New Zealand’s Flaming “A” Badge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • The IOO Section
  • The NZAOC Ammunition Section

Under the CIOO, the IOO Section was responsible for.

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

The NZAOC Ammunition Section was responsible for.

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

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

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

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

Under the DAE, Ordnance Services were divided between the,

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

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

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

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

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

RNZAOC IOOs and AEs 1949

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

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

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

Elizabeth Arden lipstick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ammunition Sub-Depots now consisted of:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONSIDERATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examples of New Zealand ATO/AT Badges

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

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

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

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

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


Brigadier Allan Huia Andrews, CBE

Brigadier Andrews was born in New Plymouth on 11 January 1912. He was educated at Thames and New Plymouth Boys’ High School and Canterbury University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering degree. A talented rugby player, Andrews represented Canterbury and had made the grade for selection as an All Black in 1934. However, as he was nearing the end of his studies, he made the difficult decision to forgo rugby and complete his studies.

Enlisted into the Permanent Force of the New Zealand Army as a cadet on 7 April 1936, Andrews was commissioned into the NZAOC as a Lieutenant on 17 June 1936. As Lieutenant S.B Wallace, the Officer in Charge of the Ordnance Workshops, was on course in England, Andrews was detached from the Main Ordnance Depot to take Charge of the Ordnance Workshops. From September 1937, Andrews was then appointed as the Temporary Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (OME) until Wallace’s return in June 1938. Returning to the Main Ordnance Depot as the Assistant Ordnance Officer, Andrews began work on updating equipment scales and developing plans to equip and support provide an expeditionary force.

On 11 December 1939. Andrews was seconded to the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF) as the Senior OME (SOME), promoted to Captain, and embarked on active service the same day. He was promoted to Major and appointed Deputy Assistant Director Ordnance Services (DADOS) 2 NZEF on 1 August 1940. The appointment of Assistant Director Ordnance Services (ADOS) 2 NZ Division followed in January 1941.

Following the appointment of Colonel King, the ADOS 2 NZEF, as the Deputy Director Ordnance Services (DDOS) lines of Communication (L of C) for the 8th Army, Andrews assumed the responsibilities of ADOS 2 NZEF.  

On the formation of the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) as a unit of 2NZEF on 1 December 1942, Andrews was appointed to the position of Commander EME (CEME) 2 NZ Division.

Returning to New Zealand in July 1943, Andrews was appointed as the COME at MOD Trentham and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Based on his experience in the Middle East, he integrated All Arms Military training into the training schedule of the MOD Ordnance Workshops.

Portrait of Lieutenant Colonel Allan Huia Andrews, Auckland Weekly News, 31 March 1943. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19430331-19-2. Image has no known copyright restrictions.

Andrews was soon overseas again, first undertaking a tour of duty with 3 NZ Division in the Pacific in early 1944 and in May was again posted back to 2NZEF (Middle East), where he served as CEME 2 NZ Division.

Early in the war, Andrews had been handpicked by General Freyberg to manage the 2nd NZEF Rugby Team on the cessation of hostilities. Under Andrew’s management, a team known as The Kiwis was selected from men completing active service in North Africa and Italy and included several men who had spent lengthy spells in prisoner of war camps in Italy, Austria and Germany.

Andrews completed his task as the manager of The Kiwis with much success, with the Kiwis becoming one of the most famous and successful Rugby teams produced by New Zealand who, in their tour of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and France, played 33 matches for 29 wins, two draws and two losses. They scored 605 points and conceded just 185. They beat the full international sides of England, Wales and France and lost just one international to Scotland. The complete tour results were

