Comments from Steve Butler ■ Email contact

Photograph: Trooper James Russell NZMR, 1917.
Trooper James Russell died in 1962, he left no letters or diaries relating to his war service with the Wellington Mounted Rifles during 1917 and 1918, but left his family two comprehensive photograph albums. The photos meticulously arranged in chronological order, some with short captions, each image relating their own story of James' service.
James, a former Wanganui Collegiate student, entered basic training in December 1916 with the 21st Reinforcements NZMR and arrived in Suez on the 2nd April 1917. During is service James managed to take 514 images for his collection, many prints unfortunately have weathered time rather poorly, most likely because of poor developing solutions of the day, and failed to "fix" properly. Others are in fine condition considering their age of ninety plus years. The first album is presented on the site HERE
The photo above comes from the second album that related to events from October 1917 (Beersheba, Tel Saba) and shows armed Bedu tribesman with members of the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment. The troopers wear the diagonal white and black cloth flash attached to their hat puggarees that were issued to be worn from that attack. The trooper right foreground wears the collar dogs of the 2nd Squadron, Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles (QAMR).

Photograph: Trooper James Russell NZMR, 1917.
This second photo taken perhaps at the time of the Ayun Kara attack by the Brigade on the 14th November 1917. The hard rocky ground and undulating landscape is similar to the area south of Jerusalem. The caption with this photo "Captured Austrian Artillery".
Interestingly the horse left has both a feed bag and a sand muzzle hanging from his neck. The sand muzzles were issued to prevent the horses sucking the sand for salt while in the Sinai Desert. It appears after Ayun Kara and the subsequent stationing of the Brigade at Richon le Zion the sand muzzles were discarded once firm countryside had been reached.
Also of note in this picture is the dark lens goggles worn by the Sergeant seated first left. A forerunner of eye protection of modern day sunglasses.
Just visible the WMR hat flash on the other men's hats.
Three horses lie dead in their traces, victims of a bloody war. Noted is the vacant spaces between the sets of traces, it is therefore possible to deduct that while three horses perished, three other horses in the team have been cut free and survived.
Over eight million horses died in WW1. (source: "Animals in War" and British War Office records)


May 1st 2012
April 1st 2012
March 2nd 2012
February 1st 2012
January 4th 2012
December 1st 2011
November 1st 2011
October 2nd 2011
September 3rd 2011
August 9th 2011
July 1st 2011
June 1st 2011
May 2nd 2011
April 4th 2011
March 2nd 2011
February 4th 2011
January 5th 2011
December 8th 2010
November 9th 2010
October 11th 2010
September 10th 2010
August 17th 2010
July 11th 2010
June 17th 2010
May 25th 2010

May 5th 2010
April 15th 2010

March 24th 2010

March 5th 2010
February 15th 2010

January 28th 2010
January 11th 2010
December 15th 2009

December 1st 2009

November 2009

October 2009

September 2009

August 2009

July 2009

June 2009

May 2009

April 2009
March 2009

February 2009

January 2009

December 2008

November 2008

October 2008

September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007

21st Anniversary issue
penny and half-penny
stamps 1936.

50th Anniversary issue
4 penny and 5 penny
stamps 1965.

2008 stamp
90th Anniversary of
Anzac 2008.








Using your FACEBOOK ID listed below, we welcome comments relating to any subject on this page.

Read original 2009 post here

Back in May 2009 I published an item about my wife's Great Uncle Sam. He was Trooper 7368 Samuel Trass, a member of the New Zealand contingent who served in the Boer War 1899-1902.
My wife, Colleen, had found an old photographic negative of Sam in uniform prior to his departure to war. She offered the negative to me to reprint on the site if I also agreed to print off a box fill of other old family records that she had found while visiting her aunt's house. On this I agreed, as she knew how important the photo was for the NZMR archives, and with more than a little humour on her part, she now had her control over me to do the other 200 odd negatives of her family history.

An i nteresting follow up comment on the article was made by Phil (link to article at left). He was able to report that the Queen's South African Medal (QSA) earned by Sam during his South African tour had been sold at auction in London in 2005. Phil also made comment that the likely hood of his medal ever returning to New Zealand would now be very remote indeed.

