New Zealand Army Berets 1938-1999

NZ Army Berets -1938-1999

The beret is a type of cloth cap with a rich military history that originated in the Basque district of France. Since its adoption by the Royal Tank Regiment in 1924, the beret has become a symbol of military service across the globe. New Zealand is no exception, having adopted its first berets in 1938. The New Zealand military has a long and varied history of using this iconic headdress. In this article, we will explore the history of berets in New Zealand’s military and their significance in various corps and regiments of the New Zealand army.

The Royal Tank Regiment adopted this headdress on 5 May 1924. The decision to choose the beret was made during a dinner in 1917 when officers of the Tank Corps discussed the end of the war and what kind of uniform the corps would wear in peacetime. One of the officers suggested that the corps adopt a headdress of our allies, following the tradition of the British Army adopting some form of headdress belonging to its enemies after most wars.

Initially, the choice was between the Breton beret worn by the Tirailleurs Alpins and the Basque beret worn by the Chars d’ Assault, but neither of these patterns met with favour from the Tank Corps officers. After further consideration, they decided upon the pattern popular among English girls’ schools. Many girls were sent a letter explaining the situation, and many berets of various colours were received in reply. Eventually, the black beret was authorised after a stern contest with the War Office.

Berets were first used as a headdress in New Zealand in 1938 when new uniforms for the Territorial forces were introduced, including a black beret for motorcyclists of the Light Machine Gun Platoons and dispatch riders.[1]

Motorcyclists discontinued the black beret in February 1942 when the NZ Tank Brigade was granted permission to use it as its official headdress.[2]

On 17 February 1942, 2 NZ Tank Battalion Routine Orders posted the following notice, “H.M the King as Colonel in Chief, Royal Tank Regiment, has signified his informal approval to an alliance between this Bde and the Royal Tank Regiment”. The ONLY personnel now authorised to wear black berets and tank patch are Army Tank Bn personnel with the sole exception of AFV School instructors only.[3]

Within the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF), The Divisional Cavalry in Egypt was the first to adopt the black beret. Later on, black berets were issued to most of the 4th New Zealand Armoured Brigade personnel in November 1942. A year later, soldiers serving in the 22 Battalion in Italy were issued a khaki beret to replace their field service cap.

4th NZ NZ Armoured Brigade Black Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection.
22 Battalion Khaki Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

In the years following World War II, the New Zealand Army expanded the use of berets to various units. The Royal New Zealand Army Nursing Service (RNZANS) was authorised to wear a light grey beret in 1946, and the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) was permitted to wear the khaki beret. However, the reintroduction of the traditional lemon squeezer as the official headdress of the New Zealand Army in February 1949 marked the end of the widespread use of berets by the NZ Army, with only the RNZAC, NZWRAC, and RNZANS authorised to use the beret as their headdress.

RNZAC Black Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection
RNZANS Grey Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

When Kayforce, the New Zealand military contribution to the Korean War, was mobilised, the khaki beret was reintroduced as the standard headdress for all of Kayforce. However, RNZAC personnel on secondment to British armoured units in Korea continued to wear the black beret. The khaki beret remained the headdress for Kayforce personnel until their withdrawal from Korea in 1955. Initial issues to Kayforce were from existing New Zealand Stocks, with an additional 10000 to provide adequate stocks for replacement and issue to Kayforce and NZWAC purchased from the United Kingdom in 1952.[4]

Kayforce Khaki Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

In 1954, the New Zealand Army Board decided to replace the existing khaki uniform of the New Zealand Women’s Royal Army Corps (NZWRAC) with a new uniform of tartan green with black accessories. The new NZWRAC uniform included a tartan green beret, which was authorised for wear on informal occasions. This change in uniform and the beret helped distinguish the NZWRAC from other units and symbolised their unique role within the army. The tartan green beret became an iconic part of the NZWRAC uniform and was worn with pride by its members.

In 1954, the Cap Battledress (Cap BD), known as the Ski Cap, was introduced as the official army headdress in New Zealand to replace the lemon squeezer hat.[5] However, this type of hat was not popular among the troops, particularly those in tropical climates. Despite the dissatisfaction, the Ski Cap remained the standard headdress until it was withdrawn from service in 1965.

In 1955, the New Zealand Special Air Service was formed, and they adopted the British airborne maroon beret as their official headgear. The adoption of the maroon beret by the NZSAS was a significant moment in the history of the New Zealand military. It reflected not only the elite status of the NZSAS but also the close relationship between New Zealand and the United Kingdom. In May 1955, an initial purchase was made to cover the issue of the maroon berets to selected personnel, as well as wastage and turnover, with the possibility of an increase in the size of the NZSAS. The purchase included 600 maroon berets, 500 anodised aluminium SAS badges, 60 embroidered SAS badges, and 60 sets of SAS collar badges. This move signalled a new era within the New Zealand military, and the maroon beret symbolised the high standards and specialised training of the NZSAS.[6]  Despite the British SAS adopting a beige sand-coloured beret in 1956 and several opportunities to change, the NZSAS retained the maroon beret until 1986.

NZSAS Narron Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

In 1958, a review of beret stock in the New Zealand Army revealed that 3000 new and partially worn khaki berets were sitting idle in Ordnance stocks. The idea of utilising them as part of the No2 Other Ranks Service dress was considered. However, after some discussion by the Army Dress Committee, it was decided that the khaki beret did not match the No2 Other Ranks Service dress, and a Cap Service Dress was provided instead.[7]

Following the reactivation of 16 Field Regiment (16 Fd Regt) after its service in Kayforce, there was a desire to acknowledge the regiment’s service in Korea. In 1960, it was proposed by the headquarters of the regiment to adopt the stock of 3000 khaki berets to maintain the traditions of the original regiment and for their suitability in appearance.[8] However, the Chief of General Staff (CGS), Major General C.E. Weir, was focused on standardising and simplifying army dress and did not support the proposal. He wanted to eliminate multifarious kit and keep the headdress for the army as the Cap BD for walking out and a jungle hat for field service, with no other variations permitted. As a result, the application to wear khaki berets by 16 Fd Regt was declined, and they were asked to propose another way to commemorate their association with Korea.[9]

In Malaya, the 2nd New Zealand Regiment (2NZ Regt) surveyed the suitability of the Cap BD as a headdress for the tropics and found that berets would be more suitable. In October 1960, 2 NZ Regt requested 50 berets of different sizes and styles to test their suitability as a tropical headdress.[10] Concurrently, the Army Dress Committee agreed in principle that berets would replace the Cap BD as the army’s everyday headdress. In March 1961, it was suggested that a scarlet beret would be a suitable colour for the Infantry beret.[11]

The Army Dress Committee reopened the discussion on berets in its 16 June 1961 meeting and recommended that Khaki berets be issued to all corps without berets to replace Caps BD. However, at the 15 June 1961 Infantry Conference, it was pointed out that if berets were to be introduced, the Infantry colour should not be scarlet but a Dark Green.[12]

The Director of the Royal New Zealand Artillery (DRNZA) joined the conversation on 3 July 1961, stating that if the NZ Army adopted berets, the RNZA should adopt the distinctive style of headdress worn by other members of the Royal Regiment, such as the Royal Artillery (RS), Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA), and Royal Australian Artillery (RAA), and adopt a blue beret.[13]

Up to this stage, the colours of berets, if adopted, had not formally been discussed as it was assumed that existing stocks of khaki berets would be utilised alongside the existing berets worn by them.

  • RNZAC – Black
  • NZSAS – Maroon
  • RNZNC – Grey
  • NZWRAC- Dark Green
  • At some stage,  the following were granted coloured berets
    • Royal New Zealand Dental Corps – Dark Green
    • Trentham PT Instructors – Blue[14]

The QMG was concerned about the shortage of khaki berets in stock, as only 6000 were available. As a result, there were not enough berets to equip the entire army or even to dye some to meet the needs of coloured berets for the Infantry and Artillery. In response to the Infantry’s desire for a dark green beret, the QMG expressed confusion and suggested that red was the traditional Infantry colour. The QMG also commented that they could not understand why the Infantry would want to adopt a dark green beret, making them appear like members of the Women’s Royal Army Corps (WRAC) or the Dental Corps.[15]

The Director of Infantry quickly replied that although red was the traditional Infantry colour, it was not traditional for Infantry to wear red berets. British Infantry, for example, wore an assortment of berets (of different colours) and bonnets, with the majority of British infantry regiments wearing berets of dark blue. Although Dark Green had been decided as the preferred Infantry colour, members of the Royal New Zealand Infantry did not wish to be confused with the NZWRAC or Dental Corps and the rifle green beret, as worn by the 3rd Green Jackets with whom the NZ Regt was in an alliance, was the preferred colour for the Infantry beret.[16]

On 17 August 1961, the Dress Committee reconvened and approved using coloured berets to represent Corps distinctions. The committee instructed the secretary to consult with the Corps’ Directors to determine their preferred colours based on the British Colour Council Dictionary of Standards. The type of headband, whether it was to be black or brown, was also to be specified.[17]

Reconvening on 14 November 1961, the Army Dress Committee examined the Corp’s preferences, but due to the DGMG dissenting on the proposed Rifle Green for the NZ Regt failed to reach an agreement. However, after further discussion with the Director Infantry on 16 November, the committee agreed to recommend the adopting of the following colours per the preferences of the various corps.[18]

CorpsColour (BCC designation)Headband
RNZABlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZEBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZ SigsBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZASCBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZAOCBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZEMEBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZDCBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RF CADETSBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZChDBlue (Purple Navy – BCC192)Black
RNZACBlack (Jet Black – BCC 220)Black
NZ RegtGreen (Rifle Green – BCC 27)Black
NZSASMaroon (Maroon – BCC 39)Black
RNZAMCDull Cherry (Ruby – BCC 38)Black
RNZ ProBlue (Royal Blue – BCC 197)Black
NZAECKhaki (Khaki – BCC 72)Brown
RNZNCGrey (Grebe – BCC 82)Black
NZWRACGreen (Tartan Green – BCC 26)Black
NZ Regt/ RNZIR Rifle Green Beret (2/1 Badge and backing). Lee Hawkes Collection

In September 1962, the Army Dress Committee met again and agreed that the recommendations made for coloured berets on 16 November 1961 should be cancelled and that the NZ Army should adopt a standard green beret for all corps except those whom Dress Regs already authorise to wear berets in other colours, i.e., Black (RNZAC), Maroon (NZSAS), Grey (RNZNC)and Green (NZWRAC). In support of this proposal, the justification was.

  • The requirement for Corps distinctions in the form of headdress has diminished considerably with the introduction of shoulder titles.
  • Green tones well with current and proposed Army uniforms and is ideal for training activities.
  • Introducing berets in all the colours previously agreed upon would create an unnecessary provisioning problem.[19][20]

The discussion on berets continued into 1963 with the decision made to retain the existing Black (RNZAC), Maroon (NZSAS), Grey (RNZNC)and Green (NZWRAC) but introduce blue berets for all other corps, including the Royal New Zealand Army Medic Corps (RNZAMC), NZ Provost and the New Zealand Army Education Corps (NZAEC) who initially requested Ruby, Royal Blue and Khaki berets.

