Military Stores Department in New Zealand 1857-1870

During the New Zealand Wars that fell between 1840 and 1870, responsibility for the provision of Logistical support to the Imperial Forces in New Zealand fell to two organisations; The Commissariat whose duty was to keep the soldier well fed and the Military Store Department (MSD) whose function was to keep the soldier well and comfortably clad and amply supplied with the munitions of war. The smaller of the two organisations the activities of the MSD have been overshadowed by the much larger and more well-known Commissariat. With its origins with the Board of Ordnance representatives sent from New South Wales to the colony of New Zealand in 1840, the MSD would provide what is now known as Ordnance support to the Imperial Forces until their departure in 1869 and once the final administrative clean-up had been completed the final representative of the MSD departed New Zealand in 1870. This article is not intended to be a detailed history of the Military Store Department, but an introduction of the organisation and its personnel and a point of reference for further research.

Board of Ordnance

The Arms of the Board of Ordnance. UK national archives

The origins of the MSD  lie with the Board of Ordnance, which under the Master General of the Ordnance existed between 1597 and 1855. The Master General of the Ordnance had a dual civilian and military role; the military function as commander of the Artillery and the Engineers, and a civil role, as head of the Ordnance Department, with responsibility for stores, lands, geographical and geological survey, defensive works, barracks, military hospitals, factories and contracts. During 1792 the Board of Ordnance established two distinct departments to support the Army; the “Storekeepers” and the “Ordnance Field Train, the officers of the latter were called Commissaries of Ordnance, and as such was employed during the period of the Crimean war.[1] The Board of Ordnance had due to the logistical failures of the Crimean war, was abolished in 1855 and its functions placed under the supervision of the War Office while reformation of the British Army’s administrative system took place. In 1857 the two services were amalgamated to form the MSD.[2]

The story of the MSD  in New Zealand begins in the Colony of New South Wales when in 1836 the Board of Ordnance established a presence in the Australian Colony. At the time the commissariat (part of the civil administration) was responsible for general supplies and storekeeping with the Brigade Major (Military) accountable for the guns and gunpowder. On 1 January 1836, these functions were transferred from the Commissariat to the Board of Ordnance (Ordnance Storekeeper) and the Office of the Colonial Storekeeper. Although there was a separation of duties between the Board of Ordnance and the Colonial Storekeeper both had responsibility for guns and gunpowder and shared premises and personnel.[3]  Located in George Street North, The Ordnance Storekeeper’s Department under the leadership of storekeeper Richard Rogers; included as his staff his assistant, Percival Wilkinson; and five clerks; John MacDonald, Richard Rogers, William Plummer, Joseph Osbertus Hamley, and Thomas Lawry.[4]

With the establishment of New Zealand as a dependency of New South Wales, the New Zealand colonial administration came from within the ranks of the New South Wales administration, including the Colonial Storekeeper. The Colonial Storekeepers office was included in the First wave of administrators to arrive with Governor William Hobson in January 1840.[5] Mr Charles Hook Gordon Logie of the Sydney based Colonial Storekeepers was appointed on 15 January 1840 to hold the appointment of Colonial Storekeeper in Hobsons administration.[6] The Colonial Storekeeper reported to the Colonial Secretary and was responsible for providing the local colonial militia with arms and accoutrements but had no responsibility for Imperial troops. Imperial troops in New Zealand were the responsibility of the Board of Ordnance. Stores and services provided to the Colonial Storekeeper from Board of Ordnance stocks were on a “repayment” basis, an arrangement that would remain in place until the withdrawal of Imperial troops in 1870.

In April 1840 a detachment of 30 rank and file of the 80th Regiment of the British Army arrived from Sydney for service in New Zealand on board HMS Buffalo.[7] Accompanying them was a representative of the Board of Ordnance to cater for their logistical needs, establishing an Imperial Ordnance presence that would remain in New Zealand until 1870.[8] Detachments of the 80th Regiment later deployed to Auckland where under the direction of George Graham of the Ordnance Department they undertook construction of Fort Britomart.[9]

As the strength of Imperial Forces increased and became more of a permanent feature of the early New Zealand colonial landscape, the Board of Ordnance extended its reach into New Zealand in 1846. Establishing offices in Auckland and Wellington with the responsibility for the construction and maintenance of barracks and ensuring the maintenance of Imperial military units in New Zealand with munitions and that they remained comfortably furnished with uniforms and necessities.[10]

The Auckland Office of Ordnance located in Princes Street, was under the management of Mr William Plummer,[11] with storage facilities divided between a bombproof magazine at the Mount Albert Barracks and an ordnance store at Fort Britomart.[12]

The Wellington Office of Ordnance, with Mr Joseph Osbertus Hamley as the Acting Ordnance Storekeeper had a magazine at Mount Cook and stone warehouse on Lambton Quay and later a warehouse in Farish Street.[13]

Farish Street

[Park, Robert] 1812-1870. Attributed works: [Sketches showing the damage to buildings sustained in the 1848 Wellington earthquake] 1848. Reference number: PUBL-0050-01. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image. The impact of the 1848 earthquake on rigid constructions of stone and brick may be seen from these sketches of that time.

The great earthquake of 1848 which changed the landscape of Wellington also severely damaged the ordnance stores located in the Manners/Farish Street area leading to the granting of 13 acres of land to the Board of Ordnance in what would become the military reserve of Mount Cook.[14]  After the earthquake, Hamley set up an office in Willis Street and continued to use the Farish Street warehouse until 1855 when advertised as the “largest and most capacious in Wellington, and being in the centre of the business part of the town” advertised the Farish Street premises for sale.[15]

Plan of Mount Cook Barracks, as planned c.1845 and largely as built by 1852.

In January 1852 it was announced that the Master General of Ordnance had made the following promotions and appointments in the Ordnance Department, In New Zealand; [16]

  • William Plummer, Esq, to be Deputy Ordnance Storekeeper and Barrack Master at Auckland; and
  • Joseph Osbertus Hamley, Esq, to be Deputy Ordnance Storekeeper and Barrack Master at Wellington.

On 4  March 1859, at the age of 39 years, Plummer passed away, resulting in Hamley moving from Wellington and assumed charge of all Ordnance operations in New Zealand.[17]

Following the panic of the Crimean war, and the abolishment of the Board of Ordnance, the Board’s civil officers, were absorbed into a new organisation called the MSD, under the title of Military Store Officers, the gradings been:[18]

  • Principal Military Storekeeper and Military Storekeeper, both ranking as Lieutenant Colonel,
  • Deputy Military Storekeeper ranked as Major, and
  • Assistant ranked as Captain.

The formation of the MSD was one of many organisational reforms were undertaken to modernise and make the administration of the army more effective.[19] The changes soon filtered through to the colonies and the existing Ordnance organisations adapted to the new structures accordingly. Further changes occurred on 23 April and 12 June 1861 with the issuing of two Royal Warrants reorganising the MSD and improving the position of the officers. The Royal Warrants granted commissions to the officers of the MSD, [20]  organised into five grades:[21]

  • Principal Superintendent of Stores, ranked as Colonel,
  • Superintendent of Stores; ranked as Lieutenant Colonel,
  • Deputy Superintendent of Stores; ranked as Major,
  • Assistant Superintendent of Stores; ranked as Captain,
  • Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Stores; ranked as Lieutenant.

After some initial conflict in the mid-1840’s New Zealand settled into a period of relative peace, with underlying tensions between Maori and the settlers remaining, resulting in conflict erupting in the Taranaki in 1860. The dispute led to an escalation of Imperial troop levels so that by Mach 1864 the strength of Colonial and Imperial forces in New Zealand had grown from a few hundred in the 1840’s to a force of ab0ut 14000, including; [22][23]

  • ten Infantry Regiments,
  • two Batteries of Field Artillery,
  • Royal Engineers,
  • Military Train,
  • Commissariat Transport Corps,
  • Military Stores Department,
  • Purveyors Department,
  • Colonial Defence Force
    • Cavalry
    • Forest Rangers
  • Auckland Militia
  • Waikato Militia

Expanding from 1860 the New Zealand branch of the MSD  included the following staff;[24]

  • Assistant Superintendent of Stores and Barrack master – Major Joseph Osbertus
    • Served in New Zealand from 1847 until 1870 and retired after more than forty-two years of service as Commissary General with the honorary rank of Major General.[25]

      Joseph Osbertus Hamley

      Joseph Osbertus Hamley, circa 1860s. Photographer unidentified. Alexander Turnbull Library Reference Number: PA1-q-250-25-1 http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=27060