And so time passed. Unfortunately for us our married life together stumbled on tragic circumstances, as early last year Colleen was diagnosed with cancer. The advance of the disease was unrelenting, and although she put up "the good fight", Colleen died a few months back on the 19th August. A few days later on the 22nd, with her large extended family and friends in attendance, we laid her to rest. The mother of our four children and my wife of 42 years had left us.

The next morning I attended my usual daily ritual of reading the incoming emails. There is always comment from somewhere in the world about our NZMR website. One particular entry caught my attention, sent by a Mr. Stephen Bayley from Australia. He wrote in part:-

"... Interestingly enough I discovered the brief bio article in your newsletter May 2009 regarding 7368 Sam Trass 9th NZMR by a relative yesterday. I am presently the privileged custodian of Sam’s QSA which is complete and in very good condition.
My Great Grandfather (Brabants Horse) and his brother in law (NZMR 1st) both New Zealanders that participated in the 2nd Anglo Boer war hence my interest and empathy in this case..."

Stephen's email also included his Australian telephone number.
I sat there a little numb for a minute or two, but decided to phone immediately. After I introduced myself a very warm and friendly voice greeted me on the other end of the line. Stephen's first words to me was that he was only notified yesterday by his sister about the article of Sam Trass on the website and decided on a whim to :- "Contact you to see if Colleen would like her Great Uncle Sam's QSA medal back".
It was a very emotional moment for us both when I explained that Colleen had died a few days before, and that we were at her funeral service on the day he had read "Sam's" article.
We talked at some length, and Stephen asked if Colleen herself came from the same area as Sam, that is, the New Plymouth region. "No", I explained, "She was born on the opposite side of the country in the remote East Coast".
"So was I", replied Stephen, "Which part?"
"She was born in the old homestead in Waipiro Bay, out from Te Puia Springs".
"Amazing," said Stephen, "I know the homestead well, I use to attend Scout classes there when I was growing up."

Stephen was saddened that Colleen had passed, but the article had touched him, and he further explained that although now living in Australia he could not bear the thought of a NZMR medal being in the hands of a European collector. By winning the auction in London in 2005 at least he was bringing the medal to Australia. But he was more than willing to send the medal on to Colleen's children if they would like it.

The reaction from my adult children to Stephen's generosity has no bounds. We will forever be thankful. The answer of course was a resounding "Yes, please".

A last word from Stephen:-

Hi Steve,
Thanks for letting me know Sam’s QSA has arrived safely today.
I am pleased to have been a small part in reuniting the medal with the true custodians of Sam’s medal, the Trass & Extended Family.
I look forward to reading your article on the NZMR website in due course.

Have a good weekend.

Kia Kaha

Safe and Sound: Carefully wrapped and packaged, Sam Trass' QSA medal arrives from Stephen in Australia. It has taken me a number of months to get around to posting this story, but I guess the reader will understand the delay.
What a magnificent NZMR family we have. Kia Kaha to you also Stephen.


Photograph Graeme Scott Collection circa 1900 - duotone treatment 2012 NZMR.
4th New Zealand Contingent and 6th Imperial Bushman leaders
Left to right: Major Kelly 6th I.B., Col. Newell 5th N.Z., Lieutenant Dillon - A.D.C. to the Brigadier, Col. Grey, Brigadier 4th, Major Kirsson Staff Officer, Capt. R.H. Davies 4th N.Z.

Graeme Scott has forwarded a number of previously unpublished photos held by his family. His grandfather,1552 Joseph William Scott served two tours to the South African War, first as a corporal with the 4th Contingent and later as Farrier Major with the 7th Contingent.
Above: Members of the 4th Contingent pose for a group photograph in a South African studio with an officer representing the Mounted Imperial Bushman unit.


