration packs during 1959. Along with new solid fuel cookers, these new ration packs were extensively used by the 2nd Battalion the NZ Regiment in the build-up Training for Malaya and the Territorial Force during the Annual Camp.

Shooting Competition

Staff Sergeant I.G Campbell, RNZAOC was selected by the National Rifle Association as a team member representing New Zealand at 91st Annual Prize Meeting at Bisley in the United Kingdom, 4- 20 July 1960.

Award of Army Sports Colours

In recognition of his contribution to Army Sport, Major D.E Roderick of Auckland was a recipient of the 1960 Army Sports Colours. Major Roderick has represented Army at cricket, hockey and badminton and was instrumental in developing the sports facilities at Trentham Camp. Within the RNZAOC Major Roderick had been a long-term member of the Upper Hutt Cricket Club and a player and administrator of the MOD Cricket team. [5]

Honours and Awards

British Empire Medal

Sergeant (Temporary Staff Sergeant) Maurice William Loveday, Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Regular Force), of Trentham.[6]

Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, Resignations, and Retirements of Officers of the RNZAOC

Regular Force

  • Major Ronald Geoffrey Patrick O’Connor is transferred to the Reserve of Officers, General List, Royal NZ Army Ordnance, in Major’s rank, 4 May 1959.[7]
  • Major and Quartermaster K. A. Bailey, M.M., having reached retiring age for rank, is transferred to the Supernumerary list, and granted an extension of his engagement until 12 January 1960, 11 August 1959.[8]
  • Captain Frederick George Cross is transferred to the Reserve of Officers, General List, Royal NZAOC, in the rank of Captain, 1 September 1959. [9]
  • Captain L. C. King is re-engaged for a period of one year, as from 4 October 1959.[10]
  • Captain (temp. Major) J. Harvey relinquishes the temporary rank of Major, 6 March 1960.[11]

Regular Force (Supernumerary List)

  • Major and Quartermaster K. A. Bailey, MM., is granted an extension of his engagement for one year from 13 January 1960.[12]
  • Captain and Quartermaster S. H. E. Bryant is re-engaged for one year as from 28 October 1959.[13]
  • Captain and Quartermaster R. P. Kennedy, E.D., is re-engaged for a period of one year as from 13 April 1960.[14]
  • Lieutenant and Quartermaster George Witherman McCullough is posted to the Retired List, 12 February 1960.[15]
  • 2nd Lieutenant J. T. Skedden to be Lieutenant, 12 December 1959.[16]
  • Lieutenant and Quartermaster R. H. Colwill to be temporary Captain and Quartermaster, 9 February 1960.[17]

Territorial Force

  • Captain Keith Stothard Brown relinquishes the appointment of OC, Technical Stores Platoon, 1st Divisional Ordnance Field Park, RNZAOC and is posted to the Retired List, 4 August 1959.[18]

Reserve of Officers

  • Captain Hugo Sarginsone posted to the Retired List, 10 July 1959.[19]
  • Captain Noel Lester Wallburton posted to the Retired List, 10 August 1959.[20]
  • Captain Sidney Paxton Stewart posted to the Retired List, I September 1959. [21]
  • Major Percival Nowell Erridge, MBE posted to the Retired List, 25 December 1959.[22]
  • Major Alexander Basil Owen Herd, from the British Regular Army Reserve· of Officers, to be Major, 3 October I 959.[23]
  • Major Frank Owen L’Estrange, from the British Regular Army Reserve of Officers, to be Major, 11 November 1959.[24]
  • Captain Cyril Peter Derbyshire, from the British Regular Army Reserve of Officers, to be Captain, 1 January 1960.[25]

Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, Resignations, and Retirements of Warrant Officers, Senior Non-Commissioned Officers, and men of the RNZAOC

Regular Force

  • H594833 Private David Orr NZ Regiment Transferred into the RNZAOC, November 1959.
  • B31685 Staff Sergeant Ian McDonald Russell promoted to Temporary Warrant Officer Class Two, 23 June 1959.

Notes

[1] “Charter for the Rnzaoc School,”  in Organisation – Policy and General – RNZAOC (Archives New Zealand No R173115371960); Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 176-77, 252.

[2] Conferences – Ordnance Officers, Item Id R17188101 (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, 1950).

[3] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1959 to 31 March 1960,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1960).

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Army Sports Colours,” Upper Hutt Leader, Volume XVII, Number 11, 24 March 1960.

[6] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 35, 18 June 1959.

[7] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 31, 28 May 1959.

[8] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 56, 17 September 1959.

[9] Ibid.

[10] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 59, 1 October 1959.

[11] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 23, 7 April 1960.

[12] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 63, 22 October 1959.

[13] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 68, 4 November 1959.

[14] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 4, 21 January 1960.

[15] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 15, 3 March 1960.

[16] Ibid.

[17] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 41, 7 July 1960.

[18] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”

[19] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 51, 27 August 1959.

[20] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 53, 3 September 1959.

[21] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”

[22] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.”

[23] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 70, 19 November 1959.

[24] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 78, 17 December 1959.

[25] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette, No 8, 11 February 1960.


The Quartermaster trade

From the earliest years of the New Zealand Army, supply at the Regiment or Battalion level has been the responsibility of the unit Quartermaster (QM) and his staff.  Traditionally QMs were commissioned from the ranks and assisted by the Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant (RQMS) and a staff of clerks and Storeman with Company Quartermaster Sergeants (CQMS) providing support at the sub-unit level.[1] Typically, the QM and associated staff were drawn from within the ranks the regiment or corps in which they worked, providing an intimate level of knowledge of how the unit worked and thus were well suited to providing the best support. As the New Zealand Army began to take shape in the nineteenth century, the “Q” staff of units tended to be older, more experienced soldiers who, although past their prime in the field, had an intimate knowledge of their unit and were able to provide a useful management function managing the unit’s weapons and equipment.   In volunteer units, many of which were more akin to social clubs, annual elections were held to elect officers and “Q” Staff resulting in many unit stores accounts being in disarray with many discrepancies from what had been provided by the crown to what was in unit stores.

Measures to address administrative training across the army was addressed in 1885 with the Army School of Instruction established at the military headquarters at Mt Cook in Wellington. The primary task of this Army School of Instruction was training in musketry, with courses on Tactics and Staff Duties conducted at the school from 1886 onwards.[2] However it is unknown if rudimentary stores accounting was included in the curriculum.[3]

Following the South Africa War, the NZ Army began to undertake a transformation into a force better trained and equipped to participate in the Imperial Defence Scheme. Uniforms, weapons and equipment were standardised, and following the Defence Act of 1909 the Volunteer forces were replaced with a robust Territorial force that was maintained by Compulsory Military Training.  

