Major Eric Dudley Gerard

Transfering into the RNZAOC from the Artillery in 1946, Eric (Gumboots) Gerard would become a well-known officer throughout the RNZAOC. In the time up to his retirement in 1972, Gerard would serve in all three of the ‘Districts’; Northern, Central and Southern.  During his service, he would have been witness to the construction of the various Ammunition Areas during the War years; the creation of the standalone Ammunition Depots in the late 1940’s; and then their absorption into the Ordnance Depots as Ammunition Sub-Depots during the 1960’s. Gerard Acquired the nickname “Gumboots” because of the many hours he spent in the wet and mud blowing up ammunition.

Gerard was born in Wellington on the 26th of April 1917. In 1938 when working as a Hardware assistant at Palmerston North[1], Gerard joined the Territorial Force New Zealand Artillery (NZA). Due to the worsening war situation and the growing threat from Japan, Gerard was called up by ballot for full-time service with the Territorial Force in 1940[2].  Gerard was serving with 10th Heavy (Coast) Regiment when he was selected for Officer Training in 1941. Graduating from 11 Officer Cadet Training Unit (11 OCTU) as a 2nd Lieutenant on the 1st of July 1942[3]. On Graduation, Gerard was posted to the New Zealand Temporary Staff and promoted to Lieutenant on the 9th of October 1945[4]  in 1946 Gerard was based at Wellington[5] serving with the RNZA Ammunition and Equipment Section.

Up to 1946, the RNZA managed ammunition, explosives, Coast Artillery and specialist equipment and stores with the Ammunition and Equipment Section based in Army Headquarters, during 1946 this responsibility including some manpower, including Gerard were transferred to the NZAOC[6].

From 1946 Gerard was based out of Trentham spent time working at the Belmont and Waiouru Ammunition Areas, when in 1949 he became the District Inspecting Ordnance Officer (DIOO) at Headquarters Central Military District.

Posted to Ngaruawahia in 1953, Gerard would remain there as the Northen Districts DIOO until 1957 when he was posted to the Southern Military District(SMD) as DIOO.

It is during his tenure as SMD DIOO that Gerard became regarded as the most “Confederate” of Ordnance Officers, proudly displaying the confederate ‘Stars and Bars’ flag in his office.

WO in Office

In 1961 the modern Ammunition Technician trade speciality was created when new titles were adopted and[7];

  • ‘Ammunition Technical Officer’ (ATO) replaced that of ‘Inspecting Ordnance Officer’ (IOO) and
  • ‘Ammunition Technician’ (AT) that of ‘Ammunition Examiner’ (AE).
  • ‘District Ammunition Techincal Officer’ (DATO) replaced that of ‘District Inspecting Ordnance Officer’

Remaining as DATO SMD until the reorganisation of 1968[8], Gerard was then posted to 3 Central Ordnance Depot (3COD) as the Second in Command (2IC). During his last year of’ service, he was the Officer Commanding 3 COD.

On Friday 24 March 19721 the RNZAOC farewelled Major E.D Gerard on his retirement from the New Zealand Army after 30 years service as an Officer plus two more years in the ranks. Gerard remained in Christchurch and passed away on the 21st of July 2003.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

Notes

[1] “Palmerston North General Roll,” New Zealand Electoral Roll, Palmerston North, Page 84  (1938).

[2] Peter D. F. Cooke and John Crawford, The Territorials: The History of the Territorial and Volunteer Forces of New Zealand (Auckland, N.Z.: Random House, 2011, 2011).

[3] World War II Appointments New Zealand, Promotions, Transfers and Resignations, 1939–1945. [Extracted from the New Zealand Gazette.] CD-ROM. Ravensbourne, Dunedin, New Zealand: Colonial CD Books, n.d.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Karori General Roll,” New Zealand Electoral Roll, Wellington, Page 88  (1946).

[6] N.W.Mcd Weir, “Report on the Defence Forces of New Zealand,” AJHR H-19 (1946).

[7] “Redesignation of Titles of Inspecting Ordnance Officers and Other Ammunition Personnel Army 209/5/3/Sd,” Defence Archives, Archives New Zealand  (1961).

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


NZAOC June 1934 to May 1935

Personnel

The strength of the NZAOC on the 31st May 1935 was 29 consisting of:[1]

  • 5 Officers, and
  • 24 Other ranks.

Key Appointments

Director of Ordnance Services

  • Major Thomas Joseph King, NZAOC

Assistant Chief Ordnance Officer Trentham Camp

  • Captain W. R. Burge, M.C., NZSC

Ordnance Officer

  • Captain E.L.G Bown, NZSC

Ordnance Officer (Provision)

  • Captain H. E. Erridge. [2] [3]

Northern Command Ordnance Officer

  • Lieutenant D. L. Lewis

Central Command Ordnance Officer

  • Captain W. R. Burge, M.C., NZSC

Southern Command Ordnance Depot

  • Lieutenant D. Nicol

Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Captain R. Withell, RNZA

Assistant Inspecting Ordnance Officer and Assistant Ordnance Mechanical Engineer

  • Lieutenant S. B. Wallace.

