As a result of service during the First World War, twelve Warrant Officers, Norn-Commissioned Officers and Men of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) were awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
The Meritorious Service Medal was initially instituted by British Royal Warrant on 28 April 1898 as an award for Warrant Officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers. Nearly all recipients of this medal have been of the rank of Sergeant or above. However, in the early 20th Century, some awards were made to lower ranks.
In the London Gazette of 9 December 1919, it was announced that His Majesty the King was graciously pleased to approve the awarding of the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) to fifty-six Warrant Officers, Norn-Commissioned Officers and Men of the New Zealand Forces, including two men of the NZAOC.
Conductor John Goutenoire O’Brien, and
Conductor Mark Leonard Hathaway
O’Brien’s service would be with the NZEF, serving at Gallipoli, France and the United Kingdom from 1916 until 1920. In contrast to O’Brien’s long service, Hathaway would only serve in Home Service for one year and 274 days, but with his conduct and character described as “Very Good”, he had been recognised for his contribution.
John Goutenoire O’Brien
John O’Brien left New Zealand with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) 6th Reinforcements on 14 August 1915. After service in the Dardanelles, O’Brien was transferred into the NZAOC in February 1916. Serving in France for two years, O’Brien was assigned 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 Sub-Conductor appointment on 25 November 1918. O’Brien was appointed as a Conductor on 1 February 1919. O’Brien was awarded the MSM and was the senior Warrant Officer NZEF NZAOC when he was demobilised in March 1920. His final duties included indenting new equipment for two divisions and a Mounted brigade that would equip the New Zealand Army until the late 1930s.
After a short stint serving in the NZAOC in New Zealand, O’Brien would return to his pre-war trade of banker. Immigrating to the United States, O’Brien attended De Paul University Law School in Chicago from 1921 to 1924. In 1926 O’Brien took up the appointment of vice-president of the Commercial National Bank in Shreveport, Louisiana. During the Second World War, O’Brien, then a US Citizen, served in the United States Army Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel in the South-West Pacific Theatre of Operations.
Mark Leonard Hathaway
Little is known of Mark Leonard Hathaway’s early life. Born at St Pancras, Middlesex, England, on 31 August 1875, Hathaway married Ethel Ellen Davis in 1903. Census records show that Hathaway was still residing in England in 1911, migrating to New Zealand with his family prior to1915.
On the outbreak of World War One, Hathaway attempted to join the NZEF. However, he was rejected as unfit due to heart troubles. Hathaway then joined the Defence Department as a civilian clerk/typist in the Defence Stores on 5 February 1915. When the Defence Stores Department transitioned into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) in 1917, Hathaway was allotted the Regimental number of NZAOC 48 and appointed a Staff Quartermaster Sergeant. His NZAOC enlistment document states that he had no other previous military service.
Promoted to (Temporary) Conductor on 1 November 1918, Hathaway service file indicated that he was awarded the MSM in 1918. However, his award was not gazetted until 1919. Hathaway was released at his request on 31 March 1919. Working as an accountant, Hathaway passed away on 10 July 1928. Following his death, his wife made inquiries about eligibility to get a military pension and how to apply for a replacement MSM as her husband’s original medal had been lost.
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 Advanced 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 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, as a unit of NZEF were published in February 1916. 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, 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 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 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.
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 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. The intent was to occupy the building from the 7th of November 1916. Still, due to issues securing the key and having the utilities such as water and electricity connected, the 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.
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. 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. 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 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 the 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.
The 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;
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.
 Now Farrington Lane “Insurance Plan of London Vol. Vi: Sheet 128,” ed. British Library (Chas E Goad Limited, 1886).
 “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..”
 “Personnel Records “Arthur Gilmore”,” (Wellington: Archives New Zealand, Archive Reference AABK 18805 W5568 0135616).
 Arthur Gilmore, “Audit Farringdon Road Ordnance Stores for Period Ended 17 July 1919,” (Wellington: Archives New Zealand Record Group WA1 Record No 2/13, 1919).
 The Royal Army Clothing Depot, Pimlico, was the main supplier of Uniforms for the British Army from 1855 until 1932.
 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).
In British and Commonwealth military doctrine, there has long been a separation of responsibility for Supplies and Stores
Supplies – The provisioning, storing, and distributing of food for soldiers, forage for animals; Fuel, Oil and Lubricants (FOL) for tanks, trucks and other fuel-powered vehicles and equipment; and the forward transport and distribution of ammunition. In the NZ Army, Supplies were managed by the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC) from 1911 to 1979.
Stores – The provisioning, storage and distribution of weapons, munitions and military equipment not managed by RNZASC. Stores were the Responsibility of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC) until 1996.
Despite the separation of responsibilities, the RNZASC and RNZAOC had a long and cooperative relationship.
During early colonial days, the early actions of the New Zealand Wars proved that the New Zealand bush and the elusive tactics of the Māori presented unfamiliar problems of supply and transport. An Imperial Supply and Transport Service was established and operated with the Imperial troops.
From the end of the New Zealand Wars until 1910, there was no unit of ASC in New Zealand, with the supply functions required by the New Zealand Military provided by the Defence Stores Department. However, in 1911 the formation of the Divisional Trains saw the beginnings of the NZASC as part of the Territorial Army. NZASC units served in World War One, during which the NZASC and NZAOC would, especially in the early years of the war, often share personnel, facilities, and transportation.
In 1917 the NZAOC was established as a permanent component of the New Zealand Military Forces, however, it would not be until 1924 that the Permanent NZASC was formed. The alliance between the NZASC and the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) was approved in 1925.
The RASC has its roots much deeper in history. Up to the time of Cromwell, armies lived by plunder. The RASC came into being in 1888. but the work it would perform was being done long before that.
Cromwell and then the Duke of Marlborough, and later Napoleon organised a system of civilian commissaries. The Duke of York established the Corps of Royal Waggoners in 1794. This purely transport organisation continued until 1869 under various names, eventually, as the Military Train, fighting as light cavalry in the Indian Mutiny.
The birth of the Supplies and Transport Service dates from 1869. when the Commissariat and the officers of the Military Train along with the Military Stores Department came under one department called the Control Department, it remained for General Sir Redvers Buller, in 1888, to organise the first Army Service Corps. Since its formation, the RASC has been a combatant corps, trained and armed as infantry and responsible for its own protection. Considered a more technical Corps the NZAOC was not granted the status of a combatant Corps until 1942.
During World War Two, many units and establishments represented the NZASC in all the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) theatres. Again, as in the earlier World War, the NZASC would have a cooperative relationship with New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) Ammunition Examiners (AEs) were on the establishments of the RNZASC Ammunition platoons, with NZASC Warrant Officers attached to the NZ Divisional Ordnance Field Park (OFP) to provide technical advice on vehicle spares. As a tribute to the service of the NZASC in WW2, the title, “Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps,’’ was bestowed in 1946.
In the post-war era, the NZASC and from 1946 the RNZASC would serve with distinction in J Force in Japan and then contribute the second-largest New Zealand contingent to K Force in Korea by providing 10 Transport Company.
Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the RNZASC would be an integral part of the New Zealand Army. Its functions ranging from the everyday task of cooking and serving food to the more spectacular operation of dropping supplies by air.
To purchase, store, rail, ship, and otherwise distribute the amount of food, fuels and oils needed to supply a modern army, the RNZASC maintained Supply Depots and employed many kinds of tradespeople, including Butchers. Supply Depots located in Papakura, Waiouru, Linton, Trentham, Burnham, and Singapore, holding supplies in bulk and distributing them as required. A section of the RNZASC would be a feature of every army camp with smaller Supply and Transport depots to handle goods received from the central supply depots and provide drivers and transport for many purposes at Devonport/Fort Cautley, Hopuhopu, Papakura, Waiouru. Linton. Trentham, Wellington/Fort Dorset, Christchurch/Addington, and Burnham.
Following the Macleod report that recommended the streamlining of logistic support for the British Army, the RASC merged in 1965 with the Royal Engineers Transportation and Movement Control Service to form the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT). This would see the RASC Supply functions transferred to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC). In 1973, following the British lead, the Australians also reformed their Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC) into the Royal Australian Army Corps of Transport (RAACT).
Acknowledging the British and Australian experience, the RNZASC would also undergo a similar transition, and on 12 May 1979, the RNZASC ceased to exist, and its Supply functions transferred to the RNZAOC, while the Transport, Movements and Catering functions were reformed into the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT).
