1914-1920 NZAOC Graphic

NZEF NZAOC

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NZAOC Conductors 1917-1931

The Honourable and Ancient Appointment of Conductor has origins dating back to 1327 where the appointment is mentioned in the Statute of Westminister as the men whose job it was to conduct soldiers to places of assembly. The “Conductor of Ordnance” is also mentioned in the records of the siege of Boulogne in 1544. Surviving as an appointment directly related to the handling of stores in the British Army until the late 19th century. The first New Zealand connection to the Conductor appointment was during the New Zealand Wars, with Conductors appointed to provide support to the Imperial Regiments serving in that campaign. The British Army formalised the appointment 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 Army Service Corps dispensed with Conductors of Supplies in 1892 with the Army Ordnance Corps retaining Conductors on its formation in 1895. In the Army Ordnance Corps, the appointment of conductor had become a senior and responsible position with the holder being a pillar of knowledge, who when required would do duty as a subaltern officer, but not sit on courts of inquiry or regimental boards. On parade, Conductors would take post as an officer but would not salute.[1]

New Zealand Conductors

Before the First World War, no single indigenous Ordnance Organisation was supporting the New Zealand Forces, responsibility for Ordnance Services was split between the Defence Stores Department and the Royal New Zealand Artillery. The requirement for an Ordnance Organisation had been identified as early as 1901[2] and again in 1907[3] but with no decision taken on the formation of an Ordnance Corps until 1916. Early 1916 saw the establishment of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) as a unit of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF). The NZAOC EF would be a wartime unit constituted for the period of hostilities and would be disestablished and demobilised as part of the NZEF in 1920. However, in New Zealand on 1 February 1917, the home service NZAOC was constituted and established as a component of the New Zealand Permanent Forces.[4] On the formation of the NZAOC in New Zealand, provision had been allowed in its organisational structure for the appointment of six Conductors as part of the Clerical and Stores Section.[5]

Following the British model, the NZAOC EF included both Conductors and Sub-Conductors as part of its organisational structure.[6] This practice was not duplicated by the NZAOC in New Zealand, with only the appointment of Conductor adopted. The Rank insignia for conductors in both the NZEF and New Zealand would be a Crown in Laurel Wealth,[7] the same badge is worn by Warrant Officers Class Two in the modern New Zealand Army.

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

Drawing the bulk of its staff from the existing personnel of the New Zealand Defence Stores Department, the NZAOC also absorbed individuals who were suitably qualified and experienced in the handling and accounting of military equipment from the military districts and training camps, including the men who would be the first two Conductors;

  • William Henry Manning, [8] and
  • William Ramsey.[9]

William Henry Manning

At fifty years of age William Henry Manning as too old to serve overseas but was able to enlist into the NZEF Army Service Corps(ASC) on 17 December 1915 for home service only.

Born on 31 August 1865, Manning had spent most of his adult life as a soldier in the British Army. Serving as a Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, Manning had also spent time as an acting ASC Officer in charge supplies and an acting Ordnance Officer in various parts of the Empire. One of his last positions held was as a Troopship Quartermaster Sergeant on the SS Lismore Castle transporting the 2nd Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment to South Africa from the United Kingdom in October – November 1899. On the completion of his tenure with the British Army,  Manning with his wife and two children migrated to New Zealand.

Appointed as a teacher in 1908, Manning and his wife would become School Masters, first at the Native School at Te Haroto and then the Native School at Waimarma.

Eager to serve, Manning approached the Defence Force on 10 October 1915 advising them of his experience and willingness to serve. Manning offer to serve was accepted, and on 17 December 1915 Manning was attested into the ASC as a soldier. Promoted successively from Private, Corporal, Sergeant and then Staff Sergeant on 6 April 1916.

Transferred to the Quartermaster General Branch on May 1916, Manning would remain there until 1 February 1917 when he would become a foundation member of the NZAOC on its formal formation with promotion to Conductor following on 2 February 1917.

William Ramsey

Born on 11 June 1852, Ramsey, like Manning had spent his adult life in the British Army all around the world including service at Woolwich, Aldershot, Limerick, Malta and Ambala (India) and on his retirement had migrated to New Zealand with his wife and six children.

