Army corps’ long history to be celebrated

Members of the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps and Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport Association (from left) Allan Blackley, Robin Kyle, Harry Eade, Lloyd Miller, Greg Warden and Todd McLeod. Photo: Supplied

ABOUT 100 people are expected to attend the Royal New Zealand Army Service Corps (RNZASC) and Royal New Zealand Corps of Transport (RNZCT) reunion in Invercargill in

Normally held every two years, the 2020 reunion had to be postponed due to Covid-19 concerns, one of the organisers Allan Blackley said.

The reunion was rescheduled to be held from Friday, May 7, to Sunday, May 9, which also meant the proposed biennial 2022 reunion planned to be held in Tauranga would be
rescheduled for 2023.

This year, the reunion would also coincide close to the birthday of the corps on Wednesday, May 12, which would also be recognised with a cake at the event.

Mr Blackley said normally about 100 people attended — 70 personnel and some partners.

‘‘Previously some had travelled from Australia, but we don’t expect that this year because of Covid.’’

Mr Blackley said any RNZASC and RNZCT service personnel were welcome to attend.

‘‘They don’t have to be returned service personnel — anyone who was part of the corps was welcome.’’

The reunion would begin on the Friday with a meet and greet and a wild foods evening at the Army Hall in Fox St. After breakfast on the Saturday, participants could choose  between touring Bill Richardson Transport World and Classic Motorcycle Mecca or taking a bus trip to Bluff, visiting the Awarua Communications Museum, the paua farm at Ocean Beach, Bluff Maritime Museum and lunch at Bluff RSA. In the evening, there would be a dine and dance at the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club, followed by a church service at the Army Hall then an annual meeting on Sunday.

Mr Blackley said the corps were diverse.

In modern times the service included working in Antarctica, transporting goods from Hercules planes and the loading of aircraft to working with the air force, loading and

The corps had a long and colourful history, he said.

‘‘Before 1910 they were The Wagoners, basically transporting people and goods by horse and cart.’’

On May 12, 1910, NZ Army Service Corps was formed.

Although its role was still transportation, it included carrying troops and supplies to and from the front line, as well as postal services and catering, he said.

‘‘During the Vietnam conflict, the corps loaded planes in New Zealand and people were transported from one place to another.’’

The Royal insignia was appointed in 1946 (RNZASC) until it became RNZCT in May 1979, he said.

Mr Blackley, who had served 25 years in the NZ Army Reserves (NZ Territorials), joined the Corps of Royal NZ Engineers, training at Linton Camp in October 1978, before transferring to the transport corps.

From 1980, he trained on a regular basis — at least once a week and six weekends a year — finishing in 2003.

‘‘I enjoyed the camaraderie and the activities. It was good to get out in the field  transporting people and goods’’, which he did throughout the North Island, from Auckland south, and most of the South Island, he said.

He was still involved with the association, meeting up with old friends and comrades at reunions and elsewhere.

■For more information on the reunion, or to register, phone Allan on 027 602 4393 or email