By October 1964, sufficient stock was received, the policy surrounding the issue of Berets and the withdrawal of the Cap BD was finalised, and the Instruction for the distribution of Berets was released in February 1965.[21]

New Zealand Army Air Corps

In 1963, the New Zealand Army Air Corps (NZAAC) was established, and it became affiliated with the UK Army Air Corps on 6 March 1964. Major General J.H. Mogg, the Colonel Commandant of the Army Air Corps, granted permission for the NZAAC to don the Army Air Corps Light Blue beret and AAC badges.[22]

NZACC Light Blue Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

Regular Force Cadets

In July 1972, a submission was made to the Army Dress Committee to introduce scarlet Berets (BCC 209 – Post Office red) as the authorised headdress for Regular Force Cadets instead of the blue berets worn since 1965. The proposal represented an extension of the present colour distinction of RF Cadets as evidenced in lanyards, chevrons, badges of rank and shoulder titles. [23]

Regular Force Cadet School Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

Redesign of Beret

As a result of questions raised at the 29 November 1983 Army Dress Committee meeting on the design of berets, a study was initiated to be undertaken by the Deputy Director of Ordnance Services and by Army R&D to examine standard samples of berets produced by Hills Hats for the Australian and Singaporean Armies to see if one was of a better design with less cloth in the crown than currently on issue in the NZ Army.[24] This study resulted in introducing a redesigned beret with less cloth in the crown and a cloth headband instead of the traditional leather headband.

Royal New Zealand Military Police

Following the 1981 rebranding of the Royal NZ Provost Corps to the Corps of Royal New Zealand Military Police (RNZMP), a request for a distinctive RNZMP beret in the corps colour of Royal Blue was submitted to the Army Dress Committee in November 1983.[25] This submission was approved, and by the end of 1984, all RF and most TF members of the RNZMP were wearing the new royal Blue beret.[26] As a result of a 1986 CGS directive for the RNZMP to replace their blue regimental belt because of its similarity with the NZSAS belt, the RNZMP director raised a submission to introduce a red belt and beret. Opinion on introducing a red belt and beret for the RNZMP was evenly divided, principally because of the clash with the RF Cadet school belt and beret.[27] This submission for the RNZMP to wear a red beret and belt was rejected by CGS, and the use of the royal blue beret remained extant.[28]

Royal New Zealand Chaplains Department

The Army Dress Committee received a proposal on 31 August 1984 regarding the possibility of Royal New Zealand Chaplains Department (RNZChD) personnel wearing a Royal Purple beret. At that time, Chaplains and fourteen other Corps wore the blue beret, and there was a desire to establish a distinctive beret that would readily identify the Chaplains and align with the colours associated with the Chaplaincy. The proposal suggested using Royal Purple (BCC219), the traditional colour of the Chaplains’ Department. It was proposed that the black leather rim of the beret would remain unchanged. This initiative aimed to complete the rebranding of the RNZChD, which had already commenced with the approval and production of the specifically designed NZ Cap Badge.[29]

However, on 27 November 1984, the recommendation to change the beret colour for the RNZChD was not approved. This decision was made due to the recent approval of a uniquely distinctive badge for the RNZChD, which was considered sufficient for identifying the Chaplains.[30]

Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery

On St Barbara’s Day, 4 December 1984, the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery significantly changed by exchanging their blue berets for khaki ones. A departure from the tradition followed by gunners throughout the Commonwealth, who still wore blue berets. The decision to change the beret came from a feeling among gunners that, as the senior corps, they should have a distinctive headdress.

The Royal New Zealand Artillery believed that the khaki beret had already established a singular tradition since 1940 when 2NZEF wore it during World War II and by Kayforce in the Korean War. 16 Fd Reg, RNZA, was the principal army element of Kayforce, and the modern New Zealand gunners claimed the exclusive right to wear the khaki beret due to their association with this regiment.[31]

RNZA Khaki Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

New Zealand Special Air Service

Following at least two ‘show of hands’ votes by all available members of 1 NZSAS Group, with some resistance to change on historical principles by some unit members, a submission to change the colour of the beret to ‘sand’ was forwarded to the Army Dress Committee 24 May 1985 by the CO 1 NZSAS Group. Supported by the NZ SAS Colonel Commandant, Colonel Frank Rennie, the proposal was to remain consistent with the Australian SASR and UK 22 SAS and change the NZSAS beret colour from maroon to sand. While generally supported by the Army Dress Committee, there were reservations over the possible similarity in colour (should they change) with the new RNZA beret and over the fact that NZSAS, since its formation in the 1950s, had always had a maroon beret and it now considered a uniquely NZ item of dress. The chairman recommended the colour change to the CGS, noting the committee’s reservations.[32]

Concurring with the committee’s reservations, the CGS Major General John Mace did not initially support the change proposal. An original troop commander in 1955 and a squadron commander in 1960-62 and 1965-66. CGS counted that the proposed beret was too similar to the new RNZA beret and that while “the change might serve a purpose overseas, the Gp are permanently NZ based. There is historical and traditional significance in the red beret for NZSAS. The only development that would change my mind would be the finalisation of an airborne element for the NZ Army or a request signed by all serving members of the Gp.”

Taking the proposal back to the unit, the CO 1 NZSAS GP asked the unit members to vote in writing on whether or not they supported the change of beret colour. Cognisant that there were those within the unit who supported the change and those that favoured the traditional status quo. The CO asked the unit to consider the change based on the following considerations.

  • All para, quasi-para or airborne forces, including the Australian female parachute packers, appear to wear the maroon beret.
  • CGS had requested the preparation of a proposal to discuss the formation of an NZ airborne/para-trained force. This proposal would issue them a maroon beret once para qualified.
  • 3 RAR had recently been issued the maroon beret.
  • The sand beret and RNZA beret are similar in colour but easily distinguishable. The badge would be the current embroidered badge which would distinguish the NS SAS from the SASR, which used a metal badge.[33]

In a vote undertaken by all badged serving members of the unit in which they indicated if they previously supported the change and if they now supported the change, the vote was unanimous in support of the change of beret colour. Eleven personnel who had previously not supported the change now supported the proposal.[34] On 24 January 1986, CGS authorised the NZSAS to wear the sand-coloured beret.[35]

NZSAS Sand Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals

At the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals (RNZSigs) September 1986 Triennial Conference at Hopuhopu Camp, seventy RNZ Sigs Officers and Warrant Officers displayed enthusiasm for a change of beret colour and indicated that the new colour they preferred was Rifle Green. The reasoning for this choice of beret colour was based on the RNZSigs corps colours, representing the three media of communications of air, land and sea as represented on the Corps stable belt,

  • Dark Blue (the sea) – Royal Blue (BCC 197) (worn by RNZMP).
  • Green (the land) – Rifle Green (BCC 27)
  • Light Blue (the air) – Spectrum Blue (BCC 86)

A proposal requesting authority for RNZ Sigs pers to wear a Rifle Green beret was submitted to the Army Dress Committee on 29 September 1986.[36]

The recommendation was that the RNZSigs wear a rifle green beret because:

  • it would be a distinctive corps headdress
  • all other ‘teeth’ arms less RNZE have a distinctive beret
  • the colour is traditionally a ‘Signals’ colour

Although D Inf & SAS considered the colour too similar to that worn by RNZIR, most of the Dress Committee supported the change at the 3 November meeting of the Army Dress Committee.[37] Notification of the CGS approval of the RNZSigs beret was noted in the 12 May 1987 minutes of the Army Dress Committee.[38]

RNZSigs Beret. Lee Hawkes Collection

New Zealand Intelligence Corps

The New Zealand Intelligence Corps (NZIC) was initially formed as part of the Territorial Force in January 1942 but was disbanded in 1947 as part of the post-war reorganisation. On 15 March 1987, it was re-established as a Regular Force Corps and named the New Zealand Army Intelligence Corps, which later reverted to its original title. Prior to the formation of the NZIC, individuals posted to intelligence positions unofficially wore the British Army Intelligence Corps Cypress Green Beret. When the NZIC was re-established in 1987, the beret was adopted as the official headdress of the NZIC.

One Army Beret

The New Zealand Army boldly moved on 16 August 1999 when CGS Major General Maurice Dodson issued a directive to adopt a “one army” beret. The directive aimed to create a sense of unity and pride among all soldiers and to simplify the number of coloured berets in the NZ Army. This resulted in the rifle green beret, previously reserved for the RNZSigs, becoming the standard beret for all officers and soldiers, except for the NZSAS, who retained their sand beret.

However, the transition to the “one army” beret was met with resistance, with many officers, soldiers, and veterans opposing the change. They were attached to their former beret colours and saw the change as unnecessary. This dissatisfaction was mirrored in 2001 when the United States Army moved to a “one army” beret for all soldiers, highlighting the powerful effect that symbols such as coloured berets can have on morale and unit pride. The NZ Army “one army” beret has endured despite the initial resistance. The New Zealand Cadet Coprs continued to wear the Blue Beret.

One Army Beret with QAMR Badge. Lee Hawkes Collection


[1] “New Army Uniforms and Modern Military Vehicles for Dominion Forces,” New Zealand Herald, Volume LXXV, Issue 23033, 10 May 1938.

[2] “New Zealand Army Instruction 164/1942,”(1942).

[3] “Wearing of Black Beret & Tank Patch,” 2 NZ Tank Battalion R.O. 26/1943  (1942).

[4] Application for Financial Authority, Khaki Berets 14 November 1952. “Clothing – Head Dress – Berets: Povision,” Archives New Zealand No R17187783  (1952 -1965).

[5] Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord, New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches, 1911-1991 (Wellington, N.Z.: M. Thomas and C. Lord, 1995, 1995), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 128-29.

[6] Army 213/6/7/Q Application for Financial Authority, Berets for Special Air Squadron 31 May 1955.Ibid.

[7] Minutes of the 17th meeting of the Army Dress Committee held at Army HQ on 9 October 1958.Ibid.

[8] Army 213/6/7/Arty Headdress – 16 Fd Regt 30 March 1960. Ibid.

[9] 213/6/7/Arty Headdress – 16 Fd Regt 26 April 1960. Ibid.

[10] Q209 Copy from 213/7/40 HQ NZ Army Force GHQ FARELF Tropical Type Headdress 11 October 1960.Ibid.

[11] 219/7/A4 Headdress: Berets 17 March 1960. Ibid.

[12] Minutes of the 28th meeting of the Army Dress Committee at Army HQ on 16 June 1961. Ibid.

[13] Army 213/6/7 Dress Committee Meeting – 16 June 1961 Berets. Ibid.

[14] Army 213/6/7/A4 Berets 4 July 1961.Ibid.

[15] 213/6/7/DQ Berets 6 July 1961ibid.

[16] D Inf Reply to 213/6/7/DQ Berets. Ibid.

[17] Minutes of the 29th meeting of the Army Dress Committee held at Army HQ on 17 August 1961. Ibid.

[18] Minutes of the 32nd meeting of the Army Dress Committee held at Army HQ on 16 November 1961. Ibid.

[19]  Minutes of the 37th meeting of the Army Dress Committee at Army HQ on 12 Sept 1962. “Conferences – New Zealand Army Dress Committee,” Archives New Zealand No R17188110  (1962-67).

[20] Minutes of the 37th meeting of the Army Dress Committee held at Army HQ on13 September 1962. “Clothing – Head Dress – Berets: Provision.”

[21]  Army 213/6/7/Q(A) Army HQ 9 Feb 1965. Ibid.

[22] NZACC Submission 9/84 to Army Dress Committee 7 August 1984. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1984,” Archives New Zealand No R17311893  (1984).

[23] NC 8/2/2/ADC HQ Home Command Amendment to Army Clothing Scales Scarlet Berets: RF Cadets 21 July 1972. “Conferences – New Zealand Army Dress Committee,” Archives New Zealand No R9753141  (1970-73).

[24] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee, 29 November 1983. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1985-86,” Archives New Zealand No R17311895  (1985 – 1986).

[25] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee, 29 November 1983.  Ibid.

[26] RNZMP Submission 3/87 to Army Dress Committee 30 September 1986. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1986-87,” Archives New Zealand No R17311897  (1986 – 1987).

[27] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee 3 November 1986.  Ibid.

[28] RNZMP submission 3/87 to Army Dress Committee 30 September 1986.Ibid.