In 1895, The Dress Regulations, New Zealand Defence Forces, authorised for use of an eight-pointed star as a identifying embellishment to be worn by Regimental and Company Quartermaster Sergeants.[4] This insignia remained in use until 1917.

Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant-Major, 1905-1915. Robert McKie Collection
Company Quartermaster Sergeant, 1905-1915. Robert McKie Collection

Unknown photographer (1910) The Empire’s foremost soldier: Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener. Auckland War Memorial Museum call no. D503 K62

Lord Kitchener who was considered as “”The Empire’s foremost soldier” visited New Zealand in 1910. Kitchener reviewed New Zealand’s Forces and made several recommendations from which several alterations to the NZ Army were made, including the establishment of the New Zealand Staff Corps and Permanent Staff. The New Zealand Staff Corps (NZSC) and New Zealand Permanent Staff (NZPS, when established in 1911 provided a professional cadre of officers (NZSC) and men (NZPS) able to provide professional guidance and administration to the units of the Territorial Force. Kitchener’s visit reinvigorated the military to review itself, with the care, maintenance and responsibility of equipment found to be lacking, and that the current cadre of RQMS not up to the task, and the need for a professional cadre of RQMSs identified.

To rectify the situation, late in 1911 thirty young men, selected from the various military districts spent three weeks undertaking a course of instruction on “Q” matters at the Defence Stores Department in Wellington. Undergoing practical and theoretical instruction in the duties of the office of RQMS. Instruction conducted under the supervision of the Head of the Defence Stores, Major O’Sullivan, and the senior staff of the Defence Stores Department as instructors. The course was thorough with instruction, including.

  • Armourers providing instruction on weapon storage, inspection, maintenance and accounting,
  • The Saddler providing instruction on the correct methods of storage, inspection and maintenance of leather items such as horse saddlery and harnesses.
  • The Sailmaker providing instruction on the correct methods of storage, inspection and maintenance of canvas and fabric items such as tents, other camp canvas and fabric camp equipment.
  • The Stores Foreman providing instruction on the Packing of stores.
  • The ledger-keeper providing instruction with the keeping of accounts and maintenance of documentation used throughout all the departments.

Examinations were held on the various subjects in which instruction had been given, with records showing that all candidates passed the exams successfully and were appointed Quartermaster Sergeants in the New Zealand Permanent Staff under General Order 112/10.

This course of instruction was notable as although the Army School of Instruction had been established in 1885, this was the first course specifically designed to instruct on the duties of RQMS, and as such, was the first dedicated “Q Store” trade-related course conducted in New Zealand.

With the declaration of war against the Central Powers in August 1914, New Zealand was well prepared and rapidly mobilised and a Expeditionary Force dispatched overseas. To maintain the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF), a reinforcement plan was implemented with Trentham and later Featherston camps established as the principal reinforcement training camps. In late August 1914, Lieutenant (Temp Captain) T McCristell NZSC was appointed as the Camp Quartermaster of Trentham Camp. In his role as Camp Quartermaster, McCristell with a cadre of men from the Permanent Staff held back from the Expeditionary Force, established the Trentham “Camp Quartermaster Stores”. Established as a distinctive unit with its own Badge, the “Camp Quartermaster Stores” had several responsibilities, including.

EVERYTHING movable in Camp, except the A.S.C and its wagons, is kept track of by the Camp Quartermaster—everybody and everything, from a soldier to an electric light bulb. The Camp Quartermaster knows where they all should be; and if they aren’t where they ought to be, he generally knows where they are.”[5]

Another important and essential role of the “Camp Quartermaster Stores” was in the training of suitable men as Quartermasters for service overseas. Within each reinforcement draft, each Regiment was allowed one RQMS and each company was allowed one CQMS.  Based on their civilian occupations and with due regarded to their business ability, McCristell selected suitable men to be trained as RQMS and CQMS. Training included;

  • Stores Training specific to every duty related to clothing and equipping the men.
  • Camp Equipment Training, including the methods of constructing field kitchens, incinerators, latrines, washing and cleaning arrangements, striking and pitching camps, making bivouacs, billeting men.
  • Organising ammunition
  • Water supplies, and the drawing and distribution of food to troops.

On completion of the training the candidates were required to pass an examination, which if successful they were deemed qualified for appointment as a RQMS or CQMS.

Camp Quartermaster Stores Badge

McCristell remained as the Camp Quartermaster until 1916, after which he was transferred to the Defence Stores Department as the Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores. In this role, he oversaw the establishment of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) in 1917 as the Chief Ordnance Officer.

In 1918 a Conference of Defence Department Officers, in response to a report by the Defence Expenditure Commission, found that the accounting, care, and custody of stores by units had, in the main, been unsatisfactory with units not carrying out their responsibilities as detailed by the Regulations of New Zealand Military Forces.[6] To address the situation, eleven NZAOC Staff Sergeants were seconded for duty as Quartermaster-Sergeants with units. They were appointed to units to make the necessary adjustments and get the unit store accounts on a working basis. This was a successful arrangement, with further audits disclosing few if any, deficiencies. It was however evident that the storage accommodation for units was inadequate, with many units having no accommodation where stores could be secured, resulting in the backloading of many items to the regional Stores Depots.[7]

Due to the success of the emergency measures of NZAOC Staff Sergeants into units as Quartermaster-Sergeants, an amendment to Army regulations was published on 3 October 1918 to make the management of Quartermaster Sergeants a NZAOC responsibility. The amendments were as follows;

83. Group and Unit Quartermaster-Sergeants will belong to and be trained by the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, and when posted for duty in districts will be borne as supernumeraries on the establishment of that corps. They will be included in the effective strength of the group or unit in which they are actually serving and will be so accounted for in periodical returns for those groups or units. In so far as the questions of efficiency, leave, and duty are concerned, Quartermaster-Sergeants will be under the direct supervision of the A.Q.M.G. of the district, and will be directly responsible to the Group or Unit Commander, as the case may be, for the performance of their respective duties as Group or Unit Accountants. They will devote the whole of their time to the accounting, care, and custody of public property on issue.[8]

The post-war tenure of the NZAOC managing unit Quartermaster accounts was short, and despite the benefits, it brought, Force reductions and budget restraints saw the Quartermaster system revert to pre-war arrangements with instruction conducted by the General Headquarters School (GHQ School)  that was established in Trentham camp in 1919.

