The role of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 1914-1920

This article was initially published in the Journal of the New Zealand Military History Society “The Volunteers” in July 2020

The role of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) during the First World War, is one that has remained untold if not forgotten. While the contribution of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF), its commanders, battles and significant units is well recorded, the narrative on the Logistic Services of the NZEF has been universally biased towards the larger of the Logistic Services; the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC), with the contribution of the NZAOC, seldom mentioned.The significance of the NZAOC is that from 1914 to 1919, the NZAOC was the body charged with supplying and maintaining the weapons, ammunition, clothing and equipment of the NZEF, and as such was a key enabler towards the success of the NZEF. The main NZAOC functions were within the NZ Division under the control of the NZ Division Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS). Additionally, as part of the NZEF Headquarters in London, the NZAOC would manage a range of ordnance functions in support of the NZEF.  This article examines the role of the NZAOC as it grew from an initial mobilisation strength of two men in 1914 into a small, but effective organisation providing Ordnance services to the NZEF.

New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Badge, 1916-1919 (Robert McKie Collection 2017)

Unlike the Australians who were in the early stages of establishing their Ordnance Corps under with the assistance of a British Ordnance Officer in 1914, New Zealand was without a uniformed Ordnance Corps on the declaration of war in 1914.[1]  The formation of the NZAOC had been a topic of discussion and indecision from as early as 1900, and despite the transformational reforms of the New Zealand Defence Act of 1909, there was little appetite to decide on the formation of the NZAOC.[2] However, the need for personnel trained in Ordnance duties was understood, with some training and experimentation in the provision of Ordnance Services carried out in the Brigade and Divisional Camps of 1913 and 1914, laying the foundation for the mobilisation of August 1914.[3]

Section 5 of General Order 312 issued in August 1914 would establish Ordnance Services as part of the NZEF. This order authorised as part of the Division Headquarters establishment; a DADOS, one clerk and a horse.[4]  Appointed to the position of DADOS was Honorary Captain William Thomas Beck of the New Zealand Staff Corps,[5] with the position of Clerk filled by Sergeant Norman Joseph Levien, a general storekeeper who had enlisted into the 3rd Auckland Regiment on the outbreak of war.[6]  Beck and Levien would assist in equipping troops for overseas service at the Avondale camp before embarking with the main body of the NZEF.[7]

Disembarking in Egypt on 3 December 1914 and armed with The Ordnance Manual (War) of 1914, Beck was provided with the following guidance on his role as DADOS;

“To deal with all matters affecting the Ordnance services of the division. The DADOS would manage the state of the clothing and equipment on the charge of the units composing the division and would from time to time advise the officers in charge of the stores which in all probability would be required for operations”.[8]

NZAOC Captain W T Beck, Ordnance Depot Shrapnel Gully Gallipoli 1915

One of Becks first tasks was to establish a shared depot with the NZASC at Zeitoun,  with NZEF Order No 9 of 10 December 1914 detailing the instructions for submitting demands to the DADOS Ordnance Depot.[9] Working alongside their Australian and British counterparts, Beck and Levien would have their staff enhanced with the addition of six soldiers from 28 December 1914.[10]  With no experience of the British Ordnance systems and procedures, Levien was attached for a short period to the British Army Ordnance Corps Depot at the Citadel in Cairo to study the ordnance systems in use and adapt them for use by the New Zealand Forces.[11] As the preparations for the Dardanelles campaign began to unfold, the NZAOC begin to take shape with Levien, and Sergeant King from the Wellington Regiment commissioned from the ranks to be the first NZAOC officers on 3 April 1915.[12]

To support the upcoming Dardanelles operation and ensure the flow of stores forward, Alexandra was to be the main Ordnance Base Depot. The cargo ship ‘SS Umsinga’ which had been fitted out in the United Kingdom with many of the Ordnance Stores anticipated to support the operation, would act as the forward Ordnance Depot.[13]  As part of the New Zealand preparations, Beck would be the DADOS for the New Zealand & Australian Division (NZ & A Div). At Alexandra, Levien secured premises at No. 12 Rue de la Porte Rosette and Shed 43, Alexandra Docks for a New Zealand Ordnance Depot. The Australians would also establish a similar Depot at Mustapha Barracks and at No 12 Bond Store on Alexandra Docks.[14] King would remain at Zeitoun as the Officer in Charge of the Ordnance Depot at Zeitoun Camp to manage the reception of reinforcements and bringing them up to theatre scales as they arrived from New Zealand.

