The NZAOC and how it features in the historiography of the NZEF

The role of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) during the First World War of1914 to 1919, is one that has remained untold if not forgotten. While the contribution of the NZEF, its commanders, battles and significant units are recorded in many articles, books and websites, the NZAOC has been less fortunate. When it comes to a narrative which includes the Logistic Services of the NZEF, the narrative is almost universally biased towards the larger of the Logistic Services; the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC) and the contribution of the NZAOC has been one of an unloved redhaired stepchild and seldom mentioned. From an initial mobilisation strength of an officer and a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) in 1914, the NZOAC would mature into a modern and effective organisation providing Ordnance services to the NZEF on par to their counterparts in the British and other Commonwealth Divisions.  Using Ian McGibbon’s 2016 New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign and Peter Hamlyn Williams 2018 Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War, this essay will examine the representation of the NZAOC in the historiography of the NZEF from 1914 to 1919.

The official New Zealand War histories published in the 1920s often are criticised for their “inadequacy” and “turgid prose”.[1] Ian McGibbon’s 2016 book New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign goes a long way in providing a comprehensive and easy to read account of New Zealand’s forces on the Western Front. Although McGibbon’s focus is on the New Zealand Division on the Western Front, he does provide some broader context on the NZEF, but in a similar vein to H Stewarts, The New Zealand Division of 1921, [2]  McGibbon does not acknowledge the role of the NZAOC. McGibbon cannot be faulted for neglecting to mention the NZAOC, as the NZAOD was one of several NZEF units identified at a conference of NZEF Senior Officers in 1919 as requiring the recording of their war history.[3] Despite the prompt from the wartime leaders of the NZEF, the NZAOC missed the opportunity and never followed through in the production of the NZAOC war history leaving a significant gap in New Zealand’s historiography of the First World War.

The NZAOC was not a feature of the pre-war New Zealand Army, and on the mobilisation of the NZEF in 1914,  a small Ordnance Staff consisting of the Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) and an SNCO Clerk was formed as part of the NZEF Headquarters Administrative and Services Branch, becoming the foundation staff of the NZAOC.[4] The Ordnance Manual (War) of 1914 details the role of the DADOS as to “deal with all matters affecting the Ordnance services of the division. The DADOS would manage the state of the clothing and equipment on the charge of the units composing the division and would from time to time advise the officers in charge of the stores which in all probability would be required for operations”.[5]  As the NZEF arrived in Egypt and settled down to the business of preparing itself for war, the need for a larger New Zealand Ordnance organisation must have been recognised, leading to the commissioning from the ranks of the first NZAOC officers on 3 April 1915.[6]  Soldiers and NCO’s would also be attached to the nascent Ordnance Depots at Zeitoun, Alexandra and Gallipoli throughout 1915 and into 1916. McGibbon describes the early 1916 formation of the New Zealand Division in Egypt,[7] and although providing a paragraph on the NZASC, fails to mention the expansion of the NZAOC as a unit of the NZEF.[8] The expansion of the NZAOC in early 1916 was as a result of organisational changes across the British Army Ordnance Corps(AOC) as the scale of the war, and the support required became apparent.[9] In line with all British Divisions, the DADOS of the NZ Division would assume responsibility for a small Ordnance organisation complete with integral transport.[10]

In his brief section on Logistics, McGibbon states that “The New Zealand Division slotted into the BEF’s vast Logistic system.”[11] While this statement is not incorrect, it does understate the role of the NZAOC in providing the linkages which enabled the NZ Division to integrate and become part of the vast and evolving British logistical system. However, the misunderstanding of the NZAOC’s contribution is one echoed in many New Zealand Histories of the First World War including Major J.S Bolton’s A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.[12] McGibbon’s omissions of the NZAOC do not detract from the overall quality of his book but instead continues an unintentional tradition across New Zealand’s historiography of the First World War of forgetting the NZAOC. Bolton’s history of the RNZAOC which dedicates close to ten pages on the First World War provides few details of NZAOC activities in the NZEF. Bolton instead bases much of his narrative on Major General Forbes A History of the Army Ordnance Services,[13] and Brigadier A. H Fernyhough’s A short history of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps[14] which, overlaid with some material from the NZ Division DADOS war diaries provide a broad overview of the NZAOC during the First World War. Likewise, Peter Capes Craftsmen in Uniform and Peter Cooke’s Warrior Craftsmen, both histories of the Royal Electrical And Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME), a corps that grew out of the NZAOC, fail to record the story of the NZAOC craftsmen who served in the NZEF.[15] [16]  The authoritative work to date on British Logistics during The First World War is Ian Malcolm Brown’s British Logistics on the Western Front 1914-1914.[17] Outstanding as Brown’s work is, it focuses on the larger logistical picture, and it is not until 2018 with Philip Williams Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War that a work dedicated on the activities the AOC during the First World War provides a narrative relatable to the NZAOC.

