Donald Edward Harper

This article is republished with the permission of the Facebook page “Upper Hutt War Stories“. Upper Hutt War Stories is a Facebook page dedicated to commemorating the war service of Upper Hutt’s citizens and those with strong connections to the City. It remembers those who put their lives on the line for the defence of our Nation.

Buried beneath a weathered brass plaque in the graveyard of Trentham’s St John’s church is a former Commander of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps. A veteran of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force North Africa and Italian campaigns, he was wounded in action and continued to serve as a Territorial Force officer after the War.

Born in Petone, Don Harper attended Wellington College, where he was exposed to military life as a member of the school’s cadet corps for six years. After leaving school and graduating from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in accounting, he joined the public service as a clerk with the National Provident Fund in 1932.

When the Second World War broke out Don was living with his parents in Russell Street, Upper Hutt and working as an auditor with the Government’s Audit Department. He enlisted straight away, entering camp at Trentham on 3 October 1939 as a Private with the 4th Reserve Motor Transport Company. A week later he was sent on the Potential Officers Course, and after six weeks training was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

Don was subsequently posted to the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham for training and departed Wellington for the Middle East on 5 January 1940. He was attached to the headquarters of the 2nd New Zealand Division as they established themselves at Maadi in Egypt, and at the beginning of June 1940 was promoted to Lieutenant.

The New Zealand Division had seen little action up to this point and Don was active helping establish the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force’s Base Ordnance Depot at Maadi Camp in September 1940. Promoted to Temporary Captain to fill the Base Ordnance Officer post, he remained with the Depot in Egypt for almost a year, missing out on the campaigns in Greece and Crete.

View of the working area of the Ordnance Depot at Maadi Camp in 1941. Photo H.J Gilbertson

Then at the beginning of August 1941, Don was posted back to the headquarters of the 2nd New Zealand Division to be Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) in the rank of Temporary Major. This was a critical logistics role resupplying the Division and marked a stunningly quick progression from private to major in less than two years.

Don experienced the realities of warfare for the first time in November 1941, when the Division was attached to the newly formed 8th Army and attempted to relieve the beleaguered garrison at Tobruk. Despite losing all their tank support the Kiwis succeeded in reaching Tobruk, but suffered horrendous casualties in what was described as some of the hardness fighting of the War at Sidi Rezegh and Belhamed, when Rommel’s Africa Corps counterattacked.

Withdrawn to Suez to recover and retrain, Don and the 2nd New Zealand Division were subsequently rushed to Syria in February 1942, to protect against an Axis invasion of the Northeastern flank. But in April he was back in Cairo, where he married Elisabeth Rothschild in a short ceremony. Don and Elisabeth were fortunate to be able to spend time together, as in May he was posted back to Maadi.

Don took over command of the New Zealand Engineers and Ordnance Training Depot, where he was responsible for training reinforcements. Then two months later he was posted as Deputy Director Ordnance Services with 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force headquarters and base depot. His efforts in helping establish and maintain the New Zealand contribution to the campaign were recognised with a mention in despatches on 15 December 1942.

After the fighting in North Africa came to a close, Don was deployed to Italy in October 1943. He arrivied at Taranto as the Kiwis began operations against the Germans, and was tasked with conducting a review of New Zealand Division ordnance support. He recommended a significant reorganisation, including establishing a new base deport at Bari, as an extension of the main depot back in Egypt.

Promoted to temporary Lieutenant Colonel, Don was appointed Assistant Director Ordnance Services in March 1944, and worked in resupplying the 2nd New Zealand Division in action at Cassino. In early June he was caught in an enemy artillery barrage and received shrapnel wounds in his back. Fortunately, the wounds were light, and once the small chunks of metal were removed under local anesthetic he returned to his unit.

Lieutenant Colonel Donald Harper Bull, George Robert, 1910-1996. Lieutenant Colonel D E Harper – Photograph taken by George Bull. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch :Photographs relating to World War 1914-1918, World War 1939-1945, occupation of Japan, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency. Ref: DA-05919-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23233849

At the end of 1944 Don was told that due to his lengthy war service and changes to the furlough scheme he would be returned home. Appointed commander of the returning draft he boarded ship with his wife and their young child, arriving in New Zealand on 3 January 1945, where he reverted in rank to Major.

Don was advised that his services were no longer required and that he could return to civilian life. However, he chose instead to be the posted to the New Zealand Temporary Staff in the rank of Captain in April 1945 and continued contributing to the war effort. In July he was advised he had received a second mention in despatches, this time for his services in Italy.

Considered unfit for deployment to the tropics due to service induced hearing loss, Don served at the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham Camp until the end of the War, when he was posted to the retired list in the Rank of Major. He then returned to his life as an accountant and auditor, and moved his family to Lower Hutt.

Continuing to serve in the Territorial Army, Don was formally promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 1 December 1948 and appointed Commander Royal New Zealand Ordnance Corps. He served in this part time role with the headquarters of the 1st New Zealand Division based out of Linton until October 1951, when the death of his business partner and failing health forced his resignation.

Don remained proud of his time in the military throughout his life, and after passing away in 2002 he was buried in a family plot at St John’s Church with his wife, under a plaque commemorating his war service. A key member of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force for an extended period of the North Africa and Italy campaigns, his grave gives little indication of the scale of this contribution. Lest we forget.

References

https://www.aucklandmuseum.com/…/online…/record/C136496
https://rnzaoc.com/2020/08/31/rnzaoc-1950/
https://rnzaoc.com/…/new-zealand-base-ordnance-depot…/
P.J. Beattie & M.J. Pomeroy, Gallant Acts & Noble Deeds: New Zealand Army Honours and Awards for the Second World War, Fair Dinkum Publications: Auckland, NZ, 2016.


NZOC Light Aid Detachments, 1939-44

In the period between the world wars Britain analysed the lessons of the Great War and looking forward realised that the next war would not be one of attrition-based warfare, but a war of speed, mobility and surprise utilising modern technologies such as armoured vehicles, motorised transport and communications. By 1939 the British Army had transformed from the horse-drawn army of the previous war into a modern motorised force fielding more vehicles than their potential opponents, the Germans. Britain’s modernisation was comprehensive with not only new weapons and equipment but also robust and up to date doctrine, providing the foundation for the employment of the army.

The modernisation of the British Army included the Logistical services, with both the Army Service Corps and the Army Ordnance Corps on the path to becoming doctrinally prepared, equipped and organised for the upcoming conflict.  New Zealand would take Britain’s lead and from the mid-1930s begin to reorganise and reequip New Zealand’s Military in tune with emerging British doctrine. New Zealand’s entry into the war in September 1939, would initiate a massive transformation of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services with new units raised, and personnel recruited to support New Zealand’s forces at home and overseas. In addition to Ordnance Deports and Workshops, the most numerous Ordnance unit would be the Light Aid Detachments (LAD). Providing the first-line repair to formations and Units, LAD’s would provide the backbone of New Zealand repair and maintenance services keeping the critical material of war operational in often extreme conditions. This article provides background on the role and function of the LAD in overseas and home defence roles between 1939 and 1945.

Throughout the interwar years, the British Military establishment had been hard at work at analysing lessons of the previous war and interpreting contemporary developments. Updating doctrine throughout the 1930s the British Military would progressively transform into a mechanised force armed and equipped with some of the most advance weapons and equipment of the era. The tactical bible of British Commonwealth armies, the Field Service Regulations (FSR) was updated with at least four editions issued proving that the British Army was willing to learn from the mistakes learned in the previous war.[1] Concurrent to the tactical doctrine of the FSR Anticipating the Royal Army Ordnance Corps  (RAOC) spent the 1930s creating the infrastructure and doctrine to support the mechanisation of the British Army by creating essential relationships with the British motor industry that would smooth the path to mobilisation.[2] In addition to the doctrine published in the FSR’s the wartime doctrine for the operation of British and Commonwealth Ordnance Services was detailed in the Ordnance Manual (War) 1939.

20200721_133810.jpg

Authorised for use from 13 September 1939 the Ordnance Manual (War) 1939 was intended to “Guide all concerned and particularly to assist, at the beginning of a campaign, those who have no previous war experience of the duties that they are called upon to undertake.”[3] The Ordnance Manual (War) 1939 detailed all the responsibilities that were expected of the British and Commonwealth Ordnance Services, with the repair and maintenance responsibilities as follows;[4]

8.   The organisation for carrying out, in the field, repairs (including replacement of component and complete assemblies) to units’ equipment (other than ammunition) consists of:-

(a) Light aid detachments, which are attached to certain units and formations to advise and assist them with their “first line” repair and recovery duties.

(b) Mobile workshop units, equipped with machinery, breakdown and store lorries, which are allotted to certain formations for carrying out “second line” repairs and recovery.

(c) Stationary base ordnance workshops, which are established on a semi-permanent basis at, or adjacent to, the base ordnance depot or depots.

(d) Ordnance field parks from which replacement of components and complete assemblies can be effected. These ordnance field parks also hold a proportion of replacement vehicles.

The Ordnance Manual (War) 1939 then details the role of the Light Aid Detachment:

2.   In order to assist units with their first line repair and recovery work, and to provide- expert diagnosis and technical experience, light aid detachments are permanently attached to certain formations and units, for example:

        • Artillery regiments.
        • Cavalry regiments and Tank battalions, Royal Armoured Corps.
        • Infantry brigades.
        • Machine-gun battalions.
        • Tank battalions.
        • Royal Engineer field parks.
        • Divisional Signals.

The LADs. attached to RE field parks and to divisional signals (whose establishments of vehicles are comparatively small) are required to look after other small mechanised units not provided with LADs.

3.   The personnel of a LAD consists of an Ordnance Mechanical Officer (OME), an armament artificer (fitter), an electrician, and a few fitters, and the necessary storemen, driver mechanics, drivers, etc., for their vehicles. Its transport usually consists of two lorries (one store and one breakdown), a car and a motorcycle.

4.   Its functions are: –

(a) To advise units how best to keep their equipment and vehicles in a state of mechanical efficiency; to help them to detect the causes of any failures or breakdowns, and to assist them in carrying out first line repairs up to their full capacity.

(b) To assist units with first-line recovery of breakdowns.

(c) To maintain a close liaison between the unit and formation workshop.

During rest periods LADs may be able to carry out more extensive repairs. If the time is available, the necessary parts and material can be brought up from the ordnance field park to enable them to carry out jobs which would normally be beyond their capacity when on the move.

In such circumstances, repair detachments of recovery sections may be brought up to assist them).

5.   LADs do not form part of the workshops in any sense. They are definitely an integral part of “B” echelon of the unit to which they are attached, and the OME. is directly under the orders of OC unit, in the same way as the regimental medical officer. The OC unit is the accounting officer for the vehicles and stores of the LAD. When an LAD serves more than one unit, as in the case of an infantry brigade, the OME. is the accounting officer for all purposes.

10 LAD

Members of 10 Light Aid Detachment, New Zealand Ordnance Corps, attached to 5 NZ Fd Park Coy, changing truck engine, probably at Burbeita.  Taken circa 1941 by an official photographer. Ref: DA-01035-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22485028

The New Zealand Light Aid Detachments

When New Zealand committed forces to the war effort in 1939, the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, despite having the doctrinal foundations provided by the Ordnance Manual (War) did not have the Regular or Territorial Force personnel available to provide LADs immediately. Therefore, like the United Kingdom, New Zealand would rely on its civilian motor industry to provide the bulk of the tradesmen for the LADs. However, despite the challenges in forming specialised units from scratch, the New Zealand Army would raise fifty-six, Light Aid Detachments, in three distinct tranches between 1940 and 1943 consisting of

  • 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force – Eighteen LAD’s
  • 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Pacific – Seven LAD’s
  • Home Defence – Thirty-One LAD’s.

2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force LAD’s

Created as part of the newly constituted 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF) in 1939, the 2NZEF New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) was described in the Evening Post newspaper as consisting of “11 Light Aid Detachments of the New Zealand Ordnance Corps. These are numbered 9 to 19, and their part is to render assistance and effect repairs to mechanic transport and the anti-tank units”[5].

The was initially some confusion between the use of the designation NZAOC and NZOC in the context of the NZEF. This was clarified in NZEF Order 221 of March 1941 which set NZOC as the title of Ordnance in the NZEF.