[29] RNZChD submission 11/84 to Army Dress Committee 31 August 1984. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1984.”

[30] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee 27 November 1984. Ibid.

[31] “St Barbaras Day,” The Press, 5 December 1984.

[32] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee, 24 May 1985. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1985-86.”

[33] NZSAS 5252 Change of Colour for NZSAS Beret 27 September 1985. Ibid.

[34] Correspondence CO SAS to DInf &SAS 15 December 1985.Ibid.

[35] Army 220/5/103 DRESS-NZSAS PERS 24 January 1986. Ibid.

[36] Signals Directorate 1000/1 Submission to Army Dress Committee 29 September 1986. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1986-87.”

[37] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee 3 November 1986.  Ibid.

[38] Minutes of the Army Dress Committee, 12 May 1987. Ibid.

New Zealand Army Combat Boots – 1945 -1980

Up to the Second World War, New Zealand Army boots generally had leather-soled ankle boots whose design had only undergone minor changes since 1912. Military boot development was catapulted during the Second World War with new designs and materials providing boots suitable for all terrains and climates found on Battlefields worldwide. As the post-war New Zealand Army was reorganised and reequipped to provide a division to fight in the Middle East, the decolonisation conflicts that swept Southeast Asia drew New Zealand into an unfamiliar type of warfare. New Zealand was not experienced or equipped to fight in harsh tropical environments but adapted quickly and became experienced practitioners of Jungle warfare. Initially equipped with British and Australian stocks of tropical equipment, it soon became apparent that New Zealand troops needed modern equipment. By 1959, the New Zealand Army undertook various research and development initiatives to improve its equipment in conjunction with scientific institutions and industry. This article provides an overview of the New Zealand Army’s post-war boot development, transitioning from a boot originating in the 19th century to a modern mid-20th century Combat boot.

Flush with wartime stocks of boots, the post-war New Zealand Army had no immediate need to upgrade its boots. However, by the mid-1950s, the limitations of the current range of leather-soled boots were becoming evident, especially in the jungles of Malaya, and the search for alternatives began for an improved boot design. To achieve this, the Quarter masters branch of the army called on the New Zealand Leather and Shoe Research Association for assistance in developing a boot with increased waterproof properties that could withstand prolonged wear without undue fatigue.[1]

Jungle greens and Jungle boots as worn by New Zealand Forces in Malaya from 1955. NZ National Library Ref: EP/1956/0031-F

In conjunction with footwear manufacturers and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, the New Zealand Leather and Shoe Association developed four types of boots, which were trialled by the 2nd Battalion, New Zealand Regiment, in 1958. The latest type of ankle boot with a Directly Moulded Sole (DMS) from the United Kingdom was also tested alongside the four New Zealand samples.[2] From this initial user trial, feedback shaped an interim specification for two types with identical uppers but different soles, one of rubber and the other of leather. Thirty pairs of each type were made, and a further series of trials began with the 1st Battalion at Burnham Camp in early May 1960. Thirty trial subjects were chosen to wear each boot type for three days to see how easily they could be broken in. After that, they tested the boots for wear and comfort until February 1961.[3]

1956 Ankle Boots. Lee Hawkes Collection
Sole of 1956 Ankle boots. Lee Hawkes Collection

The result of the trial was the adoption of the Ankle Boot Rubber Sole (Ankle Boot RS). An ankle boot similar in design to the current boot, the Ankle Boot RS was several ounces lighter than those currently in use, also included was rotproof terylene stitching and nylon laces. The nylon laces were so popular with the troops that all the boots returned after user trials came back without laces. The new design had a “Commando” style rubber sole. The Commando style rubber sole was developed in the 1930s by English rubber maker Itshide, who switched from producing toys and brushes to producing this new kind of rubber sole for use on army boots during WWII. The benefit of the Commando sole was the grip provided by the shape of the jagged cleats on the sole, which proved ideal for providing stability on the roughest terrain. The New Zealand version of the Commando sole had slightly shallower cleats with an angled edge to prevent mud or small stones from wedging between them and was marketed as the “Kiwi Army Boot”. Production of the New Zealand Ankle Boot RS began in August 1961; however, with large quantities of the previous type of boot still in the supply system, it would take until 1964 to waste out the old stock.[4]

As with the previous boot design, the Ankle Boot RS required wearing a gaiter to prevent mud and derbies from entering the boot. The type of gaiter then in use was the 37-pattern web gaiter. Concurrent with the boot trial, thirty pairs of Australian Army gaiters were also tested. The long dark green Australian gaiter was introduced into Australian service in 1945 and had a light metal stiffener up one side to prevent wrinkling and a strap passing under the boot’s instep. Finding favour with the troops, these were also planned to be adopted for the New Zealand Army. However, problems in adopting the Australian gaiter would drive the development of the next iteration of New Zealand’s Army Boot.[5]

A pair of Australian Army canvas gaiters painted black.

Although the Australian gaiter could have probably been purchased off the shelf directly from Australian manufacturers, such items should have been manufactured in New Zealand. However, it was found that due to the exorbitant costs encountered in producing the Australian pattern gaiter in New Zealand, this project was abandoned, and the gaiter requirement was re-evaluated. Although no specific General Staff requirement was stated, it was decided to develop a calf-length boot to replace the Ankle Boot RS and 37-pattern gaiters with a calf-length combat boot.

New Zealand 37-pattern Gaiter. Lee Hawkes collection

Based on the new Ankle Boot Rubber Sole (Ankle Boot RS), two high boots, type A and B, were manufactured by experienced New Zealand footwear manufacturers Sargood, Son and Ewen.[6] The type A and B boots included hooks instead of eyelets and a strap and buckle arrangement similar to the American M-1943 Combat Boot.  

United States Army M-43 composition sole combat service boot, or “double buckle boot”.

As a result of the initial user trials in New Zealand and Malaysia using the Type A and B boot, the design of the boot was refined into the Type C boot. In May 1964, ten examples of the Type C Boot were manufactured, incorporating improvements suggested by the user trials:

  • The sole and foot portion to be exactly the same as the Ankle Boot RS.
  • The height from ground level to the top of the boot was to be 101/2 inches.
  • There were to be six eyelets on the lower portion of each side of the closure and six boot hooks on the higher portion of each side (similar to the green jungle boot issued in Malaya).
  • The boot tongue was to be of a thinner variety and should not be longer than the height of the boot.
  • There were to be no straps or buckles.
  • The measurement around the top of the boot was to be no greater than 121/2 inches from edge to edge.[7]

Successful feedback on the Type C boot saw a small number purchased and introduced into service in June 1966 to enable further trials to be carried out to determine if the new pattern boots were suitable for combat in tropical conditions. Further trials by New Zealand Forces in South Vietnam and selected units in New Zealand commenced in November 1967

With the New Zealand contingent in South Vietnam serving alongside the Australians, the length of the New Zealand contingent’s supply chain and its low requirements made it necessary to modify the clothing replenishment system and link into the Australian lines of supply, resulting in New Zealand troops in Vietnam receiving Australian tropical clothing and boots.[8] This was a modification of the system used in Malaysia since 1955, when New Zealand troops in Malaysia drew their tropical clothing requirements, including jungle boots, from British sources.

Concurrent with New Zealand’s combat boot development was an Australian programme to develop a modern combat boot. Initially utilising jungle boots left over from the Second World War, the Australians soon developed and trialled a new DMS boot design with leather uppers and a moulded sole. After some initial user trials, an initial order of 10,000 pairs of the new Australian DMS Combat boot was placed in July 1956 for delivery to Australian troops in Vietnam by December 1965.[9]

Australian Black leather general purpose (GP) boots.

By 1968, New Zealand troops in South Vietnam were officially utilising the trial New Zealand combat boot and the Australian DMS Combat boot. Unofficially many New Zealand troops also wore the America Jungle boot. A survey conducted at the start of the November 1967 trial showed that 108 New Zealand soldiers preferred the Australian boot and only 42 the New Zealand boot. A further survey conducted in March 1968 revealed that 121 New Zealand soldiers preferred the Australian boot. The most significant reasons given for the preference were that the Australian boot was:

  • Lighter and more robust than the NZ item.
  • Had a directly moulded sole.
  • It was made of better-quality leather.
  • Had a vastly superior appearance.
  • It had a very good and snug fit when broken in.
Private Wayne Lindsay, Whiskey One Company, inspects an RSA Christmas parcel from New Zealand circa 1968. Note that Private Lindsay is wearing the American Pattern Jungle boots, and there are Australian DMS Combat boots and New Zealand Combat boots under his bed. Image courtesy Noel Bell via

Feedback also included the increasingly evident requirement for a Jungle boot similar to the United States pattern to be provided to New Zealand Forces in tropical environments.[10]

After the November 1967 operational and training trials of the New Zealand combat boot, it was found that the recommendations of the various trial teams were not in agreement, and a Footwear Study Group was appointed to review the trial information.[11] In July 1969, the Footwear Study Group concluded that the New Zealand Combat boot, with certain modifications, was superior to the ankle Boot RS in meeting New Zealand training conditions. However, it was agreed that the New Zealand Combat Boot did not meet the tropical operational requirements, and further research was required to find a boot to meet New Zealand’s tropical requirements. US, Canadian, and UK policies supported this, concluding that one boot could not satisfy both a temperate and tropical requirement. It was noted that the Australians restricted their DMS combat boot to South Vietnam, with troops in other theatres outside Australia continuing to wear ordinary boots and gaiters; however, the US tropical combat boot was procured for issue in South Vietnam to the Australian SAS only. Overall, the New Zealand findings were that the main advantage of the New Zealand Combat Boot was that it could replace two items (Ankle boot RS and gaiter); it provided superior ankle and instep support and improved appearance, and it should be accepted as a replacement for the Ankle Boot RS. A tropical patrol boot was also recommended to be developed to meet the specific environmental conditions found in Southeast Asia.[12]

There was little doubt that the Australian DMS combat boot was more popular with New Zealand troops. It was accepted that the DMS production technique proved a superior product, but at the time, New Zealand’s footwear industry did not yet have the required technology to manufacture DMS boots, but there was no doubt that the New Zealand Combat boot would incorporate a DMS sole at a future date as New Zealand industry caught up. However, adopting the New Zealand Combat boot would be based on fiscal reasoning. Based on the 1969 production run of 2893 pairs for New Zealand Vietnam Force maintenance, the cost of a pair of New Zealand combat boots was $10.50 (2022 NZ $200.20), compared to $19.23 (2022 NZ $366.64) for the Australian DMS boots. With the Ankle Boot RS priced at $8.18 (2022 NZ $156.61) and Garters at $1 (2022 NZ $19.15), it was considered that a superior boot was replacing two items (Ankle boot RS and gaiter) with only a slight increase of the cost. [13]

On 3 December 1969, the New Zealand Combat Boot was renamed as the Boot GS (High) and formally introduced into service to progressively replace the Ankle boot RS and gaiter as existing stocks of those items wasted out and all period contracts for their manufacture terminated.[14]

With a stock of 19,120 Ankle Boots RS and 21,612 Web Anklets held in Ordnance Depots and Clothing Stores, the priority of issue for the introduction of the Boot GS (High)was to:

  • NZ Forces in Southeast Asia
  • Regular Force Recruits
  • Regular Force maintenance in New Zealand
  • The Territorial Force

The Boot GS (High) nomenclature had been changed to Boot Mans General Purpose (Boot Mans GP) by February 1971. With 12,126 pairs of Ankle Boot RS remaining in stock, it was anticipated that with issues to National Service intakes and the Territorial Force, stocks would be exhausted by the end of 1971.[15]

During the New Zealand Combat Boot trial, it was identified that cooks of the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) required a boot with a flat sole for safety on wet surfaces. Fortunately, the Government Footwear Inspector had developed Cooks Galley Boots at Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) instigation in the mid-1960s. First adopted by the RNZN and then the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), consideration to issuing RNZASC Cooks Galley boots were first made in 1968.[16] With a non-skid pattern rubber sole and a continuous leather front to stop spilt boiling fat and other liquids from entering the boot, RNZASC user trials were conducted from 1970 with initial issues to all RNZASC cooks from 1972.[17]

By February 1974, New Zealand’s Forces in South Vietnam had been withdrawn, and the tripartite Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom (ANZUK) Force based in Singapore had been dissolved. The 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR) and its supporting units remained in Singapore as the New Zealand army components of the New Zealand Force Southeast Asia (NZFORSEA). Logistic arrangements in place since 1955, which allowed New Zealand to rely on the British for tropical clothing and equipment, had progressively been wound down from the late 1960s as New Zealand developed and grew its line of tropical clothing. Although the development of a tropical patrol boot had been recommended to be developed to meet the specific conditions found in Southeast Asia, the transition of New Zealand Army units in Singapore to a peacetime garrison and peacetime funding restrictions saw the requirement for a New Zealand jungle boot placed on the back burner. The Boot Man GP was found to be sufficient for most training in the tropics. Although many individuals purchased surplus American, British or Malaysian jungle boots and some small-scale unit trials did occur, the development of a New Zealand jungle boot ceased.