William Ramsey

William Ramsey, 1918

At the time of his enlistment in December 1915, Ramsey was working as a caretaker for the Presbyterian Institute at Trentham. At sixty-three years of age, Ramsey was enlisted for service with the New Zealand Army with the Headquarters of Trentham Camp on 3 December 1915. Like Manning, Ramsey’s experience was recognised, and while working for Captain McCristell, the Camp Quartermaster, promoted successively from Private, Corporal, Sergeant and then Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant on 1 April 1916. On 3 February 1917 on McCrystal’s recommendation Ramsey was transferred into the NZAOC and immediately promoted to Conductor.

Ramsey

With available records identifying Manning and Ramsey as the first Conductors appointed in New Zealand, Information of the Conductors that followed is incomplete with the following known to have been Conductors;

  • Regt No 36 Conductor James Murdoch Miller 1 Jul 17 – 3 Jul18,
  • Regt No 69 Conductor Eugene Key 5 Jul 17 – 16 Jan 18,
  • Regt No 91 Conductor Donald McCaskill McIntyre 30 Jul 17 – 10 Jul 19,
  • Regt No 112 Conductor George William Bulpitt Silvestre 1 Nov 18 – 22 Aug 20
  • Regt No 48 Conductor Mark Leonard Hathaway, MSM 1 Nov 18 – 30 Sep 19
  • Regt No 605 Conductor Walter Edward Cook 1 Nov 19 – 5 Jul 20,
  • Regt No 948 Conductor Michael Joseph Lyons, MSM 1 Apr 22 – 1Jul-27.

4 July 1918 saw both Manning and Ramsey promoted to the rank of Honorary Lieutenants and appointed as Ordnance Officers 4th Class to the Inspectorial Staff of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department(NZAOD).[10]

Having both reached retiring age Manning and Ramsey relinquished their honourary ranks and appointments on the Inspectorial Staff of the NZAOD and demobilised out of the NZAOC 4 April 1920.[11]

During 1918, British Army Order 305 was issued which settled the insignia for Conductors as the Royal Arms in Laurel Wreath, and for a Sub-Conductor the Royal Arms.[12]  Although probably adopted for wear in New Zealand in 1918/19, the Insinga of the Royal Arms in a Laurel Wreath was confirmed for New Zealand Conductors in the NZ Military Forces Dress Regulations of 1923.[13]

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Warrant Officer Class One, Conductor Badge. Robert McKie Collection

Precdence of RanksDefence Regulations since 1895 had placed Conductors as warrant officers, ranking them above all non-commissioned officers. The New Zealand Defence Regulations of 1927 set Conductors on the order of precedence of Warrant and Non-Commissioned Officers as the senior of the Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) rank, equivalent to Staff Sergeant-Majors, N.Z. Permanent Staff and Master Gunner, 1st Class.[14]

Following the mass civilianization of the NZAOC in 1931 the appointment of Conductor fell into abeyance. The appointment would remain as a valid appointment until removed from Army Regulations in 1949.[15] Reinstated in 1977, The appointment of Conductor again became available for selected WO1’s of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps(RNZAOC) and would remain in use until 1996 when due to the amalgamation of the RNZAOC into the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment the appointment was discontinued.

Ordnance 1918

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

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

 

Notes

[1] The Kings Regulations and Orders for the Army,  (London1908).

[2] J Babington, “Defence Forces of New Zealand,” in AJHR (Wellington: House of Representatives, 1904).

[3] J Ward, ibid. (1907).

[4] “New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Regulations,” New Zealand Gazette, No 95, June 7 1917, P. 2288.

[5] Ibid., P. 2289.

[6] The First conductors in the NZEF NZAOC were Acting Sub Conductor William Coltman, appointed in February 1916 and Conductor Charles Gossage, appointed on 21 July 1916.”Charles Ingram Gossage “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “William Coltman,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[7] British Army Orders 70 & 174 of 1915,  (1915).

[8] “William Henry Manning,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1915.

[9] “William Ramsey,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1915.

[10] “Appointments, Promotions and  Transfers of Non Commissioned Officers of the NZ Army Ordnance Corps and NZ Permanent Force,” New Zealand Gazette No 105, 1 August 1918.

[11] “Appointments, Promotions, Resignations, Transfers and Retirements of Officers from the NZ, NZ Army Ordnance Department and Territorial Force,” New Zealand Gazette No 26, 8 April 1920.

[12] British Army Order 308 of 1918,  (1918).

