The role of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 1914-1920

This article was initially published in the Journal of the New Zealand Military History Society “The Volunteers” in July 2020

The role of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) during the First World War, is one that has remained untold if not forgotten. While the contribution of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF), its commanders, battles and significant units is well recorded, the narrative on the Logistic Services of the NZEF has been universally biased towards the larger of the Logistic Services; the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC), with the contribution of the NZAOC, seldom mentioned.The significance of the NZAOC is that from 1914 to 1919, the NZAOC was the body charged with supplying and maintaining the weapons, ammunition, clothing and equipment of the NZEF, and as such was a key enabler towards the success of the NZEF. The main NZAOC functions were within the NZ Division under the control of the NZ Division Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS). Additionally, as part of the NZEF Headquarters in London, the NZAOC would manage a range of ordnance functions in support of the NZEF.  This article examines the role of the NZAOC as it grew from an initial mobilisation strength of two men in 1914 into a small, but effective organisation providing Ordnance services to the NZEF.

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

Unlike the Australians who were in the early stages of establishing their Ordnance Corps under with the assistance of a British Ordnance Officer in 1914, New Zealand was without a uniformed Ordnance Corps on the declaration of war in 1914.[1]  The formation of the NZAOC had been a topic of discussion and indecision from as early as 1900, and despite the transformational reforms of the New Zealand Defence Act of 1909, there was little appetite to decide on the formation of the NZAOC.[2] However, the need for personnel trained in Ordnance duties was understood, with some training and experimentation in the provision of Ordnance Services carried out in the Brigade and Divisional Camps of 1913 and 1914, laying the foundation for the mobilisation of August 1914.[3]

Section 5 of General Order 312 issued in August 1914 would establish Ordnance Services as part of the NZEF. This order authorised as part of the Division Headquarters establishment; a DADOS, one clerk and a horse.[4]  Appointed to the position of DADOS was Honorary Captain William Thomas Beck of the New Zealand Staff Corps,[5] with the position of Clerk filled by Sergeant Norman Joseph Levien, a general storekeeper who had enlisted into the 3rd Auckland Regiment on the outbreak of war.[6]  Beck and Levien would assist in equipping troops for overseas service at the Avondale camp before embarking with the main body of the NZEF.[7]

Disembarking in Egypt on 3 December 1914 and armed with The Ordnance Manual (War) of 1914, Beck was provided with the following guidance on his role as DADOS;

“To deal with all matters affecting the Ordnance services of the division. The DADOS would manage the state of the clothing and equipment on the charge of the units composing the division and would from time to time advise the officers in charge of the stores which in all probability would be required for operations”.[8]

NZAOC Captain W T Beck, Ordnance Depot Shrapnel Gully Gallipoli 1915

One of Becks first tasks was to establish a shared depot with the NZASC at Zeitoun,  with NZEF Order No 9 of 10 December 1914 detailing the instructions for submitting demands to the DADOS Ordnance Depot.[9] Working alongside their Australian and British counterparts, Beck and Levien would have their staff enhanced with the addition of six soldiers from 28 December 1914.[10]  With no experience of the British Ordnance systems and procedures, Levien was attached for a short period to the British Army Ordnance Corps Depot at the Citadel in Cairo to study the ordnance systems in use and adapt them for use by the New Zealand Forces.[11] As the preparations for the Dardanelles campaign began to unfold, the NZAOC begin to take shape with Levien, and Sergeant King from the Wellington Regiment commissioned from the ranks to be the first NZAOC officers on 3 April 1915.[12]

To support the upcoming Dardanelles operation and ensure the flow of stores forward, Alexandra was to be the main Ordnance Base Depot. The cargo ship ‘SS Umsinga’ which had been fitted out in the United Kingdom with many of the Ordnance Stores anticipated to support the operation, would act as the forward Ordnance Depot.[13]  As part of the New Zealand preparations, Beck would be the DADOS for the New Zealand & Australian Division (NZ & A Div). At Alexandra, Levien secured premises at No. 12 Rue de la Porte Rosette and Shed 43, Alexandra Docks for a New Zealand Ordnance Depot. The Australians would also establish a similar Depot at Mustapha Barracks and at No 12 Bond Store on Alexandra Docks.[14] King would remain at Zeitoun as the Officer in Charge of the Ordnance Depot at Zeitoun Camp to manage the reception of reinforcements and bringing them up to theatre scales as they arrived from New Zealand.

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

Concentrating off the Island of Lemnos from April 10, the ANZAC, British and French invasion fleet would invade Turkey at three locations on the morning of 25 April. The 1st Australian Division would land first at around 4 am on 25 April, with Godley’s Headquarters leading the NZ & A Div ashore at around 9 am, with Beck, according to Christopher Pugsley the first New Zealander ashore as part of Godley’s Force.[15]

As Beck landed, the 1st Australian Division DADOS Lt Col J.G Austin was supervising the cross-loading of ammunition and Ordnance stores in a rudimentary Logistics Over-the-Shore (LOTS) operation using a small fleet of lighters.[16]  As the lighters unloaded, and the stores transferred to a hastily established ordnance dump just off the beach, issues of ammunition had begun to be issued to replenish the men fighting in the hills,[17] and Beck would have been immediately committed to establishing his domain as DADOS of the NZ & A Div. Under Austin who had taken control of the Ordnance operations in the ANZAC sector,[18] Beck would remain as the DADOS of the NZ & A Div until August.

Supplies on the beach at ANZAC Cove 1915. Athol Williams Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library
Ordnance Depot Shrapnel Gully, Gallipolli. Alexander Turnbull Libary

Assisting Beck with the more onerous physical work and the management of the depot staff, was Staff Sergeant Major Elliot Puldron.[19]  Becks service at Gallipoli was reported in the Hawera & Normanby Star on 24 June 1916.

“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”. [20]

As a result of the rigours of the campaign, Beck was evacuated from Gallipoli in August with Levien replacing him as DADOS. From mid-September, the exhausted New Zealanders withdrew to Lemnos for rest and reconstitution. King and Levien switched roles with Levien appointed the Chief Ordnance Officer (COO) of Sarpi camp with the responsibility for re-equipping the depleted NZ & A Div. Returning to Gallipoli in November, King would remain with the NZ & A Div as the DADOS and Levien would remain on Lemnos. Both men would return to Egypt in December after the NZ & A Div withdrew from Gallipoli.

