Ordnance Store Branch

Royal Army Ordnance Corps

The Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) was a former corps of the British Army. It dealt only with the supply and maintenance of weaponry, munitions and other military equipment until 1965, when it took over most other supply functions, as well as the provision of staff clerks, from the Royal Army Service Corps.


Although a Corps of Armourer-Sergeants had been raised in 1858, the real history of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps began in 1875, when the Control Department was disbanded and its members (all commissioned officers) were divided between two new departments: the Commissariat and Transport Department (which later became the Royal Army Service Corps) and the Ordnance Store Department. In 1877 the Ordnance Store Branch, consisting only of other ranks, was formed to support the Ordnance Store Department (previously other ranks in ordnance trades had belonged to the Army Service Corps and its predecessors). In 1881, this latter branch was replaced by the Ordnance Store Corps, still officered by the Ordnance Store Department. In 1896 these two were superseded by the Army Ordnance Department (AOD) and the Army Ordnance Corps (AOC). In 1918 the two amalgamated as the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, receiving the "Royal" prefix for their service during World War I, and for the first time officers and soldiers served in the same organisation.

On 5 April 1993, the RAOC was one of the corps that amalgamated to form the Royal Logistic Corps (RLC).


The RAOC was organised into companies. Although they were not formally organised into a battalion, the RAOC units of a division were collected under a headquarters and a commander known as the Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS). Officers with the designations of Assistant Director of Ordnance Services (ADOS) and Deputy Director of Ordnance Services (DDOS) served at corps level and above. The Director of Ordnance Services (DOS), a Major-General, was the head of ordnance at the War Office in London. After World War II, RAOC companies were formally collected into battalions.

Until 1920 the AOC and later RAOC, in common only with the Royal Engineers, maintained a rank of Second Corporal.

The RAOC's motto was Sua tela tonanti (literally "His [i.e. Jupiter's] Missiles Thundering", but commonly translated as "To the Warrior his Arms").


Before the Second World War, RAOC recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 2 inches tall (5 feet 4 inches for Driver Mechanics) and could enlist up to 25 years of age. They initially enlisted for three years with the colours and a further nine years with the reserve. Fitters could also choose six years with the colours and six years in the reserve, or eight and four years. Clerks and Storemen enlisted for six years and six years. They trained at the RAOC Depot, Hilsea Barracks, Portsmouth, before proceedings to specialist trade training. Armourers were only recruited from boy entrants and enlisted for twelve years. Armament Artificers trained at the Military College of Science, Woolwich for fifteen months. Half of them were serving soldiers who were already qualified fitters. Armament Artificers had to be at least 22 years of age and could enlist up to 30; they enlisted for twelve years and were promoted Staff Sergeant as soon as they had completed training.


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