Although Williams work examines the activities of the AOC from the Ordnance factories of the United Kingdom to the trenches in all the British theatres of war, it has much relevance to the NZAOC as the New Zealand Division was just one of sixty Infantry Divisions of the British Army and therefore part of the Ordnance system that Williams describes. Williams who draws upon a combination of Forbes and Fernyhough’s histories and personal diaries to provide valuable insights into the activities of the NZAOC, which along with the Australians and Canadian Ordnance Corps were cogs in the imperial logistical machine that was the wartime AOC.[18] [19]

Britain’s war effort was vast and unprecedented, requiring a Logistical effort that grew from the pre-war industrial base to one of total war. From the Ordnance perspective, Williams lays out the Ordnance contribution from the factory to the foxhole in an uncomplicated and engaging style providing the reader with an appreciation of the scale of the Ordnance commitment to the war effort. Similarly, McGibbon also discusses the resources required to support the NZ Division on the Western Front and discusses the establishment of the NZEF Headquarters in London and training depots for reinforcements, hospitals and convalescent homes across the United Kingdom. However, McGibbon follows the established template and fails to mention the NZAOC contribution in the United Kingdom. In addition to all the other administrative branches established as part of the NZEF Headquarters, there was also an Ordnance Department with responsibility for “the purchase of Ordnance supplies”.[20] Under the Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom, Captain (later Major) Norman Levien, the NZAOC would pay a significant role in supporting the NZEF. Levien would introduce into the NZEF standardised stores accounting systems and review purchase contracts leading to the introduction of competitive tendering for the provision of stores and services to the NZEF, leading to considerable savings.[21]  In Order to provide dedicated Ordnance Support to the NZEF, a New Zealand Ordnance Depot was also established in London.[22]

Where McGibbon’s primary effort is on the NZ Division on the Western Front, Williams provides an overview of the Ordnance support provided to all the campaigns that New Zealand participated in, which when read in conjunction with the limited material on the NZAOC such as the DADOS war dairies can be extrapolated to tell the story of the NZAOC. For example, Williams details the Ordnance preparations for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) operations at Gallipoli, the challenges faced during the campaign and how Ordnance was never to get fully organised which corresponds to and fills out the few accounts of New Zealand’s Ordnance contribution to that campaign.[23] It is in Williams chapter on the Somme where he highlights the anonymity of Ordnance in the Divisional Order of Battle which has contributed to the NZAOCs absence from the historiography. Williams finds it intriguing that despite the Order of Battle for a Division listing Divisional Headquarters, Artillery, Engineers, Infantry Brigades, Army Service Corps and all other types of integral units, Ordnance is not mentioned as such.[24]  Glyn Harpers Johny Enzed does help to lift the veil of anonymity of the NZAOD in the NZEF Order of Battle for 1916 and lists Ordnance three times, but provides little other information on the NZAOC.[25]  Williams unpacks the role of Ordnance within an Infantry Divison, explaining how under the DADOS the Ordnance staff had multiple responsibilities. The DADOS had the responsibility of ensuring that the Divisions requirement for the accurate and precise management of Ordnance Stores including boots, uniforms, guns and camp equipment. As an example, Williams discusses the process that a DADOS would follow to replace a Lewis gun buried in a mine explosion. Reporting the loss of the gun to Corps and Army Headquarters, to Ordnance Headquarter and the Quartermaster General (QMG) at General Headquarters (GHQ) and on receipt of the replacement gun, how the reporting process would be repeated to acknowledge the receipt of the gun.[26]  In addition to the DADOS’s stores accounting responsibilities, Williams also explains how the operation of the Divisional Laundry and Baths fell under the DADOS remit. Maintenance is another area in which the DADOS had some responsibility. Initially, craftsmen such as armourers and bootmakers belonged to the individual Regiments within the Division, but as units went into action, these men became redundant, so they were often transferred to ordnance and placed into Divisional Workshops under the DAODS. Given the broad responsibilities of the NZAOC, a hypothesis for the NZAOC’s anonymity in the historiography of the NZEF could be as simple as a case of unrecognised success. Success in that the NZAOC fulfilled its role so well with no major errors affecting the operations of the NZEF that it went unnoticed, and their continual anonymity, therefore, is a measure of the success of the NZAOC.

In conclusion, one hundred years after the end of the First World War the NZAOC remains an anonymous unit of the NZEF, and despite its small size, it is time to reconsider its place in the historiography of the NZEF. McGibbon’s New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign reinforces the anonymity of the NZAOC, but McGibbon’s omission is not intentional but a continuation of the belief that the NZEF just slotted into the British logistic system without questioning the mechanisms and the men that enabled the NZEF to do so. Williams Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War which is an examination of the British Ordnance system, provides useful insights on how the NZEF not only received Ordnance support but provides an example how the DADOS within the NZ Division managed the Ordnance functions within the Division, a linkage which has long been missing from the historiography.

