Historic Trentham, 1914-1917: The Story of a New Zealand Military Training Camp, and Some Account of the Daily Round of the Troops within Its Bounds
Their wagon wheels are turning
From early dawn till dark,
Their bakehouse fires are burning
When dreams the nested lark,
By hill-top and by hollow,
Where'er the troops may be,
While there's a way to follow,
You'll find the A.S.C.
Troops were returning to Trentham from Featherston, whither they had gone by rail several weeks before to undergo, in the sister Camp, further training in the arts of war. They were moving back by route march over the Rimutaka Hill, and would bivouac at Kaitoke that night. They would require supplies, while their Kits, which would travel by rail from Featherston to Kaitoke, had to be transported from the railway to the bivouac—all of which spelt work for the Army Service Corps.
When the hands of the Camp clock greeted one another as brothers at half-past six in the morning, a transport section of eight wagons clattered out through the Camp gates. Each wagon had its driver and two horses, and besides these there were a saddler, a farrier, and a wheeler, the section being in the charge of an acting-quartermaster sergeant. Along the main road the dull-grey wagons rumbled, and they reached Kaitoke half an hour before the clock-hands shook hands at noon. There they joined up with the transport from Featherston, which had come over the hill ahead of the marching men. When the bivouac was struck on the following morning, the Featherston section retraced its way over "the hill," while the Trentham men moved on to Upper Hutt with the kits and stores, from which the cooks made a mid-day meal for the men in Maidstone Park. And in like manner the wagons moved on, ever ahead of the column, to be the means of supply and transport during the manoeuvres by day and night. Two days after leaving Trentham the transport section rumbled through the Camp gates again, and after delivering the kits of the approaching troops to their quarters, the Army Service Corps men took up their round of duties in Camp once more.
Every man and horse and wagon in the Army Service Corps is part of a scheme which employs wagons continuously in carrying provisions, fuel, and equipment between various parts of the Camp. They are part of an page 141organisation which places before each soldier in his hut the meals which help to make him fit. This organisation begins at Headquarters, Wellington, where contracts for the supply of food and other articles are entered into for periods of from three to four months. These contracts are drawn upon by the Supply Officer in Camp, and most of the goods are stored in the supply store when they arrive. Groceries (known in Camp as "dry rations") go into one store. It appears to be stacked to the roof always, and includes in its stock special hospital stores such as champagne and other dietary items for patients. The Supply Officer always keeps a reserve stock of tinned meat and biscuits sufficient for 5000 men, which at the rate of 21b. of meat and llb of biscuits per man runs to 10,0001b. of meat and 50001b. of biscuits. If, through any cause, these reserves are drawn upon, the quantity used is immediately replaced. The addition of a cold store, insulated with pumice, to hold 70001b. of fresh meat and 350 gallons of milk, has provided a means of holding a reserve of fresh food if desired, though, as a rule, this is only done to carry over Sundays; otherwise the meat is never held more than a day, nor is the milk.
Very early in the morning a train of railway wagons is run clown the Camp siding and halts outside the stores. Meat is taken out of the wagons straight into the butcher's shop—a cool building with louvres in the walls and a clean concrete floor; vegetables are swung off the train into an adjoining store fitted with airy ventilation, coal and wood go into a third concrete store, fodder for the horses and straw for bedding are taken into the big store, while groceries go into the supply store.
To illustrate what quantities of supplies are thus handled, it may be stated that in an ordinary period of three weeks 50 tons of meat is handled by the Army Service Corps at Trentham, likewise 100 tons of vegetables, 105 tons of coal, 148 tons of firewood, 50 tons of groceries, and 15 tons of forage, while 5960 gallons of milk pass through the cool dairies during that time. But that is not all, for the Army Service Corps are also the Camp bakers, and the issue of bread made direct from the Camp bakery averages 55001b. per day, or 50 tons for the three-weekly period.
The soldiers, who are the chief consumers of these stores, are in their huts, scattered throughout the Camp, and each man cannot attend personally at the Army Service Corps Stores to draw his rations. It is at this stage that the Army Service Corps and the Camp Quartermaster's Stores begin to work hand-in-hand in the work of feeding the Camp. The Quartermaster's Stores make the arrangements and the Army Service Corps delivers the goods.
Each company quartermaster-sergeant makes out an indent or list of the supplies that are required by his company for the day. Every item is page 142shown in detail. These company indents ate consolidated into one by the Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant. Each indent is worked out according to rationing scale and handed to the Camp Quartermaster, who initials it, thus authorising its presentation to the Supply Officer. The issue of foodstuffs is then made, and, with the exception of fuel, vegetables, and milk, the supplies are taken by the Army Service Corps wagons to the Regimental Quartermaster's stores, which are situated at convenient places throughout the Camp. These rations are known as dry rations, and are drawn by the mess orderlies at meal-times. The meat, vegetables, and fuel are carted direct to the cook-houses, where special stores are provided to keep the meat and vegetables cool and fly-proof. All day and every day the Army Service Corps wagons can be seen at this task.
The stables of the Army Service Corps are the chief horse lines in Trentham, where formerly many hundreds of horses for the Artillery, Mounted Rifles, Army Service Corps, and Engineers were picketed and stabled. The present stables are built in the form of a hollow square, with a large area between the lines of stalls. Outside this square the wagons and carts are ranged when not in use. The shoeing forge and wheelwright's shop adjoining are busy places, every class of new work and repairing of equipment being carried on there. The quarters for the men of the wagon and forge are in a long roomy hutment near the main Camp road; the bakers have theirs in another hut close to the bakery, where they may rise in the wee sma' hours to start baking the day's bread without disturbing the slumbers of those who need not get up till reveille.