The RNZASC supply functions would be integrated into the RNZAOC, with the Camp Supply Depots becoming NZAOC Supply Platoons numbered as.
14 Supply Platoon, Papakura/Hopuhopu
24 Supply Platoon, Linton
34 Supply Platoon, Burnham
44 Supply Platoon, Waiouru
54 Supply Platoon, Trentham
NZ Supply Platoon, Singapore
In recognition of its long RNZASC service, 21 Supply Company was retained as a Territorial Force(TF) unit, initially as the TF element of 4 Supply Company in Waiouru and later as the TF element of 2 Supply Company, Linton. Today 21 Supply is the main North Island Supply unit of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR).
For a brief period following the RNZAOC assumption of Supply functions, some RF and TF RNZAOC would periodically be employed within the RNZCT transport Squadrons Combat Supplies sections.
The RNZAOC Butcher trade inherited from the RNZASC would be discontinued in the mid-1980s, with the last of the butchers reclassifying as RNZAOC Suppliers. By the mid-1990s, it was decided as a cost-saving measure to allow the RNZCT catering staff to order directly from commercial foodstuff suppliers, effectively ending the RNZAOC foodstuffs speciality. The only RNZASC trade speciality remaining in the RNZAOC on its amalgamation into the RNZALR was that of petroleum Operator.
The RNZASC and RNZCT like the RNZAOC, have passed their combined responsibilities to the RNZALR. However, the RNZASC and RNZCT maintain a strong association that provides many benefits and opportunities for comradeship to RNZASC/CT Corps members and past and present members of the RNZALR. Another role of the RNZASC/CT association is to ensure that the rich and significant history of the RNZASC/CT is not lost to the future generations of the RNZALR.
Copies of the RNZASC/CT association newsletter from issue 92 can be viewed here
Serving the nation for 44 years, Henry Erridge would see service at Gallipoli before being invalided back to New Zealand. Continuing to serve throughout the interbellum, Erridge would assist in shaping the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps for the Second World War. During the war, Erridge would play a significant role in providing New Zealand’s contribution to the collective logistics effort of the British Commonwealth
Henry Earnest Erridge was born in Dunedin on 18 December 1887 to Henry and Jane Erridge. The fifth of seven children, Henry would be educated in Dunedin and received commercial training. A keen military volunteer Erridge had joined the Dunedin Engineer Volunteers as a Cadet in 1904, transferring into the Otago Hussars in 1909, gaining Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) Rank. On 6 April 1914, Erridge joined the New Zealand Permanent Staff (NZPS) with the rank of Staff Sergeant Instructor as the Orderly Room and Quartermaster (QM), No 15 Area Group, Oamaru.
On the outbreak of war in August 1915, Erridge was seconded for duty with the NZEF and left New Zealand with the Main Body, Otago Infantry Battalion. As a Signals Sergeant in the Otago’s, Erridge saw service during the Turkish attack on the Suez Canal in February 1915 and later took part in the landings at Gallipoli. Stuck down with enteric fever, Erridge would be evacuated from Gallipoli to Alexandria in June, and in August, invalided back to New Zealand for further convalescence.
Returning to duty as a Warrant Officer in the QM Department at Featherston Camp on 10 Jamuary 1916, Erridge was appointed Stores Forman responsible for managing the QM Stores accounts for Featherston and its subsidiary camps. Reclassified as Class “A” fit for overseas service on 5 July 1918, it was intended to attach Erridge to a reinforcement draft and returned to the front. Deemed as essential, the Director of Equipment and Ordnance (DEOS) Stores appealed to the Chief of the General Staff, stating that
The accounts of the Camp Quartermaster, Featherston Camp, have not been completed and balanced. The principle causes for this state of affairs are:
(1) The inferior class of clerks posted for Home Service duties. (2) And ever-changing staff, thus throwing the bulk of work on SSM Erridge, who has been employed in the capacity of foreman.
It is essential that SSM Erridge be retained until 1 November at least
Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores to Chief of the General Staff. 14 August 1918
The DEOS appeal was successful, and Erridge was granted authority to delay his placement into a reinforcement draft until November on the proviso that every endeavour was to be made to have all accounts in connection with the QM Branch Featherston and subsidiary camps completed to the satisfaction of the proper authority. Following the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Enridges employment was reassessed, and he was provided orders to remain with the QM Department at Featherston. Seconded to the Ordnance Stores in Wellington in June 1919, Erridge was permanently transferred into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) with Conductor rank on 1 October 1919.
Recommended for the Supplies and Purchasing Officer position with the civil administration in Samoa, Erridge was accepted for service with the Samoan Administration for three years from 24 May 1920. Due to a misunderstanding of the secondment rules, Erridge was discharged from the New Zealand Military. However, this was reviewed, and the discharge was rescinded, allowing Erridge to retain his rank and seniority on return to New Zealand.
Completing his service in Samoa in August 1923, Erridge returned to New Zealand and, following three months leave, resumed duty with the NZAOC, where he was posted to the Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) and placed in charge of the Stores on 1 December 1923. In an example of his experience and utility, Erridge would temporally relieve Captain F.E Ford, the Ordnance Officer of Featherston Camp, over the period 4-31 Jan 1924.
During the 1920s, the Quartermaster General (QMG) vested command of the NZAOC to the Director of Ordnance Service (DOS). Assisted by the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO), the Inspecting Ordnance Officer (IOO), and the Ordnance Mechanical Engineer (OME), the DOS was responsible to the for:
The provision, receipt, storage, distribution, repair, examination, and maintenance of small-arms, machine guns, vehicles, clothing and necessaries, equipment and general stores (including medical and veterinary), and camp and barrack equipment,
The inspection and repair of armament and warlike stores, and the inspection of gun ammunition.
The provision, receipt, storage, and distribution of small arms ammunition.
The receipt, storage, issue, and repair of fixed armament, field armament, and artillery vehicles.
The organisation and control of ordnance workshops
The preparation and periodic revision of Equipment Regulations and barrack and hospital schedules
The organisation, administration, and training of the NZ Army Ordnance Corps Forces
The maintenance of statistics of the Ordnance Department.
The DOS was also the Commanding Officer (CO) of the NZAOC and was responsible for the interior economy, including enlistment, training, pay, promotion, postings transfers, clothing, equipment, and discharges within the unit.
In 1924 the incumbent DOS, Lt Col Pilkington, was appointed QMG in Army Headquarters. Major T.J King, then acting COO, was appointed DOS, with Major William Ivory acting as the IOO and OME. By 1925 King recognised that he could not provide complete justice to both the DOS and COO posts, but with no Ordnance Officers immediately available to fill the COO position, he recommended that the QMG give some relief by granting Erridge an officer’s commission. In his recommendation to the QMG, King noted that
Conductor Erridge is a man of wide experience in Ordnance duties and stores works generally and is eminently fitted for appointment as Ordnance Officer with the rank of lieutenant. He is a man of unblemished character, with a very high regard for the interests of the Corps and the services, and in the last few months gained sufficient insight into the duties I propose transferring him to.
Director of Ordnance Stores to Quartermaster General 11 December 1925
The QMG supported King’s recommendation on the proviso that Erridge pass all the required commissioning examinations. On passing the examinations needed, Erridge was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the NZAOC on 23 July 1926. However, the question then arose of where to place Erridge on to the Army List. Technically the COO appointment was still vacant with Erridge for all intents acting as King’s assistant and only performing part of the COO duties with the work of the COO divided between King and Erridge. It was not desired to add to the establishment an Assistant COO, so it was decided to show Erridge as Ordnance Officer (Provision). Following several years as the Ordnance Officer (Provision), Erridge was appointed to the dual roles of Ordnance Officer MOD and Ordnance Officer Central Military District (CMD) on 14 May 1929.
In December 1930, the incumbent Ordnance Officer Southern Military District (SMD)and Camp Commandant of Burnham Camp, Captain A.R.C White, faced compulsory retirement. To allow some continuity while White’s replacement was decided, Erridge was temporarily sent to Burnham. Although initially only a temporary posting, Erridge would remain at Burnham until 1934 in the dual roles of Ordnance Officer SMD and Officer in Charge Burnham Camp (Camp Commandant).
By 1935 in his role of DOS, King was looking forward and preparing his organisation for war. In a submission to the General Headquarters, King requested authority to reorganise his staff. Regarding Erridge, King started.
Owing to the large amount of new equipment that is on order and is likely to be ordered soon, it is essential that the staff of the Ordnance Depot, Trentham, be strengthened to the extent that I should again have the assistance of my most experienced Ordnance Officer.