20180605_195417-190082474.jpg

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

Notes

[1] Steven Loveridge, “New Zealand’s Bloodiest Campaign,” New Zealand Books 27, no. 118 (2017).

[2] Stewarts only mention of New Zealand’s Ordnance contribution to the NZ Division is on the Organisational Tables on pages 15 and 603 where he lists the DADOS as part of the organisation. H. Stewart, The New Zealand Division, 1916-1919: A Popular History Based on Official Records, Official History of New Zealand’s Effort in the Great War: V. 2 France (Whitcombe & Tombs, 1921), Non-fiction.

[3] In the Senior Officer Conference of November 1919, 22 units of the NZEF had convenors of Regimental Committees appointed with the responsibility to appoint a writer of the units War History. Lt Col Herbert who had been the NZ Division DADOS from 1916 to 1918 was appointed as the convenor for the NZAOC, but no official wartime history of the NZAOC was ever published.  Conference of Senior Officers, New Zealand Expeditionary Force,  (Archives New Zealand, R22550177, 1919).

[4] “Appendices to War Diaries, I – Lxii,” Item ID R23486739, Archives New Zealand 1914-1915.

[5] Ordnance Manual (War), War Office (London: His Majesties Printing Office, 1914).

[6] “Grants of Temporary Rank, Appointments and Promotions of Officers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force,” New Zealand Gazette 8 July 1915.

[7] I. C. McGibbon, New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign (Bateman, 2016), Non-fiction, 30-31.

[8] “Road to Promotion,” Evening Post, Volume XCI, Issue 29, 4 February 1916.

[9] Arthur Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services (London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929), 151.

[10]  Records of the exact manning and organisation of the New Zealand Division DADOS branch have not been seen, but would have been similar to the organisation of the Australian DADOS Divisional Ordnance Staff which was comprised of:

  • 1 Officer as DADOS (Maj/Capt)
  • 1 Conductor of Ordnance Stores per Divisional HQ
  • 1 Sergeant AAOC per Divisional HQ
  • 1 Corporal AAOC per Divisional HQ
  • 3 RQMS (WO1) AAOC
  • 3 Sergeants AAOC, 1 to each of 3 Brigades
  • 3 Corporals AAOC, 1 to each of 3 Brigades

As the war progressed additional Ordnance Officers would be included into the DADOS establishment who along with the Warrant Officer Conductor would manage the Ordnance staff and day to day operations allowing the DADOS the freedom to liaise with the divisional staff, units and supporting AOC units and Ordnance Depots. John D Tilbrook, To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army (Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps Committee, 1989), 78.

[11] McGibbon, New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign, 176.

[12] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 69.

[13] Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services.

[14] Brigadier A H Fernyhough, A Short History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (First Edition) (RAOC Trust 1965), 22-26.

[15] Peter Cape, Craftsmen in Uniform: The Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers: An Account (Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 1976), Non-fiction, 13.

[16] Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, Rnzeme 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017), 10-13.

[17] I.M. Brown, British Logistics on the Western Front: 1914-1919 (Praeger, 1998).

[18] Colonel W.R Lang, Organisation, Administration and Equipment of His Majestys Land Force in Peace and War, Part Ii of the Guide – a Manual for the Canadian Militia (Infantry) by Major-General Sir William D Otter, Kcb, Cvo (Toronto: The Copp, Clarke Company Limited, 1917), 91-93.

[19] Tilbrook, To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army 40-95.

[20] H. T. B. Drew, The War Effort of New Zealand: A Popular (a) History of Minor Campaigns in Which New Zealanders Took Part, (B) Services Not Fully Dealt within the Campaign Volumes, (C) the Work at the Bases, Official History of New Zealand’s Effort in the Great War: V.4 (Whitcombe & Tombs, 1923), Non-fiction, 248.

[21] “Norman Joseph Levien,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914-1924.

[22] Equipment and Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London – Administration Reports Etc., 18 October 1916 – 8 August 1918 Item Id R25102951, Archives New Zealand (1918).

[23] P.H. Williams, Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War (History Press, 2018), 64-75.

[24] Ibid., 137.

[25]  NZ Army Ordnance Details as part of the Division, An NZ Ordnance Section as part of the administrative Headquarters of NZEF in Egypt and NZ Ordnance Section as part of the administrative Headquarters of NZEF in the United Kingdom. Glyn Harper, Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918, First World War Centenary History (Exisle Publishing Limited, 2015), Non-fiction, Appendix 3.

[26] Williams, Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War, 124.

 

Bibliography

Primary Sources

“Appendices to War Diaries, I – Lxii.” Item ID R23486739, Archives New Zealand, 1914-1915.

Conference of Senior Officers, New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Archives New Zealand, R22550177, 1919.

Equipment and Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London – Administration Reports Etc., 18 October 1916 – 8 August 1918 Item Id R25102951, Archives New Zealand. 1918.