Rue de la, Porte Rosette, Alexandria, Egypt. Public Domain

Concentrating off the Island of Lemnos from April 10, the ANZAC, British and French invasion fleet would invade Turkey at three locations on the morning of 25 April. The 1st Australian Division would land first at around 4 am on 25 April, with Godley’s Headquarters leading the NZ & A Div ashore at around 9 am, with Beck, according to Christopher Pugsley the first New Zealander ashore as part of Godley’s Force.[15]

As Beck landed, the 1st Australian Division DADOS Lt Col J.G Austin was supervising the cross-loading of ammunition and Ordnance stores in a rudimentary Logistics Over-the-Shore (LOTS) operation using a small fleet of lighters.[16]  As the lighters unloaded, and the stores transferred to a hastily established ordnance dump just off the beach, issues of ammunition had begun to be issued to replenish the men fighting in the hills,[17] and Beck would have been immediately committed to establishing his domain as DADOS of the NZ & A Div. Under Austin who had taken control of the Ordnance operations in the ANZAC sector,[18] Beck would remain as the DADOS of the NZ & A Div until August.

Supplies on the beach at ANZAC Cove 1915. Athol Williams Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library
Ordnance Depot Shrapnel Gully, Gallipolli. Alexander Turnbull Libary

Assisting Beck with the more onerous physical work and the management of the depot staff, was Staff Sergeant Major Elliot Puldron.[19]  Becks service at Gallipoli was reported in the Hawera & Normanby Star on 24 June 1916.

“Finally, there was Captain William Beck, an ordinary officer. “Beachy Bill” was in charge of the store – a miserable little place – and whenever he put his nose out of the door bullets tried to hit it. The Turkish gun in Olive Grove was named after him, “Beachy Bill.” The store was simply a shot under fire, and Bill looked out and went on with his work just as if no bullets were about. He was the most courteous and humorous, and no assistant at Whiteley’s could have been more pleasing and courteous than the brave storekeeper on Anzac Beach. General Birdwood never failed to call on Captain Beck or call out as he passed on his daily rounds, asking if he were there, and they all dreaded that someday there would be no reply from a gaunt figure still in death. But Captain Beck was only concerned for the safety of his customers. He hurried them away, never himself”. [20]

As a result of the rigours of the campaign, Beck was evacuated from Gallipoli in August with Levien replacing him as DADOS. From mid-September, the exhausted New Zealanders withdrew to Lemnos for rest and reconstitution. King and Levien switched roles with Levien appointed the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO) of Sarpi camp with the responsibility for re-equipping the depleted NZ & A Div. Returning to Gallipoli in November, King would remain with the NZ & A Div as the DADOS and Levien would remain on Lemnos. Both men would return to Egypt in December after the NZ & A Div withdrew from Gallipoli.

Now with sufficient New Zealand reinforcements available, the NZEF was expanded and reorganised into an Infantry Division which would serve on the Western Front and a Mounted Rifle Brigade, which would remain in the Middle East.[21]  As a consequence of the logistical lessons learnt on the Western Front by the British Army Ordnance Corps(AOC), the existing NZ Ordnance cadre would expand into a modest unit of the NZEF.[22]  In the NZ Division, the Staff of the DADOS would expand from the original officer, clerk and horse in 1914, into a staff of several officers, warrant officers, SNCOs, men and dedicated transport.[23] The NZAOC in the Mounted Rifle Brigade would work under the Australian DADOS of the ANZAC Mounted Division, with the Ordnance establishment for each Mounted Brigade Headquarters consisting of a warrant officer, sergeant clerk and corporal storeman.[24]

Beck had been identified to continue as the NZ Division DADOS, but continual ill-health had resulted in his return to New Zealand in November. Godley selected Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert as an officer with the right business acumen to replace Beck. Herbert was the first Mayor of Eketahuna, and a successful business owner who ran a chain of general stores in the north Wairarapa, the challenge of managing the NZAOC would be one well suited to his experience.[25] Herbert had previously commanded the Maori Contingent and then the Otago’s on Gallipoli, and in January 1916 was transferred into NZAOC as the NZ Division, DADOS and Officer Commanding of the NZEF NZAOC.[26] As Herbert took command, additional officers and soldiers were transferred into the NZAOC to complement the men already serving in the NZAOC.[27]

Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert, NZAOC. aucklandmuseum/Public Domain

As Herbert prepared his men for the move to France, he had the formidable task of instructing them in the necessary ordnance procedures and duties that they would be expected to carry out in France, almost all of Herbert’s men had seen service on Gallipoli and adapted themselves to their new circumstances to provide their mates on the front the best possible service. Not all the original NZAOC officers would remain with the NZ Division; King would become ill with enteric feverand invalided back to New Zealand, and would be a foundation member of the NZAOC in New Zealand on its formation in 1917.[28]  Levien (and two Other Ranks) would remain in Egypt attached to NZEF Headquarters where he would close the Alexandra Depot and dispose of the vast stockpile of stores that the NZEF had accumulated over the past year. Departing Egypt in May 1916, Levien would not re-join the NZ Division but remain with the Headquarters NZEF as the NZEF COO in the United Kingdom.[29]