There is a great deal of work of a technical nature in connection with mobilisation, rewriting of Regulations, etc., which I am unable to find time to carry out myself, and which Mr Erridge, by virtue of his long experience and training, is well qualified to undertake. This work is most necessary and should be put in hand as soon as possible; I have no other Officer to whom I could delegate it.
Again, King’s recommendations were accepted, and on 30 June 1934, Erridge relinquished his Burnham appointments and was appointed as the Ordnance Officer (Provision) at the MOD, with promotion to Captain following on 1 December 1934.
When the war was declared in September 1939, the NZAOC would undergo significant transformation as its mobilisation plans were implemented. The DOS, Lieutenant Colonel King, would be seconded to the 2nd NZEF as the Deputy Director of Ordnance Services (DDOS). Accompanying King would be a small staff drawn from the military and civilian staff of the NZAOC who would form the nucleus of the Ordnance Corps in the 2nd NZEF. Kings’ responsibilities of DOS and COO would be handed over to the Ordnance Officer CMD, Lt Col Burge.
On 2 December 1939, Erridge relinquished the appointment of Ordnance Officer (Provision), was granted the Rank of temporary Major and posted to Army HQ with substantive Major confirmed in February 1940. In June 1940, the NZAOC would undergo further reorganisation when Lt Col Burge relinquished the appointment of DOS when he was appointed as Deputy QMG in Army HQ with the position of DOS placed into abeyance for the duration of the war. Appointed as Staff Officer Ordnance and CO of the NZAOC, Erridge would take over responsibility for the NZAOC.
With the national economy transitioning from a peacetime to a war footing, the Government would undertake a series of initiatives to ensure international trade and commerce security. Representing the New Zealand Military, Erridge would accompany the New Zealand Minister of Supply and a small entourage of officials of the New Zealand Munitions and Supply Delegation on a tour of Australia for a series of talks with their Australian counterparts in July/August 1940.
While the mission of the New Zealand Munitions and Supply Delegation to Australia was focused on strengthening cooperation between New Zealand and Australia, the Eastern Group Conference held in Delhi in October 1940 had the broader goal of organising a joint war supply policy for the countries of the “Eastern Group.” The countries represented at the Eastern Group Conference included the United Kingdom, Australia, India, South Africa, New Zealand, East Africa, Palestine, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, and Hong Kong, with the Government of the Netherlands East Indies attending as observers. The New Zealand delegation would include.
The Chief of the General Staff, Major-General Sir John Duigan,
Major H. E. Erridge,
Mr F. R. Picot, Director of the Internal Marketing Department,
Mr J. R. Middleton, assistant-Secretary of supply,
Mr B. Taylor, assistant to the chief investigating officer of the Treasury Department.
As a result of the October conference, the Eastern Group Supply Council (EGSC) was established to coordinate and optimise the production and distribution of war materiel in the British colonies and dominions in the Eastern Hemisphere. The New Zealand members of the council who would be based in New Delhi were.
Mr F.R Picot, Director of Internal Marketing and Food Controller,
Mr W.G.M Colquhoun (Munitions Department).
Mr R.J Inglis (Supply Department).
Mr R.H. Wade (of the Treasury).
A Central Provisions Office (Eastern) was also set up in Delhi, with national offices established in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, East Africa, Southern Rhodesia and the Middle East. The Central Provision Office (Eastern) was a military organisation consisting of about 40 to 50 Army officers from all countries constituting the Eastern Group. Headed by the Controller-General of Army Provisions, who was also the military member of the EGSC and acted as the agent of the Imperial General Staff and various Commanders in Chief. The role of the Central Provision Office (Eastern) was coordinating with the controllers of the national provision offices to obtain military stores to maintain the British and Commonwealth war effort. From March 1941, Two NZAOC Officers, Temporary Major D. L. Lewis and Lieutenant D.I Strickland, would be attached to the Central Provision Office (Eastern) staff in New Delhi.
Before the Central Provision Office (Eastern) assumed complete provision control, it would be necessary for all the controllers of the national provision offices to meet to ensure that uniform procedures were adopted. A coordination conference for the various Provision Group Controllers was held at New Delhi in July 1941, with Erridge attending as New Zealand’s military representative. Based on this conference, on 5 August 1941, the New Zealand War Cabinet approved the establishment of the New Zealand Defence Servicers Provision Officer (DSPO), with Erridge appointed as its Controller with the rank of Temporary Lieutenant Colonel. Relinquishing the appointment of Staff Officer Ordnance and handing over the Commanding Officer NZAOC duties to Major E.L.G Bown, the COO MOD.
By April 1945, the DSPO thought Central Provision Group (Eastern) had shipped for the British Ministry of Supply equipment to the value of £10,000,000 (2021 NZD $8,988,577,362.41) with additional equipment to the value of £8,520,761 (2021 NZD $765,895,194.35) that was surplus to the requirements of NZ Forces overseas transferred to the War office. During a visit to New Zealand in January 1946, Major-General R.P Pakenham-Walsh, CB, MC., a member of the Eastern Group Supply Council and the Central Provision Office(Eastern), stated that “Stores from New Zealand which had been made available to the Eastern Group Supply Council had been of great importance in the prosecution of the war” adding that “the Dominion’s contribution had compared more than favourably with that of various larger countries.” Following the surrender of Germany in April and Japan’s defeat in August 1945, the Eastern Group Supply Council and Central Provision Office, although serving their purpose well, had become irrelevant and were dissolved on 31 March 1946. However, it would take two years for the DSPO to transition to a peacetime footing. Seconded to the War Asset Realisation Board (WARB) on 1 May 1947, Erridge would start to wind down the work of the DSPO while also coordinating the disposal of equipment through the WARB. On 17 December 1948, Erridge handed over the remaining stocks to the WARB and closed the DSPO.
At 62 years of age and following 45 years of volunteer, Territorial and Regular service, Erridge retired from the New Zealand Army and was placed onto the Retired List with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 29 May 1949. Never marrying, Erridge spent his retirement in his hometown of Dunedin. On 30 March 1962, a resident of the Dunedin’s Ross Home, Erridge, passed away at 74. Following his wishes, he was cremated, and his ashes scattered.
Throughout his service, Erridge was awarded the following decorations
NZ Long Service and Efficient Service (1925)
British War Medal
War Medal 1939-45
NZ War Medal, 193-45
 Archives New Zealand, “Henry Earnest Erridge- Ww1 8/1004, Nzaoc 888, Ww2 800245, 30293,” Personal File, Record no R24097640 (1904-1948): 2708.
 “Regulations for the Military Forces of the Dominion of New Zealand,” New Zealand Gazette, May 19 1927.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Resignations and Transfers of Officers of the NZ Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 61, 19 July 1926.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Resignations and Transfer of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 48, 27 June 1929.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 16, 5 March 1931.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 55, 19 July 1934.;”Appointment, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers from the NZ Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 87, 29 November 1935.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 1, 11 Jan 1940.;”Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 75 (1940).
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers of the NZ Forces “, New Zealand Gazette No 70 (1940).
 “Unity in War Effort,” Evening Star, Issue 23622, 8 July 1940.
 East Africa consisting of the territories of (Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika, Zanzibar, Northern and Southern Rhodesia, Nyasaland; Bertram Stevens, “The Eastern Group Supply Council,” The Australian Quarterly 13, no. 3 (1941).
 “Eastern Group Supply Council,” Otago Daily Times, Issue 24640, 23 June 1941.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Retirements of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces.,” New Zealand Gazette, No 30, 9 April 1941.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Retirements of Officers of the New Zealand Military Forces.,” New Zealand Gazette, No 74, 11 September 1941.
 “War Supplies,” Evening Post, Volume CXXXIX, Issue 126, 30 May 1945.
 “Production Problems,” Evening Star, Issue 25690, 14 January 1946.
 “Supplies – the Eastern Group Supply Council,” Northern Advocate, 1 April 1946, 1 April 1946.
 “Appointments, Promotions, Transfers, and Resignations, of Officers of the New Zealand Army “, New Zealand Gazette No 37, 16 June 1949.
From the turn of the twentieth century, the New Zealand Army had transformed from small permanent militia and volunteer force, into a modern citizen army, organised for integration with a much larger British Imperial Army. When New Zealand entered the First World War, the New Zealand Army did not have a Regular or Territorial Army Ordnance Corps from which to expand into a wartime Ordnance organisation. The creation of a New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps had remained a topic of discussion and indecision. Still, appetite to make a decision lacked until the war necessitated the formation of a New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps as a unit of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF).
