NZ Aid to French Indo China 1952-54

Traditionary 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 had 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 would transfer 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 the NZ force would be deployed 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 would be armed with British calibre weapons and uniforms and equipment of British pattern.[1] By 1952 France was struggling to hold onto Indochina, and although receiving 7200 tons of material a month from the United States, it was still falling short of its requirements.[2] Realising that large stockpiles of British and American equipment had been declared surplus or abandoned across Asia and Australasia, the French established purchasing missions to acquire this equipment.[3]

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

Responding to French requests, it was announced in September 1952 that New Zealand would be providing 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, where it would be 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 equipment and consider, with the New Zealand service authorities, 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 would be 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 surrendering 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 weapon and equipment assisted the French in any way. However, it might have found some utility in the new nation of South Vietnam or on some other French colonial battlefield.

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


Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9]“Arms Aid for Indo-China.”


Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Reorganisation of NZ Ordnance Services 1 October 1946

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

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

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

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

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

Henry Earnest Erridge

Serving the nation for 44 years, Henry Erridge would see service at Gallipoli before being invalided back to New Zealand. Continuing to serve throughout the interbellum, Erridge would assist in shaping the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps for the Second World War. During the war, Erridge would play a significant role in providing New Zealand’s contribution to the collective logistics effort of the British Commonwealth

Henry Earnest Erridge was born in Dunedin on 18 December 1887 to Henry and Jane Erridge. The fifth of seven children, Henry would be educated in Dunedin and received commercial training. A keen military volunteer Erridge had joined the Dunedin Engineer Volunteers as a Cadet in 1904, transferring into the Otago Hussars in 1909, gaining Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Rank.   On 6 April 1914, Erridge joined the New Zealand Permanent Staff (NZPS) with the rank of Staff Sergeant Instructor as the Orderly Room and Quartermaster (QM), No 15 Area Group, Oamaru.[1]

On the outbreak of war in August 1915, Erridge was seconded for duty with the NZEF and left New Zealand with the Main Body, Otago Infantry Battalion. As a Signals Sergeant in the Otago’s, Erridge saw service during the Turkish attack on the Suez Canal in February 1915 and later took part in the landings at Gallipoli. Stuck down with enteric fever, Erridge would be evacuated from Gallipoli to Alexandria in June, and in August, invalided back to New Zealand for further convalescence.

Returning to duty as a Warrant Officer in the QM Department at Featherston Camp on 10 Jamuary 1916, Erridge was appointed Stores Forman responsible for managing the QM Stores accounts for Featherston and its subsidiary camps. Reclassified as Class “A” fit for overseas service on 5 July 1918, it was intended to attach Erridge to a reinforcement draft and returned to the front. Deemed as essential, the Director of Equipment and Ordnance (DEOS) Stores appealed to the Chief of the General Staff, stating that

The accounts of the Camp Quartermaster, Featherston Camp, have not been completed and balanced. The principle causes for this state of affairs are:


(1) The inferior class of clerks posted for Home Service duties.
(2) And ever-changing staff, thus throwing the bulk of work on SSM Erridge, who has been employed in the capacity of foreman.

It is essential that SSM Erridge be retained until 1 November at least

Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores to Chief of the General Staff. 14 August 1918

The DEOS appeal was successful, and Erridge was granted authority to delay his placement into a reinforcement draft until November on the proviso that every endeavour was to be made to have all accounts in connection with the QM Branch Featherston and subsidiary camps completed to the satisfaction of the proper authority. Following the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Enridges employment was reassessed, and he was provided orders to remain with the QM Department at Featherston. Seconded to the Ordnance Stores in Wellington in June 1919, Erridge was permanently transferred into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) with Conductor rank on 1 October 1919.

Recommended for the Supplies and Purchasing Officer position with the civil administration in Samoa, Erridge was accepted for service with the Samoan Administration for three years from 24 May 1920. Due to a misunderstanding of the secondment rules, Erridge was discharged from the New Zealand Military. However, this was reviewed, and the discharge was rescinded, allowing Erridge to retain his rank and seniority on return to New Zealand.

`Administration Headquarters. “Apia”‘. Moore, Robert Percy, 1881-1948 :Panoramic photographs of New Zealand. Ref: Pan-0422-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/32050069

Completing his service in Samoa in August 1923, Erridge returned to New Zealand and, following three months leave, resumed duty with the NZAOC, where he was posted to the Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) and placed in charge of the Stores on 1 December 1923. In an example of his experience and utility, Erridge would temporally relieve Captain F.E Ford, the Ordnance Officer of Featherston Camp, over the period 4-31 Jan 1924.

During the 1920s, the Quartermaster General (QMG) vested command of the NZAOC to the Director of Ordnance Service (DOS). Assisted by the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO), the Inspecting Ordnance Officer (IOO), and the Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (OME), the DOS was responsible to the for:[2]

  • The provision, receipt, storage, distribution, repair, examination, and maintenance of small-arms, machine guns, vehicles, clothing and necessaries, equipment and general stores (including medical and veterinary), and camp and barrack equipment,
  • The inspection and repair of armament and warlike stores, and the inspection of gun ammunition.
  • The provision, receipt, storage, and distribution of small arms ammunition.
  • The receipt, storage, issue, and repair of fixed armament, field armament, and artillery vehicles.
  • The organisation and control of ordnance workshops
  • The preparation and periodic revision of Equipment Regulations and barrack and hospital schedules
  • The organisation, administration, and training of the NZ Army Ordnance Corps Forces
  • The maintenance of statistics of the Ordnance Department.

The DOS was also the Commanding Officer (CO) of the NZAOC and was responsible for the interior economy, including enlistment, training, pay, promotion, postings transfers, clothing, equipment, and discharges within the unit.

In 1924 the incumbent DOS, Lt Col Pilkington, was appointed QMG in Army Headquarters. Major T.J King, then acting COO, was appointed DOS, with Major William Ivory acting as the IOO and OME.  By 1925 King recognised that he could not provide complete justice to both the DOS and COO posts, but with no Ordnance Officers immediately available to fill the COO position, he recommended that the QMG give some relief by granting Erridge an officer’s commission. In his recommendation to the QMG, King noted that

Conductor Erridge is a man of wide experience in Ordnance duties and stores works generally and is eminently fitted for appointment as Ordnance Officer with the rank of lieutenant. He is a man of unblemished character, with a very high regard for the interests of the Corps and the services, and in the last few months gained sufficient insight into the duties I propose transferring him to.

Director of Ordnance Stores to Quartermaster General 11 December 1925

The QMG supported King’s recommendation on the proviso that Erridge pass all the required commissioning examinations. On passing the examinations needed, Erridge was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the NZAOC on 23 July 1926.[3] However, the question then arose of where to place Erridge on to the Army List. Technically the COO appointment was still vacant with Erridge for all intents acting as King’s assistant and only performing part of the COO duties with the work of the COO divided between King and Erridge. It was not desired to add to the establishment an Assistant COO, so it was decided to show Erridge as Ordnance Officer (Provision). Following several years as the Ordnance Officer (Provision), Erridge was appointed to the dual roles of Ordnance Officer MOD and Ordnance Officer Central Military District (CMD) on 14 May 1929.[4]

In December 1930, the incumbent Ordnance Officer Southern Military District (SMD)and Camp Commandant of Burnham Camp, Captain A.R.C White, faced compulsory retirement. To allow some continuity while White’s replacement was decided, Erridge was temporarily sent to Burnham. Although initially only a temporary posting, Erridge would remain at Burnham until 1934 in the dual roles of Ordnance Officer SMD and Officer in Charge Burnham Camp (Camp Commandant).[5]

By 1935 in his role of DOS, King was looking forward and preparing his organisation for war. In a submission to the General Headquarters, King requested authority to reorganise his staff. Regarding Erridge, King started.

Owing to the large amount of new equipment that is on order and is likely to be ordered soon, it is essential that the staff of the Ordnance Depot, Trentham, be strengthened to the extent that I should again have the assistance of my most experienced Ordnance Officer.

There is a great deal of work of a technical nature in connection with mobilisation, rewriting of Regulations, etc., which I am unable to find time to carry out myself, and which Mr Erridge, by virtue of his long experience and training, is well qualified to undertake. This work is most necessary and should be put in hand as soon as possible; I have no other Officer to whom I could delegate it.

Again, King’s recommendations were accepted, and on 30 June 1934, Erridge relinquished his Burnham appointments and was appointed as the Ordnance Officer (Provision) at the MOD, with promotion to Captain following on 1 December 1934.[6]

When the war was declared in September 1939, the NZAOC would undergo significant transformation as its mobilisation plans were implemented. The DOS, Lieutenant Colonel King, would be seconded to the 2nd NZEF as the Deputy Director of Ordnance Services (DDOS). Accompanying King would be a small staff drawn from the military and civilian staff of the NZAOC who would form the nucleus of the Ordnance Corps in the 2nd NZEF. Kings’ responsibilities of DOS and COO would be handed over to the Ordnance Officer CMD, Lt Col Burge.

