NZEF Ordnance 1914-1915

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

plan of camp
Plan of Zeitoun Camp

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

  • Private Walter John Geard,[29]
  • Private Arthur Gilmore,[30]
  • Private Gavin Hamilton,[31]
  • Private Lewis Crozier,[32]
  • Private Horace Frederick Lofts,[33]
  • Private Joseph Roland Henderson.[34]
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Rue de la, Porte Rosette, Alexandria, Egypt. Public Domain

By March 1915 Levien had secured premises for a New Zealand Ordnance Depot and warehouse at  No. 12 Rue de la Porte Rosette and a warehouse at Shed 43, Alexandra Docks. From these premises, the New Zealand Forces would be provided support before and during the Dardanelles campaign. The Australians established a similar Depot at Mustapha Barracks and in No 12 Bond Store on Alexandra Docks.[35]

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

Order 122
Order No 122 promoting King and Levien into the NZAOC on 4 April 1915
king
Lieutenant Thomas Joseph King, New Zealand Ordnance Corps in Egypt.National Army Museum of New Zealand

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

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

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

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

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

“We were all ready to land but were kept waiting and waiting until about 9.00 a.m. Some barges were moored alongside and a string of boats outside of these on the starboard side. Colonels Braithwaite, Chaytor and Manders, Major Hughes and Captain Beck and I got into the first boat. We were frightfully hampered by our kit – overcoat, revolver, glasses, map case, haversack, three days rations, firewood, Red Cross satchel, water bottle – like elephants. It was a certainty that we would drown if we got sunk. After waiting, a steam picket boat came along in charge of a very fat rosy midshipman. He took our string of boats in tow, and we were off. Our boat grounded about 50 feet from the shore and we all hopped out. Of course, I fell into a hole up to my neck. I could hardly struggle ashore and when I did the first thing I saw was Beck sitting on a stone, roaring with laughter at us. Billy Beck was the first New Zealander of Godley’s force (New Zealanders were serving in the Australian Division) to get onto Gallipoli”.

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

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Ordnance Depot Shrapnel Gully, Gallipoli. Alexander Turnbull Libary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Herbert.jpg
A wounded Herbert with Lieutenant Colonel A.B. Chaytor April 1916.National Army Museum of New Zealand

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

Copyright © Robert McKie 2018

 

Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[11] Ibid., Page 3.

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

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

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

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

[16] Ibid.

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

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

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

[20] “Auckland Territorials.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[28] “Norman Joseph Levien.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[39] Ibid., Page 222.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[46] “William Thomas Beck.”

[47] “Arthur Gilmour “.

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

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

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

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

[52] “Walter John Geard “.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


NZ Divisional Laundry and Baths, 1916 – 1918

A significant function of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force during the First World War was managing the New Zealand Divisional Laundries and Baths. The Laundry and Bath functions would help maintain the New Zealand Division’s hygiene by providing the opportunity for regular bathing, the exchanging of underclothing and socks and the delousing of uniforms. Although the NZ Division s Laundry and Bath functions were interconnected with its neighbouring Divisions and supporting Corps, this article’s focus is on providing a snapshot of the NZ Divisions Laundry and Bath operations from October 1916 to June 1918.

At the onset of the First World War in part due to the lessons learnt in the South African War and the more recent Balkan Wars, the British Army had a reasonable understanding of the importance of hygiene in the field and published The Manual of Elementary Military Hygiene in 1912.[1]  However, as with any military doctrine, the practical application of the field hygiene lessons learnt would take time to become effective in the early years of the War. However, by the time the New Zealand Division arrived at the Western Front in mid-1916, the British Army had a rudimentary Laundry and Bath system at the Corps and Divisional level in which the New Zealand Division would be integrated into.

Command and Control

Initially, as the New Zealand Division took over the existing Laundry and Baths from British units, these functions were initially vested as a responsibility of the New Zealand Medical Corps, who provided officers and men to supplement he existing civilian staff.[2]  In line with British practice both the Divisional Laundry and Baths came under the control of the Division Headquarters “Q” Branch, and from 21 December 1916, the New Zealand Division, Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) was the officer responsible for the running of the Divisional Laundry and Baths.[3]

Baths

The Bathing concept was that four Bathhouses were to be established in a Divisional area: usually one Bathhouse for each Infantry brigade and on Bathhouse for the rest of the Division.  The concept was that Soldiers would rotate through Bathhouse on a schedule to allow the entire Division to be bathed once every ten days. In the early years of the war Bathing facilities were rudimentary with Baths ranging from breweries or fabric processing plants to Beer barrels cut in half.[4]   

British soldiers washing in makeshift baths possibly near Armentieres, 1915. Copyright: © IWM.

Although initially built on an ad-hoc basis using whatever resources were available, by 1917 most Bathhouses in the New Zealand Division were built and operated on a uniform pattern: [5]

A typical Bathhouse would be operated as follows.

  • The men enter at 1, Undress and hand their Service Dress and valuables in at 2(Obtaining receipt) and dirty underclothes at 3.
  • They then have a hot shower in D
  • While the men are having their showers, the seams of their Service Dress Tunics and Trousers were ironed to kill lice, and small repairs were undertaken.
  • Upon completing the shower, the men enter F, collect a towel, clean underclothes at 4 and their Service Dress and valuables at 5. Dress and leave by 6.
  • All Towels and dirty underclothes are sent from the baths to the Divisional Laundry daily, and a supply of clean or new items received in exchange.

In June 1918 the system of delousing the soldier’s Service Dress clothing was improved using the Thresh Disinfector Delousing Chamber. As soldier passed into the Bathhouse, the soldier’s Service Dress would be turned inside out and handed over to the Thresh operators. The Garments would be hung up inside the Thresh’s airtight chamber and sealed. Coke braziers then heated the airtight chamber, and after the garments had been treated by this method for 15 minutes, they were found to be entirely free form lice and eggs.[6]

Personnel employed in the Divisional usually consisted of

  • A Non-Commissioned Officer (NZAOC).[7]
  • Locally employed civilian women for ironing and mending.

Depending on the ebb and flow of the battle and the New Zealand Division’s movement, between October 1916 and June 1918 the DADOS War Diary records that Bathhouses to support the NZ Division were established in over thirty-four different locations.[8] On most occasions, existing bathhouses were taken over from other Divisions. If there were no existing Bathhouse or the ones taken over were not suitable, NZ Engineers would be employed to construct new bathhouses.[9]

Plan for the NZ Divisional Baths as Vauchelles. Archives New Zealand

By June 1918, the New Zealand Divisional Bathhouse system was operating effectively and bathing on average between 700 – 800 troops daily, with 46411 men passing through the Divisional Bathhouses in total.[10]

New Zealand soldiers recently in the trenches outside the Divisional Baths, France. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013160-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23139145
Soldiers after leaving the line wait their turn for a bath. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-012817-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23097155

Laundry

On most occasions, the Division would be relieving an existing Division in the area and would take over the existing Divisional Laundry as a going concern. However, there were occasions when a Laundry would have to be established from the ground up, such as when the Division Laundry and Baths at Pont de Nieppe were destroyed by enemy shell fire in April 1917.[11]

The Divisional Laundry would receive dirty garments from the Baths, (underclothes, socks, and towels) where they would be disinfected, washed, and mended and placed into a reissue pool.[12] 

Usually, the Divisional Laundry would place indents on the supply chain for new items to replace items beyond repair, however, in January 1918 authority was granted for the Divisional Baths to hold a pool of new clothing to me maintained consisting of: [13]

  • 5000 shirts
  • 13100 vests woollen
  • 12450 Drawers Woollen
  • 12700 Towels
  • 19000 pairs of socks

By 1918 the average output from the New Zealand Divisional Laundry was 35,000 – 40,000 garments per week.

Personnel employed in the Divisional Laundry usually consisted of.

  • 1 Officer (NZAOC)
  • 20 Other Ranks.[14]
  • 142 Civilians
    • 1 Forewoman @ 60 Centines per hour
    • 1 Assistant @ 50 Centines per hour
    • 50 Seamstresses @ 40 Centines per hour
    •  70 Laundresses @ 40 Centines per hour
    • 10 Helpers @ 30 Centines per hour
    • 10 Drying Room Hands @ 40 Centines per hour
French women employed in an Army laundry, hanging out soldiers’ shirts to dry at Poperinghe, 30 September 1917. Copyright: © IWM.

Between October 1916 and June 1918, as the NZ Division moved, the NZ Divisional Laundry would also be relocated and established in new locations, some of the known sites were

  • October 1916 Located at Estaires.
  • Pont de Nieppe, Laundry destroyed by enemy shellfire, 12 April 1917
  • 18 to 25 April 1917 Established at Steenwerck, Handed over to the 8th Division.
  • Before and during the German 1918 Spring Offensive, the Divisional Laundry would be located at.
    • Renninghelst
    • Outtersteene      
    • Westoutre
    • Abbeville  

Socks

Socks were an unlikely enabler; in the extreme conditions found in the mud-filled trenches clean, dry socks were often the difference between life and death. When feet are constantly wet, as they often were in the trenches, they begin to rot. Gangrene sets in, and often the only remedy is amputation. In the First World War, 75,000 British troops would die due to complications caused by trench foot.[15]

Acutely aware of the need for clean socks, the New Zealand Division maintained a system where socks were exchanged daily. To facilitate the daily exchange, a dry sock store was run in conjunction with the Bathhouses. Here dry socks were drawn daily by units in the line in exchange for dirty socks. The dirty sock would then be backloaded to the Divisional Laundry and exchanged for clean socks.

Once received by the Divisional Laundry, the dirty socks would if damaged, be mended, washed and once dried treated with camphor (as prevention against trench foot) before been placed into the exchange pool.

