Comments from Webmaster Steve Butler ■ Email contact

As compiler and webmaster for our Association's website I try to focus just on the NZMR. It is always tempting to stray off subject as I am continually receiving mail that is packed with interesting information. I look at it and see most would be a Genealogists dream, but although tempted I can't go there.
When Howard wrote and spoke of relatives being Naval men serving in the 'Med' I was sure the content was not going to be of direct interest for us.
Howard continued:
"However, in amongst the collection of photographs are a set of about 30 photos which clearly relate to a WW1 campaign in Palestine.  Some of the photos have inscriptions on the rear which give an idea what they are about.  A number of the photos relate to visiting Jerusalem ...Other photos have a clearly military theme, bell tents in camp, columns of camel born troops, some pictures of heavily armed Arabs, a hospital dressing station, a Camel Corps force arriving at a place called "El Sur" and so on...
There was one photo of a man in uniform from that era that I have never identified - could be a man named Waight (Jack or Arthur?) possibly from Central Otago but that's as far as my knowledge goes." 

Ok Howard, we are interested! - Subsequent mail contact has resulted in the arrival of these two images and the promise of a disk of scanned images in the mail.- thank you Howard.

Above: Captured Turkish Officer.
This photograph has some interesting facts. The Turkish Officer is surrounded by soldiers. Three appear to be English, two, steel helmeted Infantrymen. Also present NZMR troopers and local natives.
The high ground in the background suggest an area well inland from the coastal route the NZMR took to reach Jerusalem. Therefore this photo is probably taken 1918 as the New Zealand Mounted Rifles pushed through Jericho and the highlands of Amman.

Right: Perhaps as suggested, this man was the photographer - we of course we will never know. But if Howard's distant family member was with the Otago Mounteds - is this indeed the man? Is this the cap badge of the 5th Otago Mounted Rifles -( as with many images, no matter how much the photo is enlarged definition does not improve.) I would like to think so, and the shoulder title seems to be the shape of the curved NZMR brass badge.
But then we have the conundrum of the fact that the Otago's did not serve in Palestine but in Europe after Gallipoli. However some members from all the NZMR Brigade were detailed into machine gun units to be attached to squadrons. Could this man be one of those? The crossed cloth "Marksman's" insignia on this man lower left arm would suggest this is a possibility.

[Although no soldier served with the NZEF with the name "Waight" a misspelling could mean this name is "Wright"]


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.








Titled: "Wood Wind Section." This group of Brigade musicians pose in front of a Bell tent in the Middle East.
Once again, the Association would welcome any furthur information that can be supplied by the public as to who these men are.
A further photograph from the Fred Foote Family Collection. (circa 1916)

No, this is not New Zealand's America's Cup winning skipper Russell Coutts - but it sure looks like him! Perhaps this man is related, unfortunately this photograph has no names written on the print or the album to tell us more

I have enlarged this section of the above photo of the NZMR Band Leader to show a greater definition of the hat badge, sleeve badge and the unit flash colours attached to the side of the pugaree hat band.

Visit Fred Footes photographs HERE.


Guess who? - Unfortunately that is the case here, only a guess.
Do you know who these two officers are?
We have a few clues to go on. First, this is another fine image from Trooper Fred Footes Album collection. On many of his photographs he has written on the back who the men are. In this case the obverse of this image is sad to say, blank.

We can assume these men are from the Auckland Mounted Rifles Regiment, and perhaps it is possible to narrow the men down to the North Auckland Squadron (NAMR) as many of Fred's photos record events of men from North Auckland - but we shouldn't be caught only with that idea, and we must keep an open mind - The viewing of the man's hat on the right shows the pugaree of the NZMR, but the shape of the hat badge is difficult to determine, it looks like the shape is quite thin, but that might be light playing tricks. No matter how close I move into an enlargement the badge does not become anymore apparent other than a narrow strip of light seen here .
Certainly this man on the right is a big man, could this be Lieutenant Colonel James McCarroll?