On 2 December 1939, Erridge relinquished the appointment of Ordnance Officer (Provision), was granted the Rank of temporary Major and posted to Army HQ with substantive Major confirmed in February 1940.[7]  In June 1940, the NZAOC would undergo further reorganisation when Lt Col Burge relinquished the appointment of DOS when he was appointed as Deputy QMG in Army HQ with the position of DOS placed into abeyance for the duration of the war. Appointed as Staff Officer Ordnance and CO of the NZAOC, Erridge would take over responsibility for the NZAOC.[8]

With the national economy transitioning from a peacetime to a war footing, the Government would undertake a series of initiatives to ensure international trade and commerce security.  Representing the New Zealand Military, Erridge would accompany the New Zealand Minister of Supply and a small entourage of officials of the New Zealand Munitions and Supply Delegation on a tour of Australia for a series of talks with their Australian counterparts in July/August 1940.[9]

While the mission of the New Zealand Munitions and Supply Delegation to Australia was focused on strengthening cooperation between New Zealand and Australia, the Eastern Group Conference held in Delhi in October 1940 had the broader goal of organising a joint war supply policy for the countries of the “Eastern Group.” The countries represented at the Eastern Group Conference included the United Kingdom, Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand, East Africa, Palestine, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, and Hong Kong, with the Government of the Netherlands East Indies attending as observers.[10]  The New Zealand delegation would include.

  • The Chief of the General Staff, Major-General Sir John Duigan,
  • Major H. E. Erridge,
  • Mr F. R. Picot, Director of the Internal Marketing Department,
  • Mr J. R. Middleton, assistant-Secretary of supply,
  • Mr B. Taylor, assistant to the chief investigating officer of the Treasury Department.

As a result of the October conference, the Eastern Group Supply Council (EGSC) was established to coordinate and optimise the production and distribution of war materiel in the British colonies and dominions in the Eastern Hemisphere. The New Zealand members of the council who would be based in New Delhi were.

  • Mr F.R Picot, Director of Internal Marketing and Food Controller,
  • Mr W.G.M Colquhoun (Munitions Department).
  • Mr R.J Inglis (Supply Department).
  • Mr R.H. Wade (of the Treasury).

A Central Provisions Office (Eastern) was also set up in Delhi, with national offices established in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, East Africa, Southern Rhodesia and the Middle East.   The Central Provision Office (Eastern) was a military organisation consisting of about 40 to 50 Army officers from all countries constituting the Eastern Group. Headed by the Controller-General of Army Provisions, who was also the military member of the EGSC and acted as the agent of the Imperial General Staff and various Commanders in Chief. The role of the Central Provision Office (Eastern) was coordinating with the controllers of the national provision offices to obtain military stores to maintain the British and Commonwealth war effort.[11] From March 1941, Two NZAOC Officers, Temporary Major D. L. Lewis and Lieutenant D.I Strickland, would be attached to the Central Provision Office (Eastern) staff in New Delhi.[12]

Before the Central Provision Office (Eastern) assumed complete provision control, it would be necessary for all the controllers of the national provision offices to meet to ensure that uniform procedures were adopted. A coordination conference for the various Provision Group Controllers was held at New Delhi in July 1941, with Erridge attending as New Zealand’s military representative. Based on this conference, on 5 August 1941, the New Zealand War Cabinet approved the establishment of the New Zealand Defence Servicers Provision Officer (DSPO), with Erridge appointed as its Controller with the rank of Temporary Lieutenant Colonel. Relinquishing the appointment of Staff Officer Ordnance and handing over the Commanding Officer NZAOC duties to Major E.L.G Bown, the COO MOD.[13]

By  April 1945, the DSPO thought Central Provision Group (Eastern) had shipped for the British Ministry of Supply equipment to the value of £10,000,000 (2021 NZD $8,988,577,362.41) with additional equipment to the value of  £8,520,761 (2021 NZD $765,895,194.35) that was surplus to the requirements of NZ Forces overseas transferred to the War office.[14]  During a visit to New Zealand in January 1946, Major-General R.P Pakenham-Walsh, CB, MC., a member of the Eastern Group Supply Council and the Central Provision Office(Eastern), stated that “Stores from New Zealand which had been made available to the Eastern Group Supply Council had been of great importance in the prosecution of the war” adding that “the Dominion’s contribution had compared more than favourably with that of various larger countries.”[15]  Following the surrender of Germany in April and Japan’s defeat in August 1945, the Eastern Group Supply Council and Central Provision Office, although serving their purpose well, had become irrelevant and were dissolved on 31 March 1946.[16]  However, it would take two years for the DSPO to transition to a peacetime footing. Seconded to the War Asset Realisation Board (WARB) on 1 May 1947, Erridge would start to wind down the work of the DSPO while also coordinating the disposal of equipment through the WARB. On 17 December 1948, Erridge handed over the remaining stocks to the WARB and closed the DSPO.

At 62 years of age and following 45 years of volunteer, Territorial and Regular service, Erridge retired from the New Zealand Army and was placed onto the Retired List with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 29 May 1949.[17] Never marrying, Erridge spent his retirement in his hometown of Dunedin. On 30 March 1962, a resident of the Dunedin’s Ross Home, Erridge, passed away at 74. Following his wishes, he was cremated, and his ashes scattered.

Throughout his service, Erridge was awarded the following decorations

  • OBE (1946)
  • NZ Long Service and Efficient Service (1925)
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • War Medal 1939-45
  • NZ War Medal, 193-45

Notes

[1] Archives New Zealand, “Henry Earnest Erridge- Ww1 8/1004, Nzaoc 888, Ww2 800245, 30293,” Personal File, Record no R24097640  (1904-1948): 2708.

[2] “Regulations for the Military Forces of the Dominion of New Zealand,” New Zealand Gazette, May 19 1927.

[3] “Appointments, Promotions, Resignations and Transfers of Officers of the NZ Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 61, 19 July 1926.

[4] “Appointments, Promotions, Resignations and Transfer of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 48, 27 June 1929.

[5] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 16, 5 March 1931.

[6] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 55, 19 July 1934.;”Appointment, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers from the NZ Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 87, 29 November 1935.

[7] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 1, 11 Jan 1940.;”Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 75  (1940).

[8] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 70  (1940).

[9] “Unity in War Effort,” Evening Star, Issue 23622, 8 July 1940.

[10] East Africa consisting of the territories of (Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, Nyasaland; Bertram Stevens, “The Eastern Group Supply Council,” The Australian Quarterly 13, no. 3 (1941).

[11] “Eastern Group Supply Council,” Otago Daily Times, Issue 24640, 23 June 1941.

[12] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Retirements of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces.,” New Zealand Gazette, No 30, 9 April 1941.

[13] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Retirements of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces.,” New Zealand Gazette, No 74, 11 September 1941.

[14] “War Supplies,” Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 126, 30 May 1945.

[15] “Production Problems,” Evening Star, Issue 25690, 14 January 1946.

[16] “Supplies – the Eastern Group Supply Council,” Northern Advocate, 1 April 1946, 1 April 1946.

[17] “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army “, New Zealand Gazette No 37, 16 June 1949.


The Cave

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

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

Building 73

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

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

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

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

Main Ordnance Depot 1966

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

Building 73 (left), Building 74 (Right)

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

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

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

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


Notes

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

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

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

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


Bryan Nelson Jennings Memorial Trophy

The Bryan Nelson Jennings Memorial Trophy would, for a short period in the 1990s, be a coveted trophy awarded to the most outstanding Automotive Parts and Accessories Merchandising Apprentice of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps(RNZAOC).

Apprenticeships for the Automotive Parts and Accessories Merchandising Trade (AP Trade) had been established in 1965 to provide the RNZAOC with skilled tradespeople for employment in RNZAOC Workshops Stores Sections that had been established as part of Royal New Zealand Electrical Mechanical and Electrical Engineers(RNZEME) Workshops and Light Aid Detachments in 1962.

The role of RNZAOC Stores Sections was to carry and manage the specialised holdings of spares, assemblies & workshop materials (Class 9 stores) of their parent workshops.

Administered by the New Zealand Trade Certification Board (now the New Zealand Qualifications Authority), the Automotive Parts and Accessories Merchandising apprentice training scheme consisted of 9000 working hours of study and on the job training with three Trade Board examinations required to gain the trade qualification.

Initially, apprentices would begin their training as 16-year-old Regular Force Cadets (RF Cadets), who, on graduation, would complete their apprentice training at the Main Ordnance Depot, MT Spares Section at Trentham Camp. However, during the 1970s, RNZAOC direct entry recruits were also accepted as apprentices.

Further progression in the AP trade was achieved by qualified apprentices undertaking the New Zealand Management Certificate in Automotive Parts & Accessories Merchandising. the first two Certificate level qualifications were awarded in 1988 To;

  • Sergeant M Wilson (0001)
  • Sergeant S O’Brien (0002)

The final AP Trade Apprentice would be recruited in 1996, following which the apprentice scheme would cease as the foundation for the AP Trade.

Warrant Officer Class One Bryan Nelson Jennings

Bryan was born in Wellington in 1926. Too young to see active service in WW2, Bryan served with the Melrose Battalion, Wellington South Home Guard unit from 1 April 1943 to 1 April 1944, attaining the rank of Corporal.

Volunteering for service with ‘J ‘ Force, the New Zealand component of the British Occupation Forces (BCOF) in Japan, Bryana would be posted to 4 New Zealand Base Ordnance Depot (later renamed to 4 NZ Ordnance Field Park) in August 1946. Completing his engagement, Bryan would return to New Zealand on 14 September 1947. Following a short period posted to the Main Ordnance Depot in Trentham as part of the post-war Interim Army, Bryan was soon discharged and returned to civilian life.

Enlisting into the Regular Forces RNZAXCO on1 April 1948, Bryan undertook a short period of refresher training at the Army School of Instruction at Trentham before being posted to the Main Ordnance Depot as a storeman in the Technical Spares Group and later in the Tyre Store.

