comments from webmaster Steve Butler

Matakohe's Favourite Son.
The small hamlet of Matakohe lies at the heart of Northlands famous giant Kauri Forests of Otamatea and Kaipara. From this timber and farming area came the nations first New Zealand born Prime Minister, Gordon Coates.
He became Prime Minister on the 30th May 1925. Coates won the parliamentary seat of Kaipara on the second ballot on 14 December 1911. He was to represent the seat until his death in 1942 . He was to serve as a portfolio minister on a number of occasions throughout his long career.
Coates the farmer and mounted rifleman became a leader who began to put in place a road, rail and electricity infrastructure that New Zealand has benefited from ever since.
Coates had married Marguerite Coles in 1914, and had five daughters.
He left politics to serve his country in the Great War and departed for France with the infantry’s 19th Reinforcements to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in November 1916, and was later posted as second in command of the 15th (North Auckland) Company of the 1st Battalion of the Auckland Infantry Regiment. During his time at war he won a Military Cross at La Basseville.

Otamatea Mounted Rifles successor was James McCarroll who went on to command the Auckland Mounted Rifles during the Palestine Campaign.

A life sized Kauri wood carving bust and framed photograph of Gordon Coates take pride of place among a photograph collection of Mounted Rifles images on permanent display at the Kauri Museum, Northland.
Joseph (Gordon) Coates was born in 1878 and at just 12 years of age joined the Otamatea Mounted Rifles. He rose in rank to lead the Otamatea men before he joined Parliament in 1912.



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

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

NZMR 24th
Reinforcements Badge.

Another trip to the Kauri Museum this week.
Betty Nelley and the staff at the Kauri Museum made me very welcome again this week as I went to
collect more papers from the James McCarroll Collection. Kindly they have offered a number of photographs
from their substantial Mounted Rifles archives for us to reproduce here. I hope to have a range of images presented here
before the December holidays. Of special interst to me was the AMR Trophy that they also have on display, beautiful silver
hand cast rifles supporting the cup.

Reflection of time:
Entering the Kauri Museum at Matakohe in the heart of old North Auckland Mounted Rifles country is a doorway to another era. A visitor is quickly transported back through time to the early settlement days with the multitude of knickknacks and machinery that are on display.
With a careful eye one can detect various remnants of Mounted Rifles memorabilia scattered everywhere among various presentations. At first glance an old silver trophy draws the viewer to the interesting hand cast support made up with three rifles crossed to hold the inscribed cup. Interestingly the cup was made and presented by Joseph Palmer over a century ago. Interesting as Palmers Jewellers are still vibrant retailers and Jewellers in Whangarei today.
It appears the trophy has had an eventful life - the original engraving states:
"3rd Regiment A.M.R.V. [Auckland Mounted Rifles Volunteers] - For Highest Aggregate Score at 500 600 & 700 yards Range."
The next line of engraving takes the trophy into contests between marksmen of machine guns of the 1920's:
"Reallocated For Best Shot - Hotchkiss Gun".
And finally in the 1950's new engraving on the front states:
"Re-Presented to the Ruawai District High School Cadets by the Auckland Mounted Rifles 1950".

With a feeling of nostalgia the visitor realises that the trophy has run its course, and no longer will this piece be up for grabs by a sharp shooting mounted rifleman - but then it is in the right place, sitting on a Kauri mantelpiece surrounded by other fellow time travellers.The reflection of the mirror shows the cup winners names listed on the back of the cup, and from across the years and decades - near the cup lip, sharp and shiny, gleams back a winners name:
1908 Sargt-Major Mackesy.

A computer colourised image of Sergeant Major Charles Mackesy (jnr.) pre-WWI

Television and print journalist Graeme Booth gives an insight into the life of a
Mounted Rifleman - his own father who served with the North Auckland Mounted Rifles.
Read Graeme's family account and his offer to New Zealanders with personal histories "Hidden in the attic"..


The Australian Film Commission has made this three minute clip available to view by clicking image above.
The clip is from the 1940 movie "40,000 Horsemen" and gives a 1940's look at the charge by the ALH
at Beersheba - the editing of the film at the time is first class and I am told that some of the men used here
in the movie were veterans of the Light Horse in WWI.

