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NEW ZEALAND MOUNTED RIFLES

Comments from Steve Butler ■ Email contact
The Colonial Mounted Forces of New Zealand
1840 - 1900
Above: Pen and ink drawings of the Maori Fortification Trenches at the Central Redoubt, Rangiriri in the Northern Waikato. Both maps shown here are from the hand of Captain E. Brooke, Royal Engineers - and dated 1863.
This image now adorns our new header page dedicated to our Colonial past.
Brent Nunns, Wellintonian, historian and military badge collector has diligently researched and presented for the Association many of the aspects relating to the formation and establishment of New Zealand's mounted units during the Musket Wars and Land Wars of the 19th Century. This bloody period of our history introduced the nation to the Mounted Constabulary, Cavalry and the Lancers - all precursors that led ultimately to the creation of the NZMR Brigade.
Thanks Brent for the great effort.


SITE MAP





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.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 



THE LAST TROOPER

This sharp clear print is from a glass-negative plate taken by Auckland studio portrait photographer John Schmidt, and titled "Trooper Ferrar".
The trooper wears the New Zealand Mounted Rifles shoulder titles and collar and hat badges of a Reinforcement unit. The brass numerals "42" signify that he is a member of the 42nd Reinforcement that was part of the last contingent to leave the country for the Great War.

The last departure of fighting men from New Zealand was a compliment of 450 members of the NZMR made up of the 40th, 41st, 42nd and 43rd Reinforcements. The men boarded the S.S. Moeraki and sailed on the 11th October 1918, just days before the Ottoman Forces capitulated and sued for peace in the same month on the 30th.
This detail of troops were not to see action in either the Middle East or the Western Front, as the Kaiser's Forces surrendered 12 days after the Turks on the 11th November 1918.

Cenotaph Databases and the Nominal Roll have no records showing a Trooper Ferrar sailing with the "Moeraki", or serving overseas. There are listed three other men named "Ferrar" who all served, but their individual service records place them in combat zones well before the establishment of the 42nd Reinforcements.

One set of service papers leads me to believe that this man is:
75567 Harvey Watson Ferrar.
A section of his record print out is listed in part below.
It states that he first entered military service on the 3rd April 1918 with the rank of Private, but one week later was transferred to the 42nd Reinforcements with the rank of Trooper.

Photograph John Schmidt Studios - 1918 - computer colourised.

But by the 24th of August he was posted to the 48th MR Reinforcements that appears to have been a N.C.O. training unit - and later again was granted leave without pay on the 23rd November, still residing in New Zealand and after hostilities had finished. There is however further evidence within Harvey Ferrar's papers that puts doubt on whether the man in the photograph above and "Harvey" are the same man. The man in the photograph looks very young, possibly an 18 year old. By contrast Harvey Ferrar's file states he was a married man in 1915 and that he was born in 1887 - that would make Harvey 31 years old at the time this photograph was taken.
A possibility for sure, but perhaps Harvey and his younger brother joined up together, this happened with brothers and cousins all the time. Perhaps we will never know - someone out there might!
We can be sure of one point - Harvey Ferrar was among the last of the Mounted Riflemen of World War One.

Segment of Harvey Ferrar's Statement of Service.
Update (5th November 2010)
The ongoing enthusiasm and research of my fellow Kiwis continues to astound me - contact one day after posting the above picture gives new hope to recording the correct name to the photograph:
Steve
A long shot, but on archway I found a James Asher FARRAR Registered number 89837 from WW1. His file has not been digitised unfortunately.
By that number it would put him enlisting right near the end of the war.
That name does not appear on Cenotaph records however. I will chase this up with one of my contacts
Cheers
John
Further Update (7th Nov)
QSAPhil - a contributor to our Forum and also the webmaster on "Fernleaves across the Veldt" makes a strong point against the photo being that of James Farrar:
Hi Steve,
The only problem with the suggestion on your updates page that the chap may be James Asher FARRAR is that he is even older than Harvey. Born 10/1/1886.
Cheers
Phil


photograph: "The Press" glass plate collection - enlargement on screen Image id: 624654593

Above: An enlargement from one of the re-discovered high quality glass-plate photographs.
This image taken of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles loading horses onto the Transport "Athenic" HMNZT11at Lyttelton on Tuesday September 22 1914.
The enlargement allows a closer inspection not possible before. Here three troopers from the 8th South Canterbury Squadron chat while waiting their turn to board. The trooper in the center fills his pipe in anticipation of a quiet 'Smoko'

Right: For a number of years we have had posted on our CMR page a photograph that has obviously been taken within a few seconds of the one above. This image set full frame shows the same three troopers in the right hand foreground, a horsebox being loaded is suspended towards center top of frame.