NZOC

1942 saw the separation of maintenance and repair functions from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) with the formation of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (EME) in the Brutish Army.[6] The New Zealand Division followed suit and formed the New Zealand Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (NZEME) on 1 December 1942 separating the repair, maintenance and ordnance stores functions of the NZOC.[7]

Unit Formation Date
9 LAD 4 Field Regiment 11 Jan 1940[8]
10 LAD 5 Field Park 11 Jan 1940[9]
11 LAD HQ 4 Infantry Brigade 11 Jan 1940[10]
12 LAD 27 NZ (MG) Battalion, Disbanded 15 October 1942 11 Jan 1940[11]
13 LAD 2 NZ Divisional Cavalry 11 Jan 1940[12]
14 LAD Divisional Signals 11 Jan 1940[13]
15 LAD 7 Anti-Tank Regiment 29 Feb 1940[14]
16 LAD 5 Field Regiment
17 LAD HQ 5 NZ Infantry Brigade 29 Feb 1940[15]
18 LAD 6 Field Regiment 7 Mar 1940[16]
19 LAD HQ 6 NZ Infantry Brigade 12 Sept 1940[17]
35 LAD 22 Motorised Battalion
38 LAD 18 Armoured Regiment 16 Feb 1942
39 LAD 19 Armoured Regiment 16 Feb 1942
40 LAD 20 Armoured Regiment 16 Feb 1942

38 LAD

GMC CCKW Truck modelled with the Regimental Markings of 38 LAD, 18th Armoured Regiment. Craig Paddon

NZEF NZ Tank Brigade

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Formation Sign 1 NZ Tank Brigade

The New Zealand Tank Brigade was an NZEF unit formed at Waiouru in October 1941 with the intent of being deployed to the Middle East after Training in New Zealand for six months. The entry of Japan into the war in December 1941 necessitated the rerolling of the NZ Tank Brigade into a home defence role.  After a period of reorganisations, the Brigade was ordered to be redeployed in April 1942, with its Headquarters and Battalions dispersed to the South Island, Northland, Manawatu and Pukekohe.

November 1942 saw further changes which would start the gradual disestablishment of the NZ Tank Brigade.[18]

    • No 1 Tank Battalion and 32 LAD remained in the Home defence roll in the Auckland/Northland area.
    • No 2 Tank Battalion, the Army Tank Ordnance Workshop and Ordnance Field Park were dissolved and became part of 3 NZ Division Independent Tank Battalion Group for service in the Pacific.
    • No 3 Tank Battalion and 33 LAD were deployed to the Middle East for service with the 2ndNZ Division, where it was dissolved, forming the nucleus of the 4th NZ Armoured brigade and 38, 39 and 40 LADs.
    • 34 LAD was stationed with the Independent Tank Squadron at Harewood in the South Island.

By June 1943, the final units of the 1st NZ Army Tank Brigade including 32 LAD and 34 LAD were disbanded.

32 LAD NZ Army Tank Brigade 1 Tank Battalion Oct 1941[19] Waiouru, Pukekohe
33 LAD NZ Army Tank Brigade 2 Tank Battalion Oct 1941[20] Waiouru, Manawatu
34 LAD NZ Army Tank Brigade 3 Tank Battalion Oct 1941[21] Waiouru, Harewood

1 NZ Army Tk Bde Battalion Ordnance unit

Army Tank Ordnance Workshops, OFP and LAD identifying patch. Malcolm Thomas Collection

NZEF in the Pacific

WH2IP-TankTit-2(h280)

As with the NZEF in the Middle East, NZOC units were formed for service with the NZEF in the Pacific (NZEFIP). Initially, 20 LAD was formed to support 8 Infantry Brigade Group in Fiji from November 1940. As the war progressed, the NZOC grew into a Divisional sized organisation of 23 units and detachments supported by an additional six LAD’s serving in on operations in Fiji, New Caledonia, The Solomon Islands and Tonga.[22] The formation of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers 1942 was not followed through in New Zealand and the Pacific, with repair and Maintenance functions remaining part of the Ordnance Corps for the duration of the war.

On conclusion of successful campaigns in the Solomon Islands in 1944, 3 NZ Division and its equipment was returned to New Zealand and formally disbanded on 20 October 1944. On return to New Zealand, many NZOC members were graded unfit due to rigours of the tropical campaign and returned to their civilian occupations. Those fit enough were redeployed as reinforcements to 2NZEF in Italy with the men of the LAD’s joining NZEME units.

Unit Formation Date Locations
20 LAD B Force, 17 Field Regiment 23 Oct 1940[23] Fiji/New Caledonia
36 LAD HQ 8 Brigade Group Jan 1942[24] Fiji
37 LAD HQ 14 Brigade Group Jan 1942[25] Fiji/New Caledonia
42 LAD 38 Field Regiment Jan 1942[26] New Caledonia
64 LAD HQ 8 Infantry Brigade Jan 1943[27] New Caledonia
65 LAD HQ 15 Brigade Group, HQ 3 NZ Division Engineers Jan 1943 New Caledonia
67 LAD HQ 3 NZ Divisional Signals Jan 1943[28] New Caledonia

Territorial Army Home Service  LAD’s

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Badge of NZOC, 1940-46. Robert McKie Collection

With the NZAOC and the New Zealand Permanent Army Service Corps (NZPASC) existing as part of the Permanent Army, only the NZPASC had a Territorial Army component, known as the New Zealand Army Service Corps (NZASC). From the 1930s workshop sections had been included on the establishments of ASC unit for activation on mobilisation. With the onset of war in 1939 and the mobilisation of the Territorial Army in 1940 the Quartermaster General, Col H.E Avery made the decision that LADs were an Ordnance responsibility and the NZOC was established as the Ordnance Component of Territorial Army in December 1940.[29]

By late 1943 the mobilisation of the Territorial Forces had ceased to be necessary, and most units had been stood down and placed on care and maintenance status with a small RF Cadre. By 1 April 1944, all wartime home defence units had been disbanded.[30]  Although not part of the pre-war Territorial Army the NZOC remained on establishments. In 1946 a Reorganisation of New Zealand Military Forces removed the distinction between Regular and non-Regular soldiers, and the NZOC ceased to be a separate Corps with the supply functions amalgamated into the NZAOC and the Workshops functions including the LADs (21, 23, 25, 28, 30 and 53) amalgamated into the NZEME.[31]

Northern Military District

Unit Formation Date Locations
21 LAD 1 NZ Division, 1 Field Regiment 19 Dec 1940[32] Whangarei
22 LAD HQ 1 Brigade 19 Dec 1940[33] Papakura
28 LAD 1 NZ Division, 3 LAFV (AECMR)[34] 9 Jan 1942[35] Pukekohe/Warkworth
51 LAD HQ 12 Brigade 9 Jan 1942[36] Kaikohe
55 LAD 1 NZ Division, 15 LAFV (NAMR)[37] 9 Jan 1942[38] North Waimate
56 LAD District Troops, NMD District Signals 9 Jan 1942[39] Ngaruawahia
63 LAD 1 NZ Division, 20 Field Regiment Waimata North
68 LAD District Troops, 4 LAFV (WMR)[40] Ngaruawahia
70 LAD 1 NZ Division, 1 Divisional Signals Avondale

Central Military District

Unit Formation Date Locations
23 LAD 4 NZ Division, 2 Field Regiment 19 Dec 1940[41] Linton Camp
24 LAD 2 Infantry Brigade, HQ 2 Brigade 19 Dec 1940[42] Palmerston North
27 LAD 7 Brigade Group, 12 Field Regiment 9 Jan 1942[43] Greytown
29 LAD 7 Brigade Group, HQ 7 Brigade Group 9 Jan 1942[44] Carterton
30 LAD 4 NZ Division, 2 LAFV (QAMR)[45] 19 Dec 1940[46] Wanganui
58 LAD 7 Brigade Group, 9 LAFV (WECMR)[47] 9 Jan 1942[48] Hastings
60 LAD 4 NZ Division, 6 LAFV (MMR)[49] 9 Jan 1942[50] Fielding
71 LAD District Troops, Buckle Street Buckle Street Wellington
72 LAD Fortress Troops, HQ Wellington Fortress Wellington
73 LAD 4 NZ Division, HQ 4 Division Palmerston North

Southern Military District

Unit Formation Date Locations
25 LAD 5 NZ Division, 3 Field Regiment 19 Dec 1940[51] Hororata
26 LAD 3 Infantry Brigade, HQ 3 Brigade 19 Dec 1940[52] Burnham
52 LAD 11 Brigade Group, HQ 11 Infantry Brigade 9 Jan 1942[53] Blenheim
53 LAD 5 NZ Division, 1 LAFV (CYC)[54] 9 Jan 1942[55] Blenheim
54 LAD District Troops, 5 LAFV (OMR)[56] 9 Jan 1942[57] Wingatui
57 LAD 10 Infantry Brigade, HQ 10 Brigade 9 Jan 1942[58] Ashburton
59 LAD 11 Infantry Brigade, 10 LAFV (NMMR)[59] 9 Jan 1942[60] Blenheim
61 LAD 5 NZ Division, 18 Field Regiment Unknown
62 LAD 11 Infantry Brigade, 19 Field Regiment Blenheim
74 LAD Fortress Troops, HQ Lyttleton Fortress Lyttleton
75 LAD Fortress Troops, HQ Dunedin Fortress then HQ Area IX Dunedin/Nelson
77 LAD 5 NZ Division,5 Division Signals Riccarton

Copyright © Robert McKie 2020

Bibliography

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

“Calling out Parts of the Defence Forces for Military Service.” New Zealand Gazette, No 3, 9 January 1942.

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

Cooke, Peter, and John Crawford. The Territorials. Wellington: Random House New Zealand Ltd, 2011.

Fennell, Jonathan. Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War. Armies of the Second World War. Cambridge University Press, 2019. Non-fiction.

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

“Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Units of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. .” New Zealand Gazette, No 8, 22 January 1942.

“Formation of New Units, Changes in Designation, and Reorganisation of Units of the Territorial Force. .” New Zealand Gazette, No 127, 19 December 1940.

Gillespie, Oliver A. The Tanks: An Unofficial History of the Activities of the Third New Zealand Division Tank Squadron in the Pacific. A.H. and A.W. Reed for the Third Division Histories Committee, 1947. Non-fiction.

“H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding “. Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1 January 1947).

“Hq Army Tank Brigade Ordnance Units, June 1942 to January 1943.” Archives New Zealand Item No R20112168  (1943).

“New Zealand Ordnance Corps “. New Zealand Gazette, No 1, June 11 1940.

“New Zealand Ordnance Corps “. New Zealand Gazette, No 16, February 29 1940.

“New Zealand Ordnance Corps “. New Zealand Gazette, No 18, 7 March 1940.

“New Zealand Ordnance Corps “. New Zealand Gazette, No 98, 12 September 1940.

Ordnance Manual (War). Edited by The War Office. London: His Majestys Stationery Office, 1939.

“Parts of the Defence Forces Called out for Military Service.” New Zealand Gazette, No 128, 19 December 1940.

Plowman, Jeffrey, and Malcolm Thomas. New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45. Kiwi Armour: 2. J. Plowman, 2001. Non-fiction.

“Pwd Tenders.” Evening Post, Volume CXXVIII, Issue 6, 7 July 1939.

“Reorganisation of the Territorial Force.” New Zealand Gazette No 55, 21 October 1948, 1605.

Williams, P.H. War on Wheels: The Mechanisation of the British Army in the Second World War. History Press Limited, 2016.

Notes

[1] This compared with the two editions of German and French doctrine produced during the same period. Jonathan Fennell, Fighting the People’s War : The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War, Armies of the Second World War (Cambridge University Press, 2019), Non-fiction, 32.

[2] P.H. Williams, War on Wheels: The Mechanisation of the British Army in the Second World War (History Press Limited, 2016).

[3] Ordnance Manual (War), ed. The War Office (London: His Majestys Stationery Office, 1939), 9.

[4] Ibid., 17.

[5] “Pwd Tenders,” Evening Post, Volume CXXVIII, Issue 6,, 7 July 1939.

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

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

[8] “New Zealand Ordnance Corps “, New Zealand Gazette, No 1, June 11 1940, 19.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] “New Zealand Ordnance Corps “, New Zealand Gazette, No 16, February 29 1940, 324.

[15] Ibid.

[16] “New Zealand Ordnance Corps “, New Zealand Gazette, No 18, 7 March 1940, 360.

[17] “New Zealand Ordnance Corps “, New Zealand Gazette, No 98, 12 September 1940, 2319.

[18] Jeffrey Plowman and Malcolm Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, Kiwi Armour: 2 (J. Plowman, 2001), Non-fiction.

[19] “Hq Army Tank Brigade Ordnance Units, June 1942 to January 1943,” Archives New Zealand Item No R20112168  (1943).

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Oliver A. Gillespie, The Tanks : An Unofficial History of the Activities of the Third New Zealand Division Tank Squadron in the Pacific (A.H. and A.W. Reed for the Third Division Histories Committee, 1947), Non-fiction, 137-227.

[23] Peter Cooke, Warrior Craftsmen, Rnzeme 1942-1996 (Wellington: Defense of New Zealand Study Group, 2017), 55.

[24] Ibid., 57.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid., 63.

[27] Ibid., 62.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Peter Cooke and John Crawford, The Territorials (Wellington: Random House New Zealand Ltd, 2011), 258.

[30] Ibid.