  • 07 October 1945 Swansea v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 22-6
  • 30 October 1945 Llanelli v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 18-8
  • 03 November 1945 Neath v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 22 – 15
  • 10 November 1945 Northern Services v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 14-7
  • 14 November 1945 Ulster v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 10-9
  • 17 November 1945 Leinster v New Zealand Army – Draw 10-10
  • 24 November 1945 England v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 18-3
  • 01 December 1945 British Army v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 25-5
  • 08 December 1945 RAF v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 11-0
  • 15 December 1945 Royal Navy v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 6-3
  • 22 December 1945 London Clubs v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 30-0
  • 26 December 1945 Cardiff v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 3-0
  • 29 December 1945 Newport v New Zealand Army – Draw 3-3
  • 05 January 1946 Wales v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 11-3
  • 12 January 1946 Combined Services v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 31-0
  • 19 January 1946 Scotland v New Zealand Army – NZEF Loss 11-6
  • 24 January 1946 Scottish Universities v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 57-3
  • 26 January 1946 North Midlands v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 24-9
  • 31 January 1946 East Midlands v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 14-0
  • 02 February 1946 Northern Counties v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 25-8
  • 09 February 1946 Lancs, Cheshire & Yorks v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 41-0
  • 14 February 1946 Oxford University v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 31-9
  • 16 February 1946 Devon & Cornwall v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 11-3
  • 20 February 1946 Cambridge University v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 15-7
  • 23 February 1946 Gloucs & Somerset v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 11-0
  • 27 February 1946 Monmouthshire v New Zealand Army – NZEF Loss 0-15
  • 02 March 1946 Aberavon v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 17-4
  • 10 March 1946 France v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 14-9
  • 13 March 1946 BAOR v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 12-0
  • 16 March 1946 Combined Services v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 20-3
  • 24 March 1946 France v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 13-10
  • 27 March 1946 France A v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 38-9
  • 31 March 1946 Ile De France v New Zealand Army – NZEF Win 24-13

Andrews returned to New Zealand in July 1946 to take up the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO) appointment at the MOD Trentham on completing the tour.  

Appointed as the first post-war Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) on 1 October 1947. Relinquishing the appointment of DOS on 11 November 1949, Andrews then attended the Joint Services Command College (JSSC) in the United Kingdom.

On his return to New Zealand, he was appointed the Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General (DAQMG) at Army HQ. Promoted to Colonel, Andrews was then posted to Waiouru as the Camp Commandant in 1953.

In 1955, he was promoted to Brigadier as the Commander of the Central Military District.

Wellington College cadet Corporal C A Beyer receiving the Berry Cup from Brigadier A H Andrews, OBE, for being the outstanding battalion shot. Photographed by an Evening Post staff photographer on 16 November 1955.

Another overseas tour followed in late 1956 when he became Senior Army Liaison Officer at the New Zealand Embassy in London. Returning to New Zealand in 1960, Brigadier Andrews then took up the appointment of Commander Southern Military District.

In January 1963, he was again posted to Army HQ as the Adjutant General, an appointment he was to hold until his retirement in 1967.

Appointed as the Colonel Commandant of the RNZAOC on 1 April 1969, he served in that capacity until 30 September 1977.

Throughout his retirement, Andrews maintained a keen interest in all activities of the RNZAOC and published his autobiography, Allan Huia Andrews: a distinguished career, in 2002.

Brigadier Andrews passed away on 28 October 2002 and is buried at Okato Cemetery, New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Mentioned in Dispatches while serving with 2 NZ Division and further recognising his services, he was awarded the OBE in 1943. In the 1964 NewYears’ honours, Andrewes was awarded the CBE.

Lt Col A.H Andrews. OBE, RNZAOC Director of Ordnance Services, 1 Oct 1947 – 11 Nov 1949. RNZAOC School

The bell of the M.V Rangitata

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

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

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

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

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

MV Rangitata

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

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

The Rangitane

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

The Rangitiki

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

The Rangitata

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Anti-Aircraft Ammunition Disposal 1955-57

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letters to the Editor

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

I am etc.,

ATOMIC BOMB

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

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


Notes

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

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

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

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

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


NZ Aid to French Indo China 1952-54

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9]“Arms Aid for Indo-China.”


Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Reorganisation of NZ Ordnance Services 1 October 1946

Due to the reorganisation of the New Zealand Army Headquarters “Q” branch and the formation of the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME), new establishment tables for the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) were approved for use from 1 October 1946.

Under discussion since 1944, the 1 October 1946 Establishments provided the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps with a framework within the interim post-war New Zealand Army that woud allow future growth.

Responsibility for the NZ Army’s Logistic Functions fell to the Quartermaster-General who delegated responsibility for Ordnance Services to the Director of Army Equipment (DAE).

