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New Zealand Army Logistics Corps Stable Belts

Worn by some New Zealand Army units since the mid-1960s, it would not be until 1973 that wearing of stable belts (commonly referred to as Corps or Regimental Belts in the New Zealand Army) was authorised across the New Zealand Army. In adopting a stable belt, A small number of units would adopt belts of a unique design, however most New Zealand corps, regiments, and infantry battalions would choose designs based the regimental colours of parent or allied units of the British Army. The three Logistics Corps of the NZ Army would adopt stable belts of a British design and it would not be until 1996 and the formation of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR) that a unique New Zealand Logistic stable belt would be adopted.

Stable belts have their origins in the British Army. Cavalrymen (and ASC and AOC personnel from trades associated with horses) found that by modifying a Cavalry “Surcingle,” they would have a belt that was very useful in providing lower back support when cleaning stables and tending horses. As British military uniforms became more utilitarian, lacking the colour and flair of earlier patterns, the wearing of coloured “stable belts” in regimental colours evolved, adding a splash of colour and individuality to the drab khaki working uniforms of the period.

The use of coloured stable belts in regimental colours spread to all branches of the British Army, becoming established as a uniform item following World War Two. Most commonwealth countries would follow the example of the British Army and adopt the coloured stable belt of the Corps or Regiments to which they had links or alliances. The adoption of stable belts by the NZ Army was far from enthusiastic, and it was not until the mid-1960s that stable belts started to make their appearance. It would not be until 1973 that the Army Dress Committee officially approved the universal wearing of stable belts for all Regiments and Corps of the NZ Army.

Stable Belts have generally been manufactured from a 21/2- to 3-inch-wide belt of a heavily woven material with horizontal stripes in two or more colours. Buckle types would vary with six main types used.

  • Single tongue leather buckle. In NZ only used by the 4th Otago and Southland Battalion
  • Multi tongue leather buckle. Consisting of two leather buckles
  • Single Locket
  • Triple Locket. In NZ only used on the 5th Wellington West Coast Battalion Other Ranks Stable belt.
  • Rectangular plate (Matt colour or Chromed) and Cap Badge design.
  • Web Belt clasp. Used on Interim RNZALR Stable belt.

RNZASC stable belt

Photographic evidence suggests that the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) adopted the British Army Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) stable belt sometime around 1970. However, the exact year is unknown. Until its disestablishment in1965, the RASC had worn a stable belt with a blue base with two central white stripes and two yellow stripes on the borders. A stable belt with a multi tongue leather buckle, the RASC stable belt was worn with two leather buckles worn on the right hip. The same pattern stable belt was worn by the Canadian ASC up to 1968 and continues to be worn by the Malaysian Kor Perkhidmatan Diraja (Royal Logistics Corps).

RASC/RNZASC stable belt. Angus Kirk Collection

In late 1974 early 1975 the RNZASC retired the RASC belt and adopted the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT) stable belt. Adopted by the RCT in 1965 and then by the Royal Australian Corps of Transport (RACT) in 1973.

RCT/RNZCT stable. Robert

RNZCT stable belt

On 12 May 1979, the RNZASC ceased to exist, as its Supply functions were transferred to the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (RNZAOC), while the Transport, Movements and Catering functions were reformed into the Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT). The RCT pattern stable belt would continue to serve as the stable belt of the RNZCT throughout the RNZCTs existence within the NZ Army. The only change to the belt throughout its life would be some subtle changes to the design of the buckle.

Early Pattern RCT/RNZASC/RNZCT stable belt. Robert McKie collection
Late Pattern RCT/RNZCT stable belt. Robert McKie collection

RNZAOC stable belt

There is much photographic evidence of RNZAOC officers and soldiers in Singapore unofficially wearing British (Single locket) and Malaysian (multi tongue leather buckle) Ordnance Corps stable Belts during the 1970-72 period. The RNZAOC would initially discuss introducing stable Belts in 1969, with approval for the RNZAOC stable belt granted in 1972. The RNZAOC Belt would be the same pattern as the RAOC belt but would have a rectangular chrome plate mounted with RNZAOC Badge.

RNZAOC stable belt. Robert McKie collection

RNZEME stable belt

With its distinctive dark blue background with red and yellow stripes, the stable belt of the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME)was introduced in 1967 and was based on the Royal and Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME) stable belt. The upper portion of the right-hand buckle carried the Corps motto (Arte et Marte). The right-hand piece had the RNZEME badge.

RNZEME stable belt. Robert.McKie Collection

RLC stable belt

In 1993, in the most significant reorganisation of its Logistic Support since 1965, the British Army formed the Royal Logistic Regiment (RLC) by combining the RCT, RAOC, Catering and Pioneer Corps into the new Regiment. Eager to retain the values and traditions of its foundation Corps and Regiments, the RLC retained many elements of its founding corps Regimental colours and the history they represented in the design of the RLC stable belt. The REME would remain a separate Corps outside of the RLC.

RLC stable belt

RNZALR stable belt

In a similar initiative to the British Army’s formation of the RLC, the NZ Army would also combine its logistic functions into a single Logistic Regiment. The significant difference between the British and New Zealand logistical changes was that the RNZEME would also be disestablished and included in the NZ Logistic Regiment.

On 9 December 1996, the Officers and Soldiers of the RNZCT, RNZAOC and RNZEME marched onto parade grounds on each camp and base. Corps flags were lowered, headwear and stable belts exchanged, and the Officers and Soldiers marched off as members of the Royal New Zealand Army Logistic Regiment (RNZALR).

With the colourful stable belts of three RNZALR foundation corps and the collective history of service to New Zealand since 1840 that they represented retired, the RNZALR would take a different approach to the RLC in selecting a new stable belt. While the RLC had embraced its foundation Corps’ values and traditions, the RNZALR would divorce itself from the past and adopt a plain navy-blue stable belt

As stock of the new RNZALR stable belt were not available on the formation of the New Regiment, a temporally belt was issued. Consisting of a navy-blue belt with Web Belt clasps, the interim belt would be retired within a year as stocks of the new RNZALR Stable belt became available.

The only distinctive feature of the RNZALRs stable belt is locket style Chrome buckle, which includes the following features

  • The RNZALR Corps badge on the male side of the buckle
  • The RNZALR motto “Ma Nga Hua Tu Tangata”, on the female side of the buckle.