[31] “H-19 Military Forces of New Zealand Annual Report of the General Officer Commanding “, Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives  (1947).;”Reorganisation of the Territorial Force,” New Zealand Gazette No 55, 21 October 1948.

[32] “Formation of New Units, Changes in Designation, and Reorganization of Units of the Territorial Force. ,” New Zealand Gazette, No 127, 19 December 1940, 3738-39.

[33] Ibid.

[34] 3 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Auckland East Coast Mounted Rifles) Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[35] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,” New Zealand Gazette, No 8, 22 January 1942, 351.

[36] Ibid.

[37] 15 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (North Auckland Mounted Rifles) Plowman

[38] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[39] Ibid.

[40] 4 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Waikato Mounted Rifles) Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[41] “Formation of New Units, Changes in Designation, and Reorganization of Units of the Territorial Force. ,”  3738-39.

[42] Ibid.

[43] “Calling out Parts of the Defence Forces for Military Service,” New Zealand Gazette, No 3, 9 January 1942, 43.

[44] Ibid.

[45] 2 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Queen Alexandra’s Mounted Rifles)Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[46] “Parts of the Defence Forces Called out for Military Service,” New Zealand Gazette, No 128, 19 December 1940, 3777.

[47] 9 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Wellington East Coast Mounted Rifles)Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[48] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[49] 6 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment ( Manawatu Mounted Rifles)Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[50] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[51] “Formation of New Units, Changes in Designation, and Reorganization of Units of the Territorial Force. ,”  3738-39.

[52] Ibid.

[53] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[54] 1 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry)Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[55] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[56] 5 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment (Otago Mounted Rifles)Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[57] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.

[58] Ibid.

[59] 10 Light Armoured Fighting Vehicle Regiment ( Nelson Marlbough Mounted Rifles) Plowman and Thomas, New Zealand Armour in the Pacific 1939-45, 5-7.

[60] “Formation of New Units and Disbandment of Uuits of the Territorial Force and National, Military Reserve. ,”  351.


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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 


Sergeant Two Bob and Corporal Jenny

24 February is the memorial day set aside as “Purple Poppy Day” the day on which we honour our war animals.

Complementing the traditional Red Poppy which is worn on ANZAC and Rembermanace day, the Purple Poppy symbolises all animals who have served during times of conflict.

Thousands of animals have provided support to New Zealand’s Forces, either as working animals or as mascots and providing companionship and comfort to service personnel.

One of the most famous animals in New Zeland Military History is Ceaser,, the bulldog who was awarded the Blue Cross Medal on 27 May 2019  for his service and bravery during the First World War.

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Portrait of ‘Caesar’ (misspelt as Ceaser) with ‘4th Battalion Mascot, NZ Rifle Brigade and ‘Oliver Varley, photo’ written on the photograph. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tāmaki Paenga Hira. WW1 487.

 

Sergeant Two Bob

Like many other units of the 2nd New Zealand Divison during the Second World War, the Divisional Ordnance Field Park (OFP) had its own mascot, a small dog. The dog had been purchased as a pup from a local vendor in Tripoli for two shillings and named “Sergeant Two Bob”.

The name “Sergeant Two Bob” was a play in on the slang of the time where Bob was the common term for a shilling, with twelve shillings making up a pound,  “Two Bob” equalled two shillings which at the time was a common lighthearted insult where one would essentially say that something was worthless, in this case, it was a term of affection for a unit mascot.

Records indicate that “Sergeant Two Bob” would move with the OFP from North Africa to Italy in early 1944 and remained a member of that until the end of the war.  As the NZ Division demobilised, New Zealand’s strict quarantine regulations forbade the return to New Zealand of  “Sergeant Two Bob”, and it is assumed that he was found a new home with some Italian owners.

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Harry Gilbertson of the New Zealand Divisional Ordnance Field Park with the section mascot “Sergeant Two Bob” at Maddi September 1943. Photo H.J Gilbertson

Corporal Jenny

“Sergeant Two Bob” was not the only Ordnance Mascot during the Second World War.  In the Pacific, Ordnance in the 3rd New Zealand Division adopted ‘Jenny the fawn’.

Orphaned as the result of a deer-hunting expedition, Jenny was hand-reared on a diet of powdered milk and guava leaves and soon promoted to the rank of substantive corporal.

Corporal Jenny’s duties included representing the Ordnance team at football matches, resplendent in its Khaki cover decorated in Ordnance colours and regulation corporal’s stripes.  Later Jenny’s appetite extended to include tea-leaves, the unit’s laundry and mail.  On the NZ Divisions departure from New Caledonia in 1944 Jenny was presented to a local family.

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Jenny the Fawn, 1943. War History Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library


Reports on NZ Ordnance Depots in the Pacific, 1943-44

The Second World War would be a period of immense growth for New Zealand’s Ordnance Services. Expanding from a strength of 6 Officers, 28 Permanent Other Ranks and 113 Civilian Staff operating from limited infrastructure in Devonport, Hopuhopu, Trentham and Burnham Camp in May 1939,  New Zealand’s Ordnance Services would have expanded by 1944 into a diverse organisation supporting New Zealand’s Forces at home and abroad.

Armed with the 1939 Ordnance Manual (war), the Ordnance units of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) would be established and adapted for their specific theatres of operation. In the Middle East, New Zealand Ordnance would integrate into the Ordnance Servicers of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. However, with a Brigade Group based in Fiji from late 1940, it would be the Ordnance Services in the Pacific that faced the most significant challenges. As the NZ Brigade Group transitioned and expanded from its garrison duties in Fiji into a Division conducting amphibious combat operations in the Solomon Islands, the supporting Ordnance Services challenges included anticipating the needs of the Division up to six months in advance and relying on fragile lines of communication that stretched back to New Zealand for everyday items and to the United Kingdom for much of the military hardware held by the Division. Additionally, the tropical climate and indigenous fauna encountered in the area of operations would provide additional hurdles to overcome.

After a series of actions in the Solomons, the burden of maintaining two Divisions was unstainable for the limited resources that New Zeland could provide, and by October 1944 the Pacific Divison had been disestablished. Its men were either demobilised to fill critical civilian roles, or retained in the Army, as reinforcements for the Division in Italy or in the case of many of the Ordnance men, absorbed into New Zealand based Ordnance Depots to receive and refurbish the large amount of equipment returned from the Pacific.

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3 NZ Division Tricks and Tanks parked at Main Ordnance Depot, Mangere Bulk Depot on their Return from the Pacific in 1944 (Colourised). Alexander Turnbull Library

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3 NZ Division Tricks and Tanks parked at Main Ordnance Depot, Mangere Bulk Depot on their Return from the Pacific in 1944(Colourised). Alexander Turnbull Library

Based on the experienced gained in the operation of the Base Ordnance Depot in New Caledonia and Advanced Ordnance Depot in Guadalcanal, two Ordnance Officers who had served in the Pacific since 1940, Henry Mckenzie Reid and Stanley Arthur Knight produced reports in 1945 summarising Ordnance operations in New Caledonia and Guadacanal. Both Knight and Reid had been civilians in the Ordnance Corps before the war, Reid at Trentham and Knight at Hopuhopu and commissioned as officers during 1940. Both men would serve in the Base Ordnance Depot in Fiji and then with the Base Ordnance Depot in New Caledonia as Chief Ordnance Officer. Knight would also be the final DADOS of the 3rd NZ Divison. Both officers would remain in the NZAOC after the war with Reid becoming the Director of Ordnance Services from April 1957 to November 1960.

Both reports are similar in overall content with various points on Storage, Packing of Stores, Personnel, Ammunition with each Officer providing varying degrees of detail. The combined purpose of the reports is not only to provide a historical record of this aspect of New Zealand’s Ordnance Services in the Pacific but also to provide a resource for the New Zealand Ordnance Services and assist in planning for future operations in the tropics.

OPERATIONS OF ORDNANCE DEPOTS IN PACIFIC
OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF
LIEUT-COL S.A.KNIGHT N.Z.E.F I.P.

Knight Pic

Lieutenant-Colonel Stanley Arthur Knight

FORWARD

I was appointed Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services immediately prior to the withdrawal of troops from forward areas to base areas in New Caledonia. Shortly after my arrival in Guadalcanal, units commenced preparations prior to evacuation, and my duties as D.A.D.O.S were not onerous since the demand for equipment had dropped to bare essentials. My observations must, therefore, be entirely concerned with an analysis of experiences gained while holding the appointment of Chief Ordnance Officer (COO), Base Ordnance Depot(BOD) New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the Pacific(NZEF IP).

ZONE OF OPERATIONS

The Base Ordnance Depor was established in New Caledonia at the beginning of the new year in 1943. Being situated some 30 miles for the port of Nepoui at which the bulk of our stores were unloaded and 100 miles from Noumea, fairly long hauls by road were necessitated.

In August of the same year, an Advanced Ordnance Depot was established in Guadalcanal, staffed by about 50% of the Base Ordnance Dept personnel. A few weeks later a Forward Ordnance Depot staffed by 2 officers and 25 ORs was established a Vella Lavella. The later depot was closed down and personnel withdrawn to Guadalcanal when Divisional Troops move forward to Green Island.

Due account must the taken of the type of operations to be undertaken, but it is my opinion that sub-division must be kept to a minimum. If the Base Depot is situated as close as possible to the fighting troops, then the necessity to establish Advanced Depots can be reduced to a minimum. Each time a Sub-Depot is established, additional personnel are required, and the total quantity of stores must necessarily be increased go provide working margins for each Depot.

STORAGE

It will be generally accepted that few if any permanent buildings will be available for the holding of ordnance store on Pacific Islands unless the Base is established at places such ad Noumea, Suva or Rabaul. Full provision must, therefore, be made for the temporary coverage to provide adequate protection for the initial shipments of stores when a Depot id being established.

Sufficient timber and tarpaulins for the erection of shelters should be forwarded with the first shipment of stores. Well constructed canvas shelters with good ventilation will give satisfactory accommodation for the storage, breaking down and issue of equipment for a period of 3 or 4 months. If the Depot is to remain in one site for a longer period, prefabricated buildings should be provided as early as possible if the loss of stores is to be kept to a minimum. Canvas coverings can only be considered a temporary measure as owing to the high humidity, together with tropical rain and cyclones, deterioration is very rapid.

The effects of a hurricane can be severe, and a poorly constructed Ordnance Depot might easily be completely wrecked with very heavy mortality to stores since hurricanes are usually accompanied by torrential downpours.
I stress the fact that the best type of storage which can be procured, must go forward at the very earliest moment; otherwise, the Depot will be severely hampered, particularly in its infancy.

To meet the requirement of a Base Ordnance Depot serving a Division (including Ammunition) and to provide a small surplus for contingencies 2000 tarpaulins, preferably of the standard 180ft x 13-ft would be required.

In the initial stages of an operation, stores are usually carted to dumps from shops. Every effort should be made to provide dunnage for the stacks and tarpaulins should be arranged, allowing good air circulation.

Stacks of stores covered in this manner require constant attention. For instance, when a stack which has been properly covered allowing good air circulation, is partially broken down, the tarpaulin is allowed to drape on the ground. The air under the tarpaulin arranged in this manner is always saturated in a damp climate and rapid deterioration is the result. The same applies to tentage which should be properly erected, preferably with wooden floors, allowing free air circulation and the maximum benefit of dry sunny days used by removing and drying out damp walls.

Although 1200 Tarpaulins were placed on order for manufacture some weeks prior to the Divisions departure from New Zealand, only about 400 were to hand and available for use when the Ordnance Depot was established in New Caledonia. This number was insufficient to cover all Depot stocks and Ammunition with the result that much damage resulted. On instructions from the A.A. & Q.M.G, 80 tarpaulins had to be removed from ammunition stacks for the issue to A.S.C units. As a result of the Ammunition being exposed to heavy rains, considerable damage was done, and a repair party of 50 men was employed for many weeks at a later date, repairing and cleaning the Ammunition, while some had to be destroyed owing to its unserviceability.

When the Ammunition dump was established at Guadalcanal, every effort was made to provide the best possible storage. Ammunition was stacked on goof platforms with coconut poles for base and Tarpaulins were properly arranged, allowing free ait circulation. As a result, losses were negatable in a striking contrast to the losses in this Ammunition by U.S. Forces, who did not cover Ammunition stacks which were often in damp areas with no dunnage.

As it is not possible, without disastrous results, to open up and expose M.T parts, Signal Equipment and spares, Wireless Equipment and spares, M.G and S.A spares and certain Engineer Stores in other than dry storage, it is recommended that sufficient Stores wagons should be provided to house this equipment until such time s prefabricated buildings can be erected. It is estimated that not less than 24 well-appointed stores wagons would be required and theses should be stocked with spares, most likely to be in early demand.

