The New Zealand Ordnance Puggaree

From 1914 to 1958 the sight of New Zealand Soldiers in felt slouch hats was commonplace. In addition to providing a practical form of headdress,  by the use of a coloured headland, it became easy to identify the Regiment or Corps of the wearer.

This article will provide a brief background on the use and history of Puggarees in New Zealand service with a focus on their use by the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.

 

rnzaoc puggaree

RNZAOC Puggaree. Robert McKie Collection

Origins

The Puggaree origins lay in the Hindu word, ‘Pagri’ which is used to describe a wide range of traditional headdress worn by men and women throughout the Indian Sub-Continent, one of the most recognisable been the Dustaar or Sikh turban.

Soldiers by their nature are creatures of innovation and British troops serving India soon found that by wrapping a thin scarf of muslin around their headdress, not only could additional protection from sword blows be provided, but the thin cloth scarf could also be unravelled to provide insulation from the heat of the sun. Like many Indian words “Pagri” became anglicised into Puggaree.

By the 1870s the functional use of the puggaree had become secondary and the puggaree evolved into a decorative item on British Army headdress, which when used with a combination of colours could be used to distinguish regiments and corps. First used by New Zealanders in the South African war, the use of puggaree on slouch hats was formalised in the New Zealand Army 1912 Dress Regulations. These regulations detailed the colours of the distinctive puggaree used to indicate different branches of the service; [1] [2]

  • Mounted Rifles: khaki/green/khaki,
  • NZ Artillery: blue/red/blue
  • Engineers: khaki/blue/khaki
  • Infantry: later khaki/red/khaki
  • Army Service Corps: khaki/white/khaki
  • NZ Medical Corps: khaki/cherry/khaki

World War One

When first New Zealand Troops went overseas in 1914, the NZ Slouch hat was one that had been first used in the South Africa War and had a crease running down the crown from front to rear. From 1914 the Wellington Battalion wore their hats with the crown peaked and after a short period where cork helmets were also worn, General Godley issued a directive that all troops, other than the Mounted Rifles would wear the slouch hat with the crown peaked, in what became known as the “Lemon Squeezer”.[3]

mr hat

New Zealand felt slouch hat with New Zealand Mounted Rifles Puggaree. Hills Hats New Zealand

lemon squeezer

New Zealand felt “lemon Squeezer” hat with modern red ceremonial Puggaree. Hills Hats New Zealand

Worn with both the Mounted Rifles Slouch hat and the Lemon Squeezer, the puggaree became a distinctive mark of the New Zealand soldier, identifying them as distinct from soldiers from other parts of the Empire who in general used only plain puggaree on their headdress.[4]  [5] From 1917 the New Zealand puggaree also proved useful in distinguishing New Zealand troops from the Americans who wore headdress similar to the New Zealand Lemon Squeezer hat.[6]

As the war progressed, additional units that did not exist in the pre-war New Zealand Army were created, both as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) and as part of the Home Service forces in New Zealand. This would include the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) which was formed as a unit of the NZEF in early 1916 and as part of the New Zealand Permanent Forces in 1917.[7]

It is assumed that as a new unit a distinctive puggaree was adopted for the NZAOC, but the limited photographs of NZAOC personnel are black and white, making identification of colours difficult. The following photo of NZ Army Service Corps staff at Zeitoun Camp in Egypt taken in either later 1915 or early 1916, shows a soldier wearing a Lemon Squeezer hat with a coloured Puggaree with a British Army Ordnance Corps (AOC) Badge, possibly the first example of an NZ Ordnance Puggaree.

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

British Army Ordnance Corps_zpshkmjkhxu

Ordnance Soldier with Lemon Squeezer, Puggaree and AOC Badge, New Zealand Supply Depot Staff at Zeitoun Camp, 1915. National Army Museum of New Zealand

A later photograph of the NZAOC at taken at Buckle Street in 1918 the Puggaree are distinctive.

