Article from Stand To! number 6, 1982

The role of the Ordnance Services on the Western Front was to supply the BEF with all that it needed to live and fight except certain technical stores, rations, forage and petrol. It was the task of the Army Service Corps to transport the stores to the fighting zone. The growth of the army's requirements was enormous. In 1914 there were eight companies of the Army Ordnance Corps (AOC); by 1916 there were forty-two. In 1914 the Ordnance element of a division consisted of one officer (DADOS-Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services) and one clerk; by 1916 he had a staff of fourteen and four lorries and there were two Ordnance officers at Army HQ and one at Corps HQ with similar staffs.

The AOC issued immense quantities of ammunition for anything from a rifle to a monster siege gun. Some idea of the range and scale of other items supplied can be gained from the following issues made by the Calais Base Ordnance Depot (there was another at Havre) during the first ten months of 1916: 11,000 compasses, 7000 watches, 40,000 miles of cable, 40,000 torches, 3,500,000 yards of flannelette, 1,250,000 yards of rot-proof canvas, 26,000 tents, 1,500,000 waterproof sheets, 12,800 cycles, 20,000 wheels, 5,000,000 anti-gas helmets, 4,000,000 pairs of horse and mule shoes, 447,000 Lewis gun magazines and 2,250,000 bars of soap. There was, of course, much else besides including weapons, clothing, footwear and blankets.

Workshops of various kinds were set up to repair Ordnance stores. Sometimes local labour was employed to supplement AOD personnel. Unit armourers carried out minor repairs and adjustments to weapons but bigger jobs necessitated the services of Ordnance workshops. In this 'artillery war' it was soon learned that to keep the guns in the field, it was essential to have fully equipped workshops staffed by qualified men close at hand. Each Army was therefore allotted an Ordnance Heavy Repair Shop and each Corps had one medium and two light mobile gun workshops. There were also workshops at the bases. IWM photograph Q 2770 shows a 60 pounder gun being repaired in an Ordnance workshop although its type and location are not known. n06b













Source: Offical History, 1916, Volume 1, Chapter

Back to top