I may appear to have dwelt on the question of storage, but when the Base Ordnance Depot commenced operations in NECAL, the only stores and office accommodation available in addition to Tarpau1ins, on which I have already documented were 8 I.P.P. Tents, being the balance of 110 shipped and 2 G.S Single Marquees. Although a considerable quantity of dunnage was unloaded from ships and made available to Units for camp construction, very little was made available for dunnage of stores. Timber ordered in NZ by B.O.D. for the dunnage of Ammunition was taken over by the Engineers and very little made available for Ammunition. By the same token, priority was given to the issue of I.P.P. tents for Messes, Orderly Rooms etc., 102 being used for this purpose, leaving a balance of 8 for use in our Depot as Stores and offices.

The construction of storage accommodation for Ordnance Depot should be the responsibility of the Works Construction Coy N.Z.E which in my opinion is an essential unit in any Army formation.

PERSONNEL

Personnel for an Ordnance Depot should be carefully selected to fill the various positions; the following are most suitable: –

Clerks: Men who have been clerks and accountants in civilian life are easily trained to carry out clerical duties in an Ordnance Depot. Qualified accountants are invaluable, and three or four of these in a Depot are worth their weight in gold.

Storeman-General: Men who have worked in retail stores and warehouses and who have good clerical training invariably make good storeman. Farm labourers and navvies are, almost with exception, useless as storemen and cannot be relied on to carry out other than labouring duties. It is agreed that there is a certain amount of labouring work in and Ordnance Depot, but this can be done very efficiently by an intelligent man, while on the other hand, a labourer cannot carry on with the onerous duties of a storeman, should the need arise.

Storeman-M.T: It is essential that M.T. Storeman should have had considerable experience at this trade in civilian life. It is desirable that Senior Storemen should have had at least 8 or 10 years experience in the handling of M.T spares.

Storeman-Wireless: Technical men who have a sound knowledge of wireless equipment appear to be very difficult to procure, but it is highly desirable that at least one very experienced man should be included in the staff of a Depot. It is likely that a Wireless Mechanic who could fill a storeman’s position would be more easily procured.

Storeman-Signals: Signal Storemen from the P&T Dept should prove the most suitable, but again these seem rare.

Storeman-Engineers, Arty & Armd: Key personnel to fill the positions of storemen in these sections should be from Ordnance Depots in NZ and should have some years’ experience. It is extremely unlikely that any suitable personnel could be obtained from other than Ordnance Depots to fill these positions in anything like a satisfactory manner.

The future Defence Policy of this country should include the training of men for Ordnance duties. Even if only an elementary training can be given, men so trained would he much more useful than those who had no training at all. It is also suggested that a good percentage of the men employed during peacetime in Ordnance Depots should be young men fit for Overseas Service should the need arise.

Care should be taken to ensure that the men selected for Ordnance Depots are trustworthy and of good character. It will be found that men who have filled positions of trust in civilian life can be depended upon to carry out their work in a satisfactory manner in the Army.

N.C.O.’s

Almost without exception, N. C. 0′ s are promoted on their technical ability, which naturally is of prime importance in an Ordnance Depot. Quite frequently, these N.C.O’s prove poor disciplinarians and have insufficient training in drill. It is highly desirable that all N.C.O’s should have a short course on discipline and drill, otherwise discipline within the Unit tends to become rather lax.

The importance is stressed, of making provision in the future for sufficient key personnel to be trained particularly in technical sections. In our Base Ordnance Depot with an establishment of 220 NCO’s and 0R’s, we did not have one storeman with any knowledge of Technical stores and had only two men with pre-war Ordnance training.

My experience has convinced me that No Ordnance Depot will function to its fullest capacity unless a D & E platoon is included in the establishment. This Section which should consist of 25 to 30 men including 2 carpenters, would be able to perform the following duties, Guards, Picquets, Camp Maintenance, Maintenance of Stores areas, General Fatigues, and providing working parties to relive pressure at rush periods. This would obviate the necessity of having to detail clerks and storemen, who are often key men, for such duties.

PACKING

The standard packing case used by Ordnance in New Zealand has proved quite satisfactory. A suggested improvement is that all cases should be constructed of tongue and groove timber.

Many of the cases, and in particular those constructed by Army contractors, proved unsatisfactory. Three-ply cases are poor for tropical conditions and should not be used. Cases carrying “every-ready” were not constructed stoutly enough to carry the weight packed in them, with the result that a high percentage arrived broken, with a resultant loss of the contents through pillage etc., which in some cases was very heavy. Old used cases should not be used for stores which may require many handlings. Timber used should not be less the ¾ inch, and in many cases, it is advisable to use 1-inch boards or heavier, if high weight – size ration is involved.

Waterproof lining for cases should be used wherever possible. In packing stores, it should be always born in mind that cases may have to withstand severe conditions during transit. Quite frequently during unloading of ships on beaches or in transit camps where no coverage is available, stores are subjected to torrential downpours of rain. The resultant damage is not always apparent from outside appearances when packages reach their final destinations. If not required for immediate use the total contents may be rendered unserviceable before being unpacked, perhaps some weeks later.

The use of packing such as wood-wool or straw, which retains moisture, causes rapid corrosion of metal articles, particularly if they have not been toughly treated with a rust preventive before packing. Stores packed out from Ordnance Depots in New Zealand, without any rust preventative have been received in an unserviceable condition owing to the ingress of water or moisture during transit. On occasions, the stores received unserviceable have been urgently required for maintenance. These remarks apply in the main to Artillery Stores, Small Arms parts, and tools.

The packing of Bubbles Spirt Glass, Thermometers and Artillery Packings, etc without protection from heavy articles in the same case, must be avoided at all costs. Fragile articles should be packed in a small wooden box before being included with heavy articles in a case. The use of straw or wool-wood as cushioning when packing instruments such as Binoculars, Telescopes, Periscopes, Rangefinders, etc., should be avoided. Any damage retained by such packing induces rapid mould growth.

STORES PROVISIONING

Having due regard to lines of communication, minimum require rents only should be carried forward and held until adequate storage can be arranged. This is of course entirely governed by lines of communication. During operations of 3 Div. the paucity of shipping, particularly
during the first 9 months, made it essential that we should carry at least 6 months stock for all items. On some occasions, stores awaited shipment from N.Z. for 6 or 7 months owing principally to the higher priority placed on U.S. equipment.

It is recommended that in future operations where a full Division has to be maintained, consideration should be given to the chartering of a cargo ship solely for supplying such a force. A ship similar to the ‘Matua’ would do the job admirably. When making this recommendation, I am fully aware that there was a shortage of shipping during the period, but the position may not obtain on another occasion.

TENTS & TARPAULINS

Conditions in the Tropics made the lite of Tentage very short. I.P.P· and I.P. Tents were in general use and proved very suitable. However, due to the high humidity and heavy rainfall, the average life for the Outer Roof was only about 9 months and Inner Roof – 12 months. According to the location and care taken, there were variations. Tents pitched under trees were seldom, if ever, properly dried out and would be unserviceable in 6 months or less, while others pitched in dry exposed areas where the full benefit of drying breezes was obtained, would be serviceable for 12 months or even longer. In combat areas, subject to air attacks, full use has to be made of natural camouflage, and Tents have of necessity to be pitched under trees, where they are available.

Some G.S. Single Marquees which have only a single skin, were used for storage and these were not at all suitable. Besides being unbearably hot, they are not rainproof and should not be used in the Pacific.

The Pyramidal Tent, commonly used for housing troops, by the U.S. Forces is also unsuitable for the tropics, being unbearably hot.

The life of Tarpaulins is also considerably lessened, principally by the tropical heat. Waterproof dressing, which is normally wax bases, melts and runs out of the fabric with the result that frequent dressing is required.·

BOOTS

The Black R. & F. Boot used by the N.Z. Forces gave good service. Due to the conditions, wear on boots was very heavy and the average boot required re-soling every 3 or 4 weeks. Very little trouble was experienced with mould growth, except where boots had become damp during transit or through poor storage.

CLOTHING

Uniforms – Wear and tear on clothing was very heavy. In my opinion, the standard Khaki Drill shirt which can be worn with either shorts or long trousers is the most suitable. The Bush Shirt is not suitable for wear with the shorts and cannot be considered a utility garment such as the K.D. shirt is. The average soldier has to do his own laundering while on Active Service end Bush Shirts look very untidy unless they are well laundered.

Socks – Socks proved quite suitable and gave good service.

Hose, Footless – Footless Hose Proved most unsuitable being much too short and tight-fitting. Soldiers avoided wearing them whenever possible. If it is decided to continue the use of this article, liberal allowance should be made for shrinking.

Underclothing – Vests and Shorts Cotton Under gave good service, but it is suggested that for tropical use, these should be made lighter. The lighter weight garments as used by U.S. Forces are considered to be much more suitable.

Belts – A belt similar to that used by U.S. Forces for general purposes should be issued to each soldier.

Hats S.D – Due to the perspiration and rough conditions, the mortality was very high. However, this hat gave good service. The issue of a Tropical Sun Hat would be a more welcome addition to the kit of soldiers.

SMALL ARMS

I do not propose to report fully on the behaviour of S.A armament or other technical stores since a publication prepared by a Scientific Mission from Australia, who visited New Guinea, covers in detail all the difficulties which confront those who use Army Equipment in the tropics much more fully and scientifically than I could hope to do. I will refer to this publication at the conclusion of my report, but I desire to stress the heavy mortality inflicted on rifles, by the Mason Bee.

This small insect was responsible for the destruction of some hundreds of rifle barrels in the Division. The Mason. Bee will build a nest in a rifle overnight, and corrosion caused by acid immediately sets in and cannot be arrested.

To prevent the Bee entering the nuzzle of a rifle, a covering, preferably of mosquito netting or some such open texture material, should be used as this will allow breathing and thus not induce sweating of the barrel which will occur if it is completely sealed.

Mosquito netting was made available to Units in the Division, but in view of the heavy mortality, it is doubtful that the fullest use was made of this or the repeated warnings issued in Divisional Orders, rigidly enforced by all C.O’s.

LIFTING GEAR

The Depot was considerably handicapped by the total lack of lifting gear, until 3 months before the Depot closed, when a very useful Mobile Crane arrived from N.Z. This was in striking contrast to the U.S.Forces who always had an abundance of lifting gear of all types and sizes. The Depot staff had to manhandle such items as Speedway Stores weighing 1-ton and MT cases of assemblies weighing 1,100 lbs.

Every Ordnance Depot should have on its War Equipment Table three Finger Lifts and two Mobile Cranes. One of the latter should be capable of lifting 2-tons at least.

AMMUNITION

The use of other than steel boxes for the packing of Ammunition should be reduced to an absolute minimum. Wooden boxes, particularly those packed with 3.7 How. Shell and 25-pdr. Shell failed to stand up to the handling and transporting. This was mainly due of course to the deterioration caused to the woodwork by the damp, humid climate and accelerated in some instances by exposure to the weather when coverage was not available, but in any case, the life of wooden boxes is much less than that of steel boxes, which will withstand a good deal of rough handling.

AUTOMATIC MAINTENANCE

The principle of the supply of Automatic maintenance items is considered to be an excellent one. For conditions in the Pacific, there is no doubt that the scales would require a certain amount of revision but owing to the fact that supplies did not come to hand until some 6 months before the Division returned to N.Z, insufficient data was obtained, and time did not permit revision of the schedules. Had Automatic Maintenance been in operation during the whole period, some very valuable
information would have been available.

LIASION WITH N.Z

It is considered that constant Liaison with N.Z. should be maintained. It is considered that an Ordnance Officer should visit the N.N Base from which supplies are drawn, every 3 or 4 months and that an Ordnance Officer from N.Z. should pay frequent visits to Depots overseas when they are so readily accessible by air transport.

GENERAL ADMINISTRATION

It is desired to place on record the valuable assistance rendered to the Base Ordnance Depot by the Officer I/C Administration, (Brig. W. W. Dove) and his staff at his H.Q. ·what was a very difficult job was made considerably lighter by the friendly co-operation and help and advice given at all times. No reasonable request was ever refused, and everything possible was done to promote efficiency in. the Depot.

The Main Depot was divided into Sections as follows:

H.Q.
General Stores and Clothing.
Armament, Engrs and Signals.
M.T.
Ammunition.
Returned Stores.

HQ was controlled by the C.O.O, assisted by an Adjutant and each Section was controlled by an Ordnance Officer.

This arrangement proved quite satisfactory and could well be adopted in future for an Ordnance Depot set up under similar circumstances with the addition of a Provision and Statistical Section, controlled by an Officer.

CONCLUSION

Following a survey carried out in New Guinea by a Scientific Mission from Australia, a pamphlet entitled “Condition of Service Material under Tropical Conditions in New Guinea” was published.

This publication deals exhaustively with the effects of tropical. Conditions or equipment in all its phases and is, in my opinion, applicable to all Pacific Islands to a greater or lesser degree.

It is recommended that the fullest possible use should be made of this publication and no Ordnance Officer proceeding to the Pacific should fail to read this valuable Pamphlet.