Ordnance 1918

The New Zealand Ordnance Corps 1918, Buckle Street Wellington. RNZAOC School

1918

Taken from the 1918 Buckle Street picture this blown up image shows two soldiers, on with a Lemon Squeezer Hat the other with a Mounted Rifles slouch hat, both puggarees could be of the NZ Ordnance pattern.

In a 1919 Photo of the NZAOC staff taken in Germany, the Puggaree of the Ordnance Staff are less distinctive and look to be a single colour, possibly red or Blue.

NZ Ordnance Staff 1919

New Zealand Ordnance Corps demobilisation Staff at Mulheim, Germany, Febuary1919. Alexander Turnbull Library/Public Domain

t falvey

Ordnance Corporal (Possibly TY Falvey) London 1918

A Newspaper article from December 1918 does provide evidence that an Ordnance puggaree of red/blue/red existed. The article published in the Press on 5 December 1918 states the following;[8]There are only two units in the New Zealand Division with red in the puggaree. They are the Artillery and Ordnance, and in both units, the colours are red and blue”. Although slightly incorrect in that only two units of the NZEF wore red in the puggaree, The Infantry also has red in their Puggaree, this sentence does identify that the Ordnance Puggaree was red and blue.

The Inter-War Years

The red/blue/red Puggaree would formally be adopted as the Puggaree of the NZAOC in 1923 when the New Zealand Army updated its Dress Regulations for the first time since 1912.[9]

Ordnance Puggaree would have been a common sight around New Zealand Military establishments up to 1931, where with the virtual disestablished of the NZAOC their use would have shrunk to twenty or so remaining NZAOC Soldiers.

World War Two

The onset of war in 1939 would see an explosive growth of the New Zealand Army from a few hundred personnel to thousands, with articles published in newspapers to educate the public on the different coloured puggaree and which units they belonged to.[10] The red/blue/red Ordnance puggaree would be worn throughout the war years by the NZAOC and the New Zealand Ordnance Corps, the Ordnance component of the NZEF and the Territorial Army.[11]

ww2

Lemon Squeezer as worn by members of the 2nd NZEF NZOC, Middle East, Italy 1939-44.

20171001_205837-65594957.jpg

Ordnance soldier of the NZOC, New Zealand 1942-44.

Post War

The Lemon Squeezer Hat and puggaree would remain a fixture of the New Zealand Army until 1958 when the Lemon Squeezer was withdrawn from services and replaced with a new Battle Dress cap and the use of puggaree within the Ordnance Corps would fade away from memory.

tf 3rd intake waikato camp 1951

RNZAOC Territorial Force 3rd intake Ngaruawahia Camp 1951. RNZAOC School Collection

camp commandants bodyguard 1954

RNZAOC Camp Commandants Bodyguard, Trentham Camp 1954. RNZAOC School Collection

Copyright © Robert McKie 2019

Notes:

[1] The original MZ Slouch hat had been first used in the South Africa War and had a crease running from front to rear. From 1914 the Wellington Battalion wore their hats peaked

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

[3] D. A. Corbett, The Regimental Badges of New Zealand: An Illustrated History of the Badges and Insignia Worn by the New Zealand Army (Auckland, N.Z. : Ray Richards, 1980

Revised end. edition, 1980), Non-fiction, 47-48.

[4] Australian and Canada would both use coloured puggaree on their respective headdress, just not to the same extent as New Zealand.

[5] “Local and General,” Dominion, Volume 9, Issue 2610,, 4 November 1915.

[6] “Visit to Paris,” North Otago Times, Volume CV, Issue 14001, 11 December 1917.

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

[8] “Soldiers and Dress – Ordnance Pugaree,” Press, Volume LIV, Issue 16387, 5 December 1918.

[9] Thomas and Lord, New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches, 1911-1991, 35.

[10] “New Zealand Troops Wear Turbans,” Evening Star, Issue 23432  (1939).

[11] The NZOC was formed as a unit of the NZED in 1939 and a unit of the Territorial Army in 1941.