Under the DAE the NZ Army Ordnance Services were organised as;

  • Headquarters NZ Ordnance Services
    • Headquarters
      • Chief Ordnance Officer (COO) & Staff
    • Provision Group
  • Main Ordnance Depot, Trentham
  • Three District Sub-Depots
    • No 1 Ordnance Sub-Depot, Hopuhopu
    • No 2 Ordnance Sub- Depot, Linton
      • Sub-Depot Waiouru
    • No 3 Ordnance Sub-Depot, Burnham
  • Inspection Ordnance Group, comprising:
    • Headquarters, Trentham
    • Ammunition Repair Depot, Kuku Valley
    • IOO Section Northern Military District (NMD), Hopuhopu
    • IOO Section Central Military District (CMD), Trentham
    • IOO Section Southern Military District (SMD), Burnham
  • Ordnance Ammunition Group
    • NMD Ammunition Section HQ, Hopuhopu
      • Ammunition Section, Hopuhopu
      • Ammunition Section, Ardmore
      • Ammunition Section, Kelm Road
    • CMD Ammunition Section HQ, Trentham
      • Ammunition Section, Belmont
      • Ammunition Section, Makomako
      • Ammunition Section, Waiouru
    • SMD Ammunition Section HQ, Burnham
      • Ammunition Section, Glentunnel
      • Ammunition Section, Mount Somers
      • Ammunition Section, Fairlie
      • Ammunition Section, Alexandra

Once on Chunuk Bair

One of the New Zealand military’s functions is to assist civilian organisations where no viable civilian resources are available.  One such example of this support was in 1991 when the NZ Army provided expertise and personnel to help produce the movie, Chunuk Bair.  

The high point of the New Zealand effort at Gallipoli was the capture of Chunuk Bair, a key feature on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Captured by the Wellington Battalion under Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone on 8 August 1915, the New Zealanders would hold the position against violent counterattacks by a motivated and well-led opponent until relieved by British Battalions on 9 August. The latter were driven off Chunuk Bair in a counterattack led by Mustafa Kemal on the early morning of 10 August.

‘The Battle of Chunuk Bair, 8 August 1915, by Ion Brown’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/battle-chunuk-bair-8-august-1915-ion-brown, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 23-May-2014

The anti-Vietnam protest movement of the 1960s and 70s had caused anything related to the ANZAC legend to become unpopular in New Zealand, with ANZAC day commemorations mainly attended by veterans and serving military personnel. The 1981 Australian movie Gallipoli, with its powerful anti-British theme,was released and considered an ‘event of national significance in Australia. This spike of interest across the Tasman was a turning point and provided the springboard for New Zealand playwright Maurice Shadbolt to provide his contribution in enhancing the notion of Gallipoli as the birthplace of New Zealand as a nation with the events at Chunuk Bair as a source of national pride.

Shadbolt’s play Once on Chunuk Bair would open to much praise from the theatre gong public on ANZAC Day 1982 at Auckland’s Mercury Theatre and would reinforce Shadbolt’s view that Chunuk Bair marked the birth of the nation freed from the shackles of British Colonialism. Once on Chunuk Bair gave the battle of Chunuk Bair the same national significance to New Zealand that the Australians place on their magnificent debacle at Lone Pine and the Nek. Despite a short theatrical run, Shadbolt’s play would become popular in schools and universities as it was taught and performed as part of the educational experience in a similar way that the Australians use the movie Gallipoli.

With the 75th anniversary of Gallipoli observed in 1990, a shift in public consciousness toward Gallipoli was revived, and Once on Chunuk Bair was made into a movie during 1991. Produced on a low budget and aimed at a New Zealand audience. The Army Museum provided much technical advice, uniforms and props, with the Army also providing significant assistance to the production, including expertise in explosives and many Men as extras. RNZAOC ammunition technical officer (ATO) Ian Juno would be listed in the credits as providing the special effects, and a sizable quantity of soldiers from 1 Base Supply Battalion would feature in many scenes as extras.

With production compressed within four weeks, many of the Large-scale battle scenes were filmed on Wellington’s south coast, a near facsimile of the terrain of Gallipoli, with the more detailed scenes filmed in a specially constructed set at the Avalon studios.

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Although the final product was disappointing and did not have the same polished attributes as the earlier Australian movie Gallipoli, it complements Christopher Pugsley’s 1984 TVNZ documentary Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story, the Voices of Gallipoli in establishing the Gallipoli Campaign and the Chunuk Bair battle as the cornerstones of the national identity.


The Cave

As New Zealand’s Army’s central stock holding unit, 1 Base Supply Battalion(1BSB) was responsible for managing and providing depot-level storage of New Zealand’s Military’s stock of land equipment and spares. Despite having this responsibility since 1920, 1BSB and its predecessors had always struggled with providing suitable warehousing infrastructure and made do with the available storage infrastructure.

With no purpose-built storage accommodation, from 1920 to 1940, the NZAOC Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) utilised up to one hundred camp administrative and accommodation structures as its primary means of warehousing. Relief was provided in 1938 when contracts were issued to construct a modern warehouse utilising the most modern of methods and materials.[1] The New warehouse, later known as Building 73, was constructed using reinforced concrete and designed with nine bays that allowed the loading and unloading of Trains on one side and Motor Transport on the other. The design and layout of building 73 were utilised as the model for new warehouses constructed at Burnham, Hopuhopu and Waiouru.