Now with sufficient New Zealand reinforcements available, the NZEF was expanded and reorganised into an Infantry Division which would serve on the Western Front and a Mounted Rifle Brigade, which would remain in the Middle East.[21]  As a consequence of the logistical lessons learnt on the Western Front by the British Army Ordnance Corps(AOC), the existing NZ Ordnance cadre would expand into a modest unit of the NZEF.[22]  In the NZ Division, the Staff of the DADOS would expand from the original officer, clerk and horse in 1914, into a staff of several officers, warrant officers, SNCOs, men and dedicated transport.[23] The NZAOC in the Mounted Rifle Brigade would work under the Australian DADOS of the ANZAC Mounted Division, with the Ordnance establishment for each Mounted Brigade Headquarters consisting of a warrant officer, sergeant clerk and corporal storeman.[24]

Beck had been identified to continue as the NZ Division DADOS, but continual ill-health had resulted in his return to New Zealand in November. Godley selected Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert as an officer with the right business acumen to replace Beck. Herbert was the first Mayor of Eketahuna, and a successful business owner who ran a chain of general stores in the north Wairarapa, the challenge of managing the NZAOC would be one well suited to his experience.[25] Herbert had previously commanded the Maori Contingent and then the Otago’s on Gallipoli, and in January 1916 was transferred into NZAOC as the NZ Division, DADOS and Officer Commanding of the NZEF NZAOC.[26] As Herbert took command, additional officers and soldiers were transferred into the NZAOC to complement the men already serving in the NZAOC.[27]

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

As Herbert prepared his men for the move to France, he had the formidable task of instructing them in the necessary ordnance procedures and duties that they would be expected to carry out in France, almost all of Herbert’s men had seen service on Gallipoli and adapted themselves to their new circumstances to provide their mates on the front the best possible service. Not all the original NZAOC officers would remain with the NZ Division; King would become ill with enteric feverand invalided back to New Zealand, and would be a foundation member of the NZAOC in New Zealand on its formation in 1917.[28]  Levien (and two Other Ranks) would remain in Egypt attached to NZEF Headquarters where he would close the Alexandra Depot and dispose of the vast stockpile of stores that the NZEF had accumulated over the past year. Departing Egypt in May 1916, Levien would not re-join the NZ Division but remain with the Headquarters NZEF as the NZEF COO in the United Kingdom.[29]

A significant duty of the DADOS and his staff was to vet all indents that were submitted by units of the NZ Division. Herbert and his staff were to exercise a check on these indents and keep records of the receipt and issues of stores to prevent the placing of excessive demands. Herbert’s role was not to obstruct legitimate demands but to accelerate their processing and see that the stores, when received, were issued without delay. Herbert would later reminisce at a Returned Servicemen’s meeting that his role was “to see that all units were properly equipped, at the same time endeavouring to ensure that no one ” put it across him ” for extra issues”.[30] The DADOS would not typically hold stocks of any kind, but as experience grew, the DADOS would hold a small reserve of essential items.[31] An example of the items held by the DADOS were gumboots and socks.[32]

A crucial role of the DADOS was to ensure that all damaged or worn stores that were fit for repair were exchanged for new or refurbished items and the damage items returned to the appropriate repair agency. Under the responsibility of the DADOS, an Armourer Staff Sergeant was attached to each infantry battalion in the early years of the war. It was later found to be a much better plan to remove the armourers from Battalions and form a division armourers shop equipped with all the tools and accessories necessary for the repair of small arms, machine guns, bicycles, primus stoves, steel helmets and other like items, allowing them to be repaired and reissued with much higher efficiency than if left with an individual Battalion armourer.[33] Also under the supervision of the DADOS were the Divisional boot repair shop and Divisional Tailors shops. These shops saved and extended the life of many hundreds of pairs of boots and suits of clothing.

In May 1916, shortly after arriving in France the DADOS was directed to provide one officer, one sergeant and two corporals for the Divisional Salvage Company, with the OC of the Pioneer Battalion providing four Lance Corporals and 24 Other ranks. The duties of the NZ Divisional Salvage Company were;

“The care and custody of packs of troops engaged in offensive operations; The care of tents and canvas of the Division; The salvage of Government property, and also enemy property, wherever found; The sorting of the stuff salved, and dispatch thereof to base.”[34]

Although initially reporting to the Corps Salvage Officer, entries in the DADOS war diaries indicate that the Divisional Salvage Company was an integral part of the DADOS responsibilities.[35]

The appointment of Divisional Baths and Laundry Officer was another DADOS  responsibility from December 1916.[36] The Division would endeavour to maintain facilities to provide the entire Division with a Bath and a change of clothing every ten days.[37]  The Divisional Baths and Laundry provided a welcome respite for solders from the front; soiled clothing was handed in as solders arrived and undressed, provide a hot bath or shower, solders would then be issued a clean uniform. The soiled uniform would be inspected, cleaned and repaired if necessary and placed into stock ready for the next rotation of soldiers to pass through.[38]

9/39 Temporary Major Charles Gossage OBE. National Library of New Zealand/public domain

Herbert would remain as DADOS until 31 March 1918 when he relinquished the appointment of OC NZAOC and DADOS NZ Division to be the Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (ADOS) of XI Army Corps.[39] Herbert was replaced as DADOS by Lieutenant Gossage who had recently completed an Ordnance course at Woolwich and was granted the rank of Temporary Captain while holding the position of DADOS. The appointment of OC NZAOC was taken up by Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Edward Pilkington. Pilkington was a New Zealand Artillery Officer with a flair for administration. Pilkington had acquitted himself well as the ADOS of XIX Corps during the retreat of the British 5th Army in March 1918 and was considered the most experience Ordnance Officer in the NZEF and was appointed NZEF ADOS on 30 June 1918.[40]

Prior to the arrival of Pilkington as NZEF ADOS, the headquarters of the NZEF in London had evolved into a self-contained administrative unit, with capably managed departments providing the full range medical, pay, postal and other administrative services to maintain a the NZEF training camps in the United Kingdom as well as the NZEF units in France and the Middle East.[41] In his role as the NZEF COO, Levien would undertake several initiatives to improve the logistical situation of the NZEF. Levien’s initial work included the establishment of the Sling Ordnance Depot and smaller sub-depots at all of the NZEF Training Camps and Hospitals throughout the United Kingdom.[42] To support these Depots, Levien would also establish an Ordnance Depot at Farringdon Road, London.[43]  Levien was always keen to reduce costs, and an example of his cost-saving efforts is that by a combination of switching clothing suppliers from the Royal Army Clothing Department (RACD) at Pilimlco to commercial suppliers and by repairing damaged clothing, these changes resulted in savings of 2019 NZD$9,788,232.00 in the period leading up to December 1917.[44]

New Zealand Ordnance Depot, 30-32 Farrington Road, London. Map data ©2018 Google, Imagery ©2018 Google

Levien would also study the stores accounting procedures employed by the Australians and Canadians, and after discussions with Battalion Quartermasters and the Ordnance Officer at Sling, Levien submitted a modified stores accounting system that was adopted across the NZEF to provide a uniform and efficient method of accounting for stores. So successful was this system that it was adopted by the post-war NZAOC and proved very successful with losses becoming comparatively negligible against the previous systems.[45] Levien also instigated the establishment of an independent NZEF audit department and a purchasing board to supervise purchasing by the NZEF. For his efforts, Levien who finished the war a Major was awarded an MBE and OBE.[46]