“Grants of Temporary Rank, Appointments and Promotions of Officers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.” New Zealand Gazette, 8 July 1915.

“Norman Joseph Levien.” Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914-1924.

Ordnance Manual (War). War Office. London: His Majesties Printing Office, 1914.

“Road to Promotion.” Evening Post, Volume XCI, Issue 29, 4 February 1916.

Secondary Sources

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

Brown, I.M. British Logistics on the Western Front: 1914-1919. Praeger, 1998.

Cape, Peter. Craftsmen in Uniform: The Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers: An Account. Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 1976. Non-fiction.

Colonel W.R Lang. The Organisation, Administration and Equipment of His Majestys Land Force in Peace and War. Part Ii of the Guide – a Manual for the Canadian Militia (Infantry) by Major-General Sir William D Otter, KCB, CVC. Toronto: The Copp, Clarke Company Limited, 1917.

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

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

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

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

Harper, Glyn. Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918. First World War Centenary History. Exisle Publishing Limited, 2015. Non-fiction.

Loveridge, Steven. “New Zealand’s Bloodiest Campaign.” New Zealand Books 27, no. 118 (Winter2017 2017): 18-18.

McGibbon, I. C. New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign. Bateman, 2016. Non-fiction.

Stewart, H. The New Zealand Division, 1916-1919: A Popular History Based on Official Records. Official History of New Zealand’s Effort in the Great War: V. 2 France. Whitcombe & Tombs, 1921. Non-fiction.

Tilbrook, John D. To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps Committee, 1989.

Williams, P.H. Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War. History Press, 2018.

 

 

Advertisements

NZEF Ordnance 1914-1915

20180605_195417-190082474.jpg

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

From the turn of the twentieth century, the New Zealand Army had transformed from small permanent militia and volunteer force, into a modern citizen army, organised for integration with a much larger British Imperial Army. When New Zealand entered the First World War, the New Zealand Army did not have not have a Regular or Territorial Army Ordnance Corps from which to expand into a wartime Ordnance organisation. The creation of a New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps had remained a topic of discussion and indecision, but appetite to make a decision was lacking until the war necessitated the formation of a New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps as a unit of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF).

Ordnance functions in support of the New Zealand Forces had since 1907 been a civil/military responsibility under the control of the Defence Council with duties divided between the civilian Defence Store Department and the Royal New Zealand Artillery;[1]

  • The Director of Artillery Services (Ordnance): Responsible for Artillery armament, fixed coast defences, and supplies for ordnance, and
  • The Director of Stores: Responsible for clothing and personal equipment, accoutrements, saddlery, harness, small-arms and small-arms ammunition, machine guns, material, transport, vehicles, camp equipment, and all stores required for the Defence Forces.

As this created a division of roles and responsibilities, there were many calls for the establishment of a New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps along the lines of;

  • The Army Ordnance Corps, established in Britain in 1895,
  • The Australian Army Ordnance Department, established in 1902, and
  • The Canadian Ordnance Corps, established in 1907.

On 27 December 1907, James O’Sullivan head storekeeper of the Defence Sores Department was confirmed as the Director of Stores, with the Rank of Honorary Captain in the New Zealand Staff Corps.[2] [3]  Further progress was made on the creation of an Army Ordnance Corps in 1913 with the selection and appointment of Brigade Ordnance Officers (Territorial) in each district with the intent of forming a Central Ordnance Depot to support each Brigade Camp during the 1913 camping season. Under the Director of Equipment and Stores,[4] a fortnight course of instruction on Ordnance duties was conducted at Alexandra Barracks in January 1913 for the selected Brigade Ordnance Officers. In the field during the 1913 Annual Camps, each Brigade Ordnance Officer was allocated a staff of 2 clerks and 4 issuers, who were also selected before the camps and had undertaken training on Ordnance duties.[5] [6]]

From an Ordnance perspective, the1913 camps were a revolution in Ordnance planning. For the first time, The issue of camp equipment was effectively managed with issues direct from Brigade Ordnance Depots directly to Regiments as they marched in. Issues were based against set scales, removing any doubt as to quantities taken into use and ensuring units were not holding excessive equipment and obviating any losses that were a feature of the previous system of direct consignment in small lots. On the completion of the camps, Regimental Quartermaster Sergeants assembled all equipment for return or made the necessary arrangements to rectify deficiencies without any delay. To facilitate the closing of camp stores accounts, Regimental Quartermaster Sergeants were placed under the orders of the Brigade Supply Officer and would if necessary remain post the departure of their Regiments, remaining until the completion of checking and adjusting of accounts for rations and equipment. The Brigade Ordnance Officers would then ensure the return of all camp equipment to the respective mobilisation stores.[7] An organisational success, the 1913 Ordnance Depot concept was carried over for use in the 1914 camps. The significant difference between the 1913 and 1914 camp’s was that they were to be much larger Divisional camps. To manage the increase of dependency the size of the Ordnance Depot Staff was increased to 6 clerks and twelve issuers.[8]  Moreover, some of the regional Defence Storekeepers participated as the camp Ordnance Officers[9].