  • Assistant Superintendent of Stores – A.C. Macduff, Esq,
    • Second in command of the department who volunteered his services for New Zealand at the beginning of the war. Served from February 1861 until May 1866
  • Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Stores – J. Ramsford, Esq,
  • Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Stores – E. P. Holden, Esq
  • Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Stores – William Marvin,
    • In 1864 was employed in the demands office, responsible for maintaining the proper proportion of stores to meet the requirements of the army, either by obtaining the stores from England or purchasing them in the local market. Left the department in 1866 and returned to the UK.[26][27]
  • Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Stores – R. Tribe
    • Departed Chatham to take charge of the military stores outward April 1861.[28]
  • Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Stores – W D. Haldane,
    • Arrived March 1864.[29]
    • Completed service with the department in 1868,[30]
  • Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Stores -Timbell
    • Arrived March 1864.[31]
  • Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Stores -White
    • Arrived March 1864.[32]
  • Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Stores – J. F. Beatson
    • completed service with the department in 1868,[33]
  • Deputy Assistant Superintendent of Stores – W. Le Gyt
    • In charge Whanganui Depot[34]
  • Mr Henry Potter,
    • in charge of Issues, joined the department from Tasmania at the beginning of the war, completed service with the department in 1867.[35]
  • Mr Field,
    • In control of the finance department.
  • Mr Gorrio,
    • Department ledger keeper
  • Sergeant Alexander Stewart, Royal Artillery,
    • In charge of the powder magazine at Albert Barracks from 1961 to 1964
  • Armourer Sergeant John Smith,
    • Armourer MSD at Britomart Barracks.
  • Edward Smith.[36]
    • Armourer MSD at Britomart Barracks 1863
  • David Evitt [37]
    • Gunsmith, MSD at Britomart Barracks 1863

Store conductors

Store Conductors were Non-Commissioned Officers selected from the Royal Artillery and units of the line based on their superior intelligence and exemplary conduct. [38] Reinforcing their knowledge of stores duties and procedures by attending a six-week course at the Tower and Woolwich Arsenal prepared and confirmed their appointment as Stores Conductors.[39] Known Stores Conductors in New Zealand were;[40]

  • 3242 Sergeant -Master Gunner John Bates, Royal Artillery, 5 Mar 1861 – 20 Jun 1866, Served: Waitara, Te Arei Pa and Auckland,
  • 3153 Sergeant 3rd Class Benjamin Evans, Royal Artillery, 1861 – 1866, Transferred to MSSC 29 Jun 68
  • 687 Sergeant Caleb Bell, Royal Artillery, 1861 – 1866,
  • 2787 Sergeant John Brown, Royal Artillery,1 Aug 1861 – 14-Nov-66,
  • 1439 Sergeant William Brunkard, Royal Artillery, 1861 – 1866,
  • 3074 Sergeant Hugh Carlin, Royal Artillery, 5 Mar 1864 – 1866, Served Waikato and Wanganui,
  • 1080 Sergeant Archie Hood, Royal Artillery, 1861 – 1866, Served Taranaki,
  • 1313 Sergeant Master Gunner Walter Kelsall, Royal Artillery, 1861 – 1866, Served Auckland and Shepard Bush,18th Regt

From 1857 the military establishment of the MSD was only officers, with civilians and soldiers seconded from other Corps or Regiments as required. The formation of a Military Store Staff Corps as an unformed branch of the British military had been under discussion for some time, with Major Hamley strongly recommending the creation of such as Corps in 1864.[41] Established by royal warrant in 1865 the Military Store Staff Corps created an establishment of soldiers to complement the officers of the MSD.[42] Given that by the time of the granting of the royal warrant, and the establishment of the Military Stores Staff Corps in 1866,[43] the Imperial forces in New Zealand were starting to wind down operations and depart New Zealand; it is currently unknown if Major Hamley was able to have his staff transferred to the Military Stores Staff Corps.

ourheritagemediaoriginalfc5f46c2afbfb5e53b76cef5c40974d2

Williams, E. A. (Edward Arthur), 1824-1898, “Fort Britomart. Auckland.,” ourheritage.ac.nz | OUR Heritage, accessed July 28, 2018, http://www.otago.ourheritage.ac.nz/items/show/4884.

Commensurate with the growth of the Imperial Forces, The MSD, alongside the much larger Commissariat [44] [45] had kept pace and by 1864 Fort Britomart and Albert Barracks in Auckland had become the central storage and distribution depot (Logistic Hub in modern terms) for all the Imperial troops stationed throughout New Zealand.[46] The MSD  infrastructure in Fort Britomart consisted of the following; [47]

Fort Britomart 1860s

A Scene at Fort Britomart, Auckland, 1860s. Shows soldiers from the Imperial; the Sir George Grey Special Collections in the Auckland City Library

  • No 1 Store – A large 65ft x 60ft building with an estimated storage capacity of 1000 Utilised at the “Receiving Store,” it is the store that all inwards goods are received, sorted and classified before distribution to customer units or placed into storage into other stores for later use.
  • No 2 Store – A bulk store for all manner of goods from scythes to swords, including in-numerable bales of grey blankets
  • No 3 Store – Clothing and necessities store for regimental for the 13 different corps in the colony. At the time uniforms were provided to men at one-third of the cost for which they were available from civilian vendors.
  • No 4 Store – Hospital stores and manner of necessaries, comforts or luxuries for sick soldiers.
  • No 5 Store – The delivery store where goods as pocked and addressed for the delivery to customers. Also serving as a store for trophy weapons captured during the war. Captured weapons were all carefully labelled, waiting to be claimed by the men who secured them when the war was over.
  • No 6 Store – Armoury for artillery stores and small arms such as rifles.
  • No 7 Store – Used for artillery fittings for 6Lb and 12Lb Armstrong batteries of the Imperial forces.
  • No 8 Store – The packing store, where tradesmen such as carpenters and painters prepare and pack goods for delivery.
  • No 9 Store – Reception store for camp equipage returned from regiments, and for its inspection and refurbishment to make it ready for reissue. This store also included an armourers workshop responsible for the repair and cleaning of rifles, swords, and other warlike implements. This building also included quarters for the twenty-five men of the MSD staff.
  • Magazines – Located in Albert Barracks and consisting of several buildings surrounded by a stone wall, the magazines held the entire supply of ammunition for the army in New Zealand. Stocks were held as either prepared cartridges (four and a half million rounds in March 1864) or as components such as shot and powder. Constructed of arched brick the magazines resembled strong rooms with the ammunition packed in cases and barrels on racks on each side with a narrow passage between the stock. Designed to be intrinsically safe within the walls of the magazine, with all nails and tools were made from copper so that every precaution was taken to prevent sparks and explosions. Magazine keepers were hand-picked, and the slightest sign of unsteadiness or neglect of duty resulted in instant dismissal.

Fort Britomart Map

MSD operations were not only restricted to Auckland but across the country were ever Imperial troops were serving. Embedded in Regiments, Stores Conductors provided the link between Regimental Quartermasters and the Store Department.  Hamley and his deputy Macduff would spend a considerable time in the field supervising stores distribution. An example being in March 1864 when McDuff personally oversaw the distribution of blankets, clothing and necessities to troops and Te Awamutu during the Waikato campaign.[48] During the Taranaki Campain, the strength of the MSD in New Plymouth in June 1863 was 1 Staff and 3 Sergeants.[49]

By 1866 the conflict in New Zealand had reached a stage where colonial forces were conducting the bulk of military operations, resulting in a drawdown and withdrawal of Imperial units. As the Imperial commitment decreased with the departure of five Imperial Regiments in 1866, the MSD also had to reduce and optimise its operations. The reduction of troops necessitated the closing of its provincial Depots such as the Depot in Whanganui in March of 1867, and its stores returned to Auckland.[50] [51] With the departure of four more regiments in 1867, the closure of the Tauranga Depot soon followed.[52]  The final Imperial Regiment would depart New Zealand in February 1869.[53] [54]

The dismantling of Fort Britomart had commenced in January 1969, with all the military content of Fort Britomart and Albert Barracks belonging to the Imperial Government, such as guns, ammunition and stores shipped to the United Kingdom on the SS Himalaya. [55] With the withdrawal of Imperial Forces completed by July 1870,[56] and the full responsibility for defence matters handed over to the New Zealand Colonial Defence Force.[57] Defence store-keeping responsibility was handed over to the Colony’s Defence Stores under the control of the Colonial Storekeeper, Captain John Mitchell.[58] [59]  Transfers of equipment on a cost recovery basis to the New Zealand Forces was facilitated, with the surplus was either disposed of by tender or redistributed around the empire. [60] [61]

Sam Stuart 1869

1869, an artists impression of Fort Britomart, Auckland City Library special collection

After 32 years of Colonial service Hamley, the last remaining Imperial Officer in New Zealand returned to England,[62] where he continued to be employed in Ordnance related services, serving in Ireland, Chatham. The War Office, Dover, and Aldershot retiring with the honorary rank of Major General.