In 1980 the New Zealand footwear manufacturer John Bull won the contract for the supply of combat boots to the New Zealand Military. Already a manufacturer with a high reputation and experienced in producing military footwear, John Bull’s manufacturing processes were enhanced through a significant equipment and modernisation program. The John Bull-manufactured Boot Man GP was a DMS boot that retained the same style of leather uppers as the previous boot. New Zealand also supplemented stocks of the John Bull Boot GP with the Australian pattern DMS Combat Boot manufactured in New Zealand by King Leo. Both patterns of Boot GP were progressively introduced into service from 1980, with stocks of the previous Boot GP wasted out by 1985.

The New Zealand Army finished the Second World War with pretty much the same boot that had been issued to soldiers in 1912. However, the lessons of the Second World War and developments in boot technology had not gone unnoticed. With the assistance of the New Zealand Leather and Shoe Association, footwear manufacturers and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, a New Zealand Combat boot was developed. Due to the limitations of the technology available to New Zealand’s footwear industry, New Zealand’s efforts would always be five to ten years behind those of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. However, a viable and cost-effective boot that met most of the training and operational requirements of the New Zealand army throughout the 1970s and 80s resulted from New Zealand’s limited resources. Although this article only provides an overview of New Zealand’s combat boot development, it provides a starting point for further research into this overlooked aspect of New Zealand’s military history.


[1] “General News – Army Boots,” Press, Volume XCVIII, Issue 28883, 1 May 1959.

[2] Although the United Kingdom accepted and introduced it into service in 1961, the UK DMS boot was rejected by New Zealand because, at this stage, it could not be made in New Zealand. “Many Changes in Gear for Modern N.Z. Soldier,” Press, Volume XCVIII, Issue 28958, 28 July 1959.

[3] “New Army Boots Now in Production,” Press, Volume C, Issue 29594, 17 August 1961.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Army 213/19/69 Footwear for the NZ Army Dated 7 August 1969. “Boots and Shoes – Development of Combat Boots,” Archives New Zealand No R17187902  (1963-1969).

[6] 213/19/55/Q(D) Purchase of High Boots for user trials 26 May 1964. Ibid.

[7] 213/19/69 7 May 1964. Ibid.

[8] “New Combat Clothes Being Tested,” Press, Volume CIV, Issue 30802, 14 July 1965.

[9] “Boots Trouble Aust. Troops,” Press, Volume CIV, Issue 30801, 13 July 1965.

[10] HQ NZ V Force 212/19/69 Footwear Trials 9 April 1968. “Boots and Shoes – Development of Combat Boots.”

[11] Army 213/19/69/SD Footwear Study Group 23 October 1968. Ibid.

[12] Army 213/19/69 Footwear for the NZ Army 14 July 1969.Ibid.

[13] Army 213/19/69 Footwear for the NZ Army 7 August 1969. Ibid.

[14] Army 213/19/69DQ(M) dated 3 December 1969. Ibid.

[15] HQ Home Command HC 8/6/1/ORD 1 Introduction of Boots Mans GP 26 April 1971. Ibid.

[16] Army 213/19/69 Footwear for the NZ Army 7 August 1969. Ibid.

[17] HQ Home Command HC 8/6/1/ST Boots Galley Cooks 11 May 1972. Ibid.

New Zealand Military Load Carrying Equipment, 1945 – 1975

Military Personal Load Carrying Equipment, often referred to in the New Zealand vernacular as “webbing”, is the assortment of belts, straps, pouches and other accessories which, when assembled, allows an individual soldier to easily and comfortably carry the tools of their trade, such as ammunition, rations and water to sustain them for short periods. Many period photos of New Zealand soldiers on operations and training from the Vietnam War era to the 1990s provide the impression of an army equipped with an eclectic range of Australian, British and American equipment. This view of New Zealand’s army’s equipment was partly correct. To see how this view was shaped, this article provides an overview of New Zealand’s military load-carrying equipment evolution from 1945 to 1975.

Commander-in-chief, United States Army of the Pacific, General R.E Haines (right) watching weapon training at Waiouru. 2 May 1970 Evening Post

During World War Two, Operations in Malaya, Burma and the Pacific identified many shortfalls in the suitability of training, tactics and equipment, resulting in the Lethbridge Mission to the Far East during the late war. As a result of the report of the Lethbridge Mission, it was decided to modify the standard 37-pattern equipment to make it lighter in weight, rot-proof and more water-repellent and thus more suitable for use in tropical conditions. This development of the 37-pattern equipment led to the approval of a new pattern known as the 1944-pattern.[1] Post-war, further development of the 37 and 44-Pattern equipment led to troop trials of the Z2 experimental Load Carrying Equipment, which transitioned into the 1958-pattern equipment.[2]

Following World War Two, the Load Carrying Equipment in use by the New Zealand Army was the British 1937-pattern equipment. The 37-pattern equipment was introduced into New Zealand service in 1940, replacing the 1908-pattern equipment that had been in service since 1912. As 37-pattern equipment remained the standard web equipment of the New Zealand Army, the deployment of New Zealand troops to Malaya placed New Zealand in the position of deploying troops to a theatre with equipment that had long been identified as unsuitable. To maintain compatibility with other commonwealth forces in Malaya, 44-pattern equipment from British stocks in Malaya was issued to New Zealand troops in Malaya.

Example of 37-pattern equipment. Image: Simon Moore

. Given the environment that New Zealand troops could be expected to operate in and aware of the developments in load-carrying equipment, the New Zealand Chief of General Staff (CGS) requested and received one set of M1956 Web equipment from the United States for trials in 1959.[3]  The American M1956 Load-Carrying Equipment (LCE) had been accepted for United States Army service, with distribution well underway by 1961.

In October 1960, the New Zealand Director of Infantry and Training demonstrated the following web equipment to CGS.

  • 44-pattern Equipment
  • 58-pattern Equipment
  • M1956-pattern Equipment

A report by a New Zealand Officer attached to the Australian Jungle Training Centre at Canungra supported this demonstration with a comprehensive report describing the research and development of Infantry clothing and equipment undertaken by the Australians. The New Zealand report described the Australian trials of the M1956 LCE alongside the 58-pattern equipment. The M1956 was chosen by the Australians, who intended to manufacture it in Australia.[4] However, it was considered unlikely that either the 1956 LCE or 58-pattern equipment would be available to New Zealand until at least 1965, when the initial distribution to the United States and British armies was expected to be completed. Aware that all 44-pattern equipment had been earmarked for use in Malaysia and that it was still in production, New Zealand’s CGS approved the purchase of 6000 sets of 44-pattern equipment to re-equip elements of the New Zealand Army.[5]

Example of 44 pattern equipment, British Corporal, Malaya, Early 1950s. Image Simon Moore

Following advice from the UK, the 44-pattern equipment in use with the Fare East Land Forces (FARELF) was to be wasted out as the 58-pattern equipment was introduced, implying that the New Zealand Battalion would need to be equipped with the 58-pattern equipment before the ceasing of maintenance of the 44-pattern by FARELF. With this in mind, a recommendation was made to purchase 6000 sets of 58-pattern equipment instead of the 44-pattern equipment.[6]

Example of 58-pattern equipment. Image Simon Moore.

In a June 1961 memorandum to Cabinet, the Minister of Defence highlighted that the current 37-pattern equipment used by the New Zealand Army was not designed for Jungle operations and was unsuitable for carrying the extra equipment the soldier engaged in this type of warfare required. No longer used by the British Army in any part of the world, the stage had been reached where the replacement of the 37-pattern should be delayed no longer. As the 58-pattern could not be made available to New Zealand for some time and field trials had cast doubt on its suitability for use in the Southeast Asia theatre, it was considered that re-equipping of the New Zealand Army should proceed with the 44-pattern equipment. The 44-pattern equipment had proved itself and was known to be suitable in the theatre where New Zealand troops were most likely to be employed. It was assumed that by the time the 44-pattern equipment needed replacement, the full facts on the suitability of the 58-pattern and the M1956 web equipment would be available to make a more informed decision on its adoption by New Zealand. It was recommended that Cabinet approve £45645 plus freight to purchase 6000 sets of 1944 Pattern equipment. [7]

By October 1961, it became clear that the 58-pattern was to be the standard issue web equipment for all United Kingdom forces worldwide and that distribution to the forces in Malaya was to happen much earlier date than earlier expected. Because of this, the Army secretary desired further investigations on the suitability of 58-pattern web equipment and, if favourable, confirm costs and potential delivery dates. With the requirement for web equipment again in flux, the submission to purchase 6000 sets of 44-pattern equipment was withdrawn pending further research.[8]

By May 1962, plans for reorganising the New Zealand Army from a Divisional to Brigade Structure were under implementation.[9]  With approximately 50000 complete sets of 37-pattern equipment distributed to units or held in stores, this was deemed suitable to equip the bulk of the Territorial Force and Training units. The 58-pattern equipment was now in serial production and was the standard issue for all United Kingdom troops, with distribution to operational units in Malaya and Germany underway. Information received earlier was that because of limited production, stocks of 58-pattern would not be available for release to New Zealand for some years had been revised. It was now possible that the release of 58-pattern equipment to meet New Zealand’s requirements could be achieved earlier than anticipated. Based on this revised information, New Zealand’s Cabinet approved funding of £58750 on 10 October 1961 for 6000 sets of 58-pattern Web Equipment. [10]

Before placing a firm order for New Zealand’s requirements of 58-pattern equipment, reports received from Malaya in late 1962 indicated that the 58-Pattern equipment was, in its present form, unsuitable for use in operational conditions in South-East Asia.[11] It was anticipated that modifying the 58-pattern equipment to suit the conditions would take two to three years, an unacceptable delay in procurement as far as New Zealand is concerned.[12]

As the decision on New Zealand’s web equipment remained in flux, the New Zealand Battalion in Malaysia continued to be equipped with the 44-pattern equipment maintained under a capitation agreement with the United Kingdom. At New Zealand’s expense, one hundred sets of 44-pattern equipment were also maintained at New Zealand Battalion Depot at Burnham Camp to support reinforcements.