Compare the two photos HERE


photo: Alexander Turnbull Lib.
In September we were delighted to report that the Christchurch Newspaper, "The Press" had re-discovered old glass-plate photographs in a forgotten storage area of their archives.
This week we received an update from the papers' Richard Cosgrove to inform us that they have decided to make the photographs available to the public and have listed thumbnails of all 63 glass negatives on their photographs page which are now available as high definition prints.
Indeed an important find. Among the images available is a clearly recognizable image in close up of Major Overton, leading his Squadron out of Camp. This would now be the last photograph of Percy Overton before he was Killed in Action in the horrific and gallant attack by the New Zealanders on Chunuk Bair, 7th August 1915, at Gallipoli.

MOUNTAIN BATTERY MULE-TEAM

Illustration: "The Illustrated War News" Februray 2nd 1916 - Robinson.
The NZMR and the ALH Brigades represented the dashing fleet-footed advance of the Anzac Mounted Division across the deserts and mountains of the Middle East during the Great War. However victory could not have been gained by these "Mounted Infantrymen" without the support of artillery. Larger artillery pieces were available at certain points of the campaigns, but the smaller caliber, and therefore lighter, "Mountain Battery" units were crucial in both attack and defense during the deep penetration attacks made away from the coast and supporting railhead.
Military internal combustion engined vehicles were being developed at a great pace as the war evolved, but motor and vehicle design had not evolved enough to be reliable in the dust, heat and sand of Sinai Palestine.
The humble mule became an invaluable part of the Desert Column.
The illustration above taken from the publication "The Illustrated War News" (Feb 2nd 1916 page 29) shows the configuration of the loads required to transport a Mountain Gun into action. The top illustration is of the harness and load of the "Wheel and Axle load" segment of the four part animal team. Left to right in the lower drawing shows 1. "Gun Load" - mainly the heavier barrel section, 2. "Cradle Load". 3. "Carriage Load". 4. "Wheel and Axle" load.

6th MANAWATU SQUADRON BEFORE DEPARTURE 1914

A central section of the photo, the download has more definition.

We are indeed fortunate to have the good services of John Winter who sent through today (23rd Oct) a CD with a high resolution scan of the 6th Manawatu Squadron WMR prior to departure with the Main Body, October 1914.
With the original print containing so many men it has been quite a mission to get an image to a size that would be a reasonable to carry over the Internet, and still give a reasonable view of individual men's faces.
I have compressed this photo as much as possible to be reproduced in PDF Format, and the image is now available to download.
The original photograph is mounted on card and printed:
"The Crown Studios, Whalley & Co. Palmerston North. Wellington Mounted Rifles, B Squadron."
Any further information on any of the men pictured here will be appreciated.


SURFBOAT OR DEAD SEA CRAFT
This photograph of a Caribbean soldier from the BWI (British West Indies Regiment) taken by New Zealander, Corporal Albert Anderson of the AMR (Auckland Mounted Rifles) poses an interesting question. Where was this picture taken?
We are almost sure the photo was taken in 1918. We know that the BWI Regiment went into action as combat soldiers with the AMR at the bridge crossing at Jisr Ed Damieh in the Jordan Valley in September 1918, and the troops were in training with "Chaytor Force" well prior to that date.
There are other photos taken by Albert that include the Black Soldiers at a Signals School away from the front. Alfred is also pictured in a "Sigs" class that could have been taken either in Alexandria, Egypt, or at Khan Yunnis North of El Arish, Palestine. Perhaps the photograph above was taken at El Arish as there is film footage of troops and members of the Egyptian Labour Corps unloading surfboats similar in appearance to the craft above.
The ropes attached to the gunnel and linked to a shackle ring on the bow, were used by the men to help drag the boats ashore. Supplies of equipment and frozen mutton came from cargo ships anchored offshore, and were landed for the Anzac Mounted Division in this way.
The absence of any sort of background to this photograph makes one hesitate to name this site the Mediterranean coast. Then there is this newspaper clipping retrieved from the National Library Archives that should also be considered. The item relates to the actions by Chaytor Force in the Jordan Valley 1918 and states in part :-
"...The New Zealand Brigade sent a regiment down to the head of the Dead Sea to occupy the Turkish store-house and seize any boats that were there. On the 22nd the Division marched back to Bethlehem, leaving the Auckland Regiment to hold Jericho, which it continued to do until the Division with British troops and the Imperial Camel Corps returned to the Jordan Valley in the middle of March and engaged in the great enterprise of raiding the Hedjaz railway..."
Quote from the Wellington Evening Post, vol XCVII, issue 127, 31st May 1919
Read the full newspaper article on how New Zealander reporters saw the actions of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles in the Middle Eastin, 6 months after the Great War finished, in the 1919 Wellington "Evening Post" HERE.

It would be nice to have more information - (below Greg responds)

photograph from Greg at the Bulls Museum

UPDATE: the above photograph arrived within the day (22nd oct) from President Greg Bradley in a speedy response regarding the possibility of the image being one of the "Dead Sea Boats". No craft in this image, but obviously the Trooper taking the photograph, and his fellows, have removed any Turkish boats away from the scene. The hand written note under the photograph reads:- "Dead Sea, Turks landing stage for wheat".