Established in 1919 and placed on a permanent footing in 1920, the GHQ School in Trentham conducted training on a range of subjects for Officers of the NZSC and men of the NZPS who were responsible for the training, equipment, and administration of the Territorial and Senior Cadets.[9]  

In 1937 the Army School at Trentham was established, and was supported by District Schools of Instruction that were established at Narrow Neck, Trentham, and Burnham.[10] Administration instructors at the Army School and at the three District Schools of Instruction were involved in training the following groups of servicemen:

  • Adjutants,
  • Quartermasters,
  • Regimental Sergeant Major,
  • Regimental Quartermaster Sergeants,
  • Ordnance and Company Clerks,
  • Storemen, Storemen-Clerks, and
  • Cooks.

In the lead up to the Second World War, the Army School of Instruction formed a separate Administrative Wing staffed by; a Major, two Captains, a Warrant Officer Class One, a Staff Sergeant and a Sergeant.

Officer courses conducted by the Wing were Senior Staff Duties and Adjutants courses, while Senior Non-Commissioned Officers attended drill, duties, and Tactics Courses. Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers could also attend the Quartermaster’s and Quartermaster Sergeant’s courses conducted by the Wing.

After World War II, training for officers, clerks and storemen centred around peacetime administration. Emphasis was placed on the training of Regular Force Staff of the Army, and as a result clerks and storemen recruited through Compulsory Military Training or National Service, received only an introduction to their trades. The policy of decentralisation of training from a central school to the District Schools of Instruction resulted in a reduction in the establishment of the Administrative Wing by 1947 to a Major, a Captain or Lieutenant, a Warrant Officer Class Two and a Corporal who could be WRAC.

In July 1950, the Administrative Wing was disbanded, and the new School of Army Administration was formed. The School which was still located in Trentham, conducted courses in both peace and war administration, as well as conducting the Regular Force Officers Lieutenant to Captain Promotion Course. At this time the Chief Instructor of the School of Army Administration held a dual appointment as Staff Officer (Administration) on the staff of Headquarters Army Schools.

On 31 Jan 1952 the School of Army Administration moved from Trentham Camp to Waiouru and was located in a building on Foley Street, where Crete Barracks now stand. Although there were established posts for a staff of three officers and four Other Ranks, the School was manned by a staff of; two officers, (one of whom was employed as CI and Staff Officer (Administration) at Headquarters, Army School) and two Other Ranks.

The School workload increased steadily over the years from a total of 13 courses in 1953 to 21 courses in 1961. The establishment was changed to reflect the increase in the number of courses and by 1967 there were established posts for; three officers, five other ranks, and a civilian (clerical assistant) at the School.

The School of Army Administration was later relocated in the building opposite Headquarters Army Training Group, Waiouru. It had established posts for; three officers, seven senior non-commissioned officers, and two civilians.

The School conducted courses for the following personnel:

  • Junior Staff Officers,
  • Accounting Officers,
  • Clerks, and
  • Storeman.

Course Photos

From 1974 the staff of the School of Army Administration photographed most courses passing through the school. Many of these photos can be viewed by clicking on the respective course link;

The 1990s was a period of significant change for not only the Q Storeman trade but also the RNZAOC Supplier trade, as both trades underwent a considerable transformation due to the rebalancing of the logistic and support functions of the NZ Army, which led to the formation of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR). Included in the scope of work of the rebalancing was a review of the two supply trades, which concluded that given the development of the computerised Defence Supply System Detail (DSSD), it was judged viable to combine the two trades into one. Initial integration of logistic units occurred in 1993, where units of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT), RNZAOC and Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME) combined into Logistic Regiments. Integration of the logistic training functions occurred in 1993/94 when the individual Corps schools amalgamated into the Army Logistic Centre (ALC). This saw the Quartermaster Wing of The School of Army Administration integrated into the RNZAOC School. However, at this stage despite the RNZAOC School been at Trentham the Quartermaster Wing remained in Waiouru. On 13 December 1993 after a 41-year absence from Trentham, the Quartermaster Wing moved left Waiouru.

In July 1994, the RNZAOC School was disestablished, and the Trade Training School (TTS) was established in its place. This change saw the amalgamation of the Supply and Quartermaster functions combined into the Supply/Quartermaster (Sup/Q) Wing as the Supply and Q Sections. The main aim behind the amalgamation was to foster the development of training required to produce an Army with an effective logistical supply system at all levels, with the first combined Sup/Q Courses been conducted during the 1994/95 training year. With Supply and Q training combined, the first personnel postings between RNZAOC and consumer units were progressed with mixed results. Some individuals thrived as the experience allowed them to expand their knowledge and expertise. In contrast, others found the adjustment difficult and outside of the comfort zones that their previous positions have provided. However, on 4 December 1996, all RNZAOC Suppliers and Q Storeman were incorporated into a new base trade known as the Supplier/Quartermaster (Sup/QM) trade. Given the diverse nature of the Sup/QM Trade, with members drawn from each Corps and represented in almost every unit of the New Zealand Army, the amalgamation of the two trades was difficult and took time to consolidate.

In October 2007 the Sup/QM Trade was renamed as the RNZALR Supply Technician (Sup Tech) Trade, followed by the adoption of a top of trade Supply Technician Badge in 2009.


Notes

[1] Depending on the type of Regiment or Corps, variations of Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS) could also be; Battery Quartermaster Sergeant (BQMS) in artillery units or Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant (SQMS) in Mounted/Calvary units

[2] “The School of Military Instruction,” New Zealand Herald, Volume XXII, Issue 7328, 14 May 1885.

[3] Gary Ridley, “Quartermaster Origins,” Pataka Magazine  (1993).

[4] New Zealand Military Forces Dress Regulations, ed. New Zealand Military Forces (Wellington1905).

[5] Will Lawson, Historic Trentham, 1914-1917: The Story of a New Zealand Military Training Camp, and Some Account of the Daily Round of the Troops within Its Bounds (Wellington1917), 35.

[6] “H-19d Conference of Defence Department Officers (Notes by) on Criticisms, Suggestions and Recommendations as Contained in the Report of the Defence Expenditure Commission,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1918).

[7] “Defence Stores,” Dominion, Volume 12, Issue 10, 7 October 1918.

[8] “Amending the Regulations for the Military Forces of New New Zealand,” New Zealand Gazette No 135, 3 October 1918.

[9] “Ghq School,” Evening Post, Volume XCIX, Issue 23, , 28 January  1920.