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Influenza 1918

Natural calamities in New Zeland have proved the worth of the military, which with a trained and disciplined workforce and access to resources can respond efficiently in a manner that civilian organisations can match. Be it floods, heavy snow, cyclones or earthquakes the men and women of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps have often been found at the front line of relief efforts.

One of the earliest examples of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services providing emergency relief was during the Influenza epidemic of October 1918, when the most massive public health crisis ever to strike New Zealand occurred when the worldwide influenza epidemic reached New Zealand shores. Between October and November 1918, an estimated 9000 New Zealanders would perish as a result of the Influenza epidemic.[1] In the capital city of Wellington, the onset of the Influenza epidemic caused the existing medical facilities to be overwhelmed and unable to cope with the unprecedented number of people struck down with Influenza.  Stepping up to assist the Public Health Department, The New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps based at Alexandra Barracks were mobilised to establish emergency hospitals around the Wellington region.

McCristell

Major Thomas James McCristell, Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores, 10 April 1916 – 20 January 1920.

Under the management of the Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores, Major Thomas McCristell, the 123 men of the Ordnance Corps equipped the various emergency hospitals with over 300 beds, supplied the stores and supervised the hospital arrangements and general machinery of each establishment  in and about Wellington, so that by 20 November the following hospitals and convalescent hospitals had been established:[2]

  • Hospitals
    • Normal School, 91 women,
    • Sydney street Schoolroom, 41 men.
    • Missions to Seamen, 65 men.
    • John’s Schoolroom, 67 men and women.
    • Alexandra Hall, 20 men.
    • Wellington College, 105 men and women.
    • Patrick’s College, 48 men.
    • Brooklyn Hall, 32 men and women.
    • Johnsonville, 23 men and women.
    • Seatoun, 10 men and women.
  • Convalescent Hospitals
    • Thomas’s Hall, 35 men.
    • Wellington Convalescent Home, 24 women.
    • Salvation Army Training College, 16 women.
    • Anne’s Hall, 30 men.
  • Untended Children’s Home
    • Miramar Golf Club, 56 children

The 1916 census listed the population of Wellington as 95235, deaths in Wellington attributed to the influenza were 795 which gave Wellington a death rate of 7.9 per 1000. This rate was slightly higher than Auckland but well below the death rate found in other North Island Locations which was as high as 43 per 1000.[3] It would be optimistic to believe that the work carried out by the Ordnance Corps in establishing emergency hospitals contributed to Wellingtons low death rate.

hero_wellington-ambulances

Emergency ambulances alongside the Wellington Town Hall during the 1918 flu pandemic. Ref: PAColl-7489-69 Alexander Turnbull Library

The Ordnance men were not immune to the effects of the Influenza, and at one stage 7O men were laid up with influenza, placing extraordinary demands onto the very much reduced staff.[4] Private F.W  Maynard, a 35-year-old Ordnance Soldier, died as a result of the complications caused by Influenza on the 28 November.[5]

By December 1918 the influenza epidemic was under control, and the crisis has passed with the emergency hospitals progressively shut down. Much of the credit to the success of the setting up and management of the emergency hospitals were placed directly on Major McCristell and his team from the Ordnance Corps.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

flu-poster

Influenza instructions for nurses.Ref: Eph-B-HEALTH-1918-01, Alexander Turnbull Library

 

 

Notes

[1] Manatū Taonga – Ministry for Culture and Heritage, “100 Years since Influenza Pandemic, 28 September 2018,”  https://mch.govt.nz/100-years-influenza-pandemic.

[2] “Revelations,” New Zealand Times, Volume XLIII, Issue 10133, 22 November 1918.

[3] “North Island Influenza Death Rates, 11 January 2018,”  https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/influenza-pandemic/north-island-death-rates.

[4] “Under Control,” New Zealand Times, Volume XLIII, Issue 10131, 20 November 1918.

[5] “Soldiers Deaths,” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 131, 29 November 1918.