By May 1918 the disruption caused by the 1918 German Kaiserschlacht offensive had affected the supply routes with the railway service from the Laundry at Abbeville becoming irregular, and it was taking 6-7 days for trucks to travel the short distance to replenish Bathhouses with clean underclothing and socks. However, given the hygiene and morale benefits that clean socks brought, the need to maintain the sock exchange system to the forward troops was a priority. Therefore, close to the front, under the supervision of the NZAOC, a small sock washing depot was established with Sixteen men from the Divisional Employment Company in May 1918. Socks were sorted with torn or holey socks returned to the Laundry for mending, with the remainder of the socks washed by hand. In fine weather, the drying was done outside, if it was wet, the socks were hung on wires from the ceiling of a room and dried employing coke braziers. The men did excellent work, and output was 4 to 5 thousand pairs daily and kept up an adequate supply.[16]   

Soldiers washing socks during World War I, Bus-les-artois, France. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013179-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23052031
New Zealand soldiers washing socks in wooden tubs near the New Zealand Divisional Headquarters at Bus-les-artois, 7 May 1918. Photograph taken by Henry Armitage Sanders Nº H-563 Photo source – Alexander Turnbull collection at the National Library of New Zealand. (Colorized by Marina Amaral from Brazil) https://www.facebook.com/marinamaralarts/?fref=nf See less

Gumboots

As the western front settled down into the routine of trench warfare in the winter of 1915, the time spent in the saturated trenches by British troops was limited to thirty-six hours during which the wearing of gumboots became widespread in the water-soaked areas.[17]  The use of gumboots helped minimise the effects of mud and water on exposed feet, thus limiting Trench foot occurrences. Based on the early success of gumboots, contracts were placed with the North British Rubber Company (now Hunter Boot Ltd) to manufacture over 1,185,000 pairs of Gumboots for the British army during WW1.[18]

Boots were classed as Trench Stores and usually only issued to a Division when it was on the line. The NZ Division was typically provided with around 6000 pairs, pooled, and issued from a Gumboot Store. The Gumboot store was designed with drying racks and heaters to allow the wet gumboots to be dried and prepared for reissue.

Plan for Drying Apparatus for Rubber Boots. Australian Imperial Force Unit War Diaries, 1914-1919 – Australian Corps Baths and Laundries, 2 – June 1916 – April 1918.” Australian War Memorial Archives Collection No AWM4 18/1/1 PART 2 (1918)

This article provides a small snapshot of how the Laundry and Bath functions contributed to maintaining the New Zealand Division’s hygiene by providing the opportunity for regular bathing, the exchanging of underclothing and socks and the delousing of uniforms. Although the playing a small but significant role in maintaining the combat effectiveness of the New Zealand Division, the efforts of the NZ Division DADOS Staff, the men of the Divisional Employment Companies and the locally employed civilian staff in maintaining the Laundry and Bath operations are worthy of further study to expand the historiography of New Zealand’s First World War combat enablers.

Notes


[1] Martin C. M. Bricknell and Colonel David A. Ross, “Fit to Fight – from Military Hygiene to Wellbeing in the British Army,” Military Medical Research 7, no. 1 (2020).

[2] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 71-72.

[3] “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).

[4] Janet Macdonald, Supplying the British Army in the First World War, vol. , (Pen and Sword military, 2019), , 143.

[5] “An Account of the Working of the Baths Established in the Divisional Areas in France,” Archives New Zealand Item No R24428508  (1918).

[6] “Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division – New Zealand Division – Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 June – 30 June 1918,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487667  (1918).

[7] From May 1917 drawn from No 1 NZ (Divisional) Employment Company.

[8] Based on the DADOS War Diaries Bathhouses were established at, Neuve-Eglise, Selles, Balinghem,Merck-Saint-Liévin, Watou Area, Vlamertinge, Poperinghe, Canal Bank, Bayenghem, Potijze, Hondichen, Staple, Halifax Camp, Caistre, Béthencourt, Louvencourt, Pas, Nauchelles, Pont de Nieppe, Blendecques, Café Belge

Bissezeele Cross Roads, Potijze, Ottawa, Hooge Baths Ypres, Estaires, Vauchelles

[9] 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.

[10] “Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division – New Zealand Division – Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 June – 30 June 1918”

[11] “Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division – New Zealand Division – Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 April – 30 April 1917,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487653  (1917).

[12] “An Account of the Working of the Baths Established in the Divisional Areas in France.”

[13] “Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division – New Zealand Division – Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 January – 31 January 1918,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487662  (1918).

[14] From May 1917 drawn from No 1 NZ (Divisional) Employment Company.

[15] Allison Korleski, “Next up in Fiber Nation: The Hand-Knit Socks That Marched to War,” Interweave, https://www.interweave.com/fiber-nation/episode-9-world-war-socks/.

[16] “Headquarters New Zealand and Australian Division – New Zealand Division – Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 June – 30 June 1918.”

[17] Susan Cohen, Medical Services in the First World War (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014).

[18] James Smith, “History of Wellington Boots: From Battlefields to Potato Fields,” Heddels, https://www.heddels.com/2019/02/history-wellington-boots-battlefields-potato-fields/.


Sport and NZAOC in the Interbellum

The Military of New Zealand has a proud sporting tradition; a tradition often touted as an example of how sport and the Military have had a complementary partnership credited with the shaping of the unique New Zealand Identify. Accounts of the 1919 “New Zealand Services” tour of the United Kingdom, France and South Africa and “Freybergs All Blacks” in the wake of World War Two have provided much material for articles, books and documentaries, reinforcing the New Zealand Sporting/Military tradition. However, New Zealand’s Military participation in sport in the period between the world wars is one that has remained mostly unrecorded and unknown. Using the example of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC), this essay will examine how the members of the Ordnance Corps participated as administrators and players in sporting competitions during the interwar period of 1918-1939.  This participation, while a general reflection of New Zealand society of the time, was nonetheless significant because it contributed to the Military’s profile in the community and the military preparedness of the NZAOC.

NZ-Army-team-1919-800

Sport has been a constant companion to New Zealand’s Military endeavours. New Zealand service members are well known for taking any opportunity to put their military duties aside and with the full encouragement of the military hierarchy, participate in sporting competition. Sporting participation in the Military is encouraged because it is not only an easy and practical way of encouraging physical fitness but as stated in the New Zealand Army Publication the NZP20 Sport, useful for promoting “the development of unit morale and esprit de corps, the development of leadership, teamwork, skills, dexterity, comradeship, development of personal qualities and character and the enhancement of the image of the Army in the community.”[1] Although the NZ P20 is the latest interpretation of the role of sport, it is an interpretation that has remained constant throughout all of New Zealand Military endeavours.[2] New Zealand’s final campaign of the First World War was not a military campaign, but rather a nineteen match, six-month tour of France, the United Kingdom and South Africa. The N.Z. Services team chosen from the cream of the NZEF were retrospectively considered in 1928 by Percy Day, the manager of the 1919 South African Services side “superior to the best XV the 1928 All Blacks could field. Being ex-soldiers, their teamwork and team spirit were alike admirable, and they blended into a most workmanlike side.”[3] Additional validation of the relationship between sport and military service came in 1920 as France began to rebuild their Military. Based on observations by the French of fighting quality of British Imperial troops, the French War Minister instructed that the development of sport participation throughout the French Army be made compulsory in every regiment. The radical change was made in part by the French wish to emulate the “fine physique and fighting qualities of the Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and Canadians, who are the greatest exponents of football, cricket and general sport in the world”.[4]

In the wake of the First World War, sport would undergo a popular resurgence in New Zealand. The nation was determined to move forward to put the losses of the war behind them and “people were determined to enjoy themselves and to forget, or pretend to forget” the traumatic events to the previous four years.[5] Sport as a national institution had already been well established in the years leading up to the First World War and considered by some in New Zealand society as “a moral and physical training ground for young men and therefore a vital component of soldier-making”. However, by 1915 participation would begin to decline as the war effort began to take priority. The resurgence of sporting competitions began in 1918 and by 1919 was in full swing with Rugby Union, Football, Cricket, Shooting and Bowls competitions flourishing across the nation. However, despite the post-war resurgence of sport as a national pastime, the participation of the Military and the Ordnance Corps is less clear. The focus of most contemporary histories of the New Zealand Army for the period 1918-39 are less on sport but on how, despite the high esteem of the Army, how it faced many challenges and struggled for resources. In a period of growing anti-war sentiments, faith in the League of Nations, financial austerity and global depression, the Army underwent many reorganisations restructures and reductions so that by 1931 it had been reduced to a strength of around five hundred men.[6] However, despite the financial limitations of the era, the Ordnance Corps under the leadership of Major Thomas Joseph King, would not only conduct its military duties but also was an active participant in the sporting community.

As the Army adjusted and found its place in post-war New Zealand Society, the Ordnance Corps undertook a similar journey. In 1919 the Ordnance Corps was a relatively young military organisation, having only been formed as a component of the New Zealand Permanent Forces in 1917.[7] With its headquarters and main depot at Wellington’s Mount Cook, the Ordnance Corps was a nationwide organisation with sub-depots in Auckland, Palmerston North, Featherston, Trentham, Christchurch and Dunedin and was the defence agency vested with the responsibility for the provision, storage, maintenance and repair of all of the Defence Forces stores and equipment.[8] Reorganising to meet the need of the post-war Army, the Ordnance Corps would reduce its presence at Mount Cook when it transferred its warehousing functions to Trentham in 1920, followed by the Ordnance Workshops in 1930. Not immune from the effects of the depression, the Ordnance Corps faced its most significant challenge in January 1931 when massive workforce reductions across the NZ Army saw the Ordnance Corps reduced to a strength of 21 Officers and Soldiers with seventy-four men transferred to the Civil Staff, and the remainder retired. Few records of the sporting participation of the Ordnance Corps during the interwar period remain with one of the few pieces of evidence a photo in Joe Bolton’s 1992 History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps. [9] Bolton dedicates eight pages to the interwar period, but in tune with other publications covering New Zealand Military history during the same era, makes no mention of the NZAOC’s sporting participation, except for a single photograph of the 1934-35 Ordnance Cricket team at Upper Hutt’s Maidstone Park.[10]  The general theme of published military history works covering the period set the narrative of the interwar period of one of the struggles of the Military with much of the focus on the Territorial Army with little written about the small Permanent Forces, leading to the assumption that the Ordnance Corps as a military entity did not participate in any sporting activities. However, newspaper archives and records held by Archives New Zealand provide ample evidence that the Ordnance Corps was the most prominent component of the Permanent Forces that participated in community-based sporting competitions, with members of the Ordnance Corps acting as either administrator’s or players.[11] A search of the Papers Past Database using a combination of search criteria show that the Ordnance Corps was an active participant in many sporting activities in two distinct periods during the interwar years. The first recorded period of sporting activity was from 1918 to 1920, with the second period from 1933 to 1939. The absence in the newspaper record between 1920 and 1932 of any Ordnance Corps participation sporting competitions is unexplained. It could have been that resources and the tempo of work precluded participation, or it could be due to a quirk of editorial choice and sports were just not covered in detail during that period.