Temporarily posted to 10 Coastal Regiment RNZA at Fort Dorset, Bryan, like many of his contemporaries, would be employed on the wharves during the 1951 Waterfront Workers strike.

Promoted to Temporary Sergeant on 25 November 1953, Bryan would be promoted Staff Sergeant on 13 October 1958. Poste to 1 Composite Ordnance Company n loan back in 1964, Bryan would remain at the Main Ordnance Depot.

Posted to 1 General Troops Workshops, Stores Section, Linton Camp as a Warrant Officer Class Two in 1965, Bryan would soon find himself loaned back to the Central Districts Motor Transport Workshops at Trentham.

Seconded to the New Zealand Cadre (Fiji) of the Fijian Military Forces in 1968 as a Temporary Warrant Officer Class One in 1968, Bryan would spend the next two years assisting in the training and development of the Fiji Military Forces.

Returning to New Zealand in January 1971, Bryan was posted to 1 Base Workshops, Trentham and promoted to Warrant Officer Class One. Bryan would remain at 1 Base Workshops and the IC Stores section until his release from the army on n 21 April 1981.

During Bryans more than thirty-two years of service, he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal on 25 March 1965, followed by the Meritorious Service Medal on19 April 1978.

Following his retirement, Bryan would remain in Upper Hurt. Staying engaged with the community, Bryan was an active member of the Lions organisation and a member of the School Board of the Heretaunga College.

Bryan passed away on 9 August 1989 at Upper Hurt after a long illness.

In his memory, The Bryan Nelson Jennings memorial trophy was instituted in 1991. Although not an AP Trade Apprentice himself, Bryan was a mentor to many apprentices and was described as a legend in the trade.

The object of the award was to provide a tangible mark of achievement and was intended to encourage junior soldiers of the AP trade to reach and maintain a high standard of professional competence and personnel integrity.

Nominations for the award were graded against the following attributes:

  • Basic Soldier Skills
  • Loyalty
  • Sportsmanship
  • Enthusiasm
  • Dress, bearing and personnel appearance
  • Trade Skills

Personnel eligible for consideration for the trophy were to meet the following requirements

  • Not be above the rank of Substantive Lance Corporal
  • Must have attended either 1st, 2nd or 3rd qualifying examinations in the past 12 Months
  • Must still be serving their apprenticeship.

The Trophy now resides at the Trade Training School of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment.


MT Stores – 1939-1963

The Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) and its predecessor’s primary storekeeping responsibility was providing Clothing, Camp Equipment, Ammunition, Arms and Accessories to New Zealand’s Military Forces. From the Second World War, the technical nature of military Storekeeping evolved to include a host of military equipment such as vehicles, communications equipment and mechanical plant. These new types of equipment were utilised in large quantities, and all required accessories and a complex range of repair parts to keep them operational. To provided a comprehensive and optimal measure of control from 1963, RNZAOC Stores Sections were raised as part of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (RNZEME) workshops. The Stores Sections were complimented by the standing up of the Auto Parts trade in 1965. This article provides a broad and introductory overview of how the Motor Transport Branch (MT Branch) and the RNZAOC managed Motor Transport Stores (MT Stores) from 1939 to 1963.

As in the First World War, the New Zealand Army mobilised in 1939 would be equipped and organised to allow near-seamless integration into a larger British army. The British army of 1939 was one whose doctrine had embraced modern technology so that. ‘By the time of the invasion of Poland, the British Army in Europe was rather more motorised than the German Army.’[1] Aspects of the advanced British doctrine had filtered through to New Zealand in the later 1930s, with modern equipment such as Bren Guns and Universal carriers arriving in New Zealand and some rudimentary experiments in motorising the Army had taken place. However, as a legacy of interwar defence policies and financial constraints, the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC), unlike the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) in the United Kingdom, was not organised effectively and, as a result, unprepared to function effectively when the war began. It could be said that during the Second World War, New Zealand maintained two separate armies. First, the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2nd NZEF), with its combat units, supporting arms and logistic units, organised against modified War Office Establishment tables with G1098 stores directly drawn from British Stocks.[2] Secondly, there was the NZ Army at home. Although also organised against War Office Establishment tables, its equipment needs, and G1098 Stores would be provided from a New Zealand Logistical base.

The NZAOC of 1939 was a Corps that had suffered under the defence restraints of the interwar years and was primarily concerned with the supply and maintenance of clothing, equipment, ammunition, and weapons. Although the army had 56 vehicles, the NZAOC had little experience supporting Motor Transport (MT) on a scale required by a growing army.  A significant factor limiting the growth of the NZAOC in the critical early wartime years was that nearly all its senior leadership had been seconded to the 2nd NZEF. Given the need to rapidly expand and manage the capacity of the Army’s MT fleet, the Quartermaster General (QMG) decided in a significant break from the doctrine that to allow the NZAOC to focus on its key responsibilities, a separate MT Branch would be established.[3]

New Zealand Temporary Staff. Robert McKie Collection

The MT Branch was established in late 1939 to manage and maintain the thousands of purchased or impressed vehicles required by the military. Taking a similar approach to the RAOC in the United Kingdom, the MT Branch would leverage off the experience of the New Zealand Motor industry.[4]  Many of the MT Branch’s staff would be directly recruited from the motor industry into the New Zealand Temporary Staff (NZTS). By December 1942, the MT Branch consisted of,[5]

  • MT Workshops
    • 1 MT Workshops, Trentham
    • 2 MT Workshop, Waiouru
    • 3 MT Workshops, Papakura
    • 4 MT Workshops, Whangarei
    • 5 MT Workshops, Palmerston North
    • 6 MT Workshops, Wellington
    • 7 MT Workshops, Blenheim
    • 8 MT Workshops, Burnham
    • 9 MT Workshop, Dunedin
  • MT Depots providing pools of vehicles
    • 1 MT Depot, Auckland
    • 2 MT Depot, Hamilton
    • 3 MT Depot, Napier
    • 4 MT Depot, Wanganui
    • 5 MT Deport, Christchurch
  • MT Stores Depots providing MT spares, tools and equipment for MT Workshops and Depots
    • 1 Base MT Stores Depot, Wellington
    • 2 MT Stores Depot, Auckland
    • 3 MT Stores Depot, Wellington
    • 4 MT Stores Depot, Christchurch
    • 7 MT Stores Depot, Blenheim

As most vehicles utilised by the NZ Military in the early years of the war were impressed from civilian service, initial scaling of MT spares were achieved by simply purchasing the existing stock held by New Zealand motor manufacturers and dealerships. As the war progressed, new vehicles, equipment and spares arrived from the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States, requiring further expansion of the MT Branch.

Freed from the burden of managing MT, the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO) with NZAOC, Territorial units of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) and personnel from the NZTS would provide.

  •  All natures of stores and equipment other than rations, forage, and fuel.
  • The repair and maintenance of armaments and equipment, including
    • Light Aid Detachments and mobile workshops providing 1st and 2nd line support across Field Force Units
    • Armament and General Engineering Workshops.
      • Main Ordnance Workshop, Trentham
      • 11 Ordnance Workshop, Whangarei
      • 12 Ordnance Workshop, Devonport
      • 13 Ordnance Workshop, Blenheim
      • 14 Ordnance Workshop, Burnham
      • 15 Ordnance Workshop, Dunedin

Post War Developments

Before the war, the NZAOC had not been organised to carry out its functions effectively. The conclusion of the war provided the opportunity for the NZAOC to be reorganised to bring it into line with RAOC organisational structures and procedures, including the management of vehicles and MT Spares. The MT Branch, which had only been intended as a temporary wartime organisation, would, as a result, have its wartime responsibilities absorbed into a reorganised NZAOC and newly established NZEME. [6] When the MT Branch was established in 1939, it had 62 vehicles at its disposal. By the end of the war the Branch had handled over 30000 vehicles, with 21000 disposed of by March 1946.

MT Workshops

The MT Branch Workshops along the Ordnance Workshops would, from 1 September 1946, be absorbed into a new organisation, the NZEME.[7]

MT Vehicle Depots

With many of the vehicles impressed earlier in the war returned to their original owners or disposed of during the war, the MT Vehicle Deports still held thousands of military vehicles. From 1 September 1947, responsibility for the MT Vehicle Depots was transferred to the RNZAOC, establishing the RNZAOC Vehicle Depots at Sylvia Park, Trentham, and Burnham.[8]

MT Spares Depots

Following several audits and stocktakes, spare parts, tools, and accessory s were handed over from MT Stores to the RNZAOC on 1 April 1948. To continue the management of MT Stores, the RNZAOC established MT Spares Groups at the Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Trentham and at the Northern and Southern District Ordnance Depots. The system of supply for MT Stores was that the RNZEME workshops held a small stock managed by RNZEME Stores Staff. Replenishment was by either Local Purchase or through the supporting District Ordnance Depot, MT Group. The exception was that the Central Districts Workshops at Waiouru and Linton demanded off the MOD MT Stores Group at Trentham. This anomaly was rectified in 1954 when the Central Districts Ordnance Depot at Linton was authorised to establish an MT Stores Depot.

By 1961 the NZ Army vehicle fleet was in transition as the older World War Two era fleet of vehicles, including Chevrolets, Fords and GMCs, where been replaced with a fleet of modern Bedford’s and Land Rovers. As the vehicle fleet transitioned, the management MT Stores were also reviewed, and several changes would be implemented during 1961and 1962.