[10] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand, Annual Report of the Chief of Thr General Staff,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, (1938).


RNZAOC 1 April 1953 to 31 March 1954

This period would see the RNZAOC. Continue to support Regular, Territorial and Compulsory Military Training. Ongoing support to Kayforce would continue.[1]

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Lieutenant Colonel F Reid, OBE

Technical Assistant to the Chief Inspection Ordnance Officer

  • Captain N.C Fisher (Until 24 July 1953)
  • Warrant Officer L Smith (From 25 July 1953)

Northern Military District

District Inspecting Ordnance Officer

  • Captain E.D Gerard (until 9 Aug 1953)

IOO NDAD

  • Captain E.D Gerard (from 28 Aug 1953)

Officer Commanding Northern District Ammunition Repair Depot

  • Captain Pipson (From 28 Aug 1953)

Central Military District

District Inspecting Ordnance Officer

  • Captain N.C Fisher (From 9 Aug 1953)

Southern Military District

Ordnance Officer

  • Captain A.A Barwick

Compulsory Military Training

During this period three CMT intakes marched in;[2]

  • 9th intake of 2954 recruits on 9 April1953
  • 10th intake of 2610 recruits on 2 July 1953
  • 11th intake of 2610 recruits on 24 September 1953
  • 12th intake of 2200 recruits on 5 January 1954

On completion of CMT recruit training, recruits were posted to Territorial units close to their home location to complete their CMT commitment, with RNZAOC CMT recruits posted to either

  • 1st Infantry Brigade Ordnance Field Park Platoon, Hopuhopu
  • 2nd Infantry Brigade Ordnance Field Park Platoon, Mangaroa.
  • 3rd Infantry Brigade Ordnance Field Park Platoon, Burnham

Ordnance in the New Zealand Division

The RNZAOC elements of the Territorial Force had been reorganised in 1948, this had been a reorganisation that had taken place over three stages with Officers and then NCOs recruited, followed by the soldiers recruited through the CMT scheme to fill the ranks.[3]  By September 1953 the RNZOAC units within the Division had rapidly grown and the CRAOC of the NZ Division provided clarification in the organisation and duties of the RNZAOC units in the NZ Division.

HQ CRAOC

Duties included.

  • RNZAOC representative at Division Headquarters.
  • Exercised Regimental command and Technical control of RNZAOC unit in the Division.

Divisional Ordnance Field Park

The functions of the OFP were.

  • Park HQ – Technical Control of the OFP
  • Regimental Section – Regimental Control of the OFP
  • Delivery Section – Collects and delivers operationally urgent stores
  • MT Stores Platoon – Carried two months of frequently required spare and minor assemblies for vehicles held by the Division
  • Tech Stores Platoon – Carried two months of frequently required spares for all guns, small arms, wireless and Signals equipment of the Division.
  • Gen Stores Platoon – Carried a small range of frequently required items of clothing, general stores, and the Divisional Reserve of Industrial gases.

Mobile Laundry and Bath Company

The functions of the Mobile Laundry and Bath Company was to provide bathing facilities and to wash troops under clothing.

RNZAOC Stores Sections

One RNZAOC Store Sections was attached to each Infantry Brigade Workshop, maintaining a stock of spares required for the repair of the Divisions equipment. The Stores sections would demand direct from the Base or Advance Base Ordnance Depot not the OFP.

Brigade Warrant Officers

RNZAOC representative at Brigade Headquarters

Presentation of Coronation Trophy

In celebration to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the Coronation Trophy was presented to the Central Districts Training Depot by All Ranks of the RNZAOC from the Central Military District. The exact criteria for the presentation of the trophy has been long forgotten, however from the 11th CMT intake the Coronation Trophy would be awarded to an outstanding student of each CMT intake.  76

Acquisition of additional Training areas by NZ Army

To provide suitable training areas in all three military districts, firing and manoeuvre rights were obtained over 30000acres of land adjoining the Mackenzie District near lake Tekapo. The allowed all South Island units the ability to carry out realistic tactical training during their summer camps.

Flood Relief

In July 1953 Serious flooding affected the Waikato with soldiers from Hopuhopu Camp taking a prominent part in the relief operations. Solders from the 1st Infantry Brigade Ordnance Field Park, utilising vehicles with extended air intakes and exhausts and operating in areas that had been flooded to a depth of 1.4 meters deep assisted in rescuing families and livestock and distributing fodder to marooned animals.

Tangiwai Railway Disaster

The Tangiwai disaster occurred at Christmas eve 1953 when the Whangaehu River Railway bridge collapsed as the Wellington-to-Auckland express passenger train was crossing it with a loss of 151 Lives. With Waiouru in proximity, the army was quick to respond, with rescue teams deploying from Waiouru with the first survivors admitted into the Waiouru Camp Hospital by 4 am. Representing the RNZAOC in the search parties were Warrant officer Class One P Best and Corporal Eric Ray.

Railway disaster at Tangiwai. Dominion Post (Newspaper): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post and Dominion newspapers. Ref: EP-Accidents-Rail-Tangiwai rail disaster-01. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23201427

Royal Tour 23 December 1953 – 31 Jan 1954

Camp Commandants Bodyguard 1954. Robert Mckie RNZAOC School Collection

Emergency Force (Kayforce)

The RNZAOC continued to support Kayforce with the dispatch of regular consignments of Maintenance stores and with all requests for stores by Kayforce met.

This period saw the first RNZAOC men rotated and replaced out of Kayforce;

Out of Kayforce

  • Private Dennis Arthur Astwood, 8 December 1953
  • Lance Corporal Thomas Joseph Fitzsimons, 6 January 1954
  • Lance Corporal Owen Fowell, 2 September 1953
  • Private Gane Cornelius Hibberd, 13 May 1953,
  • Corporal Leonard Ferner Holder, 4 September 1953
  • Corporal Wiremu Matenga, 6 January 1954

Into Kay force

  • Private Richard John Smart, 25 June 1953
  • Private Abraham Barbara, 30 December 1953
  • Private Ernest Radnell, 29 December 1953
  • Sergeant Harold Earnest Strange Fry, 29 January 1954
  • Corporal Edward Tanguru, 25 February 1954
  • Gunner John Neil Campbell, 24 March 1954

Seconded to Fiji Military Forces

  • Lieutenant and Quartermaster Rodger Dillon Wederell remained seconded to the Fiji Military Forces.

Ordnance Conferences

Ordnance Conference 18-19 August 1953

The Director of Ordnance Services hosted a conference of the Districts DADOS and the Officer Commanding Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Army Headquarters over the period 21-23 April 1953. No detailed agenda remains.