Based on many of the logistical lessons learned by the British Army in the Anglo/Boer war, the British Army published their doctrine for the provision of Ordnance Services to the British Army in the 1914  ‘Ordnance Manual (War)’. The concept of operations for British Ordnance Services was that they were to be organised depending upon the general nature of operations and lines of communication. Arranged within convenient distances of Corps and Divisions, Ordnance Depots would be located to allow units to draw their stores and ammunition from that source. If lines of Communication became extended, the establishment of intermediate, advanced, and field depots on the lines of communication was authorised. The composition of Ordnance Depots was to consist of personnel of each trade, of sufficient numbers necessary for the operation of a small ordnance depot and workshop.[10] Assistant Directors Ordnance Services (ADOS) would be responsible for each Corps, with Deputy Assistant Directors Ordnance Services (DADOS) accountable for each Division.[11]

The doctrine Britain had in place at the beginning of the First World War was for forces to be fully equipped with everything necessary to enable them to undertake operations. [12]  Included in the plan was the daily maintenance of Combat Supplies,[13] [14] but no provision for the replacement of weapons, equipment or clothing was allowed. Re-equipment would happen upon the withdrawal of forces for rest[15]. New Zealand’s contribution as part of the British Empire was to be the NZEF based around an Infantry Division and a Mounted Infantry Brigade. Given the doctrine, New Zealand’s Ordnance requirements were minimal and would initially consist of no more than a DADOS, A Senior NCO clerk and a box of Stationary.[16]

Detailed in Section 5 of General Order 312 of August 1914, the initial establishment of the NZEF was; 1 Officer, 1 Clerk and a horse.[17] The NZEF DADOS was New Zealand Staff Corps Honorary Captain William Thomas Beck, Defence Storekeeper for the Northern Districts. [18] [19] Beck was an experienced military storekeeper, who had been a soldier in the Permanent Militia before his appointment as Northern Districts Defence Storekeeper in 1904. Beck was the Officer in charge of the Camp Ordnance for the Auckland Divisional Camp at Hautapu near Cambridge in April 1914 so was well prepared for the role of DADOS.[20][21][22]

The Senior Non-Commissioned Officer assisting Beck was Norman Joseph Levien.[23] A general storekeeper, Levien enlisted into the 3rd Auckland Regiment immediately on the outbreak of war, appointed as a Temporary Sergeant and transferred to the Ordnance Department as the IC of Stores and Equipment, assisting in equipping troops for overseas service. Beck and Levien embarked with the main body of the NZEF, departing Wellington for England on the troopship TSS Maunganui on 3 December 1914.[24]

The main body of the NZEF was initially destined for England, but the Canadian Expeditionary Force had suffered an exceptionally bitter winter on Salisbury Plain resulting in a change of plans for the main body of the NZEF to spare them the rigours of an English winter. Diverted to Egypt and disembarking on 3 December 1914. The New Zealanders would join with the Australians as the ‘Australasian Army Corps’.[25] The Corps comprised two divisions; the 1st Australian Division, and the New Zealand and Australian Division. Based at Based Zeitoun Camp on the outskirts of Cairo the New Zealanders trained and acclimatised to the local conditions, with preparations made for potential operations against the Ottoman Empire. The New Zealanders would see their first action in February 1915 when Ottoman forces raided the Suez Canal.

British Army Ordnance Corps 1915_zpsaibxjzox

New Zealand Supply Depot Staff at Zeitoun Camp, 1915. Note Ordnance solder front row 3rd from left. National Army Museum of New Zealand

By 10 December Beck had established himself as the DADOS of the NZEF with an Ordnance office and a shared depot with the Army Service Corps at Zeitoun Camp. NZEF Order No 9 of 10 December 1914 stated that all indents for Ordnance Stores, including petrol and lubricants were to be submitted to the DADOS Ordnance Depot.[26] Beck and had much to work ahead to bring the New Zealand units to scale and come to terms with the British Ordnance Systems. Britain had maintained occupation forces in Egypt since the 1880’s and as such had peacetime Ordnance depots in Alexandra and Cairo.[27] To understand the British systems and how best to utilise them Sergeant Levien was attached to the British Ordnance Corps Depot at the Citadel in Cairo to study the Ordnance systems in use and the Ordnance procedures the New Zealand Forces would have to adopt.[28]

plan of camp

Plan of Zeitoun Camp

Divisional Order 210 of 28 December transferred the following soldiers to the Ordnance Depot;

  • Private Walter John Geard,[29]
  • Private Arthur Gilmore,[30]
  • Private Gavin Hamilton,[31]
  • Private Lewis Crozier,[32]
  • Private Horace Frederick Lofts,[33]
  • Private Joseph Roland Henderson.[34]
f7012f760426cc6df115bf14d6f87977