NZAOC June 1923 to May 1924

Personnel

The strength of the NZAOC on the 31st of May 1924 was 108, consisting of:[1] [2]

  • 6 Officers
  • 69 Permanent Other Rank
  • 33 Temporary Other Ranks

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Lieutenant Colonel H. E. Pilkington, RNZA

Chief Ordnance Officer

  • Captain T.J King

Ordnance Accounting Officer

  • Lieutenant T.W Page

Northern Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant A. W. Baldwin

Central Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant H.H Whyte

Southern Command Ordnance Officer

  • Captain A.R.C White

Featherston Camp Ordnance Officer

  • Captain F. E. Ford

Ordnance Accounting Officer

  • Lieutenant T.W Page

Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Acting Inspector of Ordnance Machinery

  • Captain William Ivory, RNZA

Proof Officer, Small Arms Ammunition

  • Captain E.H Sawle
NZAOC appropriations year ending 31 March 1924

NZAOC appropriations year ending 31 March 1924

Reconstitution

The New Zealand Gazette of 3 July 1924 published regulations that revoked the regulations that established the NZAOD and NZAOC on the 7th of June 1917. Backdated to the 27th of June 1924 the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department was reconstituted as part of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps resulting in one Ordnance organisation for the New Zealand Permanent Forces.[3]

Ordnance Stores

The provision of proper Ordnance Depots in all three commands had become an urgent matter, for economic as well as strategic and tactical reasons. Valuable equipment was stored in temporary structures, which in most cases was quite unsuitable for the purpose. As a necessity, the bulk of the equipment was held at Trentham and Burnham in wooden buildings erected as temporary accommodation for troops, not as permanent storage for valuable equipment. The development of Burnham and Ngaruawahia as ordnance depots was a matter of some urgency and would be put in hand as soon as funds for the purpose are available.[4]

At Burnham and Ngaruawahia, high charges for maintenance of the temporary buildings were being incurred, the cost of transportation of stores and equipment was increasing, and proper supervision and control was becoming very difficult.[5]

Northern Command

The Northern Command was the worst off in this respect. The site at Ngaruawahia was suitable, but with no buildings there, equipment for Northern Command was held partly at Featherston and partly at Trentham.[6]

Southern Command

The Southern Command was in a better position. The buildings at Burnham, though inadequate for the storage of all the equipment for Southern Command, were more or less satisfactory.[7]

Central Command

The Central Command had ample accommodation, of a kind at Trentham and Featherston, but proper fireproof stores needed to be erected at Trentham, and the buildings at present in use for storage of equipment can then be taken into use for the purpose for which they were built, the accommodation of troops. Featherston will be dismantled when Ngaruawahia depot is built.[8]

Magazines

The magazine accommodation for both gun and small-arms ammunition was quite insufficient for the army’s requirements, and all sorts of temporary accommodation in unsuitable buildings was being utilized. In consequence, the usual safety precautions could not be adhered to, and there was the danger of accidents and deterioration of ammunition. Proposals had been submitted for the erection of up-to-date magazines at Ngaruawahia for gun ammunition, and for small-arms-ammunition magazines in each command at Ngaruawahia, Trentham, and Burnham.[9]

Stores and Equipment

Stores and equipment generally were in a satisfactory position, but as a consequence of the unsuitable accommodation, they were subjected to considerable deterioration. The capacity and efficiency of the Ordnance workshops were considerably increased by the installation of new machinery; and the arrears of work which were accumulating overhauled, and that the deterioration that was threatening material, vehicles through lack of attention as prevented.[10]

The Cost Accounting system of accounting for stores was proving successful, and everything in connection with this was satisfactory with few losses occurring.[11]

The sale of surplus stores was still proceeding, although the returns had fallen off, for various reasons. The total receipts for the year were approximately £52,000, making a grand total, to date of approximately £424,000. The present method of sale was considered more satisfactory in every way than a sale by auction; it enabled the general public throughout New Zealand to obtain the stores at low prices and provided an efficient organization to deal with surplus stores as they became available from time to time. The dyeing of surplus khaki uniforms for sale to the public was proving a successful venture and was the only satisfactory method of disposing of those large stocks.