Headquarters Group, Main Ordnance Depot, 1954. Robert McKie RNZAOC School Collection
Main Ordnance Depot, NZ Royal Womens Army Corps, 1954. Robert McKie RNZAOC School Colection

Routine Ordnance Activities

Over this period the RNZAOC in addition to its regular duties of provision, holding and the issue of multitudinous stores required by the Army including the additional issue of training equipment to the territorial Force allowing all unit’s enough equipment for normal training.

Ammunition Examiner Qualification

The following soldiers qualified as Ammunition Examiners

  • Corporal G.T Dimmock (SMD)
  • Corporal M.M Loveday (CMD)
  • Corporal Roche (MMD)
  • Lance Corporal H.E Luskie (SMD)
  • Lance Corporal Radford (NMD)

Small Arms Ammunition

Production of small-arms ammunition had met the monthly target, with the ammunition, fully proofed and inspected before acceptance.

Support to the French War in Vietnam

During this period the RNZAOC prepared a second consignment of stores and equipment for transfer to the French in Vietnam.  Transferred from surplus and obsolete stocks held in RNZAOC depots, the following items would be dispatched to Vietnam;[4]

  • 500 Revolvers,
  • 3000 Rifles,
  • 750 Machine Guns,
  • 50 Bofors anti-aircraft guns and ammunition,
  • 10000 round of 40mm armour piercing shot,[5]
  • Wireless Sets
  • Field Telephones,
  • Charging Sets
  • Assorted Uniform Items
  • 670000 rounds of small arms ammunition.
Bofors Guns Trentham, 1 March 1954. Evening Post illustrations file and prints. 1950-2000. (PA-Group-00685). [Series]

Introduction of New Equipment

As new equipment was introduced, the RNZAOC would play an essential role in the acceptance processes. Upon delivery from the supplier, the equipment, its accessories and spares would be received into an RNZAOC Depot. The equipment would be inspected and kitted out with all its accessories before distribution to units. Depending on the equipment, several examples may have been retained in RNZAOC Depots as War Reserve/Repair and Maintenance Stock. Maintenance stocks of accessories and spares were maintained as operating stock in RNZAOC depots. If the new equipment was or contained a weapon system, ammunition specific to the equipment was managed by RNZAOC Ammunition Depots.

During this period, the following equipment was introduced into service;[6]

  • 57 M20 Mk 2 3.5-inch Rocket Launchers
  • Anti-Tank Grenade No 94 Engera
  • 1 120mm BAT L1 Recoilless Rifle
  • 3 Centurion Tanks
  • 150 Series 1 80″ Land-Rovers

Honours List

Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.)

  • Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Reid.[7]

Promotions

  • Private George Thomas Dimmock to Lance Corporal – 1 April 1953
  • Temporary Warrant Officer Class Two Alick Claude Doyle to Substantive WO2, 1 April 1953
  • Lieutenant J. Harvey to Captain. 9 December 1953.[8]
  • Captain (temp. Major) H. McK Reid to Major. 22 January 1954.[9]
  • Lieutenant-Colonel (temp Colonel) A. H. Andrews, OBE, BE, to Colonel. 21 October 1953.[10]
  • Lieutenant and Quartermaster T Rose to be Captain and Quartermaster. 1 May 1953.[11]

Enlistments into the RNZAOC

  • John Gunn, 21 September 1953
  • Leonard T Conlon, 16 June 1953
  • Keith A Parker, 17 July 1953

Appointments into the RNZAOC

  • Edward Francis Lambert Russell, late Captain RAOC, appointed as Lieutenant (on prob.), with seniority from 26 November 1949, posted as Vehicle. Spares Officer, Vehicle Spares Group, Main Ordnance Depot, 26 November 1953.[12]
  • Lieutenant J. B. Glasson, 13 April 1954.[13]

Transferred out of the RNZAOC to other Corps

  • Captain W. G. Dixon transferred to the Royal N.Z. Artillery. 6 July 1953.[14]

Transferred to the Supplementary List, NZ Regular Force

  • Captain and Quartermaster R. P. Kennedy, E.D., having reached the normal age for retirement, 13 April 1953.[15]

Transferred to the Reserve of Officers General List

  • Captain A. Whitehead, 17 December 1953.[16]

Re-Engagements into the New Zealand Regular Force

The following RNZAOC soldiers were re-engaged into the New Zealand Regular Force;

  • Sergeant W.J Smith for one year from April 1953, in the rank of Private
  • Warrant Officer Class One W.S Valentine, on a month to month basis until 31 March 1954
  • Corporal H.H Regnault, on a month to month basis until 31 March 1954

Civic Appointments

On 16 July 1953 Maurice Richard John Keeler, Ordnance Officer, Northern; District Ordnance Depot, RNZAOC Ngaruawahia, was authorized to take and receive statutory declarations under section 301 of the Justices of the Peace Act 1927.[17]

Notes

“Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.” New Zealand Gazette No 9, 4 February 1954.

“Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.” New Zealand Gazette No 13, 25 February 1954.

“Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.” New Zealand Gazette No 15, 11 March 1954.

“Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.” New Zealand Gazette No 72, 17 December 1953.

“Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.” New Zealand Gazette No 35, 3 June 1954.

“Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.” New Zealand Gazette No 48, 20 August 1953.

“Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army.” New Zealand Gazette No 1, 7 January 1954.

Cooke, Peter. Fit to Fight. Compulsory Military Training and National Service in New Zealand 1949-72. Auckland: David Ling Publishing, 2013.

“Coronation Honours List.” New Zealand Gazette No 33, 11 June 1953.

Fenton, Damien. 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.

“H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1954 to 31 March 1955 “. Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (3 July 1955 1955).

“Officer Authorized to Take and Receive Statutory Declarations “. New Zealand Gazette No 42, 23 July 1953.

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


[1] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1954 to 31 March 1955 “, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1955).

[2] Peter Cooke, Fit to Fight. Compulsory Military Training and National Service in New Zealand 1949-72 (Auckland: David Ling Publishing, 2013), 539.

[3] 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, 8-9.

[4] Roberto Giorgio Rabel, New Zealand and the Vietnam War : Politics and Diplomacy (Auckland University Press, 2005), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 16.

[5] Possibly surplus 37mm rounds used on New Zealand’s Stuart tanks which would have been compatible with weapon platforms in use with the French

[6] Fenton, A False Sense of Security : The Force Structure of the New Zealand Army 1946-1978, 21.