The armistice of 11 November 1918 brought a sudden end to the fighting on the Western Front leading to the NZ Division marching into Germany to take up occupation duties at Cologne soon afterwards. Gossage and his staff would initially be concerned with closing down or handing over the ordnance stores and infrastructure in France and Belgium and establishing the ordnance mechanisms required to support the NZ Division in Germany. The New Zealand occupation would be short, and the NZ Division had disbanded by 26 March 1919.[47] With all of the NZ Divisions equipment requiring disposal, Gossage and his men were ordered to remain in Germany to manage the handing back of the Divisions equipment to British ordnance and dispose of the items unable to be returned by sale or destruction.  Gossage would eventually march out for England on 2 May 1919.[48]  Concurrent with the mobilisation activities undertaken by Gossage in Germany, the NZAOC in the United Kingdom would swiftly switch activities from equipping the NZEF to demobilising the NZEF and all the ordnance activities associated with that task.

Army clothing at a New Zealand military ordnance store, England. Alexander Turnbull Library

Additionally, the NZAOC would manage the return to New Zealand of the considerable amount of war trophies that the NZEF had accumulated,[49] and the indenting of new equipment to equip the New Zealand Army into the early 1940s.[50] Under Captain William Simmons the final OC Ordnance from 20 Feb 1920, the final remnants of the NZEF NZAOC would be demobilised in October 1920 closing the first chapter of the NZAOC.[51]

In conclusion, this article provides a snapshot of the role of the NZAOC and its place within the NZEF. Charged with the responsibility of supplying and maintaining the weapons, ammunition, clothing and equipment of the NZEF, the NZAOC provided the NZEF with a near-seamless link into the vast Imperial ordnance system. The responsibilities of the NZAOC as part of the NZ Division would extend from the traditional ordnance supply and maintenance functions to the management of the Divisional Baths, Laundries and Savage. In the United Kingdom, the NZAOC would not only provide ordnance support to the troops undertaking training and casualties in hospitals but under a process of continual improvements streamline logistics procedures and processes to enable the NZEF to make considerable savings. However, despite its success as a combat enabler for the NZEF, the legacy of the NZAOC would be one of anonymity. The anonymity of the NZAOC was as a consequence of its small size, and its place in the organisational structure as part of the NZEF and Division Headquarters.

Bibliography

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“Crozier, Lewis “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) – War Diary, 1 April – 30 April 1918.” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487665  (1918).
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Equipment and Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London – Administration Reports Etc., 18 October 1916 – 8 August 1918 Item Id R25102951, Archives New Zealand. 1918.
“Geard, Walter John.” Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Gilmore, Arthur “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Gossage, Charles Ingram.” Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
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“Herbert, Alfred Henry “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Hutton, Frank Percy.” Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“King, Thomas Joseph.” Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Levien, Norman Joseph “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Little, Edward Cullen “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Lofts,Horace Frederick “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“Macrae, Kenneth Bruce “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
“New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Regulations.” New Zealand Gazette No 95, June 7 1917, 2292.
“New Zealand Expeditionary Force – Army Ordnance Corps Daily Order No. 1 “. Archives New Zealand Item No R25958433  (1916).
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“Oldbury, Charles Alfred.” Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
Ordnance Manual (War). War Office. London: His Majesties Printing Office, 1914.
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“Puldron, Elliot “. Personal File, Archives New Zealand, 1914.
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“Road to Promotion.” Evening Post, Volume XCI, Issue 29, 4 February 1916.
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New Zealand Ordnance Corps demobilisation Staff at Mulheim, Germany, Febuary1919. Alexander Turnbull Library/Public Domain

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Forbes, Arthur. A History of the Army Ordnance Services. London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929. Harper, Glyn. Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918. First World War Centenary History. Exisle Publishing Limited, 2015. Non-fiction.
McGibbon, I. C. New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign. Bateman, 2016. Non-fiction.
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Notes

[1] Arthur Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services (London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929), 229.
[2] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 52-53.
[3] Under the Director of Equipment and Stores, a fortnight course of instruction on ordnance duties was conducted at Alexandra Barracks in January 1913 to trained selected Officers in Ordnance Duties. During the Brigade and Divisional camps of 1913 and 1914 each Brigade Ordnance Officer was allocated a staff of 2 clerks and 4 issuers, who had also undertaken training on Ordnance duties. , “Territorials,” Evening Star, Issue 15018, 29 October 1912.; “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).
[4] “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.
[5] 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 “Beck, William Thomas,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.; “The Hautapu Camp,” Waikato Argus, Volume XXXV, Issue 5575, 4 April 1914.
[6] “Levien, Norman Joseph “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.
[7] “Beck, William Thomas.”
[8] Ordnance Manual (War), War Office (London: His Majesties Printing Office, 1914).
[9] “Appendices to War Diaries, I – Lxii,” Item ID R23486739, Archives New Zealand 1914.
[10]Divisional Order 210 of 28 December transferred the following soldiers to the Ordnance Depot;

•              Private Walter John Geard, Geard would remain with Ordnance for the duration of the war
•              Private Arthur Gilmore, Gilmour would remain with Ordnance for the duration of the war|
•              Private Gavin Hamilton, Worked At Alexandra Depot until returned to New Zealand in October 1915
•              Private Lewis Crozier, Promoted to Sergeant 18 Feb 16, returned to NZ August 1917
•              Private Horace Frederick Lofts, Transferred to NZASC October 1917
•              Private Joseph Roland Henderson, Transferred to NZASC 25 February 1916

“Geard, Walter John,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Hamilton, Gavin “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Crozier, Lewis “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Lofts,Horace Frederick “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Henderson, Joseph Roland,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Gilmore, Arthur “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.[11] “Levien, Norman Joseph “.
[12]Thomas Joseph King a qualified accountant and would  be the Corps Director in the interwar period and would serve in the 2nd NZEF as ADOS, “King, Thomas Joseph,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.: “Grants of Temporary Rank, Appointments and Promotions of Officers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force,” New Zealand Gazette 8 July 1915.
[13] Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services, 221-23.
[14]“Levien, Norman Joseph “; 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), 43.
[15] Christopher Pugsley, Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story (Auckland [N.Z.] : Sceptre, 1990, 1990), 111.
[16] Australian Army, “Logistics,” Land Warfare Doctrine 4.0  (2018): 7.
[17]  Lt Col Austin was a British Army Ordnance Department officer on secondment to the Australian Army as DOS before the war and served with the AIF on Gallipoli as the DADOS 1st Australian Division and later ADOS of the ANZAC Corps.  Tilbrook, To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army 45.
[18] Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services, 229-30.
[19] “Puldron, Elliot “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.
[20] “Brave New Zealanders,” The Hawera and Normanby Star, Volume LXXI, Issue LXXI, , 24 June 1916.
[21] I. C. McGibbon, New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign (Bateman, 2016), Non-fiction, 30-31.
[22] “Road to Promotion,” Evening Post, Volume XCI, Issue 29, 4 February 1916.;Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services, 151.[23]  The NZAOC Establishment was published in the NZEF Orders of 18 Feb 1916. “New Zealand Expeditionary Force – Army Ordnance Corps Daily Order No. 1 “, Archives New Zealand Item No R25958433  (1916).
[24] Tilbrook, To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army 55.
[25] “Herbert, Alfred Henry “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.
[26] M. Soutar, Whitiki! Whiti! Whiti! E!: Māori in the First World War (Bateman Books, 2019), 185.
[27] The officers and men transferred in to the NZAOC in the period January/March 1916 would include;