Ordnance functions in support of the New Zealand Forces had since 1907 been a civil/military responsibility under the control of the Defence Council with duties divided between the civilian Defence Store Department and the Royal New Zealand Artillery;
The Director of Artillery Services (Ordnance): Responsible for Artillery armament, fixed coast defences, and supplies for Ordnance, and
The Director of Stores: Responsible for clothing and personal equipment, accoutrements, saddlery, harness, small-arms and small-arms ammunition, machine guns, material, transport, vehicles, camp equipment, and all stores required for the Defence Forces.
As this created a division of roles and responsibilities, there were many calls for the establishment of a New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps along the lines of;
The Army Ordnance Corps, established in Britain in 1895,
The Australian Army Ordnance Department, established in 1902, and
The Canadian Ordnance Corps, established in 1907.
On 27 December 1907, James O’Sullivan head storekeeper of the Defence Sores Department was confirmed as the Director of Stores, with the Rank of Honorary Captain in the New Zealand Staff Corps. Further progress was made on the creation of an Army Ordnance Corps in 1913 with the selection and appointment of Brigade Ordnance Officers (Territorial) in each district with the intent of forming a Central Ordnance Depot to support each Brigade Camp during the 1913 camping season. Under the Director of Equipment and Stores, a fortnight course of instruction on Ordnance duties was conducted at Alexandra Barracks in January 1913 for the selected Brigade Ordnance Officers. In the field during the 1913 Annual Camps, each Brigade Ordnance Officer was allocated a staff of 2 clerks and 4 issuers, who were also selected before the camps and had undertaken training on Ordnance duties.]
From an Ordnance perspective, the1913 camps were a revolution in New Zealand’s Ordnance planning. For the first time, The issue of camp equipment was effectively managed with issues direct from Brigade Ordnance Depots directly to Regiments as they marched in. Issues were based against set scales, removing any doubt as to quantities taken into use and ensuring units were not holding excessive equipment and obviating any losses that were a feature of the previous system of direct consignment in small lots. On the completion of the camps, Regimental Quartermaster Sergeants assembled all equipment for return or made the necessary arrangements to rectify deficiencies without any delay. To facilitate the closing of camp stores accounts, Regimental Quartermaster Sergeants were placed under the orders of the Brigade Supply Officer. They would if necessary remain post the departure of their Regiments, remaining until the completion of checking and adjusting of accounts for rations and equipment. The Brigade Ordnance Officers would then ensure the return of all camp equipment to the respective mobilisation stores. An organisational success, the 1913 Ordnance Depot concept was carried over for use in the 1914 camps. The significant difference between the 1913 and 1914 camp’s was that they were to be much larger Divisional camps. To manage the increase of dependency, the size of the Ordnance Depot Staff was increased to 6 clerks and twelve issuers. Moreover, some of the regional Defence Storekeepers participated as the camp Ordnance Officers.
Based on many of the logistical lessons learned by the British Army in the Anglo/Boer war, the British Army published their doctrine for the provision of Ordnance Services to the British Army in the 1914′ Ordnance Manual (War)’. The concept of operations for British Ordnance Services was that they were to be organised depending upon the general nature of operations and lines of communication. Arranged within convenient distances of Corps and Divisions, Ordnance Depots would be located to allow units to draw their stores and ammunition from that source. If lines of communication became extended, the establishment of intermediate, advanced, and field depots on the lines of communication was authorised. The composition of Ordnance Depots was to consist of personnel of each trade, of sufficient numbers necessary for the operation of a small ordnance depot and workshop. Assistant Directors Ordnance Services (ADOS) would be responsible for each Corps, with Deputy Assistant Directors Ordnance Services (DADOS) accountable for each Division.
The doctrine Britain had in place at the beginning of the First World War was for forces to be fully equipped with everything necessary to enable them to undertake operations.  Included in the plan was the daily maintenance of Combat Supplies, but no provision for the replacement of weapons, equipment or clothing was allowed. Re-equipment would happen upon the withdrawal of forces for rest. New Zealand’s contribution as part of the British Empire was to be the NZEF based around an Infantry Division and a Mounted Infantry Brigade. Given the doctrine, New Zealand’s Ordnance requirements were minimal and would initially consist of no more than a DADOS, A Senior NCO clerk and a box of Stationary.
Detailed in Section 5 of General Order 312 of August 1914, the initial establishment of the NZEF was; 1 Officer, 1 Clerk and a horse. The NZEF DADOS was New Zealand Staff Corps Honorary Captain William Thomas Beck, Defence Storekeeper for the Northern Districts.  Beck was an experienced military storekeeper, who had been a soldier in the Permanent Militia before his appointment as Northern Districts Defence Storekeeper in 1904. Beck was the Officer in charge of the Camp Ordnance for the Auckland Divisional Camp at Hautapu near Cambridge in April 1914 so was well prepared for the role of DADOS.
The Senior Non-Commissioned Officer assisting Beck was Norman Joseph Levien. A general storekeeper, Levien enlisted into the 3rd Auckland Regiment immediately on the outbreak of war, appointed as a Temporary Sergeant and transferred to the Ordnance Department as the I.C. of Stores and Equipment, assisting in equipping troops for overseas service. Beck and Levien embarked with the main body of the NZEF, departing Wellington for England on the troopship TSS Maunganui on 3 December 1914.
The main body of the NZEF was initially destined for England, but the Canadian Expeditionary Force had suffered an exceptionally bitter winter on Salisbury Plain resulting in a change of plans for the main body of the NZEF to spare them the rigours of an English winter. Diverted to Egypt and disembarking on 3 December 1914. The New Zealanders would join with the Australians as the ‘Australasian Army Corps’. The Corps comprised two divisions; the 1st Australian Division, and the New Zealand and Australian Division. Based at Based Zeitoun Camp on the outskirts of Cairo, the New Zealanders trained and acclimatised to the local conditions, with preparations made for potential operations against the Ottoman Empire. The New Zealanders would see their first action in February 1915 when Ottoman forces raided the Suez Canal.
By 10 December Beck had established himself as the DADOS of the NZEF with an Ordnance office and a shared depot with the Army Service Corps at Zeitoun Camp. NZEF Order No 9 of 10 December 1914 stated that all indents for Ordnance Stores, including petrol and lubricants were to be submitted to the DADOS Ordnance Depot. Beck and had much to work ahead to bring the New Zealand units to scale and come to terms with the British Ordnance Systems. Britain had maintained occupation forces in Egypt since the 1880s and as such had peacetime Ordnance depots in Alexandra and Cairo. To understand the British systems and how best to utilise them Sergeant Levien was attached to the British Ordnance Corps Depot at the Citadel in Cairo to study the Ordnance systems in use and the Ordnance procedures the New Zealand Forces would have to adopt.
Divisional Order 210 of 28 December transferred the following soldiers to the Ordnance Depot;
By March 1915 Levien had secured premises for a New Zealand Ordnance Depot and warehouse at No. 12 Rue de la Porte Rosette and a warehouse at Shed 43, Alexandra Docks. From these premises, the New Zealand Forces would be provided support before and during the Dardanelles campaign. The Australians established a similar Depot at Mustapha Barracks and in No 12 Bond Store on Alexandra Docks.
On 3 April 1915, Beck received a boost to his DADOS organisation. Commissioned to 2nd Lieutenant, Thomas Joseph King, a qualified accountant, transferred into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps. King was appointed as the Officer in Charge of the Ordnance Depot at Zeitoun Camp, and Levien, also promoted to 2nd Lieutenant assumed the position of Officer in Charge of Equipment, Small Arms and Accoutrements (SAA) and Clothing.
Early in January 1915 planning began for operations in the area around the Dardanelles, with the ambitious goal of forcing the Ottoman Empire out of the war. Now well known as the Gallipoli Campain, the Australians and New Zealanders were committed to being critical participants in the planned amphibious assault and ground offensive. The Ordnance plan for the campaign included the establishment of an Ordnance Base Depot in Alexandria, and a floating Ordnance Depot set up on the cargo ship the ‘SS Umsinga’. The Umsinga was fitted out in the U.K. with all the Ordnance Stores required, all carefully laid out by vocabulary with detailed plans produced to locate the stock quickly. With Lieutenant Colonel McCheane in command as the Chief Ordnance Officer, he had a complement of one hundred and fifty men of the AOC to manage the stocks.