Vacancies

Applications were requested to fill Vacancies for Armourers in the NZAOC. The call was for Qualified Armourers and Gunsmiths who had previous experience in the repair of small-arms and machine guns. Mechanics would be considered if they had had training in armourer s duties.

1924 Ad

Evening Post, Volume CVII, Issue 114, 15 May 1924. Papers Past

Gallant Conduct

On 11 March 1924 Corporal Artificer John William Dalton, NZAOC was instrumental in saving the lives of four non-swimmers during extreme flash flooding which destroyed the encampment of the 6th Battery, NZA during their camp at Eskdale.[12] [13] [14]

GO 164 of 1924

General Order 164

eskdale flood 1924 07b

Corporal Articifer Dalton supervising the recovery of guns after the Eskdale flood 1924. Norm Lamont Collection

eskdale flood 1924 07a

Corporal Articifer Dalton supervising the recovery of guns after the Eskdale flood 1924. Norm Lamont Collection

dalton jw 11c eskdale flood 1924

Corporal Articifer Dalton supervising the recovery of guns after the Eskdale flood 1924. Norm Lamont Collection

dalton jw 11b eskdale flood 1924

Corporal Articifer Dalton supervising the recovery of guns after the Eskdale flood 1924. Norm Lamont Collection

eskdale flood 1924 08b

Corporal Articifer Dalton supervising the recovery of guns after the Eskdale flood 1924. Norm Lamont Collection

eskdale flood 1924 08a

Corporal Articifer Dalton supervising the recovery of guns after the Eskdale flood 1924. Norm Lamont Collection

eskdale flood 1924 06b

Corporal Articifer Dalton supervising the recovery of guns after the Eskdale flood 1924. Norm Lamont Collection

eskdale flood 1924 06a

Corporal Articifer Dalton supervising the recovery of guns after the Eskdale flood 1924. Norm Lamont Collection

dalton jw 11c eskdale flood 1924

Corporal Articifer Dalton supervising the recovery of guns after the Eskdale flood 1924. Norm Lamont Collection

New Zealand Rifle Team

Sergeant Ching a member of NZAOC, was invited to join the New Zealand Rifle Team for the shooting competition to be held at Bisley in the United Kingdom in September.[15]

NZ Army Dress Regulations 1923

The following extracts are from the 1923 NZ Army Dress Regulations that relate to the NZOC.  The 1823 Dress Regulations were the first update to the Dress Regulations since 1912.[16]

Overalls

Ordnance Corps – Two 1/4 in stripes, maroon cloth 1/2 in apart

Shoulder Titles

Brass letters, worn by officers, warrant officers, Non-commissioned officers and men on the shoulder straps of jacks (service and blue) and greatcoats. The will not be worn on mess-jackets.

NZAOC STAB

NZAOC Shoulder Titles. Robert McKie Collection

Puggaree

Ordnance Corps – Red-Blue-Red

RNZAOC_PUG

NZAOC Puggaree. Robert McKie Collection

Forage Cap Band

Ordnance Corps – Scarlet

Obituary

Corporal Peter Gow Scrimgeour passed away at his residence at William Street, Upper Hutt, on Wednesday 24 October 1923. Joining the NZEF with the Eighth Contingent, Scrimgeour saw considerable service in France and at the time of his death was employed with the Trentham Detachment of the NZAOC.[17]  Scrimgeour was provided with a military funeral on 26 October 1923.[18]

 

Personnel Movements -July 1923 to June 1924

Releases

  • 176 Armorer Private Reginald Albert Percival Johns
  • 820 Private James Clements
  • 838 Lance Corporal William Robert McMinn
  • 914 Armourer Sergeant John Boyce
  • 954 Company Sergeant Major Joseph Arthur Head

Deaths

  • 666 Corporal Peter Gow Scrimgeour

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

Notes:

[1] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces from 1 June 1923 to 30 June 1924,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1924).