Workshop Stores Sections

RNZAOC Workshop Stores Sections were to be raised at the following RNZEME Workshops,

•             Northern Districts Workshops,

•             Central Districts Workshops,

•             Central Districts Armament and General Workshops

•             Central Districts MT Workshops

•             Southern District Workshops

50% of the staff for the new Stores Sections would be RNZEME personnel transferred into the RNZAOC.[9]

Ordnance Deport MT Stores Groups

With raising the RNZAOC Stores Sections, the District Ordnance Depot MT Stores Groups were rerolled as Technical Stores Groups and ceased to hold MT Stores. Stock of MT Stores was redistributed to the new Stores Sections whose initial scaling for 1962 was to have six months of inventory; this was reduced to three months after January 1963. The balance of the District Ordnance Depots stock not required by the Stores Sections was to be transferred to the MOD.

By the end of 1963, RNZAOC Stores Sections had been firmly established as part of the RNZEME Workshops, providing not only MT Spares but the full range of repair parts and spares required by the workshops. Developing their own unique culture within the RNZAOC, the stage was set to introduce an RNZAOC Auto Parts and Accessories trade in 1965.


Notes

[1] Jonathan Fennell, Fighting the people’s war : the British and Commonwealth armies and the Second World War, Armies of the Second World War, (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Non-fiction, 32.

[2]  Army Form G1098, the Unit Equipment Table giving the entitlement to stores and equipment.

[3] The Ordnance Manual (War) 1939 and mobilisation regulations stated that all A and B Vehicles less those driven by the RASC were to be maintained by the RAOC, RASC vehicles were to be maintained by the RASC. Ordnance Manual (War), ed. The War Office (London: His Majestys Stationery Office, 1939), 12.

[4] P.H. Williams, War on Wheels: The Mechanisation of the British Army in the Second World War (History Press Limited, 2016), 42-54.

[5] “Staff – Motor transport branch,” Archives New Zealand Item No R22438851  (1942).

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

[7] The NZEME would gain royal status in 1947 as the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME).

[8] Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, RNZEME 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017), 189.

[9] “Organisation – Policy and General – Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1946-1984.”


New Zealand Defence Stores, Annual Report, 1914

In the years leading up to 1914, the New Zealand Military Forces underwent a significant transformation. Under the Authority of the Defence Act 1909, the old volunteer system was abolished, and a new military framework supported by universal Military Service by all males between certain ages was established. The evolution of New Zealand’s Military and how General Godley and his Cadre of Imperial and local Military Officers and Non-Commissioned Offices created a modern, well equipped Army is well recorded. However it is the role of the Defence Stores in which has remained anonymous. A component of the new Zealand Military since the 1860’s the Defence Stores would furnish the equipment for multiple mobilisation and training camps and equip thousands of men with uniforms, arms, and ammunition on the mobilisation of New Zealand in August 1914.The culmination of the Defence Stores effort would unknowingly be validated by Military Historian Glyn Harper who in his 2003 book Johnny Enzed states; [1]

In all aspects of required military equipment, from boots and uniforms to webbing, ammunition and weaponry, in 1914 New Zealand had ample stocks on hand to fully equip the Johnny Enzed’s of the Expeditionary Force.     

Although the Defence Stores was an active participant in the lead up to the First World War, it has been the victim of a pattern of amnesia which had virtual wiped its existence and contribution from the historical narrative.

Under the management of Major James O’Sullivan, the Director of Equipment and Stores, the 1914 Regulations for the New Zealand Military details that the Defence Stores were[2]

responsible for the supply of clothing, equipment, and general stores; supplies of stationery, forms, and books; supply of, all vehicles and technical equipment, excepting Artillery and Engineers; storage and distribution of small-arms, accoutrements, and camp equipment’s, Customs shipping entries, and ammunition.

The following report was produced by Major O’Sullivan and details the activities of the Defence Stores up to 31 March 1914, and provided a useful appreciation of how the Defence Stores were placed prior to the mobilisation in August 1914.




NEW ZEALAND MILITARY FORCES.

REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF EQUIPMENT & STORES FOR THE YEAR ENDING 31 MARCH 1914

The Quartermaster-General
Headquarters N.Z. Military Forces
Wellington

Sir,

I have the honour to report as follows on the Stores, Magazines and Equipment in the Dominion for the year ending 31st March ,1914.

SMALL ARMS AMMUNITION

The reserve of Small Arms Ammunition .303 Ball has since my last report increased by 138,000 rounds. The quality has maintained its excellence, and no complaints of any moment have been received during the year. the increased supply of cordite ordered has been received, thus removing any danger through delays in shipment. This will build up a reserve of cordite, which will be available to keep the Factory fully employed in the event of short shipments usually caused through Strikes in gland.[3]

The question or an increased reserve of Ammunition is a policy matter, but I wish to point out that the large increase in our Smal1 Arms during the year, consequent upon the importations from Egeland md Canada, has proportionately reduced the number of rounds available per Rifle.

The total issue of .303 Ball Ammunition during the year was 4,I62,000.

SMALL ARMS

During the year, 30,000 Rifles M.LE. Long were imported into the Dominion, 15,000 being from England and 15,000 from Canada. Of the English, 5,000 were perfectly new arms, while the 10,000-part worn were in such good condition that except to an Armourer or one very familiar with Arms, they appeared to be quite new.

The former were purchased at £2 each and the later at were purchased at £1, and as the landed cost of a new M/L.E. Rifle Long has hitherto been £3/12/. it can readily be calculated what an immense saving their purchase meant to the Dominion.[4]

CANADIAN RIFLES

The Canadian Rifles arrived in various shipments, the cost in Canada to the Department being 4/2d.landed cost 5/. Each. These Arms were not, of course, expected to be in the same condition as the English Rifles, having been thoroughly oiled prior to despatch front Canada, On arrival in the Dominion, however, after being overhaled and thoroughly cleaned by the Armourers, it was found that the Ars were in excellent condition, less than 2% requiring rebarrelling, while a fair number were quite new. Sword Bayonets and Scabbards patten “88 were also supplied with these Arms, while the Arms Chests in which they were packed, were in excellent order.

At 4/2d each, these Arms were a wonderful bargain, especially when it is remembered that a Rifle Bolt alone costs in England I6/.  If any more of these rifles are obtainable, I would recommend that another five thousand be purchased, as they will be required if it is intended to train the General Training Section of the Reserve, it would be a waste of money to issue new Rifles to these if they are allowed to keep them in their homes, as they would very soon go astray or become unserviceable, while even if a percentage of the Canadian Rifles were lost, the actual financial loss would no be great.

The whole of the above Arms were received during the months of January, February and March and were immediately issued to the Senior Cadets, who are now fully armed.

No Protectors, Bottle Oil, or Pullthroughs were received with the Canadian Arms, but a supply has been cabled for, which, on arrival, will be issued.

We have in stock about 8,000 new spare barrels for Rifles M.L.H. Long, which means that 13.3% of the Rifles in the Dominion could be rebarrelled at short notice. It is, perhaps, just as well that we have a good reserve, as it is very probable a number of the rifles on issue to Cadets will be neglected.

The total number of Rifles M.L.E Long at present in Store and on issue to the forces is about 46,000.

RIFLES M.L.E. SHORT

The total number of Rifles M.L.E. Short in the Dominion is 13,810. These are on issue to Mounted Rifles, Field and Garrison Artillery, Field Engineers and Coast Defence troops, except about 1,900 of the Mk I pattern on issue to Senior Cadets and which are now being recalled.

Our reserve of Barrels and Spare parts is in about the sane proportions as for the Rifles M.L.E.Long.

RIFLES MARTINI-ENFIELD

There are in all about 1,100 of these in the Dominion. They are on issue to Senior Cadets, but are being recalled, so the question of how they are to be utilised will be for your consideration.

RIFLES .310

There are 1,052 of these, which were taken over from the Education Department, and issued to Senior Cadets in Auckland District. They were, however, condemned by District Headquarters as being useless for Musketry, and are being returned to Store. The question of what is to be done with these and the 928,000 rds of .310 Bal1 Ammunition will have to be considered later.

CARBINES

There are in the Dominion about I,400 M.L.E and 2,500 M.E Carbines, which are principally on issue to Colleges and High School Senior Cadets. There are, however, complaints of the poor shooting made with these in comparison with that with the Rifles on issue to other Senior Cadet Companies. Demand have therefore been made for Rifles to replace the Carbines, and in some cases this has been done, while the remainder will be replaced during the current year. The question of what to do with the replaced Carbines will therefore require consideration.

REVOLVERS

We have about 900 Revolvers in stock. These are of an obsolete pattern known as Dean and Adams, which were imported about thirty years ago. In fact, it is impossible to obtain ammunition for them, as the Webley Pistol Cordite Ammunition will not fit. There is a quantity of about 9,000 rounds of powder filled ball for these Revolvers imported in 1880, but it ss not reliable. There are also about 14,000 rds Cordite filled ball, but this does not properly fit the Revolvers.

RIFLES SOLD TO DEFENCE RIFLE CLUBS.

The aforegoing Arms do not include the 3,423 Rifles M.L.E.Long and the 2,719 Rifles M.E. sold to members of Defence Rifle C1ubs. These are the property of the members, but no doubt practically the whole of these would be available in an emergency.

ACCOUTREMENTS

As mentioned in my last annual Report, an additional supply of Mills Web equipment was required, and in September 1913 demand was made for 4,000 sets and 20,000 Tools entrenching with Carriers, but approval for the expenditure was not obtained until the end of March this year. When these arrive from England, the equipment of the Infantry Regiments will be completed.