The invasion fleet loaded with the ANZAC, British and French concentrated off the Island of Lemnos from 10 April. The assault would be at two locations on the morning of 25 April. The British 29th Division would land at Cape Helles on the southern tip of the Gallipoli Penisula, and the ANZACs at locations on the west coast of the Peninsular that would become known as ANZAC Cove. The Division of the landing force made the concept of having the ‘Umsinga’ as the offshore ordnance Depot unworkable. To rectify the situation, the ‘S.S. Anglo Indian’ became the second floating Ordnance Depot. Half the stocks of the ‘Umsinga’ were cross-loaded to the ‘Anglo Indian’ on the night of 23/24 April, with British Ordnance Officer Major Basil Hill appointed as Chief Ordnance Officer on the Anglo Indian, along with haft the AOC men from the “Umsinga”.
The 1st Australian Divison started landing at around 4 am on the morning of 25 April, followed by the Australian and New Zealand Division several hours later. Soon after the beachhead was secured but still under considerable enemy fire, the ‘Anglo Indian’ drew close to the shore and started to cross-load Ammunition and other Ordnance Stores for transfer to an Ordnance dump established at the southern end of the beach. Lt Col J.G Austin, the 1st Australian Division DADOS, supervised the unloading of the lighters into the Ordnance dump and established forward ammunition dumps close to the front lines.
As DADOS of the Australian & New Zealand Division, Beck landed with Godley’s Headquarters at ANZAC Cove at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Lieutenant Colonel Fenwick, ADMS, another New Zealander, was part of the Headquarters landing party describes the events on that day: 
“We were all ready to land but were kept waiting and waiting until about 9.00 a.m. Some barges were moored alongside and a string of boats outside of these on the starboard side. Colonels Braithwaite, Chaytor and Manders, Major Hughes and Captain Beck and I got into the first boat. We were frightfully hampered by our kit – overcoat, revolver, glasses, map case, haversack, three days rations, firewood, Red Cross satchel, water bottle – like elephants. It was a certainty that we would drown if we got sunk. After waiting, a steam picket boat came along in charge of a very fat rosy midshipman. He took our string of boats in tow, and we were off. Our boat grounded about 50 feet from the shore and we all hopped out. Of course, I fell into a hole up to my neck. I could hardly struggle ashore and when I did the first thing I saw was Beck sitting on a stone, roaring with laughter at us. Billy Beck was the first New Zealander of Godley’s force (New Zealanders were serving in the Australian Division) to get onto Gallipoli”.
The landings were not as successful as planned with the Ottoman troops providing a more robust defence than expected; the campaign soon developed into stalemated trench warfare. By July the Island of Lemnos 40 miles from the peninsula had become the logistics hub supporting the campaign. The Ordnance command structure underwent a shakeup, the DOS for the entire campaign was Colonel Perry of the AOD, ADOS’s were made responsible for Ordnance support in the individual Corps areas of Helles and ANZAC Cove, Lt Col Austin assumed the position of the ANZAC Corps ADOS. The much larger “S.S. Minnetonka” was charted to act as depot ship, making regular round trips from Lemnos, Helles and ANZAC. The “‘ Umsinga’ and ‘Anglo Indian’ continue to support their respective areas as ammunition tenders.
Beck remained as the DADOS of the Australian & New Zealand Division with staff Sergeant Major Elliot Purdom, Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant of the Auckland Mounted Rifles transferred into the division headquarters to be his assistant. For the next three months, Purdom would assist Beck with the strenuous work of landing and organising stores and managing the depot staff. It would appear that he was also a bit of a character and The Hawera & Normanby Star, 24 June 1916 had this to say about Captain Beck’s service at Gallipoli:
“Finally, there was Captain William Beck, an ordinary officer. “Beachy Bill” was in charge of the store – a miserable little place – and whenever he put his nose out of the door bullets tried to hit it. The Turkish gun in Olive Grove was named after him, “Beachy Bill.” The store was simply a shot under fire, and Bill looked out and went on with his work just as if no bullets were about. He was the most courteous and humorous, and no assistant at Whiteley’s could have been more pleasing and courteous than the brave storekeeper on Anzac Beach. General Birdwood never failed to call on Captain Beck or call out as he passed on his daily rounds, asking if he were there, and they all dreaded that someday there would be no reply from a gaunt figure still in death. But Captain Beck was only concerned for the safety of his customers. He hurried them away, never himself.
Back in Egypt, with reinforcements arriving from New Zealand, King remained fully occupied at the Zeitoun Ordnance Depot. Ensuring new drafts of troops were brought up to scale and troops departing for ANZAC cove were fully equipped, on 2 May, King received additional assistance in the form of Trooper Reginald Pike. Pike 39 years old and a veteran of the Boer war was promoted to Temporary Sergeant and appointed as Ordnance Clerk. Pike would remain with Ordnance for the duration of the war.
By mid-July, illness was taking its toll on Beck and Purdom. During August both men were transferred to the hospital in Alexandria, after some time in Alexandra, both would be invalided back to New Zealand. Levien embarked for the Dardanelles on 2 August to replace Beck as DADOS, with King taking over the management of the Alexandra Depot on 12 August. At ANZAC Cove Private Arthur Gilmour transferred into the NZAOC as acting Sergeant on 24 August.
On 6 October Levien and King, both received promotions to Lieutenant. King took over as DADOS of the Division and Levien was appointed the Chief Ordnance Officer at Sarpi camp, with responsibility for re-equipping the depleted Australian & New Zealand Division. Having been in action since April, the Division required some rest and reorganisation. From mid-September 1915, most of the depleted division withdrew to the Island of Lemnos. Spending seven weeks at Sarpi Camp, the Division returned to the Gallipoli peninsula in early November with King remaining as DADOS. November also saw the promotion of Acting Sergeant Gilmour to Sergeant.
By mid-October, it was apparent that the situation in the Dardanelles had become hopeless, with operations against the enemy reaching a stalemate and offensive options exhausted. After extensive planning, evacuation orders were issued on 22 November. Starting on 15 December, withdrawing under cover of darkness, the last troops departed ANZAC Cove and Suvla Bay by dawn 20 December, with the final evacuations of the French and British forces at Helles completed by 9 January.
Returning to Egypt the Australians and New Zealand Division regrouped, and with enough New Zealand reinforcements now available to form a third Brigade, the NZEF became a standalone New Zealand Division. The bulk of the Australian and New Zealand forces separated, but the Mounted Rifle Brigade joined with the Australians to establish the Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division, which would remain in the Middle East for the remainder of the war. Elements of the New Zealand Division detached for operations against the Senussi in Western Egypt, returned to the Division in February and by March the New Zealand Division started to depart for France, joining the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front.
From late 1915 the need for a more robust NZAOC was recognised, and expansion of the NZAOC as a unit of the NZEF began in December with Private Frank Percy Hutton and Sergeant Kenneth Bruce MacRae transferred into the NZAOC. On 1 February 1916 Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert, who had previously served as Commanding Officer of the Pioneer Battalion was transferred into NZAOC and appointed New Zealand Division, DADOS and Officer Commanding of the NZEF NZAOC. Also on 1 January Staff Sergeant Geard who had been with Ordnance since December 1914 formally transferred into the NZAOC.
The NZAOC would officially become a unit of the NZEF in February, with a commensurate influx of personnel transferred into the NZAOC, including;
On 22 March Sergeant MacRae was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant
King and Levien would not travel with the Division to France. King was struck down with Enteric (typhoid) fever and would be invalided back to New Zealand on 10 May. King would remain in the Military, initially taking up a posting in the Defence Stores and transferring into the NZAOC on its formation in New Zealand in 1917. Levien oversaw the closing down of the Alexandra depot, disposing of the vast stockpile of stores that had accumulated over the year. Levien would embark for England in May 1916, taking up the post of NZEF Chief Ordnance Officer in the U.K.
 “Defence Forces of New Zealand Report by the Council of Defence and by the Inspector-General of the New Zealand Defence Forces for the Year 1907.,” Appendix to the Journal of the House of Representives ( 1907).
 “The Hautapu Camp,” Waikato Argus, Volume XXXV, Issue 5575, 4 April 1914.
 “Camp Preparations,” Evening Post, Volume LXXXVII, Issue 22 27 January 1914.
 “Norman Joseph Levien,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914-1924.
 “William Thomas Beck,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.
 the ‘Australasian Army Corps’. The designation; Australian and New Zealand Army Corps’ was soon adopted and abbreviated to ANZAC, but would not enter the common vernacular until after the Gallipoli landings.
 “Appendices to War Diaries, I – Lxii,” Item ID R23486739, Archives New Zealand 1914-1915.