(sgd) S.A. KNIGHT

OPERATIONAL REPORT
BASE ORDNANCE DEPOT
MAJOR H.McK. REID  N .Z.E.F I.P.

Reid Pic

Major Henry Mckenzie Reid

The problems of the receipt, custody and issue of Ordnance Stores in the Pacific Area, is much greater than is imagined by the layman, and it is hoped that the following remarks may prove helpful should the occasion ever arise when an Ordnance Depot is again established in the Pacific.

One of the greatest problems which has to be overcome is the time lag which occurs between the placing of an order and the receipt of the stores. It was soon found that estimates had to be prepared covering supplies sufficient for six months, as this was the period which we could expect would elapse before stores would arrive. This occasionally brought about very large shipments which were more difficult to handle than would have been the case had stores arrived, say, at monthly intervals. The problem of shipping is one which would greatly improve, and I would suggest, that with a full Division to be serviced, there would be sufficient cargo to warrant the chartering of a small ship which would be at the sole disposal of NEW ZEALAND Forces. I mention this, as on numerous occasions, stores which were urgently required by us, were short shipped owing to priorities being placed on US Equipment. I would again point out, that any Ordnance Depot operating in the Island areas, should carry not less than six months supplies. For the information of any Ordnance Officers concerned, I will attach to this report, a schedule giving some idea of the quantities of popular items used by this Force. This may prove of some value both in the initial provisioning of a Depot and also in the preparation of maintenance demands.

STORAGE

Early coverage of stores after receipt is one of the greatest importance. I fully appreciate the difficulty in providing permanent or pre-fabricated buildings, but I would emphasise the fact that this type of storage is essential if the Depot is to function for any length of time. The provision of a permanent building for the handling of M.T spares and other technical stores should be an urgent priority, as, in a humid climate such as rules in the Islands, it is essential to have some areas in which these stores can be opened and handled. Loss of M.T stores through decoration was relatively light in NECAL, but this could only be attributed to the acquiring of storage space at the Gendarmerie. However, until this building became available, we found it impossible to open and supply spare parts which were urgently required for the repair of trucks which were suffering heavy damage due to the atrocious condition of the road. I would recommend the use of stores wagons both for M.T. parts and Artillery, Engineer and Signal parts. These wagons could be parked in NEW ZEALAND with a selection of parts which it could be assumed would be required soon after landing. These stores would be available for immediate issue, and when permanent storage space was available, they could be used for the distribution of small stores to Divisional units. Temporary coverage should be available immediately stores are landed, and I would suggest the 2000, 18’x13’ tarpaulins, together with a supply of timber, should be made available for the erection of temporary shelters and for the coverage of ammunition. Prior to leaving NEW ZEALAND, 1200 tarpaulins were ordered, 400 of these were received with an early consignment of stores, but the balance took many months to arrive, due either to the difficulty in obtaining these in NEW ZEALAND and the lack of shipping at that stage. Owing to this short delivery of tarpaulins, quite a quantity of precious stores suffered untold damage. This position was further aggravated by an order from a very responsible officer for the issue of a number of tarpaulins to A.S.C. It was pointed out that the only tarpaulins available were covering ammunition, with the result the considerable damage was done. Heavy repairs were necessary, and a certain amount of unserviceable ammunition had to be dumped.

Dependent on the availability of timber at the site where ammunition is to be stored, I would suggest that a large quantity of heavy dunnage should be provided from NEW ZEALAND for the purpose of correctly storing ammunition clear of ground contact. This dunnage could easily be used for the securing of M.T Trucks during the shipment.

When the Ordnance Depot arrived in NECAL, it was expected to establish itself and commence functioning with as little loss of time as possible, with the result that the Ordnance Depot was not well constructed as possible and that the men had insufficient opportunity to make themselves reasonably comfortable. Owing to the shortage of manpower, it took many months to have the same amenities as other units had in a few days. I would consequently suggest that the site for an Ordnance Depot should be levelled and roads prepared by the engineers so that the ordnance personnel could get on with the establishment their Depot. Assistance should be given by the Engineers in the erection of temporary shelters such as I have previously mentioned.

PACKING OF STORES

The packing and marking of stores received from NEW ZEALAND caused much concern to B.O.D whilst in NECAL. Some cases were much too light for the type of stores which they contained. These were mainly packages received directly from Contractors. As an example, Ever-ready Batteries invariably arrived in a damaged condition owing to the fact that they were packed in light cases. The ideal type of case is that used by the NZAOC for the packing of clothing. This is a standard case in three sizes which proved very satisfactory. The use of this principle should be extended to all types of stores being shipped overseas. It may appear costly to have to provide this type of case, but the amount of stores lost and damaged would be reduced, and would compensate for the outlay. Much damage was done to valuable stores due to faulty packing. For instance, where metal stores are being packed, care should be taken to see that bright surfaces are greased. Quite a number of shipments arrived from NEW ZEALAND in which Small Arms parts, Arty parts and other small items had been just put in a box, with the result that they arrived resembling a heap of rusty metal. Small part such as these, should be greased and packed in greased paper. Glass items such as Spirt Bubbles, should be carefully packed and not be permitted to roll in cases. The use of straw or wood-wool should not be permitted where metal items are being packed, as both of these substances attract moisture, with the result that they become damp and stores begin to sweat.

The marking of stores caused a lot of heartaches to B.O.D, the codesign “P” in a circle, was parked on each side of cases but the scheduled marking was, in many in instances only placed on the top of the case. From an identification point, the local method of marking is for the scheduled mark to be put on both ends of the case. If possible, this could also go on the top. In order to minimise the chance of pillage, I would suggest that the practice of indicating the contents on the outside of the case should cease.

Code signs were used, but were much too obvious to be misunderstood.

Good Paint should be used in marking, as cheap paint or stencil inks fade under tropical conditions. The position was complained of to D.M.T WELLINGTON and was rectified after the visit of D.M.T’s Representatives. Things such as this may appear trivial, but really important to an Ordnance man for the easy identification of stores.

SUB-DIVISION OF B.O.D

Taking into account the type of operations to expected in the Pacific where forces are liable to land on different islands, I am of the opinion that B.O.D. should not establish more than one forward base. In order to provide an Ordnance Detachment with both the 8th and 14th Brigades and to have maintained an Advanced Ordnance Depot at GUADALCANAL, it would have been necessary if these establishments were to function efficiently, to have provided approximately twice the amount of stores and 80% more men. I am of the opinion that prior to leaving NEW ZEALAND, all units should be allowed to carry a reserve stock of, say, 10 to 20% of items such as Boots, Clothing, Camp Equipment and any items considered necessary. The ideal method of supply with an Amphibious Force would be to establish an Advanced Depot such as A.O.D GUADALCANAL. From then on, all units would work on their reserve stocks. This would allow units to requisition stores and still be able to provide the immediate needs of the man. This principle was tried by the Force in GREEN ISLAND and proved very successful. Units were permitted to carry forward this reserve and from then on submitted demands back to A.O.D GUADALCANAL, which was able to forward the stores required. Any time factor due to shipping was cared for by the reserve stores held by the unit. Regarding a move from NEW ZEALAND of a Force, no unit should move without being completely equipped. If for any reason units have to move without full equipment, then it is imperative that Ordnance stores and the Ordnance unit should be one of the first to move. During the move into NECAL, Ordnance received a huge quantity of stores which were landed prior to the arrival of the main body of B.O.D. This entailed many difficulties for the two officers and 30 O.R’s of B.O.D. who had preceded the Main Body. Their worries were increased by units arriving incompletely equipped and requesting the delivery of stores direct from the Dump in the NEPOUI VALLEY. Some units arrived with men short of even clothing, and this alone should back my suggestion that, either unit’s proceed fully equipped, or that the complete Ordnance unit be one of the earliest to move.

TRANSPORT & LIFTING GEAR

Only in the later months of B.O.D’s existence was ample transport available. This in itself is inclined to hamper the activities of a Depot, and I would recommend that transport should be allowed on a very liberal scale. I would also stress the necessity of having some heavy lifting equipment such as the Mobile Crane which arrived at B.O.D about three months prior to its return to NEW ZEALAND. Such items as Speedway Stoves, M.T Engines and other heavy equipment ranging from 3 or 4 cwt, had to be manhandled and this was much more apparent under the conditions in the islands. A mobile Crane should be one of the first items on any Ordnance Depots War Equipment Table.

INSPECTING ORDNANCE OFFICER

I would strongly recommend the appointment of an Inspecting Ordnance Officer whose duties would take him to every unit, where he should be given the right to inspect equipment and report on it. A check could thus be kept on the state in which a unit kept its equipment and also on the fact that they had no more or less entitled to them.

I would also recommend that the return of unserviceable items to B.O.D should discontinue and that a travelling Board of Survey should visit units at pre-arranged times. The I.O.O could function on this board as a permanent member. Items od no Salvage value could be destroyed on the spot whilst items for repair or salvage could be returned to Ordnance. This would obviate the necessity of carting over many miles, large quantities of material whose only fate could be to end in fire. This would minimise the work of the Salvage Section of B.O.D. They would then be in a position to do more repair work than was ever accomplished.

LIASION WITH NEW ZEALAND

Liaison with NEW ZEALAND or source of supply is an extremely desirable thing, but it is suggested that from an Ordnance point of view this can most successfully be carried out by someone conversant with Ordnance. Quite apart from the Divisional Liaison Officer who made several trips to NEW ZEALAND, I am of the opinion that Ordnance should have had closer contact with NEW ZEALAND. I would suggest that an Ordnance Officer should visit NEW ZEALAND or source of supply, at least every three months. I stipulate an Ordnance Officer, as he would be conversant with the general needs of the Depot. For our dealings with U.S. Forces both in NECAL and GUADALCANAL, use was made of two excellent Warrant Officers, and their appointment was more than warranted. Being in close contact with the U.S Forces, they were many times able to procure stores which were urgently required by our Forces.

D&E SECTION

Much working time is lost in an Ordnance Depot due to the necessity of guards and fatigues. I would recommend that a D & E Section should be incorporated in the establishment. This Section need not be officered, but could be administered by Headquarters Section. under the Adjutant. The ideal section would be about 25 to 30 men strong and should include a carpenter and general maintenance man. This would allow Storemen and Clerks to continue with their duties, but I would suggest that any relief for the D & E Section should come from the general personnel during off duty periods.

AMMUNITION

The type of boxes used for the packing of ammunition could be revised. It is common knowledge now, that timber suffers more than anything in the damp, humid conditions found in the islands. I would recommend that all types of ammunition should be packed in metal containers. Not only do wooden boxes deteriorate, but in the number of times they are handled, they cannot stand up to the hard conditions. This is amply demonstrated by the condition in which small arms ammunition in particular, and 3.7 How Shell and some 25 pr Shell arrived back into NEW ZEALAND. Hardly any of the small arms ammunition is in fit condition to travel again.

SELECTION OF PERSONNEL

The selection of personnel for an Ordnance Depot should be given the greatest thought, and every endeavour should be made to ensure that the right type of personnel should be available prior to the Depot’s departure from NEW ZEALAND. The provision of a number of men to make up the full establishment is of no use if personnel with a knowledge of the duties they are expected to carry out are not available. This is stressed particularly in the Technical Sections of a Depot – namely, M. T, Arty, Sigs; Engs and Ammunition. The necessary knowledge to successfully carry out these jobs cannot be gained quickly enough whilst overseas, and an endeavour should be made to see that the bulk of each of these sections should be trained Ordnance personnel. In addition, care should be taken to ensure that men posted to an Ordnance Depot should be of good character and behaviour, as much trust has to be, of necessity, placed in them.

TRAINING OF NCO’S

Of necessity, N.C.O’s in an Ordnance unit are promoted for their ability to carry out the work which they are doing. This will sometimes result in an N.C.O. being extremely efficient at his work, but being a very poor disciplinarian. I would consequently recommend that N. C. 0’s in Ordnance be
given a short course solely on drill and discipline.

AUTOMATIC MAINTENANCE

The supply of spare parts under the system of Automatic Maintenance, is, in itself, an excellent idea. The scales, however, require a certain amount of modification, in that some items are provided for in either too large or too small quantities. Unfortunately, we did not operate the scales for a long enough period to be able to correct them, but in a new Force, this could quite easily be done after, say, six months’ service. In the main, the principle is right, and only minor alterations are necessary.

CONCLUSION

I have read carefully the pamphlet prepared by the Australian Army on the “Condition of Service Material under Tropical Conditions in New Guinea”. Everything contained in this pamphlet is applicable in a greater or lesser degree to conditions as found in NEW CALEDONIA and GUADALCANAL, and I would suggest that this pamphlet should be consulted and acted upon prior to any further Force leaving NEW ZEALAND for service in the tropics. This pamphlet was prepared by a Scientific Mission for the Scientific Liaison Bureau, Melbourne, Australia.

