The Colonel Commandant of the RNZA

The origin of the office of Colonel Commandant is somewhat obscure. One possible explanation is that it dates back to the time when ‘men of standing’ raised, equipped and paid for regiments, and as the head of their regiment were termed Colonels. The French term of the time was ‘Colonel Proprietaire’.

This arrangement of ‘ownership’ was abolished long ago, however, the custom of a regiment having a Colonel (or Colonel Commandant) has been maintained. They may be regarded as the domestic heads of their regiment, in which they take a paternal interest.

More formally the modern-day duties and responsibilities of Colonels Commandant are to:

  • Foster esprit de corps in their regiment;
  • Promote community interest;
  • Advise headquarters and senior commanders concerning any regimental matter on which they may be consulted;
  • Advise unit commanders on regimental matters;
  • Advise on the application of private funds and other regimental matters, such as customs, battle honours, guidons, colours, banners, dress distinctions, memorials and histories;
  • Maintain close liaison with allied corps or regiments of Commonwealth of Nations armies;
  • Consult or advise on the administration of regimental charities;
  • Liaise between the regiment and the Captain-General, including the sending and receiving of customary messages; and,
  • Advise the Regimental Colonel on matters within his or her purview.

Within the RNZA we have only had Colonels Commandant since 1949. From 1949 to 1965 there was a Colonel Commandant for each of the three Military Districts, and from 1965 a Colonel Commandant for the Regiment as a whole. Officers who have held this appointment are:

Col Comdt RNZA NMD

Col Comdt RNZA CMD

Col Comdt RNZA SMD

Lt Col HG Wilding, DSO ED

1949-56

Lt Col AHW Evenden, OBE ED

1949-55

Col RC Wickens, DSO ED

1949-57

Brig RS Park, CB CBE

1956-60                  

Lt Col KW Fraser, OBE ED 

1955-57

Col JG Jeffrey, MC VD

1949-57

Lt Col CL Walter, DSO OBE ED

1960-64

Lt Col ET Kensington, OBE ED 

1962-64

Maj Gen GB Parkinson,    CBE DSO & Bar

1957-61

       

Lt Col JFR Sprosen, DSO ED

1961-65

Colonels Commandant RNZA

Lt Col CL Walter, DSO,OBE,ED

1965-68

Brig RC Queree, CBE,DSO

1968-70

Brig SF Catchpole, CBE MC ED

1970-75

Brig J Burns, DSO MBE 

1975-81

Brig EJ Valintine, OBE ED

1981-85

Col DR Kenning, MBE

1985-89

Maj Gen RDP Hassett, CB CBE

1989-94

Brig GA Hitchings, CBE

1994-98

Brig RJ Andrews, CBE

1999-2004

Brig GD Birch, MBE 

2004-10

Lt Col BD Dreyer

2010-