A significant duty of the DADOS and his staff was to vet all indents that were submitted by units of the NZ Division. Herbert and his staff were to exercise a check on these indents and keep records of the receipt and issues of stores to prevent the placing of excessive demands. Herbert’s role was not to obstruct legitimate demands but to accelerate their processing and see that the stores, when received, were issued without delay. Herbert would later reminisce at a Returned Servicemen’s meeting that his role was “to see that all units were properly equipped, at the same time endeavouring to ensure that no one ” put it across him ” for extra issues”.[30] The DADOS would not typically hold stocks of any kind, but as experience grew, the DADOS would hold a small reserve of essential items.[31] An example of the items held by the DADOS were gumboots and socks.[32]

A crucial role of the DADOS was to ensure that all damaged or worn stores that were fit for repair were exchanged for new or refurbished items and the damage items returned to the appropriate repair agency. Under the responsibility of the DADOS, an Armourer Staff Sergeant was attached to each infantry battalion in the early years of the war. It was later found to be a much better plan to remove the armourers from Battalions and form a division armourers shop equipped with all the tools and accessories necessary for the repair of small arms, machine guns, bicycles, primus stoves, steel helmets and other like items, allowing them to be repaired and reissued with much higher efficiency than if left with an individual Battalion armourer.[33] Also under the supervision of the DADOS were the Divisional boot repair shop and Divisional Tailors shops. These shops saved and extended the life of many hundreds of pairs of boots and suits of clothing.

In May 1916, shortly after arriving in France the DADOS was directed to provide one officer, one sergeant and two corporals for the Divisional Salvage Company, with the OC of the Pioneer Battalion providing four Lance Corporals and 24 Other ranks. The duties of the NZ Divisional Salvage Company were;

“The care and custody of packs of troops engaged in offensive operations; The care of tents and canvas of the Division; The salvage of Government property, and also enemy property, wherever found; The sorting of the stuff salved, and dispatch thereof to base.”[34]

Although initially reporting to the Corps Salvage Officer, entries in the DADOS war diaries indicate that the Divisional Salvage Company was an integral part of the DADOS responsibilities.[35]

The appointment of Divisional Baths and Laundry Officer was another DADOS  responsibility from December 1916.[36] The Division would endeavour to maintain facilities to provide the entire Division with a Bath and a change of clothing every ten days.[37]  The Divisional Baths and Laundry provided a welcome respite for solders from the front; soiled clothing was handed in as solders arrived and undressed, provide a hot bath or shower, solders would then be issued a clean uniform. The soiled uniform would be inspected, cleaned and repaired if necessary and placed into stock ready for the next rotation of soldiers to pass through.[38]

9/39 Temporary Major Charles Gossage OBE. National Library of New Zealand/public domain

Herbert would remain as DADOS until 31 March 1918 when he relinquished the appointment of OC NZAOC and DADOS NZ Division to be the Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (ADOS) of XI Army Corps.[39] Herbert was replaced as DADOS by Lieutenant Gossage who had recently completed an Ordnance course at Woolwich and was granted the rank of Temporary Captain while holding the position of DADOS. The appointment of OC NZAOC was taken up by Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Edward Pilkington. Pilkington was a New Zealand Artillery Officer with a flair for administration. Pilkington had acquitted himself well as the ADOS of XIX Corps during the retreat of the British 5th Army in March 1918 and was considered the most experience Ordnance Officer in the NZEF and was appointed NZEF ADOS on 30 June 1918.[40]

Prior to the arrival of Pilkington as NZEF ADOS, the headquarters of the NZEF in London had evolved into a self-contained administrative unit, with capably managed departments providing the full range medical, pay, postal and other administrative services to maintain a the NZEF training camps in the United Kingdom as well as the NZEF units in France and the Middle East.[41] In his role as the NZEF COO, Levien would undertake several initiatives to improve the logistical situation of the NZEF. Levien’s initial work included the establishment of the Sling Ordnance Depot and smaller sub-depots at all of the NZEF Training Camps and Hospitals throughout the United Kingdom.[42] To support these Depots, Levien would also establish an Ordnance Depot at Farringdon Road, London.[43]  Levien was always keen to reduce costs, and an example of his cost-saving efforts is that by a combination of switching clothing suppliers from the Royal Army Clothing Department (RACD) at Pilimlco to commercial suppliers and by repairing damaged clothing, these changes resulted in savings of 2019 NZD$9,788,232.00 in the period leading up to December 1917.[44]

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

Levien would also study the stores accounting procedures employed by the Australians and Canadians, and after discussions with Battalion Quartermasters and the Ordnance Officer at Sling, Levien submitted a modified stores accounting system that was adopted across the NZEF to provide a uniform and efficient method of accounting for stores. So successful was this system that it was adopted by the post-war NZAOC and proved very successful with losses becoming comparatively negligible against the previous systems.[45] Levien also instigated the establishment of an independent NZEF audit department and a purchasing board to supervise purchasing by the NZEF. For his efforts, Levien who finished the war a Major was awarded an MBE and OBE.[46]