From 1918 to 1920 the Ordnance Corps was active in a range of team and individual sports including Rugby Union, Shooting, Cricket and Bowls. The Evening Post of October 14 1918, provides an account of a Rugby match between Ordnance and Base Records resulting in an 11 to 3 win for Ordnance. The article describes how the winning tries were scored by Captain King and Private Batchelor with Quartermaster-Sergeant McIntyre converted one try.[12] During 1919, prominent Wellington Newspapers such as the Evening Post and Dominion provided extensive coverage of most sporting competitions in the Wellington region which the Ordnance Corps provided teams to including the Wellington Miniature Rifle Association Osmond Challenge Cup.[13] The Osmond Challenge Cup was an intense competition between several Military and civilian teams from across the Wellington region. An exciting feature of this tournament was that the competition was mixed gender with a team of ladies competing, several of whom were the wives of some of the senior Ordnance Staff.[14] Cricket was also anther popular sport with the Ordnance Corps contributing a team into the Wellington Cricket Association Junior Men’s competition.[15] Lawn Bowls was also popular with the Ordnance Corps maintaining a bowling club up to 1918 participating in competitions and one-off matches. The Ordnance Bowling Club merged into the long-established Johnsonville Club in 1918, raising that club’s membership from Twenty-Four to Forty-Two.[16]  Based on the newspaper records Ordnance Corps participation in Wellingtons sporting competitions fell off after 1920. The likely reason for this sudden disengagement could be attributed to the move of the bulk of the Ordnance Corps to Trentham in 1920, and the reduction of Army staffing levels.

Cricket 1919

The second and most crucial period of Ordnance Corps sporting participation began in 1932 when after twelve years at Trentham the Ordnance Corps Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) entered a team into the Upper Hutt Cricket League competition.[17] The Ordnance Corps would provide a single Ordnance team from the 1933/34 season until the end of the 1938/39 season. During the duration of each season, the Evening Post Newspaper would provide a summary of each game detailing the results of the matches and the high scoring players.[18] By following the Newspaper articles, a roster of the teams participating in the competition is identified, with the Ordnance team along with Upper Hutt and Trentham teams identified as one of the anchor teams of the competition. The Newspaper articles also identify twenty of the men who played for the Ordnance team from 1934 to 1939. Having the names allows cross-referencing against other articles and military personnel files, providing further evidence that the Ordnance Cricket team was not only a sports team but an incubator for the future leaders of the Ordnance Corps. A high number of the players would serve in some capacity in all the different theatres that NZ Ordnance units served in during the war.[19] For example two of the players’ Alan Andrews and Henry McKenzie Reid, then both junior officers would rise to senior Ordnance command positions during the war. Andrews in the 2nd NZEF in the Middle East and Reid in the Pacific. After the war, both would be Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) and then Colonel Commandants.[20] Other players such as Leighton, Stroud and Keegan would all be commissioned during the war and end up commanding Ordnance Subunits in Trentham, Palmerston North and Linton into the early 1950s. The war would bring an end to the Upper Hutt cricket competition with the 1938/39 season the final season of the decade. Sports would flourish in Trentham during the war years, as the camp became a major training camp and logistics centre.[21] However, the Ordnance Corps would not place any terms into the local competition until 1950 when Rugby and Cricket teams representing the MOD once again represented the Ordnance Corps in regional sporting competitions.[22]

ord-cricket-team

One of the most interesting aspects of the Ordnance Cricket team is the use of symbology in the team strip. The existing photograph of the 1934/35 team, picture the team dressed in a simple team strip of whites, with each member wearing a blue cheese cutter type hat with a stylised NZAOC Badge.[23] The use of the Ordnance badge is significant as symbols such as a coloured cap, and a badge can represent the values of the organisation and distinguish the wearer from others.[24] The 1930s were a period of economic austerity, and the provision of a cap badge stylised badge could have been seen as a frivolous and necessary expense. However that these items existed demonstrates a level of commitment by the individual team members to represent their organisation, in this case, the Trentham Main Ordnance Depot in the best possible light.

King

Brigadier T J King, CBE, RNZAOC Regimental Colonel 1 Jan 1949 – 31 Mar 1961. RNZAOC School

In addition to the Ordnance Corps personnel participating in sports throughout these two periods, two individuals are prominent in the field of sports administration, Major Thomas Joseph King and William Saul Keegan. As the DOS from 1924, King was the head of the Ordnance Corps until 1939. In addition to his military duties managing the Ordnance Corps, King was also a significant member of the Wellington Rugby Union (WRU) administration. In the lead-up to the Great War, King served in the Territorials while working as a public servant. King had a lifelong passion for sports and was an accomplished swimmer and capable rugby player. Serving in the NZEF King was one of the first two officers promoted into the newly created NZEF Ordnance Corps. King would serve at Gallipoli where he was injured and repatriated back to New Zealand early in 1916. King continued to serve in the Defence Stores in Wellington and commissioned into the NZAOC on its formation as part of the permanent forces in 1917. He was serving as the second in command of the Ordnance Corps until 1924, King then assumed the appointment of DOS.  As a member of the Oriental Rugby Club in Wellington, the club elections of 1923 saw King appointed as a Vice President.[25] King would then be elected to the WRU management committee from 1926 until 1939. King would not only be involved in the day to day operation of Wellington Rugby; he would also be one of the WRU delegates to the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU). [26] On one occasion King’s WRU duties intersected with his military responsibilities when he recruited Alan Andrews into the NZAOC. Studying at Christchurch University, Andrews played rugby for Canterbury and had made the grade for selection as an All Black in 1934. However, as he was at university, Andrews made the difficult decision to forgo rugby and complete his studies. This decision would be a lifelong regret. Andrews moved to Wellington to complete the practical work for his degree, and King had organised a placement for Andrews through the WRU on the proviso that Andrews played rugby for the Hutt. On completion of his degree, King recruited Andrews into the Ordnance Corps and an Ordnance Officer in 1936.[27] Kings decision was a wise choice, Andrews would have an eventful career attaining the rank of Brigadier. Andrews rugby career high would be when he was selected by General Freyberg early in the war to manage the 2nd NZEF Rugby Team on the cessation of hostilities, a task he completed with much success, with the Khaki Blacks becoming one of the most famous and successful Rugby teams produced by New Zealand.[28] Wartime service would see King resign from the management committee of the WRU, however, in recognition of his long and dedicated services to Wellington Rugby; King received the honour of life membership of the union in 1939.[29] King’s passion for rugby continued during his service in the 2nd NZEF, where in addition to his duties as the Deputy Director of Ordnance Services (DDOS) King would put his skills as a rugby administrator and selector to good use organising fixtures for the various 2nd NZEF teams.[30]

Administering at the club level was William Saul Keegan. Keegan had been a regular Ordnance soldier who was transferred to the civil service in 1931 as part of cost reductions across the Army, continuing to work at the MOD as a civilian throughout the 1930s. In addition to playing cricket for the Ordnance team in the Upper Hutt competition, Keegan was also the President of the Upper Hutt Rugby Club. A legacy of Keegan’s time as club President was the institution of the Wylie-Keegan cup, which remained an annual fixture with Otaki for several years.[31]  A highlight of Keegan’s tenure was that he brought he club out of the financial difficulties into a more stable position.[32] Keegan volunteered for war service and was commissioned as an officer in 1940 and would serve in Ordnance Command appointments until 1950.[33]

In conclusion, the participation of the Ordnance Corps in sporting competitions during the interwar years has remained anonymous in the historical narrative of the period. However, the Ordnance Corps participation was far from anonymous with the newspapers of the day, providing a record of the Ordnance Corps sporting participation with teams and individuals as players and administrators throughout the interwar period from 1918 to 1939. The single reaming team photograph offers a view of the team strip, demonstrating a level of commitment and pride in the Ordnance Corps and a desire to promote it to the local community. Given the nature of the sports, it is evident that sporting participation was useful in maintaining morale and esprit de corps during some difficult times while enhancing the image of the Ordnance Corps and the Army within the community. Finally, the leadership and teamwork that sport encourages were to provide inherent benefits to the Ordnance Corps in the World War of 1939-45. Many of the men who participated in sport as either administrators or players would go on to occupy critical leadership positions within the expanded wartime Ordnance organisation.

Bibliography

Primary Sources

“Army Team Enters H.V.C.A.” Upper Hutt Leader, Volume XII, Number 40, 5 October 1950.

“Compulsory Sport.” Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume 46, Issue 14081, 23 March 1920.

“Dinner and Presentation.” Upper Hutt Weekly Review, Volume III, Issue 39, 16 September 1938.

“Hutt Valley Cricket.” Evening Post, Volume CXVIII, Issue 140, , 11 December 1934.

“Johnsonville Club.” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 9, Page 5, 10 July 1918.

“Junior Competition.” Evening Post, Volume XCVII, Issue 33, 10 February 1919.

“Minature Rifleshooting.” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 14, 16 July 1918.

New Zealand Army. “Role of Army Sport.” NZ P20 Sport Chapter 1, Section 2 (2000).

“New Zealand Army Ordnance Department and New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Regulations.” New Zealand Gazette, No 95, June 7 1917, 2292.

“Regulations for the Equipment of the New Zealand Military Forces.” New Zealand Gazette, June 14 1917, 2369-498.

“Regulations for the Military Forces of the Dominion of New Zealand.”. New Zealand Gazette, 25 May 1927, 1555-600.

“Rifle Shooting.” New Zealand Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 10310, Page 8, 19 June 1919.

“Rugby Football.” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 91, 14 October 1918.

“Rugby, the Oriental Club.” Evening Post, Volume CV, Issue 57, Page 4, 8 March 1923.

“Upper Hutt Club.” Evening Post, Volume CXXIII, Issue 63, Page 5, 16 March 1937.

“War Diary, 2nzef – Ddos [Deputy Director of Ordnance Services], June 1940 to November 1942.” Archives New Zealand Item No R20111233  (1940).

“William Saul Keegan.” Personal File, New Zealand Defence Force Archives, 1918.

Secondary Sources

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

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.

Clayton, Garry. The New Zealand Army: A History from the 1840s to the 1990s. [Wellington, N.Z.]: New Zealand Army, 1990, 1990. Non-fiction.

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

Elliott, Matt. War Blacks. HarperCollins Publishers, 2016. Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Collective biography.

Kelleher, J. A. Upper Hutt: The History. Cape Catley, 1991. Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Government documents.

McGibbon, I. C., and Paul William Goldstone. The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History. Auckland; Melbourne; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, 2000. Bibliographies, Non-fiction.