[7] “Coronation Honours List,” New Zealand Gazette No 33, 11 June 1953, 911.

[8] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette No 9, 4 February 1954, 180.

[9] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette No 13, 25 February 1954, 294.

[10] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette No 15, 11 March 1954, 384.

[11] “Coronation Honours List,”  906.

[12] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette No 72, 17 December 1953.

[13] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette No 35, 3 June 1954, 678.

[14] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette No 48, 20 August 1953, 1354.

[15] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army,” New Zealand Gazette No 1, 7 January 1954, 29.

[16] Ibid.

[17] “Officer Authorized to Take and Receive Statutory Declarations “, New Zealand Gazette No 42, 23 July 1953, 1184.


A retrospective view of the Main Ordnance Depot, Trentham

From 1920 to 1996, Trentham Camp in Wellington’s Hutt Valley was home to New Zealand’s Army’s principal Ordnance Depot. During its 76-year tenure as an Ordnance Depot, also every New Zealand Army Ordnance Officer and Soldier, at some stage of their career work at, passed through or had some interaction with the Trentham Ordnance Depot.

Using a 1983 Depot plan as a reference point, this article takes a look back at how the Trentham Ordnance Depot developed from 1920 to 1996.

Depot Plan, 1 Base Supply Battalion. Robert McKie Collection
Entrance to the Ordnance Depot 1998, Upper Hutt City Library (19th Mar 2020). Trentham Camp buildings, unidentified; barrier in fence. In Website Upper Hutt City Library. Retrieved 11th Oct 2020 08:03, from https://uhcl.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/29474
Building 73. Upper Hutt City Library (19th Mar 2020). Trentham Camp building; multi-bay warehouse. In Website Upper Hutt City Library. Retrieved 11th Oct 2020 08:05, from https://uhcl.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/29475

1920

In 1920 the NZAOC had its Headquarters and main depot located at Alexandra Barracks at Mount Cook, Wellington. In the regions, Ordnance Stores were maintained at Mount Eden, Palmerston North, Trentham Camp, Featherston Camp, Mount Cook, Christchurch and Dunedin.

As part of the post-war reduction of the Army and the rationalization of the Ordnance Services, the early interwar years were a transition period. In the South Island, the Dunedin and Christchurch Ordnance Stores closed and relocated to Burnham Camp. In the North Island, the Palmerston North Depot closed, and the main depot at Mount Cook relocated to Trentham Camp to establish the Main Ordnance Depot.

The Featherson Camp and Mount Eden Ordnance Stores remained in operation until 1928 when construction of a new Purpose-built Ordnance Depot at Hopuhopu in the Waikato was completed.

With no purpose-built storage accommodation, the NZAOC Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham Camp in the years leading up to the Second World War utilise up to one hundred different existing camp administrative and accommodation structures as its primary means of warehousing.

Upper Hutt City Library (31st Mar 2018). Trentham Camp 1920; aerial view looking east.. In Website Upper Hutt City Library. Retrieved 10th Oct 2020 15:04, from https://uhcl.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/464

1940

Seen here shortly after its construction in late 1940/early 1941, this warehouse (Building 73) was constructed as part of a wider nationwide program of defence works. With the construction contracts let in 1938 and construction beginning in 1939, Building 73 was constructed using reinforced concrete and designed with nine bays that allowed the loading and unloading of Trains on one side and Motor transport on the other. The design and layout of building 73 were utilised as the model for new warehouses that were later constructed at Burnham and Waiouru.

Upper Hutt City Library (5th Mar 2018). Trentham Camp 1938-1943 (approximate). In Website Upper Hutt City Library. Retrieved 10th Oct 2020 15:28, from https://uhcl.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/25874

1941

From this November 1941 photo, the full size of Building 73 can be appreciated in comparison to the World War One era buildings in which many of the Main Ordnance Depots Stores had been held during the inter-war years. Under construction is Building 68, which in later years became the Direct Support Section (DSS), Building 87 (Dental Stores) and Building 88 (Detention Block)

Trentham Camp, November 1941. National Archives, AAOD,W3273, Box 19, Record WDO 9811, R18059582

1943

Although Building 73 provided a huge increase in storage capability, wartime demands soon necessitated further increases in storage infrastructure; immediately obvious is Building 74. Building 74 was a near duplicate of building 73, with the main exception that due to wartime constraints, it was constructed out of wood instead of reinforced concrete.

Building 86 has been completed, and connected to it is Building 70, which later become the Textile Repair Shop.

Buildings 64, 65 and 66 have been completed, with Buildings 60 and 61 under construction.

1944

By 1944, despite the wartime expansion of the Main Ordnance Depot, storage requirements still exceeded available storage at the Main Ordnance Depot, with a large number of items held in Sub Depots at Māngere, Linton Camp, Whanganui, Waiouru, Lower Hutt and Wellington.

Twelve additional warehouses can be seen to the East of Buildings 73 and 74, and Building 26 is under construction.

Upper Hutt City Library (14th Feb 2018). Aerial view; Trentham Military Camp 1944.. In Website Upper Hutt City Library. Retrieved 10th Oct 2020 14:56, from https://uhcl.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/625

1945

These two photos from late 1945 show the extent of the wartime expansion of the Main Ordnance Depot.

The latest additions are Buildings 27,28,29. 30 and 31. These buildings had originally been built for the United States Forces at Waterloo in Lower Hutt by the Public Works Department. Surplus to the United States requirements due to their downsizing in New Zealand, the buildings had been transferred to the NZ Army. The first building was disassembled and re-erected at Trentham by the end of September 1945, with the follow-on buildings re-erected at a rate of one per month, with all construction completed by February 1946

Upper Hutt City Library (27th Feb 2018). Trentham Camp overall view 1945; Carman block, 1945. Panoramic view.. In Website Upper Hutt City Library. Retrieved 10th Oct 2020 14:57, from https://uhcl.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/565

1966

Twenty Years later, much of the wartime infrastructure constructed for the Main Ordnance Depot and much of the First World War camp accommodation remains in use. During the 1950s, the compound at Dante Road had been developed for the Central Districts Vehicle Depot. When that unit relocated to Linton in 1958, the compound became the Main Ordnance Depot Vehicle Sub-Depot. On the right side of the photo, the large building, the Ordnance Depot, is the General Motors Plant.

1974

By 1974, much of the central infrastructure remains, however, the eleven sheds constructed in 1943/44 have been demolished.

1980

1n 1979 the Main Ordnance Depot was renamed as 1 Base Supply Battalion, RNZOAC. There has been a slight change to the WW2 Infrastructure.