[2] “B-01-Part02 Public Accounts for the Financial Year 1923-1924,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1924).

[3] “Nzaod and Nzaoc,” New Zealand Gazette, July 3 1924.

[4] “Hydro-Electric Development,” Press, Volume LIX, Issue 17850  (1923).

[5] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces from 1 June 1923 to 30 June 1924.”

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] “Caught by the Flood “, New Zealand Herald, Volume LXI, Issue 18659, 15 March 1924.

[13] “Gallant Conduct,” New Zealand Herald, Volume LXI, Issue 18725, 3 June 1924.

[14] “Courageous Conduct,”  in New Zealand Army General Order 164 (Wellington1924).

[15] “Personal Matters – Ching,” Evening Post, Volume CVII, Issue 113, 14 May 1924.

[16] Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord, New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches, 1911-1991 (Wellington, N.Z.: M. Thomas and C. Lord, 1995, 1995), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 34.

[17] “Scrimgeour, Peter Gow “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand  (1914-1918).

[18] “Personal Matters – Ching.”


The First Cohort – Ordnance Soldiers of 1917

Who were the first Ordnance Soldiers on the formation of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps in 1917?  The names of the original New Zealand Ordnance Officers are well recorded, Major McCristell, Captains King, Beck and White are names familiar to those knowledgeable in the History of the RNZAOC, but who were the original men of the Permanent Force NZAOC that came into life in 1917?

Not to be confused with New Zealand Expeditionary Force NZAOC which was formed in 1915/16 as a  unit of the NZEF. The formation of the Permanent Force NZAOC had been under discussion since 1904 and was finally established by regulations published in the NZ Gazette on 1 February 1917 and would continue to serve the nation until 1996, when its successor the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps was absorbed into the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment,

The NZAOC was to be organised to completely replace the existing Civil Service run Defence Stores Department, additionally incorporating many of the Ordnance functions carried out by the New Zealand Permanent Forces. Using Ordnance personnel records held by Archives New Zealand, I have reconstructed the  1917 NZAOC nominal roll. This identifies information of who the soldiers were, their previous military service, dates they were transferred if already serving, or attested into the NZAOC if previously a civilian and a raft of other information on promotions, postings and discipline issues. These records are not complete but do provide enough information when combined with other sources to build a picture of the events of 1917.

Once the regulations authorising the formation of the NZAOC were published in the NZ Gazette on 1 February 1917, I am of no doubt that much of the planning for the establishment of the new Corps had already been undertaken. Between March and November 1917, approximately 140 men were either transferred or recruited directly into the NZAOC from four manpower pools consisting of:

  • Serving soldiers of the Permanent Forces,
  • Members of civil service employed by the existing Defence Stores Department and other Government departments,
  • Returned servicemen from the NZEF who had to be returned to New Zealand as unfit for overseas service but suitable for home service, and
  • Direct Entries from civilian occupations.

The available records indicate that the men initially required to form the NZAOC were identified in February/March 1917. The first cohort of men was drawn from the Permanent Force and transferred into the NZAOD starting on the 15th of March 1917, followed by the Defence Stores Department civilian Staff who had been selected for militarisation, beginning in July 1917.

For the Men of the new NZAOC apart from some administrative changes, new cap badges for the serving soldiers and uniforms, military rules and regulations for the civilian staff, there probably was not much change to their daily routine, just a change in names and appointments. The NZAOC was organised into Clerical, Stores, Ammunition and Maintenance sections located at:

  • Wellington; with NZAOC Headquarters, Stores and Workshops at Alexandra Barracks. Stores Depots at Te Aro,  Taranaki Street and Trentham. Ammunition Section at Fort Ballance at Mahanga Bay.
  • Auckland, Mt Eden and Narrowneck
  • Palmerston North,
  • Featherston Camp,
  • King Edwards Barracks, Christchurch and
  • Dunedin, Otago Districts Stores Depot,  St Andrews Street.