McKie, Robert. “Ordnance Cricket Team 1934/35.”  https://rnzaoc.com/2020/04/19/ordnance-cricket-team-1934-35/.

Ryan, Greg, and Geoff Watson. Sport and the New Zealanders: A History. Auckland University Press, 2018. Bibliographies, Non-fiction.

Swan, Arthur C., and Gordon F. W. Jackson. Wellington’s Rugby History, 1870-1950. Reed, 1952. Non-fiction.

Van Maanen, John Eastin, and Edgar Henry Schein. “Toward a Theory of Organizational Socialization.”  (1977).

Weddell, Howard. Trentham Camp and Upper Hutt’s Untold Military History. Howard Weddell, 2018. Bibliographies, Non-fiction.

Whatman, Mike. Khaki All Blacks: A Tribute to the ‘Kiwis’: The 2nd Nzef Army Rugby Team. Hodder Moa Beckett, 2005. Bibliographies, Non-fiction.

Notes

[1] New Zealand Army, “Role of Army Sport,” NZ P20 Sport Chapter 1, Section 2 (2000).

[2] I. C. McGibbon and Paul William Goldstone, The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History (Auckland; Melbourne; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, 2000), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 506.

[3] Matt Elliott, War Blacks (HarperCollins Publishers, 2016), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Collective biography, 274.

[4] “Compulsory Sport,” Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume 46, Issue 14081, 23 March 1920.

[5] Greg Ryan and Geoff Watson, Sport and the New Zealanders: A History (Auckland University Press, 2018), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 151.

[6] Garry Clayton, The New Zealand Army: A History from the 1840’s to the 1990’s ([Wellington, N.Z.]: New Zealand Army, 1990, 1990), Non-fiction, 105-10.

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

[8] Less rations and Fuel “Regulations for the Equipment of the New Zealand Military Forces,” New Zealand Gazette, June 14 1917.

[9] Major J.S Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (Trentham: RNZAOC, 1992), 80-88.

[10]  Peter Capes, 1976 Craftsmen in Uniform and Peter Cooke’s 2017 Warrior Craftsmen both, cover the NZAOC during the interwar period, but similarly to the contemporary military histories any mention of the Sporting contribution of the NZAOC is absent  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, 16-34.; Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, Rnzeme 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017), 14-17.

[11] The 1927 Regulation for NZ Military Forces details that the Permanent Forces consisted of the following elements:

  • NZ Staff Corps.
  • NZ Permanent Staff.
  • Royal NZ Artillery.
  • NZ Permanent Air Force.
  • NZ Permanent Army Service Corps.
  • NZ Army Medical Corps.
  • NZ Army Ordnance Corps.
  • NZ Army Pay Corps.
  • General Duty Section of the Permanent Forces.
  • NZ Air Force.
  • NZ Veterinary Corps.
  • NZ Dental Corps.

“Regulations for the Military Forces of the Dominion of New Zealand.,” New Zealand Gazette, 25 May 1927.

[12] “Rugby Football,” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 91, 14 October 1918.

[13] “Minature Rifleshooting,” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 14, 16 July 1918.

[14] “Rifle Shooting,” New Zealand Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 10310, Page 8, 19 June 1919.

[15] “Junior Competition,” Evening Post, Volume XCVII, Issue 33, 10 February 1919.

[16] “Johnsonville Club,” Evening Post, Volume XCVI, Issue 9, Page 5, 10 July 1918.

[17] J. A. Kelleher, Upper Hutt : The History (Cape Catley, 1991), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Government documents, 312-13.

[18] “Hutt Valley Cricket,” Evening Post, Volume CXVIII, Issue 140, , 11 December 1934.

[19] Robert McKie, “Ordnance Cricket Team 1934/35,”  https://rnzaoc.com/2020/04/19/ordnance-cricket-team-1934-35/.

[20] Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, 35-35.

[21] Howard Weddell, Trentham Camp and Upper Hutt’s Untold Military History (Howard Weddell, 2018), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 129-67.

[22] “Army Team Enters H.V.C.A,” Upper Hutt Leader, Volume XII, Number 40, 5 October 1950.

[23] The colour of the type is badge is confirmed as an example remains on display in the NZ Army’s Trade Training School at Trentham.

[24] John Eastin Van Maanen and Edgar Henry Schein, “Toward a Theory of Organizational Socialization,”  (1977): 44.

[25] “Rugby, the Oriential Club,” Evening Post, Volume CV, Issue 57, Page 4, 8 March 1923.

[26]. Arthur C. Swan and Gordon F. W. Jackson, Wellington’s Rugby History, 1870-1950 (Reed, 1952), Non-fiction, 187-88.

[27] Bolton, A History of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, 257.

[28] Mike Whatman, Khaki All Blacks : A Tribute to the ‘Kiwis’ : The 2nd Nzef Army Rugby Team (Hodder Moa Beckett, 2005), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 18-26.

[29] Swan and Jackson, Wellington’s Rugby History, 1870-1950, 126.

[30] “War Diary, 2nzef – Ddos [Deputy Director of Ordnance Services], June 1940 to November 1942,” Archives New Zealand Item No R20111233  (1940).

[31] “Dinner and Presentation,” Upper Hutt Weekly Review, Volume III, Issue 39, 16 September 1938.

[32] “Upper Hutt Club,” Evening Post, Volume CXXIII, Issue 63, Page 5, 16 March 1937.

[33] “William Saul Keegan,” Personal File, New Zealand Defence Force Archives 1918.

 

Copyright © Robert McKie 2020


1914 – 1919 War Memorial Plaque, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Palmerston North

Taking a break from telling the story of the New Zealand Ordnance Services, this article examines how the loss of war is memorialised in many New Zealand communities.

The First World War was a traumatic and defining event for the young county of New Zealand with over one hundred thousand men and women serving during the war. The effects of the war would be felt across all sectors of New Zealand society as New Zealand suffered a fifty-eight per cent casualty rate. As the nation collectively grieved, one way it came to terms with the tremendous loss of life was in the erection and dedication of war memorials across the nation. One example of such a memorial is the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Memorial Sunday School building at Church Street in Palmerston North, a building dedicated to the memory of the thirty-six members of the congregation that did not return from the war.  The building ceased to serve its original role many years ago and is now a bridal studio located in what is now a side street adjacent to Palmerston Norths only mall. However, the memorial plaque remains as a reminder of the losses inflicted onto the local community by the First World War. This article will focus on four of the men from the St Andrews congregation, and examine their’ life geography’ to tell their story of where they came from and the community that they lived-in.

st-andrews-sunday-school-memorial

The former St Andrews Church Sunday School, Palmerston North: Bruce Ringer, 2018

In the years from 1910 to 1923, the congregation of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church maintained an average congregation of 306. So given that the church had lost 11.6 per cent of its congregation in the war, it was a fitting and appropriate memorial to those men that the new Sunday School building was dedicated in their memory in 1923. [1] The memorial plaque is a simple marble tablet with the dedication and the names of the fallen engraved and filled in with lead lettering, parts of which are starting to deteriorate. The Names are in alphabetical order with Surnames followed by post-nominals and then initials, unfortunately not all the initials are entirely correct, leading to a disconnect between the memorial and records.

st-andrews-sunday-school-memorial1

St Andrews Church Sunday School, War Memorial Plaque. Palmerston North: Bruce Ringer, 2018

To determine the correct names and to construct the comparative table below (Table 1), verification of the names on the memorial was in the first instance checked against records held online by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).[2] From the data held by the CWGC, the individual’s service number was identified, which in turn was then used to extract the individual’s personnel file from either Archives New Zealand,[3] or the National Archives of Australia.[4]  To simplify the reading and interpretation of the Individuals service record, a search of the records held in the Auckland War Memorial Cenotaph website would often provide a transcript of the individual’s service record.[5]  Although the service record is robust and provides all the essential information on a serviceman’s military service but little on the service members his life outside of the military. Two useful websites offered additional information on the civilian life of the servicemen, the National Library of New Zealand Papers Past website,[6] and the pay for use website Ancestry.com, both these sites contribute in filling in many of the gaps found in the service records.

Table 1

This combination of multiple sources, which in some cases provided useful cross-referencing of information and the inclusion of new information created the table at appendix 1; providing details on the thirty-six men including;

  • Date and place of birth,
  • civilian occupations,
  • previous military service,
  • marital status,
  • Location on enlistment,
  • Enlistment date, servicer umber, rank at time of death and unit they were serving in, and
  • age and places of death.

Given the range of information and geographic data that can be filtered from such a table, for this research, only four servicemen were examined in detail. Table 2 details four men who based on some simple criteria, became candidates for this study. The criteria are based on their situation at the time of their enlistment, in that they; were all living in suburban Palmerston North, they were between the ages of 20 and 26, and they all belonged to the same Territorial Army Unit.[7]

Table 2

Robert Carville Bett

Robert Carville Bett joined the NZEF on 10 December 1914 as part of the initial surge of enthusiastic volunteers in the early years of the war. Born in Palmerston North, Bett was the older brother of three sisters. A coachbuilder by trade, Bett was an active member of St Andrews Church Presbyterian Church, where he contributed to the church as a lay preacher and secretary and sub-leader of the Bible Class. Bett would also fulfil his compulsory military service commitment by serving in J Battery of the New Zealand Field Artillery (NZFA). Deploying on the 2nd Reinforcements of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF), Bett would serve with the Veterinary Corps in Egypt and be invalided home in November 1915 after contracting typhoid fever. During his time in Egypt, he continued his civic spirit by contributing to the work of the Egyptian YMCA organisation in providing welfare services to the New Zealand troops.[8]

Returning to New Zealand and regaining his fitness, Bett was back in camp in March 1916 and offered a commission in both the Veterinary and Army Service Corps, Bett, however, chose to join the infantry as a private soldier. Leaving with the Fourteenth Reinforcements in June 1916, Bett wold serve with the Otago Infantry Regiment of the New Zealand Division in the Battle of the Somme and would die as a result of wounds during the Battle of Messines on 14 June 1917. Bett’s death was felt hard in Palmerston North as he was a well-admired young man. Regretfully Bett was the sole male child of his family, leaving it without a representative for the future.[9]

James Henry Carson

James Henry Carson would be called up by Ballot in April 1917 and would serve in Trentham and Featherston camps, succumbing to the Influenza in November 1918. James was born in Wellington and was the third child in a family of four boys and a girl. The Carson family had moved to Palmerston North by 1907 when the fourth child, Sydney, died at the age of thirteen in a tragic shooting incident.[10] The Carson family patriarch James Senior was a Cordial Maker and proprietor of the business of ‘Carson and Son’ which James was an also an employee. James would also meet his compulsory military service commitments by serving in J Battery of the NZFA.[11]

James married Linda Edwards at St Andres Church on 14 October 1917.[12]  James was called up for Military service by Ballot, and when serving on the Artillery Details at Featherston Camp, Linda passed away after a short illness on 29 June 1918.[13] The tragedy of this death would have only compounded the family’s pain as they had only received notification that John Carson, the Oldest of the Carson children, had died in France a month earlier.[14] James continued to train at Featherston, but sadly on the day after peace was declared, Carson died of Influenza at Featherston Camp on 12 November 1918.[15]

Vernard Clifton Liddell

Vernard Clifton Liddell was from a long-established Foxton family and was the second child in a family of four boys and one girl. A competent Hockey player, Vernard had played representative hockey for both the Manawatu and Wellington districts. Meeting his compulsory military service commitments, Liddell would serve in J Battery of the NZFA.[16]  At the time of his enlistment, he was working as a clerk for the agricultural sales firm of Messrs Barraud and Abraham’s on Rangitikei Street. Liddell’s sister Rita would later be working for the same firm in 1939.[17] Liddell would enlist into the NZEF in October 1915 and see service with the New Zealand Division in France until 24 April 1918 when he died of wounds as a result of combat operations.[18]  Two of Liddell’s brothers would also serve in the NZEF during the war.