•              Private Frank Percy Hutton
•              Sergeant Kenneth Bruce MacRae
•              2nd Lieutenant Alfred James Bond
•              Company Sergeant Major William Henchcliffe Simmons
•              Company Sergeant Major William Hall Densby Coltman
•              Temp Sergeant Edward Cullen Little
•              Corporal John Goutenoire O’Brien
•              Corporal John Joseph Roberts
•              Private Clarence Adrian Seay
•              Sergeant Charles Ingram Gossage
•              Armourer Charles Alfred Oldbury

“Gossage, Charles Ingram,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Oldbury, Charles Alfred,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Seay, Clarence Adrian  “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “O’brien, John Goutenoire “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Little, Edward Cullen “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Coltman, William Hall Densby “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Simmons, William Henchcliffe “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Bond, Alfred James,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Macrae, Kenneth Bruce “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914; “Hutton, Frank Percy,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[28] The New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and Corps would be establised as a pernamant unit of the New Zealand Military Forces  from 1 Feb 1917 “New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Regulations,” New Zealand Gazette No 95, June 7 1917.
[29] “Levien, Norman Joseph “; “New Zealand Expeditionary Force – Army Ordnance Corps Daily Order No. 1 “.
[30] “Returned Soldiers,” Evening Post, Volume CIII, Issue 136, 12 June 1922.
[31] Military Board of Allied Supply Allied and Associated Powers, Report of the Military Board of Allied Supply (Washington: Govt. Print. Off., 1924).
[32] 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.
[33] P.H. Williams, Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War (History Press, 2018).
[34] Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division, “New Zealand Division – Administration – War Diary, 1 May – 26 May 1916,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487546  (1916).
[35] Items Salved ny the NZ Div Salvage Company in April 1918 included:

•              One Bristol Airplane,
•              One Triumph Norton Motorcycle,
•              Three Douglas Motorcycles,
•              The following enemy stores;
•              285 Rifles,
•              10 Bayonets and scabbards,
•              25 Steel Helmets,
•              Four Pistol Signal,
•              Three Mountings MG,
•              62 Belts MG,
•              32 Belt boxes MG,
•              95 Gas respirators

 “Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 April – 30 April 1918,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487665  (1918).

[36] “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).
[37] Ideally baths would be established for each Brigade and one for the remainder of the Division, these baths would be supported by a central Laundry “An Account of the Working of the Baths Established in the Divisional Areas in France,” Archives New Zealand Item No R24428508  (1918).
[38] Glyn Harper, Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918, First World War Centenary History (Exisle Publishing Limited, 2015), Non-fiction, 351-54.
[39] “Herbert, Alfred Henry “.
[40] “Pilkington,Herbert Edward “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.
[41] H. T. B. Drew, The War Effort of New Zealand : A Popular (a) History of Minor Campaigns in Which New Zealanders Took Part, (B) Services Not Fully Dealt with in the Campaign Volumes, (C) the Work at the Bases, Official History of New Zealand’s Effort in the Great War: V.4 (Whitcombe & Tombs, 1923), Non-fiction, 248.
[42] “Levien, Norman Joseph “.
[43] Equipment and Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London – Administration Reports Etc., 18 October 1916 – 8 August 1918 Item Id R25102951, Archives New Zealand (1918).
[44] Ibid.
[45] “H-19 Defence Forces of New Zealand, Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding the Forces from 1 July 1922 to 30 June 1923,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1923).
[46] Wayne McDonald, Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War 1914-1918, 3rd edition ed. (Richard Stowers, 2013), Directories, Non-fiction, 146.
[47] McGibbon, New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign, 355.
[48] “Gossage, Charles Ingram.”
[49] “Trophies and Historical Material – [War] Trophies – New Zealand Expeditionary Force [Nzef] – Shipment of to New Zealand, 21 September 1917 – 24 November 1919,” Archives New Zealand Item No R25103019  (1919).
[50] “O’brien, John Goutenoire “.
[51] Simmons had served on the Samoa Advance party in 1914 and demobilised in October 1920, possibly one of the longest serving members of the NZEF. “Simmons, William Henchcliffe “.


2019 Wrap up

As 2019 transitions into 2020, it is time to reflect on the past year and look forward to what is planned for the future.

In the three years that this website has been in existence, 108 articles examining the history if New Zealand Ordnance Services from 184 to 1996 have been published, to date these have been viewed 17347 times by 9358 visitors.

The page continues to grow, and it is becoming the go-to place of any question on New Zealand Ordnance, with posts cited in several academic articles.

Highlights of 2019 have included;

As a result of these posts, the New Zealand Ordnance community now have a better understanding of the history of the Corps, its predecessors and their role and contribution that they played from the 1840s up to start of the Second World War.

The role of New Zealand Ordnance in the First World War was often overlooked and forgotten, but now there is a better understanding of the NZ Ordnance organisation, its structure and most importantly the men who made it happen. From a list of Twenty One names, there is now a nominal roll listing the names of Fifty Six men who served in the NZEF NZAOC, in Egypt, Turkey, France, United Kingdom and Palestine from 1914 to 1921.

Also, many of the older pages from 2017 and 2018 have been refreshed and updated as new research and information come to hand such as the posts detailing;

As 2019 transitions into 2020 if we take the time to look back, we can find many essential linkages to the past;

  • One Hundred Years ago, although the guns had fallen silent in November 1918, the New Zealand Ordnance Staff in England were still hard at work demobilising the NZEF and would be some of the last me to return tom New Zealand.
  • Eighty years ago, Captain A.H Andrews a Warrant Officer Class One and three Other Ranks had departed New Zealand on the 22nd of December as part of the 2nd NZEF advance party and would spend January and February working from the British Ordnance Depot at Abbassia laying the foundation for New Zealand’s Ordnance contribution in the Middle East and Italy that would endure until 1946.
  • Seventy-Nine Years ago, a full year before the entry of Japan into the war 8(NZ)Brigade was getting established in Fiji in preparation the expected Japanese onslaught. Support the Brigade was an Ordnance Depot and Workshops that would grow into a robust organisation supporting the 3rd New Zealand Division until 1944.