The armistice of 11 November 1918 brought a sudden end to the fighting on the Western Front leading to the NZ Division marching into Germany to take up occupation duties at Cologne soon afterwards. Gossage and his staff would initially be concerned with closing down or handing over the ordnance stores and infrastructure in France and Belgium and establishing the ordnance mechanisms required to support the NZ Division in Germany. The New Zealand occupation would be short, and the NZ Division had disbanded by 26 March 1919.[47] With all of the NZ Divisions equipment requiring disposal, Gossage and his men were ordered to remain in Germany to manage the handing back of the Divisions equipment to British ordnance and dispose of the items unable to be returned by sale or destruction.  Gossage would eventually march out for England on 2 May 1919.[48]  Concurrent with the mobilisation activities undertaken by Gossage in Germany, the NZAOC in the United Kingdom would swiftly switch activities from equipping the NZEF to demobilising the NZEF and all the ordnance activities associated with that task.

Army clothing at a New Zealand military ordnance store, England. Alexander Turnbull Library

Additionally, the NZAOC would manage the return to New Zealand of the considerable amount of war trophies that the NZEF had accumulated,[49] and the indenting of new equipment to equip the New Zealand Army into the early 1940s.[50] Under Captain William Simmons the final OC Ordnance from 20 Feb 1920, the final remnants of the NZEF NZAOC would be demobilised in October 1920 closing the first chapter of the NZAOC.[51]

In conclusion, this article provides a snapshot of the role of the NZAOC and its place within the NZEF. Charged with the responsibility of supplying and maintaining the weapons, ammunition, clothing and equipment of the NZEF, the NZAOC provided the NZEF with a near-seamless link into the vast Imperial ordnance system. The responsibilities of the NZAOC as part of the NZ Division would extend from the traditional ordnance supply and maintenance functions to the management of the Divisional Baths, Laundries and Savage. In the United Kingdom, the NZAOC would not only provide ordnance support to the troops undertaking training and casualties in hospitals but under a process of continual improvements streamline logistics procedures and processes to enable the NZEF to make considerable savings. However, despite its success as a combat enabler for the NZEF, the legacy of the NZAOC would be one of anonymity. The anonymity of the NZAOC was as a consequence of its small size, and its place in the organisational structure as part of the NZEF and Division Headquarters.

Bibliography

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“Crozier, Lewis “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) – War Diary, 1 April – 30 April 1918.” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487665  (1918).
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Equipment and Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London – Administration Reports Etc., 18 October 1916 – 8 August 1918 Item Id R25102951, Archives New Zealand. 1918.
“Geard, Walter John.” Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Gilmore, Arthur “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Gossage, Charles Ingram.” Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
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“Herbert, Alfred Henry “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Hutton, Frank Percy.” Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“King, Thomas Joseph.” Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Levien, Norman Joseph “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Little, Edward Cullen “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Lofts,Horace Frederick “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Macrae, Kenneth Bruce “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Regulations.” New Zealand Gazette No 95, June 7 1917, 2292.
“New Zealand Expeditionary Force – Army Ordnance Corps Daily Order No. 1 “. Archives New Zealand Item No R25958433  (1916).
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“Oldbury, Charles Alfred.” Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
Ordnance Manual (War). War Office. London: His Majesties Printing Office, 1914.
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“Puldron, Elliot “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
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“Road to Promotion.” Evening Post, Volume XCI, Issue 29, 4 February 1916.
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New Zealand Ordnance Corps demobilisation Staff at Mulheim, Germany, Febuary1919. Alexander Turnbull Library/Public Domain

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Forbes, Arthur. A History of the Army Ordnance Services. London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929. Harper, Glyn. Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918. First World War Centenary History. Exisle Publishing Limited, 2015. Non-fiction.
McGibbon, I. C. New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign. Bateman, 2016. Non-fiction.
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Notes

[1] Arthur Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services (London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929), 229.
[2] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 52-53.
[3] Under the Director of Equipment and Stores, a fortnight course of instruction on ordnance duties was conducted at Alexandra Barracks in January 1913 to trained selected Officers in Ordnance Duties. During the Brigade and Divisional camps of 1913 and 1914 each Brigade Ordnance Officer was allocated a staff of 2 clerks and 4 issuers, who had also undertaken training on Ordnance duties. , “Territorials,” Evening Star, Issue 15018, 29 October 1912.; “H-19 Report on the  Defence Forces of New Zealand for the Period 28 June 1912 to 20 June 1913,” Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representives  (1913).
[4] “Troopships; Embarkation Orders; Daily Field States; and a Large Chart of ‘New Zealand Expeditionary Forces – Personnel’ as at 1 June 1915),” Item ID R23486740, Archives New Zealand 1914.
[5] Beck was an experienced military storekeeper, who had been a soldier in the Permanent Militia before his appointment as Northern Districts Defence Storekeeper in 1904. Beck was the Officer in charge of the Camp Ordnance for the Auckland Divisional Camp at Hautapu near Cambridge in April 1914 so was well prepared for the role of DADOS “Beck, William Thomas,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.; “The Hautapu Camp,” Waikato Argus, Volume XXXV, Issue 5575, 4 April 1914.
[6] “Levien, Norman Joseph “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.
[7] “Beck, William Thomas.”
[8] Ordnance Manual (War), War Office (London: His Majesties Printing Office, 1914).
[9] “Appendices to War Diaries, I – Lxii,” Item ID R23486739, Archives New Zealand 1914.
[10]Divisional Order 210 of 28 December transferred the following soldiers to the Ordnance Depot;