Owen George Whittaker Priest

Owen George Whittaker Priest was the eldest son in a family of two boys and two girls, originally from Akaroa, the Priest family would move north, first to Inglewood and the settling in Palmerston North by 1910. Like his peers, Priest would also complete his compulsory Military service obligations with J Battery NZFA and at the time of his enlistment was working as a clerk for the Stock and Station agents, Abraham and Williams Ltd.[19] Liddell would be one of the earliest volunteers for the NZEF, enlisting on 11 August 1914. Liddell would see service at Gallipoli and France. Having survived Gallipoli, Liddell was killed in action in the early days of the N.Z. Divisions actions in France on 9 July 1916.[20]

Conclusion

In this small church community of about three hundred, it is certain that almost all of these thirty-six men were acquaintances of each other, and their families were connected in some manner, with the loss of these men was felt collectively across the community. This sense of community is highlighted in the examples of Bett, Carson, Liddell and Priest. As well as their connection to the church, they all lived and worked in proximity to each other, and as Territorial soldiers would have trained and socialised together. So next time you pass a memorial such as this, please don’t ignore it as a relic of an event long forgotten but instead take the time to reflect on the men and women listed on the memorial and the supreme sacrifice that they made.

Appendix 1

Notes

[1] 1910 congregation was 253, 1919 congregation was 422, 1923 congregation was 343. They Ventured – Who Follows?: St Andrews Presbyterian Church, Palmerston North, 1876-1976., ed. St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (Palmerston North1976), 33-34.

[2] Commonwealth War Graves Commission, “Find War Dead,” https://www.cwgc.org/find/find-war-dead/.

[3] Archives New Zealand, “Archway Search,” https://www.archway.archives.govt.nz/.

[4] National Archives of Australia, “Record Search,” https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/SearchScreens/BasicSearch.aspx.

[5] The Auckland War Memorial Cenotaph is essentially a simplified transcript of the individual’s service record with the inclusion of additional information such as photos, documents and family research not included on the service records. Auckland War Memorial Museum, “Online Cenotaph Search,” http://www.aucklandmuseum.com/war-memorial/online-cenotaph.

[6] National Library of New Zealand, “Papers Past” https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/.

[7] J (Howitzer) Battery of the New Zealand Field Artillery. A Palmerston North Territorial Army unit that was formed in 1912. Alan Henderson, David Green, and Peter D. F. Cooke, The Gunners: A History of New Zealand Artillery (Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 2008, 2008), Non-fiction, 67.

[8] Archives New Zealand, “Bett, Robert Carville – Ww1 17/253 “Personal File, Record no R22276304 1914-1918.

[9] “Roll of Honour (Bett),” Manawatu Times, Volume XL, Issue 137278, 26 June 1917, 26 June 1917.

[10] “Sad Affair in Palmerston North,” Manawatu Herald, Volume XXIX, Issue 3769, 22 August 1907.

[11] “Carson, James Henry – Ww1 53956 “Personal File, Record no R121892583  (1914-1918).

[12] “Wedding Bells,” Manawatu Standard, Volume XLI, Issue 10495, 17 October 1916.

[13] “Deaths,” Manawatu Standard, Volume XLIII, Issue 1287, 2 July 1918.

[14] “Roll of Honour (Carson),” in Manawatu Times, Volume XL, Issue 13895 (1918).

[15] “Roll of Honour (Carson),” Manawatu Times, Volume XLIII, Issue 14265, 11 November 1919.

[16] “Liddell, Vernard Clifton – Ww1 2/2667 ” Personal File, Record no R121892583  (1914-1918).

[17] Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services, “Barraud & Abraham Ltd. Staff,” https://manawatuheritage.pncc.govt.nz/item/3a21b537-ae9e-4708-908a-9d108d3f7d37.

[18] “Personal (Liddell),” Feilding Star, Volume XIV, Issue 35197, 7 May 1918.

[19] Archives New Zealand, “Priest, Owen George Whittaker – Ww1 2/381,” Personal File, Record no R20802976  (1914-1918).

[20] “Roll of Honour (Priest),” Manawatu Standard, Volume XLII, Issue 10141 9 July 1916.


Ordnance Cricket Team 1934/35

Sport within the military is promoted as a method of sustaining morale, encouraging fitness and keeping troops occupied and out of trouble. During the 1930s, when the world was in the depths of the great depression, sport became a useful distraction for the staff of the NZAOC Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Trentham Camp. Sport also became a useful tool for developing leadership and teamwork and as a way of contributing to the local communities that the  MOD belonged too. Using the team photo of the 1934/35 Ordnance Cricket team, this article will examine the NZAOC participation in sport as a member of the community and look at the stories of the men in the photo.

As the anchor unit at Trentham Camp, the staff of the MOD would be active participants in the sporting life of Upper Hutt and the wider Wellington Region. The Director of Ordnance Services (DOS) Major T.J King, a keen sportsman was very active in sports administration as a member of the Wellington Rugby Union and New Zealand Rugby Union. Most sporting codes in Upper Hutt would have their membership boosted by the staff of the MOD, who in an individual capacity contributed as players, coaches and administrators.

An example of the MODs participation in Upper Hutt sport is with the participation of the Ordnance Cricket Team in the Upper Hutt Cricket Association competition from 1933 to 1939. With the cricket season running from October to April, the Upper Hutt Cricket Association competition consisted of average participation of six teams per season, playing at Maidstone Park on Saturdays and Sundays. The anchor teams that would participate throughout the competition were Upper Hutt, Trentham and Ordnance.

Upper Hutt Teams

The onset of war in 1939, would lead to the end of the Upper Hutt Cricket Association, with many of the participating clubs absorbed into the Hutt Cricket Association and participation in local sports competitions by the MOD went into abeyance for the duration of the war. The MOD would not provide teams and re-join the local competitions until 1950.

The photo of the 1934/35 Ordnance Cricket team is one of the few remaining relics of that period and provided a snapshot to the Ordnance Team of 1934/35. They are posing before or after a match at Maidstone Park the eleven members of the team are in their Cricket Whites with blue caps emblazoned with an Ordnance Badge.

ord-cricket-team

Based on available information, the team from left to right are:

Back Row

George Leslie

Date of Birth: 29 April 1891 – George Leslie has served for two years as an Infantryman during the First World War. Wounded in action in 1917, Leslie was repatriated to New Zealand to recover from his wounds. On 1 November 1919 Leslie enrolled into the Dental Detachment of the Temporary Employment Section (TES). On 1 January 1920 was appointed as a temporary member of the New Zealand Army Medical Corps (NZAMC) at the Army Medical Stores at Wellington. On 9 June 1924, Leslie was sent to Trentham Camp to unpack the Divisional Medical Equipment received from England at the end of the war. With the closure of the Medical Stores in Wellington, the stocks at Trentham would become the medical stocks for New Zealand’s Military Forces, with Leslie appointed the NCO In Charge (NCOIC).

Appointed to the NZAMC (Permanent) on 19 April 1925, Leslie would remain with the MOD as the NCOIC Medical Stores until 1940 when responsibility for Army Medical Stores was Transferred from the NZAOC in November 1940 to the New Zealand Medical Corps(NZMC), and the Medical Stores at Trentham relocated to 42 Victoria Street in Wellington. Responsibility for Medical Stores would return to the Chief Ordnance Officer on 1 April 1947.

April 1942 saw Leslie promoted to Warrant Officer Class Two and transferred to the Advanced Depot Medical Stores at Palmerston North as the SNCO in charge. The Advanced Depot Medical Stores closed in 1944 and Leslie was placed under the strength of No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot at the Palmerston North Showground’s, supernumerary to that unit’s establishment. Promoted to Warrant Officer Class One in April 1945, Leslie transferred back to the MOD in Trentham in July 1947, taking his discharge in February 1948.

David Brown

No information other than he was employed as a civilian in the MOD.

E Hughes

Hughes was a soldier at the MOD until 1931 when his position was civilianised, and he was transferred into the Civil Service.

Lionel Herbert Stroud

Date of Birth: July 1902 – Lionel Herbert Stroud enlisted into the NZAOC as a Soldier at the MOD on 21 October 1928. Like most NZAOC Solders his position was civilianised in January 1931, and he was transferred into the Civil Service doing the same job but at much a much-reduced rate of pay. By 1935 Stroud had been reinstated as a soldier at continued to serve at the MOD.

 In 1939 Stroud was transferred into the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) as a Warrant Officer Class One. During his time in the 2nd NZEF Stroud would serve in Egypt and England helping to establish the Ordnance systems required to support the NZEF, and for his efforts, commissioned as an officer. Returned to New Zealand and posted out of the 2nd NZEF in February 1943, Stroud was commissioned into the New Zealand Temporary Staff (NZTS) as a captain and would serve in a variety of Ordnance roles for the remainder of the war. In 1947 Stroud was transferred from the NZTS into the NZAOC as a Captain and Quartermaster (Temporary Major and Quartermaster). For the remainder of his military career, Stroud would serve at the MOD and as the Officer Commanding of No2 Ordnance Depot at Linton. By 1954 Stroud had retired from the Army and took a new career as a wine merchant.

