Photo: "The Illustrated War News" Dec 29th 1915 - Duotone treatment NZMRA 2011 - Roger Shephard Collection.
Very few horses from the New Zealand Mounted Rifles were landed on Gallipoli during the Campaign of April to December 1915. Among those sent from Egypt were seventy one horses shipped with the Auckland Mounted Rifles on board the "Kingstonian" when the NZMR Brigade and the Australian Light Horse were dispatched to support the Infantry in May 1915. It was hoped that mounted troops and wheeled transport would soon be in action, but these horses and others were never landed on the peninsular. The supporting fleet arrived off Anzac on the 12th May and the Aucklanders and the 3rd ALH were landed from the "Grantully Castle" and fought as Infantry.
What happened to the 71 Auckland Horses? They eventually returned to Egypt to "fight another day", however Lieutenant Colonel James McCarroll of the 11th North Auckland Squadron gives us the strongest clue as to the horses immediate future. He writes in his diary:
Sunday 16th May 1915
Few seemed to realise it is Sunday, looking to our rear is a beautiful peaceful scene, beautiful weather, and numerous ships lying peacefully at anchor. While in the distance is the Island of Limnos [Lemnos]. Owing to the presence of submarines a lot of troopships had to leave amongst them the one with “George” [McCarroll’s horse] aboard, he is now at Limnos until we actually require them.
A number of horses were landed at Anzac, some officers horses and others for despatch-riders. A most dangerous of occupations. The above photograph appeared in "The Illustrated War News" publication of December 29th 1915 with the following caption:
FACING GREAT ODDS AT "ANZAC" A despatch-rider at his dangerous work in a zone now evacuated.
Incidents in the story of "Anzac" will remain among the deathless records of acts of heroism, albeit undertaken and achieved as part of everyday work in war-time. None the less, although it may not often win the reward of individual commendation, the work of a despatch-bearer entails courage as real as that displayed in other conditions of war. The despatch-rider in our picture is seen at "Anzac", galloping for dear life, as he is well within the reach of snipers. He had to pass in full view of the enemy, especially when riding towards Suvla. The crosses conspicuous on the desolate sea-shore in the foreground tell their own story of men who had been "faithful unto death".
The Australian War Memorial Museum site also carries the same photograph in its collection (G00579) and makes further notes of this image:
A despatch rider galloping from Suvla Bay to Anzac Cove to avoid being sniped at. Great risk was run by these men in carrying out their very important duties. The rider is possibly 852 Private (Pte) Stirling Fritz Blacket, who enlisted in the 2nd Light Horse on 19 December 1914. After being wounded at Gallipoli in August 1915, Pte Blacket returned as a despatch rider to Suvla Bay in September. In an interview with his grandson in later life, he described the taking of a photograph of either himself or his fellow despatch rider on the Gallipoli Peninsula. 'I distinctly remember the time the photographer got permission to take the photo. He had a valuable camera and valued himself. It was hard to take photos in a safe place to avoid you or the photographer getting shot up.
The place I suggested was a quiet little beach on Anzac Cove, with just a couple of graves there. I told this photographer that one of us would ride around there so he could take photos. That goes down well with the public when they see someone galloping around. So we did a canter around for him while we were sitting upright on the horse and he took these photos. We couldn't ride fast as there was a lot of traffic. When despatch riding we would crouch over the neck of the horse to avoid getting shot.
Private Blacket continued to serve in the Light Horse, and was awarded a Military Medal, for his part in the capture of seven Turks near Khor El Ajham on 21 July 1917. He was also commended for his work as a despatch rider at Gallipoli and in the Middle East.
The above photograph is held at the Wellcome Library, London and is part of the Royal Army Medical Corps Collection. The photo is mounted on card with the notation: "An Australian despatch rider at Gallipoli, 'who rode away through a hail of bullets' - 1915"
However, this may be a New Zealand Mounted Rifleman as he wears New Zealand issue leg putties, Australian Light Horse troopers on the other hand wore leather leggings - but attire at Gallipoli could be more than casual as noted by the dress of others in the background left, and
Muleteers, background right.
Photo: "The Illustrated War News" Jan 19th 1916 - Duotone treatment NZMRA 2011 - Roger Shephard Collection.
Above: Horses being swung aboard Lighters from Transport Ships to carry them ashore at Mudros Bay on Lemnos Island. Although there was to be no great mounted push inland on the Gallipoli Peninsular the horse still had a major traditional role in the Campaign as a beast of burden. The safe anchorage of the Island of Lemnos off the Turkish Coast became the rest camp for battle weary troops from the Front, and quickly, front-line hospitals and major store depots were established away from the "Hell on Earth" just a few hours "steam" away. A large number of British horses were landed on Gallipoli in August for an expected breakout, but this did not eventuate.