[13] New Zealand Military Forces Dress Regulations, ed. New Zealand Military Forces (Wellington1923).

[14] “Regulations for the Military Forces of the Dominion of New Zealand.,” New Zealand Gazette no. 32 (1927).

[15] “Regulations for the New Zealand Military Forces 1927, Amendment, No. 62,” New Zealand Gazette, No 26, 28 April 1949.


Gordon Cumming Bremner

Gordon Cumming Bremner was born at Wanganui on 30 October 1891. Completing his schooling, Gordon took up a career as a farm hand in the central North Island of New Zealand. Fulfilling his obligation to participate in Compulsorily Military Training, Gordon enlisted in the 6th (Manawatu) Mounted Rifles of the Territorial Army on 1 March 1911. Serving in the Territorial Army for three years Gordon would enlist in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in January 1915.

Taking his attestation on 11 January 1915, Gordon would spend three months training at Trentham before embarking on Troopship No 23 the SS Waitoma on 17 April 1915 as part of the 4th Reinforcements for the voyage to Egypt. Disembarking at Suez on 25 May 1915, Gordon would undergo further training at Zeitoun Camp. Early in June Gordon departed Alexandra, joining the 11th (Taranaki) Company of the Wellington Battalion in the Dardanelles on 9 June.

Bremner GC 01 B Coy 4th Reinfs

Gordon Bremner with B Company 4th Reinforcements, Norm Lamont Collection

Bremner GC 01a B Coy 4th Reinfs

Gordon would have spent the uncomfortably hot months of June and July with the Taranaki Company rotating between Courtney and Quinn’s Posts at Gallipoli as the Wellington Battalion consolidated its position. Participating in the Battle of Chunuk Bair and wounded in action on 8 August,  the injury saw Gordon evacuated from Gallipoli on HMS Alaunia.  Gordon arrived back in Alexandra on 13 August and admitted to the 1st Australian (No.3 Auxiliary) Hospital at Heliopolis on 14 Aug where in addition to his battle injuries Gordon received treatment for appendicitis. Diagnosed with neurasthenia, the term used to describe “shell shock” or what is referred to in modern times as a Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) saw the transfer of Gordon to the New Zealand General Hospital at Abbassia on 13 September. With Gordon’s condition classifying him as unfit for service, he was transferred to the Lady de Walden’s Hospital at Alexandria on 8 October in preparation for his repatriation to New Zealand, departing on the SS Tahiti on 20 November. Arriving in New Zealand on boxing day 1915 and admitted to a convalescent home at Rotorua, Gordon would spend several months recuperating. Recovery was slow, and although his health had improved, Gordon remained classified as medically unfit for military service resulting in his discharge from the NZEF on 19 April 1916.

Bremner GC 07a Otago Witness Sep 1915

Motivated to continue serving, Gordon re-joined the Territorial Army on 1 June 1916 and applied for enlistment into the NZEF on 10 December, but his C2 medical grading precluded his reenlistment into the NZEF. Gordons records do not record his activities during 1917, but in February 1918 Gordon was medially reclassified as C1 – Likely to become fit for active service after special training. Gordon’s medical upgrading was well timed, as on 15 September 1917 authorisation for men medically unfit for active service was granted so they could replace Territorials who remained on duty at the coast defence forts in the main centres. Gordon was ordered to report to the Officer Commanding of the RNZA Wellington on 26 Feb 2018 and on 27 February 1918, Gordon was enlisted as a guard with the Garrison Artillery at Fort Ballance at Wellington.

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Gordon Bremner Garrison Artillery. Norm Lamont Collection

On 31 December 1918 Gordon married Irene Pearl Williams at Wellington. Their marriage would see the birth of eight children and the adoption of another;

  • Zita Millicent (adopted), born 27 Dec 16 Christchurch,
  • Jean Kathleen, Born 21 Sept 20 Wellington,
  • James Alexander Gordon, born 31 Jan 22 Taumarunui,
  • Allan Duff, born 21 Apr 24 Wellington,
  • Jessie Elizabeth, born 20 Sept Wellington,
  • Louise Gladys, born 29 Sept Wellington.
  • Nancy Irene, born 1930,
  • John Keith, born 1934,
  • Joyce Kay, born 9 Feb 1936