In 1870 the Military Store Department, the Commissariat and the Transport Department were amalgamated into one organisation called the Control Department. A disastrous and ill thought out experiment in combined logistics, the amalgamation was reversed in 1876 with the MSD renamed the Ordnance Store Department, which in turn would after several name changes became the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in 1918.[63]

In conclusion, the MSD served with distinction during the New Zealand wars. The story of the MSD is the story of Major Joseph Osbertus Hamley. Hamley progressed through the ranks from being an 18-year-old in the Ordnance Department in Sydney to Deputy Ordnance Storekeeper in Wellington in 1847 and then the head of the MSD during the crucial war years of the 1860’s. Newspaper articles of the period are full of praise for Hamley and his skilful leadership of his department and few if any articles find any fault with him. This article provides an introduction into Hamleys MSD, which as an organisation unfairly overshadowed by the much larger and more well-known Commissariat is deserving of having its story told and further research is required to understand the full story of this exceptional man and the organisation he managed.

© Robert McKie, 2018

Notes

[1] Robert Curran, “Ordnance Stores and the Ordnance Storekeeper in the Colony of New South Wales,”  http://users.tpg.com.au/borclaud/ranad/ordnance_storekeeper.html#imp.

[2] A.H. Fernyhough, History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1920-1945 (Royal Army Ordnance Corps, 1958), IX.

[3] Curran, “Ordnance Stores and the Ordnance Storekeeper in the Colony of New South Wales”.

[4] ” Old Sydney,” Truth (Sydney, NSW : 1894 – 1954), 4 August 1912.

[5] “Government Notice, Sydney Herald (Nsw: 1831 – 1842), 03 July 1840 “.

[6] “Letter from Charles Logie Colonial Storekeeper, Bay of Islands to Willoughby Shortland, Esquire, Acting Colonial Secretary Item Id R23629593, Record No 1840/76 (Wellington: Archives New Zealand),”  (1840).

[7] MNZM  Gerald J Ellott, “British Regiments in New Zealand 1840-1847,”  http://ellott-postalhistorian.com/articles/80th-96th-99th-Regiments.pdf.

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

[9] Una Platts, The Lively Capital, Auckland 1840-1865 (Christchurch: Avon Fine Prints, 1971), Non-fiction, 24.

[10] 158Adam Davis, “The Imperial Garrison in New Zealand, 1840-1870 with Particular Reference to Auckland” (University of Bedfordshire, 2004).

[11] , New Zealander,  Volume 1, Issue 41, 14 March 1846.

[12] “Communication with the Interior “, New Zealander, Volume 2, Issue 69, 26 September 1846.

[13] , Wellington Independent, Volume II, Issue 149 1847.

[14] “Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, Law and Order and the Military,”  https://mch.govt.nz/pukeahu/park/pukeahu-history-7.

[15] “Page 8 Advertisements Column 2,” Lyttelton Times, Volume V, Issue 259,, 25 April 1855.

[16] , New Zealand Spectator and Cooks Strait Guardian, Volume VIII, Issue 772, 25 December 1852

[17] “Projected Departure of Mr Hamley,” Wellington Independent, Volume XXV, Issue 3017, 9 July 1870.

[18] Arthur Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services (London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929), 149.

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

[20] Fernyhough, History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1920-1945, ix.

[21] Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services, 41.

[22] James Belich, The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict (Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press, 2015 This edition 2015, 2015), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 125-26.

[23] Davis, “The Imperial Garrison in New Zealand, 1840-1870 with Particular Reference to Auckland,” 79.

[24] “Matters Military “, New Zealand Herald, Volume I, Issue 247, 27 August 1864.

[25] Una Platts, Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists: A Guide & Handbook (Christchurch, N.Z.: Avon Fine Prints, 1980, 1980), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Collective biography.

[26] , The Daily Southern Cross.Volume XXII, Issue 2851,, 14 September 1866.

[27] “Military Items,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXII, Issue 3101, 25 June 1867.

[28] “English Shipping,” Wellington Independent Volume XVI, Issue 1518, 30 April 1861.

[29] “Naval and Military Extracts,” Colonist, Volume VII, Issue 665, 11 March 1864.

[30] “Military Items,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXIV, Issue 3390, 28 May 1968.

[31] “Naval and Military Extracts.”

[32] Ibid.

[33] “Military Intelligence,” Taranaki Herald, Volume XVI, Issue 816, 14 March 1868.

[34] “Military Movements,” New Zealand Herald, Volume II, Issue 404, 28 February 1865.

[35] “Military Items.”

[36] “Police Court,” New Zealander, Volume XIX, Issue 1897, 18 June 1863.

[37] Ibid.

[38] “Matters Military “.

[39] Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, 38.

[40] Terry Shattock, “Unpublished Work on New Zealand War Medals,” (2018).

[41] “Matters Military “, New Zealand Herald, Vol 1 Issue247, 27 August 1864.

[42] Fernyhough, History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1920-1945, ix.

[43] “The New Military Store Staff Corps,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXII, Issue 2713, 28 March 1866.

[44] Julia Millen, Salute to Service: A History of the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport and Its Predecessors, 1860-1996 (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1997, 1997), Bibliographies Non-fiction, 24-25.

[45] “The Role of the Commissariat During the Waikato Campaign, 1863 – 1864,” http://www.soldiersofempire.nz/the-role-of-the-commissariat-during-the-Waikato-campaign-1863—1864.html.

[46] Davis, “The Imperial Garrison in New Zealand, 1840-1870 with Particular Reference to Auckland,” 131.

[47] “Fort Britomart,” New Zealand Spectator and Cook’s Strait Guardian, Volum XIX, Issue 1942, 12 March 1864.

[48] “Te Awamutu,” New Zealand Herald, Volume I, Issue 124, 6 April 1864

[49] “Taranaki. The Kaitake Pa Shelled, Abandonment of Tataraimaka, Withdrawal of the Troops (from Our Special Correspondent) New Plymouth June 29,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XIX, Issue 1885, 1 August 1863.

[50] “Wanganui,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXIII, Issue 3003, 11 March 1867.

[51]  The Whanganui Depot had been established by Assistant Superintendent of Stores A.C. Macduff in 1864.   , New Zealand Herald, Volume II, Issue 344, 19 December 1864.

[52] “Page 2 Advertisements Column 5,” New Zealand Herald, Volume IV, Issue 1079, 30 April 1867.

[53] from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand ‘BRITISH TROOPS IN NEW ZEALAND’, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966., Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, and URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/1966/british-troops-in-new-zealand (accessed 27 Jul 2018).

[54] “The Troops and the Home Government,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXV, Issue 3643, 23 March 1869.

[55] “Dismantling of Fort Britomart,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXV, Issue 3616, 19 February 1869.

[56] “Projected Departure of Mr Hamley,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXVI, Issue 4007, 25 June 1870.

[57] Garry Clayton, The New Zealand Army : A History from the 1840’s to the 1990’s ([Wellington, N.Z.] : New Zealand Army, 1990, 1990), Non-fiction, 26.

[58] “Militia and Volunteer Appointments,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume 2075, Issue XX, 14 March 1864 1864.

[59] Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, 49.

[60] “Page 1 Advertisements Column 5,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXV, Issue 3596, 27 January 1869.

[61] “The Daily Southern Cross,” Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXV, Issue 3595, 26 January 1869.

[62] “Projected Departure of Mr Hamley.”

[63] Fernyhough, A Short History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (First Edition) 16-17.

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New Zealand Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London

The New Zealand Ordnance Corps in the course of its 80-year history established and maintained Ordnance Depots in many unique locations. The Base Ordnance Depot in Trentham became acknowledged as the home of the Corps; the New Zealand Advance Ordnance Depot in Singapore the most exotic, and all Corps members have fond memories of the depots in Ngaruawahia, Waiouru, Linton and Burnham. This article will examine one of the least known of New Zealand’s Ordnance Depots, the First World War Farringdon Road Depot.

The NZEF of the 1914-1919 war was organised and equipped in such a way so that when mobilised it could comfortably fit into the British Imperial Army alongside British, Australian, Canadian and other troops from throughout the British Empire. In the early days of the war Ordnance support was provided by British AOC[1] Divisional/Corps depots, and although satisfactory the need for the NZEF to have an internal Ordnance organisation to cater for New Zealand specific items was recognised. Subsequently, regulations formally announcing the establishment of the NZAOC[2], as a unit of NZEF[3] were published in February 1916[4]. Moving with the NZEF to Europe the NZAOC consisted of three distinct elements;

  • NZAOC Administrative staff based at the NZEF headquarters at Bloomsbury Square, London consisting of
    • the NZEF Assistant ADOS[5], who was also the Officer Commanding NZEF Ordnance Corps.
    • Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom.
    • A staff of clerks, storekeepers and
  • The New Zealand Division DADOS[6] and Staff, including personnel attached to Brigades.
  • NZAOC Staff of the ANZAC Mounted Brigade in Palestine.