Over the next year and beyond many of the planned posts will be on the NZ Ordnance contribution to the Second World War, covering the Middle East, Greece, Crete, England, North Africa, Italy, The Pacific, India, Australia and at Home. Some research has already been undertaken, and a nominal role containing 2137 names of New Zealand who Served in the Ordnance Corps has been created, so far 167 have been identified as serving in the Middle East with 50 identified as serving in the pacific where1400 Ordnance men are known to have served.

The Second World War will not be the sole focus, and posts on New Zealand Ordnance in the years before and after the Second World War will continue to be published, with the following topics under research underway;

  • The formation of the RNZAOOC School.
  • The evolution of the Auto Parts trade.
  • Burnham’s Ordnance Depot.
  • The Black Day of 1931 and the long-term contribution and reintegration into the military of the men who were forced to assume civilian roles in the Ordnance Corps.
  • The rise and decline of the Ordnance Directorate.

It is a privilege and pleasure to produce these posts, but if anyone wishes to contribute, please message me, as a few more contributors can only enhance the page.

Sua tela tonanti

Rob Mckie


The NZAOC and how it features in the historiography of the NZEF

The role of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) during the First World War of1914 to 1919, is one that has remained untold if not forgotten. While the contribution of the NZEF, its commanders, battles and significant units are recorded in many articles, books and websites, the NZAOC has been less fortunate. When it comes to a narrative which includes the Logistic Services of the NZEF, the narrative is almost universally biased towards the larger of the Logistic Services; the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC) and the contribution of the NZAOC has been one of an unloved redhaired stepchild and seldom mentioned. From an initial mobilisation strength of an officer and a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) in 1914, the NZOAC would mature into a modern and effective organisation providing Ordnance services to the NZEF on par to their counterparts in the British and other Commonwealth Divisions.  Using Ian McGibbon’s 2016 New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign and Peter Hamlyn Williams 2018 Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War, this essay will examine the representation of the NZAOC in the historiography of the NZEF from 1914 to 1919.

The official New Zealand War histories published in the 1920s often are criticised for their “inadequacy” and “turgid prose”.[1] Ian McGibbon’s 2016 book New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign goes a long way in providing a comprehensive and easy to read account of New Zealand’s forces on the Western Front. Although McGibbon’s focus is on the New Zealand Division on the Western Front, he does provide some broader context on the NZEF, but in a similar vein to H Stewarts, The New Zealand Division of 1921, [2]  McGibbon does not acknowledge the role of the NZAOC. McGibbon cannot be faulted for neglecting to mention the NZAOC, as the NZAOD was one of several NZEF units identified at a conference of NZEF Senior Officers in 1919 as requiring the recording of their war history.[3] Despite the prompt from the wartime leaders of the NZEF, the NZAOC missed the opportunity and never followed through in the production of the NZAOC war history leaving a significant gap in New Zealand’s historiography of the First World War.

The NZAOC was not a feature of the pre-war New Zealand Army, and on the mobilisation of the NZEF in 1914,  a small Ordnance Staff consisting of the Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) and an SNCO Clerk was formed as part of the NZEF Headquarters Administrative and Services Branch, becoming the foundation staff of the NZAOC.[4] The Ordnance Manual (War) of 1914 details the role of the DADOS as to “deal with all matters affecting the Ordnance services of the division. The DADOS would manage the state of the clothing and equipment on the charge of the units composing the division and would from time to time advise the officers in charge of the stores which in all probability would be required for operations”.[5]  As the NZEF arrived in Egypt and settled down to the business of preparing itself for war, the need for a larger New Zealand Ordnance organisation must have been recognised, leading to the commissioning from the ranks of the first NZAOC officers on 3 April 1915.[6]  Soldiers and NCO’s would also be attached to the nascent Ordnance Depots at Zeitoun, Alexandra and Gallipoli throughout 1915 and into 1916. McGibbon describes the early 1916 formation of the New Zealand Division in Egypt,[7] and although providing a paragraph on the NZASC, fails to mention the expansion of the NZAOC as a unit of the NZEF.[8] The expansion of the NZAOC in early 1916 was as a result of organisational changes across the British Army Ordnance Corps(AOC) as the scale of the war, and the support required became apparent.[9] In line with all British Divisions, the DADOS of the NZ Division would assume responsibility for a small Ordnance organisation complete with integral transport.[10]

In his brief section on Logistics, McGibbon states that “The New Zealand Division slotted into the BEF’s vast Logistic system.”[11] While this statement is not incorrect, it does understate the role of the NZAOC in providing the linkages which enabled the NZ Division to integrate and become part of the vast and evolving British logistical system. However, the misunderstanding of the NZAOC’s contribution is one echoed in many New Zealand Histories of the First World War including Major J.S Bolton’s A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.[12] McGibbon’s omissions of the NZAOC do not detract from the overall quality of his book but instead continues an unintentional tradition across New Zealand’s historiography of the First World War of forgetting the NZAOC. Bolton’s history of the RNZAOC which dedicates close to ten pages on the First World War provides few details of NZAOC activities in the NZEF. Bolton instead bases much of his narrative on Major General Forbes A History of the Army Ordnance Services,[13] and Brigadier A. H Fernyhough’s A short history of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps[14] which, overlaid with some material from the NZ Division DADOS war diaries provide a broad overview of the NZAOC during the First World War. Likewise, Peter Capes Craftsmen in Uniform and Peter Cooke’s Warrior Craftsmen, both histories of the Royal Electrical And Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME), a corps that grew out of the NZAOC, fail to record the story of the NZAOC craftsmen who served in the NZEF.[15] [16]  The authoritative work to date on British Logistics during The First World War is Ian Malcolm Brown’s British Logistics on the Western Front 1914-1914.[17] Outstanding as Brown’s work is, it focuses on the larger logistical picture, and it is not until 2018 with Philip Williams Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War that a work dedicated on the activities the AOC during the First World War provides a narrative relatable to the NZAOC.