We can be sure this photo was taken in Turkish Palestine, as the blade pear cactus is visible in the left background. Therefore the years 1916 and 1917 relate to the time frame, as Fred and his camera departed the Middle East after Ayun Kara, November 1917.
As always look forward to your input.(email contact at top of page.)

(Jan 17th '10)


(Jan 16th '10)

Reading and transcribing Trooper Fred Foote's previously unpublished account of his war service in the New Zealand Mounted Rifles from Gallipoli to his final involvement in the action at Ayun Kara has been a privilege. I intend to post his fully transcribed story in the near future.
Because of an unveiling of a new war memorial to the "Action at Ayun Kara" in the township of Nes Tsonia next month, (now in the modern state of Israel), I have deliberately jumped forward in Fred's memoirs to present his writings of the day the 'Mounteds' took on the Turkish Division south of Jaffa - and won an outstanding feat of arms.
It was not without cost, fifty of our nations best were killed in the day long attack.
The 'Colonel' mentioned below is Lieutenant Colonel James McCarroll whom I had the pleasure of transcribing his personal diaries a few years ago. James' diary, and in particular his account of the Ayun Kara action is available HERE

Fred was a signaller with the Auckland Mounted Rifles, and he suggests here that the existence of the paranormal is quite on the cards ...

The Turks were attacking on the flank with a division.  Our regiment was ordered in to hold this attack up.  We had to charge across the open end of three or four gullies under heavy machine gun fire. 

My poor little horse was true to form on each charge, he galloped out to the centre where the machine gun fire was the heaviest and then dropped to a jog and brought me out of the fire last.  It was very exasperating and very frustrating, and added greatly to the strain of the action we were working into. 
As we crossed the first valley a most peculiar incident happened to me --- the galloping horses put to flight a small bird, probably a lark, it rose close to my horse, and as it did it chirped or whistled, a perfect “V” “E” in Morse Code.  V.E. was used at the end of every message.  It was the abbreviation for ‘very end’.  I read the signal perfectly, my hair rose on end.  So this was the battle I had been waiting for, by sunset my fate would be decided. This bird call V.E. was too distinct, far too clear to be ignored. 
It never left my mind and I have never forgotten it, I was the only one in the group around me that could read the Morse Code.  If it was not quite accidental I was the one the message was sent to.  I am not a believer in the super-natural.  Put it another way, say I keep a very open mind on the subject, for I know strange unexplained phenomenon do occur.  I have never heard a bird since make a call anything like the Morse code for V.E..  However whether it was a supernatural message or purely accidental, I read it as a message for me.  To a great extent we had grown into fatalists in the Army, we felt that when a bullet had our number on it we would get it, whether we were down the line or up the front.  An aeroplane would strafe us, a bomb would fall our way or a sniper would hang us on the bead of his telescopic rifle. 

We crossed all the valley openings and pulled into a little shallow hollow and handed over to the horse holders.  The troops disappeared over a very low rise and we rushed up and set up a helio and signal station.  The bullets were passing about three feet above our heads in a steady drone, a noise like an amplified beehive.  The Turks had a mountain gun firing shrapnel, we had no artillery. 
The Turks put on the pressure and our men fell back to the rise about two chains above our signal station.  We called for reinforcements urgently, and were told the Camel Corp was on its way, but it never came.  Our men decided that ten to one was too big an odds to fight and decided to pull out and take up another position.  They called out for the horse holders to make ready, the horses were only three chains away being held in a tight compact group. 
I slipped down and got a dead troopers horse, as my little remount could never carry me out.  The Colonel came along the line saying,  “There is no retreat from this ridge we stay here.  If we are over run this division of Turks will get behind Wellington   and Canterbury and they will be obliterated.”  The Colonel was walking up and down, cold as a frosty night.  The bullets were droning within six inches of his head, round which he had a great white bandage showing a red stain, and no hat.   He called everyone into the firing line. “ Tie the horses together, and the horse holders come in, signallers, officers, batmen, and all get your rifles and get in.”   It was all open bare country, one hundred yards on our left the sand hills started bordering the Mediterranean. 