•              Private Walter John Geard, Geard would remain with Ordnance for the duration of the war
•              Private Arthur Gilmore, Gilmour would remain with Ordnance for the duration of the war|
•              Private Gavin Hamilton, Worked At Alexandra Depot until returned to New Zealand in October 1915
•              Private Lewis Crozier, Promoted to Sergeant 18 Feb 16, returned to NZ August 1917
•              Private Horace Frederick Lofts, Transferred to NZASC October 1917
•              Private Joseph Roland Henderson, Transferred to NZASC 25 February 1916

“Geard, Walter John,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Hamilton, Gavin “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Crozier, Lewis “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Lofts,Horace Frederick “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Henderson, Joseph Roland,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Gilmore, Arthur “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.[11] “Levien, Norman Joseph “.
[12]Thomas Joseph King a qualified accountant and would  be the Corps Director in the interwar period and would serve in the 2nd NZEF as ADOS, “King, Thomas Joseph,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.: “Grants of Temporary Rank, Appointments and Promotions of Officers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force,” New Zealand Gazette 8 July 1915.
[13] Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services, 221-23.
[14]“Levien, Norman Joseph “; John D Tilbrook, To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army (Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps Committee, 1989), 43.
[15] Christopher Pugsley, Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story (Auckland [N.Z.] : Sceptre, 1990, 1990), 111.
[16] Australian Army, “Logistics,” Land Warfare Doctrine 4.0  (2018): 7.
[17]  Lt Col Austin was a British Army Ordnance Department officer on secondment to the Australian Army as DOS before the war and served with the AIF on Gallipoli as the DADOS 1st Australian Division and later ADOS of the ANZAC Corps.  Tilbrook, To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army 45.
[18] Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services, 229-30.
[19] “Puldron, Elliot “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.
[20] “Brave New Zealanders,” The Hawera and Normanby Star, Volume LXXI, Issue LXXI, , 24 June 1916.
[21] I. C. McGibbon, New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign (Bateman, 2016), Non-fiction, 30-31.
[22] “Road to Promotion,” Evening Post, Volume XCI, Issue 29, 4 February 1916.;Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services, 151.[23]  The NZAOC Establishment was published in the NZEF Orders of 18 Feb 1916. “New Zealand Expeditionary Force – Army Ordnance Corps Daily Order No. 1 “, Archives New Zealand Item No R25958433  (1916).
[24] Tilbrook, To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army 55.
[25] “Herbert, Alfred Henry “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.
[26] M. Soutar, Whitiki! Whiti! Whiti! E!: Māori in the First World War (Bateman Books, 2019), 185.
[27] The officers and men transferred in to the NZAOC in the period January/March 1916 would include;

•              Private Frank Percy Hutton
•              Sergeant Kenneth Bruce MacRae
•              2nd Lieutenant Alfred James Bond
•              Company Sergeant Major William Henchcliffe Simmons
•              Company Sergeant Major William Hall Densby Coltman
•              Temp Sergeant Edward Cullen Little
•              Corporal John Goutenoire O’Brien
•              Corporal John Joseph Roberts
•              Private Clarence Adrian Seay
•              Sergeant Charles Ingram Gossage
•              Armourer Charles Alfred Oldbury

“Gossage, Charles Ingram,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Oldbury, Charles Alfred,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Seay, Clarence Adrian  “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “O’brien, John Goutenoire “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Little, Edward Cullen “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Coltman, William Hall Densby “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Simmons, William Henchcliffe “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Bond, Alfred James,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Macrae, Kenneth Bruce “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Hutton, Frank Percy,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[28] The New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and Corps would be establised as a pernamant unit of the New Zealand Military Forces  from 1 Feb 1917 “New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Regulations,” New Zealand Gazette No 95, June 7 1917.
[29] “Levien, Norman Joseph “; “New Zealand Expeditionary Force – Army Ordnance Corps Daily Order No. 1 “.
[30] “Returned Soldiers,” Evening Post, Volume CIII, Issue 136, 12 June 1922.
[31] Military Board of Allied Supply Allied and Associated Powers, Report of the Military Board of Allied Supply (Washington: Govt. Print. Off., 1924).
[32] Peter D. F. Cooke, Won by the Spade : How the Royal New Zealand Engineers Built a Nation (Exisle Publishing Ltd, 2019), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 199.
[33] P.H. Williams, Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War (History Press, 2018).
[34] Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division, “New Zealand Division – Administration – War Diary, 1 May – 26 May 1916,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487546  (1916).
[35] Items Salved ny the NZ Div Salvage Company in April 1918 included:

•              One Bristol Airplane,
•              One Triumph Norton Motorcycle,
•              Three Douglas Motorcycles,
•              The following enemy stores;
•              285 Rifles,
•              10 Bayonets and scabbards,
•              25 Steel Helmets,
•              Four Pistol Signal,
•              Three Mountings MG,
•              62 Belts MG,
•              32 Belt boxes MG,
•              95 Gas respirators

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

[36] “2nd Australia & New Zealand Army Corps [2anzac], Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Ados) – War Diary, 1 December – 31 December 1916,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487340  (1916).
[37] Ideally baths would be established for each Brigade and one for the remainder of the Division, these baths would be supported by a central Laundry “An Account of the Working of the Baths Established in the Divisional Areas in France,” Archives New Zealand Item No R24428508  (1918).
[38] Glyn Harper, Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918, First World War Centenary History (Exisle Publishing Limited, 2015), Non-fiction, 351-54.
[39] “Herbert, Alfred Henry “.
[40] “Pilkington,Herbert Edward “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.
[41] H. T. B. Drew, The War Effort of New Zealand : A Popular (a) History of Minor Campaigns in Which New Zealanders Took Part, (B) Services Not Fully Dealt with in the Campaign Volumes, (C) the Work at the Bases, Official History of New Zealand’s Effort in the Great War: V.4 (Whitcombe & Tombs, 1923), Non-fiction, 248.
[42] “Levien, Norman Joseph “.
[43] Equipment and Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London – Administration Reports Etc., 18 October 1916 – 8 August 1918 Item Id R25102951, Archives New Zealand (1918).
[44] Ibid.
[45] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces from 1 July 1922 to 30 June 1923,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1923).
[46] Wayne McDonald, Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War 1914-1918, 3rd edition ed. (Richard Stowers, 2013), Directories, Non-fiction, 146.
[47] McGibbon, New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign, 355.
[48] “Gossage, Charles Ingram.”
[49] “Trophies and Historical Material – [War] Trophies – New Zealand Expeditionary Force [Nzef] – Shipment of to New Zealand, 21 September 1917 – 24 November 1919,” Archives New Zealand Item No R25103019  (1919).
[50] “O’brien, John Goutenoire “.
[51] Simmons had served on the Samoa Advance party in 1914 and demobilised in October 1920, possibly one of the longest serving members of the NZEF. “Simmons, William Henchcliffe “.


NZOC Light Aid Detachments, 1939-44

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

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

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

20200721_133810.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.   Its functions are: –

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 LAD

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

The New Zealand Light Aid Detachments

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

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

2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force LAD’s

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

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

NZOC

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

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

38 LAD

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

NZEF NZ Tank Brigade

20171003_200341-65594957.jpg

Formation Sign 1 NZ Tank Brigade

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

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

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

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

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

1 NZ Army Tk Bde Battalion Ordnance unit

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

NZEF in the Pacific

WH2IP-TankTit-2(h280)

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

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

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

Territorial Army Home Service  LAD’s

20190803_134423-631067360.jpg

Badge of NZOC, 1940-46. Robert McKie Collection

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

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

Northern Military District

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

Central Military District

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

Southern Military District

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

Copyright © Robert McKie 2020

Bibliography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

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

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

[4] Ibid., 17.

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

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

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

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

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

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

[15] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

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

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

[24] Ibid., 57.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid., 63.

[27] Ibid., 62.

[28] Ibid.

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

[30] Ibid.

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

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

[33] Ibid.

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

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

[36] Ibid.

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

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

[39] Ibid.

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

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

[42] Ibid.

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

[44] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[52] Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

[58] Ibid.

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

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


Sling Ordnance Depot, 1916-1920

To sustain and maintain the New Zealand Division on the Western Front during the First World War, New Zealand established a network of training camps, hospitals and other administrative facilities in the United Kingdom. At Sling Camp in the centre of Salisbury Plain, the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) established an Ordnance Depot to provided Ordnance Support to all of the Units of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) located in the Southern Command area of the United Kingdom.  Comprised of a small number of NZAOC soldiers the Sling Ordnance Depot would perform all the duties required of it from its inception in 1916 until final demobilisation in 1920.

Officially called the 4th New Zealand Infantry Brigade Reserve Camp, Sling Camp is the most well-known of the NZEF training camps in England. Throughout the war, Sling Camp would house up to 5000 men undergoing training and recuperation at any one time.[1] To provide ordnance support to Sling Camp, the NZEF Chief Ordnance Officer, Captain Norman Joseph Levien established the Sling Ordnance Depot during the period May-July 1916[2] The Sling Ordnance Depot would not only be responsible for NZEF units in Sling Camp but also all the NZEF units located in the Southern Command Area, including;

  • the New Zealand Command Depot and No 3 General Hospital at Codford,
  • the Artillery and Medical Corps at Ewshot;
  • the Signals at Stevenage;
  • the Engineers, Tunnellers and Māori’s at Christchurch,
  • No 1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst, and
  • The Convalescent Discharge Depot at Torquay.

