Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


NZ Military 1st Generation Vehicles

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

NZ Bushmaster 5.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To increase the range of wagons, a competitive tender was advertised in 1908 for other manufacture of;

  • Three Ambulance Wagons
  • Three General Service Wagons
  • Four Small-Arms Carts
  • Four Water Carts

Fifteen manufactures responded to the tender with the Rouse and Hurrell Carriage Building Company (Limited) of Wellington was selected as the winner in January 1909.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mk X GS Wagon

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

Wagon GS

Wagons, Limbered, GS

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

Wagon Limbered GS

Mark II Horse Ambulance

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

Mark II Horse Ambulance

 


Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[11] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Report of  the General Officer Commanding the Forces, From 1st June 1916, to 31st May 1917,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1 January 1917).

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

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

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