It was a lovely day, not too hot and perfect soft sunshine.  The ground was covered with short grass, pretty little dandelion flowers were scattered along the field.  The Doctor and Padre seemed to be the only two not in the firing line.  Walking wounded were struggling out of the line and stretcher bearers were bringing out others.  I grabbed my rifle and spare bandolier and went in, I had only a chain to go. 
We had such a thin line, about six feet between each man.  I took a quick survey of the situation, there were three close lines of Turks advancing on us and in the rear there seemed to be endless reserves.  I flopped down on the grass and got to work.  During the whole three years I was on active service I never knew if I had ever hit an enemy till this day, twice I saw my target double up in front of me.  They were so close that I had some sort of chance of seeing the effect of some of my shots.  Usually you fire at shrubs, trenches, or patches of stones, where fire is coming from.  The enemy keep too well covered for you to have the opportunity of shooting directly at a man.  Of course there are exceptions also. 
We were getting very short of ammunition, all our machine guns had heated and jammed.  During the four or five hours they had put through large quantities of ammunition.  We fixed bayonets and carried on, waiting for the final Turkish charge.  I kept six cartridges in my magazine, a few bullets are a great help to a bayonet in a rough and tumble. 

We had machine gun belts passed along and were pulling the bullets out and firing one by one.  I saw a Turk leave his place and run fifty yards to the left.  It was obvious what he was up to, a little sand mound with some grass on top would enable a sniper to infiltrate our line.  I waited and watched for him, his head came up through the grass and he took a quick look, then his rifle came up and he came higher.  I already had a bead on the shot and I let him have it.  He came forward as he fell, I kept watching for a while, every few minutes, but he never moved. 
In the excitement and pressure of the battle I neglected to keep watching the sand mound.  The Turks were not more than two chain in front of us, three lines of them, we could see the buttons on their uniforms.  The drone of bullets either hitting the ground in front or flying over head never ceased.  We rose on our knees, took quick aim and flopped down to reload.  I had forgotten to watch the sand mound.  I was on my knees just in the act of pressing the trigger, I do not know if I pressed it or not, I got a shattering blow in the right elbow, it jarred me back six inches, then I got another blow in the upper arm.  The bullet went round the main artery, round the bone and out.  If it had cut the artery I would have bled to death, there was no one to help, all were fighting for their lives. 

Smashed and mangled, an x-ray of Fred's elbow after being hit by a high velocity bullet.
(double click to enlarge.)

If I had missed the shattering blow in the right elbow, I would not have been knocked the six inches that caused the second bullet to pass through my left upper arm, instead of under the armpit where the sniper intended it to go. 
It was fired from the little sand mound on our left where I had shot a sniper twenty minutes before, and through the pressure of the battle I had overlooked watching.  I heard at a later date that the second sniper was not over looked and died on the sand mound also. 
The Regimental Doctor and the Padre were sitting down in a hollow fifty yards from the firing line.  The doctor had no equipment for applying dressings to wounds, as it had all been used.  I do not consider that excused them, from saying a few words of comfort, and walking with the walking wounded for a few hundred yards on their journey out, or giving the stretcher bearers a helping hand as they so very, very bravely toiled that afternoon. 
As I staggered away from the line, falling every minute, the doctor and the padre were the only two men sitting down and not helping stretcher bearers or wounded.  It is on occasions like this that the real manhood, if it is in a man, shows. 

My elbow was completely blown out, the shattered bones were protruding, and I was badly shocked and kept falling down with my elbow banging in the dust and dirt.  The Divisional dressing station was half a mile away down a long grassy slope.  I made towards it and after awhile I could stagger along without falling.  Half way down I came under shrapnel fire from the mountain gun, three or four bursts and the shrapnel tore up the grass in circles round me.  Fate has a say in ones life.  How those shrapnel bullets missed me I will never know, the way the grass was torn up in circles around me.  I would say I had one chance in a million of staggering on and not being hit.  There were dead and wounded there, they had been walking out like I was, but did not have the one chance. 
I arrived at the Field Dressing Station, somebody came along and put a field dressing on my wounds and put my arm in a sling.  I was shot through both arms and had no hand for service.  Somebody came along with a cup of soup and held it to my lips so I could drink it.  Oh!  The flavour and taste of that soup, it stands out alone all these years. 