M1956 Web Equipment

As the time factor involved in modifying the 58-pattern equipment was unacceptable, and New Zealand was receiving an increasing amount of American equipment, the American M1956 pattern web equipment was decided to trial. The M1956 equipment had already been introduced into the Australian army, so twenty sets were purchased from Australian stocks for New Zealand’s trials.[13]

Following user experience in Malaya revealing that the 58-pattern equipment was falling short of the requirements for jungle operations, a series of investigations and user trials established that the US M1956 pattern equipment was suitable for use by the New Zealand Army. The funding for 6000 sets of 58-pattern Web Equipment was requested to be reprioritised to purchase 10000 sets of M1956 equipment direct from the United States and 400 sets of 44-pattern equipment to equip the increment for the FARELF held in New Zealand.[14]

With funding endorsed by the Minster of Defence and approved by the Cabinet, orders were placed for 10000 sets of M1956 web equipment direct from the United States. The first consignment arrived in New Zealand in early 1964, with 289 sets immediately issued to the New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) and 16 Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery.

Instructions for distributing the M1956 web equipment were issued in June 1964 by the Quartermaster General. The initial purchase of 10000 sets of M1956 web equipment was to be issued to the Combat Brigade Group (CBG) and Logistic Support Group (LSG) units. Units of the Combat Reserve Brigade Group (CRBG) and Static Support Force (SSF) were to continue to use the 37-patten webbing.

 NMDCMDMOD (for CMD Trentham UnitsSMDMOD StockIssued SAS/ 16 Fd Regiment
CBG & LSG312230304012028310289
1st Reinforcement Reserve3162606198  
School of Infantry 40    

As the issue of M1956 equipment progressed, units of the CBG and LSG were to hand back stocks of 37-pattern equipment to their supporting District Ordnance Depot except for

  • 08-pattern packs and straps
  • 37-pattern belt, waist web
  • Frogs bayonet No 5[15]

The 37 Pattern belt, waist web, was to be retained by all ranks as a personal issue authorised by NZP1 Scales 1, 5, 8 or 9. The belt and bayonet frog were to be worn with Nos 2A, 64, 6B, 7A and 7B orders of dress when other equipment items were not required to be worn.

Equipment Maintenance Policy Statement (EMPS) 138/67 issued by Army Headquarters on 20 November 1964 detailed that except for the CBG and LSG, 16000 sets of 37-pattern equipment were to be maintained for use by remaining elements of the New Zealand Army.[16]  EMPS 145/65 was issued on 12 February 1965, detailing the management of 44-pattern equipment in New Zealand. The First Battalion of the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1RNZIR) in Malaysia was to remain equipped with the 44-pattern web equipment maintained by the UK under the existing capitation agreement. Other than 100 sets of 44 Pattern Web equipment maintained at the Battalion Depot in Burnham, there was no provision for equipping 1RNZIR Reinforcements and increments of 31 Medium Radio Sub Troop who could be expected to deploy to Malaysia at any time. EMPS 145/65 rectified this by establishing a stockholding of 400 sets of 44-pattern equipment at the Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Trentham

Approval was granted in November 1965 by Army HQ for the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps (RNZAC) and NZSAS to blacken their M1956 web equipment. The Royal New Zealand Provost Corps (RNZ Pro) was also approved to whiten their M1956 web equipment. This approval only applied to unit holdings, not RNZAC, NZSAS or NZ Pro members attached or posted to other units.[17]

By April 1967, most of the New Zealand Army was equipped with the M1956 equipment. The exceptions were.

  • The New Zealand Forces in Malaysia and South Vietnam, who used both the M1956 and 44-pattern equipment
  • The SSF, National Service Training Unit (NTSU) and New Zeeland Cadet Corps (NZCC), who still retained the 37-pattern equipment

The manufacture of 37-pattern equipment had long been discontinued, and New Zealand stocks had reached the point where although having considerable holdings of individual items, based on the belts as the critical item, only 9500 sets of 37-pattern equipment could be assembled.

Based on the projected five-year supply to the NTSU, Army Schools, Camps and the NZCC plus 10% maintenance per annum, there was a requirement for 12000 sets of 37-pattern equipment. Arranging production to meet the shortfalls was deemed cost-prohibitive, and as continued maintenance could not be guaranteed, it was decided that additional sets of M1956 equipment were to be purchased. The additional sets were to be purchased on a phased program over several financial years, with 5000 sets of 37-pattern retained for the NZCC.

Disposal of the 37-pattern was to be phased over three years.

  • 1967 all items surplus to 9500 sets
  • 1968 3000 Complete sets
  • 1969 all remaining 37 Pattern equipment less 5000 sets for the NZCC.[18]

M1967 Modernized Load-Carrying Equipment (MLCE)

In 1967 the New Zealand Army trialled three sets of the M1967 Modernized Load-Carrying Equipment (MLCE). Not specifically designed to replace the M1956 equipment, the M1967 equipment was designed for use in tropical environments and was introduced into the United States Army service in 1968.

The New Zealand trials found that the M1967 equipment was comfortable and weight-wise was similar to other web equipment in use. The pack worn on the belt was found to be heavy when fully loaded, and a pack similar in size to the 44 Pattern should be introduced, and the belt pack reduced in size by one-third.

It was identified that all the pouches required stiffening and that the plastic fasteners were not firmly attached to the pouches, although easy to operate. While using Velcro was found simple to operate, it was seen as a disadvantage due to noise and its inclination to pull apart when wet or under stress.[19]

Although the M1956 was still being introduced into the New Zealand Army, limited quantities of the M1967 equipment were introduced from 1969-72 with no plans for large-scale procurement. Nevertheless, the design of the M1972 All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) incorporated many of the features of the M1967 equipment, and it was introduced into the New Zealand Army service in the 1980s.

Example of M-1967 MLCE. Image Simon Moore

Although the 44-pattern web equipment continued to be used by New Zealand units in Southeast Asia, by October 1967, the decision had been made to standardise the M1956 equipment across the New Zealand Army, and no stocks of the 44-pattern equipment were to be retained in New Zealand.   All stocks of 44-pattern web equipment held by the MOD in Trentham for 1RNZIR Reinforcements and increments of 31 Medium Radio Sub Troop were issued to 1 RNZIR based at Terendak camp in Malaysia. As this stock held by 1RNZIR was wasted out, it would be replaced by M1956 web equipment. [20]

Large Ammunition Pouches

The Australian experience had shown that although the L1A1 Self Loading Rifle (SLR) Magazines fitted inside the M1956 ammunition pouch, it was a tight fit, especially when the webbing was wet. The initial solution was to modify 37-pattern pouches and fit them to the M1956 equipment. By 1967 the Australians had developed an indigenous ammunition pouch for the M1956 equipment., The Australian Ammunition Pouch Large (8465-66-026-1864) was manufactured out of cotton duck material and measured 81/4 inches high by 4 inches wide and 3 inches deep.

Australian Pouch Ammunition Large

To ascertain the suitability of the Australian large ammunition pouch for New Zealand service, fifty Australian pouches were sourced as a standardisation loan in 1968.[21] Feedback for the troop trials identified a lack of stability in the closure of the lid, causing the loss of ammunition and magazines. Following an investigation by the R&D Section, the RNZAOC Textile Repair Sections (TRS) modified the Australian pouches by replacing the lid fasteners with the same fasteners found on the standard American M1956 pouch and stiffing the fastener tabs. The modifications proved satisfactory in further Army Trials, and a new specification (DRDS-ICE-1) was produced with four Standard Samples provided to 1 Base Ordnance Depot (1 BOD).[22]  The modified New Zealand Pouch was codified in the New Zealand supply system as Pouch Ammunition Large (6746-98-103-4039).[23]

Detail of New Zealand Large Ammunition Pouch riveted lid fasteners

Although the R&D Section had ascertained that the manufacture of the pouches was possible in New Zealand using imported components, the initial production run of 20000 pouches was contracted through the Australian Department of Supply to be included in the current Australian production run.[24]  By 1974 the first production run of 20000 had been completed and returned to 1 BOD for distribution, with 2/1 RNZIR in Burnham one of the first units to receive the new pouches. In May 1974, 2/1 RNZIR submitted defect reports stating that the pouches were poorly designed, with the canvas tongue used to secure the lid failing, pouches becoming insecure, and magazines dropping out.[25]

The investigation by the Directorate of Equipment Policy and the R&D Section found that the faults were not a design problem but a quality assurance issue in that the pouches had not been manufactured following the specification.[26]   Comparing the Australian-manufactured pouches against the specification, the R&D Section identified the following visually detected defects.

  1. Canvas used to manufacture strap-holding assembly instead of webbing.
  2. Clip end strap is wrongly sized.
  3. Release tab is of incorrect thickness.
  4. Polypropylene stiffener not inserted in release tab.
  5. The male fastener is not secured to the PVC stiffener.
  6. The reinforcement piece behind the male fastener is not included (between the PVC stiffener and lining).
  7. Additional smaller reinforcement piece inserted between the outer cover and the male fastener.
  8. Broad arrow marked on the outer cover and not specified.

Of these defects, only serials 3 to 7 were directly considered to contribute to the deficiencies and the initial concerns raised by 2/1RNZIR and would require rectification, and a modification instruction was produced.[27]  Modification of the pouches would take until September 1977 to be completed.[28]

Due to the Broad Arrow Mark included on the first batch of 20000 New Zealand Large Ammunition Pouches, collectors often misidentify these items as Australian pouches.

White Web

By 1973, 37-pattern belts, rifle slings and bayonet frogs remained in use as ceremonial items. Whitened using proprietary shoe cleaner and paint, these items were badly worn with the whitener flaking easily and were easily marked by weather, fingerprints and the rubbing of other equipment. The M1956 pattern web belt was not considered suitable as a replacement as it was operational equipment requiring the breaking up of complete web sets to provide items for ceremonial events. Following the British lead, the Army Dress Committee approved a polythene, four-ply woven fabric of similar appearance and texture to the 37-pattern equipment in October 1973 as a replacement for the whitened 37-pattern equipment. The sling and bayonet frog designed for the SLR would be purchased with chromed or brass fittings. The material for the belts was provided on rolls which could be cut to the required size. Buckles and keepers were 37-pattern buckles and keepers drawn from existing stocks that had been chromed and polished.[29]

Combat Pack

By 1974, one of the few pre-1945 items of load-carrying equipment remaining in New Zealand service was the 08-pattern pack. Long identified as an unsuitable item, several trials had been conducted since the mid-1960s to find a replacement combat pack. Although a few alternative items had been investigated as a replacement, the 08-pattern pack remained the principal combat pack of the New Zealand Army.

In 1969/70, the requirement for 15000 combat packs to replace the 08-pattern pack was identified. Following evaluation by the equipment sponsor, the Australian Army Combat Pack was selected as a basis for developing a New Zealand combat pack. The Australian pack was chosen from a wide range of military and civilian packs, with the design modified to meet the particular training requirements of New Zealand. The modifications to the Australian pack were limited to comply with the following:

  • The pack must be compatible with Australian Army equipment.
  • The pack must be compatible with M1956 equipment currently in New Zealand service.

Against the advice of the R&D section, the Australian pack was modified by the New Zealand Army without a proper study being conducted.[30] The decision to bypass the R&D process resulted in a prototype process that extended from 1972 to 1974.[31] By June 1974, trials on the prototypes resulted in the setting of a standard design for a production run of one hundred packs for further trials.[32]

New Zealand modified Combat pack

The New Zealand version of the Australian combat pack was eventually accepted into service in 1975/76. Never a satisfactory pack, the R&D section began investigations to find a replacement in the early 1980s. Hoping to leverage the experience of New Zealand Mountaineers to produce a modern pack, Army R&D embarked on the Onward Pack project. Manufactured by Hallmark Industries of Hamilton, the Onward pack was an innovative modular design that allowed the main pack to be broken down into a patrol pack and a light belt order,

The Basic layout of the Onwards pack was a main compartment divided into a main compartment and a sleeping bag compartment divided by a zip-away divider. The upper compartment was divided into the main storage area and internal space for an AN/PPC-77 set. External access to the main compartment was via a large snow collar with outlets for the radio antenna and handset built into the lid. External access to the lower sleeping bag section was provided by a zip which allowed the bottom half of the compartment to drop down. Internal sleeping mat storage was included as part of the harness and backpack. Three external removal pouches were provided, one on each side attached by domes and a larger pouch mounted on the centre front of the pack by buckles body. Behind the Large centre pouch, securing straps were provided to secure an Entrenching Tool. These three external pouches were fitted with belt loops, which allowed them to be removed and fitted to either the pack’s waist belt or standard pistol belt as a light belt order.