1988

In one of the largest infrastructure investments since 1939 and the first modern warehouse built for the RNZAOC since 1972, a new warehouse was opened in 1988. Designed to accommodate 3700 pallets and replace the existing WW2 Era Storage, the new award-winning warehouse was constructed for $1.6 million. In addition to the high-rise pallet racking for bulk stores, a vertical storage carousel capable of holding 12,000 detail items was installed later.

2020

On 8 December 1996, the RNZAOC was amalgamated into the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment, ending the Ordnance Corps association with Trentham Camp that had existed since 1920.

Further developments occured in January 1998 when the entire military warehousing and maintenance functions in Trentham camp were commercialised and placed under the control of civilian contractors.


Donald Edward Harper

This article is republished with the permission of the Facebook page “Upper Hutt War Stories“. Upper Hutt War Stories is a Facebook page dedicated to commemorating the war service of Upper Hutt’s citizens and those with strong connections to the City. It remembers those who put their lives on the line for the defence of our Nation.

Buried beneath a weathered brass plaque in the graveyard of Trentham’s St John’s church is a former Commander of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps. A veteran of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force North Africa and Italian campaigns, he was wounded in action and continued to serve as a Territorial Force officer after the War.

Born in Petone, Don Harper attended Wellington College, where he was exposed to military life as a member of the school’s cadet corps for six years. After leaving school and graduating from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in accounting, he joined the public service as a clerk with the National Provident Fund in 1932.

When the Second World War broke out Don was living with his parents in Russell Street, Upper Hutt and working as an auditor with the Government’s Audit Department. He enlisted straight away, entering camp at Trentham on 3 October 1939 as a Private with the 4th Reserve Motor Transport Company. A week later he was sent on the Potential Officers Course, and after six weeks training was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

Don was subsequently posted to the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham for training and departed Wellington for the Middle East on 5 January 1940. He was attached to the headquarters of the 2nd New Zealand Division as they established themselves at Maadi in Egypt, and at the beginning of June 1940 was promoted to Lieutenant.

The New Zealand Division had seen little action up to this point and Don was active helping establish the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force’s Base Ordnance Depot at Maadi Camp in September 1940. Promoted to Temporary Captain to fill the Base Ordnance Officer post, he remained with the Depot in Egypt for almost a year, missing out on the campaigns in Greece and Crete.

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

Then at the beginning of August 1941, Don was posted back to the headquarters of the 2nd New Zealand Division to be Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) in the rank of Temporary Major. This was a critical logistics role resupplying the Division and marked a stunningly quick progression from private to major in less than two years.

Don experienced the realities of warfare for the first time in November 1941, when the Division was attached to the newly formed 8th Army and attempted to relieve the beleaguered garrison at Tobruk. Despite losing all their tank support the Kiwis succeeded in reaching Tobruk, but suffered horrendous casualties in what was described as some of the hardness fighting of the War at Sidi Rezegh and Belhamed, when Rommel’s Africa Corps counterattacked.

Withdrawn to Suez to recover and retrain, Don and the 2nd New Zealand Division were subsequently rushed to Syria in February 1942, to protect against an Axis invasion of the Northeastern flank. But in April he was back in Cairo, where he married Elisabeth Rothschild in a short ceremony. Don and Elisabeth were fortunate to be able to spend time together, as in May he was posted back to Maadi.

Don took over command of the New Zealand Engineers and Ordnance Training Depot, where he was responsible for training reinforcements. Then two months later he was posted as Deputy Director Ordnance Services with 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force headquarters and base depot. His efforts in helping establish and maintain the New Zealand contribution to the campaign were recognised with a mention in despatches on 15 December 1942.

After the fighting in North Africa came to a close, Don was deployed to Italy in October 1943. He arrivied at Taranto as the Kiwis began operations against the Germans, and was tasked with conducting a review of New Zealand Division ordnance support. He recommended a significant reorganisation, including establishing a new base deport at Bari, as an extension of the main depot back in Egypt.

Promoted to temporary Lieutenant Colonel, Don was appointed Assistant Director Ordnance Services in March 1944, and worked in resupplying the 2nd New Zealand Division in action at Cassino. In early June he was caught in an enemy artillery barrage and received shrapnel wounds in his back. Fortunately, the wounds were light, and once the small chunks of metal were removed under local anesthetic he returned to his unit.

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

At the end of 1944 Don was told that due to his lengthy war service and changes to the furlough scheme he would be returned home. Appointed commander of the returning draft he boarded ship with his wife and their young child, arriving in New Zealand on 3 January 1945, where he reverted in rank to Major.

Don was advised that his services were no longer required and that he could return to civilian life. However, he chose instead to be the posted to the New Zealand Temporary Staff in the rank of Captain in April 1945 and continued contributing to the war effort. In July he was advised he had received a second mention in despatches, this time for his services in Italy.

Considered unfit for deployment to the tropics due to service induced hearing loss, Don served at the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham Camp until the end of the War, when he was posted to the retired list in the Rank of Major. He then returned to his life as an accountant and auditor, and moved his family to Lower Hutt.

Continuing to serve in the Territorial Army, Don was formally promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 1 December 1948 and appointed Commander Royal New Zealand Ordnance Corps. He served in this part time role with the headquarters of the 1st New Zealand Division based out of Linton until October 1951, when the death of his business partner and failing health forced his resignation.

Don remained proud of his time in the military throughout his life, and after passing away in 2002 he was buried in a family plot at St John’s Church with his wife, under a plaque commemorating his war service. A key member of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force for an extended period of the North Africa and Italy campaigns, his grave gives little indication of the scale of this contribution. Lest we forget.

References

https://www.aucklandmuseum.com/…/online…/record/C136496
https://rnzaoc.com/2020/08/31/rnzaoc-1950/
https://rnzaoc.com/…/new-zealand-base-ordnance-depot…/
P.J. Beattie & M.J. Pomeroy, Gallant Acts & Noble Deeds: New Zealand Army Honours and Awards for the Second World War, Fair Dinkum Publications: Auckland, NZ, 2016.


Major Oliver ‘George’ Avis, MM

This article is republished with the permission of the Facebook page “Upper Hutt War Stories“. Upper Hutt War Stories is a Facebook page dedicated to commemorating the war service of Upper Hutt’s citizens and those with strong connections to the City. It remembers those who put their lives on the line for the defence of our Nation.