NZEF UK

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

The Sling Depot would be under the command of the Ordnance Officer NZEF in Southern Command, aided by a small staff of NZAOC Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs). Additional manpower to assist in the handling and management of stores would be provided by supported units, with up to eighty other men attached to the depot during periods of high activity.[3]  Eighteen miles from Sling and with over three thousand men based at Codford, an auxiliary ordnance depot was also established there under the control of an NCO.

BondAJ12-689

Second Lieutenant A.J Bond

Second Lieutenant Alfred James Bond would be appointed as the first Ordnance Officer at Sling in July 1916. Bond had been attached to the NZ Ordnance Depot at Alexandra from 30 April 1915 and was promoted to Second Lieutenant on19 January 1916, followed by his transfer into the NZAOC on 2 March 1916. Moving with the NZ Divison to France, Bond would eventually be transferred to the HQ of the NZEF in June 1916 and appointed as the Ordnance Officer for NZEF Units in the Southern Command in July 1916. Bond would remain at Sling until June 1917 when he was seconded for duty with No 5 Light Railway Section in France.[4]  Bond had been under scrutiny since March 1917 when a court of inquiry had found fault with his leadership, which had led to the death of NZAOC Armourer Sergeant John William Allday as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on 9 January 1917.[5]

Bond was replaced as Ordnance Officer by Second Lieutenant William Henchcliffe Simmons. Simmons had initially served in the Samoa Expeditionary Force after which he would see service at Gallipoli before transferring into the NZAOC. At the time of Bonds secondment to the Light Railway Section, Simmons was serving as a Conductor in the NZ Division in France. Promoted to Second Lieutenant, Simmons would serve as the Ordnance Officer at Sling until August 1917, when Bond returned from his secondment.[6]

WhyteHH

Captain H.H Whyte

Bond would remain as Sling Ordnance Officer until January 1918 when Captain Herbert Henry Whyte, MC arrived for temporary duty as the Sling Ordnance Officer. Whyte was an NZ Artillery officer who along with NZAOC Officer Lieutenant Charles Ingram Gossage had completed a course of instruction in Ordnance duties at the Woolwich Arsenal.[7] Whyte would alternate between the Sling depot and Headquarters in London until 8 May 1918 when he would take up the full-time appointment of Sling Ordnance Officer. Whyte would remain as the Ordnance Officer of the Sling Depot until January 1920 when he was appointed as the acting NZEF Assistant Director of Ordnance Services.[8]

All units in the NZEF Southern Command would raise indents on the Sling Depot, which after checking by the Ordnance Officer would be satisfied from existing stock or sourced from the appropriate source of supply for direct delivery to units. The primary source of supply for general ordnance stores was the British Ordnance Depot at Tidworth, which was conveniently located only five miles from Sling. Occasionally stores would also be drawn from the British Ordnance Depots at Hilsea and Warminster. The relationship with the Tidworth Depot would be close with an NZAOC SNCO seconded there to manage the New Zealand indents.[9] Clothing and Textile were drawn from the New Zealand Ordnance Depot at Farringdon Road in London, or directly for the Royal Army Clothing Department (RACD) Southampton Depot.[10]

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‘Ordnance store during First World War’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/ordnance-store-england-during-first-world-war, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 17-Nov-2016

In addition to the provision of general ordnance stores, clothing and textiles, the Sling Ordnance Dept also managed an Armourers Group and a Salvage Depot. The Armourers Group would have been equipped with all the tools and accessories necessary for the repair of small arms, machine guns, bicycles, primus stoves, steel helmets and other like items[11]

The Salvage Depot had developed during 1917as a measure to recycle unserviceable stores to minimise waste and ensure financial savings. All UK NZEF units would return their part worn and unserviceable clothing and textile items to the Salvage Depot for sorting and further action.

All Serviceable and repairable Service Dress Clothing was sent to the Farringdon Road Depot in London for cleaning, repair, and holding for further issue. Serviceable garments such as socks and underwear sent to the Steam Laundry Company at Salisbury, where after cleaning were returned to the Sling Depot and held as stock. Unserviceable textile stores, such as web gear would be forwarded to the Imperial Salvage Depot at Dewsbury.

The Salvage Depot would grade Boots as either repairable or unserviceable. Repairable boots were sent to either the Farringdon Road Depot or the Southern Command Boot Repair Depot at Southampton for repair and reintegration back into stock. Unserviceable boots were sold by auction in Southampton.

Unserviceable general stores that were not repairable on-site would be placed onto a Board of Survey, of which the Ordnance Officer was a member, classed as unserviceable and returned to the British ordnance Depot from where they were initially sourced, either Tidworth, Hilsea or Warminster.