A small patrol pack designed to hold an ANPRC-77 Set was also provided as part of the Onward pack., The patrol pack could be mounted to the top of the Onward Pack or by utilising the pack’s shoulder straps, worn as a standalone pack. The Patrol pack was also fitted with a fluorescent recognition panel in a zip-up compartment.

Despite the host of features and the additional space provided compared to the Australian pack, the Onward Pack was fraught with issues. The proprietary plastic clips were prone to failure, and the body-hugging ‘alpine’ design caused causing severe prickly heat on users in the tropics of Southeast Asia. These and other issues with the Onward Pack contributed to an extended development period as attempts were made to rectify them. As these and other minor faults were addressed to meet the immediate needs of users while the Onward Pack was perfected, the medium American ALICE pack was introduced as an interim replacement in 1984.[33] Eventually, attempts to rectify the Onward Pack were abandoned and the ALICE pack was formally adopted as the New Zealand Army pack.


Entering the Second World War with web equipment of the same pattern used since 1912, New Zealand’s Force soon began to be re-equipped with the most modern British web equipment, the 37-pattern from early 1940. Near the end of the war, New Zealand was kept abreast of the development of web equipment, and when New Zealand troops arrived in Malaya in the early 1950s, they were issued with the most modern type available for jungle warfare, the 44-pattern. As the New Zealand Army reorientated from providing a division to serve in the Middle East to providing a Brigade Group to serve in Southeast Asia, it could not wait for the British to develop their new 58-pattern for tropical conditions and examine other types. Following Australia’s lead, the American M1959 equipment was adopted in 1964, with components of this type serving thought to the early 2000s. With five types of web equipment either adopted or trialled between 1945 and 1974, it is no surprise that components got intermingled. This led to Kiwi soldiers’ preferences and experiences leading them to create webbing sets that they found practicable rather than options prescribed in SOPs or instruction books leading to the outside impression of the New Zealand army been one equipped with an eclectic range of Australian, British and American equipment.


[1] 86/Development/47 (SWV1) Report on the Development of Personnel Fighting and Load Carrying Equipment 1942-48 February 1949. “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern,” Archives New Zealand No R17189098 (1944 -1966).

[2] 86/Dev/54 (SVW1) Instruction for troop trials of Z2 Experimental Load Carrying Equipment ibid.

[3] New Zealand Joint Services Mission Washington DC JSM 1/3/13 ARM US Army Load Carrying Equipment (Web) dated 23 September 1959ibid.

[4] Attachment to JTC – Canungra dated 21 October 1960 “Stores – New Infantry Equipment for New Zealand Army,” Archives New Zealand No R17189007 (1959-1970).

[5] Army 246/60/12/SD Web Equipment dated 20 December 1960 “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern.”

[6] Army 246/60/12/SD Web Equipment dated 20 December 1960ibid.

[7] Memorandum Minister of Defence to Cabinet dated June 1961ibid.

[8] 246/60/12/adm Army Secretary to Minister of Defence 2 October 1961ibid.

[9] 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), 111-20.

[10] Army 246/60/12/Q(E) Brigade Group Equipment Replacement Web Equipment dated 8 May 1962 “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern.” -pattern equipment

[11] BM 2 to FE16002SD General HQ FELF to The War Office (Brig Q Eqpt) 1958 Pattern Web Equipment dated 4 October 1962: ibid.

[12] 57/62 NZ Army Liaison Staff, London to Army HQ dated 17 October 1962 ibid.

[13] Army 246/60/12Q(E) Sample US Pattern Web Equipment dated 12 December 1962 ibid.

[14] 246/60/12/SD Web Equipment for the Field Force dated 18 October 1963 ibid.

[15] Army Reqn 208/63/Q(E) dated 9 June 1964 -Distribution of M1956 Web Equipment “Cookers – Web Equipment: Pattern ’37,” Archives New Zealand No R17189095 (1940-1971).

[16] EMPS 138/64 of 20 Nov 1964 ibid.

[17] Army HQ Army246/60/12/PS3 of 19 Nov 1965 ibid.

[18] Defence (Army) 246/60/2 of 26 April 1967 ibid.

[19] 1 Ranger Squadron NZSAS, Trial Report US Lightweight Equipment dated 21 March 1968″Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern,” Archives New Zealand No R17189099 (1966 -1969).

[20] Army 246/60/12/Q(E) EMPS 145/65 Frist Revise dated 5 October 1967 ibid.

[21] “Cookers  – Web Equipment: Slings, Bandoliers, Ammunition Pouches: Development,” Archives New Zealand No R17189101 (1968-1970).

[22] Def HQ/R&D Section 82/1974 dated 28 Jun 1974.”Equipment Administration: Research & Development – Projects Personal Load Carrying Equipment: Ammunition Pouches,” Archives New Zealand No R17231111 (1972-1977).

[23] 246/60/2 of 122055ZNOV70 NZDWN to 1BOD Trentham “Cookers – Web Equipment: Pattern ’37.”

[24] Army 246/60/70 dated 9 December 1971. “Equipment Administration: Research & Development – Projects Personal Load Carrying Equipment: Ammunition Pouches.”

[25] FF 65/38/18/SD Modification of Ammunition Pouch item 10 May 1974. “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern.”

[26] Army 246/60/17/EP. “Equipment Administration: Research & Development – Projects Personal Load Carrying Equipment: Ammunition Pouches.”

[27] R&D Section Minute no 160/1975 dated 21 November 1975. “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern.”

[28] Army 246/60/17/SP 22 Pouches Ammunition 22 September 1977. “Cookers – Web Equipment: New Pattern.”

[29] “Army Dress Committee Decision – White Web,” Archives New Zealand No R17188112 (1973).

[30]  R&D Section 67/1974 Packs Combat date 13 June 1974. “Equipment Administration: Research & Development – Projects Personal Load Carrying Equipment: Waterproof Pack,” Archives New Zealand No R17231110 (1972-1974).

[31] Army 246/60/12/EP Sponsor Enquiry Field Pack Olive Green 2 July 1972. Ibid.

[32] Army 246/60/12/ EP Minutes of the final meeting on the acceptance of the Combat Pack held at Army General Staff on 8 June 1973. “Conferences – Policy and General – NZ Army Dress Committee 1984,” Archives New Zealand No R17311893 (1984).

[33] Inf 26.3 Minutes of a meeting to consider Project Foxhound developments held at Army General Staff 8 June 1984. Ibid.

David Galula and his influence on modern military operations

The close of the Second World War saw an evolution of conflict that challenged the principles of military theorists such as Clausewitz or Jomini. Although conflicts where formed armies still faced each outer on the field of battle remained, wars fought as Insurgencies became the predominant form of warfare in the post-1945 world. The early leading theorises on insurgency were Mao Zedong and Che Guevara, who promoted Insurgency and the Frenchmen Fall, and Galula, who promoted some early theories and practices of counterinsurgency based on their observations and experiences in South East Asia. This article examines the experiences and work of David Galula and his influence on modern military operations.

David Galula had been commissioned into the French Army just before the fall of France in 1940. Dismissed from the French Army because he was a Jew, Galula joined the Free French Forces in North Africa, Serving as a Battalion Intelligence officer for the noted sinologist Jacques Guillermaz. Guillermaz became a key mentor and a significant influence on Galula’s life[1]. Accompanying Guillermaz to China in 1945 on his appointment as a military attaché. Galula became immersed in the ongoing Chinese Civil War, observing it close up and from both sides and, for a short period, was a captive of Mao’s Communist Chinese troops[2]. Spending a short spell observing the Greek Civil War during 1948, Galula was soon back in China, replacing Guillermaz as military attaché in Hong Kong from 1952 to 1956. Galula was well positioned in Hong Kong to study the successful counterinsurgency operations in the Philippines and Malaya and the unsuccessful counterinsurgency in Indochina, providing him with valuable lessons that he later applied in Algeria[3].

David Galula. (2022, July 5). In Wikipedia.

In the Philippines, Galula saw first-hand how the utilisation of a well-conceived civic action program, mobile striking forces and psychological warfare won the population’s support, causing the Hukbalahap Communist guerrilla movement to lose the protection and support of the local population forcing their surrender in 1954[4]. In Malaya, the fight against the communist insurgency was turning in favour of the British. This success provided Galula with a clear insight into the British approach. Having a precise political aim, with the security forces functioning within the law with the priority to defeat the insurgency by securing the population and providing better governance were all lessons Galula absorbed, and in future years considered the British achievements in Malaya an example of a successful counterinsurgency[5]. Galula continued to maintain personal contact with his fellow officers serving in Indochina. Through them, Galula could see the failures of the French counterinsurgency efforts leading to their defeat in 1954[6]. The French Defeat at Dien Ben Phu in 1945 had a traumatic effect on Galula as twenty of his military academy classmates had died, motivating him to put his observations on combating insurgency into practice in Algeria[7].

A posting as a Company Commander to Algeria in 1956 allowed Galula to test his theories. In the Greater Kabylia district, which at the time was a National Liberation Front (FLN) hotspot. [8] Galula drew upon his earlier experiences and observations to test his theories of counterinsurgency and within six to eight months, claimed to have cleared the district of FLN assets and restored the district to government control[9]. Galula’s success was noticed, earning him a promotion and a transfer to the Headquarters of National Defence in Paris in 1958. With Galula’s transfer to Paris, the situation in his former command soon unravelled as Galua had exaggerated his operational successes, leaving many unresolved issues leading to questions about the validity of his theories which went unanswered against the wider conflict then unfolding in Algeria[10].

Galula continued to lecture on his theories and attended Staff College in the United States. He was headhunted by General Edward Lansdale, who had met Galula in the Philippines and had become an admirer of his theories. Galula resigned from his commission in 1962 and was introduced into the counterinsurgency think tank industry flourishing in the United States. With General William Westmoreland’s assistance, Galua was given an appointment at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs[11]. During this period, Galula published his influential books; Pacification in Algeria (1962) and Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (1964).

In these publications, he drew upon the lessons learnt in the French colonisation of Indochina and Africa in the 19th Century and his theories on defeating communism-inspired insurgency based on his experiences in Asia and Algeria and proposed his four “laws” for counterinsurgency

  • The First Law: The support of the population is as necessary for the counterinsurgent as for the Insurgent.
  • The Second Law: Support Is gained through an active minority
  • The Third Law: Support from the population Is conditional
  • The Fourth Law: Intensity of efforts and vastness of means are essential.[12]

In 1961 the French soldier/academic Bernard Fall published his book, Street without Joy, an essay on the French war in Indochina, Falls book often featured in US military journals and saw the author lecture Special Forces at Fort Bragg in counterinsurgency warfare in Vietnam[13]. As the leading expert on Indochina, Fall endorsed Galulas work as the best “how-to” guide to counterinsurgency warfare[14]. Galula, despite having the potential to become a rising star as a counterinsurgency theorist due to the Kenndy administration embracing counterinsurgency as a military doctrine, fell into the shadow of fall and relative obscurity[15]. If there was an opportunity for cooperation between Galula and Fall, the opportunity was lost with their deaths in 1967. Galula to Cancer and Fall to a landmine in Vietnam, ironically in the area the French knew as the “street without Joy.”[16]

For close to forty years, Galula’s works were forgotten by a few outside of historical circles, and it was not until the United States’ involvement in Iraq that Galula came out of the shadows. Easily winning the conventional war against Iraq in 2003, the United States was unprepared for the insurgency that followed. Finding that the existing Small Wars Handbook, COIN doctrine and Special Forces doctrine was not providing the roadmap to combat and win the insurgency in Iraq. US Forces undertook a significant project while employed on operations and produced FM 3-24, The US Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual. FM 3-24 stressed that to win an Insurgency, political not military solutions were the key[17]. A significant influence in the production of FM 3-24 was that the American military embraced Galula’s theories as the foundation of FM 3-24. The success of the 2007 counterinsurgency “surge” was attributed directly to Galula’s teachings[18], which had been adopted for contemporary use with little due diligence into the historical mismatches between Galula’s theory and his actual practice of counterinsurgency[19].