James Danby

Date of Birth: 17 Feb 1909 – James Danby joined the NZAOC in the early 1930s as an instrument repairer. A keen sportsman who in addition to playing Cricket for the Ordnance Team was also a coach/player for the Upper Hutt Rugby Team. During World War Two Danby was commissioned as an Officer in January 1943. Serving with the Divisional Workshops with the NZEF in the Pacific (NZEFIP) Danby would also run the sports committee.

After the war, Danby would remain in the Army as an officer in the Royal New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RNZEME) at Trentham.

Front Row

Edward Gavin Lake

Date of Birth: September 1907 – Edward Gavin Lake worked as a fruiter/storeman and would serve as an Infantryman during the war.

John Keep Wilson

Date of Birth: Jan 1888 – John Keep Wilson had been a long-term employee of the Defence Department and serving as a soldier in the NZAOC until 1931 when he was transferred into the Civil Service. Reinstated as a soldier by 1935, Wilson would remain at the MOD until his retirement in 1947.

Kevin Graham Keith Cropp

Date of Birth: 1916 – Kevin Graham Keith Cropp was a clerk in the MOD. He was appointed as a Warrant Officer Class One into the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) in 1939 where he embarked with the 1st Echelon. 1941 saw Cropp Commissioned as an officer into the Artillery.

Allen Dudley Leighton

Date of Birth: 20 September 1898 – Allen Dudley Leighton had served with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade in the First World War. Joining the NZAOC Permanent Staff on 17 March 1925 and would be a Lance Corporal at the MOD when he was transferred to the Civil Staff on 31 January 1931. Remaining at the MOD as a civilian clerk, Leighton was appointed as the Ordnance Officer (Provision) and commissioned into the NZTS as a Lieutenant on 2 December 1939. He was promoted to Captain on 14 October 1940 and Temporary Major on 1 February 1942. Leighton assumed the appointment of Ordnance Officer Commanding and Accounting Officer of the MOD on 30 September 1946 with the rank of Major and Quartermaster. Leighton would remain the Ordnance Officer Commanding MOD until 31 March 1951 when he proceeded onto retiring leave. Recalled from his retiring leave 55 days later Leighton would eventually retire on 20 September 1954.

Charles Fred Ecob

Date of Birth: 1908 – Charles Fred Ecob had emigrated to New Zealand as an Eighteen-year-old in 1926. Ecob was a civilian clerk at the MOD during the 1930s and would later be a soldier at the MOD until his retirement in the early 1950s.

Henry McKenzie Reid

Date of Birth: December 1910 – Henry McKenzie Reid was a civilian clerk at the MOD. Commissioned in 1940, Reid would serve as an Ordnance Officer with the 8 Brigade in Fiji. Reid would see further operational ordnance service with the NZEFIP in New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands. Reid would remain in the NZAOC after the war with Reid becoming the Director of Ordnance Services from April 1957 to November 1960.

Most of these men would play for the Ordnance team all the way through to 1939, other men who appear in the records of the team at different times throughout this period are;

    • Ivan Douglas Allardyce
    • William Saul Keegan
    • James Dalton
    • Alan Hui Andrews
    • Hunter
    • Dudding
    • Abbot
    • Harrington

During the 1930s the MOD at Trentham was a significant contributor to the sporting community of Upper Hutt. At the individual level, men of the MOD were players, coaches and administrators for many of the sporting codes in Upper Hutt.  The MOD cricket team was an anchor team in the Upper Hutt Cricket association Cricket competition, providing a level of stability in uncertain times which contributed to the success of the competition. What is significant is that despite having no opportunity to exercise together as a unit in the inter-war years, when war came, the NZAOC had a cadre of potential leaders who had honed their skills on playing fields to help guide the NZAOC in its wartime expansion.

 

 

 

 

 


Frank Edwin Ford, Ordnance Officer 1917-31

Frank Edwin Ford served in both military and civilian roles for thirty years from 1901 to 1931. As Mobilisation Storekeeper in Nelson, Ford would be at the forefront of the earliest efforts to manage Ordnance support to New Zealand’s Forces. As an Ordnance Officer from 1917, Ford would be the first Officer Commanding of two significant New Zealand Ordnance units; the Palmerston North Ordnance Detachment, which would lay the foundations for the Linton based Supply Company which remains an active unit of the modern New Zealand Army, and the Hopuhopu Supply Company which would provide significant support during the mobilisation of the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the early years of the Second World War and to the northern region into the years leading up to the closure of Hopuhopu Camp in 1989.

Little evidence remains of Ford’s early life with records stating that he was born around 1878. Ford enlisted into the permanent Militia as an artilleryman on 1 April 1901,[1] and by 1903 had been promoted to the rank of Bombardier, attached to “H” Battery of the New Zealand Field Artillery Volunteers at Nelson.[2]

Ford would marry Sophia Mary Barlow at Wellington on 26 January 1904. This union resulted in one daughter, Phyllis, who was born on 4 July 1907.

Early in December 1904 while breaking the H Battery camp at the Nelson Botanical gardens, Ford was seriously injured in an accident with a piano. While moving a piano, Ford slipped resulting on the instrument falling on him breaking both his collarbones. There were initially serious concerns about internal injuries, but it seems that Ford made a full recovery. [3]

March 1908 saw Ford transferred from service with “H” Battery to the position of Mobilisation Storekeeper for the Nelson Military District.[4]

In 1911 the Nelson Military District was absorbed into the Canterbury Military District.[5] With his position now subordinate to the Defence Storekeeper for the Canterbury Military District, Ford would remain at Nelson as Assistant Defence Storekeeper until 1915.

Early in 1915, Ford took up the appointment of District Storekeeper for the Wellington Military District, commencing duty and taking charge of the Defence Stores, Palmerston North, on 21 June 1915.[6] In addition to his duties as district Ordnance Officer, Ford was also the Officer Commanding of the Palmerston North Ordnance Detachment. The Palmerston North Ordnance Detachment operated from several sites in Palmerston North, including an ordnance Store at locates at 327 Main Street. The Detachment had the responsibility of supplying the units based in Palmerston North and districts with uniforms, equipment, arms and general stores. On 13 February 1916 Ford was attached to the New Zealand Staff Corps as an Honorary Lieutenant.[7] On the formation of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Department (NZAOD) on 1 April 1917, Ford was transferred into the NZAOD as an Ordnance Officer, 3rd class, with the rank of Captain.[8]

Ford would remain at Palmerston North until 1 Dec 1921 when with the closing down of the Palmerston North Ordnance Detachment, Ford handed duties of Central Districts Ordnance Officer to Captain H. H. Whyte M.C, and took up the position of Ordnance Officer, Featherston Camp.[9]

Featherston Camp was New Zealand’s largest training camp during the First World War, where around 60,000 young men trained for overseas service between 1916 – 1918. In addition to a large amount of Military equipment accumulated during the war, enough new material to equip an Infantry Division and a Mounted Rifle Brigade had been purchased from the United Kingdom and delivered to New Zealand from 1919 to 1921. With insufficient storage infrastructure available at Mount Eden, Trentham and the new Ordnance Depot at Burnham, Featherston would remain in use as an Ordnance Depot until the completion of a purpose-built Ordnance Depot at Hopuhopu. Ford would command the Ordnance Detachment from December 1921 until September 1926. In 1924 the Ordnance Detachment at Featherston consisted of the following personnel;[10]

  • 1 Captain (Ford)
  • 2 Staff Sergeants
  • 1 Sergeant
  • 2 Corporals

The New Zealand Gazette of 3 July 1924 published regulations that revoked the 1917 regulations that established the NZAOD and NZAOC, reconstituting the Ford and the other officers of the NZAOD and the men of the NZAOC into a single NZAOC as part of the New Zealand Permanent Forces.[11]

Assuming the role of Ordnance Officer for the Northern Military Command from 1 Sept 1926.[12] In addition to his duties as Command Ordnance Officer, Ford would also have the role of Officer Commanding of the Northern Ordnance Detachment operating from Mount Eden with the responsibility of supplying the Northern Command with uniforms, equipment, arms and general stores.

Following several years of construction, occupation of the new camp at Hopuhopu began 1927, Ford and the Ordnance Staff of the Northern Command vacated Mount Eden and made Hopuhopu their permanent headquarters from April 1928.[13] The work of shifting the stores from Mount Eden to Hopuhopu took close to two months and necessitated the transportation of hundreds of tons of military stores by a combination of rail and over fifty truck-loads.[14]

With the Depression affecting the New Zealand economy, the New Zealand Defence establishment, including the NZAOC took measures to reduce expenditures by the forced retrenchment of many of its staff. By using the provisions of section 39 of the Finance Act, 1930 (No. 2) staff who would have retired within five years were placed on superannuation, others who did not meet the criteria of the act were transferred to the Civil Service.[15] At fifty-three years of age, Ford met the retirement criteria and, along with another five officers and thirty-eight other ranks of the NZAOC, on 30 Jan 1931 were retired on superannuation.[16] By 31 March 1931, the NZAOC had been reduced to a uniformed strength of Two Officers and Eighteen Other Ranks.

After his retirement, Ford would spend the remainder of his life living in the Auckland suburb of Devonport. Passing away on 10 April 1946, Ford now rests at O’Neill’s Point Cemetery, Belmont, Auckland.

Ford
F.E Ford headstone, O’Neill’s Point Cemetery (photo J. Halpin 2011) – No known copyright restrictions

Copyright © Robert McKie 2020

Notes

[1] “Fitzgerald, Denis,” Personal File, Archives New Zealand 1914.

[2] “H Battery Ball,” Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XXXVII, Issue 113, Page 2, 28 May 1903.

[3] “Page 6 Advertisements Column 2,” Colonist, Volume XLVII, Issue 11206, 12 December 1904.

[4] Established in 1908 under the provisions of the Defence Act Amendment Act 1900, New Zealand was divided into five Military Districts, Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury and Otago.”General Order Constituting Military Districts and Sub Districts,” New Zealand Gazette No 24 1908.; “H Battery Nzfav,” Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XLII, Issue XLII, Page 3, 16 March 1908

[5] Peter D. F. Cooke, Defending New Zealand: Ramparts on the Sea 1840-1950s (Wellington, N.Z.: Defence of New Zealand Study Group, 2000, 2000), Bibliographies, Dictionaries, Non-fiction.