As the NZEF NZAOC staff in the United Kingdom became established, taking under its wing support responsibility for the numerous the New New Zealand Camps, Hospitals and convalescent facilities dispersed throughout the United Kingdom. To centralise and manage Ordnance support it became necessary to establish a New Zealand Ordnance Depot to support all New Zealand units based in the United Kingdom.

 

NZEF in UK

‘NZEF in England 1916-19 map’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/nzef-england-1916-19-map, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 8-Dec-2016

 

What was required was a depot in a central location, near the NZEF Headquarters and with road and railway access to the New Zealand Camps and establishments and the ability to quickly link into the AOC logistic infrastructure and RAOC depots such as;

On the 25th of October 1916, the Officer Commanding, London District Authorised the NZEF, under the Defence of the Realm Act to take over the premises of Mr H Fisher and Mr J Fisher at 30 and 32 Farringdon Road[7] as an Ordnance Store. Located 1.5km from the NZEF Headquarters, the NZ Ordnance Depot was well situated on one of the leading north/south roads through London, with easy access to other arterial routes. Adjacent to the Metropolitan Railway, the Ordnance depot had easy access to Farringdon Passenger station and the Metropolitan Railway Goods Station[8]. The intent was to occupy the building from the 7th of November 1916, but due to issues securing the key and having the utilities such as water and electricity connected, final occupation did not occur until the 27th of November. Records indicate the Depot started operations on the 1st of December 1916.

NOTE:  Originally numbered as part of Farringdon Road, Nos 30 and 32 were renamed as  30 Farringdon Lane in 1979.

Faddingdon

Faddingdon 3D

New Zealand Ordnance Depot, 30-32 Farrington Road, London. Map data ©2018 Google, Imagery ©2018 Google

Overall command of the Depot rested with the Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom, Captain (later Major) Norman Levien. The Officer in charge of the Depot for most of its existence was Warrant Officer Class One (Conductor), Arthur Gilmore[9]. Posted to the Depot in November 1916 Conductor Gilmore would, apart from a six-month secondment to the Ordnance Depot at Sling Camp and three months sick leave due to Influenza would remain at the Depot until its closure in late1919[10]. Conductor Gilmore was promoted to Second Lieutenant on the 1st of February 1919.

The bulk of the stocks held by the depot consisted of clothing and necessaries of all descriptions. Clothing was a mixture of;

  • New items purchased from the RACD[11] at Pimlico,
  • New items purchased for civilian manufactures, often at a cheaper rate than from the RACD, In the year up to December 1917 total savings of £31532.7.10(approximately 2018 NZD$3,763,454.27) were made by establishing contracts for clothing with civilian suppliers rather than purchasing from the RACD.
  • Cleaned and repaired items from Salvage stocks,

As members of New Zealand Division started leave rotations to the United Kingdom from the front lines in Belgium and France, the condition of their clothing was found to be unsatisfactory. Under the instructions of the NZ General Officer Commanding, further accommodation for the Depot was secured for the reception of troops from the front on leave. This facility allowed troops as they arrived from the front, to rid themselves of their dirty, often vermin-infested uniforms, have a hot bath and receive a fresh issue of underwear and uniforms. As troops arrived on leave with their spare kit, ammunition, arms and equipment, A secure kit store was available for the holding of these items. As this reception store was developed, the New Zealand Soldiers Club and the New Zealand War Contingent Association set up facilities to provide hot drinks and the option to receive instruction on the use of prophylactic outfits[12].

20180426_220053-999293972

 

Thye following items are an example of the types and quantities of the stores received by the Farringdon Road Depot over the Period 1 December 1916 to 1 August 1919;

stock

 

With the Armistice in November 1918, the activities of the depot started to wind down. Undergoing a full audit in July 1919, outstanding orders cancelled, stocks either returned to New Zealand, returned to RAOC Depots for credits, sold or destroyed with the depot closed by November 1919 ending an early chapter of the New Zealand Ordnance story.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

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New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Badge, 1916-1919. Robert McKie Collection

Notes

[1] Army Ordnance Corps

[2] New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps

[3] New Zealand Expeditionary Force

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

[5] Assistant Director of Ordnance Service

[6] Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Service

[7] Now Farrington Lane  “Insurance Plan of London Vol. Vi: Sheet 128,” ed. British Library (Chas E Goad Limited, 1886).

[8] “”Farringdon Road,” in Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell, Ed. Philip Temple (London: London County Council, 2008), 358-384. British History Online, Accessed April 25, 2018, Http://Www.British-History.Ac.Uk/Survey-London/Vol46/Pp358-384..”

[9] “Personnel Records “Arthur Gilmore”,”  (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, Archive Reference AABK 18805 W5568 0135616).

[10] Arthur Gilmore, “Audit Farringdon Road Ordnance Stores for Period Ended 17th July 1919,” (Wellington: Archives New Zealand  Record Group WA1 Record No 2/13, 1919).

[11] The Royal Army Clothing Depot, Pimlico, was the main supplier of Uniforms for the British Army from 1855 until 1932.

[12] Captian Norman Levein, “Report of Ordnance Officer on Administration of Ordnance Department for 1917,” (Wellington: Archives New Zealand Record Group WA1 Record No 2/13, 1918).

 


NZEF NZAOC Conductors 1916 to 1920

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Warrant Officer Class One, Conductor Badge 1915-1918. Robert McKie Collection

The Honourable and Ancient Appointment of Conductor has origins dating back to 1327 where they are mentioned in the Statute of Westminister as the men whose job it was to conduct soldiers to places of assembly.  The “Conductor of Ordnance” is also mentioned in the records of the siege of Boulogne in 1544. Surviving as an appointment directly related to the handling of stores in the British army until the late 19th century, the appointment was formalised by Royal Warrant on 11 January 1879 which established conductors of supplies (in the Army Service Corps) and conductors of stores (in the Ordnance Stores Branch) as warrant officers, ranking above all non-commissioned officers.

The need for a New Zealand Ordnance Corps had been discussed since the turn of the century so when war came in 1914 New Zealand was without an Ordnance Corps. Once the lead elements of the NZEF disembarked and established itself in Egypt, a New Zealand Ordnance Organisation was hastily created from scratch. Growing from the New Zealand DADOS staff the embryotic New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) was created as an NZEF unit during 1915 and was formally established as a unit of the NZEF establishment in January 1916.

Following the British model, the NZAOC included Warrant Officers Class One appointed as Conductors and Sub-Conductors as part of its organisational structure. Drawn from across the units of the NZEF and with an average age of 23, many of the men who were NZAOC Conductors had seen service at Gallipoli during the Dardanelles Campaign. Learning the hard lessons because of the administrative failures during that campaign, there is little doubt that these men understood the importance of their appointments in assuring that Ordnance stores were sourced and pushed directly forward to the frontline troops of the NZ Divison.

The wide recognition in many historical sources that the New Zealand division was one of the best organised, trained and equipped Divisions in the British Army during the war in Europe is in part due to the contribution of the NZAOC and its conductors, with at least 4 four Conductors awarded Meterous Service Medals for their work.

 

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Warrant Officer Class One, Sub-Conductor Badge. 1915-1919 Robert McKie Collection

 

William Coltman

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12/1025 Acting Sub-Conductor William Hall Densby Coltman, NZAOC. Auckland Weekly News/Public Domain

The first New Zealander to hold a Conductor appointment was Company Sergeant Major William Coltman. Enlisting into the Auckland Infantry Regiments in Sept 1914, Coltman served in the Dardanelles where he was injured. Transferring into the NZAOC in February 1916 as a Company Sergeant Major with the appointment of Acting Sub-Conductor. Coltman remained in this role with the NZAOC until March 1917 when he was commisioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and spent the rest of the war as an Infantry Quartermaster officer in the New Zealand Machine Gun Corps.

Charles Gossage

20171005_164430Charles Gossage enlisted in the Otago Mounted Rifles in September 1914. Serving in the Dardanelles, Gossage transferred into the NZAOC in February 1916. On the 24th of July 1916 with the rank of Company Sergeant Major,  Gossage was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 with the Appointment of Conductor.  Gossage would hold this appointment until the 24th of Jan 1917 when he was commisioned as a Lieutenant. Gossage would remain on the New Zealand Division DADOS staff, finishing the war as a Major and NZ Div DADOS. Awarded the OBE, Gossage would continue to serve in the Home Service NZAOC as an Accounting Officer until December 1922.