After four years, the armistice of 11 November 1918 brought the First World War to a close, and by late 1919 Gordon was at a crossroads regarding his future. As a Bombardier (Corporal) in the Artillery, he was well placed to transfer from the Territorials into the Permanent Force and with his savings purchase a comfortable house and pursue a career in the peacetime army, or he could take his discharge and seek fresh pastures. Gordon chose to seek fresh pastures and with his pre-war experience as a farm hand decided to become a farmer. Utilising the Soldiers Resettlement Scheme, Gordon invested his savings in a farm in the King Country. With marginal and isolated land allocated to returned servicemen, Gordons attempt to develop and farm the land was an experience shared by many other returned servicemen and was a futile and hopeless endeavour. After two years of backbreaking and heartbreaking work, Gordon and his family abandoned their farm and now homeless with savings expended returned to Wellington in October 1922.

Attempting to find work with the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham in October 1923 and again in March 1924, Gordon was initially unsuccessful, but did secure work at the Trentham Racecourse and later as a foreman with the Public Works Department in Trentham Camp. Gordon eventually secured a position as the relieving Camp Firemaster and in charge of the night patrol, with accommodation for his family provided in a target shed adjacent to the rifle range. The delivery of the first motorised ambulance to Trentham Camp saw Gordon appointed as the driver. In July 1925 Gordon’s luck changed as he was accepted for service into the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) and was attested as a Private into “E” Section of the Main Ordnance Depot on 21 July. Up to his enlistment in the NZAOC Gordon had remained efficient in the Territorial Army with his service between 1916 and 1925 equalling four years and 211 days.

Bremner GC 14

Gordon Bremner as Trentham Camp Ambulance Driver C1925. Trentham News 1 September 1955 Norm Lamont Collection

Gordon’s enlistment into the NZAOC would in normal circumstances allowed him to retire at the age of 55 with a comfortable pension, but this was not to be. Due to the world-wide depression and economic recession the government was forced to savagely reduce the strength of the Army by using the provisions of section 39 of the Finance Act, 1930 (No. 2)  military staff could be either;

  • Transferred to the Civil service, or
  • Retired on superannuation.

Using this act, Gordon was discharged out of the NZAOC and transferred to the Civil Service on 31 January 1931 to work in the same position as a lorry driver but at a lower rate of pay.

Discharge 1930

Less than a week after Gordon’s transfer to the NZAOC Civilian staff, a disastrous earthquake struck Napier and Hastings on 3 February 1931. The NZAOC was called upon at short notice to supply tents, blankets, bedding, cooking and eating utensils, for use in the stricken areas. As part of the civilian ordnance staff, Gordon’s skills as a lorry driver were put to full use delivering these stores and equipment to Napier and Hastings. All military employees including the civilian staff such as Gordon who engaged in the relief effort were deserving of great credit for the manner in which they carried out their duties under trying conditions.

Gordon’s wounds continued to cause him issues, and in February 1933 Gordon was admitted to hospital for an operation on a duodenal ulcer which was causing him some discomfort. As a result of the surgery a souvenir of Chunuk Bair, a piece of Turkish shrapnel was removed from Gordon’s stomach.

Gordon would continue to serve with the NZAOC in a civilian capacity for the remainder of the 1930’s. Although New Zealand entered the Second World War in 1939, the NZAOC would not transition into a full wartime footing until 1942 when, with the threat of invasion by Japan perceived as possible, saw the mobilisation of the full military potential of New Zealand. The NZAOC would transition from an organisation primarily staffed by civilians into one with a predominately military establishment, with many of the NZAOC civilian staff including Gordon returning to uniform. Gordon was attested into the Temporary Service of the NZAOC at Trentham on 24 August 1942 and allocated the service number 814628. Promoted to Corporal on 1 September 1942 with promotion to Sergeant following on 1 August 1944.

 

Bremner GC 15 1950s

Gordon Bremner. Norm Lamont Collection

Bremner GC 14b

Gordon Bremner. Norm Lamont Collection

With the end of the Second World War, Gordon transitioned into the post-war Interim Army as a Sergeant on 26 June 1946 and then into the Home Service Section (HSS) of the Regular Force as a Sergeant in the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC). As a driver in the Receipts and Issues Group of the Main Ordnance Depot, Gordon would often be out on runs around the Wellington region collection and delivering store to units and to transports agencies such as the railway, his pleasant manner, willingness to oblige and friendly ways ensured that he was a respected and popular member of Trentham Camp. Gordons activities were not limited to Trentham Camp and throughout his post-war service at Trentham, he would undertake many tours of duty to the other Ordnance depots at Linton, Waiouru and Hopuhopu. Receiving three extensions to his service Gordon would serve throughout the 1950’s.