(sgd) H.McK. REID Major,
Chief Ordnance Officer, B.O.D.


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 Songs We Sang

Released in 1959 and based on his book The songs we sang,  musician Les Cleveland accompanied by his group the D Day Dodgers released this collection of often very irreverent songs that were sung by New Zealand Servicemen during the Second World War.

The songs we sang

 

In World War Two, New Zealand sent two infantry divisions overseas and supplied a great many sailors and airmen for the Allied Forces. Though the war has been over for fifteen years, the songs are still with us.  Many of us have half-forgotten them; others will have heard only a few of them and these in a variety of versions – but all will listen to them with new interest, conscious that the songs speak with unfading humour and sentiment of difficult days, conscious too that they occupy a unique place in New Zealand music and folk-lore. they are sings that deserve to live again.

One of the paradoxes of World War Two was that while at any given moment ferocious struggles would be raging at widely separated points on the combined fronts, there would be thousands and thousands of other men who were uncommitted, killing time in bivouacs, camps and garrisons anywhere from Siberia to the Campbell Islands. Singing was one of the ways to fight boredom and relieve nervous tension.

The New Zealand formation, always a clannish, high spirited lot, soon developed their own unit traditions. A great many ballads and choruses emerged. Some of the most popular have been used on this recording.

RED WHITE AND NAVY BLUE

This song was heard in units of the 3rd Divison who were stationed on the assorted Pacific Islands. At one stage their 8th Brigade Concert Party – a devoted group which, when not doing defence platoon duties, rattled around with a piano in a truck giving shows in the jungle – used this course as a theme, it was a wry denouement, for the Pacific troops were much given to irony and satire to relive and express the frustration and monotony of their duties.

“We’re the heroes of the night
And we’d rather drink than fight!
We’re the heroes of Bob Semple’s Fusiliers.”

Semple was a labour politician with a pungent, forthright turn of speech. He distinguished himself on the outbreak of the war by causing the Public Works Department, of which he was head to fabricate a tank out of some old steel plate and a crawler tractor. It took part in one military parade, broke down, and was never seen again.

AIWA SAIDA

A spirited and celebrated song, popular amongst all the troops in the Middle East, Especially the Kiwis.

MY AFRICA STAR

This is a satire base on one of the red-hot grievances of the New Zealand Division in the Middle East. The Eighth Army was formed in September 1941. To qualify for a small metal figure eight which was worn on the Africa Star ribbon, it was necessary to have served in the Eighth Army on or after October 23 1942. But the formation had been fighting for a year prior to that arbitrary date so that all these men who had been knocked out with wounds, invalided out with illness or transferred to non-operational units were denied this small nut significant award. Some of them were veterans of the first desert battles, and their remarks were often voluble and loud when they saw less-worthy soldiers – including girls serving ice-cream in army canteen and “those who were in Palestine” wearing “the eight”.

SAIDA BINT

Another sentimental song widely known and sung by troops in Egypt.

ROLLING WHEELS

A Maori Battalion song which mentions a few of the many places in which they campaigned. Ngarimu was the famous Maori Victora Cross awardee.

THE GOOD SHIP “VENUS

The adventures of the crew of this fabulous vessel constitute a saga with as many variations as there are singers and audiences.

MY A.25

A humorous piece about the hazard of deck landing on aircraft carriers. It was essentially a song of the Fleet Air Arm, the flying branch of the Royal Navy in which around 1000 New Zeland pilots and navigators served.  The A.25 was an Admiralty form on which a pilot had to attempt to explain away the circumstances of the crash he had walked- or swum – away from.

Other technical terms;

Batsman, the deck landing signals officer who directed planes in to land.
Goofers, a slang reference to a relatively safe vantage point from which it was possible to watch the sport of deck landing.
Cut, the final signal from the batsman to a pilot making a landing.
Barrier, a wire net to protect aircraft on the bow of the aircraft carrier from the over-enthusiastic efforts of pilots landing.
Booster, an accelerator catapult.
Supermarine, the firm of Vickers-Supermarine, makers of the Spitfire and Seafire aircraft.
Wings, an abbreviated term for the senior flying officer on the carrier.
Lee, Lee on Solent, wartime air station of the Fleet Air Arm.

A clever device combing light and a large curved mirror has now replaced the batsman- automation no less! With the advent of the angled deck, barriers are not normally required except in the event of a hook failure. They are now made of nylon.

THE ARMY IN FIJI

A song which reflects the bitter feelings of many members of the original Eight Brigade Group which was hastily sent to Fiji when it was thought that Japanese Forces might reach that far in their Pacific drive. This garrison force was none-too-well supplied, it saw no action, and most of the men in it were soon tired of existing miserably in the tropics. Some of the weapons that wnt to Fiji were very old and worn. In the early stages, there were shortages of ammunition and other necessities, the song describes a celebrated incident which many soldiers insist actually occurred- a box of ammunition was open and found to contain lead head nails.

THE FIGHTING KIWI, SIDE SIDE MONOWAI SIDE AND THIS IS MY STORY

A kiwi variation of a traditional theme which sailors and troops have applied to a long list of warships and troop carriers. This particular one – The Monawai- was a liner which was used a good deal during the war to move troops. Soldiers always hate being on troop-ships. The food is poor, quarters are crowded and stuffy and some starch old naval type is always apt to demand that mess decks be scrubbed, water rationed or kits stowed in a certain way. The troops invariably felt that the regulations were designed for their personal inconvenience rather than the safety of the ship of the general furtherance of the war effort. The fact that the troops were occasionally wrong in the warmth which they objected to this regimentation did not affect their vehemence.

 

 


William Saul Keegan

Like many of his age group who were keen to serve, William Saul Keegan was too young to see service in the First World War but would volunteer for service in the Second World War. Serving in the Permanent Forces in the early interwar era, Keegan would be transferred into the civil service in 1931 as part of the force reductions brought on by the great depression. Keegan would continue to serve as a civilian in the Main Ordnance Depot at Trentham in the years leading up to the Second World War. Volunteering for service the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Keegan was found to have a medical condition which precluded overseas service but allowed him to serve at home. Commissioned into the New Zealand Temporary Staff and attached to the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, Keegan would continue to serve until 1947. Keegan’s service is significant in the history of the Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps as he was the wartime Officer Commanding of No 2 Ordnance Depot at Palmerston North and the First Officer Commanding of the Linton Camp Ordnance Depot that would remain a vital unit of the Corps until 1996.

William Saul Keegan was born in Wellington on 23 February 1900 to William and Susan Keegan. Keegan had one sibling Francis Martin Keegan who was born on 10 September 1903. Spending his early years in Wellington, Keegan would move with his parents to Otaki sometime after 1906 where he would attend the Otaki State School. In 1913 Keegan came sixth in the Wellington Education Board examinations, gaining him a scholarship to Wellington College.[1] During his time at Wellington College, Keegan would complete three years in the senior school cadets. In January 1917, Keegan passed the university matriculation examination with a pass in Matriculation, Solicitor’s general knowledge and Medical Preliminary.[2]  Despite passing the university entrance exams, Keegan did not attend university but was mobilised into the Temporary Section of the New Zealand Garrison Artillery (NZGA) where he would spend a year working in the Wellington forts.[3]

Keegan would begin his career in the Ordnance Corps on 30 August 1918, when he enlisted as a private into the Temporary Section of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) at Wellington and allocated the NZAOC Regimental Number 213. With the Armistice on 11 November 1918 ending the war, Keegan would miss out on seeing active service, but with the demobilisation of men, the closing down of training camps and the arrival of New Equipment from the United Kingdom to equip the peacetime army, Keegan’s position in the NZAOC was assured for the foreseeable future. Stuck down with influenza during the 1918 outbreak, Keegan would seem to make a full recovery but later in life developed health problems which might have developed as a result of influenza.

Ordnance 1918

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

Promoted to Lance Corporal on 1 July 1919, Keegan would remain at Wellington until 1 April 1921 when as a consequence of the NZAOC shifting the bulk of its services to Trentham Camp, Keegan was relocated to Trentham Camp. It was during this time that Lieutenant C.I. Gossage returned from service as the DADOS of the NZ Division and introduced a modern cost accounting system based upon the best practices learnt during the war, and it is highly likely that in Keegan’s role in the clerical section he was involved in the introduction and upkeep of the new accounting system.

From 1919 in addition to his military duties, Keegan would also be an active participant in the community by serving on the committees of the Wellington College Old Boy Cricket Club, The Wellington College Old Boys Rugby Club and the Hutt Valley Lawn Tennis Association as a member, Treasurer or Auditor.[4] [5] [6] In the late 1930s, Keegan would also be a coach and president of the Upper Hutt Rugby Club [7] and Auditor of the Upper Hutt Cricket Association.[8]

Promote to Corporal on 1 July 1922, Keegan remained posted to the NZAOC Temporary Section until 1 August 1924 when he was enlisted into the Permanent Section of the NZAOC.  Sitting the two papers for promotion to NZAOC Sergeant (Clerical Section) Keegan attained a score of 82 and 83, leading to accelerated promotion to Sergeant on 1 October 1925. Keegan would sit the four examinations for promotion to Staff Sergeant in June 1926 with a score of 78,90,89 and 68, but would not be promoted to Staff Sergeant until 1 September 1929. The delay in promotion could be attributed to Keegan’s appearance in the Upper Hutt court on 18 April 1927 when he was fined £1 and costs of £10  after being found on the premises of the Provincial Hotel after opening hours by the Police.[9] Passing the four examinations for promotion to Staff Quartermaster Sergeant(SQMS) with a score of 98,76,98 and 80 in June 1930. Keegan would not attain the rank of SQMS as on 6 June 1930 he was convicted in the Wellington Magistrates court after been found in a state of intoxication while in charge of a motor-car receiving a fine of £20, costs £10 and mileage £2.  After a period, Keegan probably would have been promoted to SQMS, but the world-wide depression and economic recession led to the implementation of the Finance Act, 1930 would bring a sudden end to his time in uniform

Due to the world-wide depression and economic recession the Government was forced to savagely reduce the strength of the Army by using the provisions of section 39 of the Finance Act, 1930 (No. 2) where military staff could be either;

  • Transferred to the Civil staff, or
  • Retire on superannuation any member of the Permanent Force or the Permanent Staff under the Defence Act, 1909, or of the clerical staff of the Defence Department whose age or length of service was such that if five years was added thereto they would have been enabled as of right or with the consent of the Minister of Defence to have given notice to retire voluntarily.

Using this act, on the 31st of March 1931 the NZAOC lost;

  • Six officers and Thirty-Eight Other Ranks who were retired on superannuation
  • Seventy-four NZAOC staff (excluding officers and artificers) who were not eligible for retirement were transferred to the civilian staff to work in the same positions but at a lower rate of pay.

For the soldiers who were placed on superannuation, the transition was brutal with pensions recalculated at much lower rates and in some cases the loss of outstanding annual and accumulated leave. For the Soldiers such as Keegan who were transferred to the civilian staff, the transition was just as harsh with reduced rates of pay. The 31st of March 1931 was the blackest day in the History of the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.

Keegan would continue to serve at the NZAOC Main Ordnance Depot (MOD) at Trentham in the role of Accountant throughout the 1930s. Keegan would marry Grace Helen Dalton on 27 March 1937 at St. John’s Church, Trentham. The wedding was a double wedding with Graces older sister Margaret.[10]

With the declaration of war in September 1939, Keegan immediate offered up his services, enlisting into the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force(2NZEF) with the rank of Lieutenant t in the New Zealand Ordnance Corps (NZOC) on 5 October 1940. Selected to be the Ordnance Officer for the Base Ordnance Depot (BOD) for “B” Force (8th Brigade Group) of the NZEF which was destined to provide the garrison in Fiji, Keegan assembled with seven other ranks at Hopuhopu Camp.  A final medical board immediately before departure found evidence of a partially healed tubercular lesion in Keegan’s lungs which made him unfit for active service and he was classified as Grade 2, fit or home service.  Keegan’s appointment of Ordnance Office BOD 8 Brigade group was filled by a co-worker from the MOD, Mr Percival Nowell Erridge who was immediately commissioned as a Lieutenant in the NZEF.

Placed into a holding pattern and still on the strength of the NZEF, Keegan was sent to Waiouru, where he was employed as an advisor on accounting matters to the newly established Motor Transport Branch (MT Branch). Unfit for active Service but with skills that were desirable to the service, Keegan ceased to be seconded to the NZEF on 28 May 1941 and transferred into the New Zealand Temporary Staff (NZTS) and attached to the branch of the Quartermaster General, Army Headquarters Wellington. By April 1942 Keegan had been appointed as the Brigade Ordnance Officer for the 7th Infantry Brigade which had its headquarters at the Carterton showgrounds.