Arthur Gilmore

Arthur Gilmore enlisted in the Auckland Infantry Regiment in September 1914. Serving as part of the DADOS Staff at Gallipoli. Gilmore was formally placed on the strength of the NZAOC on the 8th of April 1916.  In Dec 1916 Sergeant Arthur Gilmore was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Conductor. Gilmore would remain as a Conductor in the NZEF until Feb 1919 when he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. For his services as a Conductor, he was awarded the MSM.

Walter Geard

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Lieutenant Geard, NZAOC

Walter Geard enlisted in the Auckland Infantry Regiment in August 1914. Seeing Service in the Dardanelles. Staff Sergeant Geard was attached to theNew Zealand Mounted Brigade Headquarters for Ordnance duties where he was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Conductor on 1 Jan 1917. Geard’s tenure as a Conductor was short as he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 20 June 1917. Transferred from Egypt to France, Geard spent the rest of the war on the staff of the NZ Division DADOS, demobilising as a Lieutenant in 1919.

William Simmons

 William Henchcliffe Simmons was a railway clerk who enlisted in D Battery of the New Zealand Field Artillery in August 1914. Seven days later Quartermaster Sergeant Simmons embarked as part of the NZEF Samoa Advance Force. Returning to New Zealand in March 1915, Quartermaster Sergeant Simmons was transferred into the 1st Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade which was then training a Trentham Camp. In October 1915 Quartermaster Sergeant Simmons deployed with the  1st Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade to Egypt. Disembarking in Egypt in November 1915 Quartermaster Sergeant Simmons was attached to Brigade Headquarters as with acting rank of Warrant Officer as the clerk NZAOC.  Transferring into the NZAOC on the 26th of February 1916 with the rank of Company Sergent Major. Promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Conductor on the 1st of January 1917. Simmons tenure as a Conductor was short as he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in June 1917. Simmions remained in the NZAOC filling various staff roles in France and England for the duration of the war, finally being appointed Honorary Capitan in Feb 1920 when he was appointed as the Officer in Charge of NZ Ordnance in England, a post he held until October 1920 when he was demobilised. For his services as a Conductor, Simmons was awarded the MSM.

Clarance Seay

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6/3459 Warrant Officer Class 1 (Conductor) Clarence Adrian Seay, MSM. NZAOC Archives New Zealand/Public Domain

Clarance Seay was a farm cadet who enlisted in C Company on the 8th Reinforcements on the 20th of August 1915. Arriving at the New Zealand Base depot in Egypt in November 1915, Seay was transferred into the NZAOC in February 1916. With the pending promotion of Conductor Simmons, Sergeant Seay was promoted to Temporary Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of acting Sub-Conductor on the 23 Mar 1917. Attaining substantive rank as a Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Sub-Conductor on 28 April 1917. Seay was promoted to full Conductor on the 22nd of September 1917. Seay remained with the NZ Division for the remainder of the war. In May 1918 Seay suffered a personal loss when his younger brother Gordon Seay, was killed in action. Sadly died of Influenza on the 20th of February 1919 in Cologne, Germany. Intered in the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Cologne. Based on his performance Seay was awarded the MSM

“For long and valuable service. This NCO has done continuous good work and has performed his duties in a most excellent manner. As Senior Warrant Officer, with the New Zealand Ordnance Department, his work has been of a most arduous character and has frequently involved him in situations which have called for a display of energy and initiative. In an advance the necessity of clean clothing and socks etc., for the fighting troops is sometimes very acute. Conductor Seay on his energy and ability has at times been of \the greatest assistance to the DADOS in administrating a very important branch of the service.”

 

Walter Smiley

Enlisting into the Canterbury Infantry Regiment in August 1914. Injured in the Dardanelles, Smiley was evacuated to Malta, then England returning to ANZAC Cove on the 7th of December 1915,, where he was transferred into the NZAOC and attached to the Canterbury Battalion. Sergeant Walter Smiley was promoted to Temporary Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of acting Sub-Conductor on the 23 April 1917.  Gaining Substantive rank as a Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Conductor on the 20th of December 1917. Smiley would carry out his role as a Conductor first in France,  then England from October 1918 until he was demobilised in October 1919.

Frank Hutton

Frank Hutton enlisted in the Otago Infantry Regiment in August 1914. After service in the Dardanelles, Hutton was promoted to Sergeant and transferred to the NZAOC on the 1st of December 1915. Sergeant Frank Hutton was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Sub-Conductor on the 1st of December 1917. Remaining with the NZ Divison for the remainder of the war, Hutton was demobilised in September 1919.
Hutton was re-enlisted into the NZAOC as a Lance Corporal on the 14th of December 1942 as an Ammunition Examiner in the Inspecting Ordnance Officer Group in the Northen Military district based at Ngaruawahia. Hutton was discharged from the RNZAOC on the 6th of June 1948 when he was 69 years of age.

Edward Little

Enlisting in the 5th Wellington Regiment on the 9th of August 1914, Little was transferred into the Otago Infantry Battalion on the 23rd of March 1915. Injured in the buttocks and shoulder in the Dardanelles after a recovery period Little was transferred into the NZAOC on the 17th of February 1916, moving with he NZ Divison to France. On the 15th of April 1917, Sergeant Edward Little was promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Sub-Conductor. promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Conductor on the 31st of August 1918.  Transferred to the Middle East in October 1918, Conductor Little spent the remainder of the war attached to the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade Headquarters and was demobilised in October 1919.

John O’Brien

Private John O’Brien left New Zealand with the 6th Reinforcements on the 14th of August 1915. After service in the Dardanelles, O’Brien was transferred into the NZAOC in February 1916. Serving in France for 2 years O’Brien was transferred to London Headquarters in March 1918 as the Chief Clerk. Staff Sergeant John O’Brien was Promoted to Temporary Warrant Officer Class 1 with the Appointment of Acting Sub-Conductor on the 18 October 1918.  Gaining Substantive rank as a Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Sub-Conductor on the 25th of November 1918. O’Brien was appointed as a Conductor on the 1st of Feb 1919. O’Brien was awarded the MSM and was the senior Warrant Officer NZAOC EF when he was demobilised in March 1920. His final duties included the indenting of new equipment for two divisions and a Mounted brigade that would equip the New Zealand Army until the late 1930’s.

Edwin Green

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8/1484 Sub Conductor Edwin Stanley Green, NZAOC. Auckland Weekly News/Public Domain

Enlisting into the Otago Infantry Regiment in December 1915, Green served in the Dardanelles where he was wounded. Transfering into the NZAOD in December 1916 Staff Sergeant Edwin Green was Promoted to Temporary Warrant Officer Class 1 with the Appointment of Acting Sub-Conductor on the 20 October 1918.  Gaining Substantive rank as a Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Sub-Conductor on the 26th of November 1918. Green was demobilised in Dec 1919.

Charles Slattery

A member of the Royal New Zealand Artillery since February 1898, Slattery was transferred into the New Zealand Permanent Staff as a Quartermaster Sergeant for the Wellington Railway Battalion on the 7th of October 1913. Joining the 2nd Battalion of the Wellington regiment in November 1918 and was then transferred to the NZAOC on the 6th of January 1919 and promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Conductor. Sadly Slattery died of Influenza on the 25th of February 1919 in Cologne, Germany. Intered in the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Cologne.

Harold Hill

Enlisting into the Wellington Infantry Regiment in February 1915, Hill would see service in the Dardanelles before transferring into the NZAOC in February 1916. Promoted to Corporal in April 1916 and then Sergeant in September 1916. Sergeant Hill was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Sub-Conductor on the 21st of Feb 1919. Hill was demobilised in October 1919.

Arthur Richardson

Originally enlisting in the Royal New Zealand Artillery in 1913. Serving with the NZEF from June 1917 to August 1919, Sergeant Artcifer Richardson was temporarily transferred from the New Zealand Artillery into the NZAOC in Feb 1918. Promoted to Temporary Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Acting Sub-Conductor on the 3rd of Feb 1919. Richardson was demobilised from the NZEF on the 13th of Feb 1919 and returned to service with the Royal New Zealand Artillery. In 1928 Richardson was Transferred back into the NZAOC counting to serve until the creation of the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, retiring in 1951.

Hubert Wilson

Enlisting into the New Zealand Field Artillery in August 1914, Wilson was wounded in the thigh whilst serving in the Dardanelles. Remaining with the Artillery for several years Staff Sergeant Wilson Transferred into the NZAOC in October 1918.  Promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Acting Sub-Conductor on the 3rd of March 1919. Wilson was demobilised from the NZEF in May 1920. For his actions prior to joining the NZAOC Wilson was awarded the Military Medal.
Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

Zeitoun Ordnance Cap Badge Mystery

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New Zealand Supply Depot Staff at Zeitoun Camp, 1915. National Army Museum of New Zealand

I was recently made aware of this photo of New Zealand Supply Depot Staff at Zeitoun Camp, Egypt in 1915, it has been taken from the album of Major Alexander Charters, CMG, DSO, of the Wellington Infantry Battalion. The picture shows a group of men, most likely of the No 1 Depot Unit of Supply (DUS) New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC).