Photograph 1915: Trooper Harry Browne Collection
An unnamed Wellington Mounted Rifleman stands guard over the Squadron's booty of Turkish rifles captured off the enemy on Walker's Ridge, Gallipoli 1915.
This never published before photo is from the comprehensive collections of photographs and letters still kept in pristine condition by the Browne family of Wellington. Trooper Harry Browne was one of the very few men from the W.M.R. to survive the attack on Chunuk Bair, August 7th - 9th 1915.
There is much more to follow from the Browne collection in the near future - However we have made a good start and you may visit our first page dedicated to Harry HERE
Claire Fletcher sent in a number of photographs taken by Auckland Mounted Rifleman, turned Camelier, Trooper Reginald Filleul of Rosebank Road in Avondale, Auckland. A farmer by occupation, Reginald became a member of the 16th Company Imperial Camel Corps in April 1916.The photographs sent in cover a range of subjects faced by the men during their action from Magdabah 1916 to Beersheba 1917.
Reginald writes on the obverse of this photo:

"A snap taken near Lagama Wells, Blue Mountains, Sinai. Our camels (off saddled) in foreground and Bedouin Bint and goats in rear.
Taken January 1917. R.F. "

Reginald writes on the obverse of this photo:
"A snap taken on trek up from Khirba to El Arish, during a midday halt.
Names from left to right:- M. Rose (our Lieu), Trooper P. Bell, and Yours Truly.
Taken April 1917. - R.F."

Reginald was seriously wounded during actions North of Beersheba on the 7th November and died of wounds later the same day.
P. Bell is the subject of a famous photograph Reginald captured while Trooper Bell stands on his camels back to gain height to use signal flags during a trek.
Reginald's unit history from "Archway", Auckland War Memorial database entry, and the Bell photograph previously posted HERE
Reginald writes on the obverse of this photo:
"Boiling the billies, (with green issue wood).
A snap taken soon after our arrival at camp near Sheikh Kuran.
Taken June 1917. - R.F."

The names of the other men are not recorded on the photograph, however another photograph of Reginald's that we posted last year would suggest the man foreground right is Sergeant Owen Sanders who "Died of Disese" the day before Reginald on the 6th November 1917. A further photo and history was previously posted HERE
Over the last few years the Association has asked its members and the genral public to help identify members of the Auckland Mounted Rifles assembled in front of the Auckland War Memorial Museum in 1964, celebrating the departure of the Regiment 50 years before. Until recently we had only four names, and time is running out for immediate family members being able to recognise these men in their later years.
I last posted the full image in February 2010, naming Wiflfred Fitchett, Bill Foster, Fred Foote and Ernie Picot. Obviously some time has pssed since then, but a breakthrough has come with an email to our President Greg Bradley from Glenys Carr.
Hi Greg, thank you very much for the newspaper picture that I have never laid eyes on before tonight.
I knew Grandfather Frost as Henry or 'Pop', he died when I was quite young so I've never known much about him.
Harry (Henry) Crabtree FROST
8th Reinforcements
Auckland Mounted Rifles
In the reunion photograph attached I have circled HC Frost.
Thanks for letting me access the site
Glenys Carr (nee Frost)

The full sized image of the reunion group may be viewed below. Hopefully this new airing of this great photograph will stimulate other memories.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum "Scars on the Heart " display has a quotation by Harry Frost in reference to the Ayun Kara action:
"Richon is the first Jewish colony in Palestine...It has special associations for the New Zealanders as the severe action of Ayun Kara was fought near there on November 14th, 1917...the morning after the fight the people gave us a great reception, and wine, fruit, brown bread, etc, were showered on us in great profusion - a very welcome change after some six weeks on hard tack."

Click on thumbnail for larger version


A jovial moment between conspirators of the "Message in the Bottle" event of 1915.
photograph circa 1960, Left to right: Syd Wyllie, brother Herb Wyllie and King Hull

Photographs above of the Wyllie brothers with King Hull, and right, that of Trooper George Thompson are among the thousands of pieces of information that are still to be uploaded onto the site. Many items are sent into our Association by interested New Zealanders each and every week. The stories relating to these two images are part of our history that needs to be understood and told to our younger generation. Perhaps you would like to advance our knowledge on the NZMR. This site receives tens of thousands of "hits" each month as people research the Anzacs and the Mounted Rifles.

I would like you the reader to consider helping us carry on this great work.
If you would like to help with posting items here or elsewhere on the site, please contact us.

Thank You.
Steve Butler

13/144 Sergeant George Tinsley Thompson, Killed in Action 7th August 1915