Due to the implementation of FM 3-24, the United States counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq gained some success giving the United States Forces the upper hand over the insurgents, providing, as Galua had found in Algeria in 1956-59, a reversal of the situation from a few years earlier[20]. As the insurgency in Iraq stabilised, the American forces were able to complete their withdrawal in 2011. As with Galula in Algeria, once the influencing apparatus had been removed, the security and political situation degraded. Daesh emerged as a regional power creating an even worse insurgency for the Iraqi government, as there had been no plan to maintain the stability that the successful counterinsurgency had gained[21].

Gaula was an intelligent and keen observer who was at the right place at the right time to make observations of insurgencies in China, Greece, the Philippines, Malaya and French Indochina, which shaped his ideas on counterinsurgency. In Algeria, he had the opportunity to put his theories into practice at the Company and then Battalion level. Shaping the information to support his narrative created a mismatch between his theory and the reality on the ground, which came undone following his transfer to Paris. Endorsed by Bernard Fall as the producing the best “how-to” guide to counterinsurgency warfare, much of Galula’s theory was adopted by the United States Military in FM 3-24. Used to good effect in the “Surge’ of 2007, much of Galula’s theories found endorsement and praise and worked for a while. After the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq in 2011, the situation rapidly degraded into an insurgency, heralding the rise of Deash as a regional power, with the insurgency continuing today (2018). Galula’s influence on modern military operations has been significant, but Galula’s theories, although beneficial to the short-term goals of the United States counterinsurgency effort, are little more than a fad. A fad implemented without any robust field-testing conducted by its author or an independent authority has not benefited the United States in its long-term strategy against insurgencies.


[1] A.A. Cohen, Galula: The Life and Writings of the French Officer Who Defined the Art of Counterinsurgency (Praeger, 2012).

[2] Ann Marlowe, David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2010. 2010).

[3] David Galula, Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958, Mg (Rand Corporation) (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2006), Book.

[4] Ryan Nebres Severo, “Philippine Counterinsurgency During the Presidencies of Magsaysay, Marcos, and Ramos: Challenges and Opportunities,” (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College 2016).

[5] Galula, Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958.

[6] Bernard B. Fall, “The Theory and Practice of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency,” (2015).

[7] Marlowe, David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context.

[8] P.J Banyard, “FLN: The Fight for Algeria’s Independence,” War in Peace1983.

[9] Galula, Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958.

[10] G. Mathias, Galula in Algeria: Counterinsurgency Practice Versus Theory (ABC-CLIO, 2011).

[11] Marlowe, David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context.

[12] David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (Praeger, 2006), Article.

[13] Frances Fitzgerald, “”Lost on the Street without Joy” (Re “the Reporter Who Warned Us Not to Invade Vietnam 10 Years before the Gulf of Tonkin”),” The Nation, 2015 2015.

[14] Robert Tomes, “Relearning Counterinsurgency Warfare,” US Army War College: Parameters, no. Spring 2004 (2004).

[15] Marlowe, David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context.

[16] Fitzgerald, “”Lost on the Street without Joy” (Re “the Reporter Who Warned Us Not to Invade Vietnam 10 Years before the Gulf of Tonkin”).”

[17] Travers McLeod, Rule of Law in War: International Law and United States Counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, 2014).

[18] Michael Evans, “The Shirt of Nessus: The Rise and Fall of Western Counterinsurgency,”

[19] Mathias, Galula in Algeria: Counterinsurgency Practice Versus Theory.

[20] David H. Ucko, The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the U.S. Military for Modern Wars (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2009), Book.

[21] Mathias, Galula in Algeria: Counterinsurgency Practice Versus Theory.


Cohen, A.A. Galula: The Life and Writings of the French Officer Who Defined the Art of Counterinsurgency. Praeger, 2012.
Evans, Michael. “The Shirt of Nessus: The Rise and Fall of Western Counterinsurgency.”
Fall, Bernard B. “The Theory and Practice of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency.” 40, 2015.
Fitzgerald, Frances. “Lost on the Street without Joy” (Re “the Reporter Who Warned Us Not to Invade Vietnam 10 Years before the Gulf of Tonkin”).” The Nation, 2015 2015.
Galula, David. Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. Praeger, 2006. Article.
———. Pacification in Algeria, 1956-1958. [in English] Mg (Rand Corporation). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2006. Book.
Marlowe, Ann. David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context. Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College 2010.
Mathias, G. Galula in Algeria: Counterinsurgency Practice Versus Theory. ABC-CLIO, 2011.
McLeod, Travers. Rule of Law in War: International Law and the United States Counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, 2014.
PJ Banyard. “FLN: The Fight for Algeria’s Independence.” War in Peace, 1983, 594-96.
Severo, Ryan Nebres. “Philippine Counterinsurgency During the Presidencies of Magsaysay, Marcos, and Ramos: Challenges and Opportunities.” 117. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: US Army Command and General Staff College 2016.
Tomes, Robert. “Relearning Counterinsurgency Warfare.” US Army War College: Parameters, no. Spring 2004 (2004).
Ucko, David H. The New Counterinsurgency Era: Transforming the US Military for Modern Wars. [in English] Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2009. Book.

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

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]


[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.”

Rickshaw Military Research

Rickshaw Military Research specialises in the research and transcription of New Zealand Military Service Records to allow families to learn of their families military experience in peace and war. Services offered by Rickshaw Military Research include;

  • Interpretation of military records,
  • Assistance with military research,
  • Identification of medals, badges and insignia, and sourcing of replacements.
  • Regiment and unit identification.

Often, descendants of New Zealand Servicemen have some inkling that their ancestors served in the military. Knowledge of a relative’s service will often be a source of pride with some evidence such as photos of the relative in uniform, medals, unit badges, diaries, and other souvenirs existing. However, for many, any connection to their relative’s military service is long-forgotten and a mystery. For some, the only link to a relative is an inscription on one of New Zealand’s many War Memorials.

For all those interested in discovering more about their ancestors military service, accessing the individual’s service record and understanding what is written in it can be a daunting exercise,first in gaining the service record and then interpreting the peculiar language used by the military and making sense of the many abbreviations used, reading a service record often leads to more questions than answers.

Rickshaw Military Research provides a service where we work with the family and after some preliminary questions, access the relevant military service record from the archives and produce a transcript of the relative’s service record into an easy to read format, including;

  • Personal details of the individual.
  • Brief description of activities prior and after service.
  • Record of service, from enlistment to demobilisation, including;
    • Formations/Units served in.
    • Campaigns and battles that were participated in.
    • Locations visited.
  • Record of Promotions.
  • Record of Illness and Injuries.
  • Records of medals and awards, including citations.
  • Brief description of post-service activities.
  • Illustrations will be provided where possible and could include;
    • Photos of the serviceman.
    • Medals.
    • Badges and patches worn.
    • Maps.
    • Equipment used, i.e. if a serviceman was a tank driver, an illustration of the type of tank driven.

Services offered

Pre 1921 Records

Service records prior to 1921 including the South Africa and First World War.

  • Basic one-page summary of service: $100*
    • Basic service information from attestation to discharge edited to fit on a single A4 sheet.
  • Full transcript of service : $250*
    • Transcript of service relating to target serviceman with additional information on units served in and campaigns participated in presented as a booklet or interactive Web App.

Post 1921 Records

Service records from 1921 including the Second World War, Korea, Malaya, Borneo, South Vietnam, CMT & National Service, Peacekeeping and Territorial and Regular service in New Zealand)

  • Basic one-page summary of service: $150*
    • Basic service information from attestation to discharge edited to fit on a single A4 sheet.
  • Full transcript of service : $300*
    • Transcript of service relating to target serviceman with additional information on units served in and campaigns participated in presented as a booklet or interactive Web App.

Other Research

Other research outside the scope of researching Personnel Records is charged at a rate of NZD$30 per hour.

*All prices are GST inclusive.

Interested in knowing more? Feel free to contact Rickshaw Military Research and let us know how we can assist.

ANZUK: What was it?

ANZUK Flag. Wikipedia Commons

ANZUK Force is something that has a familiar ring about it, but unless you served in Singapore in the 1970s or 1980s, knowledge of it is likely to be limited.  Forty-five years after its closure, Colin Campbell a former Australian Army Officer who served in the Headquarters of the ANZUK Support Group in 1971-72 has published ANZUK What was it?, providing a long-overdue addition to the New Zealand /Australian/U.K. Military history narrative with the first comprehensive history of the ANZUK Force of 1971-74.

Since 1945 Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have cooperated in providing military Forces in Japan, South Korea, Malaya, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, playing an essential role in helping to stabilise the region during a time of political tension and national policy upheaval. ANZUK Force was the culmination of this post-war cooperation that for the final time in Southeast Asia, saw the Forces of these nations unified under a single tri-Service command.

Information on the ANZUK Force is sparse, for example, the New Zealand’s contribution to the ANZUK Force compressed to a single paragraph in The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History which acknowledges membership of ANZUK Force, however, provides few other details.

One of the few military histories dedicated to the era is H.B Eaton’s history of 28 Commonwealth Brigade, Something Extra. Eaton’s works provide a detailed history of 28 Commonwealth Brigade from 1951 to 1974, providing a chapter on the 1971-74 ANZUK, which due to the nature of Eaton’s book is focused on the 28 ANZUK Brigade which was the land component of ANZUK Force.

In telling the story of ANZUK Force, Campbell sets the scene on the ANZUK Force by providing background on the circumstances that led to the formation of the ANZUK Force. With a comprehensive but concise of the history and politics of the region, Campbell then unwraps the Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve, the establishment of the Five Power Defence Arrangement between Australian, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom and the short-lived Australian and New Zealand Force that preceded the ANZUK Force.  With three nations, each with different and at times conflicting motivations, Campbell details the planning, compromises and the final organisation and command arrangements of the ANZAC Force.

In Part Three, Campbell examines the four components of the ANZUK Force.

  • the Maritime element,
  • the Land element,
  • the Air element, and
  • the ANZUK Support Group.

Here Campbell breaks down each component and provides a useful overview of each component, their command-and-control arrangements and most importantly, their composition, roles and tasks and exercises they conducted. In describing the composition of each component, Campbell provides a roster of naval vessels Air Force Squadrons and elements assigned to the Martine and Air Components and explains the makeup of the land component, 28 ANZUK Brigade, with is Tri-nation Brigade Headquarters, Artillery and Engineer Regiments and National Infantry Battalions.

ANZUK Stores Sub Depot, April 1973. Robert McKie Collection

Not forgetting the Administrative and Logistic Elements, Campbell also dedicates space to the composition of the ANZUK Support Group and the wide ranges of services it managed and provided including, Stores and Supplies, Workshop, Transport, Provost, Police Force, Post Office, Hospitals and schools for dependent children.

