NZEF NZAOC Conductors 1916 to 1920

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

William Coltman

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

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

Charles Gossage

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

Arthur Gilmore

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

Walter Geard

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Lieutenant Geard, NZAOC

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

William Simmons

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

Clarance Seay

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

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

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

 

Walter Smiley

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

Frank Hutton

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

Edward Little

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

John O’Brien

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

Edwin Green

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

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

Charles Slattery

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

Harold Hill

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

Arthur Richardson

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

Hubert Wilson

Enlisting into the New Zealand Field Artillery in August 1914, Wilson was wounded in the thigh whilst serving in the Dardanelles. Remaining with the Artillery for several years Staff Sergeant Wilson Transferred into the NZAOC in October 1918.  Promoted to Warrant Officer Class 1 with the appointment of Acting Sub-Conductor on the 3rd of March 1919. Wilson was demobilised from the NZEF in May 1920. For his actions prior to joining the NZAOC Wilson was awarded the Military Medal.
Copyright © Robert McKie 2018
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20th Century Commonwealth Ordnance Badges

Ordnance badges of the United Kingdom and most present and former Commonwealth countries all trace their origins to the Coat of Arms of the Board of Ordnance.

Coming into use in the seventeenth century, but not given royal approval until 1806 when the Arms of the Board of Ordnance was confirmed by a grant from the College of Arms in 1823.

The description of the original grant of arms describes the coat of arms as;

  • The blazon is as follows:
    • Arms: Azure – 3 Field Pieces in pale, or; on a chief, argent, three cannonballs, proper.
    • Crest: Out of a mural crown, argent, a dexter cubit arm, the hand grasping a thunderbolt, winged and inflamed, proper.
    • Supporters: On either side, a Cyclops, in the exterior hand of the dexter a Hammer, and in that of the sinister a pair of Forceps, resting on the shoulder of each respectively, all proper.
    • Motto: ‘sua tela tonanti’ (‘To the Thunderer his weapons’); also more loosely translated as (‘To the warrior his arms’].

Board of Ordnance details

Translated into modern English it reads as:

Shield: Blue background with 2 Field Pieces in Gold, on the Top portion of the shield 3 Silver/White cannonballs,

Crest: rising from a
Silver/White crown, a right arm grasping a thunderbolt, wings against a flaming background.

Supporters: Two cyclops on either the right-hand cyclops holding a hammer, the left-hand cyclops a pair of Forceps, resting on the shoulder of each respectively.

Motto: In the riband, the motto ‘sua tela tonanti’ loosely translated as ‘To the warrior his arms’

The shield with three cannons and three cannonballs is the standard component of the Coat of Arms used on Ordnance cap badges; variations include a riband with either the Corps motto or a descriptor of the corps the insignia belongs to.

Early Australian and New Zealand Ordnance badges had annulus surrounding the shield with the name of the respective Corps inside it.

Many international variations of Ordnance badges have also had national identifiers affixed to the top of the shield, for example, Canada had a Beaver on their 1903 badge, and New Zealand had the letters NZ on various versions of their badge.

The common direction for the cannons is that they always face to the right (Dexter in heraldic terms), the exception is the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps 1917-23 and South Africa Ordnance Corps 1923-33 badges where the cannons face to the left (Sinister in heraldic terms).

On granting of Royal status, two features were added to most badges:

  • Permission was granted to affix the Royal garter in a buckled circle or oval, with the motto “Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense”. Its translation from “Old French” is “Shame be to him who thinks evil of it.” It is sometimes re-interpreted as “Evil (or shame) be to him that evil thinks” or “shame on anyone who thinks ill of it.”
  • Crowns of the reigning Regents were worn.
    • The Tudor or “Kings Crown” on badges from 1918 to 1953
    • The St Edwards or “Queens crown” from 1953 

Listed below are examples of some of the various ordnance badges of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India and South Africa. Examples of new Zealand pages can be found at Ordnance Badges of New Zealand 1916-1996.

Great Britain

From 1896 the United Kingdom maintained two Ordnance entities;

  • The Army Ordnance Department, Comprising of Officers, and
  • The Army Ordnance Corps, Comprising of other ranks

In July 1896 on the recommendation of the War Office, Queen Victoria approved the use of the of the arms of the Board of Ordnance in that the shield, less the crest and the supporters be incorporated into the badge of the Army Ordnance Department and Corps (AOC). The two cap badges were of similar design, differing only in the wording on the scroll and became the parents of all the Imperial, then Commonwealth Ordnance Corps, its pattern of badges would be utilised at some stage by all.