 Arthur Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services (London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929), Page 211.
A significant function of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force during the First World War was managing the New Zealand Divisional Laundries and Baths. The Laundry and Bath functions would help maintain the New Zealand Division’s hygiene by providing the opportunity for regular bathing, the exchanging of underclothing and socks and the delousing of uniforms. Although the NZ Division s Laundry and Bath functions were interconnected with its neighbouring Divisions and supporting Corps, this article’s focus is on providing a snapshot of the NZ Divisions Laundry and Bath operations from October 1916 to June 1918.
At the onset of the First World War in part due to the lessons learnt in the South African War and the more recent Balkan Wars, the British Army had a reasonable understanding of the importance of hygiene in the field and published The Manual of Elementary Military Hygiene in 1912. However, as with any military doctrine, the practical application of the field hygiene lessons learnt would take time to become effective in the early years of the War. However, by the time the New Zealand Division arrived at the Western Front in mid-1916, the British Army had a rudimentary Laundry and Bath system at the Corps and Divisional level in which the New Zealand Division would be integrated into.
Command and Control
Initially, as the New Zealand Division took over the existing Laundry and Baths from British units, these functions were initially vested as a responsibility of the New Zealand Medical Corps, who provided officers and men to supplement he existing civilian staff. In line with British practice both the Divisional Laundry and Baths came under the control of the Division Headquarters “Q” Branch, and from 21 December 1916, the New Zealand Division, Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) was the officer responsible for the running of the Divisional Laundry and Baths.
The Bathing concept was that four Bathhouses were to be established in a Divisional area: usually one Bathhouse for each Infantry brigade and on Bathhouse for the rest of the Division. The concept was that Soldiers would rotate through Bathhouse on a schedule to allow the entire Division to be bathed once every ten days. In the early years of the war Bathing facilities were rudimentary with Baths ranging from breweries or fabric processing plants to Beer barrels cut in half.
Although initially built on an ad-hoc basis using whatever resources were available, by 1917 most Bathhouses in the New Zealand Division were built and operated on a uniform pattern: 
A typical Bathhouse would be operated as follows.
The men enter at 1, Undress and hand their Service Dress and valuables in at 2(Obtaining receipt) and dirty underclothes at 3.
They then have a hot shower in D
While the men are having their showers, the seams of their Service Dress Tunics and Trousers were ironed to kill lice, and small repairs were undertaken.
Upon completing the shower, the men enter F, collect a towel, clean underclothes at 4 and their Service Dress and valuables at 5. Dress and leave by 6.
All Towels and dirty underclothes are sent from the baths to the Divisional Laundry daily, and a supply of clean or new items received in exchange.
In June 1918 the system of delousing the soldier’s Service Dress clothing was improved using the Thresh Disinfector Delousing Chamber. As soldier passed into the Bathhouse, the soldier’s Service Dress would be turned inside out and handed over to the Thresh operators. The Garments would be hung up inside the Thresh’s airtight chamber and sealed. Coke braziers then heated the airtight chamber, and after the garments had been treated by this method for 15 minutes, they were found to be entirely free form lice and eggs.
Personnel employed in the Divisional usually consisted of
Locally employed civilian women for ironing and mending.
Depending on the ebb and flow of the battle and the New Zealand Division’s movement, between October 1916 and June 1918 the DADOS War Diary records that Bathhouses to support the NZ Division were established in over thirty-four different locations. On most occasions, existing bathhouses were taken over from other Divisions. If there were no existing Bathhouse or the ones taken over were not suitable, NZ Engineers would be employed to construct new bathhouses.
By June 1918, the New Zealand Divisional Bathhouse system was operating effectively and bathing on average between 700 – 800 troops daily, with 46411 men passing through the Divisional Bathhouses in total.
On most occasions, the Division would be relieving an existing Division in the area and would take over the existing Divisional Laundry as a going concern. However, there were occasions when a Laundry would have to be established from the ground up, such as when the Division Laundry and Baths at Pont de Nieppe were destroyed by enemy shell fire in April 1917.
The Divisional Laundry would receive dirty garments from the Baths, (underclothes, socks, and towels) where they would be disinfected, washed, and mended and placed into a reissue pool.
Usually, the Divisional Laundry would place indents on the supply chain for new items to replace items beyond repair, however, in January 1918 authority was granted for the Divisional Baths to hold a pool of new clothing to me maintained consisting of: 
13100 vests woollen
12450 Drawers Woollen
19000 pairs of socks
By 1918 the average output from the New Zealand Divisional Laundry was 35,000 – 40,000 garments per week.
Personnel employed in the Divisional Laundry usually consisted of.
Between October 1916 and June 1918, as the NZ Division moved, the NZ Divisional Laundry would also be relocated and established in new locations, some of the known sites were
October 1916 Located at Estaires.
Pont de Nieppe, Laundry destroyed by enemy shellfire, 12 April 1917
18 to 25 April 1917 Established at Steenwerck, Handed over to the 8th Division.
Before and during the German 1918 Spring Offensive, the Divisional Laundry would be located at.
Socks were an unlikely enabler; in the extreme conditions found in the mud-filled trenches clean, dry socks were often the difference between life and death. When feet are constantly wet, as they often were in the trenches, they begin to rot. Gangrene sets in, and often the only remedy is amputation. In the First World War, 75,000 British troops would die due to complications caused by trench foot.
Acutely aware of the need for clean socks, the New Zealand Division maintained a system where socks were exchanged daily. To facilitate the daily exchange, a dry sock store was run in conjunction with the Bathhouses. Here dry socks were drawn daily by units in the line in exchange for dirty socks. The dirty sock would then be backloaded to the Divisional Laundry and exchanged for clean socks.
Once received by the Divisional Laundry, the dirty socks would if damaged, be mended, washed and once dried treated with camphor (as prevention against trench foot) before been placed into the exchange pool.
By May 1918 the disruption caused by the 1918 German Kaiserschlacht offensive had affected the supply routes with the railway service from the Laundry at Abbeville becoming irregular, and it was taking 6-7 days for trucks to travel the short distance to replenish Bathhouses with clean underclothing and socks. However, given the hygiene and morale benefits that clean socks brought, the need to maintain the sock exchange system to the forward troops was a priority. Therefore, close to the front, under the supervision of the NZAOC, a small sock washing depot was established with Sixteen men from the Divisional Employment Company in May 1918. Socks were sorted with torn or holey socks returned to the Laundry for mending, with the remainder of the socks washed by hand. In fine weather, the drying was done outside, if it was wet, the socks were hung on wires from the ceiling of a room and dried employing coke braziers. The men did excellent work, and output was 4 to 5 thousand pairs daily and kept up an adequate supply.
As the western front settled down into the routine of trench warfare in the winter of 1915, the time spent in the saturated trenches by British troops was limited to thirty-six hours during which the wearing of gumboots became widespread in the water-soaked areas. The use of gumboots helped minimise the effects of mud and water on exposed feet, thus limiting Trench foot occurrences. Based on the early success of gumboots, contracts were placed with the North British Rubber Company (now Hunter Boot Ltd) to manufacture over 1,185,000 pairs of Gumboots for the British army during WW1.
Boots were classed as Trench Stores and usually only issued to a Division when it was on the line. The NZ Division was typically provided with around 6000 pairs, pooled, and issued from a Gumboot Store. The Gumboot store was designed with drying racks and heaters to allow the wet gumboots to be dried and prepared for reissue.
This article provides a small snapshot of how the Laundry and Bath functions contributed to maintaining the New Zealand Division’s hygiene by providing the opportunity for regular bathing, the exchanging of underclothing and socks and the delousing of uniforms. Although the playing a small but significant role in maintaining the combat effectiveness of the New Zealand Division, the efforts of the NZ Division DADOS Staff, the men of the Divisional Employment Companies and the locally employed civilian staff in maintaining the Laundry and Bath operations are worthy of further study to expand the historiography of New Zealand’s First World War combat enablers.
 Martin C. M. Bricknell and Colonel David A. Ross, “Fit to Fight – from Military Hygiene to Wellbeing in the British Army,” Military Medical Research 7, no. 1 (2020).
 Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 71-72.
 “2nd Australia & New Zealand Army Corps [2anzac], Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Ados) – War Diary, 1 December – 31 December 1916,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487340 (1916).
 Janet Macdonald, Supplying the British Army in the First World War, vol. , (Pen and Sword military, 2019), , 143.
 “An Account of the Working of the Baths Established in the Divisional Areas in France,” Archives New Zealand Item No R24428508 (1918).