21st Anniversary issue
penny and half-penny
50th Anniversary issue
4 penny and 5 penny
90th Anniversary of
Gordon is still diligently transcribing the massive cache of hand written WAR DIARIES from AWM Archives.
Releasing today is the fascinating on site military report written by Lieutenant Colonel and later Brigadier General W. (Bill) Meldrum, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O. in the WAR DIARY OF THE WELLINGTON MOUNTED RIFLES for DECEMBER 1916.
This month includes the victorious Attack on MAGDHABA
Above: 11/689 Trooper Harry Browne sits second from left in his rugby club's senior team photograph of 1910.
Right: Five years later Harry becomes a casualty on Gallipoli. Photograph: "The Weekly News" 1915
In May this year Nelson Police Detective John Winter was on the case with a good bit of investigation when he contacted the Browne family of Wellington, and arranged for their Grandfather's letters from Gallipoli to be presented on our website.
Harry's letters have been an immediate success, with many thousands of people reading his account that he sent home. But there was always something missing - "Could you ask if there is a photo of Harry to compliment the letters?" I asked John.
Things have been a bit quiet for sometime, but at last email attachments arrived.
I have included parts of the two emails from John Winter and Graeme Browne - I'm sure they won't mind me sharing their correspondence - But I wanted to show the amount of work and interest that goes on behind the scenes of the NZMRA. Many people are collating material, visiting museums, libraries, cemeteries and in doing so are cross referencing that collected material so that we may present this unique New Zealand story of the Mounted Rifles, not only for ourselves, but a new generation of interested grandchildren and great great grandchildren of our forefathers.
From John Winter:
I have previously sent you a copy of the Harry Browne diary, one of the most compelling reads of the actions at Chunuk Bair that I have ever read. I have now connected his grandson with the NZMR site, and referred him to the diaries of Troopers McCandlish, Clunie and Dalrymple, who were in the 6WMR with Harry.
I have been tracing his family and can happily report the following:
Attached are some photos of Trooper Browne...
They must have had some fighting blood in the Browne veins – one of Harry’s sons (Stanley) became a Spitfire ace in WW2 and was the CO of 485 (NZ) Squadron in the RAF.
From Graeme to John:
Thanks so much for a photo I’ve long wanted to see. The WMR. I was intending searching it before the end of this year. Emotional for me!
I have letters from my Grandfather, Trooper Harry Browne to his sweetheart- (and wife to be) Ethel Dormer, which he’s titled “Diary of a Trooper 11/689”
I need to put them in chronological order, they are photocopies of originals, I assume to be once in the possession of my late uncle, Rev Cyril Browne.
There are 31 pages and approx 7000 words handwritten from about October 1914 to about June 1915 from embarkation in NZ – onwards.
I would dearly love for someone of expertise to thoroughly transcribe them for posterity.
You may be interested in them for the website?
( I have photocopies of the original Gallipoli diary too in Harry’s handwriting, and my cousin – Alison has the originals I think.)
I emailed my cousin today requesting any original photos of Harry Browne, but in the meantime I have scanned a (photocopied) newspaper photo of him, and a rugby photo of him 1910. He is second from left – front row.
I hope Alison finds something better, so I’ll be in touch with you.
Harry was 1/4 Maori, Te Atiawa. His Grandmother was Chieftaness Paeroke Rawiri – Puketapu Hapu. His Grandfather – William Jenkins, a whaler on Kapiti Island.
Harry was a fine writer, His Father (William Franklin Browne) b.Barbados W.Indies, and who jumped ship and hid out in Karori Wellington, eventually a teacher in the native schools, must have had some influence on his writing ability.
Harry’s war grave is down the road here in Karori, I look after it! (Attached photo.)
(So, you see how it all works! - if you have photos and letters of a Mounted Rifleman hidden away, we would like to see them.)
Some things happen faster than you expect - I had only posted the above story five minutes ago (4:45 Nov 17th) when my email alert opened - an email from John:
Yesterday I caught up with Graeme Browne, grandson of Trooper Browne.
He showed me the original photo album sent back from the UK by him, which is referred to several times in his diary
There are around 93 photos of very good quality, many of which I have never seen before. They would be a great addition to the resources of the website, if you are wanting copies. Graeme has offered to have them scanned in high resolution if you are keen.