During the year all Brown Leather Accoutrements were called in from Field Engineers and Garrison Artillery, and replaced with Mills Web Modified pattern equipment consisting of Belt, waist: 2 Pouches and Frog This was considered to be a more suitable equipment for these units, besides which a considerable saving in expenditure was effected.

The Railway and Post and Telegraph Battalions and the Army Service Corps Companies have since been similarly equipped.

So far, no improved equipment for Mounted Rifles has been devised, our own Bandolier equipment, which has given satisfaction, is still being used.

As the whole of our Bottles Water Mk.IV are unfit for further service an additional supply of Bottle Water MK.VI with sling, carriers, has been ordered to complete equipment of Mounted Regiments and Ordnance Units. A further supply of Slings, Web, is also under order.

The Belts, Waist, Web, devised for Senior Cadets, which are made in the Dominion as a cost of 6d each, are giving general satisfaction.

SWORDS, OFFICERS & SAM BROWNE BELTS.

Owing to all Officers now being given an issue of a Sword and Sam Browne Belt on First Appointment, a large number of these are annually required.  Of course, the number issued this year is greater than wi1l be that of subsequent issues. Taking free issues and sales during the year, there were issued 372 Swords 800 Sam Browne Belts.

MAXIM MACHINE GUNS.

As Mentioned in my last Annual Report, one each Maxim Machine Gun mounted on Tripod with Packsaddlery complete, was issued to Mounted and Infantry Regiments, and a supply of Tripods ordered to convert the Maxim Guns mounted on Field Carriages to Packsaddlery. The Maxims on Field Carriages were called into Store, but it was ascertained before these Guns could be properly fitted to Packsaddles, a number of suitable stores were requir4d from England. These are now under order from England and on arrival. The conversion proceeded with. The addition of one Regiment of Infantry to the original establishments leaves us deficient of two Machine Guns, as no provision j=had been made for creases, and no spare Guns had been ordered. It will therefore be necessary to consider if two more Guns with Packsaddlery complete should be ordered.

If it is intended to equip Coast Defence Infantry in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin, or other Units, with machine Guns, a further order will be necessary.

During the year, three of the service locks which were broken were sent to England to be repaired and reported on. The locks have been returned and re-issued, and the report from England states that the breakages due to over tempering of the steel part in construction. As no further breakages were reported, it is presumed that only these three locks were faulty.

UNIFORM EQUIPMENT 1913/14.

TERRITORAL & SENIOR CADET

During the year the clothing of territorials and Senior Cadets has been continued steadily and at the end of March, with the exception of Caps, Forage, all clothing demands were completed.

The supply of Greatcoats and Putties, which I mentioned in my last Report as being in a backward condition, has now been brought up to date, and all branches of the service have been fully suppled as demands came forward.

A considerable saving was effected through the importation from England of some 10,000pairs Imperial Service Putties at a cost of about 3/. per pair, as against the price required for a local made article – which being all wool did not give satisfaction – and which cost about 4/9d per pair.

With the exception of Greatcoats, of which some 5,500 were received from Southern Firms, a Wellington Firm secured the contract for suppliers of Territorial Clothing, and they have made deliveries without delay thus enabling the Department to issue immediately on receipt of Requestions from Regiments.

The quality of material and make of garments has been fully maintained, and no complaints whatever have been received in this respect.

The delay in delivery of Caps, Forage, has been owing to there been no Factory in the Dominion which make the waterproof material as laid down in specifications of new Contract, and the supplies of this material had therefore to be obtained from England. Owing to Strikes and other causes the Contractors experienced great difficulty in obtaining supplies in time to meet our requirements.

Every effort has been made to keep down expenditure in connection with Uniform Clothing  – no order has been placed with Contractors in excess of actual requirements – and though in some items the minimum number we were required to take under the Contract has been exceeded, this was owing to short deliveries under Contracts for 1911/13, and the formation of the Army Service Corps and Railway Battalions, which necessitated distinctive Uniforms being made.

The position of Uniform Clothing for year ending 31st March 1914 is:-

TERRITORIAL UNIFORMS.

 JacketsTrousersPantaloonsHatsCapsGreatcoats Putties
      MountedDismtd 
Receipts545842981840Nil18841342767810000
Issues428226229419468224579347705748
In Stock6583672033284966320164929254258

When it is remembered that there are Uniforms stocked for the six branches of the service, each of which are again divided in 31 different sizes, the total number in store is not large, and unless maintained, it would be impossible to issue the particular sizes asked for on requestions received, nor would we be able on a sudden emergency to meet demands.

SENIOR CADET UNIFORMS.

The issue of Clothing to senior Cadets has been steadily maintained during the year, and on 3Int March 1914, all Requisitions for Clothing received had been supplied on that date. The quality of material and the make of the uniform reflects credit on the Contractors.

As with the Territorial Uniform, only the particular sizes of garments of which our stocks were nearly exhausted, were ordered, and the minimum quantity under contract was not taken during the year. As far as possible, all Trousers returned to Store, also old pattern Shorts, were washed, relined in bands and fork and converted at a small cost in to new pattern shorts, and are being issued ad required.

The position Senior cadet Uniforms is:-

 BlousesShortsHatsPuttie HoseWeb Belts
Total Receipts to 31/3/19144446343227431504647832011
Total issues3493739000348453551331993
Leaving in Store 31/3/1914932662279105796518

As we had a good stock of Cadet Clothing in Store on 1/4/193, only small orders were placed with Contractors last year. As under our Contract we are bound to place order for 5,000 each item per year, we will have to place larger orders this year. The Issues last year were about 8000 suits.

OFFICERS UNIFORMS

Under Circular Q.M.G 85/36 of 16/10/1912, the cash payment of £15. and £9 to Territorial and Senior Cadet Officers respectively was abolished, and a Free Issue of Jacket, Riding Pantaloons or Knicker Breeches, Putties and Cap Forage was made in lieu thereof to Officers on First Appointment on Probation, and Hat, Greatcoat &Trousers on Final Appointment after passing Examination. The cost of these uniforms being:-

 Mounted Service Dismounted Service
Without Badges of rank£6:16:3 £6:8:9

As there were some 375 Officers clothed in this manner during the year it will be seen that a considerable saving was effected. The Contractors supplied a first-rate uniform made to special measurements of individual Officers, and no complaints were made by Officers in this respect.

A Sam Browne Belt and Officers Sword for use of Officers newly appointed are issued to the Regiment of Company to which he may be attached. These items remain the property of the Government , and are handed in when the Officer retires or is transferred.

As with Territorial Uniform, only the particular sizes of garments of which our stocks were nearly exhausted were ordered, and the minimum quantity under Contract was not taken during the year. As far as possible all Trousers returned to Store also old pattern Shorts were washed, relined in bands and forks and converted at a small cost, into new pattern shorts and are being issued as required.

The position of Senior Cadet Uniforms is:-

 BlousesShortsHatsPuttie HoseBelts Waist
Receipts5954408252032011
Issues865999847570714731993
In Stock852662979705796618

It will be seen that the issues last year were almost equal to our present stock, so that during the current year we shall have to provide somewhat above the minimum of Contractor, viz. 5000 each item.

UNIFORMS

It has come to my knowledge from conversations with officers and Regimental Q.M. Sergeants that there are a considerable number of part worn Uniforms in Regimental Stores, which have been returned principally by men who have been exempted from further training and by others who have 1eft the Dominion, and I understand that instructions have been issued to Regimental Q.M. Sergeants not to re-issue these part worn uniforms.

In this respect, I consider that if I could visit the Regimental Stores during the year for the purpose of examining this clothing and return to Store as ay be fir to be washed and pressed and relined where necessary, they would be as good and could be issued as new Uniforms, as is done in the case of trousers as used by Senior cadets. In this manner, instead of paying about 30/. for new Tunic and Trousers, they could be made equal to new for about four to five shillings

SERVICE BOOTS

The sale to the Defence Forces of the service Pattern Boot was well maintained. During the year some 5100 pairs were received from Contractors, of which the greater proportion were sold for cash. Owing to the increased cost to te Department (in consequence of high price of leather etc) we were forces to raise the price from 11/6 per pair to 14/. Per pair. General satisfaction has been given to all wearing these for Military duty, as the sales in Training Camps denote

In all 1arge Training Camps, an Officer is sent from Defence Stores with a good stock of Boots for sale in Camp, and in order that the men may use the boots while in Camp and to make payment easy, the amount is deducted from pay at the end of Camp.

SHEETS, GROUND, WATERPROOF.

An additional Supply of 10,000 Sheets ground was obtained during the year, bringing our equipment up to 20,282. There are always considerable losses in these as they are useful for so many purposes in private life. They disappear both in large and weekend Camps, in fact after a large camp, one can never be certain what are the losses until final check in store is made. They have been known to disappear in transit from Camps. Of course, shortages are charged against Units, but this does not entirely prevent loss/

BAGS, NOSE, HORSES.

6,000 Nose bags for feeding Horses in camps were obtained during the year. This was a very necessary item of equipment as there was considerable waste of horse feed hitherto. The saving in horse feed that will be effected in a short time will compensate for the cost of the Nose Bags. The bags are all branded ‘DEFENCE↑1914” and numbered consecutively, so that los or shortage can be traced to the

FIELD COOKERS.

In my last Report I mentioned that a supply of “Roberts” Cookers was being obtained. 24 of these, each estimated to cook for 500 men, were issued in Camps during 1913, and gave great satisfaction when occupied with the method of cooking hitherto in use. 11 additional 500 men Cookers and 16 – 250 men Cookers were obtained since January 1914, and the whole are now in use as under:-

Auckland9500 men4250 men
Wellington104
Canterbury84
Otago84

There was also obtained from England a “Sykes” Travelling Cooker, while the 9th Regiment Mounted Rifles imported 2 Lune Valley Travelling Cookers.