Someone laid me on a stretcher and put a rug over me.  I heard afterwards that the Turks did not charge, they stayed where they were about thirty to fifty yards away.  Was it the sun shining on our bayonets that stopped them closing, or was it the fact that we stayed in line where we were, and this influenced their decision against coming to close quarters.  If they had rushed at the last we did not have a hope, I also heard that the Turks left more dead on the field than we put men into the firing line.

account by: 13/2187 Trooper Frederick James Foote.


Left: From an unknown photographic studio in the Sinai Desert township of El Arish, comes this sitting of NZMR signallers. Recorded on the 19th February 1917.
An original print is held in the "Trooper Fred Foote Collection" and is part of a photograph Album being scanned this week by the Association (15th Jan '10) and previously unpublished.

Notation on obverse of photograph:
"Seccombe, Pat Dunning, John Johnson.
[spaces to center]
Geo. Falwasser, Slater.
[spaces to bottom]
Charlie Dunn.
El Arish 19/2/17"

A preliminary check of data bases show the following Auckland Mounted Riflemen, most from the North Auckland area:
13/2621 Claude Francis Secombe.
13/224 Angus Roderick Dunning. from Omaha, North Auckland, he is shown as a "Trooper" in data bases, however it is obvious the man holds the rank of Sergeant in this picture.
13/2822 John Walker Johnson.
16247 George Edward Falwasser.
(next too many "Slater's" at this stage to list a possible man).
13/2033 Charles John Long Dunn.

Further Update: Donna writes from the Kauri country up north:
"On the "Desert Warriors" update -  there  is a photo of one Angus Roderick Dunning (Pat) 13/224  he is one of "our" blokes up here.   Joined up 6/09/14 wounded at Gallipoli on 27th June 1915 and promoted to 2nd Lt in 1918.   His Grand daughter lives in Whangarei and her Father, Brian Dunning who passed away a year or so ago, was a noted Northern Cricketer - I knew him quite well, great guy."

Our thanks to Barry Rodgers the Editor of the Australian Light Horse Association's official magazine "Spur". The December issue has finally made its way across the Tasman to arrive in the post yesterday (14th Jan) with a very welcome inclusion of a four page spread titled : "The taking of Tel el Saba, or the role the New Zealanders played in the taking of Beersheba."
It was with pleasure that I was able to provide copy and photographs from our files, including extracts from Lieutenant Colonel James McCarroll's diary, to tell the story of Beersheba from the NZMR's perspective.
Of course for a New Zealander the reading of "Spur" articles and other relevant advertising and events, is like giving ones self a good sound bout of flagellation with a cat-o-nine-tails. One is left green with envy observing the ability and performance of our Aussie cousins in protecting and promoting their history of the ALH.
I readily endorse to our members, or individuals that may be looking to begin a "Memorial Troop", to subscribe to this wonderful magazine. The pages contain a wealth of knowledge, contacts, and suppliers.
Contact for a magazine subscription may be obtained by first emailing Barry
Of further interest in this latest issue is the announcement that the Australian Army has re-introduced the horse into "Norforce" (North West Mobile Force) in the Northern Territory area of Australia as part of its surveillance and reconnaissance program of the nations far north.
Another important photograph from the Fred Foote Family Collection now being digitized for the Association.
This blown-up section of a WW1 Camel saddle will be of interest to many. Clearly seen in this image is the double girth straps and cushioning and padded "Trees" that is usually obscured by sheep skin covers or the myriad of hanging baggage that is usually associated with most photos of the period.
Inserted is Trooper Fred Foote, somewhere in the deserts of the Middle East. This photo negative was listed with three or four others in apparent sequence, and linking this image to the others listed as being at Bir et Maler.
A larger image of the full photograph will be listed on Trooper Foote's page shortly.