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

By March 1915 Levien had secured premises for a New Zealand Ordnance Depot and warehouse at  No. 12 Rue de la Porte Rosette and a warehouse at Shed 43, Alexandra Docks. From these premises, the New Zealand Forces would be provided support before and during the Dardanelles campaign. The Australians established a similar Depot at Mustapha Barracks and in No 12 Bond Store on Alexandra Docks.[35]

On 3 April 1915, Beck received a boost to his DADOS organisation. Commissioned to 2nd Lieutenant, Thomas Joseph King a qualified accountant transferred into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.[36] King was appointed as the Officer in Charge of the Ordnance Depot at Zeitoun Camp,[37] and Levien, also promoted to 2nd Lieutenant assumed the position of Officer in Charge of Equipment, Small Arms and Accoutrements (SAA) and Clothing.

Order 122

Order No 122 promoting King and Levien into the NZAOC on 4 April 1915

Early in January 1915 planning began for operations in the area around the Dardanelles, with the ambitious goal of forcing the Ottoman Empire out of the war. Now well known as the Gallipoli Campain, the Australians and New Zealanders were committed to being critical participants in the planned amphibious assault and ground offensive. The Ordnance plan for the campaign included the establishment of an Ordnance Base Depot in Alexandria, and a floating Ordnance Depot set up on the cargo ship the ‘SS Umsinga’. The Umsinga was fitted out in the UK with all the Ordnance Stores required, all carefully laid out by vocabulary with detailed plans produced to locate the stock quickly. With Lieutenant Colonel McCheane in command as the Chief Ordnance Officer, he had a complement of one hundred and fifty men of the AOC to manage the stocks.[38]

The invasion fleet loaded with the ANZAC, British and French concentrated off the Island of Lemnos from April 10. The Assault would be at two locations on the morning of 25 April. The British 29th Division would land at Cape Helles on the southern tip of the Gallipoli Penisula, and the ANZACs at locations on the west coast of the Peninsular that would become known as ANZAC Cove. The division of the landing force made the concept of having the ‘Umsinga’ as the offshore ordnance Depot unworkable. To rectify the situation, the ‘SS Anglo Indian’ became the second floating Ordnance Depot. Half the stocks of the ‘Umsinga’ were cross-loaded to the ‘Anglo Indian’ on the night of 23/24 April, with British Ordnance Officer Major Basil Hill appointed as Chief Ordnance Officer on the Anglo Indian, along with with haft the AOC men from the “Umsinga”.[39]

The 1st Australian Divison started landing at around 4 am on the morning of 25 April, followed by the Australian and New Zealand Division several hours later. Soon after the beachhead was secured but still under considerable enemy fire, the ‘Anglo Indian’ drew close to the shore and started to cross-load Ammunition and other Ordnance Stores for transfer to an Ordnance dump established at the southern end of the beach.  Lt Col J.G Austin,[40] the 1st Australian Division DADOS, supervised the unloading of the lighters into the Ordnance dump and established forward ammunition dumps close to the front lines.[41]

ANZAC Cove

Supplies on the beach at ANZAC Cove 1915. Athol Williams Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library

As DADOS of the Australian & New Zealand Division, Beck landed with Godley’s Headquarters at ANZAC Cove at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.[42] Lieutenant Colonel Fenwick, ADMS, another New Zealander, was part of the Headquarters landing party describes the events on that day: [43]

we were all ready to land but were kept waiting and waiting until about 9.00 a.m. Some barges were moored alongside and a string of boats outside of these on the starboard side. Colonels Braithwaite, Chaytor and Manders, Major Hughes and Captain Beck and I got into the first boat. We were frightfully hampered by our kit – overcoat, revolver, glasses, map case, haversack, three days rations, firewood, Red Cross satchel, water bottle – like elephants. It was a certainty that we would drown if we got sunk. After waiting, a steam picket boat came along in charge of a very fat rosy midshipman. He took our string of boats in tow, and we were off. Our boat grounded about 50 feet from the shore and we all hopped out. Of course, I fell into a hole up to my neck. I could hardly struggle ashore and when I did the first thing I saw was Beck sitting on a stone, roaring with laughter at us. Billy Beck was the first New Zealander of Godley’s force (New Zealanders were serving in the Australian Division) to get onto Gallipoli”.

The landings were not as successful as planned with the Ottoman troops providing a more robust defence than expected; the campaign soon developed into stalemated trench warfare. By July the Island of lemmos 40 miles from the peninsula had become the logistics hub supporting the campaign.  The Ordnance command structure underwent a shakeup, the DOS for the entire campaign was Colonel Perry of the AOD, ADOS’s were made responsible for Ordnance support in the individual Corps areas of Helles and ANZAC Cove, Lt Col Austin assumed the position of the ANZAC Corps ADOS. The much larger “SS Minnetonka” was charted to act as depot ship, making regular round trips from Lemmos, Helles and ANZAC. The “‘Umsinga’ and ‘Anglo Indian’ continue to support their respective areas as ammunition tenders.