 “Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division – New Zealand Division – Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 June – 30 June 1918,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487667 (1918).
 From May 1917 drawn from No 1 NZ (Divisional) Employment Company.
 Based on the DADOS War Diaries Bathhouses were established at, Neuve-Eglise, Selles, Balinghem,Merck-Saint-Liévin, Watou Area, Vlamertinge, Poperinghe, Canal Bank, Bayenghem, Potijze, Hondichen, Staple, Halifax Camp, Caistre, Béthencourt, Louvencourt, Pas, Nauchelles, Pont de Nieppe, Blendecques, Café Belge
 Peter D. F. Cooke, Won by the Spade: How the Royal New Zealand Engineers Built a Nation (Exisle Publishing Ltd, 2019), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 199.
 “Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division – New Zealand Division – Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 June – 30 June 1918”
 “Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division – New Zealand Division – Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 April – 30 April 1917,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487653 (1917).
 “An Account of the Working of the Baths Established in the Divisional Areas in France.”
 “Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division – New Zealand Division – Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 January – 31 January 1918,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487662 (1918).
 From May 1917 drawn from No 1 NZ (Divisional) Employment Company.
A warehouse is usually a building of ample space, filled with commodities of all descriptions packed high and often close together, making them conducive to the spread of fire. In the brief history of the New Zealand Army Ordnance services, the risk of warehouse fires has always been taken seriously. As a small army at the end of an exceptionally long supply chain, the loss of expensive and hard to replace stores is something the Army could ill afford, not to mention the loss and replacement of infrastructure. Shortly after the formation of the New Zealand Ordnance Services in 1917, the Dunedin Ordnance Depot experienced a fire which, although destroying some stock, was prevented by the fast response of the Dunedin Fire Brigade from becoming a catastrophic event.
The Dunedin Ordnance Depot started its life in 1907 as a purpose-built Mobilisation Store at 211 St Andrews Street. With a Civilian storekeeper Mr Owen Paul McGuigan, employed under the technical control of the Defence Stores organisation, the store was under the day to day control of the Officer Commanding of the Otago and Southland Military District, becoming part of the new Ordnance organisation on its formation in 1917. Mr McGuigan was granted Honorary rank as a Captain in 1914 and commissioned as a Captain in the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) in 1917, holding the appointment of Assistant Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores for the Otago and Southland Military District. This position was responsible for the Territorial Army units, the various army establishments in the Otago and Southland Military District and the providing of Ordnance Stores to troopships. The Dunedin Ordnance Depot is known to have a staff of at least 6 Other Ranks.
At around 5 pm on Monday the 11th of June 1917, Captain McGuigan conducted a final check of his ordnance store, ensuring that all the fireplaces had been extinguished and satisfied that the building was safe to secure for the night, locked the doors. At approximately 5 am on the morning of the 12 of June, a passing policeman saw nothing suspicious. At 5.15 am, the alarm was raised from the alarm on the corner of St Andrews Street that there was a fire underway on the upper floors of the Defence building.
The Dunedin Fire Brigade consisted of the central fire station and substations at Māori Hill, Roslyn, and Mornington. The Dunedin Brigade had retired its horse-drawn appliances in 1913 and had just recently received three modern Dennis 60 h.p. motor hose-tenders, each fitted with a telescopic trussed ladder and first-aid pumping outfits. For 1917, it was a well-equipped brigade., As the central station was located less a Kilometre from the defence buildings, it fell upon Superintendent Napier and the men of the central fire station to respond to the fire alarm.
Promptly arriving at the defence buildings, the responding fire brigade found an active fire emerging from the front portion of the second floor of the Defence Stores. The ferocity of the fire indicated that it had been alight for some time and had a firm grip of the contents. Described as “a very hot and Stubborn little fire”, the blaze proved challenging to overcome, requiring three hose lines and an hour and a half of hard and smart work by the fire brigade to bring the fire under control and extinguish the blaze.
Postfire examinations revealed severe damage to the stock, including,
uniform jackets, and other assorted
The damaged stock was confined to items stacked close to the window on the second floor, while stock close to the fireplace located on the rear wall was limited to smoke damage, eliminating embers from the fireplace as the cause. Surprisingly the damage to the building was superficial except for the roof, which was beyond repair. With a total loss valued at £1237 (NZD 155422.62). The Cause of the blaze was never determined. There was no insurance on the property, with the cost born by the crown with final appropriations for the losses made in 1921.
How the fire affected the work at the Dunedin Ordnance Depot is unknown. Still, it would continue to service the Otago and Southand Military districts until 1921, when the South Island military districts amalgamated into the Southern Military Command. To support the new Southern Military Command, a single Ordnance Depot was established at Burnham Camp, combining the Ordnance Depots of Christchurch and Dunedin stores and staff. The Dunedin fire was a close call. With the risk of fire to Ordnance stores well recognised by the Ordnance leadership, fire pickets would remain an essential regimental duty for Ordnance Other Ranks in Ordnance Depots for many years. The most severe fire to strike a New Zealand Ordnance Store was the 1944/45 New Year’s Eve fire, which resulted in the loss of £225700 (2017 NZD 18,639,824.86) of stock from No2 Ordnance Depot in Palmerston North. The Palmerston North fire led to a review of all New Zealand Ordnance Depots to ensure the robustness of fire prevention measures.
Despite the initial fire in Dunedin in 1917 and the Palmerston North fire in 1944, the spectre of fire would remain constant. Fire prevention and precautions would remain a continuous component of Ordnance training and procedures until the amalgamation of the RNZAOC into the RNZALR in 1996. Because of such diligence, there would be few fire-related incidents in New Zealand Ordnance Depots.
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 Westminster 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 embryonic 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 Division.
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 Meritorious Service Medals for their work.
Warrant Officer Class One, Sub-Conductor Badge. 1915-1919 Robert McKie Collection
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 commissioned 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 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 commissioned 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 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 enlisted in the Auckland Infantry Regiment in August 1914. Seeing Service in the Dardanelles. Staff Sergeant Geard was attached to the New 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 in August 1918, Geard spent the rest of the war on the staff of the NZ Division DADOS, demobilising as a Lieutenant in 1919.
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 with the acting rank of Warrant Officer as the clerk NZAOC. Transferring into the NZAOC on the 26th of February 1916 with the rank of Company Sergeant 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. Simmons remained in the NZAOC filling various staff roles in France and England for the duration of the war, finally being appointed Honorary Captain 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.
6/3459 Warrant Officer Class 1 (Conductor) Clarence Adrian Seay, MSM. NZAOC Archives New Zealand/Public Domain
Clarence 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 Seay died of Influenza on the 20th of February 1919 in Cologne, Germany. Interred 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.”
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 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 Division 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 Northern Military district based at Ngaruawahia. Hutton was discharged from the RNZAOC on the 6th of June 1948 when he was 69 years of age.
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 Goutenoire 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 assigned 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 1930s.
After a short stint serving in the NZAOC in New Zealand, O’Brien would return to his pre-war trade of banker. Immigrating to the United States, O’Brien attended De Paul University Law School in Chicago from 1921 to 1924. In 1926 O’Brien took up the position of vice-president of the Commercial National Bank in Shreveport, Louisiana. During the Second World War, O’Brien then a US Citizen served in the United States Army Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel in the South-West Pacific Theatre of Operations.
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. Transferring into the NZAOC 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.
A member of the Royal New Zealand Artillery since February 1898, Charles 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 as part of the 37th Reinforcements in November 1918. Slattery was then transferred to the NZEF New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps on the 6th of January 1919 and promoted to Warrant Officer Class One with the appointment of Conductor. Sadly Slattery died of Influenza on the 25th of February 1919 in Cologne.
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.
Initially enlisting in the Royal New Zealand Artillery in 1913. Serving with the NZEF from June 1917 to August 1919, Sergeant Artificer 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.
Enlisting into the New Zealand Field Artillery in August 1914, Wilson was wounded in the thigh while 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 before joining the NZAOC Wilson was awarded the Military Medal.
Unlike Ordnance Depots in New Zealand in the 1980s, the New Zealand Advanced Ordnance Depot (NZAOD) in Singapore had little affiliation with New Zealand’s first Colonial Storekeeper, Henry Tucker. Instead of having a Henry Tucker Club, some other social gathering was required for the Singapore-based RNZAOC Personnel. The solution was found in 1986, when a small club for RNZAOC Military members was established and named “Billy Becks’ in tribute to Captain William Thomas (Billy) Beck, attributed as the first New Zealander of Godley’s Force ashore at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.