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UK Army Ordnance Department. 1896-1918

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UK Army Ordnance Corps. 1896-1918. Robert McKie collection

The Army Ordnance Department and Corps were combined in 1918 to form the ‘Royal Army Ordnance Corps‘ which would remain in existence until 1993 when it was disestablished to form the ‘Royal Logistic Corps

 

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Royal Army Ordnance Corps Badge, 1918-1947. Robert McKie collection

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Royal Army Ordnance Corps Badge, 1947-1949

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RAOC 1947-1953 Badge. Robert McKie Collection

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Royal Army Ordnance Corps Badge, 1953-1993. Robert McKie Collection

Australia

Formed as the ‘Australian Army Ordnance Stores Corps’ on 1 July 1902 at the same time as the civilian-staffed Civil Service run ‘Australian Army Ordnance Department’.

Entirely placed under military control in 1942 and renamed the ‘Australian Army Ordnance Corps’ and granted Royal status in 1948. The current design of badge with a King’s crown was approved in 1948 but only worn as a collar badge until 1956 when a cap badge with a Queens Crown was introduced which remain in service today.

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RAOC 1930 – 1942

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RAAOC 1948-1956

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RAAOC 1956 – Present. Robert McKie collection

Canada

Created as the ‘Ordnance Stores Corps‘ in 1903. It was renamed the ‘Canadian Ordnance Corps‘ in 1907. Granted Royal designation in 1919 it became the ‘Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps‘. Serving until 1968 when the ‘Logistic Branch‘ was formed by combining the ‘Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps’ and the ‘Royal Canadian Army Service Corps‘.

 

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Canadian Ordnance Corps badge, 1903-1922. Robert McKie collection

RCAOC Badge 1922

Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps 1922-1926. RCOC Association

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Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps 1926-1953. Robert McKie Collection

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Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, 1953-1961. Robert McKie collection

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Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, 1961 -1968.

India

The history of the Indian Army Ordnance Corps is traced back to the 15-century formation of the three Presidencies of the East India Company – Bengal, Madras and Bombay, with the formal recognition of the Indian Army Ordnance Corps with the establishment of ‘Board of Ordnance‘ in 1775.

With the global disestablishment of the Board in 1855, the Ordnance State Department and Corps were created which was in turn in 1885 organised into the Army Ordnance Department for officer and the Army Ordnance Corps for men.

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1901-1922 badge of the Indian Army Ordnance Department

IAOC pre 1922

WW1 period Pagri (Turban) Badge of the Indian Army Ordnance Corps

In 1922 the Army Ordnance Department and Army Ordnance Corps were reorganised and renamed ‘Indian Army Ordnance Corps‘. A similar corps badge to the previous badge was introduced but with the scroll bearing the words ‘Indian Army Ordnance Corps’ This badge continued in use until 1954 when the current badge came into use. The IAOC badge should have been discontinued after India became a republic in 1950, but a delay in finalising the new crest led to its continued usage till 1954.

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Indian Army Ordnance Corps cap, collar badges 1922-1950 and shoulder title. Robert McKie Collection

With Independence in 1950, the “Indian” prefix was dropped, and the corps is now only known as the ‘Army Ordnance Corps’.

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India Army Ordnance Corps- post-1947

Other known Indian Ordnance badges were:

  • 1884-1922
    • Pagri (Turban) Badge – Ordnance shield surmounted by fist rising from coronet grasping lightning rods, scroll bellow inscription SUA TELA TONANI
    • Waist Belt Clasp – Kings Crown) over Ordnance shield in centre, ORDNANCE around top, INDIA around bottom
    • Pagri (Turban) Badge – WW1 period – fist rising from coronet grasping
      lightning rods surmounted by two wings, no scroll

Pakistan

On the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, the Ordnance badge adopted by Pakistan was a modified IAOC badge where the crown was replaced by the Pakistan ensign of Cresent and Star and the word Indian was replaced by Pakistan.

On the 15th of August 1954, a redesigned badge was adopted. Based on the RAOC Pattern badge, this badge consisted of;

  • the Ordnance shield of three cannons and three cannonballs
  • Pakistan ensign of a 5 pointed Star.
  • Annulus inscribed with the words ‘Pakistan Army Ordnance Corps’
  • The Ordnance Motto ‘Sua Tela Tonanti’ Translated into English reading ‘To the Thunder his Weapons’ inscribed onto the Riband.

 

Hyderabad

A princely state during the British Raj. After India gained independence in 1947, Hyderabad remained independent with the Indian Army taking control of Hyderabad after an invasion codenamed Operation Polo bringing Hyderabad in the Indian union in 1948.

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Hyderabad Army Ordnance Corps.

Burma

Burma

South Africa

Following the British model, the South African Ordnance Department for officers and the South African Ordnance Corps for men was established in 1923. Combining into a single Corps in 1933 and finally reorganising in 1939 when the Technical Services Corps and the ‘Q Services Corps’ was created.

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South African Ordnance Department 1923-1933

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South African Ordnance Corps 1923-1933

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South African Ordnance Corps badge 1933-1949

Bibliography

J.L. Chapple Indian Army Collection catalogue, Part II – Arms and Services, AFI, IST-ISF. (2017). Retrieved from Indian Military History Society: http://durbaronline.co.uk/PDF/PDF6arms-svces.pdf

Copyright © Robert McKie 2017