NZ ordnance depot_zpszcwmk2tk

Ordnance Depot Shrapnel Gully, Gallipoli. Alexander Turnbull Libary

Beck remained as the DADOS of the Australian & New Zealand Division withStaff Sergeant Major Elliot Purdom, Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant of the Auckland Mounted Rifles transferred into the division headquarters to be his assistant. For the next three months, Purdom would assist Beck with the strenuous work of landing and organising stores and managing the depot staff.  It would appear that he was also a bit of a character and The Hawera & Normanby Star, 24 June 1916 had this to say about Captain Beck’s service at Gallipoli:[44]

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in Egypt, with reinforcements arriving from New Zealand, King remained fully occupied at the Zeitoun Ordnance Depot. Ensuring new drafts of troops were brought up to scale and troops departing for ANZAC cove were fully equipped, on 2 May, King received additional assistance in the form of Trooper Reginald Pike. Pike 39 years old and a veteran of the Boer war was promoted to Temporary Sergeant and appointed as Ordnance Clerk. Pike would remain with Ordnance for the duration of the war.[45]

By mid-July illness was taking its toll on Beck and Purdom and during August both men were transferred to the hospital in Alexandria, after some time in Alexandra, both would be invalided back to New Zealand.[46]  Levien embarked for the Dardanelles on 2 August to replace Beck as DADOS, with King taking over the management of the Alexandra Depot on 12 August. At ANZAC Cove Private Arthur Gilmour transferred into the NZAOC as acting Sergeant on 24 August.[47]

On 6 October Levien and King, both received promotions to Lieutenant[48]. King took over as DADOS of the Division and Levien was appointed the Chief Ordnance Officer at Sarpi camp, with responsibility for re-equipping the depleted Australian & New Zealand Division. Having been in action since April, the Division required some rest and reorganisation. From mid-September 1915, most of the depleted division withdrew to the Island of Lemnos. Spending seven weeks at Sarpi Camp, the Division returned to the Gallipoli peninsula in early November with King remaining as DADOS. November also saw the promotion of Acting Sergeant Gilmour to Sergeant.

By mid-October, it was apparent that the situation in the Dardanelles had become hopeless, with operations against the enemy reaching a stalemate and offensive options exhausted. After extensive planning, evacuation orders were issued on 22 November. Starting on 15 December, withdrawing under cover of darkness, the last troops departed ANZAC Cove and Suvla Bay by dawn 20 December, with the final evacuations of the French and British forces at Helles completed by 9 January.

Returning to Egypt the Australians and New Zealand Division regrouped, and with enough New Zealand reinforcements now available to form a third Brigade, the NZEF became a standalone New Zealand Division. The bulk of the Australian and New Zealand forces separated, but the Mounted Rifle Brigade joined with the Australians to establish the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division, which would remain in the Middle East for the remainder of the war. Elements of the New Zealand Division detached for operations against the Senussi in Western Egypt, returned to the Division in February and by March the New Zealand Division started to depart for France, joining the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front.

Herbert

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

From late 1915 the need for a more robust NZAOC was recognised, and expansion of the NZAOC as a unit of the NZEF began in December, and Private Frank Percy Hutton[49] and Sergeant Kenneth Bruce MacRae[50] transferred into the NZAOC. On 1 February 1916 Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert, who had previously served as Commanding Officer of the Pioneer Battalion was transferred into NZAOC and appointed New Zealand Division, DADOS and Officer Commanding of the NZEF NZAOC.[51]  Also on 1 January Staff Sergeant Geard who had been with Ordnance since December 1914 formally transferred into the NZAOC.[52]

The NZAOC would officially become a unit of the NZEF in February,[53]  with a commensurate influx of personnel transferred into the NZAOC, including;

  • 2nd Lieutenant Alfred James Bond,[54]
  • Company Sergeant Major William Henchcliffe Simmons,[55]
  • Company Sergeant Major William Hall Densby Coltman, promoted to Acting Warrant Officer Class One (Acting Sub-Conductor),[56]
  • Temp Sergeant Edward Cullen Little,[57]
  • Corporal John Goutenoire O’Brien,[58]
  • Corporal John Joseph Roberts
  • Private Clarence Adrian Seay, [59]
  • Sergeant Charles Ingram Gossage,[60]
  • Armourer Charles Alfred Oldbury.[61]

On 22 March Sergeant MacRae was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant

King and Levien would not travel with the Division to France. King was struck down with Enteric (typhoid) fever and would be invalided back to New Zealand on 10 May. King would remain in the Military, initially taking up a posting in the Defence Stores and transferring into the NZAOC on its formation in New Zealand in 1917. Levien oversaw the closing down of the Alexandra depot, disposing of the vast stockpile of stores that had accumulated over the year. Levien would embark for England in May 1916, taking up the post of NZEF Chief Ordnance Officer in the UK.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

Notes

[1] “Defence Forces of New Zealand Report by the Council of Defence and by the Inspector-General of the New Zealand Defence Forces for the Year 1907.,” Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representives  ( 1907).