If you are very keen, and have plenty of bandwidth available, you may follow HERE to
download a far better quailty clip - be warned it will be a massive job if you don't have broadband.
Also note this material is copyrighted by the AFC but is available at no fee for research
and students of history (thats us).

Trooper 36036 George Henry Hewitt hailed from Ireland, and after only four years in New Zealand,
his new homeland, he volunteered to fight overseas with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles. We have
posted a new page from George's history-sheet.

The forgotten Kiwis who halted the Turks

More than 500 formidable soldiers lie unvisited in 14 graveyards of the Holy Lands, writes Hank Schouten.

TERRY KINLOCH is frustrated that the crucial role played by New Zealand's mounted soldiers in the British campaign to defeat Turkish forces in the Middle East in World War I is forgotten.

Between 1916 and 1919 about 12,000 Kiwis served in the arduous campaign to push Turkish forces out of the Sinai Desert and Palestine. They were tough, earned a formidable reputation, and more than 500 were killed and buried in graveyards scattered around the Holy Lands.

But their exploits are overshadowed by the grim and virtually static battles in Gallipoli and the trenches on the Western Front.

Good coverage for the release of NZMRA member Terry Kinloch's book "Devils on Horses" in the "Dominion" newspaper this week.
Printed here is the article in full.

Lieutenant Colonel Kinloch, who has just written a book on the mounted rifles called Devils on Horses, says he became interested in the subject during his time with the Queen Alexandra's Mounted Rifles, the armoured unit which traces its origins back to the 12 horse-mounted units that New Zealand had at the time of World War I.
An interest was sparked by old battle honours and photos, but it was a story that was not well recorded or accessible - the last history about New Zealanders in the Middle East was published in 1923.
Colonel Kinloch was able to help rectify that when he was posted to the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai in 2000. This gave him a chance to see otherwise inaccessible and largely forgotten battlefields.
"Since 1982 hundreds of Kiwis have served with the MFO and some of their grandfathers would have fought there, but none of them had a clue about that."
He went to all the battlefields in Sinai, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Syria, and visited the 14 Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries scattered around the area.
"They've all got New Zealanders in them, but New Zealanders never visit them because they don't know they're there."
He is exasperated that even last week there was no recognition of Kiwis in news coverage of the 90th anniversary commemoration of a famous cavalry charge by the 12th Australian Lighthorse Regiment on Turkish forces holding Beersheba, in what is now Israel.
Television footage did not mention that 2000 New Zealanders were there or that they captured a hill covered in machine guns - "without that the charge would not have happened or it would have been a massacre".
He says more than 12,000 New Zealanders served in the brigade.
The mounted units were sent out on long patrols to scout Turkish defences and to outflank their positions, while the infantry were supposed to push home the main assault on enemy positions.
But in many of these battles the infantry were too slow, so much of the fighting had to be done by the mounted troops.
They would ride up to 80 kilometres and then dismount before engaging the enemy on foot.
Foot soldiers marching those distances would have been too exhausted to fight. Horses played a crucial role but they too suffered in the harsh environment.
"This was the last time New Zealanders fought on horses. Thank God, because horses don't belong on battlefields."
Colonel Kinloch says the efforts of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles in the Middle East were overshadowed by the Western Front. Five hundred were killed in three years of fighting in the Middle East - that compares with 800 lost in just one morning at Passchendaele.
"But here we played a part in one of the most successful campaigns in the First World War - we threw the Turks out of the Middle East."

New page of photographs compiled together in a slideshow or enlargements -
Press all the buttons and have fun. Download speed subject to your server specs.

A further great shot from the Bines collection. Here Alfred Bines sits behind
his heavy tri-podded telescope reading a Heliograph message
Location written on the back of the photograph is "Sidi Bishr - three miles from Camp."
Scanning these tiny photographs which are only the size of a matchbox cover takes a little
time to grade and clean-up, but the time spent is worthwhile. (This image cropped
from photograph below.)

The image of Alfred is half the size of my thumb nail but with modern
software and optical flatbeds scanning at 1200 dpi we can bring the image up
to a viewable size. So remember - no photograph is too small or insignificant.
"Look forward to hearing from you out there!"