 


photograph Trooper Fred Foote Collection - El Arish 1916

FURTHER UPDATE: (23rd Oct) Trooper Fred Foote's photograph looks to swing the argument towards the top photograph having been taken at the point where stores were landed at El Arish on the Mediterranean coast. Although this image is more than a little grainy compared to Fred's other shots, most of that is due to the extent the original has been enlarged by myself to show off the gunnel ropes.
In this picture an unknown NZMR trooper sits on his mount in the foreground, of special note is the thick rope hawser laying in the sand crossing in front of the horse. As each surfboat approached the shore, men raced into the surf up to their waists, steadied the boat, and attached the hawser line to the ring shackle situated under the bow that was attached to the surfboat by way of the gunnel ropes.
These gunnel ropes are clearly seen in the background looping along the hull. Once attached the hawser line was hauled on by teams of men and horses situated further up the beach where greater traction was available.
The men in this scene appear to be wearing the pom-pom topped caps of a Highland Regiment.


On another note - Hi to Roger, great to meet you yesterday, a fellow scrounger on "TradeMe" looking for NZMR material. I Look forward to your offer to digitise and reprint some of your items here on the NZMR site - My email link is at the top of this page.

KITTED UP AND READY TO GO!

The amount of equipment required to place the New Zealand Mounted Rifles into the field during World War One was immense. To transport the men and some 10,000 New Zealand horses from one side of the globe to the other was only the beginning of a logistic mountain.
Although items like ammunition and 303 Enfield rifles were manufactured either in the Lithgow Factory in New South Wales or the small arms factories of England, items for the NZMR were manufactured in New Zealand, or at least the bulk of them were.
Leather items from Sam Browne belts to Bandoliers, to saddles and horse tack such as bridles and horse team traces were in the most part locally produced. However many leather goods came from the "Leather Town" of Walsall in the English Midlands where thousands of hands manufactured for Regiments throughout the Empire.
The carpentry shops and peace time furniture makers re-tooled and supplied Carts, Drays, Waggon wheels, horse boxes and foot lockers.
Besides food to feed the "Mother Country" the farmers of New Zealand supplied half the wool for the Empires uniforms.
Badges were made by many companies in England, notably Gaunt and Co, but also made in Australia and New Zealand.
Metal couplings, Belt buckles, studs and domes were dropped forged, cast or lathed in factories across the country - and for a country of only 1 million people, and with 19.35% of her 580,000 male population serving abroad it was a fantastic achievement.

Looking at the photograph left we can get a better understanding of the kit required by one trooper on active service, and to understand the weight carried on the horses back.
Below is an extract from the book by R.J.G. Hall,
"The Australian Light Horse", Melbourne 1967, pp. 33 - 34.
(The ALH and NZMR operated under identical orders)

Photograph by Brendan O'Carroll -
Memorial Trooper Paul Farmer
- Kit Page HERE

Marching or Service Order Field Kit
(1) Articles worn or carried on the soldier

Articles
Field cap (with badge)
Frock
Breeches, cord
Braces
Flannel shirt
Flannel belt
Drawers
Socks
Ankle boots
Putties
Jack spurs
Field dressing and description card.
Haversack with balance of day's ration.
Water bottle (filled) with strap.
Clasp knife and lanyard.
Bandolier, waist-belt and attachment with 100 rounds
of .303 in ammunition. Rifle, with sling, pull through, clearing rod and full oil bottle.
Bayonet and scabbard.
Waist belt and frog.
Total carried by soldier - 39 lbs 8 ¼ ozs.


If mobilization takes place during the winter months, the jersey will be worn.
Wagonmen carry their rifles; batmen (riding spare horses) wear them slung.
In the case of Lancers the lance will be carried as a subsidiary
weapon, and with other corps a pistol.

(2) Articles worn or carried on the horse

Articles
Saddle, complete with headrope, bridle, and breast-plate
Shoe case, with 1 fore and 1 hind shoe
Nose- bag, with 6 lbs corn
Forage net
Picketing gear
Surcingle pad
Great Coat
Mess tin and strap
Wallets, packed

Total carried on horse – 76lbs 5¼ozs
Weight of rider - 140 lbs
Total on horse – 255 lbs 13½ ozs
(256 lbs convert to 116 Kilos)

(3) Articles packed in the wallets

Articles
Harness
Horse brush and curry comb
Horse rubber
Stable sponge
Emergency ration
Tin of grease
Socks (1 pair)
Flannel shirt
Holdall, with comb, knife, fork, spoon, shaving brush, razor and case
Worsted cap
Towel and soap
Boot laces (1 pair)
Wallets, empty, and straps

Total weight (included in total on horse - 9 lbs 5¾ ozs

(4) Articles packed in the valise

Articles
Breeches, cord (pair) - 1
Housewife, fitted - 1
Drawers (pair) - 1
Canvas shoes - 1
Cloth brush - 1
Small book - 1
Valise - 1

Total weight - 6 lbs 12½ ozs


If not in wear the jersey will be carried in the valise.
(5) Articles packed in the kit bag*

Articles
Frock - 1
+ Boots ankle (pair) - 1
Putties - 1