[2] “Personal,” Otago Daily Times, Issue 13786  (1907).

[3] “Director of Ordnance Stores,” Dominion, Volume 9, Issue 2741 8 April  1916

[4] The Director of Stores title was changed to Director of Equipment and Stores early in 1911

[5] “H-19 Report on the  Defence Forces of New Zealand for the Period 28 June 1912 to 20 June 1913,” Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representives  (1913).

[6] “Territorials,” Evening Star, Issue 15018, 29 October 1912.

[7] “H-19 Report on the  Defence Forces of New Zealand for the Period 28 June 1912 to 20 June 1913.”

[8] “H-19 Report on the  Defence Forces of New Zealand Fir the Period 20 June 1913 to 25 June 1914,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representives  (1914).

[9] “Auckland Territorials,” New Zealand Herald, Volume LI, Issue 15594 28 April 1915.

[10] Ordnance Manual (War), War Office (London: His Majesties Printing Office, 1914), Appendix 1.

[11] Ibid., Page 3.

[12] Ibid., Page 4, Para 8.

[13] Rations, water, fuel, ammunition, and animal feed

[14] Ordnance Manual (War), Page 4, Para 9.

[15] P.H. Williams, Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War (History Press, 2018), Page 13.

[16] Ibid.

[17] ” Troopships; Embarkation Orders; Daily Field States; and a Large Chart of ‘New Zealand Expeditionary Forces – Personnel’ as at 1 June 1915),” Item ID R23486740, Archives New Zealand 1914-1915.

[18] “Main Expedition,” Evening Post, Volume LXXXVII, Issue 73, 23 September 1914.

[19] “Officers of Dominions Contingent,” Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8951, 24 September 1914.

[20] “Auckland Territorials.”

[21] “The Hautapu Camp,” Waikato Argus, Volume XXXV, Issue 5575, 4 April 1914.

[22] “Camp Preparations,” Evening Post, Volume LXXXVII, Issue 22 27 January  1914.

[23] “Norman Joseph Levien,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914-1924.

[24] “William Thomas Beck,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[25] the ‘Australasian Army Corps’. The designation; Australian and New Zealand Army Corps’ was soon adopted and abbreviated to ANZAC, but would not enter the common vernacular until after the Gallipoli landings.

[26] “Appendices to War Diaries, I – Lxii,” Item ID R23486739, Archives New Zealand 1914-1915.

[27] Arthur Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services (London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929), Page 211.

[28] “Norman Joseph Levien.”

[29] Geard would remain with Ordnance for the duration of the war “Walter John Geard “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[30] Gilmour would remain with Ordnance for the duration of the war “Arthur Gilmour “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[31] Worked At Alexandra Depot until returned to New Zealand in October 1915 “Gavin Hamilton,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[32] Promoted to Sergeant 18 Feb 16, returned to NZ Aug 1917 “Lewis Crozier,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[33] Transferred to NZASC October 1917 “Horace Frederick Lofts,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[34] Transferred to NZASC 25 Feb 1916 “Joseph Roland Henderson,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[35] John D Tilbrook, To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army (Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps Committee, 1989), Page 43.

[36] “Grants of Temporary Rank, Appointments and Promotion of Officers in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force,” New Zealand Gazette, No 81 8 July 1915.

[37] “Thomas Joseph King,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914-1946.

[38] Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services, Pages 221-23.

[39] Ibid., Page 222.

[40] Lt Col Austin was a British Army Ordnance Department officer on secondment to the Australian Army as DOS before the war and served with the AIF on Gallipoli as the DADOS 1st Australian Division.

[41] Tilbrook, To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army Page 45.

[42] Christopher Pugsley, Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story (Auckland [N.Z.]: Sceptre, 1990, 1990).

[43] 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).

[44] “Brave New Zealanders,” The Hawera and Normanby Star, Volume LXXI, Issue LXXI,, 24 June 1916.

[45] “Reginald Pike,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[46] “William Thomas Beck.”

[47] “Arthur Gilmour “.

[48] “Grants of Temporary Rank, Appointments and Promotion of Officers in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (Europe),” New Zealand Gazette, No 5, 20 January 1916.

[49] “Frank Percy Hutton,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[50] “Kenneth Bruce Macrae,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[51] “Alfred Henry Herbert “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[52] “Walter John Geard “.

[53] “Road to Promotion,” Evening Post, Volume XCI, Issue 29, 4 February 1916.

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

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

[56] “William Hall Densby Coltman “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[57] “Edward Cullen Little “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[58] “John Goutenoire O’Brien  “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[59] “Clarence Adrian Seay  “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[60] “Charles Ingram Gossage “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[61] “Charles Alfred Oldbury “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.