With Japans entry into the war on 7 December 1941, New Zealand mobilised as the threat of invasion loomed. To support the mobilised forces in the lower North Island the Central Districts Ordnance Depot was established at the Palmerston North showgrounds, and as of 1 March 1942 Keegan was appointed Ordnance Officer, Central Military District and Officer Commanding, Central Districts Ordnance Depot. On 1 May 1942 Keegan was promoted to Captain (Temporary) and 20 August 1942 the Central District Ordnance Depot was renamed No 2 Ordnance Depot with an establishment of three officers and eighty-one Other Ranks.

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Palmerston North Showgrounds, Cuba Street, 1939. Palmerston North Libraries and Community Services

Keegan would attend along with one other Ordnance Officer, Two Artillery Officers and Thirteen Infantry Officers the General Knowledge Course7/17 in December 1942. The ten-day course run by the Amy School of Instruction covered the following subjects;

  • Weapon Training – Characteristics of all Infantry Weapons
  • Anti-Gas – War gas, equipment, decontamination
  • Map reading – All lessons, night marches
  • Minor Tactics – Patrols, Day and Night
  • Fieldworks – Field Defences, Obstacles
  • P & RT – Bayonet Fighting
  • Drill – Individual, Mutual
  • Engineering – Bridging, Landmines, Traps, Demolition, Camouflage
  • Camp Sanitation – Field Hygiene
  • Demonstrations – Field Cooking, Live fore of all Infantry Weapons
  • Signals – Organisation and intercommunication in the field
  • Movement by MT – lectures and Practical work
  • Security
  • Discipline and Military Law
  • Patrols
  • Movement by road

Unknown Military Unit 2

No 2 Ordnance Sub Depot. Group of soldiers – Elmar Studios, 459 Main Street, Palmerston North circa 1942 to circa 1945, No Known Restrictions

By the end of 1944, the threat to New Zealand had passed, and the Territorial Army had been stood down, and their equipment returned to Ordnance.  Much of the Central Districts equipment was stored at No 2 Sub Depots premises in Palmerston North when disaster struck on 31 December 1944. Just after midnight, a fire destroyed a large portion of the Palmerston North Showgrounds display halls which housed much of the Ordnance Depot causing stock losses valued at £225700 ($18,639,824.86 2017 value). Keegan provided evidence to the court of enquiry in March 1945 with the court finding that with no evidence found of sabotage, incendiaries, or any interference the cause was judged to be accidental.

pnorth showgrounds

The aftermath of the December 1944 Showground fire. Evening Post

With the MOD in Trentham establishing a satellite Bulk Store at the new Linton Camp a few kilometres from South of Palmerston North, No 2 Sub Depot was seen to have served its wartime purpose and no longer necessary and the depot was closed down on 14 December 1945, and its functions assumed by MOD Trentham,  with some residual responsibility for finalising the accounts of No 2 Sub Depot, Keegan returned to Trentham as an Ordnance Officer at MOD.

From 31 July 1946 Keegan was placed in charge of a four Warrant Officers from MOD, and an SNCO from No 3 Depot, Burnham to stocktake No 10 MT Stores in Wellington before that units’ hand over to the Rehabilitation Department on 1 September 1946. Concurrent to Keegan carrying out this work in Wellington, recommendations that the MOD Bulk Stores located in Linton and Waiouru Camps were to be combined as a standalone Ordnance Depot were made. This proposal was agreed to by Army Headquarters, and No 2 Ordnance Depot was to be reconstituted on 1 October 1946 with the responsibility to provide Ordnance Support to Linton and Waiouru. Keegan was to return to No 2 Ordnance Depot as its first Officer Commanding on 16 September 1946 while also carrying out the duties of the Ordnance Officer of Headquarters Central Military District.

Keegan’s time in Linton would be short; the pressures of service since 1940 were become to have a toll on Keegan’s personal life and health. His wife had filed for legal separation during June 1946, and Keegan’s health was beginning to fail. Keegan’s health issues saw him medically downgraded and he was required to spend an increasing amount of time at Wellington hospital receiving treatment. On 26 April 1947 Keegan handed over command of No 2 Ordnance Depot to Captain Quartermaster L.H Stroud. Keegan would then assume a position with the War Asset Board on 30 April 1947 and was posted to the supernumerary List on 6 December 1947 and to the retired list with the rank of Captain on 11 November 1956.

Keegan would remain in the Wellington area as a public servant and at the time of his death was employed as a clerk for the Ministry of Works. Keegan passed away on 24 December 1963 and was cremated at the Karori Crematorium.

Copyright © Robert McKie 2019

 Notes

[1] “District News,” Dominion, Volume 7, Issue 1961, 19 January 1914.

[2] “NZ University,” Evening Post, Volume XCIII, Issue 15, 17 January 1917.

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

[4] “Cricket,” New Zealand Times, Volume XLIV, Issue 10396, 29 September 1919.

[5] “Old Boys Football Club,” Evening Post, Volume CI, Issue 59, 10 March 1921.

[6] “Lawn Tennis,” Evening Post, Volume CX, Issue 68, 17 September 1930.

[7] “Annual Meeting Upper Hutt Rugby Club,” Upper Hutt Weekly Review, Volume III, Issue 14, 25 March 1938.

[8] “Upper Hutt Cricket Association Annual Meeting,” Upper Hutt Weekly Review, Volume II, Issue 43, 8 October 1937.

[9] “Upper Hutt Sitting,” Evening Post, Volume CXIII, Issue 90, 18 April 1927.

[10] “Weddings,” Evening Post, Volume CXXIII, Issue 127, 31 May 1937.


Australian Mobile Laundry Trailers

In the early years of the Second World War, the United Kingdom was unable to provide Australia with the necessary military hardware to equip a rapidly expanding Australian Army.  The following two articles; For Want of Clean Socks: The Australian Mobile Laundry Trailers and And More Clean Socks: The Australian Light Laundry Trailer by Australian military historian and authority on the technical history of vehicles and equipment,  Michael K Cecil, examine how Australian industry stepped up to provide the Australian Army Ordnance Corps with a Mobile Laundry capability. First published in the Australian  Khaki Vehicle Enthusiasts Newsletter the KVE News of March 2013 these articles are Published with the permission of the author, Michael K Cecil.Copyright Michael K Cecil

For Want of Clean Socks: The Australian Mobile Laundry Trailers

1

Laundry the hard way: scrubbing by hand in a basin of water.

Keeping clothing and bedding clean is only second in importance to good food and clean water when it comes to maintaining an Army’s health and morale. To this end, Laundry Units have been an integral part of the Australian Army’s Order of Battle since the First World War. But the early days of the Second World War heralded a change from the semi-static trench warfare of the First World War to a much more mechanised and fluid war – a war on wheels and tracks where gains or losses might be measured in tens of kilometres in a day. Any unit operating in a forward area had best be prepared to move quickly in response to changes in the tactical situation.

Mobile laundry facilities were first given serious consideration by the 2nd Australian Imperial Force (2AIF) in mid-1940, and by the Australian Military Forces (AMF) later the same year. Initial equipment was to be provided by purchase from Britain in line with the policy of adopting British Army standardised equipment wherever possible. However, Britain was unable to supply the laundry equipment in a timely manner or in the quantities required, so the Army turned to local industry to bridge the gap.

By late 1940, orders had been placed for the supply of various commercially available laundry equipment, in order to assemble a pilot model mobile laundry for trials. Several Australian companies from across the nation were contracted – Robert Bryce for the washing machine, Robert Lilley and Co. for the hydro-extractor and the soap and soda dissolver, Burtons Ltd for the tumble dryer, Cameron and Sutherland supplied centrifugal pumps, and a clarifier was supplied by the Perth-based firm Boltons Ltd. An entirely new device, a continuous drying machine, was being designed by the Land Headquarters Experimental Workshop, who would also assemble the pilot model laundry trailers. Power for each complete laundry was to be supplied by a 25kva, 415 Volt, three-phase AC generator mounted on a four wheel trailer. This was already an issue item, so procuring one for the pilot model laundry did not present a problem.

The equipment had all arrived at the workshop by the close of July 1941, except for the trailers. These were in extremely short supply owing to a higher priority demand for machinery trailers. The workshop went ahead and began assembling the laundry as a static unit – at least the components could be tested and their inter-relationship could be worked out within the trailer’s known dimensions in the interim.

And they were desperately needed. By February 1941, sixteen mobile laundry units were allowed for on the Australian Army’s Order of Battle – six for the 2nd AIF, and ten for a fully mobilised AMF, each one attached to an individual higher formation. Of those for the 2nd AIF, 5 were needed overseas. The 8 th Infantry Division in Malaya were in the greatest need, so the pilot model laundry – still not mounted on trailers – was sent to Malaya, along with some additional commercially available equipment, to provide a static laundry facility. Tropical conditions were already proving to be particularly hard on troops, and regular changes of clothing and bed linen helped keep tropical diseases, particularly skin rashes, in check.

By the time the pilot model’s equipment left for Malaya in September 1941, the mobile laundry design was well advanced. In anticipation of receiving trailers, contracts for the supply of the various major components were issued to suppliers. There was even a contract for the woven rattan trolley baskets, with Lawries Ltd engaged to manufacture enough sets for 11 mobile laundries.

Assembly of the first mobile laundry was to be undertaken by Robert Lilley and Co., but the supply of the trailers was still proving something of a problem. It was overcome by supplying machinery trailers that then had to be converted: hardly an ideal solution, but the only one available under the prevailing circumstances. The stripped machinery trailers were delivered to Lilleys in late April, 1942.

2

A Mobile Hospital laundry set up, with the boiler trailer set at right angles to the other 4 trailers. The trailer sides are dropped to the horizontal and used as the walkways and working area. The boiler trailer is the specially built McGrath model with the stepped bed construction to provide maximum height for the vertical boiler. AWM140751. Copyright expired.

By mid June 1942, good progress was being made on the construction of the pilot model mobile laundry at Robert Lilley and Co in West Melbourne. Trailer brake modifications were well advanced at Patons Brakes, and the McGrath Trailer Co had completed a new trailer specifically for the boiler assembly after the converted machinery trailer proved unsatisfactory. In anticipation of successful trials, contracts had also been placed with various manufacturers for laundry components, such was the urgent need to supply completed laundries to field units. The contractors list was a veritable ‘who’s who’ of the Australian light manufacturing industry at the time: Andrew & Higgs, Gordon Brothers, Lawries Ltd, Johnsons Tyne Foundry, and L Horscroft & Co., to name a few.

A fully equipped divisional mobile laundry consisted of 9 trailers of equipment, each one towed by a 3- ton truck or lorry. There were four washing machine trailers, two boiler and feed water trailers, two trailers equipped with a generator and tumble dryer (the dedicated generator trailer had been abandoned in favour of combining it with a dryer in a more compact layout), and a continuous drying room trailer. They were designed to be parked in a line and interconnected by the various pipe work and electrical cabling. The trailers’ lower sides were designed to fold out horizontally to provide working room and facilitate movement of staff and trolleys laden carrying washing between trailers. The upper wire mesh sides were hinged at the top, allowing them to be raised to the horizontal to provide an all round awning over the workspace.

3

Feeding the laundry boiler to provide hot water and steam for washing, and heat for the continuous dryer. The boiler had the versatility to be fired by wood or, in the tropics where dry wood was not available, quickly converted to a petrol-fed ‘hydra burner’. AWM055382 Copyright expired.

4

Baskets full of linen waiting to be washed. A mobile laundry’s work was never done! The near trailer houses the drum-type washing machine and to its right, a ‘hydro-extractor’ is being loaded from the trolley basket. The hydro-extractor was a machine that performed the ‘spin’ cycle of a modern washing machine. AWM026376. Copyright expired.

The Unit was manned by 3 officers and 118 other ranks, and the washing capacity was 400 pounds weight (181 kilograms) of dry clothing and linen per hour. Manning was based upon a sustained operation of two 8 hour shifts per day, 6 days per week, but greater output was possible if operated with more staff on a three shift rotation. For attachment to hospitals, a Hospital Mobile Laundry Unit was created. This was essentially a ‘half laundry’, consisting of five trailers: 2 washing machine, 1 each boiler and generator/tumble dryer trailer, and a drying room.

By early 1943, mobile laundry equipment manufactured by Australian industry was flowing to field units. Divisional Units were attached to higher formations located across Australia and in New Guinea, and Hospital laundry units were taking over from the older and far less efficient technology being employed at General Hospitals and Casualty Clearing Stations in Northern Australia and New Guinea.