Trials are now being made in Takapau Camp as to the merits of each. The landed cost of the “Sykes” Cooker was £130, whereas the local article -500men Cooker – costs £64, and the 250 men Cooker £46. I am unable to give the cost of the Lune Valley Cooker as it was imported Privately,

If the “Roberts” Cooker is to be adopted, 1 an of opinion that no more of the 500 men cookers should be obtained as they are too heavy to handle and are liable to breakage in transport. The 250-man Cooker in an ideal weight and can be easily handled by 4 men, 1ifting in or out of any conveyance, besides which double 1n or out of any conveyance, besides which, double companies under the new organization are 250 each.

CAMP KETTLES.

There is a very good supply in Ordnance Stores, but sone are getting the worse for wear. An order for 1000 has been placed in England.

MEAT DISHES, BOILERS, LANTERNS, WASH BASINS etc are all Locally made, and supply can always be ordered as required to replace

KIT BAGS.

A sum of money was placed on the estimates last year to provide Kit bags, but the late Quartermaster-General, for Financial reason, deemed it advisable to let the procuring of a supply stand over for the present.

B0OKs, FORMS, STATIONARY, PAPER TARGETS ETC.

A large supply of Drill Books etc were obtained during the year and distributed to the various centres as instructed. There are now 225 NZ Military Forms and Books in use. The printing of these Forms and Books is carried out at the Government Printing Office but owing to pressure of work for the other Departments, delays in printing our demands often occur. I am of opinion that better paper in many of these forms should be used in many of these Forms, especially those which are records. There is no comparison in the quality of paper used in our Forms and that used in the Imperial Service Forms

I am certain there must be considerable waste of Forms in the Area Group Officers and also in the Regimental Offices, as the demands sometimes made are out of all proportion to the requirements. These demands haves to be cut down here and I think Staff Officers should be impressed that Forms cost money and should be used only for the purpose for which they were printed  

ARMOURERS.

During the year the four senior District Armourers were brought to Wellington and put through a three weeks course of instruction in Maxim Machine Guns under Staff Srgt, Major Luckman, who, at the end of the period, examined the on the theory and practice of examination and repairs to Maxim Guns

The men took a keen interest in the work, and at the final examination passed to the satisfaction of the examiner, who reported that certificates should be given. This was approved and the certificates issued. The fact of these men holding certificat4rs will enable them to instruct their assistants in Districts, and these when they qualify, can also be issued certificates

The CADET ARMOURERS are getting on very well, and in order to give them experience in the Field, one Cadet has been temporally attached to each district.

Reports from District Armourers as to the condition of Arms on issue to Units have been, generally speaking, good, but owing to the outbreak of Smallpox in Auckland District, the inspection had to be discontinued, so that all the arms were not examined. The general strike also affected the examination especially in the North Island.

Owing to the increased number of small arms now issued to Cadets, the personnel of this branch of the service will require increasing , and the districts subdividing, as it would be impossible for an Armourer to make inspection of all the Small Arms in any one District during the year. I will later submit a proposal to meet this question.

DISTRICT STOREKEEPERS.

A conference of the three District Storekeepers was held in my Office in August 1913to discuss many matters in providing for stores not provided for in the regulations. This is far preferable to correspondence on minor matters of detail, as it was found that letters of instruction and Headquarters circulars were sometimes differently interpreted. When the occasion is deemed necessary, I will again ask for authority for a conference.

The Storekeepers are all Officers with a keen sense of their responsibility regarding Government property, and take a personal interest in their work, without which as Storekeeper or Quartermaster-Sergeant is useless.[5]

TRANSPORT WAGONS.

No additions were made to this service during the year. The late Quartermaster-General made provision in the Estimates for 32 Field Service Wagons similar in type to the colonial pattern in Store, being satisfied that with slight modification, this wagon would be very suitable for the Dominion. For financial reasons the inviting of tenders for these was held over.

No addition was made to the equipment of Water Carts during the year. The new type received with the Field Guns is far and away more expensive than that hitherto in use, and consideration will have to be given this subject for the equipment laid down is to be provided.

I am of opinion that it would pay the Department well if one Motor Wagon is provided for each of the four centres. The cost of cartage is becoming a heavy item, especially in Wellington, and if the Department had its own wagons this item would be considerably reduced. The fact that under the terms of the Public Works Contracts for Cartage the transport of one case from the Railway or Wharf is charges by time or ton weight or measurement will indicate that cartage is an expensive item, whereas if our own wagons were available, collection of parcels and cases could be made at stated time, all with greater efficiency, Other Departments of the State find it to their advantage to run their own transport Motor Wagon, and I am od opinion it would be ad advantage if we could do likewise.

MEDICAL EQUIPMENT.

During the year the Director of Medical Services laid down a list of Medical Equipment to be issued to Mounted and Field Ambulances and Regimental Medical Officers. Included in this were a new pattern Surgical Haversack and new pattern Medical Chest: these being entirely different to the pattern hitherto in use. Tenders for supply were invited. The Chests and Haversacks were made in the Dominion, but arrangements had to be made with the successful tenderers to import the supply of instruments and drugs which arrives in the Dominion at the end of March 1914. The Chests and Haversacks were then filled and issued to Districts for distribution. As the new equipment provides for one wagon only, one each was taken from the Field Ambulances and issued to the Mounted Field Ambulances. Each Regimental Medical Officer is provided with a surgical haversack, and in addition to the equipment of Stretchers of Field Ambulances, each Regiment is provided with two. These to remain as permanent equipment.  I may mention that all our Field Stretchers are now made in the Dominion, and Mr Reid – the maker of same – informs me that the Department having its Stretchers made locally has been the means of St John ‘s Ambulance and others also getting their supplies locally, instead of importing as hitherto. The Stretchers are made at about the same cost as the imported ones, and the Director of Medical Services has stated that he is very satisfied with them.

VETERINARY STORES.

Hitherto no provision was made for Veterinary Chests, medicine for use in the Feld, the practice being for Veterinary Officers to obtain supplies from the nearest Chemist. This method while being expensive, was not satisfactory. During the year, the Director of Veterinary Services and the Principle Veterinary Officer, of Wellington, paid visits to the Stores, and under their supervision, a Field Veterinary Chest was devised. The necessary instruments and drugs were obtained, and the Chests filled and distributed in time for the Divisional Camps.

Twenty Chests in all were made, and it is proposed that each be retained at the Headquarters of the Field Artillery in each District, the balance to be kept in District Store for use in the Field.

STORE BUILDINGS.

The Store buildings are in good order, the only additions during the year being those to the Christchurch Store, which were very necessary. Owing to increase of Equipment and Clothing, all buildings were taxed to their utmost capacity during the year.

Arrangements have now been made for District Stores to keep a stock of Forms etc for issue, instead of having to send individual requisitions to Wellington for Supply.

If Transport Wagons and Harness are to be provided for the Army Service Corps, provision will require to be made for housing same. I am of opinion that the time has now arrived for the establishment of a District Store at Palmerston North, as it is more central for distribution, and cost or railage would be considerably reduced.  The Wellington City Units could still be suppled from the Store in Wellington

MAGAZINES FOR SMALL ARMS AMMUNUITION.

Our magazines for storage of Small Arms Ammunition were taxed to their utmost capacity during the year, and indeed sone were overtaxed, as the Ammunition could not be stored in strict accordance with Magazine Regulations, If our reserve of Ammunition is increased, it will be absolutely necessary to increase the accommodation, especially in Otago. I have previously drawn attention to the inadequate Magazine accommodation in Otago, in which only 3 million rounds of Ammunition can be stored, whereas there should be accommodation for at least 5 Million rounds. At present the maximin supply that can be stored in the South Island is only 8 million rounds, which to my mind is inadequate. Provision should therefore be made in this year’s estimates for

AEROPLANE

The Bleriot Monoplane “Britannia” presented to the NZ Government by the British Aerial League was duly received during the year, and a suitable shed was erected in Defence Stores yard at a cost of about £130 for housing the same. The Machine was subsequently sent to Auckland Exhibition, but has now been received back art Wellington

According to instructions contained in a Cable from the High Commissioner, the machine requires constant attention and care and has been place under the supervision of the Armourer, who details a Mechanic to attend to the cleaning and oiling of same.

STOCKTAKING.

To comply with the provisions of the Public Service Regulations an annual Stocktaking has to be made, and this had been almost completed when the general strike took place. This necessitated the whole of the Staff being employed and the Stores and building being used for nearly three months in the housing and accommodation of the Special Mounted Constables. Immediately on their departure, the large shipments of Arms from England and Canada arrived. As preparations had then to be made for supplies and equipment for Camp for the inspection by the Inspector-General, Overseas Forces, I have been compelled to postpone the stocktaking till this year.

STAFF.

In conclusion of the Report, I have to mention that owing to increased work in the Store and yard, temporary extra labourers had to be employed. This pressure was overcome about the end of April and the men were discharged. There are other men on the temporary staff, such as Storeman, Clothier, Hatter, Packers who are experienced at his class of work, are industrious, and take special interest in the work. These men are an absolute necessity to carry on the Clothing and other ranches of the Department in which they are employed.

Finally, I wish to especially mention the permanent Staff, workmen and the office staff. To the letter, I owe the success and efficiency of this branch, as they are officer who take a special and personnel interest in their duties, and who, in addition to their own work, were called upon at the time of the Industrial troubles in Wellington, to feed, clothes and equip the Mounted Special Constables who were brought to Wellington to maintain law and order.  