In addition to the processing of clothing, textiles and general stores, the Salvage Dept would also collect waste paper and tin cans for recycling.

On the signing of the armistice, Sling switched from training camp to a demobilisation centre for all “A Class” men, and the role of the Ordnance Depot became one closing units and disposing of equipment, while also equipping men returning to New Zealand. The demobilised plan called for little equipment used by the NZEF during the war to be backloaded to New Zealand. The exception would be rifles and web equipment.  Rifles were inspected by Ordnance, overhauled and reconditioned with best 20000 returned to New Zealand as transports became available. Web Equipment was cleaned, reconditioned and returned to New Zealand as space became available. The NZAOC Staff in NZEF Headquarters in London would oversee the purchase of enough equipment to equip two Infantry Divisions and One Mounted Rifle Brigade. Again as transport became available, this would be dispatched to New Zealand. The plan was for key NZAOC men to accompany each consignment to assist with its receipt in New Zealand.  In addition to closing down units and disposing of equipment, the primary role of the NZAOC was to issue men returning to New Zealand with New Uniforms.[12]

The demobilisation process required the holding of a much larger stock of clothing, and on 23 November 1918, the existing Sling Ordnance Depot was closed and relocated to larger premises a short distance away in the central area of Bulford Camp.[13] The NZ Ordnance Depot at Bulford became the central reception depot for all Ordnance and Salvage for NZEF units in the UK. The Salvage Depot would become the busiest and most important branch of the Bulford Depot with up to eighty additional men added to its staff. In the six months leading up to June 1919, the Bulford disposal depot enabled credits of £38000 (2019 NZD$ 4,12,9535.50) to be made on behalf of the NZEF.

Ceasing activities with the departure of the last New Zealand soldiers repatriated to New Zealand. The Sling Ordnance Depot would cease operations after three years of service. Its final administrative functions were taken over by the NZAOC Headquarters in London, which from February 1920 were under the command of Captian William Simmons who would be the Officer in Charge of NZ Ordnance in England until October 1920.

No nominal roll of NZAOC soldiers who served in the Sling Depot has survived, but the following men are now known to have served at the depot;

  • 23/1318 Armourer Sergeant John William Allday
  • 12/689 Lieutenant Alfred James Bond
  • 2/3001 Sergeant Herbert William Grimes
  • 10/1251 Staff Sergeant Henry Richard Harntett
  • 10/921 Sergeant Leslie Vincent Kay
  • 23/659 Temporary Capitan William Henchcliffe Simmons
  • 2/284 Captain Herbert Henry Whyte
  • 6/572 Sergeant Henry Wilkinson

 

Notes:

[1] H. T. B. Drew, The War Effort of New Zealand: A Popular (a) History of Minor Campaigns in Which New Zealanders Took Part, (B) Services Not Fully Dealt within the Campaign Volumes, (C) the Work at the Bases, Official History of New Zealand’s Effort in the Great War: V.4 (Whitcombe & Tombs, 1923), Non-fiction, 249-53.

[2] “Levien, Norman Joseph “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[3] “New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps – War Diary, Summary, 23 November 1918 – 9 June 1919 “, Archives New Zealand Item No R23856659  (1919).

[4] “Bond, Alfred James,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[5] “Allday, John William  “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[6] “Simmons, William Henchcliffe “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[7] Gossage would go on to be the NZ Division DADOS “Gossage, Charles Ingram,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[8] “Whyte, Herbert Henry,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[9] “Harnett, Henry Richard,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[10] “New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps – War Diary, Summary, 29 July 1918 “, Archives New Zealand Item No R23856657  (1918).

[11] P.H. Williams, Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War (History Press, 2018).

[12] “New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps – War Diary, Summary, 23 November 1918 – 9 June 1919 “.

[13]  The Ordnance Depot occupied buildings that had formally been used by the NZEF Base Kit Stores which had vacated the premises a few weeks previously.ibid…


NZ Divisional Salvage Unit 1941-1942

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Badge of the 2nd NZEF

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

World War One Origins

New  Zealand’s first experience of Salvage units was during the 1914-18 war. Each British formation (including Dominion forces) was required as part of an army salvage plan to appoint a Salvage Officer for each brigade, and a Division Salvage Company, which in turn was supported a Corps Salvage Company.  Formed on 5 May 1916 the NZ Divisional Salvage Company was under the command of Lieutenant  Macrae, NZAOC. The duties of the NZ Divisional Salvage Company were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Western Desert 1941

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

Estab 18 April 41

NZEF, NZ Divisional Salvage Unit Establishment 18 April 1941

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Formation

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

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

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

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

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

Libya and Syria 1942

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

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

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

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

Estab 28 May 42

NZEF, NZ Divisional Salvage Unit Establishment 28 May 1942

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

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

Disbandment

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

Video

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

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

 Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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