Meeting once a month on the rooftop of RSDS from August 1986, the “Billy Beck” club soon became an RNZAOC institution where all ranks could meet for a barbeque lunch and a few drinks. However, in 1989 the NZAOD closed, and the name “Billy Beck” was soon forgotten.
Who was Billy Beck?
William Thomas (Billy) was the son of Sarah Beck (Taylor) and her husband Richard Beck and was born in Castlemaine, Australia, on 7 May 1865. shortly after his birth, the Beck Family, including his two brothers and sister, migrated to New Zealand, Settling at Kanieri, Hokitika, on the West Coast of the South Island. Beck’s father was a butcher. His mother was in 1895 appointed as the first full-time Police Matron at Wellingtons Lambton Quay Headquarters, where she was responsible for handling female prisoners. She was also involved in enforcing the Infant Life Protection Act in New Zealand.
At the age of 31, Beck married Edith Chick on 8 June 1896, in Port Chalmers, New Zealand and would have three children;
Ellen Edith, born 8 September 1895
Thomas Nathan, born 1 January 1897
Olive Ivy, born on 10 March 1903.
In the New Zealand Permanent Militia during the 1890s, Beck was a Torpedoman Second Class with No 2 Service Company, Permanent Militia, based at Port Chalmers.
By 1904 Beck had relocated to Auckland and was employed as a civilian by the Defence Stores Department as the Defence Storekeeper for the Northern Military District, located at Goal Reserve, Mount Eden. Around 1907, Beck was granted the rank of Honorary Lieutenant in the New Zealand Staff Corps, followed soon afterwards by promotion to Honorary Captain.
From the annual camps of 1913, a new management system for Camp Equipment was implemented. Temporary Ordnance Stores Depots were established before the camps, and stores were assembled based on the strength and role of the units attending the camps. The initial trial of the new system was a success and was to be refined and repeated for the 1914 camps. For the 1914 camping season, Beck was the Officer in charge of the Camp Ordnance for the Auckland Divisional Camp at Hautapu near Cambridge in April 1914. The Camp ran from 28 April to 11 May. With a staff of 6 clerks and 12 issuers, he was responsible for managing store issues from the Auckland Defence Stores, including;
66 indicating Flags,
100 picks and handles,
800 water buckets,
800 wash basins,
82 picket ropes,
13 Roberts cookers,
13 horse troughs,
20 overall suits,
1320 yards galvanised iron piping,
a 2000gal water tank,
1 large swimming bath,
566 pairs of boots,
455 Mattress covers,
On 21 August 1914, Beck was enlisted in the Auckland Infantry Battalion with the rank of Honorary Captain. After a short mobilisation period, Beck departed Wellington on 16 October 1914 with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force’s main body on the troopship TSS Maunganui.
Arriving in Suez, Egypt on the 3rd of December 1914 and was soon attached as the Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services to the New Zealand & Australian Headquarters Ordnance (NZ & Aust HQ Ordnance) of the New Zealand and Australian Division.
Deploying to the Dardanelles in April 1915, Beck as a critical member of General Godley’s Headquarters, was amongst those in the initial landings at ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli Peninsular on 25 April 1915. The Assistant Director Medical Services, Lieutenant Colonel Fenwick, another New Zealander, was also part of the Headquarters landing party and described the events of that day:
“we were all ready to land but were kept waiting and waiting until about 9.00am. Some barges were moored alongside and a string of boats outside of these on the starboard side. Colonels Braithwaite, Chaytor and Manders, Major Hughes and Captain Beck and I got into the first boat. We were frightfully hampered by our kit – overcoat, revolver, glasses, map case, haversack, three days rations, firewood, Red Cross satchel, water bottle – like elephants. It was certainly that we would drown if we got sunk. After waiting, a steam picket boat came along in charge of a very fat rosy midshipman. he took our string of boats in tow and we were off. Our boat grounded about 50 feet from the shore and we all hopped out. Of course I fell into a hole up to my neck. I could hardly struggle ashore and when I did the first thing I saw was Beck sitting on a stone, roaring with laughter at us.”
Although New Zealanders were serving with the Australian Division and in other roles as part of the landings, Beck was the first New Zealander of Godley’s New Zealand and Australian Division to land on Gallipoli.
So not only was Beck one of the first New Zealanders ashore, 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 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.”
The 14th of June 1915 saw Beck Commissioned as a Captain into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.
At Gallipoli since 25 April, the strain of the campaign was starting to wear beck down and in a letter to the Minister of Defence on 2 July, Godley who noted that;
I am sending Beck to Alexandria and cabling for Levien in his place: the former’s nerve is quite broken down, and he wants a rest from shells. He has been shelled out of his dug-out on several occasions, has had many close shaves, and his stores repeatedly wrecked, and this, on the top of all his hard work, has been rather much for him. Now that the MEF has taken over all our stores, this should work without difficulty.”
Major General Godley, “Correspondence Major General Godley to James Allen 2 July,” R22319698 – Ministerial Files – Correspondence with General Godley (1915).
On the 13th of July 1915, Beck was listed as a casualty on Casualty list No 50. Replaced as DADOS on 1 August 1915 by Lieutenant Norman Levien, NZAOC, Beck left Gallipoli for duty in Alexandria.
Mentioned in Dispatches by the Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, Sir Ian Hamilton on the 26th of August 1915, this was followed up with the awarding of the Distinguished Service Order for distinguished service in the field during operations in the Dardanelles, which was recorded in the London Gazette of 8 November 1915
With a Medical Board finding him “incapacitated for military duty”, Beck was invalided back to New Zealand on the RMS Tahiti on 20 November 1915 and struck off the strength of the NZEF on 19 February 1916. He was transferred to the reserve list of officers with the rank of Captain, resuming his pre-war duties at the Northern District Ordnance Depot as the District Storekeeper. In 1917 with the formation of the Home Service NZAOC, Beck transferred into the NZAOC with the new title of Assistant Director of Equipment and Ordnance Stores for the Northern Military District, a position he held until his resignation in March 1918.
Taking up employment with the Public Works Department in Apia, Samoa, Beck remained there until his retirement in 1922.
Divorcing his first wife Edith in the mid-1930s, Beck remarried in the late 1930s.
Retiring in Wellington, Beck passed away on the 15th of January 1947 and is interned in the soldiers’ section of the Karori Cemetery, Wellington, New Zealand.
Beck’s medals are now on display in the Gallipoli Room of the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum, Queensland, Australia.
New Zealand, Marriage Index. 1896.
“Gunner W T Beck”. archway.archives.govt.nz.
New Zealand, Electoral Rolls. Waikouaiti Otago. 1896.
New Zealand, Electoral Rolls. Waikouaiti Otago. 1900.
Glackin, Rusell (2009). In Defence of our land. Penguin. p. 71. ISBN9780143011866.
“W T Beck Defence Storekeeper,”. archway.archives.govt.nz.
New Zealand, Electoral Rolls. Eden Auckland. 1905–1906.
“AUCKLAND TERRITORIALS” (VOLUME LI, ISSUE 15594). NEW ZEALAND HERALD,. 28 April 1914.
Bolton, Major J.S (1996). History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps. p. 53. ISBN0477015816.
Pugsley, C (1998). Gallipoli: the New Zealand Story. Reed New Zealand. ISBN9780790005850.
Harper, Glyn (2015). JOHNNY ENZED: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914–1918. Exisle Publishing. ISBN9781775592020.
“Brave New Zealanders”. The Hawera and Normanby Star. 24 June 1916. p. 5.
Stowers, Richard (2015). Heroes of Gallipoli. John Douglas Publishing. ISBN9780994105950.
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
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:
NZAOC No 17 Quartermaster Sergeant Artificer George Bush, Armaments Artificer.
NZAOC No 20 Armament Sergeant Major (WO) Thomas Edward Bryce, Armaments Artificer.
NZAOC No 132 Armourer Staff Sergeant Andrew Archibald Young, Armaments Artificer.
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
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 1940s, but although advanced in years they would provide a strong experience base in not only trade but also military experience for the fledgeling Corps.
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. The New Zealand Pattern Ordnance Corps Badge is unique in the world as it is one of the few Ordnance cap badges 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 1917-1937. Robert McKie Collection
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 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 (Reproduction). Robert McKie Collection
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 Lyall.
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-1920s 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, c1910 (Colourised) 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.
Removing primer from a round of fixed QF ammunition. Australian War Memorial
RAN personnel inspecting cordite then tying it into bundles. Australian War Memorial
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
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.