So who were the first Ordnance Soldiers?

The first 10 Soldiers of various trades and ranks who joined the NZAOC were transferred from the Permanent Forces on the 15th of March 1917, they were:

  • Auckland
    • NZAOC No 17 Quartermaster Sergeant Artificer George Bush, Armaments Artificer.
    • NZAOC No 20 Armament Sergeant Major (WO) Thomas Edward Bryce, Armaments Artificer.
  • Palmerston North
    • NZAOC No 132 Armourer Staff Sergeant Andrew Archibald Young, Armaments Artificer.
  • Wellington
    • NZAOC No 1 Private Hugh John Adams, Ammunition Section.
    • NZAOC No 58 Staff Sergeant Artificer Thomas Reid Inch, Armaments Artificer.
    • NZAOC No 68 Private Patrick Keeshan, Ammunition Section.
    • NZAOC No 75 Private Charles William Marshall, Ammunition Section.
    • NZAOC No 82 Artificer Sergeant Major (WO) William Edward Moore, Armaments Artificer.
    • NZAOC No 100 Conductor William Ramsey.
    • Conductor William Henry Manning
  • Dunedin
    • NZAOC No 23 Armament Sergeant Major (WO) William Carroll, Fitter.

Many of these men had served in the Permanent Force for some years, some as far back as the days of the Army Constabulary. Some would reach retiring age in a few years some would continue to serve into the early 1940’s, but although advanced in years they would provide a strong experience base in not only trade but also military experience for the fledgeling Corps.

Dress Embellishments

The NZAOC was authorised to wear the following dress embellishments;

  • Cap and Collar Badges.  The home service NZAOC badge was possibly based on the UK Army Ordnance Department badge. The New Zealand version modified the UK AOD badge by Having the letters NZ replace the centre cannonball in the top panel of the shield and with the inscriptions Army Ordnance Department on the scroll beneath the shield.This New Zealand Pattern Ordnance Corps Badge is unique in the world as it is the only Ordnance cap badge where the cannons face in the opposite direction to all other ordnance badges. Current evidence indicates that this badge was produced in Brass and Bronze
    The Collar badge was a simple version of the Cap badge without the scroll with the cannons facing inwards.

    nz-army-ordnance-corps-badge-2

    NZ Army Ordnance Corps Badge 1917-1923. nzhistory.govt.nz/Public Domain

  • Brass Shoulder Titles. Although not authorised for wear until 1923, there is some photographic evidence showing that the brass NZAOC shoulder titles were worn as early as 1918.
NZAOC STAB

NZAOC Brass Shoulder Titles. Robert McKie Collection

  • Puggaree with Ordnance Flash. The Puggaree worn at the time was Black/Khaki/Black. (The Red/Blue/Red Ordnance Puggaree would not be adopted until 1923) Soldiers of the NZAOC would wear this with the Ordnance badge and a 1.5 Inch x 1.5 inch Blue and red distinguishing patch on the left-hand side of the hat. Due to a shortage of Lemon Squeezer hats in early 1918, forage caps were substituted and the Puggaree and patch were unable to be worn.

    NZAOC HOME SERVICE PATCH

    NZAOC Home service patch (Reproduction). Robert McKie Collection

 

Soldier Profile

One member of the original cohort who I have decided to profile is the soldier who was allocated NZAOC Service Number 1.

NZAOC No 1 Private Hugh John Adams

Although technically not the first member of the NZAOC, but as a member of the first cohort to join the NZAOC and having NZAOC Service Number 1, it could be said that NZAOC No 1 Private Hugh John Adams was the first New Zealand Ordnance soldier and possibly one of the first Ammunition Technicians.

Hugh Adams was the son of Irish/Scottish immigrants Adams was born at Lyttelton on the 21st of July 1874. Adams only completed school up to Standard Four (today’s year 6) and was working as a labourer in Blenheim at around 1892 when at 18 years of age he enlisted in the Blenheim Rifles Volunteers (B Company of the First Battalion of the Nelson Infantry Volunteers.