A small bronze plaque in the St John’s churchyard in Trentham gives only a small hint as to the amazing story behind its epitaph. Two small brass letters were added after the plaque was cast, but sadly one has come loose and been lost. The letters MM denote the award of a military medal for gallantry in the field. But little is shown of the long and dedicated service of its recipient, and his involvement in one of the deadliest battles on the Western Front.

Born in Somerset and raised in Exeter, Devon, England, Oliver Avis had come to New Zealand when he was 20. Throughout his childhood, he was always referred to as George and used this name throughout his life. It wasn’t until he was 39 years’ old that he discovered that his name was officially Oliver. An issue which created some confusion for the Army and those now trying to interpret his service files.

George had been working as a storeman in Taranaki and enlisted into the Army on 16 November 1915. He was initially posted to the 11th Mounted Rifles reinforcements and trained with them for four months, before the New Zealand Expeditionary Force decided to change its force composition before heading to France, and he was transferred to the Infantry.

Departing Wellington on 2 April 1916, George and his reinforcement arrived in Egypt a month later. Then, after only three weeks he departed Alexandria for France with the Main contingent of the New Zealand Division. Completing further training at the New Zealand Depot at Etaples, George was posted to 4th (Otago) Company of the 2nd Otago Infantry Battalion in the frontlines at Armentieres on 7 July 1916.

The Kiwis were engaged in raids and reconnaissance activities across no-man’s land, and suffered casualties from enemy shelling. Conditions were difficult and after only four weeks in the line George was withdrawn to the New Zealand Field Ambulance station with conjunctivitis. He attempted to rejoin his unit, but was evacuated sick to the hospital at Boulogne in mid-August, just as the New Zealand Division was withdrawing from the line in preparation for a major attack.

George’s illness meant he missed the Kiwi’s first major assault on the Western Front at the Somme in mid-September. After recovering and being released from hospital, he was posted back to the New Zealand Depot at Etaples, for further recuperation and training. He finally rejoined the 2nd Otago Battalion on 18 October 1916, just as the heavily depleted New Zealand Division returned to Armentieres for another difficult winter in the frontlines.

The unit was withdrawn to rest and reorganise in March 1917, and in late May George was temporarily appointed as his Company’s Quartermaster Sergeant (QMS). He fulfilled this role during the 2nd Otago Battalion’s attack at Messines on 6 June and against the German positions at Sunken Farm eight days later. Having survived his first major battle, he relinquished the role in July, just before preceding to England on leave.

On return to the Battalion, George helped defend the Warneton sector, and when withdrawn to the Lumbres area for training was inspected on parade by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haigh, in a ceremony watched by Winston Churchill. Then the New Zealand Division was moved into the Ypres area in preparation for their next major offensive.

After the successful but costly Divisional attack at Gravenstafel Spur towards Passchendaele on 4 October 1917, the 2nd Otago Battalion attacked up the Bellevue Spur eight days later. In what turned out to be the deadliest day of the War for the Kiwis, George was caught with many others in a murderous wall of defensive machinegun fire.

Shot through the right side of his back, he was carried to the rear through a sea of mud which now defined no-man’s land. Lucky to make it to the New Zealand Field Ambulance station, George was evacuated to No. 46 Casualty Clearing Station, before being transferred to No. 5 General Hospital at Rouen. In a serious state he was sent back to England and admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley, near Southampton.

As George’s condition improved, he was transferred to the New Zealand General Hospital at Brockenhurst, and then to the New Zealand Convalesce Hospital at Hornchurch. After a long period in Codford and Sling Camps, he finally returned to France in mid-May 1918. The New Zealand Division had amassed a large number of reinforcements by this stage of the War, and George spent two months in an Entrenching Battalion before finally rejoining 4th Company, 2nd Otago Battalion in late July 1918.

Promoted to Lance Corporal, he was immediately thrown into the Battle for Bapaume and what would turn out to be the decisive last 100 days of the War. During an attack near the Forest of Mormal just south of Le Quesnoy on 5 November 1918, George was acting as a Company runner, carrying messages from the front lines back to Battalion Headquarters. He made several trips through heavy enemy machinegun and artillery fire and was commended for his coolness under fire.

A month later, George was notified he would be decorated with the Military Medal in recognition of his gallantry and devotion to duty, although the award wasn’t officially gazetted until after his return to New Zealand in mid-1919. By this time, he had already made the decision to try and stay in the Army. George volunteered for the temporary section of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps and was attested as a Private on 26 May 1919.

Promoted to Lance Corporal and posted to Trentham Camp in April 1921, George married Catherine Reid 18 months later. They settled into a house at Heretaunga and welcomed a son in September 1923. George transferred to the permanent section of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps in 1924 and rose quickly through the ranks, being promoted to Corporal two years later, and Sergeant two years after that.

Unfortunately, the military downsizing which accompanied the great depression saw him lose his uniformed role in January 1931. He volunteered to stay on as a civilian staff member at lower pay, and remained in that role performing critical work in the main supply depot at Trentham Camp up until New Zealand entered the Second World War.

Due to the need to rapidly expand the New Zealand Army, George was recalled to the military in December 1939 and commissioned as a Lieutenant in the New Zealand Temporary Staff. Made a temporary Captain he was appointed as the Ordnance officer in charge of Clothing in the Main Depot at Trentham. He was responsible for the management of all Army clothing and lead the transition from First World War era service dress to the new battledress uniform early in the War.

After recovering from an operation for acute appendicitis, George was promoted to temporary Major in February 1942. But the demands of his job began to take a significant toll. After 5 years’ service he was worn out and suffering ill health. At his own request he transferred to the Reserve of Officers in October 1944, and in recognition of the excellent service he had provided so far during the War was awarded another role in the Public Service.

On reaching the age of 67 in July 1955, George was posted to the retired list in the rank of Major. He passed away in Upper Hutt in November 1964 and his ashes were interned at the cemetery of St John’s Church Trentham, where his wife joined him eleven years later. His memorial plaque gives little indication of his incredible military career, gallantry, and total of 28 years’ service to the New Zealand Army. Lest we forget.

Citation for the Military Medal, London Gazette 3 July 1919.

“Operations: British front in the vicinity of the Foret de Mormal – 5th November 1918. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During the above operations, Lance Corporal Avis, who is a runner, was engaged in carrying reports and messages between forward Companies and Battalion Headquarters. He made several trips and although the enemy machine gun and artillery fire was most intense, he delivered his reports and messages expeditiously. Throughout he showed great gallantry and continuous devotion to duty.

”References:

https://www.aucklandmuseum.com/…/online…/record/C66901
http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/name-418731.html