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Badges of the NZASC 1910-1947. Robert McKie collection

Based at Zeitoun Camp from August 1915 until 16 March 1916 No 1 DUS was responsible for the supply and distribution of over 28000000 Kilograms of forage, foodstuffs, firewood and other goods to its subordinate units during that time.  It is on the surface an unremarkable picture but shows the variety of head-wear and uniforms at the time. Most are wearing Wolseley pattern sun helmets, two are wearing Forage Caps, two individuals are wearing felt hats with NZASC Khaki/White/Khaki Puggaree, one is wearing a Mounted Rifles bandoleer. Most interestingly of all is an individual wearing Lemon Squeezer hat,  with an unidentified Puggaree, (most likely an infantry Puggaree) with a British Army Ordnance Corps (AOC) badge.

The question has to be asked, why is a New Zealand soldier in 1915 wearing a British Army Ordnance Corps badge?

At the time of the photo, New Zealand did not have an Ordnance Corps, and one would not be formally created in the NZEF until February 1916,  (see NZAOC 1916-1919) and at home until 1917. (NZAOC, 1917-1923)   In the context of the NZEF,  ad-hoc Ordnance Sections had been established as staff under the New Zealand Division Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services(DADOS). On the arrival of the NZ advance party in 1914, Sergeant (later Major) Levien had been attached to the British Ordnance Corps Depot at the Citadel in Cairo to study the Ordnance systems in use with the Imperial forces in Egypt to integrate New Zealand into the British Supply System.

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

Early in 1915 to support the Zealand Forces, Levien now promoted to Lieutenant established a New Zealand Ordnance Depot in Alexandra at No. 12 Rue de la, Porte Rosette and a warehouse at Shed 43, Alexandra Docks.

Given the need to outfit New Zealand units as they arrived in Egypt, and as the New Zealand Forces returned from Gallipoli, there would have been a significant effort to refit, refurbish and re-equip units as they reorganised for future service in France and the Middle East. This would have put a considerable strain onto the nascent New Zealand Ordnance Corps, requiring in addition to the original DADOS staff, the drafting in of additional soldiers with clerical, stores and maintenance experience from within NZEF. Records analysed so far identify 13 Other Ranks (Private to Company Sergeant Major), who joined the NZAOC on its formal creation in Feb/Mar 1916, who would have quite possibly been working in  Ordnance roles since 1915.

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Ordnance Member, New Zealand Supply Depot Staff at Zeitoun Camp, and was definitely taken in 1915. National Army Museum of New Zealand

Unlike the soldiers of the NZASC who deployed as part of the established NZASC organisation and wore the NZASC cap badge.  Soldiers posted to NZ Ordnance, deployed from NZ on the strength of the unit or Battalion that they had enlisted into and were posted to the Ordnance establishment after their arrival in Egypt, and before establishment of the NZAOC in Feb 1916 would have retained the cap badge of their parent unit. I am sure that this would have caused some confusion and based on the evidence of the Zeitoun photo at least one Ordnance soldier utilised a British AOC badges to identify himself as Ordnance.

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UK Army Ordnance Corps Badge 1895-1918. Robert McKie Collection

 

 

Judging by the puggaree on this soldiers lemon squeezer hat, this soldier has transferred to Ordnance from one of the New Zealand Infantry Battalions and quite possibly retains his parent units collar badges. Unfortunately, the quality of the picture doesn’t provide enough detail to identify the group with any certainty.

This picture raises several questions.

  • Was this an officially endorsed dress embellishment to identify individuals employed in Ordnance roles, possibly with the endorsement of the British Ordnance establishment in Egypt?
  • Was it just a case of an individual employed in an Ordnance role using the renowned Kiwi initiative and acquiring an AOC badge to show that he was Ordnance?
  • Was it just an ASC soldier, displaying an AOC badge he had just swapped as a keepsake? (by all accounts a thriving trade causing a shortage of badges)
  • Was it, in fact, a British Ordnance Soldier, wearing an acquired lemon Squeezer?
  • In 1914 there were several British Army Ordnance Corps Armourers posted to Alexandra barracks at Mount Cook in Wellington, are they part of this mystery, did some of these Armourers deploy with the NZEF to the Middle East?
  • Does the use of its badge have its origins back to 1913 when the first Ordnance Depots were established for the New Zealand Territorial Amy annual camps, and this individual was one of the original members?

Until further photographic evidence or written documentation is discovered, this picture raises more questions than answers, but this photo does provide a start point for later research to unravel this cap badge mystery.  I have seen some examples this badge with the letters “NZ” affixed on top of the shield, are these modified badges part of the same story?

Eventually, the NZAOC in the NZEF would adopt its own badge either in 1916/1917 and on the creation of the Home Service NZAOC in 1917 the adoption of their own badge. Use of both badges would evolve several times into the 1955 pattern that would serve the RNZAOC until 1996.

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017


New Zealand Ordnance staff at Mulheim, Germany, 1919

Military unit photos, I have a stack of them from my 29 years in the service. They provide a snapshot of a unit and its personnel at a set moment in time. The photos I am writing about here are significant to the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps as they provide one of the few photographic records of New Zealand’s Ordnance Personnel from the First World War.

The Group portraits on this page are of the New Zealand Ordnance staff taken at Mulheim, Germany, February 1919 by Henry Armitage Sanders.  On the completion of hostilities on 11 Nov 1918, the New Zealand Division as part of the British Occupation Forces in Germany was stationed at Mulheim, Germany.  The New Zealand occupation was short-lived,  and by April the bulk of the New Zealand troops had been pulled back to Britain and the NZ Division disbanded.

There are two pictures;

  • A large group photo of what I assume is the entire Ordnance and Demobilisation Staff representing most of the units of the NZ Division. Then caption found on the back of the first print only states  “Occupation of Germany” and has no details of the individuals in the photos.
  • A group photo of just the Ordnance members of the Demobilisation Staff, consisting of :
    • A major,
    • A Lieutenant,
    • A Warrant Officer Class 1 (Conductor),
    • 2 Warrant Officers Class 1 ( Sub Conductor), and
    • 7 Other Ranks.
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New Zealand Ordnance Corps demobilisation Staff at Mulheim, Germany, February 1919. Alexander Turnbull Library/Public Domain

 

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New Zealand Ordnance Staff, Mulheim, Germany, February 1919. RNZAOC School/Public Domain

Given the scarcity of information on the activities of the NZEF NZAOC I have focused on attempting to identify the following;

  • The Ordnance Major,
  • The Ordnance Lieutenant,
  • The Conductor, and
  • The two Sub Conductors.

At present, there is insufficient information on who the other ranks of the NZAOC were, so this is an ongoing effort to be completed at a later date.

Rank Badges

Rank badges are one of the key indicators to the identification an individual against the existing records. But there can be small fishhooks that can cause some trip-ups to the novice researcher. The one in this picture is the Conductors badges. To those familiar with modern-day New Zealand Warrant Officer rank, it is simple, WO1 – Coat of Arms; WO2 – Crown with Laurels, but in 1919 things were slightly different. Ordnance conductors and Sub-Conductors were both Warrant Officers Class I, with Conductors authorised to wear a crown in a laurel wreath and sub-conductors the royal coat of arms.

 

Medal Ribbons

14-15 Star

The 1914-15 Star. NZDF/Public Domain

Some of the men in the picture are wearing medal ribbons.

This ribbon is for the 1914-15 Star which was awarded to all personnel who had served at Gallipoli. Ribbons had been issued by August 1918 with the medals following in the post-war years.

Service Chevrons

Service stripes

Service Chevrons denoting 5 years service starting from 1914

Service Chevrons were worn inverted on the right sleeve and signified overseas service since 4 August 1914. A red chevron worn on the base indicated service on or before 31 December 1914. Service after 1 January 1915 was denoted by Blue Chevrons.