Although Williams work examines the activities of the AOC from the Ordnance factories of the United Kingdom to the trenches in all the British theatres of war, it has much relevance to the NZAOC as the New Zealand Division was just one of sixty Infantry Divisions of the British Army and therefore part of the Ordnance system that Williams describes. Williams who draws upon a combination of Forbes and Fernyhough’s histories and personal diaries to provide valuable insights into the activities of the NZAOC, which along with the Australians and Canadian Ordnance Corps were cogs in the imperial logistical machine that was the wartime AOC.[18] [19]

Britain’s war effort was vast and unprecedented, requiring a Logistical effort that grew from the pre-war industrial base to one of total war. From the Ordnance perspective, Williams lays out the Ordnance contribution from the factory to the foxhole in an uncomplicated and engaging style providing the reader with an appreciation of the scale of the Ordnance commitment to the war effort. Similarly, McGibbon also discusses the resources required to support the NZ Division on the Western Front and discusses the establishment of the NZEF Headquarters in London and training depots for reinforcements, hospitals and convalescent homes across the United Kingdom. However, McGibbon follows the established template and fails to mention the NZAOC contribution in the United Kingdom. In addition to all the other administrative branches established as part of the NZEF Headquarters, there was also an Ordnance Department with responsibility for “the purchase of Ordnance supplies”.[20] Under the Chief Ordnance Officer for the NZEF in the United Kingdom, Captain (later Major) Norman Levien, the NZAOC would pay a significant role in supporting the NZEF. Levien would introduce into the NZEF standardised stores accounting systems and review purchase contracts leading to the introduction of competitive tendering for the provision of stores and services to the NZEF, leading to considerable savings.[21]  In Order to provide dedicated Ordnance Support to the NZEF, a New Zealand Ordnance Depot was also established in London.[22]

Where McGibbon’s primary effort is on the NZ Division on the Western Front, Williams provides an overview of the Ordnance support provided to all the campaigns that New Zealand participated in, which when read in conjunction with the limited material on the NZAOC such as the DADOS war dairies can be extrapolated to tell the story of the NZAOC. For example, Williams details the Ordnance preparations for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) operations at Gallipoli, the challenges faced during the campaign and how Ordnance was never to get fully organised which corresponds to and fills out the few accounts of New Zealand’s Ordnance contribution to that campaign.[23] It is in Williams chapter on the Somme where he highlights the anonymity of Ordnance in the Divisional Order of Battle which has contributed to the NZAOCs absence from the historiography. Williams finds it intriguing that despite the Order of Battle for a Division listing Divisional Headquarters, Artillery, Engineers, Infantry Brigades, Army Service Corps and all other types of integral units, Ordnance is not mentioned as such.[24]  Glyn Harpers Johny Enzed does help to lift the veil of anonymity of the NZAOD in the NZEF Order of Battle for 1916 and lists Ordnance three times, but provides little other information on the NZAOC.[25]  Williams unpacks the role of Ordnance within an Infantry Divison, explaining how under the DADOS the Ordnance staff had multiple responsibilities. The DADOS had the responsibility of ensuring that the Divisions requirement for the accurate and precise management of Ordnance Stores including boots, uniforms, guns and camp equipment. As an example, Williams discusses the process that a DADOS would follow to replace a Lewis gun buried in a mine explosion. Reporting the loss of the gun to Corps and Army Headquarters, to Ordnance Headquarter and the Quartermaster General (QMG) at General Headquarters (GHQ) and on receipt of the replacement gun, how the reporting process would be repeated to acknowledge the receipt of the gun.[26]  In addition to the DADOS’s stores accounting responsibilities, Williams also explains how the operation of the Divisional Laundry and Baths fell under the DADOS remit. Maintenance is another area in which the DADOS had some responsibility. Initially, craftsmen such as armourers and bootmakers belonged to the individual Regiments within the Division, but as units went into action, these men became redundant, so they were often transferred to ordnance and placed into Divisional Workshops under the DAODS. Given the broad responsibilities of the NZAOC, a hypothesis for the NZAOC’s anonymity in the historiography of the NZEF could be as simple as a case of unrecognised success. Success in that the NZAOC fulfilled its role so well with no major errors affecting the operations of the NZEF that it went unnoticed, and their continual anonymity, therefore, is a measure of the success of the NZAOC.

In conclusion, one hundred years after the end of the First World War the NZAOC remains an anonymous unit of the NZEF, and despite its small size, it is time to reconsider its place in the historiography of the NZEF. McGibbon’s New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign reinforces the anonymity of the NZAOC, but McGibbon’s omission is not intentional but a continuation of the belief that the NZEF just slotted into the British logistic system without questioning the mechanisms and the men that enabled the NZEF to do so. Williams Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War which is an examination of the British Ordnance system, provides useful insights on how the NZEF not only received Ordnance support but provides an example how the DADOS within the NZ Division managed the Ordnance functions within the Division, a linkage which has long been missing from the historiography.

20180605_195417-190082474.jpg

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

Notes

[1] Steven Loveridge, “New Zealand’s Bloodiest Campaign,” New Zealand Books 27, no. 118 (2017).

[2] Stewarts only mention of New Zealand’s Ordnance contribution to the NZ Division is on the Organisational Tables on pages 15 and 603 where he lists the DADOS as part of the organisation. H. Stewart, The New Zealand Division, 1916-1919: A Popular History Based on Official Records, Official History of New Zealand’s Effort in the Great War: V. 2 France (Whitcombe & Tombs, 1921), Non-fiction.

[3] In the Senior Officer Conference of November 1919, 22 units of the NZEF had convenors of Regimental Committees appointed with the responsibility to appoint a writer of the units War History. Lt Col Herbert who had been the NZ Division DADOS from 1916 to 1918 was appointed as the convenor for the NZAOC, but no official wartime history of the NZAOC was ever published.  Conference of Senior Officers, New Zealand Expeditionary Force,  (Archives New Zealand, R22550177, 1919).

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

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

[6] “Grants of Temporary Rank, Appointments and Promotions of Officers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force,” New Zealand Gazette 8 July 1915.

[7] I. C. McGibbon, New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign (Bateman, 2016), Non-fiction, 30-31.

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

[9] Arthur Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services (London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929), 151.

[10]  Records of the exact manning and organisation of the New Zealand Division DADOS branch have not been seen, but would have been similar to the organisation of the Australian DADOS Divisional Ordnance Staff which was comprised of:

  • 1 Officer as DADOS (Maj/Capt)
  • 1 Conductor of Ordnance Stores per Divisional HQ
  • 1 Sergeant AAOC per Divisional HQ
  • 1 Corporal AAOC per Divisional HQ
  • 3 RQMS (WO1) AAOC
  • 3 Sergeants AAOC, 1 to each of 3 Brigades
  • 3 Corporals AAOC, 1 to each of 3 Brigades

As the war progressed additional Ordnance Officers would be included into the DADOS establishment who along with the Warrant Officer Conductor would manage the Ordnance staff and day to day operations allowing the DADOS the freedom to liaise with the divisional staff, units and supporting AOC units and Ordnance Depots. 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), 78.

[11] McGibbon, New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign, 176.

[12] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 69.

[13] Forbes, A History of the Army Ordnance Services.

[14] Brigadier A H Fernyhough, A Short History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (First Edition) (RAOC Trust 1965), 22-26.

[15] Peter Cape, Craftsmen in Uniform: The Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers: An Account (Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 1976), Non-fiction, 13.

[16] Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, Rnzeme 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017), 10-13.

[17] I.M. Brown, British Logistics on the Western Front: 1914-1919 (Praeger, 1998).