The photos are accredited to Sgt JC Reid of the WMR, and Trooper Browne must have obtained copies of them while they were both recuperating in the UK
Graeme also has a lot of letters written by Harry to his girlfriend - many are written at sea en route to Egypt and others are written from Gallipoli itself. He is happy to provide you copies as well. They are written in a very nice style and are legible.
Let me know what you think and how you want to deal with the photos
John, you know my answer! appreciative email on its way.
magazine photo, "The Great War", part 39, published May 15th 1915.-collection Roger Shephard
magazine photo, "The Great War", part 39, published May 15th 1915.-collection Roger Shephard
New Zealand troops first saw action during the attack on the Suez Canal, 3rd February 1915.
The intense training began as soon as the NZEF arrived in Egypt, December 1914. Respective units threw themselves into preparation with colonial gusto. For the NZMR the supporting engineers had to be ready to establish bridgeheads to support the mounted troops and baggage trains in any advance. The above photo is titled:
"Smart work of the New Zealanders in Egypt; bridge building near the Nile".
The training was not in vain, as before the year was finished Ottoman plans to invade Egypt and control the Suez Canal had begun.
Within the month on the 14th January 1915 Djemal Pasha and his German Chief of Staff, Kress von Kressenstein set out from Beersheba with an invasion expedition of 25,000 men to cross 190 miles (300km) of the Sinai Desert and strike a crippling blow at British shipping and prestige.
However, surprise was negated when an air patrol sighted the enemy on the 1st February, and next day as the force reached the Canal they were pushed back by prepared Indian Infantry. New Zealand and Australian troops where quickly thrown in as support the next morning.
Canterbury Infantryman, 22 year old Private 6/246 William Ham from Motueka died of his wounds 5th February, the first New Zealander to die in action during World War I.
Portrait, Private William Arthur Ham. (Courtesy of Lisa Ham)
TURN OF THE CENTURY TROOPERS
Postcard Roger Shephard Collection - NZMRA upgrade 2011
inset close ups of both men, head and shoulders.
I would like to try something different in presenting this postcard. I know there is so much untapped information sitting with all the hobbyists, professional and amateur historians that read this website - and with 200,000 hits from visitors arriving each month I will try a winkle out that information and expertise over the coming month to present here.
What do we know: To start; this photograph has been reproduced as a 6 x 4 postcard. It has printed on the back "New Zealand Post Card, (smaller type) This space may be used for communication in N.Z. or British Empire.
The card has not been written on.
(8th Nov) I am always amazed at the response that comes immediately to the desk:
Malcolm from Tauranga writes:
1905 Bandolier Mounted rifles type 1 introduced 5th Otago Mounted rifle . The Wallets are showing in front of their knees, as there is no goods in them, the lid is what you can see. They appear to be in parade order with Lee Enfield Short in hand Issued 1905 south inland 1908 north inland.
Malcolm from Auckland emails:
Not Boer War bandolier, and collars not WW1 - To my mind these boys look like brothers. Not long tom rifle, short barrel..
John Winter from Nelson emails: Hi Steve, re the latest photos of the 2 unknown troopers: The one on the left looked very familiar. I believe him to be:
7/273 Trooper Arnold Sparrow, 10th Squadron Canterbury Mounted Rifles. He was from Uruwhenua, Golden Bay. He served with the Main Body with his brother, Sergeant Ralph
Sparrow. Arnie later served with the 31st Reinforcements to the NZMR.
See the photo of the Sparrow brothers on p36 of 'Echoes of Gallipoli' and see what you think.
Photograph right taken from: "Echoes of Gallipoli: In the Words of New Zealand's Mounted Riflemen" By Terry Kinloch.
Steve Butler: Mmmm - need more convincing!
Most of the material we present on this website covers events of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles during World War One, but it is important to remember that our military mounted horsemen served both in the South African Boer War 1899 - 1902 and the Second World War of 1939 - 1945.
At the conclusion of the Great War 1914 -1918 it was obvious that with the invention of armoured Tanks and high performance Machine Guns the days of Mounted Riflemen and Cavalry as an attacking force were over.
However the horse was to play a major part in WW2 mainly as supply transport and pack animals, freeing up mechanised transport for attacking forces. Mounted troops were used in a scouting capacity over rough mountainous terrain on the Eastern Front where mud and snow frequently immobilised tanks and trucks. In New Zealand the NZMR continued to operate troops of horsemen for training and to mobilise a Home Guard to patrol the long New Zealand coast.
The photos above and left are part of a double page photographic spread presented in "The Weekly News" number 4092, issued in Auckland, 29th April 1942. Titled "Mounted Rifles Part in N.Z. Defence".
Top:TWN "Using a horse as a rifle rest" Right:TWN "A high-spirited horse rears up."