ANZUK Force, Installation Auxiliary Police Badge. Robert McKie Collection

With a posting to ANZUK Force, an accompanied posting with families included as part of the experience, Campbell also dedicates space to highlighting the lifestyle and sports opportunities that life in the ANZUK Force provided.

ANZUK What was it? It could have been a bland assessment of the ANZUK Force, but Campbell has skilfully included many interesting and, at times, amusing anecdotes from the men and women who served in ANZUK Force providing a personal context to the narrative. Campbell has also ensured that the text is robustly supported by maps, tables, illustrations, Annexes and eight pages listing the sources of his extensive research.

As the first work dedicated the ANZUK Force, Campbell has resurrected the memory if this short live but significant force and although here are gaps, they are few and do not detract from the overall narrative.  ANZUK What was it? is a useful addition to the Military History narrative of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and a must-read for those with interest in this area.

Copies of ANZUK What was it? can be purchased directly from the Author through his website at

ANZUK Force patch. Robert McKie Collection.


28 ANZUK Brigade patch. Robert McKie Collection

Warrant Officer Class One Douglas Keep Wilson

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

Buried right next to his longtime friend and fellow serviceman on the gentle slope of Wallaceville Cemetery is a soldier with nearly 40 years’ service with the New Zealand Army. Doug Wilson and Gordon Bremner served in the same unit and played cricket together for the Central Military Districts team. Like his friend, Doug Wilson’s grave gives no clue as to his time in uniform, his participation in World War Two or his extensive Regular Force service.

A local Wellington Boy, Doug was raised in Upper Hutt, attending the Silverstream and Trentham Schools. His father John was serving as a member of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps at Trentham Camp at the time. Unfortunately, the military downsizing which accompanied the great depression saw John Wilson lose his uniformed Army role in 1931. But he was able to stay on as a civilian member of the Civil Service at the camp, until he was reinstated as a soldier again in 1935.

Once Doug finished secondary school at Hutt Valley High, he managed to also get a job at the camp with his father, as a civilian storeman in January 1937. After working for a short period in the Main Ordnance Depot he moved into the clerical section, then volunteered to serve part-time as a soldier in the Territorial Force from mid-1938. A Gunner in the Royal New Zealand Artillery, he underwent training with an Anti-Aircraft battery at Fort Dorset as the clouds of another war in Europe began to gather.

As member of the Defence Department, Doug was not immediately called up for service when war broke out in 1939. Largely because he was already busy helping with the massive expansion of the military which occurred at this time. Starting with equipping and supplying the initial echelons of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force which began departing for Europe from 5 January 1940.

As New Zealand’s contribution to the war increased, Doug was formally drawn into the Army in September 1941 and posted to the New Zealand Temporary Staff. He served there throughout the Second World War, working in the Defence Services Provision Office, part of the Army Headquarters in Wellington. Because his role and expertise were in critical demand in New Zealand, he was never allowed to deploy to an overseas theatre of war.

This decision was lucky for Vera Rasmussen, who Doug met during the War, proposed to in 1944 and married in November 1945. As the Army reduced in size after the conflict, Doug decided to stay on, enlisting into the Regular Force in April 1947, just days before his wife gave birth to the first of their five sons. A storeman clerk in the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps he returned to Army Headquarters, and began slowly progressing up through the ranks.

By 1952 Doug was a Warrant Officer Class Two, and considered a senior and experienced member of the Ordnance Corps. Although not deploying overseas himself, he was involved in the preparation and sustainment of several operational forces, including those sent to Korea, and later Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam.

A keen sportsman he played in several Army and regional teams, including the Army Cricket team. It was here that he played alongside Gordon Bremner, who had served with Doug’s father and Doug had worked alongside during his early days at Trentham. Three years later they found themselves working within the same unit, when Doug was posted back to the Main Ordnance Deport at Trentham Camp in November 1955.

Attaining the Army’s most senior enlisted rank of Warrant Officer Class One in 1958, Doug sadly lost his wife Vera four years later, just six months after the birth of their youngest son. Despite the challenges this loss imposed on the young family, Doug was well supported by his Army colleagues and would continue to serve with the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps until February 1975.

He was awarded the New Zealand Military Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in 1964, which recognised more than 15 years’ unblemished service since gaining the Territorial Efficiency Medal, which he had qualified for at the end of the War. Then in 1969 Doug was singled out for the award of the prestigious and highly regarded Meritorious Service Medal (MSM).

An exceptionally scarce award for those with more than 21 years regular service, the MSM could be held by no more than 20 serving members of the New Zealand Army at any one time. It was generally reserved as special medallic recognition for the longest serving and most prominent Warrant Officers of the Service. With a total of 37 years uniformed service to the nation (38 years with the New Zealand Army if his time as a civilian storeman at Trentham is also included) Doug was certainly considered a worthy recipient.

Remaining in Upper Hutt after retiring from the military, Doug sadly passed away in 2012. His family laid him to rest in Wallaceville Cemetery with his wife Vera, and close to his old colleague and cricket team mate Gordon Bremner. The plain headstones giving no indication of the amazing stories of dedication and extended service to our nation of these two old soldiers. Lest we forget.

For the story of Gordon Bremner see:


Howard E. Chamberlain, Service lives remembered: the Meritorious Service Medal in New Zealand and its recipients, 1895-1994, H.E Chamberlain: Wellington, NZ, 1995, p. 512. .

RNZAOC 1 April 1951 to 31 March 1952

This period would see the RNZAOC continue to support Regular, Territorial and Compulsory Military Training, while also providing ongoing support to Kayforce.[1]

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Lieutenant Colonel F Reid, OBE

Southern Military District

Ordnance Officer

  • Captain A.A Barwick.

Compulsory Military Training

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

  • 3rd intake of 3011 recruits on 2 August 1951
  • 4th intake of 2981 recruits on 3 January 1952
  • 5th intake of 2694 recruits on 27 March 1952

Unlike the previous intakes of 18-year-olds, the 4th intake consisted of many 20-year-olds.

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

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


In July 1951 the New Zealand Government decided to increase its commitment to Kayforce with an expansion draft. Between July and 2 August 1951, the RNZAOC would outfit and equip the expansion draft with the necessary clothing and personal and equipment along with many additional stores and equipment for Kayforce including,

  • 12 Twenty-Five pounders [3]
  • A Battery truck
  • Tentage and camp equipment
  • Gun Ammunition

The expansion draft of 579 officers and men departed Wellington on 2 August 1951. However, on 15 August 1951, a day after departing Darwin, the Wahine ran aground in the Arafura Sea. All the crew and soldiers safely evacuated, continuing their journey to Korea by air, in what would be the first mass airlift of troops conducted by New Zealand. In an attempted salvage attempt a small number of personal kitbags and thirty cases of rifles were saved, with the 25 Pounder Guns disabled by the removal of their breech blocks, the remainder of stores and equipment remaining in the hold of the Wahine to this day.[4]

The loss of stores shipped on the Wahine threw an unplanned and additional task onto the RNZAOC. Within fourteen days, RNZAOC units would assemble and pack the required replacement stores to ensure that no hardship would be occasioned to the Force in Korea.[5] The replacement stores were dispatched by sea from Auckland on 4 September 1951.[6]

“Wahine” aground on the Masela Island Reef off Cape Palsu in the Arafura Sea

During this period, the RNZAOC provide the following reinforcements to Kayforce;

  • 3rd Reinforcements, SS Wanganellella, 21 January 1952,
    • Lance Corporal Owen Fowell
    • Corporal Leonard Farmer Holder
    • Private Desmond Mervyn Kerslake

New Zealand Army Act, 1950

The New Zealand Army Act 1950, together with the Army regulations 1951 and the Army Rules of Procedure 1951 issued under the authority of the Act, came into force on 1 December 1951, Placing the administration of the New Zealand Army entirely under the legislative control of the New Zealand Government and independent of the United Kingdom

Ordnance Conference 11 -13 April 1951

The Director of Ordnance Services hosted a conference of the Districts DADOS and the Officer Commanding Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Army Headquarters over the period 11 -13 April 1951.[7]

Items discussed at the conference included.

  • Corps Policy
  • Kayforce
  • TF Recruit intakes
  • Estimation of expenditure
  • Payment of Accounts
  • Provision
  • Vehicles and MT Spares
  • Personnel
  • Ammunition

Pay and Allowances

During this period, new scales of pay and allowances for the Armed Forces were authorised. The new pay code provided an opportunity for the introduction of an improved system of “star” classification for all Other Ranks. The “Star” Classification system would by utilising trade tests allow pay to be related to trade ability.

Routine Ordnance Activities

Over this period the RNZAOC in addition to its regular duties of provision, holding and the issue of multitudinous stores required by the Army and the issue and dispatch of equipment and personnel for Kayforce had undertaken several other significant tasks.

The relocation of stores from Waiouru and Seaview to Mangaroa

The transfer of stores from Waiouru to Mangaroa was completed during this period. The transfer of stores from Seaview to Mangaroa and Trentham continued, with a further ten thousand square feet (930 square meters) of storage at Seaview made available to other Government departments.

Inspection of Ammunition

The Inspection Ordnance Officers Group (IOO Gp), which remained understaffed, was fully extended in the inspection of ammunition required for ongoing training requirements.

Small Arms Ammunition

Production of small-arms ammunition commenced in December 1951 at the Colonial Ammunition Company factory at Mount Eden in Auckland. The Proof Officer reported that the ammunition so far received was of high quality.

Introduction of New Equipment

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

During this period, the following equipment was introduced into service.

  • Four 5.5-inch Mark III Medium Guns.[8]

Support to the French War in Vietnam

In a move to calculated to enhance New Zealand’s national security by being seen abetting our allies in their efforts to contain Communism in South-East Asia, The New Zealand government in 1952 provided tangible support to the French in Vietnam by authorising the transfer of surplus and obsolete lend-Lease weapons and ammunition to the French Forces. Transferred from stocks held in RNZAOC depots, the following items would be dispatched to Vietnam;[9]

  • 13000 rifles
  • 700 Machine Guns, and
  • 670000 rounds of small arms ammunition.

The rifles, machine guns (and ammunition) were lend-lease weapons that had urgently been provided to New Zealand in 1942 when the threat of Japanese invasion was very real. Chambered in the American 30-06 calibre the weapons served with the Home Guard and New Zealand units in the pacific, notably with RNZAF units co-located with American Forces.

Fiji Military Forces

Captain E.R. Hancock IOO SMD undertook a tour of duty in Fiji.

Enlistments into the RNZAOC

  • George Thomas Dimmock – 2 August 1951

Discharged 31 March 1952

  • Corporal R.C Fisher (Ammunition Examiner IOO Branch)


[1] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1951 to 31 March 1952 “, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives (1952).

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

[3] Howard Weddell, Trentham Camp and Upper Hutt’s Untold Military History (Howard Weddell, 2018), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 184-5.

[4] I. C. McGibbon, New Zealand and the Korean War (Oxford University Press in association with the Historical Branch, Dept. of Internal Affairs, 1992), Non-fiction, Government documents, 199.

[5] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding, for Period 1 April 1951 to 31 March 1952 “.

[6] McGibbon, New Zealand and the Korean War, 200.

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

[8] A total of 16 guns, delivered in groups of Four on a mixture of MkI and MkII carriages would be supplied to the NZ Army between 1951 and. Damien Fenton, A False Sense of Security : The Force Structure of the New Zealand Army 1946-1978, Occasional Paper / Center for Strategic Studies: New Zealand: No. 1 (Center for Strategic Studies: New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington, 1998), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 21.

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

Major Joseph Seymour Bolton

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

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


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

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

  • Operational service in South Vietnam during 1970

Vietnam 1Vietnam 2

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


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


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

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

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

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

Sua Tele Tonnti


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