5

A ‘flat head’ V8 working hard to spin the generator to provide all the power needs of the Mobile Laundry Unit. The other end of the same trailer housed a tumble dryer unit. AWM027631. Copyright expired

While these large capacity laundries were hard at work satisfying the never-ending requirements for clean linen and uniforms in larger formations and medical facilities, experience in the tropics during 1942 had demonstrated a need to constantly provide front line troops with clean clothes whenever possible, both for health and morale reasons. But the Mobile and Hospital laundries were just too far in the rear and too unwieldy to be safely moved further into the combat zone. Consequently, there was a desperate need for a lighter, more compact laundry for deployment as far forward into the combat zone as possible. Consequently, there was a desperate need for a lighter, more compact laundry for deployment as far forward into the combat zone as possible. The following article covers the Australian ‘Light Laundry’,

 

And More Clean Socks: The Australian Light Laundry Trailer

While the multi-trailer Mobile and Hospital laundries served the rear areas well, there was still a desperate need for a lighter, more compact laundry for deployment as far forward into the combat zone as possible. Troops operating anywhere need to maintain their clothes and equipment, but suffice to say, combat conditions often preclude anything more than the most basic of attention to this. While troops could survive quite well operating in the dry conditions of the Middle East, Greece and North Africa, the tropics meant dealing with a whole new regime of endlessly wet, muddy and humid conditions, together with the prevalence of some debilitating tropical diseases. Such conditions could rapidly reduce an army’s fighting effectiveness. Hence, the provision of clothes washing and decontamination facilities for front line troops and forward medical facilities such as Casualty Clearing Stations became almost as important as good food and shelter.

To provide washing facilities, the mobile showering unit, wholly mounted in a ¼ ton truck, was invented. To wash and decontaminate their clothes, the Australian Light Laundry was devised. The design work commenced in earnest in December 1942, and a pilot model was put together during January 1943. It was a somewhat radical design, as it dispensed with the steam pressure boiler altogether, opting for a direct-fired water heater to provide the hot water directly to the washing machine. This had the advantage that a qualified pressure vessel (boiler) attendant was not required: the simple system could be operated by almost anyone with a minimum of training. The drying system was also a departure from the conventional, as it too used a system of direct firing to heat the air exchanger that forced heated air into the tumble dryer. The complete laundry was mounted on a single four-wheeled 14 foot x 7 foot flat bed trailer. Initial trials of the pilot model during January and February 1943 proved the rugged simplicity of the design.

6

The Light Laundry (Aust) used a radical design to achieve compactness, but not sacrifice efficiency. Built by L. Horscroft, they were an instant success in forward areas. (Image reproduced from the MGO Equipment Memorandum)

The US Forces had also come to the realisation that a light mobile laundry was needed, but when shown the Australian pilot model, expressed some dismay at its unconventional features. The US Army Services of Supply (USASOS) opted for a different, more conventional design much to the disappointment of the Australian authorities. This design, which utilised a conventional 100 psi steam pressure boiler, was to be manufactured in Australia under the Reciprocal Lease Lend agreement. By refusing to standardise, Australian industry would effectively be required to split their efforts and produce two light laundry designs in parallel. Australian authorities considered this division a waste of precious manufacturing resources, but the USASOS were not to be swayed.

The Light Laundry (Aust) was geared toward the washing needs of a small hospital or casualty clearing station of up to 200 beds. With this capability, it could also be used for the washing and decontamination of the clothing of front line units when withdrawn to secure areas a short distance behind the lines. In addition to consumables such as soap and fuel, all the Light Laundry (Aust) needed was a reliable supply of water. Delivery of water to the washer and water heater was handled by a small petrol engine driven pump which was included as part of the laundry’s basic equipment.

The oil-fired water heater provided hot water to the washing machine, with the residual heat used to provide the primary supply of warm air to the tumble dryer. A booster burner was also provided to heat the air-exchanger for times when the water heater was not in full operation. Power to operate the dryer and washer was provided by a 10hp Ford petrol engine connected to a counter-shaft running the full length of the trailer. Flexible couplings enabled any one part of the system to be temporarily disengaged, such as when emptying or filling the dryer or washing machine, and power was transferred from the countershaft by belts and pulleys. The fully integrated system was designed to wash 60 lbs dry weight of clothing per hour, but early trials exceeded all expectations by consistently processing more than 70 lbs per hour, and an experienced crew could complete more than 80 lbs per hour for short periods if needed.

With the success of the pilot model, and in anticipation of an early delivery of the production equipment, Army Headquarters authorised the addition of 22 Light Mobile Laundry Units onto the Order of Battle in February 1943. The units were designed to operate with any type of formation or unit as required, and were manned by members of the Australian Army Ordnance Corps (AAOC). To equip them, contracts were raised with L Horscroft and Co. for 25 Light Laundries (Aust) in April 1943, which was later raised to 40. L. Horscroft and Co. were experienced in the manufacture of laundry and oven equipment, and were already handling several military contracts for cleaning and drying equipment, including ovens for heating explosives. Within a few months, Light Mobile Laundry Units AAOC were in operation within Australia and on their way to several locations in New Guinea.

The Light Laundry (Aust) was one of the more successful collaborative projects undertaken by Australian industry during the Second World War. From the Army’s articulation of the requirement in late 1942, it took only until mid-1943 to equip, raise and deploy the new units into forward areas. Truly a fantastic effort.

Copyright Michael K Cecil

 

Biographical Details Michael K Cecil

Michael K. Cecil was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1955. His tertiary studies were at Monash University (Clayton campus) where he graduated with two degrees: a Batchelor of Science with Honours and a Batchelor of Arts. He later studied at Canberra Institute of Technology, where he graduated with a Certificate IV in Museum Practice.

Following graduation from Monash University, he held various positions in both the public service and in private consulting. These included research assistant to the ‘Atlas of Victoria’ project, various tertiary teaching positions, and technical administration appointments.

Always passionate about history, he has been researching Australian military history – particularly the technical history of vehicles and equipment – since the early 1970s. This translated into publication of articles in the late 1980s, and his first book in the early 1990s.


The New Zealand Ordnance Puggaree

From 1914 to 1958 the sight of New Zealand Soldiers in felt slouch hats was commonplace. In addition to providing a practical form of headdress,  by the use of a coloured headband, it became easy to identify the Regiment or Corps of the wearer.

This article will provide a brief background on the use and history of Puggarees in New Zealand service with a focus on their use by the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps.

 

rnzaoc puggaree

RNZAOC Puggaree. Robert McKie Collection

Origins

The Puggaree origins lay in the Hindu word, ‘Pagri’ which is used to describe a wide range of traditional headdress worn by men and women throughout the Indian Sub-Continent, one of the most recognisable been the Dustaar or Sikh turban.

Soldiers by their nature are creatures of innovation and British troops serving India soon found that by wrapping a thin scarf of muslin around their headdress, not only could additional protection from sword blows be provided, but the thin cloth scarf could also be unravelled to provide insulation from the heat of the sun. Like many Indian words “Pagri” became anglicised into Puggaree.

By the 1870s the functional use of the puggaree had become secondary and the puggaree evolved into a decorative item on British Army headdress, which when used with a combination of colours could be used to distinguish regiments and corps. First used by New Zealanders in the South African war, the use of puggaree on slouch hats was formalised in the New Zealand Army 1912 Dress Regulations. These regulations detailed the colours of the distinctive puggaree used to indicate different branches of the service; [1] [2]

 

 

 

 

World War One

When first New Zealand Troops went overseas in 1914, the NZ Slouch hat was one that had been first used in the South Africa War and had a crease running down the crown from front to rear. From 1914 the Wellington Battalion wore their hats with the crown peaked and after a short period where cork helmets were also worn, General Godley issued a directive that all troops, other than the Mounted Rifles would wear the slouch hat with the crown peaked, in what became known as the “Lemon Squeezer”.[3]

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NZMR

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New Zealand felt “lemon Squeezer” hat with Ordnance Puggaree and NZEF Ordnance Badge. Robert McKie Collection

 

Worn with both the Mounted Rifles Slouch hat and the Lemon Squeezer, the puggaree became a distinctive mark of the New Zealand soldier, identifying them as distinct from soldiers from other parts of the Empire who in general used only plain puggaree on their headdress.[4]  [5] From 1917 the New Zealand puggaree also proved useful in distinguishing New Zealand troops from the Americans who wore headdress similar to the New Zealand Lemon Squeezer hat.[6]

As the war progressed, additional units that did not exist in the pre-war New Zealand Army were created, both as part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) and as part of the Home Service forces in New Zealand. This would include the New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps (NZAOC) which was formed as a unit of the NZEF in early 1916 and as part of the New Zealand Permanent Forces in 1917.[7]

It is assumed that as a new unit a distinctive puggaree was adopted for the NZAOC, but the limited photographs of NZAOC personnel are black and white, making identification of colours difficult. The following photo of NZ Army Service Corps staff at Zeitoun Camp in Egypt taken in either later 1915 or early 1916, shows a soldier wearing a Lemon Squeezer hat with a coloured Puggaree with a British Army Ordnance Corps (AOC) Badge, possibly the first example of an NZ Ordnance Puggaree.

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

British Army Ordnance Corps_zpshkmjkhxu

Ordnance Soldier with Lemon Squeezer, Puggaree and AOC Badge, New Zealand Supply Depot Staff at Zeitoun Camp, 1915. National Army Museum of New Zealand

A later photograph of the NZAOC at taken at Buckle Street in 1918 the Puggaree are distinctive.

Ordnance 1918

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

1918

Taken from the 1918 Buckle Street picture this blown up image shows two soldiers, on with a Lemon Squeezer Hat the other with a Mounted Rifles slouch hat, both puggarees could be of the NZ Ordnance pattern.

In a 1919 Photo of the NZAOC staff taken in Germany, the Puggaree of the Ordnance Staff are less distinctive and look to be a single colour, possibly red or Blue.

NZ Ordnance Staff 1919

New Zealand Ordnance Corps demobilisation Staff at Mulheim, Germany, Febuary1919. Alexander Turnbull Library/Public Domain

t falvey

Ordnance Corporal (Possibly TY Falvey) London 1918

A Newspaper article from December 1918 does provide evidence that an Ordnance puggaree of red/blue/red existed. The article published in the Press on 5 December 1918 states the following;[8]There are only two units in the New Zealand Division with red in the puggaree. They are the Artillery and Ordnance, and in both units, the colours are red and blue”. Although slightly incorrect in that only two units of the NZEF wore red in the puggaree, The Infantry also has red in their Puggaree, this sentence does identify that the Ordnance Puggaree was red and blue.

The Inter-War Years

The red/blue/red Puggaree would formally be adopted as the Puggaree of the NZAOC in 1923 when the New Zealand Army updated its Dress Regulations for the first time since 1912.[9]

Ordnance Puggaree would have been a common sight around New Zealand Military establishments up to 1931, where with the virtual disestablished of the NZAOC their use would have shrunk to twenty or so remaining NZAOC Soldiers.

World War Two

The onset of war in 1939 would see an explosive growth of the New Zealand Army from a few hundred personnel to thousands, with articles published in newspapers to educate the public on the different coloured puggaree and which units they belonged to.[10] The red/blue/red Ordnance puggaree would be worn throughout the war years by the NZAOC and the New Zealand Ordnance Corps, the Ordnance component of the NZEF and the Territorial Army.[11]

ww2

Lemon Squeezer as worn by members of the 2nd NZEF NZOC, Middle East, Italy 1939-44.

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Ordnance soldier of the NZOC, New Zealand 1942-44.

Post War

The Lemon Squeezer Hat and puggaree would remain a fixture of the New Zealand Army until 1958 when the Lemon Squeezer was withdrawn from services and replaced with a new Battle Dress cap and the use of puggaree within the Ordnance Corps would fade away from memory.

tf 3rd intake waikato camp 1951

RNZAOC Territorial Force 3rd intake Ngaruawahia Camp 1951. RNZAOC School Collection

camp commandants bodyguard 1954

RNZAOC Camp Commandants Bodyguard, Trentham Camp 1954. RNZAOC School Collection

Copyright © Robert McKie 2019

Notes:

[1] The original MZ Slouch hat had been first used in the South Africa War and had a crease running from front to rear. From 1914 the Wellington Battalion wore their hats peaked

[2] Malcolm Thomas and Cliff Lord, New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches, 1911-1991 (Wellington, N.Z.: M. Thomas and C. Lord, 1995, 1995), Bibliographies, Non-fiction, Part One, 128-29

[3] 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 end. edition, 1980), Non-fiction, 47-48.

[4] Australian and Canada would both use coloured puggaree on their respective headdress, just not to the same extent as New Zealand.

[5] “Local and General,” Dominion, Volume 9, Issue 2610,, 4 November 1915.

[6] “Visit to Paris,” North Otago Times, Volume CV, Issue 14001, 11 December 1917.

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

[8] “Soldiers and Dress – Ordnance Pugaree,” Press, Volume LIV, Issue 16387, 5 December 1918.

[9] Thomas and Lord, New Zealand Army Distinguishing Patches, 1911-1991, 35.

[10] “New Zealand Troops Wear Turbans,” Evening Star, Issue 23432  (1939).

[11] The NZOC was formed as a unit of the NZED in 1939 and a unit of the Territorial Army in 1941.