[18] Colonel W.R Lang, Organisation, Administration and Equipment of His Majestys Land Force in Peace and War, Part Ii of the Guide – a Manual for the Canadian Militia (Infantry) by Major-General Sir William D Otter, Kcb, Cvo (Toronto: The Copp, Clarke Company Limited, 1917), 91-93.

[19] Tilbrook, To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army 40-95.

[20] H. T. B. Drew, The War Effort of New Zealand: A Popular (a) History of Minor Campaigns in Which New Zealanders Took Part, (B) Services Not Fully Dealt within the Campaign Volumes, (C) the Work at the Bases, Official History of New Zealand’s Effort in the Great War: V.4 (Whitcombe & Tombs, 1923), Non-fiction, 248.

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

[22] Equipment and Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London – Administration Reports Etc., 18 October 1916 – 8 August 1918 Item Id R25102951, Archives New Zealand (1918).

[23] P.H. Williams, Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War (History Press, 2018), 64-75.

[24] Ibid., 137.

[25]  NZ Army Ordnance Details as part of the Division, An NZ Ordnance Section as part of the administrative Headquarters of NZEF in Egypt and NZ Ordnance Section as part of the administrative Headquarters of NZEF in the United Kingdom. Glyn Harper, Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918, First World War Centenary History (Exisle Publishing Limited, 2015), Non-fiction, Appendix 3.

[26] Williams, Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War, 124.

 

Bibliography

Primary Sources

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

Conference of Senior Officers, New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Archives New Zealand, R22550177, 1919.

Equipment and Ordnance Depot, Farringdon Road, London – Administration Reports Etc., 18 October 1916 – 8 August 1918 Item Id R25102951, Archives New Zealand. 1918.

“Grants of Temporary Rank, Appointments and Promotions of Officers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force.” New Zealand Gazette, 8 July 1915.

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

Ordnance Manual (War). War Office. London: His Majesties Printing Office, 1914.

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

Secondary Sources

Bolton, Major J.S. A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps. Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992.

Brown, I.M. British Logistics on the Western Front: 1914-1919. Praeger, 1998.

Cape, Peter. Craftsmen in Uniform: The Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers: An Account. Corps of Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 1976. Non-fiction.

Colonel W.R Lang. The Organisation, Administration and Equipment of His Majestys Land Force in Peace and War. Part Ii of the Guide – a Manual for the Canadian Militia (Infantry) by Major-General Sir William D Otter, KCB, CVC. Toronto: The Copp, Clarke Company Limited, 1917.

Cooke, Peter. Warrior Craftsmen, RNZEME 1942-1996. Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017.

Drew, H. T. B. The War Effort of New Zealand: A Popular (a) History of Minor Campaigns in Which New Zealanders Took Part, (B) Services Not Fully Dealt within the Campaign Volumes, (C) the Work at the Bases. Official History of New Zealand’s Effort in the Great War: V.4. Whitcombe & Tombs, 1923. Non-fiction.

Fernyhough, Brigadier A H. A Short History of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (First Edition). RAOC Trust, 1965.

Forbes, Arthur. A History of the Army Ordnance Services. London: The Medici society, ltd., 1929.

Harper, Glyn. Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918. First World War Centenary History. Exisle Publishing Limited, 2015. Non-fiction.

Loveridge, Steven. “New Zealand’s Bloodiest Campaign.” New Zealand Books 27, no. 118 (Winter2017 2017): 18-18.

McGibbon, I. C. New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign. Bateman, 2016. Non-fiction.

Stewart, H. The New Zealand Division, 1916-1919: A Popular History Based on Official Records. Official History of New Zealand’s Effort in the Great War: V. 2 France. Whitcombe & Tombs, 1921. Non-fiction.

Tilbrook, John D. To the Warrior His Arms: A History of the Ordnance Services in the Australian Army Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps Committee, 1989.

Williams, P.H. Ordnance: Equipping the British Army for the Great War. History Press, 2018.

 

 


Sling Ordnance Depot, 1916-1920

To sustain and maintain the New Zealand Division on the Western Front during the First World War, New Zealand established a network of training camps, hospitals and other administrative facilities in the United Kingdom. At Sling Camp in the centre of Salisbury Plain, the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) established an Ordnance Depot to provided Ordnance Support to all of the Units of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) located in the Southern Command area of the United Kingdom.  Comprised of a small number of NZAOC soldiers the Sling Ordnance Depot would perform all the duties required of it from its inception in 1916 until final demobilisation in 1920.

Officially called the 4th New Zealand Infantry Brigade Reserve Camp, Sling Camp is the most well-known of the NZEF training camps in England. Throughout the war, Sling Camp would house up to 5000 men undergoing training and recuperation at any one time.[1] To provide ordnance support to Sling Camp, the NZEF Chief Ordnance Officer, Captain Norman Joseph Levien established the Sling Ordnance Depot during the period May-July 1916[2] The Sling Ordnance Depot would not only be responsible for NZEF units in Sling Camp but also all the NZEF units located in the Southern Command Area, including;

  • the New Zealand Command Depot and No 3 General Hospital at Codford,
  • the Artillery and Medical Corps at Ewshot;
  • the Signals at Stevenage;
  • the Engineers, Tunnellers and Māori’s at Christchurch,
  • No 1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst, and
  • The Convalescent Discharge Depot at Torquay.

NZEF UK

‘NZEF in England 1916-19 map’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/nzef-england-1916-19-map, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage)

The Sling Depot would be under the command of the Ordnance Officer NZEF in Southern Command, aided by a small staff of NZAOC Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs). Additional manpower to assist in the handling and management of stores would be provided by supported units, with up to eighty other men attached to the depot during periods of high activity.[3]  Eighteen miles from Sling and with over three thousand men based at Codford, an auxiliary ordnance depot was also established there under the control of an NCO.

BondAJ12-689

Second Lieutenant A.J Bond

Second Lieutenant Alfred James Bond would be appointed as the first Ordnance Officer at Sling in July 1916. Bond had been attached to the NZ Ordnance Depot at Alexandra from 30 April 1915 and was promoted to Second Lieutenant on19 January 1916, followed by his transfer into the NZAOC on 2 March 1916. Moving with the NZ Divison to France, Bond would eventually be transferred to the HQ of the NZEF in June 1916 and appointed as the Ordnance Officer for NZEF Units in the Southern Command in July 1916. Bond would remain at Sling until June 1917 when he was seconded for duty with No 5 Light Railway Section in France.[4]  Bond had been under scrutiny since March 1917 when a court of inquiry had found fault with his leadership, which had led to the death of NZAOC Armourer Sergeant John William Allday as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on 9 January 1917.[5]

Bond was replaced as Ordnance Officer by Second Lieutenant William Henchcliffe Simmons. Simmons had initially served in the Samoa Expeditionary Force after which he would see service at Gallipoli before transferring into the NZAOC. At the time of Bonds secondment to the Light Railway Section, Simmons was serving as a Conductor in the NZ Division in France. Promoted to Second Lieutenant, Simmons would serve as the Ordnance Officer at Sling until August 1917, when Bond returned from his secondment.[6]