Serving in the volunteers for five years, Adams resigned from the Blenheim Rifles in March 1897, moved to Wellington and was attested for service as a Gunner 3rd class into the Wellington Detachment of No 1 Company of the New Zealand Permanent Forces, Based at Fort Balance at Mahanga Bay Wellington.

Over the next few years, Adams would consolidate himself in the Artillery earning promotion to Gunner 2nd Class on  1 sept 1899 and then promotion to Gunner 1st Class on 11 March 1901.

Around 1900 Adams married Ada Charlotte McKenzie, with whom he would have three children May, Cyril and Hina.

1902 saw the reorganisation of the New Zealand Forces when on the 15th of October the Wellington Detachment of  No 1 Company of the New Zealand Permanent Forces, became the Wellington Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Artillery.

As a measure to assure some self-sufficiency in the inspection and supply of Artillery Ammunition the decision was made in 1914 to create as part of the Royal New Zealand Artillery an Ordnance Section to inspect and manufacture artillery ammunition. On 1 April 1915 authority was granted under New Zealand Defence Forces General Order 90 to raise the New Zealand Army Ordnance Section.

The section was very small, and Adams along with 7 other members of the Royal New Zealand Artillery were the foundation members whose primary duties were the assembling of ammunition components for the artillery.  With the creation of the NZAOC in 1917, the responsibility for the Ordnance Section passed from the Royal New Zealand Artillery to the NZAOC with Adam and the other members becoming Ordnance soldiers.

The immediate post-war years into the mid-1920’s were a busy time for the NZAOC, large amounts of equipment from mobilisation camps in New Zealand and returned from Europe as the NZEF was demobilised needed to be sorted, graded, repaired, disposed of, redistributed or placed into storage. For the Ammunition Section based at Mahanga Bay, it was a time of expansion. The Kaiwharawhara Magazine close to the city was closed, and the Mahanga Bay facilities expanded from the original magazine and laboratory building on the foreshore to include Fort Balance, Fort Gordon and the Kau Point Battery as these were decommissioned. Their armaments removed, gun pits were covered over with roofs and turned into additional magazines. The area went from been Wellingtons premier Defensive location to quite possibly the 1st large scale ammunition depot of the NZAOC, a role it would fill until the 1940s when purpose-built facilities were constructed at Belmont and Kuku Valley.

Mahanga Bay, Miramar, Wellington, ca 1910

Mahanga Bay, Miramar, Wellington, c1910. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

 

Adams remained employed in the Ammunition Section and was primarily the 2IC of the Section during the busy years of the early 1920’s,  his duties included making up ammunition, and he was generally responsible for the care of the magazines and surrounding areas. In a 1921 review of the Ammunition Section, Adams was deemed necessary for the operation.

Few if any photographs exist of the work carried out by Adams and the Ammunition Section at Mahanga Bay, but these examples from the Australian War Museum provide some perspective.

newington_laboratory_1949_b

Removing primer from a round of fixed QF ammunition. Australian War Memorial

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RAN personnel inspecting cordite then tying it into bundles. Australian War Memorial

newington_laboratory_1949_a

Base fuze or plug being removed from, or replaced in a large calibre BL projectile. Australian War Memorial

Reaching the retiring age of 55 Adams retired on 21 Feb 1929 after 31 years and 343 Days service.

Remaining in the rank of Private all his career, possibly due to his lack of education past standard 4, Adams was recognised as a competent soldier in his role in the Ammunition Section and was no novice when handling explosives. Adams was awarded the following medals:

  • Permanent Forces of the Empire Beyond the Seas Medal,  and the

  • New Zealand Long and Efficient Service Medal

Adams Group

NZAOC No 1 Private Hugh John Adams, Permanent Forces of the Empire Beyond the Seas Medal and New Zealand Long and Efficient Service Medal

Adams passed away in August 1955 aged 81 years and is buried at the Karori cemetery in Wellington.

 

 

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017