[6] “Personal Matters,” Evening Post, Volume XC, Issue 66, Page 6, 15 September 1915.

[7] “Appointments, Promotions, Resignations and Transfer of Officers of the New Zealand Staff and Territorial Force,” New Zealand Gazette No 47, 20 April 1916.

[8] “New Zealand Army,” Evening Post, July 28 1917.

[9] “Untitled – Ford,” Manawatu Standard, Volume XLIII, Issue 386, 2 December 1921.

[10] “Appropriations Chargeable on the Consolidated Fund and Other Accounts for the Year Ending 31 March 19241923 Session I-Ii, B-07,” Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives, 1923 Session I-II, B-07  (1924): 134.

[11] “NZAOD and NZAOC,” New Zealand Gazette July 3 1924.

[12] New Zealand Military districts were reduced to three and renamed Northern, Central and Southern Military Commands shortly after the First World War.I. C. McGibbon and Paul William Goldstone, The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History (Auckland; Melbourne; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, 2000), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, 319.

[13] “The Hopu Hopu Camp,” Waikato Times, Volume 103, Issue 17298,  Page 7, 10 January 1928.

[14] “Large Military Camp,” Poverty Bay Herald, Volume LIV, Issue 16796, Page 12  (1928).

[15] “Attitude of Members “, New Zealand Herald, Volume LXVII, Issue 20644, 16 August 1930.

[16] “Defence Cut,” Evening Star, Issue 20766, 13 April 1931; “Appointment, Promotions, Transfers and Retirements of Officers from the NZ Forces,” New Zealand Gazette No 27, 9 April 1931.


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…


Alfred Henry Herbert, NZ Division DADOS 1916-1918

When New Zealand entered the First World War, and an Expeditionary Force raised for overseas service, there was no Ordnance Corps in place to support the Force. The subsequent formation and operations of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) to support the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) is an area that is overlooked in almost all the contemporary New Zealand histories of the First World War. As part of this historical oversight, the stories of the men who served in the NZAOC has remained untold and forgotten to all but a few distant family members. This article will tell the story of the Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) of the New Zealand Division for the bulk of the war; Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Henry Herbert. Herbert was an experienced Territorial Force Officer and shopkeeper from Eketahuna who would build up the NZAOC from the ground up to ensure that the NZ Division was provided with all of its Ordnance needs from February 1916 to March 1919.

20180605_195417-190082474.jpg
New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps Badge, 1916-1919 (Robert McKie Collection 2017)

Alfred Henry Herbert was born at Newbury, Berkshire, England on 4 October 1867 to William and Kathrine Herbert. The Herbert family emigrated to New Zealand in 1877 settling in Wellington. Herbert would attend Mount Cook School, and on completion of his studies found his calling in the grocery, plumbing and drapery trades where he would gain clerical and accounting experience.[1]

Herbert would gain his first military experience in October 1885 when he joined the New Zealand Volunteer unit, the Wellington Guards. As a private soldier, Herbert would excel in shooting, gaining prizes in several of the shooting competitions that were a popular aspect of the volunteer experience. Herbert would remain in the Wellington Rifles until February 1888. [2]

July 1887 would find Herbert working at the Cuba Street Branch of the Wellington Meat Preservation Company. Herbert would also undertake several charitable and civic activities during 1887, such as becoming a member of the Loyal Antipodean Lodge of Oddfellows,[3] and Secretary of the Wellington Tradesmen’s Aetheric club.[4] In later years Herbert would also become Freemason and a Justice of the Peace.[5]

Herbert would relocate to the growing North Wairarapa town of Eketahuna, sixty kilometres north of Masterton where he would become an active and respected member of the community. At the time Eketahuna did not have a Volunteer unit, but it did have the Eketahuna Rifle Club, which Herbert joined in 1891 as a Member and treasurer where he continued to maintain his skill in shooting.[6]

On 14 August 1894. Herbert would marry Lizzie Toohill, eldest daughter of Mr D. E. Toohill the Eketahuna chemist.[7] On 2 March 1895, Herbert’s only child Arthur Lancelot was born. Having spent three years as a General Store Keeper with Jones and Company of Eketahuna, Herbert branched out in 1895 with his brothers Lancelot and Marcus, establishing the business of Herbert Brothers with their anchor store in Eketahuna and branches in Pahiatua and Alfredton.[8]A.H Ferbert Building old

The South Africa War that began in 1899 encouraged a wave of militarist enthusiasm to sweep across New Zealand, and Eketahuna wanted to play its part. Seventy men from Eketahuna banded together and formed the Eketahuna Mounted Rifle Volunteers and applied to the Defence Department for recognition which was declined, with the men encouraged to join Masterton or Pahiatua units. The Eketahuna locals persisted, and despite many of the original seventy men already seeing service or serving in South Africa, the Eketahuna Mounted Rifle Volunteers gained acceptance into service as part of the New Zealand Volunteer Force on 10 September 1900.[9]  Fifty-Seven men were sworn into the unit on 8 November 1900 and officers elected including Herbert as a Second Lieutenant.[10] The Eketahuna Mounted Rifles would become C Squadron of the Second Regiment, Wellington (Wairarapa) Mounted Rifles in 1901, but would still be referred to as the Eketahuna Mounted Rifles.[11]EMR Letterhead

Herbert was promoted to Captain in 1903 and assumed the role of Officer Commanding of the Eketahuna unit. Herbert would remain as the Officer Commanding until 5 April 1907 when he resigned and transferred into the Reserve of Officers on the active list as Unattached. Herbert unsuccessfully attempted the Captain to Majors promotion examination in September1909, but successfully re-sat the examination in December 1909 and was promoted to Major as at 1 December 1909.

MR A.H Herbert C1907
Mr A.H Herbert, C1907. Auckland Museum/Public Domain

Taking an interest in local politics and furthering the prosperity of Eketahuna, Herbert was one of several local business owners who banded together to establish the Eketahuna Town Board on 19 July 1905.  With Herbert elected as the Chairman, Herbert would continue to lead the town board until 1907 when despite not having the required population base, Eketahuna gained the status of a Borough. In the elections of the Eketahuna Borough Council held on 25 April 1907, Herbert was elected as the first Mayor of Eketahuna, a position he would hold until 1909 followed by a term as a Borough councillor from 1912 to 1914.[12]

With the formation of the Territorial Army in 1911 the Eketahuna Mounted Rifles were amalgamated into the 9th (Wellington East Coast) Mounted Rifles and Herbert transferred into the 9th (Wellington East Coast) Mounted Rifles as the Second in Command on 15 March 1911.[13]

Appointed to the NZEF on 16 January 1915, Herbert would take command of the 9th (Wellington East Coast) Mounted Rifles as part of the third reinforcements departing New Zealand on 14 February 1915. Included in the third reinforcements was the first Maori Contingent under the command of Major Henry Peacock. During the voyage to Egypt, Peacock contracted typhoid and was hospitalised in Albany and then repatriated to New Zealand. Herbert was selected as the replacement Commanding Officer of the Maori contingent and granted the temporary rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 26 March 1915.

Unlike Peacock who had trained with the Maoris, understood their needs and had their confidence, Herbert was an outsider. Like many Pakeha of his era, Herbert had had little or no contact with Maori, and his relationship with the Maori contingent would be a difficult one. Despite the enthusiasm of the Maori contingent, there was still many in command who still doubted the utility and usefulness of the Maori troops, and the Maori Contingent would undertake training and Garrison roles in Egypt and Malta, and it would not be until late June that they were called forward for service in Gallipoli. Landing in Gallipoli on 3 July 1915, the Maoris would participate in much of the hard fighting that took place during July and August. As the Maoris fought hard and impressed many with their martial prowess, their relationship with Herbert was deteriorating and would come to a head-on in early August. A series of incidents and allegations would see three Maori Officers suspended and later returned to New Zealand but reinstated into the NZEF in December. By the end of August, the Maori Contingent would be broken up, and the men distributed throughout the other New Zealand units with Herbert seconded to a British unit.

On 20 August Herbert took up temporary command of a British Battalion, the 9th (Service) Battalion Worcestershire Regiment and then was placed in command of the Otago Infantry Battalion on 30 August. Herbert would remain with the Otago’s on Gallipoli, during their period of rest and reconstitution on Mudros, and on their return to Gallipoli in the final weeks leading up the final Gallipoli evacuation. Herbert’s service with the Otago’s was according to Godley “with great success”.[14]

Herbert’s future was uncertain, the Maori Committee of the House of Representatives had made it clear in a letter to the Minister of Defence that “Herbert was not to have anything more to do with the Maoris in the future” so Herbert retuning to command the Maoris was out of the question. Therefore, Herbert was struck off the strength of the Maori Contingent and posted to the Headquarters of the NZEF as the Officer Commanding of the Cairo Base Depot. Herbert’s tenure in this role was short as a DADOS for the NZ Division was required. The previous incumbent Captain W.T Beck’s service at Gallipoli had taken its toll, and in November a Medical Board found him “incapacitated for military duty” resulting in his repatriation to New Zealand. The NZAOC had two other officers; Lieutenants King and Levien. These officers had both performed the duties of the DADOS after Beck’s evacuation from Gallipoli, but a more experienced officer was required to fill the vacant position of DADOS and Herbert with his military, and civilian experience was a good match for the role.

Despite being on active service Herbert was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and Commanding Officer of the 9th (Wellington East Coast) Mounted Rifles on 22 November 1915, a position he would not fill until his demobilisation from the NZEF in 1919.