Bremner GC 14 1950s

Gordon Bremner. Norm Lamont Collection

In1955 a review of Gordon’s service was undertaken, and in acknowledgement of his Sixteen Years and Nineteen days qualifying service in the Territorial Army, NZEF and NZAOC from 1911 to 1931, Gordon was awarded the New Zealand  Long & Efficient Service Medal on 12 May 1955. The New Zealand Long and Efficient Service Medal was rendered obsolete with the standardisation of awards on 23 September 1931 and Gordons award of this medal is notable as due to its late claim, Gordon’s award was possibly the last one awarded.

LSES Medal Bremner

Reaching retiring age in 1956, Gordon was discharged from the New Zealand Army on 6 August 1956 after close to Forty-Five years service, the majority of which spent at Trentham Camp to which he had been a witness of its growth form a rudimentary Training Camp in 1915 to a modern Military Camp.

Gordon retired in Upper Hutt and passed away at the age of 76 on 28 November 1967. Gordon now rests at the Wallaceville Cemetery, Upper Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand.

Tombstone

Gordon Bremner Tombstone, Wallaceville Cemetery, Upper Hutt. Courtesy Dave Morris

During his service Gordon was awarded the following medals;

  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal War Medal 1939-45
  • New Zealand. War Service Medal.
  • New Zealand Long & Efficient Service Medal

Gordon had also been issued with the Silver War Badge. The Silver War Badge, also known as the “Wound Badge” or “Services Rendered Badge” was issued during the First World War to personnel who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness from military service.

In August 1967 Gordon received his Gallipoli lapel badge in the post with a letter apologising for the delay in sending out the Medallion. Gordons Gallipoli medallion would arrive a  week after his funeral.

Gordon’s son James would also pursue a military career in the Ordnance Corps. Working a civilian storeman at the Main Ordnance Depot in Trentham, James would be attested into the Army on 12 June 1940. Serving in Italy with the New Zealand Ordnance Corps with the 2nd NZEF from 1943 to 1945. Remaining in the NZAOC at the Main Ordnance Depot, James would retire from the RNZAOC as A Warrant Officer Class Two on 21 April 1961.

Bremner JA 06

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

 

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NZEF Ordnance 1914-1915

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

British Army Ordnance Corps 1915_zpsaibxjzox

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

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

plan of camp

Plan of Zeitoun Camp

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

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

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

By March 1917 Levien had secured premises for a New Zealand Ordnance Depot and warehouse at  No. 12 Rue de la, Porte Rosette and a warehouse at Shed 43, Alexandra Docks. From these premises, the New Zealand Forces would be provided support before and during the Dardanelles campaign. The Australians established a similar Depot at Mustapha Barracks and in No 12 Bond Store on Alexandra Docks.[35]

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

Order 122

Order No 122 promoting King and Levien into the NZAOC on 4 April 1914

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

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

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

ANZAC Cove

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

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

we were all ready to land but were kept waiting and waiting until about 9.00 a.m. Some barges were moored alongside and a string of boats outside of these on the starboard side. Colonels Braithwaite, Chaytor and Manders, Major Hughes and Captain Beck and I got into the first boat. We were frightfully hampered by our kit – overcoat, revolver, glasses, map case, haversack, three days rations, firewood, Red Cross satchel, water bottle – like elephants. It was 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 (there were New Zealanders serving in the Australian Division) to get onto Gallipoli”.

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

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Ordnance Depot Shrapnel Gully, Gallipoli. Alexander Turnbull Libary

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

Herbert

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[11] Ibid., Page 3.

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

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

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

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

[16] Ibid.

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

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

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

[20] “Auckland Territorials.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[28] “Norman Joseph Levien.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[39] Ibid., Page 222.

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

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

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

[43] Glyn Harper, Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918, First World War Centenary History (Auckland, New Zealand: Exisle Publishing Limited, 2015, 2015).

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

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

[46] “William Thomas Beck.”

[47] “Arthur Gilmour “.

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

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

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

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

[52] “Walter John Geard “.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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