The controlling officers on several occasions complimented me on the efficiency of the staff.

This extra work necessitated the Office Staff returning to duty at night after the Special Constables had been disbanded in order that their work could be brought up to date. Some even had to sacrifice their Annual Leave

As I have previously stated, owing to the steady increase of work in the Office, the permanent appointment of one extra Clerk is badly needed.

Defence Stores,
Wellington.
8th May, 1914.

________________________________

Note: You have been supplied confidentially with Returns of all Arms, Ammunition and Equipment in the Dominion, consequently figures are not given in this return

________________________________


Notes

[1] Glyn Harper, Johnny Enzed: the New Zealand soldier in the First World War 1914-1918, First World War centenary history, (Auckland, New Zealand: Exisle Publishing Limited, 2015, 2015), 29.

[2] “Regulations for the Military Forces of New Zeland,” New Zeland Gazette, Issue 6, 26 January 1914, 237, https://rnzaoc.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/Regulations-for-the-Military-Forces-of-New-Zealand.-1914-1.pdf.

[3] The majority of Small Arms Ammunition for the New Zealand Military was manufactured in New Zealand by the Colonial Ammunition Company at their Mount Eden Factory in Auckland.

[4] £1 in 1914 equals NZD$167.55 in 2021

[5] The authorisation for permanent District Storekeepers was for one each at Auckland, Christchurch, and Dunedin, with the following appointments made:

  • Mr William Thomas Beck – District Storekeeper, Auckland
  • Mr Arthur Rumbold Carter White – District Storekeeper, Christchurch
  • Mr Owen Paul McGuigan – District Storekeeper, Dunedin


General Godley and New Zealand’s Defence Stores Department

16 October 1914 was a significant day for New Zealand as the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) sailed out of Wellington Harbour, marking the departure of the largest, best trained and equipped Military Force ever to leave New Zealand shores. Departing in ten troopships, the 8500 men and 5000 horses of the NZEF would be the second significant departure of troops from New Zealand as the 1400 strong Samoa Expeditionary Force had departed several weeks earlier on 14 August 1914, only ten days after the declaration of war on 5 August 1914.

The fleet of troopships which transported the Main Body of the NZEF and their escort in Wellington Harbour, 15 October 1914. Image courtesy of Matt Pomeroy.

The mounting of such a force within such timeframes was the culmination of years of planning, implementation and training to provide a structured, equipped and supportable force able to easily integrate into an Imperial army alongside the UK, Australia, Canada and India. While credit for the development of the New Zealand Military in the years leading up to 1914 can be accredited to Major General Godley and his staff of British Army officers seconded to the New Zealand Military Forces. Little study has been dedicated to the logistic organisation responsible for supporting the Force, the Defence Stores Department.  Under the leadership of Major James O’Sullivan, the Defence Stores Department would be the organisation working behind the scenes with responsibility for the supply and maintenance of clothing and personal equipment, accoutrements, saddlery, harness, small-arms and small-arms ammunition, machine guns, material, transport, vehicles, camp equipment, and all stores required by New Zealand’s Military Forces.

However, despite the success in providing the stores and maintenance support required for the 1914 mobilisation, the establishment of reinforcement training camps, and maintenance of the Territorial Army, the Defence Stores Department has remained an anonymous participant in New Zealand’s Military Historical narrative. So why is this so? The historical record does not record any shameful failures necessitating its historical absence. However,  correspondence of the era indicates that there might have been a clash of personalities between General Godley and Major O’Sullivan, which has hidden the Defence Stores from view for over a hundred years.

General Sir Alexander Godley. S P Andrew Ltd :Portrait negatives. Ref: 1/1-013997-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22715773

As the NZEF finalised its final preparations before boarding its transport ships, General Godley visited the Defence Stores on 24 September and thanked the Defence Stores Staff for their contribution to mounting the NZEF.[1]

Departing on 16 October, Godley would be at sea for ten days before preparing a handwritten note to Colonel James Allen, the New Zealand Minister of Defence. Reacting to what could only be described as gossip, Godley’s note would set in motion a series of events that would test the Defence Stores and lead to O’Sullivan’s resignation.[2]

Dear Colonel Allen

Just before I left Wellington and since sailing, I have heard a good deal of talk about the conduct of the Stores at Wellington and criticism of J O’Sullivan. I believe the Mayor and the ladies Committee who provided articles for the men were very disappointed with his method of costing and accounting for what they sent him for the troops.

Campbell (Coast Defence Commander) also spoke to me of irregularities which had come to his notice. I have little doubt in my own mind that O’Sullivan and probably some of his subordinates are, like all Quartermasters and Storekeepers feathering their nests to a certain extent. But against this one has to put the fact that, broadly speaking, the equipping of this Force and of the South African contingents, by O’Sullivan was extremely well done and considering the opportunities he has had, one can only be astonished at his moderation in feathering his nest.

My object in writing now, though is to suggest that it might be worth while to have some sort of special audit of the Stores accounts for the Expeditionary Force, perhaps by the Public Service Commission or somebody of the kind. I mean by this an inspection and stocktaking of the Stores in kind more than cash transactions, as the later are always taken for granted and audited by the Treasury as regards vouchers not the Audit Department. Esson tells me that whenever the question of an Army Audit has been raised, the Audit Department have made difficulties and have suggested that it clashed with their functions, but this is probably a misconception and in any case the Army system has grown so big that some more checks is I am sure required, and the departure of this Force would be a good reason for starting it now.

But, whatever happens, the good work done by O’Sullivan and his Department should not be overlooked, though it is too close a borough, and would now be all the better for shaking up and overhauling with fresh blood.

Yours Sincerely

Alex Godley

Possibly in response to Godley’s note, the Public Service Commission convened the Defence Stores Commission, which throughout 1915 examined the Defence Stores in detail, producing a comprehensive report to the Minister of Defence on 31 August 1915.

Forwarded to the Commander of NZ Forces Brigadier General A.W Robin, a reply was furnished on 9 September 1915. Admitting fault where required, Robins reply, however, counted many of the commission’s points and highlighted the success of the Defence Stores and highlighted that the Defence Stores were operating adequately under existing Military Stores and Treasury Regulations. However, O’Sullivan’s reputation had been tarnished.

A letter from Allen to Godley sent on 4 January 1916 summarises the situation[3]

The Stores Department, about which there was an enquiry have come fairly well out of it, but I gather there is a pretty strong feeling that 0’Sullivan, who is on sick leave now should not go back.

Although acquitted of any misconduct, O’Sullivan position had become untenable, and to maintain the smooth functioning of the Defence Stores, Allen outlined changes that had been made to the Defence Stores in a letter to Godley on 13 April 1916,[4]

So far as Defence is concerned, Captain McCristell has been brought in from Featherston and placed in 0’Sullivan’ s position, the latter being made Inspector of 0rdnance Stores.

I should think 0’Sullivan has been more enquired into than any other officer in the Department, but nothing very detrimental has come out about him; however, it seemed to me to be wise, especially in view of the fact that the Supplies Board -which is under the control of the Hon. Mr Myers – was so determined about it, that he should give up his position as head of the Stores Department. I have every confidence that McCristell will do well there.

Replying  to Allen on 24 March, Godley was less than supportive of O’Sullivan and made clear his personnel feelings, [5]

I am sorry, but not altogether surprised, to hear about 0’Sullivan. I think you know my feeling about him, which is that, considering the class of man he is, and the opportunities he has had, one can only be astonished at his moderation. Ninetynine out of a hundred in his position would have made a large fortune.

A component of the New Zealand Military establishment since the 1860s, the Defence Stores Departments tenure as a civilian branch of the Military were numbered. Although nothing detrimental came out of the Public Service Commissions report, the time was deemed suitable to follow the lead of the Australian and the Canadians and militarise the Defence Stores into an Army Ordnance Corps. Gazetted on 1 February 1917, the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps assumed the responsibilities of the Defence Stores Department, with McCristell assuming the role as the head of the Ordnance Corps.[6]

O’Sullivan would retire from his position of Inspector of Ordnance Stores in January 1917, to take up farming in Huntley.

The enquiry of the Defence Stores Department fell flat and found nothing detrimental, and further study will be required to determine why the Defence Stores Department became an anonymous participant in New Zealand’s Military Historical narrative. Is it linked to Goldey’s dislike of O’Sullivan and his belief that Quartermasters and Storekeepers were only interested in “feathering their own nests”, or is it part of the Kiwi Tall Poppy Syndrome where success is looked down on? The mounting of the NZEF was a monumental task, and the Defence Stores Department is well overdue for some recognition for the part that they played.


Notes

[1] “Defence Stores Staff,” Dominion, Volume 7, Issue 2264, , 25 September 1914, https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DOM19140925.2.47.

[2] “Correspondence Major General Godley to James Allen 26 October “, R22319698 – Ministerial Files – Correspondence with General Godley  (1914).

[3] “Correspondence James Allen to Major General Godley 4 January,” R22319698 – Ministerial Files – Correspondence with General Godley  (1916).

[4] “Correspondence James Allen to Major General Godley 13 April “, R22319698 – Ministerial Files – Correspondence with General Godley  (1916).

[5] “Correspondence Major General Godley to James Allen 24 March,” R22319699 – Ministerial Files – Correspondence with General Godley  (1916).

[6] “New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Regulations,” New Zealand Gazette No 95 (Wellington), June 7 1917.