WhyteHH

Captain H.H Whyte

Bond would remain as Sling Ordnance Officer until January 1918 when Captain Herbert Henry Whyte, MC arrived for temporary duty as the Sling Ordnance Officer. Whyte was an NZ Artillery officer who along with NZAOC Officer Lieutenant Charles Ingram Gossage had completed a course of instruction in Ordnance duties at the Woolwich Arsenal.[7] Whyte would alternate between the Sling depot and Headquarters in London until 8 May 1918 when he would take up the full-time appointment of Sling Ordnance Officer. Whyte would remain as the Ordnance Officer of the Sling Depot until January 1920 when he was appointed as the acting NZEF Assistant Director of Ordnance Services.[8]

All units in the NZEF Southern Command would raise indents on the Sling Depot, which after checking by the Ordnance Officer would be satisfied from existing stock or sourced from the appropriate source of supply for direct delivery to units. The primary source of supply for general ordnance stores was the British Ordnance Depot at Tidworth, which was conveniently located only five miles from Sling. Occasionally stores would also be drawn from the British Ordnance Depots at Hilsea and Warminster. The relationship with the Tidworth Depot would be close with an NZAOC SNCO seconded there to manage the New Zealand indents.[9] Clothing and Textile were drawn from the New Zealand Ordnance Depot at Farringdon Road in London, or directly for the Royal Army Clothing Department (RACD) Southampton Depot.[10]

ordnance-store-ww1_0

‘Ordnance store during First World War’, URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/ordnance-store-england-during-first-world-war, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 17-Nov-2016

In addition to the provision of general ordnance stores, clothing and textiles, the Sling Ordnance Dept also managed an Armourers Group and a Salvage Depot. The Armourers Group would have been equipped with all the tools and accessories necessary for the repair of small arms, machine guns, bicycles, primus stoves, steel helmets and other like items[11]

The Salvage Depot had developed during 1917as a measure to recycle unserviceable stores to minimise waste and ensure financial savings. All UK NZEF units would return their part worn and unserviceable clothing and textile items to the Salvage Depot for sorting and further action.

All Serviceable and repairable Service Dress Clothing was sent to the Farringdon Road Depot in London for cleaning, repair, and holding for further issue. Serviceable garments such as socks and underwear sent to the Steam Laundry Company at Salisbury, where after cleaning were returned to the Sling Depot and held as stock. Unserviceable textile stores, such as web gear would be forwarded to the Imperial Salvage Depot at Dewsbury.

The Salvage Depot would grade Boots as either repairable or unserviceable. Repairable boots were sent to either the Farringdon Road Depot or the Southern Command Boot Repair Depot at Southampton for repair and reintegration back into stock. Unserviceable boots were sold by auction in Southampton.

Unserviceable general stores that were not repairable on-site would be placed onto a Board of Survey, of which the Ordnance Officer was a member, classed as unserviceable and returned to the British ordnance Depot from where they were initially sourced, either Tidworth, Hilsea or Warminster.

In addition to the processing of clothing, textiles and general stores, the Salvage Dept would also collect waste paper and tin cans for recycling.

On the signing of the armistice, Sling switched from training camp to a demobilisation centre for all “A Class” men, and the role of the Ordnance Depot became one closing units and disposing of equipment, while also equipping men returning to New Zealand. The demobilised plan called for little equipment used by the NZEF during the war to be backloaded to New Zealand. The exception would be rifles and web equipment.  Rifles were inspected by Ordnance, overhauled and reconditioned with best 20000 returned to New Zealand as transports became available. Web Equipment was cleaned, reconditioned and returned to New Zealand as space became available. The NZAOC Staff in NZEF Headquarters in London would oversee the purchase of enough equipment to equip two Infantry Divisions and One Mounted Rifle Brigade. Again as transport became available, this would be dispatched to New Zealand. The plan was for key NZAOC men to accompany each consignment to assist with its receipt in New Zealand.  In addition to closing down units and disposing of equipment, the primary role of the NZAOC was to issue men returning to New Zealand with New Uniforms.[12]

The demobilisation process required the holding of a much larger stock of clothing, and on 23 November 1918, the existing Sling Ordnance Depot was closed and relocated to larger premises a short distance away in the central area of Bulford Camp.[13] The NZ Ordnance Depot at Bulford became the central reception depot for all Ordnance and Salvage for NZEF units in the UK. The Salvage Depot would become the busiest and most important branch of the Bulford Depot with up to eighty additional men added to its staff. In the six months leading up to June 1919, the Bulford disposal depot enabled credits of £38000 (2019 NZD$ 4,12,9535.50) to be made on behalf of the NZEF.

Ceasing activities with the departure of the last New Zealand soldiers repatriated to New Zealand. The Sling Ordnance Depot would cease operations after three years of service. Its final administrative functions were taken over by the NZAOC Headquarters in London, which from February 1920 were under the command of Captian William Simmons who would be the Officer in Charge of NZ Ordnance in England until October 1920.

No nominal roll of NZAOC soldiers who served in the Sling Depot has survived, but the following men are now known to have served at the depot;

  • 23/1318 Armourer Sergeant John William Allday
  • 12/689 Lieutenant Alfred James Bond
  • 2/3001 Sergeant Herbert William Grimes
  • 10/1251 Staff Sergeant Henry Richard Harntett
  • 10/921 Sergeant Leslie Vincent Kay
  • 23/659 Temporary Capitan William Henchcliffe Simmons
  • 2/284 Captain Herbert Henry Whyte
  • 6/572 Sergeant Henry Wilkinson

 

Notes:

[1] H. T. B. Drew, The War Effort of New Zealand: A Popular (a) History of Minor Campaigns in Which New Zealanders Took Part, (B) Services Not Fully Dealt within the Campaign Volumes, (C) the Work at the Bases, Official History of New Zealand’s Effort in the Great War: V.4 (Whitcombe & Tombs, 1923), Non-fiction, 249-53.

[2] “Levien, Norman Joseph “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[3] “New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps – War Diary, Summary, 23 November 1918 – 9 June 1919 “, Archives New Zealand Item No R23856659  (1919).

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

[5] “Allday, John William  “, Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

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

[7] Gossage would go on to be the NZ Division DADOS “Gossage, Charles Ingram,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[8] “Whyte, Herbert Henry,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[9] “Harnett, Henry Richard,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[10] “New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps – War Diary, Summary, 29 July 1918 “, Archives New Zealand Item No R23856657  (1918).

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

[12] “New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps – War Diary, Summary, 23 November 1918 – 9 June 1919 “.

[13]  The Ordnance Depot occupied buildings that had formally been used by the NZEF Base Kit Stores which had vacated the premises a few weeks previously.ibid…