The Major

It was quite easy as at the time there were only two Majors in the NZEF NZAOC,

  • Major Levien who at the time was based in England, and
  • Temporary Major Gossage, who was the NZ Division, DADOS.
Temporary Major Charles Ingram Gossage

9/39 Temporary Major Charles Ingram Gossage OBE. National Library of New Zealand/public domain

9/39  Major Charles Ingram Gossage whose pre-war occupation was a bank clerk, enlisted into the Otago Mounted Rifles on 19 Aug 1914. Serving in Egypt and Gallipoli Gossage transferred into the NZAOC as an NCO on 23 March 1916. Moving with the NZ Division to France Gossage served on the Division DADOS staff becoming a Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Sub Conductor on 24 July 1916. Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 24 Jan 1917, Gossage attended an Ordnance course at the Woolwich Ordnance College from 21 Sept 1917, Gossage returned to the NZ Division in March 1918 as the DADOS. Attaining the rank of temporary Major,  Gossage would remain as the NZ Division DADOS until the NZ Division was disestablished and Gossage was demobilised on 24 January 1920. Gossage was awarded the OBE on 15 June 1919. Postwar Gossage served in the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department until 1922.

The Lieutenant

During 1919 I have identified two Lieutenants in the NZAOC;

  • 23/659 Lieutenant William Henchcliffe Simmons, MSM. Lieutenant Simmons was a railway clerk who enlisted on 8 August 1914 and served in Samoa before been deployed to the Middle East and then France. Transferring to the NZAOC on 21 March 1916. Simmons was commissioned and attained the Rank of Temporary Captain on 31 December 1919. Posted from the NZ Division to Headquarters Ordnance in London in January 1920, Simmons was appointed Officer Commanding Ordnance on 20 Feb 1920 and finally Demobilised on 13 October 1920. Simmons was Awarded the MSM 1 Jan 1917. From being on the Samoa Advance party in 1914 to the NZEF rear details in late 1920 Temp Captain Simmons was definitely close to being “first in – Last out”.
  • 15/111  Lieutenant Walter John Geard,   A steelworker from Auckland, Lt Geard enlisted in the Auckland Infantry on 10 August 1914. Serving in Egypt, and possibly Gallipoli. Geard continued to serve with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force after the bulk of the NZEF deployed to France.  Promoted to Warrant Officer and posted to Brigade headquarters for Ordnance Duties on 10 Jan 1916, Geard was Promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 (Conductor) on 1 January 1917. Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 20 June 1917 Geard was transferred to France on 25 May 1918, where he was employed as an assistant to the NZ Division DADOS from August 1918. Posted to Ordnance Headquarters London in May 1919, Geard was demobilised on 29 October 1919.
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NZAOC Lieutenant

Evidence suggests that it is Lieutenant Geard, The medal ribbon and the Service Chevrons correspond with the details in his record.

The Warrant Officer Class 1 – Conductor

In Feb 1919 I identified five Warrant Officers Class 1 (Conductor) in the NZAOC.

  • 10/2725 WO1 (Conductor) John Goutenoire O’Brien. WO1 (Cdr) O’Brien was a Bank Clerk who enlisted into the Wellington Infantry on 20 April 1915. Leaving NZ as part of the 6th reinforcements, O’Brien served in Gallipoli. Transferring to the NZAOC on its formation in Feb 1916 he continued to serve with the NZ Division in France. Transferring to London Headquarters in March 1918 as the chief clerk, a position he held until March 1920. O’Brien was Awarded the MSM in December 1919.
  • 8/2287 WO1 (Conductor) Edward Cullen Little.  WO1 (Cdr) Little was a clerk with State Fire Insurance when he enlisted with the Wellington Infantry on 9 August 1914. Deploying to Samoa from 15 Aug 1915 to 22 March 1915. Re mustering into the Otago Regiment, he deployed to the Middle East on 17 April 1915. Wounded at Gallipoli and evacuated to Egypt,  Little transferred in the NZAOC in Feb 1916. Remaining in the Middle East until March 1917 when Little was transferred to France. Serving in France, Little was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 (Conductor) and transferred back to the Middle East for service with the NZ Mounted Rifle Brigade. Little was demobilised on 11 Nov 1919.
  • 66613 WO1 (Conductor) Charles Slattery.   WO1 (Cdr) Slattery a long-serving member of the New Zealand Forces since 1898, was a member of the New Zealand Permanent Staff and had spent most of the war filling Quartermaster Sergeants positions in New Zealand until drafted in the NZEF in late 1918. After a short time in Sling camp and with the Wellington Regiment, he was transferred into the NZAOC as a WO (Cdr) on 6 Jan 1919. Becoming ill with influenza Slattery was admitted to 44 Casualty Clearing Station on 16 Feb 1919, passing away on the 25th of February 1919 aged 39 years.
  • 6/3459 WO1 (Conductor) Clarence Adrian Seay, MSM.  Initially a Sheep Farmer, Seay enlisted into the Canterbury Regiment in August 1915. Transferring into the NZAOC as a Temporary Sergeant on 11 Feb 1916, Attaining the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 with the Appointment of Conductor on 22 Sept 1917. Becoming ill with influenza Seay was admitted to 44 Casualty Clearing Station on 12 Feb 1919, passing away on the 20th of February 1919 aged 25 years. WO1 (Cdr) Seay was awarded the MSM on 3 June 1919.
  • 6/1147 WO1 (Conductor) Walter Gus Smiley.  Initially a Motor Engineer, Smiley enlisted into the Canterbury Regiment in August 1914.  Wounded at Gallipoli and evacuated to Malta and then England, Smiley returned to Gallipoli in December 1915, immediately transferring into the NZAOC on his return.  Remaining with the NZAOC for the remainder of the war Smiley attained the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 with the Appointment of Conductor on 23 April 1917. Smiley was discharged From the NZEF on 28 April 1920.
Mulheim 4

NZAOC Warrant Officer Class 1 (Conductor)

Given that this Warrant Officer has no service chevrons or medal ribbons there is a high probability that it is  WO1 (Cdr) Slattery who joined the NZEF in late 1918 and transferred into the NZAOC as a WO1 (Cdr) on 6 Jan 1919.

The Warrant Officers Class 1 – Sub Conductor

In Feb 1919 I identified four Warrant Officers Class 1 (Sub Conductor) in the NZAOC.

  • 10/2484 WO1 (Sub Conductor) Harold Gordon Hill.  WO1 (Sub Cdr)  Hill was a student when he enlisted into the Wellington Infantry Battalion on 15 Feb 1915. Wounded at Gallipoli and Evacuated to Egypt, Hill was transferred to the NZAOC on 22 Feb 1916.  Serving in France, Hill was promoted to Warrant Officer Class 2 (Sub-Conductor) on 23 April 1917. Hill was demobilised on 14 December 1919.
  • 8/1484 WO1 (Sub Conductor) Edwin Stanley Green.  A bank clerk who enlisted into Otago Infantry Battalion on 15 Dec 1914.  Serving at Gallipoli and the Egypt and France, Green was transferred to the NZAOC on 22 Dec 1916, attaining the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1 (Sub Conductor) on 26 Nov 1918.Green was demobilised on 18 Dec 1919.
  • 8/584 WO1 (Sub Conductor) Frank Percy Hutton. WO1 (Sub Cdr) Hutton had a civilian trade of indentor when he enlisted in the Otago Infantry on 28 August 1914. While serving at Gallipoli where has was attached to the NZAOC on 15 Dec 1915. Transferring into the NZAOC on 29 January 1916. Remaining with the NZAOC for the remainder of the war, Hutton was promoted to WO1 with the appointment of Sub Conductor on 1 Dec 1917 and was demobilised on 20 August 1919.
  • 50248 Temporary WO1 (Temporary Sub Conductor)Arthur Sydney Richardson. Temp WO1 (Temp Sub Cdr) Richardson was a career soldier with the Royal New Zealand Artillery with the trade of Armament Artificer. Richardson embarked for overseas service with the NZEF on 12 June 1917 and was transferred into the NZAOC on 16 Feb 1918 with the rank of temporary WO1 with the appointment of Temporary Sub Conductor on 12 Feb 1919. Rejoining the Artillery in October 1919, he would transfer back to the NZAOC in 1928, becoming a WO1 in 1940 and was awarded the MSM in 1942. Remaining in the NZAOC for the duration of the Second World War he would transfer to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1948, retiring in 1951.
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NZAOC Warrant Officer Class 1 (Sub-Conductor)

The Service Chevrons and medal Ribbon identify this WO1 as most likely being WO1 (Sub Cdr) Hutton.

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NZAOC Warrant Officer Class 1 (Sub-Conductor)

As this WO1 has no service chevrons or medal ribbon, this is probably Temporary WO1 (Temporary Sub Conductor)Richardson.

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017


New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZEF) 1916-1919

Much has been written about how the New Zealand Division was one of the most excellent Divisions in the British army during the 1st World war, but little has been written about the logistics supporting the NZ Division, even less has been written about the contribution of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.

When New Zealand entered the First World War and raised an Expeditionary Force, there was no Ordnance Corps in place to support the Force. Fortunately, in 1912 the need for an Ordnance Corps had been identified, and a small cadre of officers and men had been trained and exercised in support of the 1913 and 1914 annual camps, so as the nation mobilised, ad-hoc Ordnance Sections were established to support the fledgeling New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF).