John Henry Jerred

Located in Wellington’s Karori cemetery is the long-forgotten grave of John Henry Jerred, Assistant Defence Storekeeper, died 20 December 1902.  John Henry Jerred had served in Government service for twenty-two years from 1880 as a Police Constable, Engineer on Torpedo Boats, and as a storekeeper in the Defence Stores. However, losing a leg while in the Police had adversely affected his ability to gain life insurance, join a Friendly Society, or earn a fair wage leaving his family financially unprepared for his early death. Such was the standing and high esteem of John Jerred that his friends erected a fitting memorial to John’s life. Sadly, now in disrepair, John Jerred’s graveside and the life he had lived has long been forgotten. Thanks to the keen eyes of members of the NZ Remembrance Army, John Jerred’s resting place has been rediscovered and is on the path to refurbishment.

Born in London in 1860, John was an engineer by profession and arrived in New Zealand around 1879 and commenced his career in Wellington.

Joining the Armed Constabulary on 1 February 1880, John would undertake the initial training required and then settle into the Depot Routine at the Armed Constabulary’s Mount Cook Depot in Wellington. In September 1880, John was one of many Armed Constabulary men sent to Ripapa Island in Lyttelton Harbour as guards for 160 Māori’s from Parihaka.

Ripapa Island had briefly been utilised as a quarantine station with purpose-built accommodation for over 300 immigrants. However, with the more spacious Quail Island designated a quarantine station in 1875, Ripapa’s barracks were largely devoid of purpose until the government found a use for it as a prison for Māori Ploughmen that had been imprisoned without trial due to the Parihaka Māori settlements passive resistance campaign against the surveying and selling of its land by the government, which would lead to the 1881 Parihaka invasion.

[Medley, Mary Catherine] 1835-1922 :[Quarantine Island Port Lyttelton. 1880s or 1890s], Alexander Turnbull Library. the new Ripapa (known as Ripa) Island quarantine station included barracks, a hospital, service buildings, a barrack master’s cottage and a jetty.

Each guard was issued with a Snyder repeating rifle with 40 rounds of ball ammunition and an Adams revolver with 18 Rounds. A typical guard shift would be for 24hours starting at 9 am. Daily routine allowed the prisoners out of their barracks for recreation from 9 am to 1 pm, and following lunch, from 2 pm to 6 pm, after dinner, they would be secured in their barracks for the night. Throughout the night, the guards would be on shifts to ensure that two were always awake. Following relief at 9 am, the old guard would be required to unload the streamer from Lyttelton of provisions and coal before cleaning their weapons and standing down for the rest of the day.

He was completing such a shift on 10 December 1880, when before standing down, John cleaned his revolver. On completion of cleaning his revolver, he reloaded it. However, he noticed a spot on the chamber that he had missed in his exhausted state, which he then cleaned and, distracted with tiredness, accidentally discharged the revolver into his leg, shattering the thigh bone.

Admitted to Christchurch hospital, the leg was set. It was expected that John would after a period of recovery keep his leg, with only a limp to remind him of the accident. Unable to return to full duty, John would remain on light duties and, in July 1881, was posted to Wellington, where he took up duties as a librarian. However, John’s recovery was not going well, and in November 1881, he was admitted to Wellington hospital, with the only option being the amputation of his leg on 13 November. Now permanently disabled, John returned to his role of a librarian.

From the late 1870s, New Zealand had been under the spectre of incursion by Russia into the Southern Seas prompting what has become known as the Russia Scare. Cognisant of the potential threat, the New Zealand Government decided to construct fortifications and purchase torpedo boats to protect the harbours at Auckland, Wellington, Lyttelton and Port Chalmers. With Torpedo boats ordered and due for delivery in 1884, John’s skills as an Engineer became useful. On 17 May 1883, he was attested as an Artificer in the Permanent militia, taking charge of the machinery of the torpedo boats allocated to Wellington.

 

Example of a spar torpedo boat, http://navymuseum.co.nz/spar-torpedo-boats/

With the torpedo boats used on alternative weekends by the Wellington and Petone Naval volunteers, John could not remain on the torpedo boats when they took to the sea for their weekend exercises due to not holding the correct certification. To rectify this and increase his utility, John sat and passed the examination on 8 October 1883, gaining the required certification.

To service the construction of fortifications on the then remote Miramar peninsula, the Defence Department purchased the motor launch the SS Ellen Balance in 1885, with Jarred placed in charge of its engines in November 1885. However, with the ongoing maintenance of the Torpedo boats proving troublesome, John was put back in charge of them in January 1886.

Star Boating Club Submarine Mining Volunteer Corps, Shelly Bay, Wellington. Andrews, C J, fl 1979 :Photographs of the Star Boating Club Submarine Mining Volunteer Corps. Ref: 1/2-091774-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23233117

The Torpedo Boat SS Waitemata had been transferred to Auckland during 1885 and required an experienced engineer to keep it operational, so Jarred was transferred to Auckland on 20 April 1886 to take charge of the SS Waitemata. On 4 August 1886, John was attested for a further three years’ service in the Permanent Militia.

Auckland’s climate was favourable for Jarred, but his time in Auckland would be short and in May 1887, he was recalled to Wellington to take charge of the Defence vessel the SS Isabel as the Engineer & Stoker.

In 1887, John married Mary Ann Bell, and they would have two children, Ida Isabel, born in 1888 and Harold Vincent, born 1 December 1894.

Despite John’s experience as an engineer, he was considered because of his disability a liability. In a cost reduction exercise typical of the Defence Department, John was dismissed from the service under a scheme of only keeping physically able men employed on 22 February 1888. This dismissal did not sit well with John. He appealed the decision highlighting that the savings made in dismissing him were negated because it cost more to employ civilian engineers to fill the void left by his dismissal. John’s appeals, although supported by many, was ultimately unsuccessful in reversing his dismissal. However, he has offered the caretaker position for the Ministerial Residence on Tinakori Road in Wellington in compensation.

Returning to the employ of the Defence Department on 9 December 1889, John was appointed as Arms Cleaner in the Defence Stores. Under the Defence Storekeeper, Captain Sam Anderson, John was not utilised as an Arms Cleaner but was employed in Clerical and General Store Work. On the death of William Warren, one of the Defence Stores Storeman on 28 January 1894, John was appointed as Acting Storeman.

On 28 September 1899, the New Zealand Premier’ King Dick’ Seddon offered to the Imperial Government in London, in the event of war with the Boer Republics, the services of a contingent of Mounted Infantry for service in South Africa. The offer was accepted, and when war broke out on 11 October 1899, New Zealand was swept up in a wave of patriotic fervour. This mobilisation would push the Defence Stores Department to its limits as it equipped the New Zealand Contingents to the war in South Africa. From 6 to 21 October 1899, under the direct supervision of the Under-Secretary for Defence, Sir Arthur Percy Douglas, the Defence Storekeeper Captain Anderson and his small staff spent up to 16 hours daily, receiving, recording, branding and then dispatching all manner of essential items to the assembled Contingent at Karori Camp.

The Defence Stores were located at the Military reserve in Wellingtons Mount Cook, then known as Alexandra Barracks. The Actual Stores building were old and not fit for purpose as they leaked and were cold and draughty. The hours worked by the Defence Stores Staff and the poor infrastructure would take its toll on the Staff of the Defence Stores.

Scene in Mount Cook, Wellington, taken between 1882 and 1931 from Tasman Street, showing Mount Cook Prison/Alexandra Barracks (top, to left). Photographer unidentified.Ref: 1/2-066816-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22855721

On 7 December 1899, the Defence Storekeeper, Captain Sam Anderson, suddenly died. This was at a critical time as the Defence Stores Department, which after years of neglect, was at breaking point due to the mobilisation. Captain James O’Sullivan, a long time and experienced member of the Defence Stores, succeeded Anderson as acting Defence Storekeeper.

Anderson Death was followed by the death of the Assistant Defence Storekeeper, Mr Thomas Henry Sewell, in June 1900. John replaced Sewell.

With further contingents sent to South Africa, the pace of work at the Defence Stores did not lessen. Despite his disability, John had a robust constitution. Still, the strain of long hours and a poor working environment took a toll on his system, leading to an attack of acute pneumonia, and after four days of illness, John died on 20 December 1902 at the age of forty-six.

Johns death was unfortunate for his family and placed them in a dire financial position. Having lost one of his legs, John was ineligible for life insurance and could not join a Friendly Society. His salary was so small that it prevented him from making adequate provisions for his family’s future. To make ends meet, Mary attempted to find work but illness and hospitalisation requiring surgery incapacitated her further. Some relief was found when on two occasions, she partitioned the Premier and the House of Representatives for assistance. Her petitions were supported by Johns long service and supporting statements from prominent members of the Defence Department and Government. The Under Secretary of Defence stated to the House that John “was highly valued as a most efficient Clerk and thoroughly zealous and painstaking officer by his immediate superiors.” Also assisting Mary in her petitions were several articles in the press that highlighted the poor working conditions in the Defence Stores and how those poor conditions had contributed to the poor health of many of the Defence Stores staff. Mary’s petitions were successful, and she was granted two grants, each of €50 (2021 NZ$9,319.35).

Considering John’s service, when Mary decided to relocate her family to Woolston in Christchurch in 1903, the Minister of Railways covered the expenses for her household removal from Wellington to Christchurch.

A wide circle of friends deeply regretted johns’ death. As a tribute to their departed friend, they covered the costs of erecting a memorial stone at Johns grave in the Karori Cemetery.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2021