Building 73

Although Building 73 provided a considerable increase in storage capability, wartime demands soon necessitated further increases in storage infrastructure, resulting in the construction of Building 74. Building 74 and the warehouses constructed in Burnham and Waiouru were close facsimiles of building 73, with the main exception that it was constructed out of wood instead of reinforced concrete due to wartime constraints.[2]

The wartime expansion of the New Zealand military saw the MOD exponentially expand to cope with the influx of military material with additional buildings constructed in Trentham and sub-depots also established a Mangere, Wanganui, Linton Camp, Gracefield and Wellington.

Peace in 1945 brought little respite as stocks were centralised at the MOD, requiring further expansion of the MOD warehousing infrastructure. To meet this need, five warehouses that were built for the United States Forces at Lower Hutt were disassembled and re-erected at Trentham by September 1945.[3] Additionally, the RNZAF Stores Depot constructed at Mangaroa in 1943 was handed over to the MOD in 1949.

Over the next forty years, the warehousing infrastructure at Trentham changed little, with a 1985 NZDF report identifying many deficiencies leading to significant upgrading of Trentham’s warehousing infrastructure.[4]

Main Ordnance Depot 1966

In one of the most significant warehousing infrastructure investments since 1939 and the first modern warehouse built for the RNZAOC since 1972, Building 75, a high stud warehouse capable of holding 3700 pallets, opened in 1988. Although a significant advancement in warehousing capability, the new warehouse had limited space for outsized items. Additionally, many other warehousing functions, such as packing and traffic, remained in Building 73, so further work was required to enhance the functionality of 1BSBs entire warehousing capability.

Building 73 (left), Building 74 (Right)

With trains no longer utilised for the delivery and dispatching of stores, the rail lines between Building 73 and 74 had long been redundant. By removing the rail line and raising the ground level between the two buildings, providing additional storage space of almost two square kilometres, protected from the elements by a 200 x 13-meter roof, was created. At the southern end, a loading ramp was constructed to allow the loading and unloading of trucks, with angled ramps at either end allowing the movement of vehicles along the length of the new storage area.  Opened on 2 November 1989, the new warehouse was christened “the Cave.” The Cave allowed the more efficient transfer of stores to and from the storage areas in Buildings 73, 74 and 75 to the receipt, selecting, packing and issuing bays in Building 73.

Lieutenant Colonel P.P Martyn, Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps. Commanding Officer 1 Base Supply Battalion January 1988 – December 1990, officially opening “The Cave”

The additional storage space allowed the storage of outsized items which had previously been stored at the Mangaroa Depot, which was subsequently decommissioned and handed over to NZDF Property Services.

The optimisation of storage space between the two buildings was so successful a similar modification was constructed between two of 21 Supply Company’s 1950s-era Warehouses at Linton, creating much-needed storage and office space.


Notes

[1] “New Army Ordnance Block Now under Construction at One of the Military Camps,” Evening Post, Volume CXXVIII, Issue 65, 14 Sept 1939.

[2] F Grattan, Official War History of the Public Works Department (PWD, 1948).

[3] “Organisation – Policy and General – Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1946-1984,” Archives New Zealand Item No R17311537 (1946).

[4] “Assessment and Audit – Audit Files – [1995] – NZDF Bulk Warehousing,” Archives New Zealand Item No R24596003 (1985).


1950s Camp Equipment

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

Safes-Meat Portable

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

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Stands Ablution Portable

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

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

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Stand Ablution Components. Robert McKie Collection

Stand Ablution laid with its compontrs laid out;

  • Bar Towel/Toprail, Qty 1
  • Leg Ablution Stand End, Qty 2
  • Leg Ablution Stand Center, Qty 1
  • Brace Ablution Stand, Qty 2
  • Drain Sink, Trough, Qty 1
  • Drain, Lavartory pipe, Qty 1
  • Bolt securing, Qty 4
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The above picture shows the Stand Ablution in the final stages of assembly with the two soldiers about to fir the Bar Towel/Top-rail to the Leg Ablution Stand Ends. Once the Bar Towel/Top-rail was attached, the braces were bolted tight and the Drain Sink, Trough and Drain, Lavatory pipe were attached.
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Mess Kit Washup

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

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

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

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

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

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

Field Cook House

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