Proof Officer, Small Arms Ammunition, Auckland

  • Honorary Lieutenant J.W Fletcher, NZPS. 
NZAOC appropriations year ending 31 March 1935

NZAOC appropriations year ending 31 March 1935

It had not been possible, for financial reasons, to follow any progressive policy during the past few years in the appointment of officers to the NZAOC. The officers of the corps are of two classes;

  • Administrative, and
  • Technical.

The small numbers involved made it essential that appointments be made with careful regard to age and the necessity for technical training abroad. It was planned that two junior officers —one for administrative work and one for technical work—would be appointed as soon as funds permit, with one officer to attend the Ordnance Mechanical Engineers’ Course in England in 1936.  Special attention was being paid to the provision of armourers and instrument artificers. The position as regards armament-artificers was satisfactory, but appointments of young men for training as armourers and for instrument-repair work needed to be made as soon as practicable.[4]

 Ordnance Services

The NZAOC was responsible for;

  • the provision, distribution, repair, examination, and maintenance of small arms, machine guns, vehicles, clothing, equipment, and general stores;
  • the inspection and repair of armament and inspection of gun ammunition;
  • the receipt, testing, storage, and issue of small-arms ammunition;
  • the organization and control of ordnance workshops.

Equipment and stores required for the Territorial Force had been maintained during the year in serviceable condition. Very careful attention had been paid to the inspection and testing of small-arms ammunition, some of the older stocks of which showed signs of serious deterioration. All ammunition issued for use in rifles was carefully tested before issue, and ammunition found unfit for rifles was either issued for use in machine guns or broken up, according to its condition.

Equipment and Stores

The situation regarding equipment and stores was far from satisfactory. Financial limitations had made it impossible to build up an adequate reserve of equipment and stores or to maintain those reserves that existed. These stores could not be obtained in New Zealand, nor would they be available until at least six months after the outbreak of war. Apart from the provision of stores, a considerable amount of leeway had to be made up in carrying out alterations and additions to existing equipment. Shortage of skilled personnel and small stores, and inadequate workshops and machinery, together with the increased demands made upon them, were responsible for the present situation. Unfortunately, financial limitations permitted no progress made in remedying this position. An issue of boots has been made to all ranks of the Territorial Force during the past year which proved satisfactory in every way.

Stores Buildings and Workshops

The Ordnance Depots were situated at Ngaruawahia, Trentham, and Burnham. The storage accommodation at Ngaruawahia and Burnham was reasonably satisfactory. At Trentham, where the greater quantity of reserve stores was held, the store buildings consist of the wooden hutments erected to accommodate troops during the war. Most of these buildings still have a considerable ” life,” but the layout is uneconomical in staff and administration and insufficient to accommodate any considerable increase in the quantity of stock held. The stores required on mobilization cannot, under present conditions, be segregated and laid out as they should be. It was proposed that when finance became available, to erect a modern store building at Trentham which will increase the storage available and anticipate the deterioration of the present wooden buildings.

The principal workshop is at Trentham. Small workshops exist at North Head, Auckland, and Burnham, Canterbury. These workshops carry out repair and maintenance work on guns, howitzers, vehicles, machine guns, rifles, optical and other instruments, and miscellaneous small items. A marked increase in this work was expected with the advent of the new armament for coast defences and other equipment. A considerable extension of the workshop at Trentham is overdue,  but could not be undertaken with the finances available in the vote.

Cricket

The Trentham Ordnance Depot contributed a team to the Upper Hutt League of the Wellington Cricket Association competition playing the known games

  • 17 November 1934 – Ordnance Vs Methodist
  • 24 November 1934 – Ordnance Vs Upper Hutt
  • 31 November 1934 – Ordnance Vs Trentham A
  • 8 December 1934 – Ordnance Vs St Josephs
  • 14 December 1934 – Ordnance Vs Upper Hutt B
  • 11 January 1935 – Ordnance Vs Training Depot
  • 14 February 1935 – Ordnance Vs Upper Hutt A
  • 22 February 1935 – Ordnance Vs St. Josephs
  • 29 February 1935 – Ordnance Vs Upper Hutt A
  • 2 March 1935 – Ordnance Vs Upper Hutt B
  • 9 March 1935 – Ordnance vs Training Depot
  • 16 March 1935 – Ordnance Vs Trentham B

The position of the teams at the end of the first round in the 1934/Upper Hutt Cricket League competition was :

  • Ordnance – 45 points
  • Training Depot – 44
  • Trentham – B 40
  • Upper Hutt A – 26
  • St. Joseph’s – 25
  • Methodist – 7
  • Trentham A – 16
  • Upper Hutt B – 11
Ord Cricket Team

Ordnance Cricket Team – 1934-35 Maidstone Park Upper Hutt. RNZAOC School

Personnel Movements -July 1934 to June 1936

Releases

  • Armourer Staff Sergeant Frederick Henry Dew

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 1934 to 31 May 1935,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1935).

[2] Promoted to Captain 1 December 1934 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 87, 29 November 1934.

[3] Appointed Ordnance Office (Provision) Main Ordnance Depot July 1934.”Personal Items Nicol, Erridge,” New Zealand Herald, Volume LXXI, Issue 21862, 26 July 1934.

[4] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces from 1 June 1934 to 31 May 1935.”