Two individuals known to be part of the embryonic Ordnance Corps were Captain W T Beck, Defence Storekeeper for Auckland, and Norman Joseph Levien. Levien had enlisted in the 3rd Auckland Regiment, and transferred as a Temporary Sergeant into the Ordnance Department as the IC of Stores and Equipment and assisted in equipping the troops for overseas service. Both Beck and Levien deployed with the main body of the NZEF,  Beck as the Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services(DADOS), with Levien part of the small DADOS staff. On their arrival in Egypt is was immediately down to business, linking in with the British and Australian Ordnance systems and preparing the NZEF for battle.  Levien was attached to the British Ordnance Corps Depot at the Citadel in Cairo to study the Ordnance systems in use with the Imperial forces in Egypt.

Although the NZEF was organised upon standard British lines and therefore in theory able to quickly tap into the existing British system. As preparations for the Gallipoli campaign progressed, it was identified that a uniquely New Zealand Ordnance organisation would be required to be developed to better serve the NZEF. Therefore a New Zealand Ordnance Depot was established at No. 12 Rue de la, Porte Rosette and a warehouse at Shed 43, Alexandra Docks in Alexandria, Egypt.

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

Beck deployed to Gallipoli as the Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) New Zealand & Australian Headquarters Ordnance (NZ & Aust HQ Ordnance) of the New Zealand and Australian Division, and in some sources is credited as been the first New Zealander ashore on the 25th of April.

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:

”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 the that some day 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.”

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NZAOC Captain W T Beck, Ordnance Depot Shrapnel Gully Gallipoli 1915. Alexander Turnbull Library

On 1 August Beck was invalided to Alexandria and replaced by Lieutenant Levien, (Promoted into the NZAOC as a 2nd Lieutenant on 3 April 1915) as DADOS. Levien remand in this post until Redeployed to Mudros on 28 November 1915 to become the Chief Ordnance Officer at Sarpi Camp, responsible for re-equipping the now depleted Australian and New Zealand Division. Levien was replaced as DADOS by  Lieutenant King (Promoted into the NZAOC as a 2nd Lieutenant on 3 April 1915).

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Ordnance Depot Shrapnel Gully, Gallipoli. Alexander Turnbull Library

After the withdraw from Gallipoli, the New Zealand Division was reorganised and prepared for redeployment to France, the Alexandra depot was closed, un-serviceable stores disposed of by auction and remaining serviceable stores not required by the NZ Division handed over to the Imperial Ordnance.

In February 1916 it was formally announced in the Evening Post Newspaper that regulations had been promulgated establishing the NZAOC as a unit of the NZEF. By the end of 1916, the NZAOC had been established under the control of the Officer Commanding NZEF Ordnance Corps and the NZEF Assistant Director of Ordnance Service (ADOS) and Staff. With an establishment of 1 Officer and 31 other ranks. The strength of the NZAOC was provided from within the NZEF and attached to units throughout the New Zealand Division to provide Ordnance Services.

Once in France, Ordnance soldiers got to the business of supporting the NZ Division, although not front line troops, they were still close enough to experience the occasional shelling as this article in the Poverty Bay Herald of 8 September 1916 describes:

Corporal J.J Roberts of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, “Somewhere in France” writes under date June 2lst. ‘Yesterday the Germans dropped a shell on a church situated: some 200 yards away, removing the steeple, the shell passed right over our store, fortunately, for had it dropped short it would have been the finish of us. The sight was a sad one to witness the church in flames. We live very well here, The bedding is good, being most comfortable, in fact what with blankets and white sheets to cover us and a picture show with a change of pictures nightly, little is wanted. It is very quiet here the fighting on the Peninsula was ten times worse than this.

Promoted to Captain, Levien was appointed the Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom where he worked with the RAOC,  Australians and Canadians into establishing standard systems and procedures,  at the same time organising and developing New Zealand Ordnance Sections and Depots at all training camps and Hospitals throughout England.

In 1917 Levien was attached to the Woolwich Arsenal and the Army Clothing Depot at Pimlico for 6 and 4 weeks respectively where he was taught the basics of ammunition construction and methods of accounting and issuing ordnance stores. On his return, he then inaugurated new and improved systems which were approved by the NZ HQ and distributed to all commands to become the basis of future Ordnance services in the NZEF for the remainder of its existence. Promoted to Major, Levien was then posted to Sling Camp.

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Army clothing at a New Zealand military ordnance store, England. Alexander Turnbull Library

By 1918 the NZAOC had grown to an establishment strength of 3 Officers and 53 ORs under the control of the NZEF Administrative Headquarters in London, with the New Zealand Ordnance Base Depot at Farringdon Street, London and an Ordnance Dept at Sling Camp.

Demobilisation

With the cessation of hostilities in Nov 1919, the NZ Division marched into Germany as part of the British Army of the Rhine Occupation Forces.  Based in Cologne, the NZ Division demobilised and by the end of 1919 had returned to New Zealand. As the Division disbanded, the NZAOC was extremely busy in both Germany and England receiving war material from Division units, sorting and grading it and either retaining it,  for the return to New Zealand, disposing in situ or returning to the British Authorities.

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Rows of New Zealand military transport, Mulheim, Germany, 1919. National Library of New Zealand/Public Domain

The Bulk of the NZAOC personnel had been demobilised by the end of 1919, but there is some evidence that some individual members were retained with the NZEF Headquarters in London carrying out residual tasks until as late as 1922.

On return to New Zealand, some members of the NZEF NZAOC were employed in the Home service NZAOC and NZAOD, some continued their Territorial service with their original units, but most returned to civilian life putting their wartime service behind then

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New Zealand Ordnance Corps demobilisation Staff at Mulheim, Germany,  February 1919. Alexander Turnbull Library/Public Domain

Officer Commanding NZEF NZAOC

  • Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert, NZAOC   Jan 1916-May 1917
  • Lieutenant Colonels H.E Pilkington, RNZA 30 Jun 1918- 22 Jan 20
  • Temporary Captain Wilhelm Henchcliffe Simmons, NZAOC  20 Feb 20 – 13 Oct 1920

NZEF ADOS

  • Lieutenant Colonels H.E Pilkington, RNZA held the position of NZEF Assistance Director of Ordnance Services from June 1918 to 30 October 1919
  • Captain Herbert Henry Whyte, MC, NZAOC held the position of NZEF  Acting Assistance Director of Ordnance Services from 30 October 1919 until 20 Feb 1920.

NZ Division DADOS

The Deputy Assistance Directors of Ordnance Services were;

  • Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert, NZAOC,   Jan 1916 to May 1917
  • Major Charles Ingram Gossage, NZAOC, May 1917 – Jan 1920

Between 1914 and 1920 members of the NZAOC served in all the NZEF Theaters as part of  ANZAC Mounted Division in the Middle East, the New Zealand and Australian Division in Egypt and Gallipoli, the New Zealand Division in France and the New Zealand Occupation Forces in Germany.

Conductor Rank

Records suggest that the NZAOC adopted the British system of Conductor ranks.  Established on 11 January 1879 by Royal Warrant, the position of Conductor Stores in the Ordnance Store Branch (in 1896 became the Royal Army Ordnance Corps) established warrant officers as ranking above all non-commissioned officers. From 1896 Staff sergeant majors in the RAOC were renamed sub-conductors. In February 1915, with the general introduction of warrant officers throughout the army, conductors and sub-conductors became warrant officers class I. In 1915. The authorised rank insignia was a crown in a laurel wreath and sub-conductors the royal coat of arms. A List of the known NZEF NZAOC Conductors can be found on the attached link: NZEF NZAOC Conductors Nominal Roll

 

The Men of the NZEF NZAOC

A nominal roll of the known members of the NZEF NZAOC can be found on the attached link: NZEF NZAOC Nominal Roll, it details the dates that they were posted to and from the strength of the NZAOC. Available records indicate that the NZEF NZAOC was a very transient organisation, with many individuals posted into the NZAOC, undergo some on the job training on stores matters and then posted back to their original units in Quartermasters roles.

 

NZEF NZAOC Badge

It is unknown what the process was that lead to the introduction of the NZAOC badge.  In late 1916 Captain Levien, Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF was working with all the Commonwealth Ordnance Services including the Canadians in establishing Depots and standard systems and procedures, is likely to have been a significant influence on the design.

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Existing examples of the NZEF NZAOC Badge were manufactured by J R Gaunt of London. The Badges were produced by the die stamping process, and the NZ was sweated on, which leads to the assumption that either surplus UK AOD badges were utilised, or new badges were made using existing dies.
Matching Collar badges were produced and were miniatures of the cap badge, in pairs with the cannons facing inwards.

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

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017