On 1 February 1916, Herbert was transferred into NZAOC and appointed as the NZ Division, DADOS and Officer Commanding of the NZEF NZAOC. The NZAOC that Herbert was taking command of was an organisation that was in its infancy, and one that he would have to build from the ground up. The NZAOC was not a feature of the pre-war New Zealand Military, 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 became the foundation staff of the NZAOC.[15] The Ordnance Manual (War) of 1914 detailed 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”.[16]  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.[17]  Soldiers and NCO’s would also be attached to the nascent Ordnance Depots at Zeitoun, Alexandra and Gallipoli throughout 1915 and into 1916. 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.[18] In line with all British Divisions, the DADOS of the NZ Division would assume responsibility for a small Ordnance organisation complete with integral transport.[19]

A wounded Herbert with Lieutenant Colonel A.B. Chaytor April 1916.National Army Museum of New Zealand

Herbert would spend February to March 1916 coming to grips with the roles and responsibilities of the DADOS in addition to preparing the NZ Division for service in France. Herbert would depart for France on 6 April 1916. On arriving in France, the task ahead for Herbert and his men must have been tremendous. Much of the Division’s original equipment that had survived the Gallipoli campaign remained in Egypt and the NZ Division re-equipped against new scales that had evolved to meet the conditions on the Western Front. The Divisions DADOS Staff would have spent hours compiling indents based upon returns furnished by Regimental Quartermasters. Once raised, the indents would have been checked by Herbert to ensure that no unit was exceeding their requirements and then forwarded to the supporting Ordnance in the Corps Area. Herbert would soon learn the responsibilities of Ordnance were more than the ordering, accounting and management of stores but also the management of the Divisional Baths and Laundries, the Divisional Salvage Company, Divisional boot repair shops and Divisional Armourers Shops.[20]

An indication of the success of Herbert’s efforts in managing the diverse Ordnance functions in the NZ Division is recorded in the citations for his two Mentioned in Dispatches (MID) and Distinguished Service Order (DSO).[21]

MID citation 4 January 1917

“Has practically organised this Department from the bottom and has done very good work. At all times he has spared no pains to satisfy the demands made on him.”

MID Citation 1 June 1917 (Field Marshal Haig Dispatch)

“For distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty.”

DSO Citation 4 June 1917

“This officer has paid the greatest attention to his work and by his care and attention to detail has very considerably reduced the wastage in the Division, thereby effecting very material economy.”

A.L Herbert

Like many New Zealand families, Herbert’s would be directly affected by the war. On 30 December 1915, Herbert’s brother Frank was lost at sea when the P&O vessel the SS Persia, which he was an officer on, was torpedoed and sunk without warning off the island of Crete by the German U-boat U-38.[22] A further loss would strike the Herbert family when Herbert’s only son Edward Lancelot Herbert was Killed in Action on 16 November 1916.[23] Soon after the notification of their son’s death, Herbert’s wife travelled to London and set up a flat which became a home away from home for many of the homesick soldiers from the Eketahuna District.[24]

Herbert would remain with the NZ Division until late March 1918 when in the wake of the German Spring Offensive, or Kaiserschlacht (“Kaiser’s Battle”) of March 1918, Herbert was seconded to XI Corps of the British Fifth Army. The Fifth Army had borne the brunt of the German Spring Offensive and took the blame for failing to hold the German advance. Relinquishing the appointment of NZ Division DADOS and Officer Commanding of the NZAOC on 31 March 1918, Herbert Transferred into XI Corps as the Deputy Director of Ordnance Services (DDOS). The Fifth Army, including the XI Corps, would rebuild and have its reputation vindicated by its actions in the 100-day offensive.

On the competition of the war, Herbert returned to New Zealand relatively fast, sailing from Plymouth on 17 March 1919. Herbert’s return to Eketahuna would be a festive affair with most of the community gathering at the railway station to greet him with an observer noting “He was the best known soldier in the district and on his return from the front he dismounted the train to be with his wife, who was known in the war areas for her services to the troops, to a tumultuous welcome, the school children all being allowed to join the crowd at the station”.[25]

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

With his return to civilian life and resumption of his Territorial Army career as Commanding Officer of the 9th (Wellington East Coast) Mounted Rifles, Herbert’s association with the NZAOC seems to have ended. However, at the NZEF Senior Officer Conference of November 1919, Herbert was appointed as the convenor for the NZAOC war history.[26] It seems out of character for Herbert to not follow through on the task of convening the NZAOC War History, but no official wartime history of the NZAOC was ever published leaving a significant gap in New Zealand’s historiography of the First World War. An explanation as to why this occurred is that Herbert had a falling out with the Army over his placement onto the retired list. The New Zealand Gazette of 18 March 1920 published a notice that Herbert had relinquished command of the 9th (Wellington East Coast) Mounted Rifles and posted to the retired list. This notice came as a surprise to Herbert, who subsequently submitted an objection through the command chain. Ultimately Herbert’s complaint was dismissed by the Commander of New Zealand’s Military Forces on 8 April 1920. It was considered that Herbert had already exceeded his time in the position and although his service as the DADOS of the NZ Division was well recognised and appreciated, it did not give him the experience in handling troops during a war which was essential in the role of Regiment Commanding Officer.[27]

With this dispute behind him, Herbert would return to manage his business concerns and remain an active member of the community with an appreciation of him stating that “He certainly did not bring back to his business any show of army rank …… he was a gentleman …. and well-known as he owned three stores in the district. He was thoughtful, business-like and strict”.[28] Herbert took an interest in the welfare of returned soldiers and would spend time as President of the Eketahuna Returned Servicemen’s Association (RSA). Herbert would also be a speaker for many public functions where he would reminisce on his experiences as DADOS, providing humorous accounts of the trials and tribulations he endured in France in trying to see that all units were adequately equipped, at the same time endeavouring to ensure that no one ” put it across him ” for extra issues.[29]

For his military service since 1885, Herbert was awarded the following medals and awards;[30]

  • Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
  • 1914-1915 Star
  • British War Medal (1914-1920)
  • Victory Medal with oak leaf
  • Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal
  • New Zealand Long and Efficient Service Medal

Herbert would remain a stalwart of the Eketahuna community for the remainder of his life and passed away on 14 May 1946 at the age of 77 years and now rests in the Mangaoranga Eketahuna cemetery.

A.H Ferbert Building

Notes

[1] The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts],  (Victoria University of Wellington, 1908), 726.

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

[3] “Advertisements,” Evening Post, Volume XXXIII, Issue 76,, 31 March 1887.

[4] “Advertisements,” Evening Post, Volume XXXIV, Issue 58, 6 September 1887.

[5] The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts], 726.

[6] “Rifle Match,” Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume XII, Issue 3819, 26 May 1891.

[7] “Masterton,” New Zealand Times, Volume LVI, Issue 2285, 15 August 1894.

[8] Alfred would manage the Eketahuna store, his brothers Lancelot and Marcus would manage Pahiatua and Alfredton stores. Herbert Brothers would be incorporated as A.H Herbert and Company Limited on 6 March 1905 and dissolved on 1 July 1992.

[9] Peter Best, Eketahuna: Stories from Small Town New Zealand (Wairarapa Archive, 2001), Non-fiction, 30-31.

[10] “The Eketahuna Mounted Rifles,” Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume XXVI, Issue 6703, 8 November 1900.

[11] D. A. Corbett, The Regimental Badges of New Zealand: An Illustrated History of the Badges and Insignia Worn by the New Zealand Army (Auckland, N.Z.: Ray Richards, 1980, Revised enl. edition, 1980), Non-fiction, 160.

[12] Irene Adcock, A Goodly Heritage; Eketahuna and Districts 100 Years, 1873 – 1973 (Eketahuna Borough and County Councils, 1973), Non-fiction, 315-16.

[13] “Alfred Henry Herbert “.

[14] M. Soutar, Whitiki! Whiti! Whiti! E!: Māori in the First World War (Bateman Books, 2019), 185.

[15]  Captain W.T Beck and Sergeant N.J Levien.  “Appendices to War Diaries, I – Lxii,” Item ID R23486739, Archives New Zealand 1914-1915.

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

[17] Sergeants King and Levien to 2nd Lieutenant “Grants of Temporary Rank, Appointments and Promotions of Officers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force,” New Zealand Gazette 8 July 1915.

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

[19]  Records of the exact manning and organisation of the NZ Division DADOS branch have not been seen, but would have been like 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.

[20] “Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 August 1916 – 31 June 1918,” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487667  (1916-1918,).

[21] 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, 113.

[22] “Lost on the Persia,” New Zealand Herald, Volume LIII, Issue 16127, 15 January 1916.

[23] “Fallen New Zealanders,” New Zealand Times, Volume XLI, Issue 9521, 1 December 1916.

[24] Adcock, A Goodly Heritage; Eketahuna and Districts 100 Years, 1873 – 1973, 225.

[25] Wesley Parker, It Happened in Eketahuna: Four Years in the Life of a Boy (Mount St. John Press, 1990), Non-fiction, Autobiography, 95.

[26] Conference of Senior Officers, New Zealand Expeditionary Force,  (Archives New Zealand, R22550177, 1919).

[27] “Alfred Henry Herbert “.

[28] It Happened in Eketahuna: Four Years in the Life of a Boy.

[29] “Returned Soldiers,” Evening Post, Volume CIII, Issue 136, 12 June 1922.

[30] “Alfred Henry Herbert “

Bibliography

Primary Sources

“Advertisements.” Evening Post, Volume XXXIII, Issue 76,, 31 March 1887.

“Advertisements.” Evening Post, Volume XXXIV, Issue 58, 6 September 1887.

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

“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.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]. Victoria University of Wellington, 1908.

“Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (Dados) – War Diary, 1 August 1916 – 31 June 1918.” Archives New Zealand Item No R23487667  (1916-1918,).

“The Eketahuna Mounted Rifles.” Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume XXVI, Issue 6703, 8 November 1900.

“Fallen New Zealanders.” New Zealand Times, Volume XLI, Issue 9521, 1 December 1916.

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

“Lost on the Persia.” New Zealand Herald, Volume LIII, Issue 16127, 15 January 1916.

“Masterton.” New Zealand Times, Volume LVI, Issue 2285, 15 August 1894.

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

“Returned Soldiers.” Evening Post, Volume CIII, Issue 136, 12 June 1922.

“Rifle Match.” Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume XII, Issue 3819, 26 May 1891.

Secondary Sources

Adcock, Irene. A Goodly Heritage; Eketahuna and Districts 100 Years, 1873 – 1973. Eketahuna Borough and County Councils, 1973. Non-fiction.

Best, Peter. Eketahuna: Stories from Small Town New Zealand. Wairarapa Archive, 2001. Non-fiction.

Corbett, D. A. The Regimental Badges of New Zealand: An Illustrated History of the Badges and Insignia Worn by the New Zealand Army. Auckland, N.Z. : Ray Richards, 1980, Revised enl. edition, 1980. Non-fiction.

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

McDonald, Wayne. Honours and Awards to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Great War 1914-1918. 3rd edition ed.: Richard Stowers, 2013. Directories, Non-fiction.

Parker, Wesley. It Happened in Eketahuna: Four Years in the Life of a Boy. Mount St. John Press, 1990. Non-fiction, Autobiography.

Soutar, M. Whitiki! Whiti! Whiti! E!: Māori in the First World War. Bateman Books, 2019.

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.